A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 353 - 10/15/08

A bicyclist looks over greenery at the Carrizo Plain Gathering plants Close-up shows a desert tortoise in the desert Runners in the 2008 Bizz Johnson Marathon Profile close-up photo: Associate Director, BLM California Desert District

- Renewable energy
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Kids and nature
- More outdoor recreation
- Buttercup ranger station and welcome center
- Wildfires and prevention
- Wild horses and burros
- Headlines and highlights: Marijuana threats, tribal gathering policy, legislation, jobs, more
- Employee profile
- Selected upcoming events: Volunteer this weekend, more
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Emergency land withdrawals
- Wildlife: Trivia answer, more desert tortoise news and the "new" Mojave Max

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


Rep. Bono points out a wind power feature to Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne"Leader calls valley's wind energy vital" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 10/14/08)
"Wind turbine fields such as those that define North Palm Springs are 'extremely important' as the country diversifies its alternative energy choices, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior said Monday. 'You have to have that as part of your energy portfolio,' Secretary Dirk Kempthorne told The Desert Sun ... Kempthorne said wind continues to be at the forefront of energy conversations, and he has a 'significant meeting' planned on Oct. 20 with the Bureau of Land Management to discuss future plans. There are some 200 wind energy permits covering 2 million acres pending, he noted."

"No twists in final Powerlink report" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/15/08)
"The final report analyzing the environmental effects of San Diego Gas & Electric's proposed Sunrise Powerlink was released yesterday and contains few surprises. The Aspen Environmental Group prepared the report for the state's Public Utilities Commission and the Bureau of Land Management. Powerlink would be a 150-mile transmission line from SDG&E's Imperial Valley substation near El Centro to the coast near Del Mar. It would cost an estimated $1.5 billion. The report ranks seven alternatives for providing additional electricity to the county. The ranking of the alternatives has not changed from when a draft report was issued in January."

RELATED: "BLM, CPUC release final EIS/EIR for proposed Sunrise Powerlink Project" (BLM-California news release, 10/14/08)
The Bureau of Land Management and the California Public Utilities Commission have published a joint final environmental impact statement/environmental impact report (EIS/EIR) analyzing the Sunrise Powerlink project proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric Company and a range of alternatives. As required by federal regulations, BLM identified its "BLM agency preferred alternative" in the final EIS as the “southern route alternative.”

"Solar tax incentives run into credit freeze" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 10/10/08)
"President Bush signed off on an eight-year extension of solar energy tax incentives last week, providing the long-sought stability for the burgeoning industry" but "the credit market has frozen. Without access to capital, solar companies may cut back on expansion plans and look to Asia to produce solar panels.." But also "under the new bill, utilities can own and operate their own solar plants ... [a spokesperson for Solar Electric Power Association] said utility-scale solar will grow despite the economic downturn, as most U.S. states are mandating increased use of renewable energy. The country needs new power sources, and investors will be more comfortable providing capital for sustainable projects, she said."

RELATED: "Solar energy" (BLM-California)
California is a pioneer in capturing the state's abundant sunshine for solar energy, as evidenced by recent California Solar Initiatives available through the California Public Utilities Commission to provide incentives for solar development on new and existing residential and commercial projects. On public lands managed by BLM California, solar development is just beginning, but holds significant promise.

"Solar deal to enrich firm with Schwarzenegger tie?" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 10/14/08)
"The personal connections have raised questions about possible favorable treatment for a project being touted as a breakthrough in the development of solar power. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental attorney who is the cousin of first lady Maria Shriver, and former state Environmental Protection Secretary Terry Tamminen were named senior advisers at VantagePoint Venture Partners last year ... If approved, the project would be the first solar-generating station on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property. It's part of a land rush in the Southwest, where companies from Wall Street to Europe are snapping up swaths of once-ignored wilderness for energy projects that could forever alter the landscape."


Close-up shows a desert tortoise in the desert

Which is one of the greatest threats to Desert Tortoises in captivity?
(a.) They stop breeding in captivity
(b.) They suffer from malnutrition because they refuse to eat their natural diets
(c.) They develop upper respiratory infections
(d.) They develop poor circulation
(e.) They can injure themselves jumping up on the table trying to get dinner scraps
------> See answer -- and news stories including the "new" Mojave Max -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.


