A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 354 - 10/22/08

A grayish rock squirell on a rock in the desert Two Girl Scouts orient themselves to a compass A polo rider astride a horse lines up to swat at the ball An off-roading volunteer tosses straw as part of a trail rehabilitation project Close-up photo of Rachel Sowards

- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Environmental education with GPS
      - Anniversary of BLM's "organic act"
      - Remembering Eleanor Schwartz
- Renewable energy
- Wild horses and burros
- Recreation on public lands
- Wildfires
- Headlines and highlights: Pechanga tribal lands, Twentynine Palms, Fort Ord, jobs (NEW district managers), more
- Employee profile
- Selected upcoming events

This issue of News.bytes online at:


"Anniversary of Federal Land Policy Management Act - October 21, 1976" (News.bytes Extra)
As the bill that gave birth to BLM’s mission and management responsibilities, FLPMA is called BLM’s Organic Act and it proclaims “multiple use,” “sustained yield” and “environmental protection” as the guiding principles for public land management.  In the act, Congress first recognized the value of public lands to the citizens of the United States and stated that the public lands and their various resource values should be managed “so that they are utilized in the combination that will best meet the present and future needs of the American people."

Eleanor Schwartz receives an award plaque"Remembering Eleanor Schwartz"
(News.bytes Extra)
"Commemoration of any anniversary of the passage of FLPMA would be incomplete without also celebrating the life and contributions of a woman who helped legislators craft the bill that would fundamentally change the way our public lands are managed. Eleanor Schwartz, who worked with the Bureau of Land Management until her death in December 2000 at age 88, was head of the BLM’s Office of Legislative and Regulatory Management for many years, including the period during which FLPMA was initially conceived, drafted, and eventually passed." BLM-California State Director Mike Pool adds his own comment on working with Eleanor Schwartz.

"The Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 As Amended" (BLM national website)
(PDF file, 1.9 megabytes, 76 pages)


A grayish rock squirell on a rock in the desert
Thumbnail from a photo at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History online

Rock squirrels like to eat acorns, nuts, seeds and fruits from trees. Although these squirrels prefer vegetarian foods, they will also eat (trick question alert – more than one of the following may be true):
(a.) snakes
(b.) insects
(c.) small birds
(d.) small mammals
(e.) bears
(f.) rock lobster

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


Two Girl Scouts orient themselves to a compassA BLM advisor helps Girl Scouts orient their map to their compass readings"'Take It Outside!' GPS Treasure Hunt at Hidden Valley with BLM and Girl Scouts"
(News.bytes Extra)
Fifty Girl Scouts and leaders took part in a "GPS Fun Day” at Hidden Valley Wildlife Area earlier this month. The event, sponsored by the San Gorgonio Girl Scout Council, taught GPS (global positioning system) use, compass use and Leave No Trace skills. The highlight was using the GPS devices to search for a geocached "treasure."


"Solar project under review" (Imperial Valley Press, 10/20/08)
"If Stirling Energy Systems’ 750 megawatt solar project is completed, one Imperial County supervisor believes it would reaffirm this county as the No. 1 energy producer, at least in this state...." Another supervisor "said the county would like to see the Stirling project go forward, while working with the off-road community to diminish any potential impacts."
(Note: this news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

RELATED: "Environmental review process begins for solar project in Imperial County" (BLM-California news release, 10/17/08)
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, together with the California Energy Commission, today published a notice announcing that the agencies intend to prepare an environmental impact statement/staff assessment for the Stirling Energy Systems' Solar Two Project in Imperial County. The project, to be located about 14 miles west of El Centro, involves about 6,500 acres, including 6,140 acres of BLM public lands and 360 acres of private lands.

"Take a look at coincidences in solar power deal" (Oakland Tribune, 10/16/08)
Editorial: "There is a fascinating relationship tied to a breakthrough solar-energy complex near the Mojave Desert Preserve. What is significant about this is the players involved stand to make a handsome sum of money becoming the first solar-generating station on U.S. Bureau of Land Management land ... VantagePoint has a major stake in Oakland-based startup BrightSource Energy, which is planning to spend $2 billion to construct solar power plants along the Nevada border, and has locked up a deal to sell electricity to PG&E, enough to power 321,000 homes annually. "

"In Shift, Sunrise Powerlink Could Avoid Anza-Borrego"
(Voice of San Diego, 10/22/08)
"For nearly three years, whenever San Diego Gas & Electric talked about the Sunrise Powerlink's proposed path through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the company and its representatives were adamant: Building the power line through the park was unavoidable ... to tap into undeveloped renewable energy sources in Imperial County ... The company said it has not completely abandoned the path through the park, but felt that it could still achieve its goals -- increasing reliability and tapping renewable energy -- if state regulators chose the southern route ... The California Public Utilities Commission ... is expected to make a final ruling before year's end."

