A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 338 - 7/2/08

A scenic view of Soda Lake in the Carrizo PlainTiger salamander - wildlife trivia question of the week A solar plant in Nevada Firefighters dig a line Employee profile: Donna Dearing

- Carrizo Plain:
      - New "podcast" tour
      - New plan
- Solar power
- More energy issues
- Wildfire:
      - Updates on California blazes
      - Interior Secretary joins Governor for briefing
      - Wildfire prevention
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Wilderness bill
- Headlines and highlights: Wild horses, filming, Cemex, marijuana bust, jobs, more
- Employee profile
- Selected upcoming events

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


A scenic view of Soda Lake in the Carrizo PlainThumbnail from a locator map of the Carrizo Plain"Self-guided tour of the Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)
Download an audio tour to your .mp3 player, to take with you on your as you tour the monument. Features an introduction and history, plus audio guides to three stops: Soda Lake Overlook, the visitor center and Wallace Creek. This web page also includes a text version and photos, in case you can't quite make it out to the Carrizo yet.

RELATED: "Carrizo Plain National Monument plan draft on track" (News.bytes Extra)
The Bureau of Land Management remains on track to release the draft Resource Management Plan for the Carrizo Plain National Monument in the fall. BLM staff updated members of the Carrizo Monument Advisory Committee Saturday on the plan's status, and on Native American concerns and proposed energy projects.


"BLM to Continue Accepting Solar Energy Applications" (BLM national news release, 7/2/08)
"In response to public interest in solar energy development, the Bureau of Land Management is announcing that it plans to continue accepting applications for future potential solar development on the public lands. The BLM will process these applications, while continuing to identify issues during public scoping currently underway for the programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). The BLM had previously advised that it was temporarily suspending acceptance of new solar applications pending completion of the PEIS, while the agency processed the 125 applications previously received. With today's announcement, the BLM will now accept additional applications for solar energy projects and process them with the 125 already submitted."

RELATED: "Solar companies left in the dark" (San Jose Mercury News, 6/28/08)
"Builders of solar power plants fear that a government decision to halt applications to use federal lands as it weighs environmental consequences could harm an industry still in its infancy ... So far, companies have filed 125 right-of-way claims to build on 1 million of the acres that the BLM controls in the West. Solar power projects already in the pipeline will continue to be evaluated on a site-specific basis."
Note: this news site may require free registration to view its online content.

A solar plant in Nevada"Citing need for assessments, U.S. freezes solar energy projects" (New York Times, 6/27/08)
"The Bureau of Land Management says an extensive environmental study is needed to determine how large solar plants might affect millions of acres it oversees in six Western states -- Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah."
Note: this news site may require free registration to view its online content.

"U.S. solar energy industry blasts government move" (Reuters, 7/1/08)
"Leaders in the U.S. solar energy industry blasted the U.S. government on Monday for a freeze on applications for new solar projects on public land in six Western states. The Bureau of Land Management announced the freeze a month ago, saying it would conduct an extensive study looking at the environmental, social and economic impacts of solar energy development." The BLM will be working with 130 applications that is has already received.


"You can't get there from here" (Wall Street Journal, 6/30/08)
"Utilities are moving to harvest more power from renewable-energy sources like the wind and sun. ... But the best resources for generating large amounts of wind and solar power are located in remote areas. ... Across the desert, from California through Arizona and New Mexico, independent power producers are looking to build thousands of megawatts of solar farms that would sit on acres of land ... Environmentalists have problems with some transmission projects, saying utilities are using the popularity of renewable power to get projects approved." Story cites Sunrise Powerlink as an example.

RELATED: "San Diego Gas & Electric Company's Sunrise Powerlink Project" (State of California Public Utilities Commission)
The CPUC is the lead agency for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is the lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Draft EIR/EIS was released to the public on January 3, 2008.

"Massive solar plan is linked to SDG&E" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/1/08)
"An Arizona startup company yesterday asked government regulators for approval to build a massive solar energy power plant that proponents say is crucial to San Diego Gas & Electric's proposed Sunrise Powerlink. The project planned by Stirling Energy Systems of Phoenix calls for erecting 30,000 mirrored dishes, each 38 feet tall and 40 feet wide, in the desert near El Centro. It would convert solar energy into electricity to power 500,000 San Diego homes." A company spokesman "said regulatory approval by the California Energy Commission and federal Bureau of Land Management is expected to take about 14 months, which would allow Stirling to begin construction at the end of 2009."

