A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 349 - 9/18/08

A worker holds a baby western pond turtle and a quarter Foolhardy couple on a Road to Nowhere Volunteers take a break during NPLD cleanup 2007 near Ridgecrest Rare flannelbush at the Pine Hill Preserve Filming a car company commercial in the Alabama Hills

- Funny.bytes: Don't go there!
- Public Lands Day: Join us Sept. 27!
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Western pond turtle in the news
- Wilderness legislation
- Recreation: Fall colors, Imperial Sand Dunes, biking, shooting areas, free fishing
- Wildfires and prevention
- Headlines and highlights: 29 Palms, Pine Hill Preserve, prison for pot, filming, BLM jobs, more
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: ESA comment period extended
- More wildlife news, and wildlife trivia answer

This issue of News.bytes is online at:

Foolhardy couple disregard a mapFunny.bytes - logoFUNNY.BYTES: Don't go there
No, really -- don't go there! Watch the latest Funny.bytes -- and see why not.
Funny.bytes is an occasional look at the lighter side of BLM issues.
Warning: soundtrack -- you may want to adjust the volume on your computer.

A rigger rides an OHV as it is hoisted out of a mineshaftRELATED: "FAST Program (Fix A Shaft Today!)"
At one time, these abandoned mine lands were considered remote but due to urban sprawl and the increased ability of the public to access these sites accidents continue to occur. The BLM is proposing a partnership initiative with mine claimants, landowners, the mining industry, recreational user groups, and non-government organizations to eradicate unsafe abandoned mine land features.
PDF file, 162 kilobytes:

National Public Lands Day logoNATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY...
...is the nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance the public lands Americans enjoy. News.bytes has been featuring the volunteer opportunities BLM-California will host to mark this event. Here are some more. The events below will be held on Sept. 27. Make plans now to join us!

Volunteers clean up during National Public Lands Day 2007Carrizo Plain National Monument (Bakersfield Field Office)
Volunteers and BLM staff will define camping and parking areas with a border and install an irrigation system to help native plants.  Volunteers will also perform general maintenance of the campground (i.e. painting, weed pulling, trash pick-up).

Volunteers take a break during NPLD cleanup 2007 near RidgecrestRidgecrest Field Office: China Gardens along the Darwin Falls Wilderness boundary
Volunteers will help maintain five campsites and three trailheads.  Tasks include maintenance on the 0.3-mile long Siebert Spring Trail and general cleanup of public parking area, two restrooms and day use area.

Bishop Field Office: Eastern Sierra native plant sale
Volunteers will help with plant demonstrations, restoration project information and sign-ups for various planting projects in fall. (This is in addition to the Alabama Hills Community Spirit Day on Oct. 4, announced by the Bishop Field Office in an earlier edition of News.bytes.)


A western pond turtle climbs a log
Thumbnail from a photo by Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences

What distinction does the western pond turtle hold in California?
(a.) they are one of the most successful invasive species
(b.) they are the rarest native turtle
(c.) they are the most abundant native turtle
(d.) they are the slowest-moving
(e.) they are the only carnivorous turtle
(f.) because ponds are generally (though not always) smaller than lakes, they seldom learn to water ski

------> See answer -- and recent news stories about western pond turtles -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.


"Boxer/McKeon wilderness bill passes House, Senate committees" (Inyo Register, 9/17/08)
"The Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act has been approved by a key Senate Committee and the House Sub-Committee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, and is now bound for a vote by the full Senate. The Wild Heritage Act, sponsored by Congressman Howard 'Buck' McKeon and Senator Barbara Boxer and supported by Senator Dianne Feinstein, went before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Thursday for markup on more than 465,000 acres of wilderness and more than 52 miles of wild and scenic rivers ... Not everyone in the Eastern Sierra is in favor of the bill, however."

"Bill would protect Amargosa River" (Pahrump Valley Times, 9/12/08)
"The Bureau of Land Management told Congress Thursday, it supports designating stretches of the Amargosa River in California for special federal protection ... The subcommittee on national parks, forests and public lands studied a wide-ranging bill submitted by California Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, D-Santa Clarita, that would designate more than 470,000 acres of wilderness in the Eastern Sierras and similarly preserve 52 miles of waterway. One provision would place 26.3 miles of the Amargosa River into the "national wild and scenic river" system that seeks to conserve natural and free-flowing streams."

