A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 351 - 10/1/08

White water rafters hit the rapids on the American River Mountain bike riders pass a map of the new trail A Girl Scout admires a hand-held GPS unit Linda Herzog shows off her mustang, Chip Handcar racers pump it up on at the Rails to Trails Festival 2007

- Wild and Scenic Rivers Act turns 40
- Rails to Trails Festival this weekend
- National Public Lands Day:
      - New mountain bike trail dedicated
      - Another volunteer event this weekend
- Fall foliage in California: The Sierra
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Take it Outside, and Leave No Trace
- Renewable energy
- Wildfire after-effects
- Headlines and highlights: Predicting earthquakes, Cadiz water storage, trail rehab, more
- Selected upcoming events

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:

White water rafters hit the rapids on the American RiverWILD & SCENIC RIVERS: 40th anniversary
The National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act turns 40 this month!  The Act was created on the recommendation of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, who proposed that the United States government act to protect our nation’s rivers with wild and scenic characteristics from development that would substantially change their pristine nature. The Act was signed on October 2, 1968.

"Wild and Scenic Rivers" (BLM-California)
Links to more information about wild and scenic rivers managed by BLM-California.

"Federal act turns 40, will more rivers be affected?" (Sonora Union Democrat, 9/19/08)
"The National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act has allowed George Wendt to run a thriving whitewater-rafting business in Angels Camp." After a new dam "halted the Stanislaus River's free-flowing nature" in the early 1980s, he and other outfitters had to look elsewhere, and "the Tuolumne River had some tremendous potential ... That potential was being threatened by three proposed dams at the time. But after losing the free-flowing Stanislaus, Wendt and others fought to stop the Tuolumne from suffering the same fate. In 1984, they won the fight -- the Tuolumne River was designated a National Wild and Scenic River."

"Cleanup day on Mokelumne River" (Stockton Record, 9/27/08)
"The Foothill Conservancy is inviting anyone who enjoys the upper Mokelumne River to take part in a cleanup day on Oct. 25 ... The gathering points for the cleanup are the Box Beach parking lot on Electra Road east of Highway 49, the Bureau of Land Management parking area along the North Fork Mokelumne at Highway 26 and the Middle Bar takeout where Middle Bar Road crosses the river. Coffee, juice and breakfast snacks will be available. Rain would cancel the event."

"Mokelumne River" (BLM-California, Folsom Field Office)
Kayaks, canoes and inner tubes go with the flow on this scenic three (3) mile course of the Mokelumne River past the Gold Rush towns of Jackson and Mokelumne Hill.  Easy access and a series of short but peppy rapids make this a popular spot for novice whitewater fans and kayakers in training for more advance runs.


"Rails to Trails Festival" (BLM-California, Eagle Lake Field Office)
The festival starts this Friday, Oct. 3 with an evening barbecue, live music, railroad handcar rides and more. Saturday features railroad handcar racing all day, live music, and arts and crafts fair, chili and salsa contest and tasting. This is one of those events that draws families and enthusiasts year after year. Come prepared for weather changes and you will thoroughly enjoy yourselves!

Handcar racers pump it up on at the Rails to Trails Festival 2007"Rails to Trails Festival 2007 attracts a thousand" (News.bytes Extra, 9/30/07)
Photos from last year's Rails to Trails Festival at the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail feature several teams of handcar racers, a craft vendor, chili judging, a guitar player and a clown.

"Season's final Bizz Johnson shuttles are scheduled" (BLM-California news release, 9/26/08)
The year's final Bizz Johnson Trail bus shuttles are scheduled for October, during the Rails to Trails Festival and to celebrate fall colors. The shuttles enable bike riders, hikers and joggers to take one-way trips on the trail without having to arrange their own vehicle shuttles. Two shuttles will run Sunday, Oct. 5, as part of the Rails to Trails Festival in Susanville. Additionally, two shuttles are planned for Saturday, Oct. 25 to support the annual Bizz Johnson Trail Fall Colors Bike Ride.

