A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 360 - 12/4/08

A family gathers in front of their dune buggy at the Imperial Sand Dunes Water falls over rocks along Clear Creek An OHV crawls up the rocky Isham Canyon Overlooking a Cache Creek valley with oaks and the creek Sunset hues of purple and orange color the Trona Pinnacles

- Dunes: Busy season begins
- Recreation and preservation
- Citizen advisory councils
- Marijuana eradication and cleanup award
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Wildfire and prevention
- Wild horses and burros
- Headlines and highlights: Twentynine Palms, spotted owl, Christmas trees, jobs, more
- Renewable energy
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Climate report, emergency land withdrawals, Take Pride

Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


A family gathers in front of their dune buggy at the Imperial Sand DunesAn all-terrain vehicle ready to head down a dune"Turkey in the sand: It's a family affair" (Imperial Valley Press, 11/28/08)
"For Joe Schoneman of Chino, the Imperial Sand Dunes are all about family. ‘Every group of trailers you see is a bunch of family and friends …Holiday weekends you see the entire array. You see everything,' Schoneman said, from people camping in the brush in pup tents to million-dollar RVs. Thanksgiving in the dunes ... was about riding during the day, and then coming back and eating turkey once it gets dark. People build fires, hop from camp to camp, and spend the evening visiting."
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"Crews ready for dunes mishaps" (Imperial Valley Press, 11/26/08)
"Get about 150,000 tourists. Give them off-road vehicles, alcohol and free range of a 40-mile stretch of sand dunes. It would be strange to not have an accident happen ...
Thanksgiving weekend is historically one of the biggest weekends for the Imperial Sand Dunes ... Neil Hamada, dunes manager with the Bureau of Land Management, said that last year there were about 120 calls for medical assistance just over Thanksgiving weekend... This is why, for the fourth year now, El Centro Regional [partnered] with the Bureau of Land Management to provide medical assistance for the dunes."

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"Our Opinion: Trash collection coming to an end" (Imperial Valley Press, 12/2/08)
Editorial: "Over the Thanksgiving holiday ... 290,000 pounds of trash were deposited by visitors at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area ... Come the end of January ... the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will stop paying for trash service at the dunes ... It’s a staggering amount, one that will leave a staggering effect on the dunes and Imperial County in general if some sort of service is not provided. The idea of increasing dunes fees to cover trash collection has been thrown around, and at the moment that sounds like the most feasible solution. If that is in fact the worst-case scenario, we would hope duners, local and otherwise, would be willing to foot the bill for keeping their playground clean."
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Bystanders watch as a deputy shows a young man how to correctly fasten his helmet on an OHV"Off-road expert deputy urges caution after mother-daughter fatalities at Jawbone" (Tehachapi News, 11/30/08)
"Deputy Bill Hull of the Kern County Sheriff's Office Tehachapi Substation, who is trained to patrol on off-road vehicles as a member of the Sheriff's Off-Road Vehicle Team, said riders should wear safety gear always, and they never should ride above their ability or that of the vehicle. During this time of year, he said, 'There are thousands of [off-road] people in the desert.'"

"3 die during Thanksgiving"
(Imperial Valley Press, 12/2/08)
"Three people died during last week’s Thanksgiving Day break that brought more than 172,000 revelers to the dunes, but alcohol-related arrests have dramatically sunk ... David Briery, associate BLM public affairs officer, said this year’s decrease in DUI-related arrests could mean that people finally are learning about the hazards of impaired driving. 'We hope this decrease (means) that people are getting the message,' Briery said. 'We have extensive outreach programs about driving under the influence.'"
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"Weekend is quiet overall at dunes" (Imperial Valley Press, 11/30/08)
"Lower attendance has led to a quieter Thanksgiving weekend at the dunes compared to previous years." Neil Hamada, dunes manager with the Bureau of Land Management said ... while official attendance figures for this year won’t be tallied until later in the week ... last year had lower attendance than two years ago, and this year seems to follow that trend."
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"New billboards will publicize off-highway vehicle ban on desert lands" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 12/2/08)
"The Coachella Valley Association of Governments Off-Highway Vehicle Task Force has announced the unveiling of billboards ... to raise awareness of illegal off-highway vehicle use on desert lands ... three billboards will remind owners of Off-Highway Vehicles ... that using them in the open desert of Riverside County is not legal. Riding on approved trails on public lands is lawful, but riding through the open desert is not legal unless it is on private property with written permission from the property owner in the rider’s possession." The BLM is a member of the task force."

RELATED: "Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area" (BLM-California, El Centro Field Office)
Includes information about fees and permits, directions, rules and regulations and more.