RELATED: "Supervisors get in last-minute wilderness bill comments" (Inyo Register, 9/11/08)
"In a last-ditch effort to comment accurately on the proposed Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act, the Inyo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday redrafted its letters to Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon and Senator Barbara Boxer to include recent responses from McKeon. The supervisors also reiterated their concerns expressed in prior correspondence to the lawmaker, including the assertion that various areas being considered for wilderness designation do not meet the true definition of the word."

RELATED: "Eastern Sierra wilderness bill moves ahead in Washington" (Sierra Wave, 9/11/08)
"The Wilderness Bill that includes 400,000 acres of Inyo and Mono land took steps forward in the nation's capitol Thursday ... While Inyo Supervisors remain staunchly negative about the bill, the Mono Supervisors voted to endorse it ... The House subcommittee hearing was the first step toward passage of the bill by the House. The Senate companion bill was passed during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing and now goes to the Senate Floor for action. Congressman McKeon hopes that the bill will be passed by both bodies before adjournment on September 26th."

"Senate advances wilderness proposal" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 9/12/08)
"A measure that would designate nearly 200,000 acres of public land in and around the Coachella Valley as wilderness areas moved forward Thursday, with supporters hopeful the Senate will approve the legislation this year ... The Desert and Mountain Heritage Act designates as wilderness areas 191,000 acres of public land, including the San Bernardino National Forest, Joshua Tree National Park and Pinto Mountains. It also designates several rivers as 'wild, scenic or recreational,' including Bautista Creek, Fuller Mill Creek, Canyon Creek and the North Fork San Jacinto River."

"Saving America's wilderness" (Los Angeles Times, 9/13/08)
Editorial: "Once in awhile, the arguing, partisanship and deal making that mark business as usual in Washington produce something that nearly everyone can love. After years of discussion, a package of wilderness bills that would protect giant swaths of land across the nation -- including more than 700,000 acres in California -- is one of them ... Much of the proposed California wilderness already lies within national forests or is overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. But such lands are currently open to multiple uses, including logging, mining and other industry; in addition, the lands proposed for wilderness designation are increasingly hemmed in by development or by pressures to allow motorbikes and other off-road vehicles."
(Note: this news site may require free registration to view its content online.)


"Bicyclist to tackle 25-mile trail"
(Redding Record Searchlight, 9/14/08)
The Bizz Johnson National Recreational Trail: "[T]his 25.4 mile trail ... follows the old Fernley and Lassen Branch line of the Southern Pacific Railroad ... Now the Bureau of Land Management Susanville District and Lassen National Forest manage the trail, which is used year-round for biking, hiking, horse-back riding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and more." Trail users tell why they love the trail, and focus on upcoming fall colors. "The last scheduled group ride of the season ... will take place on Oct. 25 and is called the Fall Colors Ride." Says a resident: "It's one of the best times to ride through Susan River Canyon."
(Note: this news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

RELATED: "Bizz Johnson Trail" (BLM-California, Eagle Lake Field Office)
As it winds through the rugged Susan River Canyon, the trail crosses the river 12 times on bridges and trestles and passes through two tunnels. The landscape is a combination of semi-arid canyon and upland forests of pine and fir. The remarkable autumn colors and scenery along the Bizz Johnson Trail earned it one of eight feature spots in the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy's 1997 "Fall Foliage on the Web" rail-trails guide.

"Fall color hotspots 2008"
(BLM-California, Bishop Field Office)
September 17, 2008: The first hints of color are starting to appear at the higher elevations. Night time temperatures are dipping well below freezing. Colors are beginning to appear around the canyons west of Crowley Lake, Mammoth Lakes, Lee Vining and the Bodie Hills.