"On the trail" (Plumas County News, 9/26/08)
"Autumn is absolutely glorious in Plumas County ... I’ll be spending every weekend this month trying to cram in as much hiking, biking and boating as I can before the long wait begins for … snow!" This column lists some upcoming autumn events, including the Bizz Johnson fall color bicycle ride Oct. 25. Also, a group is working on 86-plus miles of rail-to-trail conversion: "Combine these trails with the recreational trail along Lake Almanor and the Bizz Johnson Trail, and northeastern California could become a prime bicycle-touring destination."

National Public Lands Day 2008 - logoNATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY...
...was observed last weekend, including several volunteer cleanup events ... plus a ceremony to dedicate the first public land trail in northern California designed specifically for mountain bikes. Also, BLM-California's Bishop Field Office is holding a volunteer event this coming weekend.

Mountain bike riders pass a map of the new trail"New King Range Mountain Bike Trail dedicated on National Public Lands Day 2008" (News.bytes Extra)
Mountain bike enthusiasts joined trail building volunteers and BLM staff on National Public Lands Day to celebrate completion of the Paradise Royale Mountain Bike Trail in the King Range National Conservation Area. The NLPD celebration recognized groups and individuals who contributed 4,000 volunteer hours to build the 14-mile loop trail. It is the only public land trail in northern California designed specifically for mountain bikes.

"Volunteers clean up near Redding on National Public Lands Day" (News.bytes Extra)
A group of 30 volunteers celebrated National Public Lands Day at the BLM's Clear Creek Greenway south of Redding, hauling out 50 bags of garbage and a shopping cart that had been pitched into the creek. The volunteers also removed graffiti, tore down a dilapidated corral and remove litter from the roadside.

Oct. 4 - Bishop Field Office - Alabama Hills Community Spirit Day, Part 2. Volunteers will help clean up the Alabama Hills in anticipation of the Lone Pine Film Festival, Oct. 10-12.


"The Sierra's enduring gold" (Sacramento Bee, 9/28/08)
"If a fall color getaway is on your agenda, the time to plan is now. Timing is crucial, depending on where you want to go. It all depends on altitude. A broad spectrum of microclimates within a two-hour drive of Sacramento make for a season that extends over eight to 10 weeks. Aspens in the higher reaches of the Sierra already have turned golden, while maples in the foothills, and sweet gums in the valley are still a month and more from their peak. The most brilliant stands of fall foliage in California are to be found in the eastern Sierra, veteran leaf-peepers say. Trees up high start changing first, with color marching down toward the mountains' base as cooler temperatures take hold."

"Fall color hotspots 2008" (BLM-California, Bishop Field Office)
As of last weekend: Colors are becoming more vibrant at the higher elevations. Most color change is above the 8,000 foot level. Colors are beginning to appear around the canyons west of Bishop, Crowley Lake, Mammoth Lakes, Lee Vining and the Bodie Hills. Some good spots to check out - Upper Bishop Creek and Convict Lake Area.


Northern pocket gopher stands in a clearing
Thumbnail from a photo by Dr. Lloyd Glenn Ingles, California Academy of Sciences

What are the main predators of the northern pocket gopher?
(a.) badgers
(b.) weasels
(c.) skunks
(d.) bobcats
(e.) all of the above - plus some snakes and owls
(h.) southern pickpocket gophers

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


A Girl Scout admires a hand-held GPS unit"BLM’s 'Take it Outside' offers GPS geocaching at San Bernardino County’s Annual Sheriff’s Rodeo" (News.bytes Extra)
More than 3,000 Girl and Boy Scouts converged on Glen Helen Regional Park Sept. 27, for the San Bernardino County’s Annual Sheriff’s Rodeo & Camporee. One highlight was a "treasure hunt" -- featuring Global Positioning System (GPS) training and Leave No Trace principles -- sponsored by the BLM’s California Desert District Office in partnership with the San Gorgonio Girl Scout Council.

Linda Herzog shows off her mustang, Chip"Horse education and the SRSJM National Monument" (News.bytes Extra)
"The Impact Monster" showed equestrians and Girl Scouts how not to act in the backcountry, during a BLM presentation at the Back Country Horsemen’s Association Education Day recently in Yucaipa. Visitors learned about Leave No Trace/Gentle Use principles, horse trail etiquette and more.


