A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 356 - 11/6/08

Looking out over the rocks and ocean near Point Arena Belaying to reach tamarisk Close up of the little bear David Briery pets a horse at a BLM adoption event Flocks of geese create a "whiteout" during last year's migration

- Energy: Sunrise Powerlink, geothermal power, oil and gas award
- Recreation: Site dedication, recreation RAC, more
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
    - More wildlife news
- Virtual visits to your public lands
- California coast
- Volunteers
- Headlines and highlights: Twentynine Palms, Headwaters, PILT, more
- Wildfire and prevention
- Employee profile
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items:

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


"CPUC opens way for southern power line route" (North County Times, 10/31/08)
"With the unveiling Friday of two potential outcomes for San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s controversial power line, it is likely that the long-distance, high-voltage wires won't be strung through Ramona, Rancho Penasquitos or Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. In a long-awaited recommendation for the $1.5 billion project, a judge for the California Public Utilities Commission urged that the line be rejected outright. In a second, alternate recommendation, a commissioner suggested colleagues ... authorize a shorter line through the southern part of the county."

RELATED: "SDG&E power line route plan zapped" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/1/08)
"State regulatory officials yesterday effectively killed San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s plan to build the Sunrise Powerlink through the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and parts of North County. The route simply doesn't make economic or environmental sense, according to an administrative law judge for the Public Utilities Commission and a PUC commissioner who were assigned to review the project. But the two regulatory officials differed on whether SDG&E should build the 1,000-megawatt line at all."

RELATED: "Federal rules may be in play for Powerlink" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/4/08)
"If state regulators follow through with an administrative law judge's recommendation to reject the Sunrise Powerlink, San Diego Gas & Electric Co. still has other options to get the transmission line it seeks. The California Public Utilities Commission decision may be appealed to the courts, or SDG&E could ask the federal government to override state regulators and authorize the big line. A 2005 law allows utilities and other power-line builders to go to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission if they want to build a line rejected by state authorities in areas where federal officials believe there isn't enough electric transmission."

"Utilities putting new energy into geothermal sources" (Los Angeles Times, 11/3/08)
Reno: "Not far from the blinking casinos of this gambler's paradise lies what could be called the Biggest Little Power Plant in the World. Tucked into a few dusty acres across from a shopping mall, it uses steam heat from deep within the Earth's crust to generate electricity. Known as geothermal, the energy is clean, reliable and so abundant that this facility produces more than enough electricity to power every home in Reno, population 221,000 ... More than 80% of the country's 3,000 geothermal megawatts lies in California. The Geysers, a network of 22 geothermal plants about 75 miles north of San Francisco ... is the largest geothermal complex on the planet."

RELATED: "Burgeoning workloads ahead for Interior agencies" (Federal Times, 11/4/08)
"The Interior Department last month opened 190 million acres of federal land to geothermal development; companies are already looking to develop some of that land, according to Mike Nedd, BLM’s associate director for minerals, realty and resource protection. 'BLM has had geothermal projects since 1980, but never on this scale,' he said. 'And we’re beginning to see … instead of geothermal just being something we talk about, industry is asking, "How do we invest?"' Companies are particularly interested in developing land in Western states, like California, Nevada and Wyoming, Nedd said. BLM will probably look to expand its staff in that region, he said."

RELATED: "Geothermal" (BLM-California website)
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.  Other fields in production include Heber in Imperial County, Mammoth Lakes in Mono County, and Wendel-Amedee in Lassen County.

BLM officials flank Fred Holmes, whose company won BLM'-California's Operator of the Year award"Awards presented at oil and gas conference" (News.bytes Extra)
An independent oil and gas producer from Taft and was recognized at the Oil and Gas Conference in Bakersfield last week for his work in protecting the environment while operating his business. Fred Holmes of Holmes Western Oil Corporation was recognized for the development of a “no-impact” method for installing oil and steam pipelines across endangered species habitat. The conference also included other awards, plus discussions among industry and government representatives.


Farris family grandchildren closely look at and touch the new plaqueA close-up of the plaque honoring the Farris family"Farris Grove dedicated to civic-minded residents" (News.bytes Extra)
Staff from the Bureau of Land Management Eagle Lake Field Office in Susanville joined with community members to name a picnic area in honor of a family who helped keep public access to the Susan River Canyon and the Bizz Johnson Trail.