Water falls over rocks along Clear CreekAn overlook along Clear Creek"Clear Creek site dedication" (News.bytes Extra)
A crowd of about 100 turned out on a drizzly day near Redding Nov. 20, to celebrate completion of the latest improvement project on Lower Clear Creek. The Western Shasta Resource Conservation District hosted the ribbon cutting event to mark the opening of a new trailhead and salmon viewing platform on the Clear Creek Greenway, which traverses BLM-managed public lands along the creek.

"Cove trails report suggests changes" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 11/27/08)
"The city partnered with several local agencies and spent four months pooling their efforts to create a comprehensive La Quinta Cove Hiking Trails report that evaluated the current conditions of the trails and made recommendations to improve the top of the cove hiking area in the future. 'The biggest issue is the need to create well-marked hiking trails,' said Edie Hylton, city community services director ... The cove property ownership is divided among the city, Bureau of Land Management and the Coachella Valley Water District. "

"BLM hires new manager for Headwaters Forest Reserve" (BLM-California news release, 12/2/08)
Chris Heppe, a north coast resident with a strong background in natural resource management, has been named manager of the Headwaters Forest Reserve near Eureka. "Chris has a strong background in restoring watersheds, managing landscapes and ecosystems, developing partnerships and leading staffs," said Lynda Roush, manager of the Bureau of Land Management Arcata Field Office. "These skills will be important as the BLM and its partners continue implementing the Headwaters Management Plan."

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, CA. 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.


RAC members on a deck alongside a trail in the Cache Creek area Overlooking a Cache Creek valley with oaks and the creek"RAC tours Cache Creek, explores recreation topics" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of the BLM's Northwest California Resource Advisory Council learned about the Cache Creek Natural Area and hiked one of the BLM's newest recreation trails, when they met Nov. 20 and 21. During a field trip, members learned of recent land acquisitions and other improvements for wildlife and recreation access.

RELATED: "Cache Creek Natural Area" (BLM-California, Ukiah Field Office)
This secluded, hilly expanse of oak woodlands, grasslands, and chaparral is a combination of over 70,000 acres of BLM managed lands and 4,700 acres of State and County lands.  The Natural Area is traversed by Cache Creek, with its year-round water flow.

RELATED: "Appointments made to BLM Resource Advisory Council for Northwest California" (BLM-California news release, 11/25/08)
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has announced appointments to the Bureau of Land Management’s Northwest California Resource Advisory Council. The council advises the BLM on public land matters. All appointments are for three-year terms.

RELATED: "Appointments made to BLM Resource Advisory Council for Northeast California" (BLM-California news release, 11/25/08)
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has announced appointments to the Bureau of Land Management’s Northeast California Resource Advisory Council. The council advises the BLM on public land matters.

An OHV crawls up the rocky Isham CanyonSunset hues of purple and orange color the Trona Pinnacles"California Desert Advisory Council tours recreation, preservation areas" (News.bytes Extra)
The quest in 1849 for California’s gold brought William Isham from Rochester N.Y. across the Great Plains, the Great Basin, and Death Valley where he “died of thirst” on Jan. 13, 1850 near a dry canyon that opens into the Searles Valley, 30 miles northeast of Ridgecrest.  One hundred sixty years later, that canyon, now called Isham, hosts folks with another kind of thirst - the thirst for extreme off-road adventure. BLM's California Desert Advisory Council toured a site for that specialty, as well as another for serious hikers only.


"State's illegal marijuana eradications hit another record" (Lake County News, 12/1/08)
"For another year, the amount of illegal marijuana seized and eradicated on public and private lands around the state has grown, with record-breaking seizures reported around California. For the third straight year Lake County is ranked No. 1 for the area with the most plants eradicated," reported officials with the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP). "CAMP has been operating for 26 years as a multi-agency task force comprised of local, state, and federal agencies" including the BLM. "The program is designed to help counties eradicate illegal marijuana cultivation and trafficking in California."

A BLM cleanup crew with trash bags of marijuana refuseAn adopted wild mustang hauls marijuana garden trash out of the wilderness"California marijuana garden cleanup team wins award" (News.bytes Extra)
Marijuana growth on remote public lands continues to increase. In addition to posing problems for the law enforcement community, the growers damage ecosystems by contaminating soil and water and alternating water courses in arid regions. This successful BLM project used mustangs adopted through the Wild Horse and Burro Program to clean up two illegal marijuana gardens on BLM-managed land in Mendocino County, on lands managed by BLM's Ukiah Field Office.