RELATED: "County home to biggest plant?" (Imperial Valley Press, 6/30/08)
"The world’s largest solar energy plant could be located in Imperial County and is on its way to becoming a reality, Stirling Energy Systems officials said. The Phoenix-based company filed an application to build the project with the California Energy Commission on Monday. SES Solar Two would generate 750 megawatts of energy for 500,000 homes in the San Diego area and is expandable up to 900 megawatts."

"Inland acres in LA power path" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/25/08)
"A transmission route being considered by Los Angeles to carry renewable energy from the Salton Sea could lead to the condemnation of 3,500 homes and other properties in the Inland region to make way for the needed transmission lines. The district is seeking energy from solar and wind sources, but is chiefly hoping to capture geothermal energy...." Part of the proposed Green Path North power line route would cross public land managed by BLM-California and would require full public involvement and environmental review.
Note: this news site may require free registration to view its online content.

"Getting the shaft" (Las Vegas City Life, 6/27/08)
"Officials want to expand the state's gas pipeline. How much? Enough to cause some environmental headaches ... Kinder Morgan Energy Partners ... plans to build a new, 16-inch diameter petroleum artery across 233 miles from Southern California, northeast through the Mojave Desert and into the Las Vegas Valley. By the time the new pipeline is ready in early 2011, more than 300,000 barrels a day could flow into the area, nearly doubling the capacity of the existing line ... he proposed expansion requires a new so-called right-of-way from the federal Bureau of Land Management."


"National fire leaders increase to highest preparedness level" (National Interagency Fire Center, 7/2/08)
"The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group, comprised of top federal and state fire managers, increased the national Preparedness Level today to its highest point, PL-5. Wildland fire activity increased significantly starting June 20 when severe thunderstorms passed over northern California, igniting more than 1,300 fires. This is the second earliest date since 1990 when PL-5 has been reached, eclipsed only by 2002 when that level was reached June 21."

"Wildfire fight gets federal forces"(Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 7/2/08)
"About 200 federal firefighters are en route to Mendocino County to join in the ongoing battle to contain wildfires that have burned nearly 40,000 acres and still threaten 900 rural residences. With the federal buildup, nearly 2,000 local, state and federal personnel soon will be engaged in what’s proving to be a long and costly fight ... About 1,000 firefighters from various federal agencies nationwide, such as the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, are going to be deployed across California. They will join nearly 19,000 personnel already waging a campaign across Northern California to check hundreds of wildfires that have burned an estimated 425,000 acres."

"Wildfire center: More severe fires expected in CA"
(Associated Press in Seattle Press-Intelligencer, 7/1/08)
"Federal fire managers predict an increase in severe wildfire activity in northern California through October due to unusually hot, dry weather and scant rain, but say areas like Idaho that were charred by fires last year may be in for a reprieve."

"National fire news" (National Interagency fire center)
"July 2, 2008: A total of 85 large fires are burning throughout the country, which includes all large fires within the complexes. These fires are burning a total of 546,010 acres." Includes national fire news, plus details by state. This site is updated daily during fire season.

"Wildfire updates" (Sacramento Bee)
Section with links to wildfire news and information on health risks of smoke. Also includes a link to interactive map of current wildfires in California.
Note: this news site may require free registration to view its online content.

"Corral Fire now 25 percent contained at 15,000 acres" (BLM-California news release, 7/2/08)
Firefighters made progress yesterday constructing fire lines around the 15,000-acre Corral Fire, burning in commercial timber and rangeland about 12 miles northwest of Eagle Lake. Full containment is expected by Monday, July 7. Approximately 380 firefighters and support personnel are assigned. Crews today are working on completing eight miles of fire line.

"Peterson, Antelope, Mill fires contained" (BLM-California news release, 7/1/08)
Firefighters have completed fire lines around the Peterson Complex fire south of Fall River Mills and the Antelope and Mill fires east of Red Bluff. There are now about 1,000 firefighters and support personnel assigned to fires on areas protected by Susanville Interagency Fire Center agencies including the BLM. Burning permits have been suspended in several areas, and trails and campgrounds have been closed in parts of Lassen National Forest.