"BLM to Phase Out Trash Collection at Imperial Sand Dunes; Asks Visitors to "Pack it Home"
(BLM-California news release, 9/18/08)
A new slogan will greet visitors to the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area this season, asking everyone to "Pack it Home," as trash collection service will be phased out as a necessary cost-cutting measure by the end of January. BLM District Manager Steve Borchard said with costs rising and available funding declining, trash collection "simply became a luxury we could no longer afford for our visitors. We want to provide a safe, quality recreation experience, so we're asking our visitors to take home their trash so our available funding can be used elsewhere in the Dunes."

RELATED: "Dunes information" (BLM-California, El Centro Field Office)
Includes links to "Trash Talk," rules and regulations, permits and fees and more.

"Shooting areas may open" (Redding Record Searchlight, 9/18/08)
"Public land around Redding should be reopened to shooters in two weeks if temperatures continue to cool. 'We definitely will try to shoot for the end of the month,' said Steven Anderson, manager of the Bureau of Land Management's Redding field office. The agency restricted shooting on the 250,000 acres it oversees in Shasta, Tehama, Trinity, Siskiyou and Butte counties in July, saying fire danger was too high for the activity. Those acres could open again on Sept. 29, with shooting restricted to the hours between sunrise and noon, Anderson said."

"BLM’s 'Take it Outside' offers free fishing day program"
(BLM-California news release, 9/9/08)
The Bureau of Land Management's Needles Field Office is partnering with San Bernardino County Parks (Moabi Regional Park) and the California Department of Fish and Game to provide a free fishing experience for 30 families on Saturday, Sept. 27. On Free Fishing Day, the state of California will waive fishing-license requirements, while San Bernardino County will waive day-use fees for 30 families at the regional park. 


"Lands warrant fire danger status" (Redding Record Searchlight, 9/14/08)
"Shasta County supervisors will be asked Tuesday to adopt a resolution declaring that federal lands throughout California represent a dire fire emergency due to 'unnaturally' heavy fuel loads and dry wildland conditions. They also will consider asking Gov. Schwarzenegger to take 'an active role' on the federal level to try to reduce the threat of future blazes."
(Note: this news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

RELATED: "Land board would amplify local voices" (Redding Record Searchlight, 9/13/08)
Editorial: "Prompted in part by this summer’s explosive wave of wildfires and the resulting debate about fuel management on public lands," a Shasta County supervisor "wants to create a committee to birddog the management of federal lands on behalf of county residents ... About 40 percent of the land in Shasta County is under the stewardship of the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. Those lands include our top tourist destinations, locals’ favorite playgrounds, rangelands ... working timber. They also supply the fuel for our annual summertime plague of wildfires, offer hideouts for increasingly ambitious marijuana growers..."
(Note: this news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

"Chipping service offered for brush cleared around homes" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/15/08)
"For backcountry residents, the hardest part of cleaning up brush to protect their homes from wildfire can be getting rid of the piles of vegetation and tree branches." The Fire Safe Council of San Diego offers a free chipping service to homeowners in a number of areas. "The service is offered for homeowners who live in backcountry areas considered particularly prone to wildfire ... Funding is provided by the federal Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service."

"Mariposa prosecutor pressing charges in Telegraph Fire case" (Sonora Union-Democrat, 9/12/08)
"Criminal charges were filed Thursday against the man who started the Telegraph Fire in Mariposa County, which burned more than 34,000 acres, destroyed 30 homes and 100 outbuildings, and caused 38 minor injuries. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 18 months in the county jail" and a prosecutor said "it is fair to consider that there will be lawsuits filed against Mosher to recover costs of the fire." The man "admitted starting the fire by target shooting on Bureau of Land Management land at the end of Mosher Road."

RELATED: "Steel-jacketed bullet sparked Telegraph fire; man charged" (Modesto Bee, 9/12/08)
"Misdemeanor charges were filed against the Merced man who authorities claim admitted to accidentally starting the Telegraph fire, which charred more than 53 square miles and destroyed 30 homes." The man "told investigators he was target shooting the afternoon of July 25 in a Bureau of Land Management area along the Merced River where target shooting is legal, authorities said."
(Note: this news site may require free registration to view its content online.)