RELATED: "Interior Deputy Secretary Scarlett presents Department’s 2008 Environmental Achievement Awards" (Department of the Interior news release, 11/18/08)
"These awards are the equivalent of our Environmental Emmy awards,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett. "The ingenuity and dedication of the winners are always inspiring."

RELATED: "Campaign Against Marijuana Planting" (State of California, Office of Attorney General)
"Created in 1983, the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) is a unique multi-agency law enforcement task force managed by the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and composed of local, state and federal agencies organized expressly to eradicate illegal marijuana cultivation and trafficking in California. With more than 110 agencies having participated, CAMP is the largest law enforcement task force in the United States."

"Since You Asked: Remains of pot farms can harm the land" (Medford Mail Tribune, 12/1/08)
"I was watching a program the other night about police busting illegal marijuana farms. It showed the toxic chemicals criminals use to create these gardens. I know police usually burn the pot plants, but what happens to the toxic waste and trash left behind? The program did not address this issue."


Mystery mammal has a long round tail
Mystery mammal

What is the animal in the thumbnail photo to the left?
(a.) vole
(b.) chipmunk
(c.) weasel
(d.) squirrel
(e.) mink
(f.) marmot
(g.) a cross between a weasel and the dreaded petroleum futures speculator

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


A Sierra resident walks through a stand of charred pine trees"Sierra Nevada
changes feed monster, forest-devouring fires" (Sacramento Bee, 11/30/08)
"Wildfire has marched across the West for centuries. But ... new studies ... tie changing patterns of heat and moisture in the western United States to an unprecedented rash of costly and destructive wildfires. Among other things, researchers have found the frequency of wildfire increased fourfold - and the terrain burned expanded sixfold - as summers grew longer and hotter over the past two decades. The fire season now stretches out 78 days longer than it did during the 1970s and '80s. And, on average, large fires burn for more than a month, compared with just a week a generation ago."
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"Kern County Fire Department, KRV Fire Safe Council protect community" (Kern Valley Sun, 12/3/08)
"In reality, firefighters are constantly training and honing their skills in order to be fully prepared when called on to fight a fire. But there are other tasks, often unseen by the public, the firefighter also performs. An important one in the Kern River Valley is helping the community safeguard their property with 'defensible space,' which consists of the following..." BLM works with Fire Safe Councils throughout California.

"BLM announces openings for summer firefighting jobs" (BLM-California news release, 12/1/08)
The U. S. Bureau of Land Management is accepting applications for summer seasonal fire fighting jobs on Northern California fire engine crews, a helicopter-borne fire crew and the Diamond Mountain Interagency Hotshots. Also available are positions in the agency’s hazardous fuels reduction program which focuses on projects to reduce wildfire danger. To receive early consideration, applications must be filed over the Internet by Jan. 27, 2009.

"BLM Cedarville crews mark fire season end" (BLM-California news release, 11/25/08)
Firefighters at the BLM station in Cedarville responded to 18 fires in the Cedarville response area and assisted on a half-dozen major wildfires in other areas of California during the recently-ended 2008 fire season. The firefighters marked the end of the fire season by honoring crew member Kelly Townsend with a special achievement award for his excellent work. Townsend and his crew members have received excellent evaluations on their assignments.


Bystanders watch a mustang at an adoption event"New event to showcase wild horses planned for Norco" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/3/08)
"The Extreme Mustang Trail Challenge, scheduled for May, is a cooperative effort of the federal Bureau of Land Management and the nonprofit Mustang Heritage Foundation ... Unlike 'mustang makeover' events that began in 2006, in which the horses are trained for recreational riding, the challenge will focus on urban and rural riding skills outside the show arena ... The Norco competition will let the public see the horses in action, and that could also help get them adopted, said Debbie Collins, a marketing specialist for the bureau ... For Norco, the mustang trail challenge will help spread the city's image as the place for horse lovers, said Harvey Sullivan, a former Norco mayor..."

"Group seeks Pickens' wife's help to save rangeland" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 11/29/08)
"Conservationists are looking to the wife of Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens to help push for federal reforms that they say will help thousands of wild horses and save rangeland in the West. Madeleine Pickens recently announced plans to create a refuge for wild horses ... WildEarth Guardians is advocating congressional legislation that would allow ranchers who have grazing permits on federal public land to relinquish the permits in exchange for compensation. The idea is that livestock would be removed from the allotment, leaving a refuge for wild horses and other native animals and plants."