RELATED: "Our opinion: Powerlink route seems clear" (Imperial Valley Press, 10/18/08)
Editorial: "It looks like San Diego Gas and Electric may be on its own in supporting the northern route for the proposed Sunrise Powerlink. Momentum continues to grow for the project to take the southern route, which would follow existing power lines ... This project must move forward and the time for scratching heads and delaying decisions is over. The 2010 deadline is not realistic, but the way things are going it will be more like 2020. If SDG&E really wants to get this done, accept the southern route and move on."
(Note: this news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

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 analyzing the Sunrise Powerlink project proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric Company and a range of alternatives. (Repeated from last week's News.bytes)

"Water plan for geothermal plant ruffles feathers" (Sierra Wave, 10/20/08)
"Groundwater pumping and the effects on wildlife habitat are not  new controversies in the Eastern Sierra. Now, the plan to pump water from the Hay Ranch area up to the Coso Geothermal Power Plant has members of the Little Lake Duck Club concerned with water exports and the loss of wetland wildlife habitat." The power plant operates on the U.S. Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, under authorization from the BLM.

RELATED: "Geothermal"(BLM-California website)
Production of steam and hot water from 22 producing geothermal leases on public lands generated over 4.1 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2005; enough for over 500,000 people. Royalties associated with this level of production totaled over $12 million dollars. The Geysers field in Lake and Sonoma Counties produces 46 percent of the total royalties from federal geothermal leases in California, with Coso Hot Springs in Inyo County at 34 percent, and East Mesa in Imperial County at 17 percent.


A polo rider astride a horse lines up to swat at the ball"Tenaja Ranch hosts Marine Corps polo riders" (North County Times, 10/18/08)
"The tournament was started in 2005, in memory of a Marine Corps polo team stationed at the former Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro, which was disbanded after the base moved to Miramar ... the tournament began with a ceremonial ride and patriotic songs led by the four-member Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard. Based in Barstow, the guard is the only such unit in the service and rides Palomino mustangs adopted from a Bureau of Land Management program..."

"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)

"BLM Sets meeting of National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board for November 17 in Reno" (BLM national news release, 10/17/08)
The board will discuss issues relating to the management, protection, and control of wild horses and burros on Western public rangelands during a one-day meeting. The agenda of the meeting can be found in the October 16 Federal Register on page 61436. The Advisory Board provides input and advice to the BLM as it carries out its responsibilities under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.


An off-roading volunteer tosses straw as part of a trail rehabilitation projectA volunteer rakes alongside a trail during OHV rehabilitation"Off-roaders want more land access" (Redding Record Searchlight, 10/20/08)
Photo gallery: "Members of various off-highway vehicle clubs help clear and stabilize a new section of the #15 trail in the Chappie-Shasta OHV area Saturday during a volunteer event coordinated by the Bureau of Land Management. Club members also did rehabilitation work in sections of the OHV area affected by the Motion Fire." Accompanying story: "Concerned that the U.S. Forest Service isn't listening to them as it plans to revise their paths through the north state woods, off-roaders are looking for help from county leaders ... But Shasta-Trinity National Forest officials said the public will still be able to drive vehicles ... on almost 3,800 miles of forest roads..."

A palm tree bends over almost to the ground in Palm Canyon"Oasis in the desert" (Stockton Record, 10/21/08)
Palm Springs is not just golf courses and resorts: "The Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians welcomes visitors to the Palm, Andreas, Murray and Tahquitz canyons, a recreation oasis incising the craggy slopes of the San Jacinto Mountains. It's a chance to learn how the Cahuillas, who once camped in the canyons, expertly used the plants and wildlife native to the area. But it's the unforgettable scenery that will inspire you, long after you've packed your bags for home ... The ranger spooked us with the tale of Tahquit. According to legend, the banished American Indian spirit lures unsuspecting people into the canyon only to steal their souls. We heard the call of black crows - eerie after the soul-stealing story - stepped around coyote tracks and saw busy hummingbirds and rock squirrels."

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 65,000 acres within the San Jacinto Ranger District of the San Bernardino National Forest, and 89,500 acres within the Bureau of Land Management’s California Desert Conservation Area. Its boundary also surrounds lands owned and administered by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, California Department of Parks and Recreation, California Department of Fish and Game, other agencies of the State of California, and private landowners.