"We thank you for your efforts" (Sierra Star, 6/27/08)
Editorial: "In a matter of moments last weekend, during a lightning storm that touched down here, portions of the Mountain Area blazed out of control ... As the fires burn, we appreciate the efforts of our local personnel, including members of the Sierra National Forest, Cal Fire, the Bureau of Land Management, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the sheriff's departments from both Mariposa and Madera counties. And we also commend those firefighters who made the trip from out of town, such as Matt Howard and Reed Gilbraith from the Bakersfield Bureau of Land Management and the Lolo Hotshots, who drove out from Missoula, Mont."


Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne"Schwarzenegger calls for more fire help in north state visit" (Redding Record Searchlight, 6/28/08)
"The governor sent a letter Thursday to President Bush asking for federal disaster aid for seven of the state's counties, including Shasta and Trinity counties ... Schwarzenegger was accompanied by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne ... they are also worried that this could just be the start of a frantic fire season. 'The amount of fire for June is unprecedented,' Kempthorne said. 'The type of lightning and ignition which you have been experiencing this month normally doesn’t occur until August.'"
Note: this news site may require free registration to view its online content.

Firefighters dig a lineA tired firefighter listens at a meeting"Northern California firefight stretched thin" (Sacramento Bee, 6/28/08)
As of last week: "Of the 1,200-plus fires recently ignited, only a fifth have been contained – with no end in immediate sight ... U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne joined Schwarzenegger at Whiskeytown Lake west of Redding at a news conference to commend the thousands of firefighters who have been kept busy by the wildfires, many of them ignited by a lightning storm a week ago." Includes link to firefighting photo slideshow.
Note: this news site may require free registration to view its online content.

"Remarks of Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne..." (Department of the Interior news, 6/27/08)
Transcript of the Secretary's remarks at the briefing with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Whiskeytown fires, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, California on June 27.

"U.S. Department of the Interior"
Includes links to video of the briefing, photos, and additional information on California wildfires.


"Fire safety more than a cause for Mariposa woman" (Merced Sun-Star, 6/27/08)
"One of Mariposa's charms is its woodsy nature. But the lush, overgrown look that's typical of a mountain county can be a mixed blessing, particularly in times of drought...." Story of a woman who heads "Mariposa County Fire Safe Council, a group that works on several fronts to make the community safer from its greatest peril, wildland fires ... Firefighters say the most important preventive step homeowners can take is to clear flammable vegetation at least 100 feet from all structures..." The BLM helps support Fire Safe Councils throughout California, and has partnered with Mariposa's in fuel break projects.

"Fire officials stress caution for July Fourth holiday" (BLM-California news release, 6/18/08)
Fire officials remind residents and visitors to be careful with fire and fireworks when they celebrate Independence Day. "Conditions are very dry. People need to be extremely careful when camping, driving in the back country and cutting fire wood," said said a co-manager of the Susanville Interagency Fire Center. Hedges stressed that possession and use of all fireworks are illegal in national forests, national parks and on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

"Fires, fireworks prohibited in King Range National Conservation Area" (BLM-California news release, 7/2/08)
Unusually dry conditions and extreme demand on firefighting resources have prompted the Bureau of Land Management to prohibit all fires and use of fireworks in the King Range National Conservation Area on the north coast. Beginning Thursday, July 3, fires will no longer be allowed, even in the fire rings at designated campgrounds and recreation sites.

"Inland officials object to wildfires bill, saying it would hurt volunteer departments" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/26/08)
State senator says " her bill is an incentive for local governments to curtail the steady march of homes into California's fire-prone remote wildlands and to provide sophisticated and professional firefighting equipment and teams in those areas. The state spends $1 billion annually to fight wildland fires, and the costs are expected to climb as fires in the nation's Southwest become more frequent and more furious ... Opponents say [the] bill is punitive.."
Note: this news site may require free registration to view its online content.

"BLM Folsom office announces fire restrictions" (BLM-California news release, 6/25/08)
Effective July 1, the Bureau of Land Management is implementing fire restrictions on all BLM-managed public lands within the Folsom Field Office boundary.  This includes BLM-managed public lands in Nevada, Yuba, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Sacramento, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Stanislaus, Sutter, and Mariposa counties, a total of about 230,000 acres.  The fire restrictions will remain in effect until further notice. 