"Twentynine Palms Marines seeking input on growth" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 11/30/08)
"Officials are seeking the community's input as they continue studying the best way to expand the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. Three open house meetings have been scheduled, starting Wednesday [today] in Twentynine Palms, to share initial plans and the early stages of the environmental study ... The Marine Corps had previously held a series of public information sessions in conjunction with the federal Bureau of Land Management."

RELATED: "Scoping meetings scheduled for proposed 29 Palms Marine Base (MCAGCC) Expansion" (BLM-California news release, 12/1/08
Three open-house public scoping meeting have been scheduled.

"The spotted owl disappearing act" (Los Angeles Times, 12/1/08)
"The number of spotted owls in the Pacific Northwest is dwindling. Some experts think an aggressive owl cousin, not logging, is to blame ... Across their entire range in Washington, Oregon, Northern California and British Columbia, there are thought to be fewer than 5,000 northern spotted owls left." BLM-California is involved in the Northwest Forest Plan, through public lands it manages in northern California.
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"Stamp Mill corroding after blaze" (Sonora Union-Democrat, 12/1/08)
"The historic Longfellow Stamp Mill in Big Oak Flat, which was consumed by fire six months ago, is corroding in the rain. The Gold Rush-era 10-stamp mill pounded ore so that gold could be extracted." The Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society " hopes the Bureau of Land Management, who manages the land on which the Longfellow Stamp Mill stands, will turn over the remaining parts of the mill to STCHS so that a ... clean up can be done."

"Tree-cutting is a snowless affair" (Redding Record Searchlight, 12/2/08)
"Danny Burger of Redding usually makes a day out of cutting a Christmas tree. Along with finding the perfect pine, he and his family typically picnic, hike and play in the snow. This year - with no snow in the woods around much of the north state - today's trek is going to be different. 'We'll just be getting a tree and leaving,' Burger said Monday afternoon after getting a tree-cutting permit at the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Headquarters ... The Bureau of Land Management also has a limited tree-cutting program near Redding."

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


Ausra's chief executive walks past the company's solar collectors"Solar thermal projects gather steam -- and opposition" (Los Angeles Times, 12/3/08)
"Rows of gigantic mirrors covering an area bigger than two football fields have sprouted alongside almond groves near California 99 ...it's the first so-called solar thermal facility to open in California in nearly two decades ... Critics fear that massive solar farms would create as many environmental problems as they purport to solve ... Most of the proposed utility-scale solar plants are slated for San Bernardino and Riverside counties, where vast deserts offer abundant sunshine and plenty of open space for the behemoths. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is juggling ... requests from companies looking to build on federal land -- 79 at last count, covering more than 690,000 acres..."
(Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

"Powerlink plans worry residents" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/29/08)
"East County residents whose homes are now in the path of the proposed power line are awaiting a decision on its fate from the state Public Utilities Commission. That decision could come as soon as Dec. 18 ... The utility company had preferred building a 150-mile-long line in North County and through the Anza-Borrego desert ... Then on Oct. 31 a judge and one of the five PUC commissioners released proposed decisions that put the southern route back into play."

Find more details online at:


"Secretary Kempthorne receives Interior's Climate Change Task Force report, directs report to be posted online"
(Department of the Interior news release, 12/3/08)
Secretary Kempthorne created the Climate Change Task Force in 2007, directing the members to look at how possible climate changes would affect disaster management, water resource management, and wildlife and habitat management of the lands, wildlife, and resources for which the Department has responsibility and to develop options for management responses to those effects. More than 100 Department of the Interior employees, primarily career staff, participated on the Task Force.

"BLM announces final rule for land withdrawals" (Bureau of Land Management news release, 12/4/08)
The Bureau of Land Management will publish tomorrow, December 5, in the Federal Register a final rule eliminating the portion of existing regulations providing for committee-directed emergency withdrawal of lands from the operation of various public land laws. Under Section 204(e) of the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and current BLM regulations providing for emergency withdrawals ... the Secretary of the Interior must withdraw lands immediately upon determining that an emergency exists and that extraordinary measures need to be taken to protect natural resources or resource values that otherwise would be lost.

"Take Pride in America® celebrates 18th congressional anniversary" (Department of the Interior news release, 11/28/08)
"Congress set forth Take Pride in America® as a national partnership program to promote the appreciation and stewardship of public lands, including parks, forests, historic sites, and schools ... Citizen stewards know and count on Take Pride in America for the most comprehensive online portal of public lands volunteer opportunities ... and for showcasing the most outstanding public lands stewardship activities through the annual national award ceremony."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) squirrel - a round-tailed ground squirrel, more specifically:

SOURCE: "Round-tailed Ground Squirrel - Spermophilus tereticaudus" (BLM California wildlife database)

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