BLM-California director Mike Pool watches at a garden tour at the California Biodiversity Council meeting"CBC addresses 'Nature Deficit Disorder'" (News.bytes Extra)
American youngsters are increasingly using their thumbs to grasp a video game controller instead of a fishing pole or hiking staff. By some estimates, youngsters are spending 30 minutes a week in unstructured outdoor recreation and 14 hours playing video games.
How to address this “nature deficit disorder” was the theme of the California Biodiversity Council meeting Oct. 8-9 in Oakland. BLM State Director Mike Pool, council co-chairman and council members heard from a variety of organizations trying different approaches to involve youngsters with nature and from the youngsters themselves.

Maggie at the lectern reads her poem to the groupRELATED: "Young people and the environment - a River of Words" (News.bytes Extra)
A special treat at the recent California Biodiversity Council's Children in Nature meeting was a poetry reading by Maggie Gallagher, 12, from Berkeley, winner of the 2008 River of Words grand prize. Maggie's poem was selected as the winner in the annual international poetry and art contest for youth sponsored by the California non-profit group River of Words, in affiliation with the Library of Congress Center for the Book. Read the poem and more:

"Federal and nonprofit conservation leaders urge children to 'Get Outdoors, It's Yours!'" (Department of the Interior news release, 10/14/08)
A new '''Get Outdoors, It’s Yours!' campaign to reconnect children with nature ... encourages children and their educators and families to experience nature firsthand. Federal leaders from eight agencies and bureaus said that 'Get Outdoors, It’s Yours!' will provide more information for America’s young people about opportunities to get outdoors on our national parks, forests, refuges, other public lands and waterways."

RELATED: "Get Outdoors, It's Yours!..."
...is a national campaign focused on getting America's youth outside and engaging with nature. Follow the links to "what do you want to do?" (from biking to winter activities), "where do you want to go?" (for outdoor destinations by state), outdoor web cams and games. Sponsored by eight agencies including the Bureau of Land Management.


A bicyclist looks over greenery at the Carrizo PlainA bright orange-yellow oriole at the Carrizo Plain"You can see forever at Carrizo Plain National Monument" (Santa Barbara Noozhawk, 10/13/08)
"Pronghorn antelope and Tule elk once roamed these magnificent grasslands in vast numbers, were hunted to extinction by the late 1800s, but reintroduced to the region in the late 1980s. Since then, antelope and elk herds are on the rise, steadily growing across what’s become known as 'California’s Serengeti.' The Carrizo Plain resembles what much of California appeared like 300 years ago ... 'You have to be patient and look closely,' said Johna Hurl, manager of the Carrizo Plain National Monument. 'Turn your car off and hear the sounds of nature all around you.' More than 100 species of birds live seasonally or year-round at Carrizo."

Carrizo Plain in pinks and purples at sunsetRELATED: "Self-guided tour of the Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)
Download audio tour, or follow links to text version of the tour or the photo gallery. (The thumbnail at left is from a photo that accompanied the story above.)

Cutting the red ribbon at the trailheadRiders on Segways hit the new Keswick Trail"Keswick Dam Trailhead dedicated" (News.bytes Extra)
A group of about 70 partners and well-wishers joined staff from the BLM Redding Field Office last Friday to dedicate a new trailhead and connection of the BLM Sacramento River Rail Trail to the city of Redding's Sacramento River Trail. Together, the two trails provide a 14-mile recreational route from the heart of Redding to Shasta Dam.

Runners in the 2008 Bizz Johnson Marathon Runners pass through a scenic section of the marathon"Bizz Johnson Marathon 2008 attracts hundreds of runners" (News.bytes Extra)
The annual Bizz Johnson Marathon attracted 781 runners to Susanville on the weekend of Oct. 10 and 11, with 442 of those competing in the full marathon.  The event, organized by Redwood Trails, also featured two half marathons and 5K and 10K runs, all on the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail.

Father and son mountain bikers at Swasey Recreation Area"Photo: Rough riders" (Redding Record Searchlight, 10/13/08)
Photo and cutline only: "Kyle Matti, left, and his son Logan, 9, ride their mountain bikes Sunday at Swasey Recreation Area near Redding during Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, put on annually by Redding Mountain Biking Club and the Bureau of Land Management."