"Rockets’ red glare to dim this Fourth of July" MSNBC, 6/30/08)
"Numerous municipalities across California and other states responded to the [wildfire] threat by banning fireworks displays ... 'Something benign as a sparkler ... can send sparks off into the grass,' said Jessica Gardetto, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Land Management, which banned fireworks in all of the nearly 12 million acres of public lands managed by the agency. 'All it takes is a breeze, and then you’ve got a wildfire.'" Prices have also skyrocketed due to shortages and the weak dollar. "As a result, cities and towns that plan all year for their annual Fourth of July celebrations couldn’t get enough shipments, and others concluded that it’s just not worth it."


  Tiger salamander - wildlife trivia question of the week
Thumbnail from a photo by Joyce Gross

One of the biggest concerns for California tiger salamanders is:
(a.) Decreased water supply
(b.) Increase in invasive weeds
(c.) Reduced habitat
(d.) Increased predatory bird population
(e.) “Where is my economic stimulus check from the IRS?”

------> See answer -- and more information -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.

The wilderness bill introduced in the House and Senate would apply to some California areas managed by the BLM.

Audience members hold "no" signs at wilderness bill meeting"Citizens debate wilderness bill" (Inyo Register, 6/28/08)
"More than 600 crowded into the Charles Brown Auditorium ... to record their views on the Boxer/McKeon Wild Heritage Act that would add 430,000 acres of Wilderness designation in Inyo and Mono counties. The meeting ... was more evenly divided than Tuesday’s ... session, but left as many questions unanswered and disagreements unresolved. One hundred of those in attendance spoke on the issue, roughly half for the Wilderness Bill. Judging from the lines formed at a table manned by members of Advocates for Access to Public Lands, more than half were against."

RELATED: "One-on-one: Bob Haueter" (Mammoth Times, 6/26/08)
Interview: "Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, Bob Haueter, has been working with the Congressman for several years regarding the issues surrounding the Hoover Wilderness and the Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act. Haueter talked with the Mammoth Times with the intention of squelching some of the rumors and put at ease some of the concerns people have regarding water rights, trails access and boundary lines."

RELATED: "Nays hold majority at first of Inyo’s wilderness meeting" (Inyo Register, 6/28/08)
"If the success of a compromise is defined in terms of the degree of disagreement on both sides of the issue, the Boxer/McKeon legislation to expand designated wilderness in California is successful. Both sides, wilderness expansion and access advocates, expressed their views ... at a public input session organized by the Inyo County Board of Supervisors. Those who supported the Wild Heritage Act wanted more area included in the designation -- specifically territory in the Inyo/White mountain ranges in Inyo County. Those who opposed it distrusted provisions that would allow for continued access."


"Government considering euthanizing wild horses" (Associated Press in San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/30/08)
"Faced with too many wild horses on the range and in holding facilities, federal officials are considering drastic policy changes that include ending roundups and euthanizing animals. U.S. Bureau of Land Management Deputy Director Henri Bisson said Monday there is an overpopulation of wild horses on public lands and the agency can no longer afford to care for the numbers of mustangs that have been rounded up. The number of horses adopted by the public has dropped off, leaving the BLM with more animals than it can care for, he said."

RELATED: "The wild horse is us" (Newsweek online, 7/1/08)
"The Bureau of Land Management announced this week that it is considering euthanizing wild horses to curb the population on the range and in federal holding facilities. There are an estimated 33,000 wild horses living in 10 Western states, and another 30,000 living in government corrals. The BLM is billing euthanasia as a way to cope with looming budget cuts, while still maintaining the mustang as a living symbol of the American West. But critics say that the herds have already been thinned to the edge of extinction with periodic roundups and auctions."

"County moves to expand filming in High Desert" (Victorville Daily Press, 6/25/08)
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors authorized a contract with the Inland Empire Film Commission, to manage environmental reviews for films on land managed by BLM-California. "Films shot in San Bernardino County include Land of the Lost, Jarhead, Letters from Iwo Jima, Planet of the Apes, Fast and the Furious and Jurassic Park, among others."