"Bureau of Land Management & U.S. Forest Service seeking nominations for key positions on California Recreation Resource Advisory Committee" (BLM-California news release, 10/31/08)
Nominations are now being accepted through January 5, 2009 for three positions on the 11-member Pacific Southwest Region California Recreation Resource Advisory Committee: Winter motorized recreation such as snowmobiling; hunting and fishing; and motorized outfitting and guiding or local environmental groups. The RRAC provides recommendations on recreation fees for federal lands within the state of California, including Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service recreation sites.

"Kiosk Dedication at Superstition Mountain" (News.bytes Extra)
The San Diego 4 Wheelers and the BLM dedicated an information kiosk at the Superstition Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area in eastern San Diego County. One of the largest and oldest 4-WD vehicle clubs in Southern California, the club "promotes and participates in safe and responsible off-highway four-wheel drive activities and educates the public on proper use and conservation of the land."

"BLM waives recreation-related fees for veterans on Veteran's Day" (BLM national news release, 11/6/08)
The Bureau of Land Management will waive recreation-related fees for veterans and military personnel, along with their families, on Veterans Day, Tuesday, November 11. BLM Director Jim Caswell, a Vietnam veteran, encouraged veterans and members of the U.S. Armed Forces to recreate on BLM-managed or other Federal lands on November 11, saying, "We want to thank the men and women who have served or are serving our country through military service. This is a small, but special way in which we can express our gratitude and our appreciation to them."

"Hunters have choice of turkeys or pheasants" (Lake County Record-Bee, 11/4/08)
"Hunters will have their choice of wild turkeys or pheasants starting this weekend. Both seasons open Saturday morning and the outlook is excellent for wild turkeys and only fair to poor for pheasants. Whereas pheasants are not common to Lake County, it's just the opposite for wild turkeys ... he Payne Ranch, which borders the Cache Creek Wildlife Area, is [managed] by the Bureau of Land Management and has a large population of wild turkeys."

"Mudslides cause closure of BLM land at Briceburg" (BLM-California news release, 11/1/08)
Mudslides caused by weekend rainstorms have closed land along the Merced River at Briceburg managed by the Bureau of Land Management’s Folsom Field Office.

BLM geologist Greg Wilkerson discusses fine points of a gemstone"15 Million Reasons to Attend the Gem Show!" (Ventura County Star, 10/30/08)
"The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) California manages 15.2 million acres of public lands, nearly 15% of the state's land area. Not sure where the best place to go for the fun you are seeking? Talk to Dr. Greg Wilkerson, the local Lead Geologist for the BLM. Dr. Wilkerson has been exploring public lands since childhood."

Close-up of a grayish, rough-looking flat-tailed horned lizard
Thumbnail from a photo by Tyler Grant, Bureau of Land Management

What does the Flat-tailed Horned Lizard feed on primarily?
(a.) beetles
(b.) ants
(c.) smaller lizards and mammals
(d.) scorpions
(e.) pancakes, tortillas, flat noodles and unleavened bread

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


Flocks of geese create a "whiteout" during last year's migration"Flyover time" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/30/08)
"Here come the birds: From snow geese to sandhill cranes, from bald eagles to sparrows, the annual migration of millions of waterfowl, raptors and songbirds is under way on the Pacific Flyway ... If you catch a spectacular flyover, such as 100 sandhill cranes at dusk in the Delta or 75 bald eagles at dawn near the Klamath Wildlife Refuge, it can change how you feel for years. Both of these events will occur nearly every day in the coming weeks and months ... To mark the opening of the season, the Lodi Crane Festival is set for Nov. 7-9. More than 50 guided tours will be available that weekend."

RELATED: "Lodi Sandhill Crane Festival"
This weekend, Nov. 7-9: "Long before Lodi existed, Sandhill cranes descended into the rich delta wetlands at the end of a long migratory journey, some from nesting grounds as far away as Siberia ... In awe-inspiring numbers, and with a prehistoric call, stately gait, and elegant choreography, the Sandhill crane continues to attract and inspire visitors. Each year thousands of visitors make their way to Lodi area wildlife refuges and farmlands to experience first-hand one of nature’s spectacles." Festival tours include the Cosumnes River Preserve, managed by partners including the BLM.