"BLM Buttercup station set to open" (Imperial Valley Press, 10/10/08)
"For the last eight years the Bureau of Land Management has been working to get to the point where it could provide a multi-faceted facility for the hundreds of thousands of visitors that recreate in the Imperial County Sand Dunes every year. Today [last Friday] BLM will officially open its new $1.8 million ranger station off Interstate 8 in the Buttercup area. “What we’re going to have is a medical facility, a law enforcement facility and a visitors’ center,” Neil Hamada, Imperial Sand Dunes recreational manager, said. He said the facility primarily will be run by volunteers along with some BLM staff."

"Road to new ranger station named after fallen BP agent" (Yuma Sun, 10/9/08)
"The entrance road to the new Buttercup Ranger Station will be dedicated to the memory of Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar, who lost his life in the line of duty at the site this past January ...   The dedication will be part of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's grand opening ceremony for the new ranger station in the Imperial Sand Dunes. The public is invited to the grand opening Saturday at 5:30 p.m."


"National fire news" (National Interagency Fire Center)
Includes daily updates -- during the fire season -- of wildland fires in California and other states.

"Local BLM fire crews head to California" (KVBC-TV Las Vegas, 10/14/08)
Fire crews from out of state are helping with the current wildfires in California, including BLM crews from southern Nevada: "A perfect storm is fueling several wildfires in California, making them incredibly dangerous. Thousands have been evacuated and thousands more have been told to be ready to leave if the erratic Santa Ana winds shift and head their way ... some of Nevada's fire crews have already been called in for assistance. One crew left Monday afternoon and another left Tuesday morning."

"Volunteers needed for fire rehabilitation work" (BLM-California news release, 9/30/08)
This weekend: Volunteers interested in fire rehabilitation work can join the Bureau of Land Management 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. (Repeated from last week's News.bytes)

"BLM lifts fire restrictions on lands managed by Redding area office" (BLM-California news release, 10/8/08)
The Bureau of Land Management has announced that restrictions on outdoor use of fire have been lifted for BLM-managed public lands in Butte, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama and Trinity counties. Easing of restrictions means that campfires can again be used outside of developed campgrounds. Campfire permits are required. Restrictions on use of internal combustion engines, including chainsaws, also will be lifted, and the BLM Redding Field Office will resume selling firewood cutting permits. Target shooting is now allowed from a half hour before sunrise to sunset.

"Prescribed burning to begin on public lands" (BLM-California news release, 10/9/08)
The Bureau of Land Management, Lassen National Forest and Lassen Volcanic National Park will soon begin fall burning programs in northeastern California.  Burning will begin when weather conditions allow for safe and efficient burning.  Area residents and visitors can anticipate seeing smoke and fire equipment activity associated with the following projects:

"Community Wildfire Protection Plan meetings set for this month" (Lake County Lake County and the Lake County Fire Safe Council will sponsor 10 community meetings between Monday, Oct. 20, and Thursday, Oct. 30 as part of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The meetings will include information on "fire safety, defensible space ... local wildfire risks and hazards ... Jeff Tunnell, fire mitigation and education specialist for the Bureau of Land Management and a member of the Fire Safe Council, said, 'Creating a fire-safe environment around your home, neighborhood, and community makes the firefighters’ efforts more effective and safe."


"Wild horses and burros offered for adoption in Beaumont" (BLM-California news release, 10/9/08)
Thirty young weanlings and 10 burros will be available for adoption at the Noble Creek Arena in Beaumont  on Oct. 31- Nov. 1, 2008. The mustangs and burros were gathered from public lands in Nevada, have been wormed and vaccinated, and are in excellent health. Animals arrive at noon on Friday, Oct. 31, and potential adopters may view the mustangs and burros from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. BLM staff will approve adoption applications beginning 8 a.m. on Saturday; the  lottery adoption starts at 9 a.m., followed by first come, first served. 

"Wild horse and burro adoption schedule" (BLM-California)

"Advocates say government should save wild horses" (Associated Press in San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/13/08)
"Federal agencies should change the way they manage wild horses on public lands to prevent the animals from going extinct in five years, advocates said Monday ... Wild horse enthusiasts met in Las Vegas over the weekend to discuss solutions to protect the horses and keep them on public lands ... the groups will suggest lawmakers redistribute federal money to wild horse programs, return wild horses from federal pens to open land and consolidate federal agencies to free up money for wild horses."

"Are wild horses facing extinction?" (KVBC-TV Las Vegas, 10/13/08)
"After a two-day summit in Las Vegas, advocates for our country's wild horse population have concluded that there are too many horses in holding pens and not enough on the open range." Includes video.