"Are some solar projects no longer ‘green’?" (Christian Science Monitor, 9/25/08)
"Solar companies proposing large power plants in the Mojave Desert are facing opposition from conservationists. They say a rush to build solar here threatens to tear up large tracts of desert habitat and open space. The squabble is likely to intensify now that Congress this week moved forward on a long-term extension of the solar tax credit. Two other proposed bills would fast-track solar power projects looking to build on federal lands ... The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has received some 200 applications to build solar plants on federal land in recent years. In California alone, there are 80 proposals involving 700,000 acres."

"Assessment of moderate- and high-temperature geothermal resources of the United States" (U.S. Geological Survey, 9/29/08)
Links from the USGS homepage to a fact sheet, news release and slide presentation. From the fact sheet: "Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey recently completed an assessment of our Nation’s geothermal resources. Geothermal power plants are currently operating in six states: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah." From the news release: "Geothermal power production could significantly add to the electric power generating capacity in the United States."

"Property owners fighting new wind farms in East County" (KFMB-TV San Diego, 9/30/08)
"If big energy companies get their way, there would be hundreds more of the wind turbines in the East County. The first ones were built on Indian land. Then earlier this year, the Bureau of Land Management opened up 20,000 acres of federal land near Boulevard for future wind energy. Private property could be next." Includes link to video.

"Pasadena-based firm poised to harness the sun's power" (Los Angeles Daily News, 9/27/08)
"With construction of a demonstration facility under way in the High Desert, a Pasadena-based firm is moving forward in its quest to harness the sun's power with a new generation of solar thermal power plants. The facility being built by eSolar will test what company officials extol as game-changing technology that uses a modular design and mass-manufactured components that can be scaled to fit specific power needs ... it plans to apply soon to the California Energy Commission for permits to build a full-size plant at an undisclosed location in the Antelope Valley." A company spokesperson says, "eSolar in general tries to find land that has been previously farmed or "disturbed" in some way."

"Reclaiming his place in the sun" (New York Times, 9/23/08)
"In 1989, Arnold J. Goldman was the world’s undisputed sun king. His realm was a desolate patch of the Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles, where his company, Luz International, created the world’s largest solar energy installation. At the time, Luz’s plants generated roughly 90 percent of the solar energy on the planet. Two years later, his reign was over, done in by an uninterested public." But with rising energy costs, "After 20 years wandering outside the desert, he is back, with a reconstituted company and a contract from Pacific Gas and Electric Company to purchase up to 900 megawatts of power while creating more efficient solar plants at Ivanpah, Calif., on the Nevada border."
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"Fire danger zones; 2007 wildfires one year later" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/28/08)
"Last year, a fire task force created maps that pinpointed the areas of the county most vulnerable to infernos. Not long after, two of the October firestorm's largest blazes -- Witch Creek and Harris -- burned in those exact areas. Now the task force has updated its maps to show three regions where the next massive blazes are most likely to hit ... Funded with a $100,000 grant from the federal Bureau of Land Management, efforts to get rid of hazardous vegetation have been ongoing all year. As part of the effort, 2,000 notices to homeowners in areas identified as highest-risk were sent out this year offering help in creating a 100-foot safety clearance around the properties."

"Telegraph Fire could still cause damage" (Sonora Union Democrat, 9/25/08)
"The Telegraph Fire in Mariposa County -- which burned 53 square miles of land, destroyed 30 homes and 100 outbuildings, and cost $37.6 million to extinguish -- may not be done wreaking havoc, according to several post-fire reports. Reports from the State Emergency Assessment Team, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service warn of further destruction from rock and mud slides, flooding, noxious weeds replacing native plants, and contaminated drinking water. Most of the potential catastrophe would come with the next heavy rainfall."

"Volunteers needed for fire rehabilitation work" (BLM-California news release, 9/30/08)
Volunteers interested in fire rehabilitation work can join the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for a project day Saturday, Oct. 18, in the Chappie-Shasta Off Highway Vehicle Area. Members of the Redding Dirt Riders, Shasta Rock Rollers and Black Sheep 4x4 Club will be installing trail signs and spreading straw on fire-damaged slopes to help prevent erosion during the rainy season.