RELATED: "Cosumnes River Preserve" (BLM-California, Folsom Field Office)
The Cosumnes River Preserve is home to California's largest remaining valley oak riparian forest, and is one of the few protected wetland habitat areas in the state. The Preserve includes 46,000 acres of central valley grasslands, vernal pools, wetlands and valley oak forests.

RELATED: "2nd Annual Winter Bird Festival" (City of Galt)
Jan. 17, 2009: "This annual event is geared toward advancing public awareness and conservation of regional wildlife. Sandhill Cranes, Canadian Geese, Tundra Swans, Pintails, and hundreds of other birds live in around Galt and other surrounding cities. Galt's Winter Bird Festival offers everyone a chance to spend time discovering and learning about the importance of these feathered creatures as well as the wetlands, agriculture and open space that is crucial to their survival." This festival also features tours of the Cosumnes River Preserve.

Close up of the little bear"Li'l Smokey continues his recovery in bigger territory"
(Redding Record Searchlight, 10/31/08)
"The injured American black bear, who was rescued this summer from the aftermath of a Shasta County forest fire, has been moved to a bigger enclosure ... It's hoped that Li'l Smokey's burned paws will heal enough so he can be released back into the wild here during next year's hibernation season. Although it was initially believed that Li'l Smokey was found within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, a U.S. Bureau of Land Management assistant field manager said the cub was actually discovered on BLM land within Trinity County near the Shasta County border in the upper reaches of Grass Valley Creek."


Mountain bikers cross a valley on a road, with white-capped peaks in the backgroundA group of river rafters on a western river"See what you're missing" (BLM)
News.bytes concentrates on California public land issues, but the BLM is a national organization responsible for 258 million acres, more than any other land management agency in the USA. This week, we continue our "Virtual Visitor" tours of public lands in other states. First, a visual overview of these spectacular public lands and resources -- all on Your Public Lands. Credit: Produced by BLM employees/graduates of the BLM's National Leadership Academy in Phoenix, AZ, where the public land managers of the future are trained.

A view down into the Snake River in IdahoA wagon train reenactment in Idaho"Virtual visitor: Idaho" (BLM-California website)
The Bureau of Land Management in Idaho administers 12 million acres of public lands, nearly one-fourth of Idaho's total land area. This includes the Craters of the Moon National Monument; the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area; the Lewis and Clark, Nez Perce, Oregon and California National Historic Trails and more notable sites. Idaho public lands also feature resources such as wild horses, rangeland, minerals, archaeological and cultural sites, and more.


Looking out over the rocks and ocean near Point Arena"Point Arena Mayor is BLM's Newest 'Rock Star'" (News.bytes Extra)
Leslie Dahlhoff, mayor of the coastal town of Point Arena, has been honored for her work in formation of the Point Area Gateway to the California Coastal National Monument. As a gateway community, Point Arena cooperates with the BLM to provide information about the monument and the unique attributes of the gateway area. The BLM provides information about monument gateways in its outreach, interpretive and educational materials related to the CCNM.

RELATED: "California Coastal National Monument" (BLM-California)
Located off the 1,100 miles of the California coastline, the California Coastal National Monument is comprised of more than 20,000 BLM administered small islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles. The Monument includes those public lands that are exposed above mean high tide, within the corridor extending 12 nautical miles from the shoreline between Mexico and Oregon.

"Coho salmon fry discovered up a remote creek"(San Francisco Chronicle, 11/1/08)
A snorkeling scientist discovered "a mass of little fish behind a rock in Pardaloe Creek, a remote tributary of the Garcia River, in the heavily logged forests of Mendocino County ... juvenile coho were found in 10 places where they had not been seen in years in the 72,000 acre Garcia River watershed ... The discovery of coho in the headwaters of the Garcia River is especially eye-opening because the watershed once was destroyed by logging. Now it is part of a unique experiment that involves what conservationists call sustainable forestry, or selective logging. "

RELATED: "Stornetta Public Lands" (BLM-California, Ukiah Field Office)
The 1,132 acre Stornetta Public Lands are located along the Mendocino County coastline just north of the town of Point Arena. They include over 2 miles of coastline, the estuary of the Garcia River and adjacent beach, and a small island accessible during low tide.