RELATED: "Task force formation to boost ecotourism" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 10/17/08)
"The Ecotourism Task Force will help the city inventory existing assets, expand and enhance existing tourism-based businesses and develop ecotourism efforts ... where cultural heritage and nature are primary attractions. Some of the things the group will look at include: The city's hiking trails; the cultural history of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians; the Indian Canyons; and open space. The city is also the gateway to the San Jacinto National Forest, Joshua Tree National Park and the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monument."

Close-up of a gold pan filled with water and what might appear to be gold flakes"A new gold rush" (San Jose Mercury News, 10/18/08)
"Gold prices are up -- and for ... legions of ... prospectors scouring California's old mining sites, that justifies the tedious and backbreaking work ... 'I get people coming in all the time who are out of work and desperate; intelligent people who see an advertisement for a mining claim and might try to buy it and make a living on it,' said geologist Gregg Wilkerson of the Bureau of Land Management ... The new quest for gold is sending ill-prepared amateur prospectors into the state's dangerous abandoned mines ... according to Wilkerson ... In May, three young men died of carbon monoxide poisoning in an old Madera County mine."
Note: this news site requires free registration to view its content online.

RELATED: "Abandoned mine lands" (BLM-California website)
Follow the link to "Road to Big Trouble" to see why you should "stay on the roads" and away from areas that might have hidden abandoned mines.


A biologist looks over a damaged Tecate cypress"Firestorm frequency puts rare evergreen in peril" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/17/08)
"On the flanks of Otay Mountain, one of California's rarest plants is losing its grip. The Tecate cypress is slipping away because of repeated fires that have roared through the backcountry in recent years, including 2007 and 2003. The frequency of the blazes has not given the slow-maturing species enough time to reproduce, so its limited range is shriveling. 'If the mountain were to burn over again, we would lose almost all of the population of these trees because there are not enough seeds right now to regenerate the population,' said Joyce Schlachter, a biologist for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management..."

A BLM firefighter sprays water on a smoldering structure"Los Angeles County may try to regulate power lines like the one blamed in Sesnon fire"(Los Angeles Times, 10/18/08)
"Some Los Angeles County officials say they want to close a loophole that exempted the power line that caused the Sesnon fire from inspection or brush clearance rules. That comes a day after The Times reported that the electricity distribution line that sparked the huge blaze was not covered under the state's strict inspection and brush clearance rules because it was not owned by an electric utility and was on private land." Features a photograph: "Bureau of Land Management firefighter Danon Shiver puts water on a smoldering structure in the Lake View Terrace neighborhood of Los Angeles."


"Pechanga Indian Reservation: Nearly 1,200 acres of federal land returned to Pechanga tribe" (North County Times, 10/16/08)
"After four years of trying to get federal land transferred to the Pechanga tribe, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa's legislation to hand over 1,178 acres was signed into law by President George Bush this week. The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians Land Transfer Act will take land in Riverside and San Diego counties out of the stewardship of the federal Bureau of Land Management and put it into a land trust for the tribe." BLM and Department of the Interior officials testified several times before Congress, in favor of the land transfer.

RELATED: "New laws recognizing Native Americans penned by Inland lawmakers" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 10/17/08)
"President Bush has signed into law a pair of bills penned by Inland lawmakers seeking to recognize Native Americans. The first, a measure to transfer more than 1,000 acres of federal land to the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians ... gives the tribe 1,178 acres of land, primarily in southwestern Riverside County, that previously belonged to the federal Bureau of Land Management."
Note: this news site may require free registration to view its content online.

RELATED: "Testimony of Chad Calvert, deputy assistant secretary ... before the House Resources Committee ... September 21, 2004" (Department of the Interior, 9/24/04)
Text of one Department of Interior testimony in favor of the land transfer: "This legislation directs the Secretary of the Interior to transfer two parcels of public land totaling approximately 991 acres in Riverside County, California, currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management, into trust status for the benefit of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians. The Department of the Interior supports the bill, and recommends certain technical and clarifying amendments pertaining to an accurate legal description, surveys, valid existing rights, and improvements."

"Public meetings set on proposed Marine expansion at Twentynine Palms" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 10/22/08)
"People who want to learn more about Marine Corps plans to add as much as 424,000 acres to the Twentynine Palms training center will have a chance this week at three public meetings. Military officials have said they need the additional territory for weapons testing and live-ammunition exercises to enhance their ability to fight terrorists ... The expansion would include almost 76,000 acres of private property and most of the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area ... It also would include habitat for desert tortoises, bighorn sheep and other wildlife ... The meetings -- one Thursday in Twentynine Palms and two Friday in Victorville -- are an early step in the three- to five-year expansion process."