"Public meetings planned for Twentynine Palms Marine Corps withdrawal application" (BLM-California news release, 9/15/08)
The Bureau of Land Management and the Marine Corps will host public meetings on October 23 and 24 to present the proposal for possible expansion of the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base and to discuss the legislative withdrawal process of the public lands in San Bernardino County. The locations, times, and formats for the meetings will be announced in the near future.

"Officials mull preserve expansion" (Sacramento Bee El Dorado section, 9/12/08)
"El Dorado County officials say they are interested in adding a key piece of land to a rare-plant preserve but will not authorize its purchase until they reach an agreement with state and federal agencies ... The four 5-acre parcels would be added to the Pine Hill Ecological Preserve." Supervisors expressed concern about the price, and one said "the county should have an agreement with the federal Bureau of Land Management allowing construction of a roadway through the preserve lands."
(Note: this news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

Rare flannelbush at the Pine Hill Preserve RELATED: "Pine Hill Preserve" (BLM-California, Folsom Field Office)
Located in western El Dorado County, Pine Hill Preserve is home to a collection of eight rare plant species. Three of the plant species that grow in the Pine Hill Preserve are endemic, which means they grow nowhere else in the world. Two more species are nearly endemic, with only a few plants found elsewhere. This assemblage of rare plants is part of a unique community confined to soils known as the Rescue soils, named after the nearby community of Rescue, CA. The Pine Hill Preserve is operated under a cooperative management agreement with several agencies and organizations.

"Two men face prison for pot grove on public land" (Associated Press at San Francisco Chronicle, 9/11/08)
"Two Mexican citizens have been sentenced to 11 years each in federal prison for their roles in a marijuana growing operation on government land ... more than 19,500 pot plants on land administered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management near Elder Creek in Tehama County. "

"Wildlife service believes Fort Irwin plant not endangered" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 9/16/08)
"After completing a five-year review of 16 endangered species in California, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended Sept. 10 that the status of the Lane Mountain milk-vetch be changed from endangered to threatened." The plant "is found only in an approximately 20-mile strip of land north of Barstow, with about half the habitat on Fort Irwin and half on Bureau of Land Management lands. The milk-vetch improves the quality of desert soil by converting nitrogen from the air into a natural fertilizer."

"Travelin' in Time: Tracing out history" (Redding Record Searchlight, 9/18/08)
"Rancho Buena Ventura was the second and last Mexican Land Grant issued in Shasta County ... He named his land grant for the former name of the adjacent Sacramento River, Buena Ventura, which meant good fortune in Spanish. His grant contained 26,632 acres, bordered 19 miles of the Sacramento River on the western side ... The little plot where the adobe once stood is now owned by Shasta County. And the adjacent Reading Island is owned and maintained by the Bureau of Land Management. Today, the towns of Anderson and Redding comprise the majority of the area where this once great land grant was located."

"Tehama recreation" (BLM-California, Redding Field Office)
Tehama County recreation sites managed by BLM-California's Redding Field Office, including Reading Island.

Filming a car company commercial in the Alabama Hills"Hollywood’s love affair with Inyo cools off a bit in 2008" (Inyo Register, 9/13/08)
"Inyo County’s film industry may not be booming, but it is as healthy as the current economic climate can allow, Inyo County Film Commissioner Chris Langley reported this week ... Inyo County saw 77 film projects come to the area in the past year ... 'Last year, we had a major production,' Langley explained, referring to mega Box Office hit 'Iron Man.' 'This year we had several more smaller productions'" including "five or six commercials filmed here by production companies from Asia and Europe, which will never be aired in America..." Much filming in the area takes place on BLM-managed lands.

"Change in schedule for Modoc-Washoe ESP meeting" (BLM-California news release, 9/15/08)
The Modoc-Washoe Experimental Stewardship Steering Committee has announced a schedule change for an upcoming meeting and field tour in Cedarville. The committee will convene its business meeting Thursday, Sept. 25, at 8 a.m. On Friday, Sept. 26, the committee will depart for a tour of the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge.

"Mining company renegotiates purchase of Langtry property" (San Bernardino County Sun, 9/14/08)
"Langtry comprises about 400 acres, and it's estimated to have 72 million ounces of silver and almost 3 million tons of barite. The company also wants to start drilling by year's end on the Laviathan Property, a 1,300-acre piece of land owned by the Bureau of Land Management and also located in the Calico Mining District ... Barite is a heavy material used in manufacturing oil drills."