"Council wrap: City upbeat about Cemex bill's passage" (Santa Clarita Signal, 6/26/08)
"Santa Clarita city officials flew to the nation's capital again last week to get members of a key committee on their side before the lawmakers consider a bill that would keep a large mining company from setting up shop in Soledad Canyon. 'Forgive me, I'm getting a little optimistic here,' Mayor Bob Kellar said at this week's City Council meeting. 'I'm a little excited.'" In 1990, BLM awarded Transit-Mixed a competitive contract to mine 56 million tons of sand and gravel over a 20-year period. Cemex bought that company and its interests.

"Largest marijuana bust in Tulare County" (Fresno Bee, 7/2/08)
"State and federal agents joined Tulare County detectives Monday to destroy more than 78,000 marijuana plants in a record haul for the county and, perhaps, for the Valley. Four people were arrested in connection with the illegal pot plantation tucked into federal Bureau of Land Management property in the foothills east of Exeter."

"Wildlife agency agrees to revisit protections for rare Mojave Desert plant" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 6/24/08)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed Monday to consider new protections for the habitat of a rare plant that grows only in the Mojave Desert in and around Fort Irwin ...
In April 2005, the Fish and Wildlife Service released its decision not to designate any critical habitat for the plant. Designating areas as critical habitat would require more evaluation of the activities that could take place on parts of Fort Irwin and on Bureau of Land Management land where the milk-vetch grows."

"Palco hearings grind on in bankruptcy court" (Eureka Times-Standard, 7/2/08)
Much of the current court arguments deal with estimated value of timberlands owned by the now-bankrupt Pacific Lumber Co.

RELATED:"Veteran timber interests now back Sierra Pacific" (Eureka Times-Standard, 7/1/08)
"They declared that Mendocino Redwood's plan to run one shift in Scotia is less viable than Sierra Pacific's promise to pour $70 million into building two sawmills, fed by timber from its 1.7 million acres as well as the Palco lands. The Mendocino plan wouldn't produce enough to feed the wood-burning power plant in Scotia, they said."

RELATED: "Headwaters Forest Reserve" (BLM-California, Arcata Field Office)
The BLM is not a party to Palco's Habitat Conservation Plan, which is overseen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of California, but one result of the negotiations was the acquisition in 1999 of the Headwaters Forest Reserve, managed by the BLM.

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current openings include fire dispatcher, wildlife biologist, archaeology technician/aid, biology technician/aid and survey aid/technician.


Employee profile: Donna DearingEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Donna Dearing...
...is a financial assistant in the Information Access Center (public room) in the California State Office. She started working for BLM in January 2008, and shares her commute with a special someone. Read more:

Unless otherwise noted, see more items -- and find more details -- online at:

July 9 - Additional scoping meeting for solar energy PEIS
San Luis Obispo

July 10 - Additional scoping meeting for solar energy PEIS
El Centro

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) Reduced habitat

SOURCE: "California Tiger Salamander - Ambystoma tigrinum californiense" (BLM California wildlife database)
The necessary habitat for these salamanders is also prime habitat for development. The temporary rain pools are built on, which destroys potential breeding sites.

Extreme close-up of tiger salamanderTIGER SALAMANDER IN THE NEWS: "Local salamander compromise in peril" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 6/24/08)
"A 4-year effort to draft local rules for land uses that intrude on habitat of endangered plant and animal species in Sonoma County may come to a halt ... Since 2004, federal, state and local officials, as well as agriculture, business and environmental interests, have labored over crafting ways to preclude the federal government from regulating development in the plain under the federal Endangered Species Act because the tiger salamander and three almost extinct plants are found there."

MORE INFORMATION: "Ambystoma tigrinum- tiger salamander" (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Animal Diversity Web)
More information and several photos of various tiger salamanders, at this "educational resource written largely by and for college students."

RELATED: "Montana creature feature – the amazing world of Axolotl salamanders" (People, Land & Water, 6/19/08)
In an area managed by BLM-Montana, this type of tiger salamander "never grows up." It stays in the water and uses gills instead of developing lungs and moving onto land like other tiger salamanders. Some are also cannibals....

Mojave Max outside his burrow"Mojave Max dies" (Las Vegas Sun, 7/1/08)
"Mojave Max, the face of Southern Nevada's Mojave Desert tortoise population, has died of apparent natural causes on Monday ... The 65-year-old male tortoise lived in a special habitat at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. That's within the normal life span of a desert tortoise, which ranges from 60 to 80 years." For the past several years, students in Nevada and Southern California took part in contests to predict when Max would emerge from his burrow, a sign of spring.

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