"Biologists who find pot garden held at gunpoint"(Las Vegas Review-Journal, 10/10/08)
"Three Bureau of Land Management biologists were held at gunpoint by members of a Mexican drug cartel after stumbling upon a marijuana garden in a remote area of Northern Nevada on Tuesday. The biologists were surveying the north fork of the Little Humboldt River, near the Nevada-Oregon border, when they suddenly found themselves in a marijuana garden about 4 p.m. ... One of the gunmen spoke English" and "told them they could leave, but they had to head north, in the direction they had come from."

RELATED: "Mexican marijuana cartels sully US forests, parks" (Associated Press at Yahoo! News, 10/11/08)
"National forests and parks -- long popular with Mexican marijuana-growing cartels -- have become home to some of the most polluted pockets of wilderness in America because of the toxic chemicals needed to eke lucrative harvests from rocky mountainsides ... Weed and bug sprays, some long banned in the U.S., have been smuggled to the marijuana farms. Plant growth hormones have been dumped into streams, and the water has then been diverted for miles in PVC pipes. Rat poison has been sprinkled over the landscape to keep animals away from tender plants. And many sites are strewn with the carcasses of deer and bears poached by workers during the five-month growing season that is now ending."

Gathering plants"Tribes, USFS work together" (Mount Shasta News, 10/8/08)
"Representatives from several local Native American tribes came together with members of the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to celebrate the Traditional Gathering Policy at the Mount Shasta Ranger District on Friday. The Traditional Gathering Policy was implemented in 2006 in order to ensure native tribes access to and use of culturally important plants for non-commercial uses."

"McKeon: Cemex, wilderness bills won't die" (Santa Clarita Signal, 10/15/08)
Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon "promised to re-introduce the Cemex bill as 'one of the first things' he does in the new Congress." His "Soledad Canyon Mine Act ... calls on the Secretary of the Interior to cancel Bureau of Land Management mineral contracts that permit mining in the area near Santa Clarita ... McKeon's wilderness bill - introduced in May as the Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act - seeks to protect sweeping tracts of land in National Forest areas in California" and could affect various lands managed by BLM-California.

"Bly Tunnel discussion dominates board meeting" (Lassen County News, 10/14/08) "Eagle Lake residents packed the house during the Eagle Lake Interagency Board of Directors meeting in the Lassen County Board of Supervisors Room on Wednesday to consider issues affecting the lake. Of greatest interest to the public there was the Bly Tunnel and what effect it might have on dramatically declining lake levels. Jennifer Mata, an ecologist with the Bureau of Land Management, made a slide presentation that outlined the history of the tunnel."

"26 off-roaders ticketed in 'Iron Door' near Indio"
(Palm Springs Desert Sun, 10/13/08)
"Sheriff's deputies ticketed 29 motorists and warned 31 others for illegally driving off-road vehicles around Riverside County over the weekend, including Temecula's wine country ... Deputies also helped Bureau of Land Management Rangers with hunter-safety checks, as Saturday was the first day of deer hunting season."

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


"BLM issues Record of Decision on Eastern San Diego County Resource Management Plan"
(BLM-California news release, 10/10/08)
The Resource Management Plan (RMP) affects about 100,000 acres of public lands managed by the BLM’s El Centro Field Office in the eastern portion of San Diego County, adjacent to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the Cleveland National Forest, several Indian reservations, and the U.S.-Mexico border. The RMP will provide future management guidance for use and protection of the resources in this area.  

"BLM extends call for Desert District Advisory Council nominations" (BLM-California news release, 10/10/08)
The Bureau of Land Management's California Desert District has extended its call for nominations from the public for five members to serve the 2009-2011 three-year term. Nominations will now be accepted through December 1, 2008. The five positions to be filled include one renewable resources representative, one elected official, one transportation/rights-of-way representative, one renewable energy interests, and one public at large representative. Anyone can nominate qualified persons in any of these categories.

"BLM Desert District Advisory Council to meet in Ridgecrest" (BLM-California news release, 10/10/08)
The BLM's California Desert District Advisory Council will participate in a field tour of BLM-administered public lands on Friday, November 14 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and meet in formal session on Saturday, November 15 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in Ridgecrest CA.