Belaying to reach tamariskClimbing to reach tamariskTamarisk removal (News.bytes Extra)
For three years now, BLM-California’s Ridgecrest Field Office has been working with Friends of the Inyo and Desert Survivors on removing tamarisk from Pat Keyes Canyon on the east side of the Inyo Mountains At first, our teams concentrated on tamarisk within easy reach. However, we were always mindful of the tamarisk peering at us over the top of the 75-foot waterfall...

RELATED: "2008 National Public Lands Day project - Bonanza Springs restoration" (BLM-California, Needles Field Office)
This weekend: You won't have to climb, to help eradicate tamarisk. On Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, volunteers will help eradicate tamarisk and arundo, which have endangered the spring’s vitality, as well as install a pedestrian pass-through gate, maintain and reclaim trails, and install natural stones from the wash as stepping stones. 


"SB County supervisor wants Marines to expand into wilderness areas, not off-roading site" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/2/08)
"A San Bernardino County supervisor is proposing that the Marine Corps leave a popular off-roading mecca intact and instead expand its Twentynine Palms training center into two wilderness areas. The military is considering enlarging the 932-square-mile base to the west, taking in the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area, and to the east, right up to the edges of the Sheephole Valley and Cadiz Dunes wilderness areas."
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"Barn again! Relic from 1880s 'ghost town' of Falk is given a new life, purpose" (Eureka Times-Standard, 11/5/08)
"An old engine barn -- virtually the only surviving element from the 1880s mill town of Falk -- will soon begin a new life as a public interpretive center in the Headwaters Forest Reserve ... Since the completion of the project, the BLM has sought input from the public and other local agencies on working out the exact details of its use. Results still haven't been concluded ... In its heyday, Falk was a company town with a cookhouse, post office, several houses, a general store and a dance hall. Its mill closed during the Depression, and by the 1950s it had become a ghost town."

RELATED: "Headwaters Forest Reserve" (BLM-California, Arcata Field Office)
The Headwaters Forest Reserve is 7,472 acres of public land located 6 miles southeast of Eureka. The reserve is set aside to protect and preserve the ecological and wildlife values in the area, particularly the stands of old-growth redwood that provide habitat for the threatened marbled murrelet, and the stream systems that provide habitat for threatened coho salmon.

"$1.5 billion will go to state and county governments over five years in full compensation for Payments in Lieu of Taxes" (BLM national news release, 10/31/08)
Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced today that more than $1.5 billion will be distributed through 2012 to local governments that qualify for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which provides compensation for taxes that could not be levied on federal lands in their jurisdictions. The Department of the Interior is scheduled to officially announce and distribute each state’s supplemental 2008 PILT funding by the third week in November.

Attendees gather behind the yellow ribbon as it is about to be cut"Community dedicates emergency equipment storage facility on former BLM land" (News.bytes Extra)
A ribbon cutting event was held at the new emergency equipment storage facility in Canyon Lake, in Riverside County. Built on former BLM public land transferred to the community under the right-of-way authority of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, issued to the city of Canyon Lake in July 2007.

"BLM publishes final regulations that change right-of-way rental fees to better reflect fair market value" (BLM national news release, 10/30/08)
The Bureau of Land Management today announced final regulations that revise the rental fees it charges companies or individuals for rights-of-way so that these fees more adequately reflect changes in land values over the past two decades. 

"Public meeting announced to discuss Round Mountain plan" (BLM-California news release, 11/3/08)
The Round Mountain Planning Group will hold a public meeting Nov. 11 to discuss the Round Mountain/Rock Creek Management Plan. The group was formed by the local community to discuss development and implementation of the plan with the Bureau of Land Management. The management plan covers approximately 2,200 acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management’s Folsom Field Office between the South Fork Yuba River and Nevada City.

"Wild horse activists fighting to head off a slaughter 'option'" (Tehachapi News, 11/4/08)
"The Bureau of Land Management is considering its lawful option of euthanising wild horses it is holding in captivity - and two Caliente women are on a mission to make sure that destruction never happens."