"Push made for 'green'" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 9/18/08)
"A bill that aims to speed permits for renewable energy projects on federal land was introduced in the House this week. The bill by Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., would require the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies to approve or disapprove permit applications within 180 days. If no action is taken the project automatically would get a green light."

"The Sun King" (Wall Street Journal, 9/14/08)
Opinion page: "Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, thinks he has a partial solution to America's dependence on high-priced foreign oil. But he says liberals and environmentalists are rejecting it. Mr. Rohrabacher -- who notes 130 pending applications for solar power projects on federal land administered by the Bureau of Land Management -- has introduced a bill to allow the building of such plants without environmental-impact studies."

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current openings include park ranger and law enforcement ranger.

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

September 20-21 - Free guided hikes
Headwaters Forest Reserve - call for reservations for specific days

September 27 - National Public Lands Day
Throughout California and the country


"Interior, NOAA extend comment period on proposed changes to ESA consultation process" (Department of the Interior news release, 9/11/08)
"The Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today announced a 30-day extension to the public comment period on the proposed rule change to the Endangered Species Act consultation process."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) they are the most abundant native turtle -- though their numbers are dwindling, and they have been designated a "species of special concern" in California.

SOURCE: "Western pond turtle - Clemmys marmorata" (BLM California wildlife database)
They are the most abundant of California native turtles. These turtles are found in almost any habitat type that provides a permanent source of water.

Western pond turtles in the news:

A worker holds a baby western pond turtle and a quarter"Oakland Zoo program nurtures turtles"
(Oakland Tribune, 9/11/08)
"Smaller than a quarter at birth, slower than frozen molasses, unable to fend off non-native predators and competitors to save their lives, they're Western Pond Turtles - California's only native aquatic turtle species - and their numbers are dwindling by the day."

"Saving a Species at SSU" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 9/6/08)
"'They are very charismatic,' said Zannie Dallara, a Sonoma State University graduate student as she held a newly hatched western pond turtle. 'Look at them . . . how could you not like them?' The turtles -- each the size of a quarter -- are being hatched in an SSU biology lab in makeshift incubators and will be raised by the San Francisco and Oakland zoos before being released in Lake County."

"'Safari' provides education in ecological reserve" (Chico Enterprise-Record, 9/13/08)
"About 40 guests at the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve saw not only turtles, but also evidence of many other animals, and they learned about the area's geological history and its plants and insects ... The Western Pond Turtle, the only turtle species native to this area, is a state and federal species of concern." A biology instructor "explained how the turtles at the reserve have been studied for about eight years, and he showed how each turtle they caught was marked with notches filed into the edge of its shell."


kangaroo rat on hind legs"Scientists study endangered kangaroo rat habitat" (Associated Press at Google News, 9/17/08)
"Scientists plan to use satellite photos to count Giant Kangaroo Rats, the first-ever monitoring of an endangered species from outer space ... When kangaroo rats decline, so do the endangered native plant and animal species that depend on them for survival, the researchers say." Researchers are focusing on the Carrizo Plain. "Determining at what point rainfall affects foraging will help the U.S. Bureau of Land Management establish grazing policy to control nonnative grasses and encourage a healthy kangaroo rat population."

RELATED: "Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)
Includes photo gallery, maps, fact sheet, and a downloadable "self guided tour" in audio.

Wildlife and abandoned mines:

"Bat man comes to the rescue of, well, bats" (Associated Press at Google News)
"Since January, the Arizona conservation biologist has taken on a specialized role that has him descending into mine shafts to ensure bats living underground don't become casualties of efforts to close abandoned mines across the Southwest ... If other factors ... show the mine to be habitable bat space, Corbett will recommend constructing a steel gate that would be narrow enough to keep humans out but let bats flit freely. 'If a mine is unsafe, putting a bat gate on is twofold; it keeps people out and also protects bats,' Corbett said. 'The two goals are not mutually exclusive.'"

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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
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(916) 978-4600

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