Profile close-up photo: Associate Director, BLM California Desert DistrictEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Jack Hamby...
...says the job announcement said he would be the "alter ego" for the BLM's California Desert District Manager. He quipped, "Never having been an 'alter ego' before, he had to look it up before applying for the job to see if he was qualified." Gifted with a quick wit and 18 years of BLM experience, he has had no difficulty in fitting in at the California Desert District Office as Associate District Manager. Read More:

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

October 16 - Native plants and their uses
La Quinta

October 17 - Cactus Springs hike
Palm Desert

Oct. 18 - Volunteers needed
Radamacher Hills viewshed - help improve recreational access roads, recreation vehicle routes, non-vehicular multi-use recreation trails, trailheads, picnic day use sites and Ron Henry Interpretive Site. 

Oct. 18 - Volunteers needed - see story under "wildfires and prevention" above
Chappie-Shasta Off Highway Vehicle Area

Oct. 18-19 - Free guided hikes
Headwaters Forest Reserve - Call for reservations

Oct. 23 - Public meeting - Twentynine Palms Marine Corps withdrawal application
Twentynine Palms
News release:

October 24 - Public meeting - Twentynine Palms Marine Corps withdrawal application


"BLM announces new rule for emergency land withdrawals" (BLM national news release, 10/9/08))
The Bureau of Land Management published Friday, October 10 in the Federal Register a proposed rule to eliminate existing regulations providing for the emergency withdrawal of lands leaving in place the existing, more conventional withdrawal provisions that exempt BLM-managed lands from the operation of various public land laws.  A 15-day public comment period on the regulatory proposal started October 10.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) They develop upper respiratory infections

SOURCE: "Desert tortoise - Gopherus agassizii" (BLM California wildlife database)
Although the desert tortoise population remained healthy for three million years, it is now experiencing a serious decline. One cause for this decline is an upper respiratory disease. This disease is usually found in captive pet tortoises, but some pet owners have released their sick tortoises into the wild. As a result, some wild tortoises have contracted and spread the disease.


The new Mojave Max official desert tortoise mascot"Mojave Max tortoise successor chosen" (Las Vegas Sun, 10/9/08)
"A 10-pound successor to the Mojave Max legacy at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area has been selected to carry on educating people about their role and responsibility in the health of the Mojave Desert. The new Mojave Max is a healthy 19-year-old male who will carry on the tradition of predicting spring-like weather conditions..." News.bytes has featured the information about "The Mojave Max Emergence Contest" in which students predict when the desert tortoise will emerge from his burrow each spring. A new contest will start Nov. 1. The previous Mojave Max died of natural causes this summer, at the estimate age of 65. The new Mojave Max "is estimated at 19 years old, a youngster in tortoise ages."

"Army suspends Fort Irwin tortoise relocation plans after deaths of 90 animals" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 10/10/08)
"The U.S. Army has suspended plans to relocate more than 1,000 desert tortoises from Fort Irwin expansion areas this fall and next spring ... About 90 of the 556 tortoises moved in the spring are dead, mostly as a result of coyote attacks. Army and federal wildlife officials said this week that a timeout is needed to determine how many of the tortoises, a threatened species, would have died anyway and how many deaths should be attributed to the relocation effort ... Two environmental groups ... sued the Army and the Bureau of Land Management in July, contending that the move exposed healthy tortoises to diseased animals and placed them in a poorer-quality habitat."
Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.

"Army suspends relocation of Ft. Irwin tortoises" (Los Angeles Times, 10/11/08)
"The Army's National Training Center at Ft. Irwin on Friday suspended its effort to move California desert tortoises off prospective combat training grounds and onto nearby public lands because the animals are being hit hard by coyotes ... Biologists theorize the problem may be connected to severe drought conditions, which have killed off plants and triggered a crash in rodent populations. As a result, coyotes, which normally thrive on kangaroo rats and rabbits, are turning to tortoises for sustenance."
Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.

"Taking care of bighorns in Mongolia" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 10/9/08)
"It was the trip of a lifetime, Danielle Ortiz says. It exceeded my expectations.,” Ortiz said. “I held animals I never thought I'd lay my hands on.” From Aug. 31 to Sept. 13, Ortiz, an outdoor educator for the U.S. Forest Service and staff member at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, studied and tracked bighorn sheep in Mongolia."

RELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM-California, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
The National Monument’s boundary encompasses about 272,000 acres, including 89,500 acres within the Bureau of Land Management’s California Desert Conservation Area and 65,000 acres within the San Jacinto Ranger District of the San Bernardino National Forest.

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