"Ord burn planned" (Monterey County Herald, 10/22/08)
"Weather permitting, the Army will conduct a prescribed burn this week on nearly 140 acres at Fort Ord. The Army periodically conducts such burns to clear vegetation in areas that were used for training with live ammunition when Fort Ord was an active army base. Burning off the vegetation allows munitions removal experts to safely enter zones pocked with left-over ordnance and explosives, some of which may be undetonated. Once the land is swept for munitions, the Army will be able to transfer it to the Bureau of Land Management, which will preserve it as natural habitat..."

RELATED: "Fort Ord public lands" (BLM-California, Hollister Field Office)
Come and enjoy some of the last undeveloped natural, public lands on the Monterey Peninsula, located on the former Fort Ord military base. Here the BLM protects and manages 35 species of rare plants and animals and their native coastal habitats. While habitat preservation and enhancement are primary missions at Fort Ord, there are also more than 50 miles of trails for the public to explore on foot, on bike or on horseback.

"CDRS: The 1st Biennial California Desert Research Symposium Contributing to the Understanding and Conservation of Desert Wilderness" (The Community Foundation website)
On Nov. 8, the 1st Biennial California Desert Research Symposium will be held in Redlands, California. California Desert Research Fund student grant recipients will present their research on a wide range of science topics. The grants help encourage research that may have implications for wilderness management by federal managers, and demonstrate that wilderness can provide the opportunity to do high-quality research. Recipients have conducted research on lands managed by the BLM, National Park Service and California State Parks. For more details and to download the registration form:

"Gold mine prospects in Mono" (Sierra Wave, 10/16/08)
"If plans go ahead, a company called Cougar Gold would set up a full-scale mining project in the Bodie Wilderness Study Area of BLM, with the prospect of employment of 300 people over 15 years. At the last Board meeting, representatives from Cougar Gold, LLC made a presentation to the Mono Board of Supervisors regarding their plans for the Paramount Mine near Bridgeport, and announced that the company had just submitted their much anticipated Plan of Operation to the BLM."


District Manager Vacancies:
BLM-California is currently establishing and advertising for two District Manager GS-14 positions: one for Northern California (NORCAL) in Redding, and the other for Central California (CENCAL) in Sacramento. While we recruit for the permanent positions, we are offering opportunities for detail/temporary promotions. We invite those interested in these key leadership positions to submit your application. (These vacancies are open to all current career or career conditional federal employees, former federal employees with reinstatement eligibility, and persons eligible under Special Hiring Authorities.) Please visit the USAJOBS website for further information and filing instructions:

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

Close-up photo of Rachel SowardsEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Rachel Sowards...
...is outdoor recreation planner/interpretive specialist at the King Range National Conservation Area, out of BLM-California's Arcata Field Office. She graduated from college with a science degree -- but in political science. So, how did she jump from politics to outdoor recreation? Read More:

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

Oct. 23 - Twentynine Palms Marine Corps withdrawal public meeting
Twentynine Palms

Oct. 24 - Twentynine Palms Marine Corps withdrawal public meetings

Oct. 24 - "Is Anybody Home?" nature walk
Palm Desert

October 25-26 - Free guided hikes
Headwaters Forest Reserve - call for reservations

Oct. 28 - "Pack Rat Hike" on Randall Henderson Trail
Palm Desert

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(b.) insects
(c.) small birds
(d.) small mammals

SOURCE: "Rock Squirrel - Spermophilus variegatus" (BLM California wildlife database)
Rock squirrels forage for food both on the ground and in trees. They like to eat fruits from trees, acorns, nuts, and seeds. Although these squirrels prefer vegetarian foods, they will also eat insects, small birds, and small mammals if the opportunity arises.

RELATED: "Spermophilus variegatus - Rock Squirrel" (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History)
Includes a large photo and a sketch that "shows variable amounts of black coloration in species."

Rock squirrels are also mentioned briefly in the "Oasis in the desert" travel story above.

- If your e-mail program does not allow you to click on the above links to visit that Web page, copy and paste the URL into your browser's "Location" or "Address" bar.
- Some publications remove news stories from the Web soon after publication. If you plan to keep a story, you should print a copy or save the Web page to your computer.

DISCLAIMER: By linking to Web sites, the BLM does not imply endorsement of those sites, or of products or advertisements on those sites.

News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834
Sacramento, Ca 95825
(916) 978-4600

We appreciate feedback. Send comments to the News.bytes team at:

To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to:
OR visit our News.bytes subscription page at: http://www.blm.gov/ca/caso/getnewsbytes.html.