RELATED: "Wild horses and burros" (BLM-California)
Learn more about adoption requirements, wild horse and burro volunteers, the Ridgecrest and Litchfield corrals, freeze brands, and more. At the bottom of the page, our "In the Field" links to a video with Art DiGrazia, Manager of the Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse and Burro Corrals

RELATED: "Wild horse and burro adoption schedule" (BLM-California)
Adoptions events for 2008-2009.

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Current openings include education center coordinator, realty specialist and natural resource specialist.


"Prevention veers from controlled parcel burns" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/3/08)
"Decades ago, wild-land managers bulldozed fire breaks and selectively burned large parcels in local mountains to prevent huge fires ... Now, the kind of brush clearing that used to be done by flame is mostly accomplished by hand and machine and is targeted, almost surgically, to protect individual homes and sites such as radio towers ... Fire can be good for some species, said Ron Woychak, who oversees fire management on more than 12 million acres owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Southern California."

"Bureau of Land Management to burn piles at Fort Ord" (BLM-California news release, 11/5/08)
The Bureau of Land Management’s Hollister Field Office plans to burn 50 to 70 brush piles at the former Fort Ord military base in November through March, weather permitting. The piles are part of the hazard fuel reduction program along the trails at Fort Ord. This fuel break system is designed to protect firefighters, help suppress wildland fire and aid public safety by reducing the threat of an uncontrolled fire in the area.

David Briery pets a horse at a BLM adoption eventEMPLOYEE PROFILE: David Briery...
...sent friends and family "dispatches" during his service in Vietnam. Those good folk diplomatically nudged him away from dentistry into writing. A good move for BLM, since David is now writing a lot as a public affairs specialist in the California Desert District Office.

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

Nov. 8-9 - Free guided hikes
Headwaters Forest Reserve - call for reservations

Nov. 11 - Rat pack hike
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, Palm Desert

Nov. 14 - Art Smith Trail hike
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, Palm Desert

Nov. 14-15 - BLM California Desert Advisory Council meeting


"Secretary of the Interior signs order to continue Take Pride in America®" (Department of Interior news release, 10/28/08)
"Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today signed an order extending the authorization of Take Pride in America within the Department of the Interior through the year 2010 ... The secretarial order further solidifies three strategic Take Pride in America priorities: engaging youth in service, promoting volunteerism, and supporting beautification as an economic development strategy."

"Obama administration will protect public lands, pursue green energy" (Idaho Statesman, 11/5/08)
"Western Democrats and environmentalists will have more influence on federal land decisions in Idaho and the West under President Barack Obama ... But there is a tension between environmentalists who want him to reverse decisions made by the Bush administration and Western Democrats who hope Obama's pledge to govern in a 'post-partisan' manner means he will bring a collaborative approach to public land issues. 'He's not going to make some of the mistakes of the past,' said Cecil Andrus, former Idaho governor and Jimmy Carter's interior secretary. 'He knows his history'."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(b.) ants -- and read more below, about how they can eat venomous ants.

SOURCE: "Flat-tailed horned lizard - Phrynosoma mcallii" (BLM California wildlife database)
Flat-tailed horned lizards are most frequently found near ant nests, as ants are their primary food. They are patient hunters, waiting for long periods of time for the ants to emerge. They will also eat arthropods when available.

Horned lizards in the news:

Lizards incapacitate ants with mucus"
(The Journal of Experimental Biology, 9/19/08)
"Horned lizards (Phrynosoma spp.) are unique in that their diet consists almost entirely of the nastiest ants imaginable; Harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex spp.). Native to the American southwest, these ants have powerful mandibles, a stinger tipped with potent venom, and a propensity to swarm all over attacking predators. However, horned lizards suck down these ants whole by the hundreds. How can these lizards gulp down intact (and almost certainly very agitated) venomous ants without incurring painful bites and stings all over the insides of their mouths?"

More about horned lizards:

"Horned Lizards (Phrynosoma spp.)"(Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum)
"Up to 10 species of horned lizards occur in the Sonoran Desert region ... With squat, flat, toad-like bodies (Phrynosoma means “toad-body”) and thorn-like projections at the rear of their heads, horned lizards are easily distinguished from other lizards."

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Bureau of Land Management
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