RELATED: "Chappie-Shasta Off-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM-California, Redding Field Office)
Photos, maps and other information.

"BLM temporarily closes road in Mariposa County" (BLM-California news release, 9/29/08)
The Bureau of Land Management’s Folsom Field Office will temporarily close a portion of Bull Creek Road (Burma Grade) in Mariposa County to repair road damage from this summer’s Telegraph Fire.


"Will Parkfield yield it seismic secrets?" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 9/19/08)
A 10,000-foot deep hole southeastern Monterey County now holds sensors that scientists hope will one day help them "to predict when and where an earthquake will take place and how powerful it will be ... with the same precision as the National Weather Service is able to predict hurricanes." The site "is about midway along the San Andreas Fault, which slashes along the western part of California from Cape Mendocino to the Salton Sea. It is at its most visible where it runs through the Carrizo Plain National Monument in southeastern San Luis Obispo County. Two sets of parallel, crenulated hills line either side with a long ditch marking the fault running down the middle."

RELATED: "Geologic features: The San Andreas Fault" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)
On January 9, 1857 an earthquake with a estimated magnitude of 8.0 occurred just north of Carrizo Plain. It was one of the greatest earthquakes ever recorded in the United States. The current of the Kern River was turned upstream, and water ran four feet deep over its banks. The waters of Tulare Lake were thrown upon its shores, stranding fish miles from  the original lake bed. The waters of the Mokelumne River were thrown upon its banks, reportedly leaving the bed dry in places. Because of the aridity of the Carrizo Plain, the trace of the San Andreas Fault has not been significantly eroded.  Photographs of the stark hills and clear trace of the fault in the Carrizo Plain have been used in numerous earth science text books.

"Cadiz Valley desert water-storage plan renewed" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 9/28/08)
"The owners of remote desert land have revived a $200 million plan to store water underground to send to Southern California in dry times, although the region's major water agency rejected the idea six years ago." Water from the Colorado River Aqueduct would be pumped underground for storage until needed. A company spokesman said "native groundwater would be used but that levels would be carefully tracked to ensure the environment is protected. He added that using the Arizona & California Railroad Co. right-of-way would be less damaging to the environment than the previous plan that routed the pipeline across public land overseen by the federal Bureau of Land Management."
Note: this news site may require free registration to view its content online.

"BLM plans rehabilitation of Lower Rock Mountain Bike Trail" (BLM-California news release, 9/26/08)
The Bureau of Land Management’s Bishop Field Office plans to rehabilitate a portion of Lower Rock Creek Trail covered by a rock slide. The proposed project would be to remove approximately 100 feet of rocks and soil that is impeding the trail. Currently, about 27,000 visitors utilize the trail, which is considered to be one of the premier mountain bike trails in the region.

"BLM completes land acquisition to protect ecosystem" (BLM-California news release, 9/25/08)
The Bureau of Land Management recently completed the last of a series of land acquisitions in the Palm Springs area designed to protect the sand dunes ecosystem critical to the survival of the threatened Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard and other native species, the BLM's California Desert District announced. BLM Desert District Manager Steve Borchard said the purchased land, on the southwest side of Joshua Tree National Park adjacent to the existing Coachella Valley Fringe-toed Lizard Preserve, had previously been proposed for a large residential and commercial development.

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)

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

October 4-5 - Free guided hikes
Headwaters Forest Reserve - call for reservations

October 8 - "Top 10 scary desert creatures"
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, Thousand Palms

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(e.) all of the above - plus some snakes and owls

SOURCE: "Northern Pocket Gopher - Thomomys talpoides" (BLM California wildlife database)
The main predators of northern pocket gophers are other mammals, such as badgers, weasels, skunks, and bobcats. Some snakes and owls also prey on these pocket gophers.


"Thomomys talpoides - northern pocket gopher" (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Animal Diversity Web)
More information on geographic range, habitat, communication and more at this "educational resource written largely by and for college students."

"Thomomys talpoides - northern pocket gopher" (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History)
Short summary of information, two sketches and link to Quicktime animation.

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