A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 364 - 1/7/09

Thumbnail of red fox in snow from a photo by Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences Thumbnail of a gray squirrel from a photo by Alden M. Johnson, Calif. Academy of Sciences A view of snow-capped mountains in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Four Marines astride mustangs hold the colors aloft Randy Banis of BLM's California Desert District Advisory Council

- Virtual Visitor: Nevada public lands
- Energy
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Magical reindeer recap
- National Landscape Conservation System: New director, more
- Recreation: Off-highway vehicles
- More recreation
- Headlines and highlights: Mustangs, history, community forest, more
- Meet your advisory council members
- Selected upcoming events
- National and Department of the Interior items: Management changes, California oil, ESA

This issue of News.bytes is online at:

Welcome to the New Year, with our first issue of 2009!

The Black Rock Desert in NevadaA BLM wild horse and burro employee surveys a group of mustangsVIRTUAL VISITOR: Nevada public lands
Welcome again to Virtual Visitor, a recurring feature in News.Bytes and an invitation to learn about what the BLM is doing in other states.
In California, there are 15.2 million acres of BLM public lands for you to use, share, and appreciate. Nationwide, BLM is responsible for 261.8 million acres, mostly in the 12 western States, including Alaska, and for 700 million acres of subsurface mineral estate. Over the past months, we have visited BLM websites in several other states. We continue this issue with a visit to Nevada, where the BLM manages nearly 48 million acres of public lands, about 67 percent of the state.


"BLM opens more land for geothermal development" (Imperial Valley Press, 12/29/08)
"The acres available for geothermal development in Imperial County could nearly triple, now that the Bureau of Land Management has cleared 190 million acres nationwide to lease to geothermal companies. 'About 15,000 acres are already leased to power plants in East Mesa,' said Sean Hagerty, the geothermal program lead for the Bureau of Land Management. Hagerty, based in Sacramento, said he expects the new land to be either double or triple what the current leases are."
Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.

"Geothermal developers remain optimistic" (Energy Current, 1/5/08)
"While the global financial crisis continues to rattle financial markets and companies worldwide, and shrinks capital available for renewable energy projects of all types, the outlook for geothermal development remains positive ... BLM continues to see interest in geothermal leasing ... California represents 86 percent ... of overall installed geothermal power generation capacity in the U.S., followed by Nevada with 11 percent ... California also has the greatest potential for geothermal energy with around 11,340 MW undiscovered geothermal resources, according to the U.S. Geological Survey."

"State budget could bring more renewable energy projects to Mojave"(Barstow Desert Dispatch, 1/5/09)
"The 2009-10 budget proposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger aims to bring more renewable energy projects to the Mojave Desert. Although the proposed budget ... includes cuts in many areas, it would set aside funding to streamline the process of bringing solar power and other renewable energy projects to the Mojave and Colorado Desert regions." Besides money and staff to help the Department of Fish and Game with issuing permits, "the California Energy Commission would get $2.6 million and 10 positions to assist the Department of Fish and Game and the Bureau of Land Management in developing solar projects while minimizing environmental impacts."

Powerlines against the sunset in Central California"Getting renewable power to the people" (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/28/08)
"The Southern California desert could produce a gusher of renewable energy. Strong sunlight bathes its open plains, even in winter. Powerful winds stream through its mountain passes. Fractures in the earth along the San Andreas Fault heat pools of underground water - the perfect fuel for geothermal power plants. There is, however, a problem. Most Californians don't live there. Any electricity generated in the desert by solar plants or wind farms needs to travel via power lines to the cities, most of them clustered along the coast ... Electrical transmission could turn into a bottleneck for renewable energy."

One proposed route for Green Path north power line would cut through this now-snowy mountain areaMap of proposed routes for Green Path North power line"Block Energy's Path -- Effort high to keep power lines out of virgin desert" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/23/08)
"In March 2007, April Sall, the conservationist overseeing the Pipes Canyon Preserve in the San Bernardino County desert, got a call from an employee at the federal Bureau of Land Management. The caller wondered if Sall knew of a plan to run 85 miles of electrical transmission lines through the Morongo Basin, on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park, and through parts of the 20,000-acre private preserve northeast of Yucca Valley ... that was the last time Sall would be in the dark about Green Path North, a proposal by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to move geothermal, solar and wind power to the city from the desert." Several of the routes being discussed would cross BLM-managed lands. The story includes several links to more information.
Note: This online news site may require free registration to view their content online.

"California Oil and Gas Work Group meets to discuss issues" (News.bytes Extra)
Government agencies and oil and gas operators all benefit when they collaborate to resolve controversial issues. Agencies and members of industry continued that dialogue at the December 16 meeting of the California Oil and Gas Work Group in Sacramento. Attendees discussed a variety of issues including new state computer systems, potential impacts of solar projects in California and orphaned or abandoned wells.

"Washington students take lessons from conservationists in campout" (Hi-Desert Star, 1/7/08)
Whitman College students stop in the Mojave Desert as part of their "Semester in the West" to "study public lands, including its ecosystems and social and political communities, and public policy regarding those lands ... Their presentation involved the issue of big energy buildout on public lands, Green Path North and the 120 applications for large solar and wind projects to the Bureau of Land Management."


Thumbnail of red fox in snow from a photo by Gerald and Buff Corsi, California Academy of Sciences
Thumbnail of a gray squirrel from a photo by Alden M. Johnson, California Academy of Sciences

What do red foxes and gray squirrels have in common?
(a.) They both hibernate soon after snow covers the ground.
(b.) They both bury food to eat later.
(c.) They both change colors with the season.
(d.) They both climb trees to reach food.
(e.) They both have crayon colors named after them, but sadly, do not share in the royalties
------> See answer -- and more information -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.

WILDLIFE TIP: You can only see flying reindeer if you believe...
...and we believe the previous issue of News.bytes may have shown you mule deer at first, not caribou or reindeer as the Wildlife Trivia Question referred to. At least, that's what some readers tell us:

"Nice try, but you may want to get a picture of some actual caribou next time. LOL Thanks for the chuckle,"
- Chris

"Wouldn't a picture of a caribou in the thumbnail be more appropriate?"
- Rick

However, through the magic of the season, News.bytes now shows a reindeer. Doubters may say it was retroactive editing, but others insist it was magical. In fact, if you did not open issue 363 of News.bytes until after Christmas, you would have found that the reindeer was magically there.

Before Christmas... Mule deer, not reindeer ...and after Christmas: Reindeer - no, really
But for those of you who emailed us: Thanks for being alert readers and catching our mistake!

RELATED: "Reindeer grazing" (BLM-Alaska)
"Livestock grazing is Alaska is considered and granted on a case by case basis. Currently, there are no domestic livestock grazing on Bureau lands in Alaska. However, reindeer herders on the Baldwin and Seward Peninsulas have received permits to graze reindeer on 15 designated allotments ... Only Alaska Native Peoples can apply for reindeer grazing permits. Herds graze on large allotments that may include over a million acres of land. All allotments contain land managed by different land owners or agencies. BLM cooperates with the state, NPS and other land managers to issue grazing permits."


"National monument needs volunteers amid staff cuts, budget pinch" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 1/5/09)
"The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument is a remarkable treasure, said Buford Crites, vice president of the Friends of the Desert Mountains. But maintaining the integrity of that beauty amid a developing area is no easy task. Volunteers who handle a large chunk of the work are essential, Crites said. The monument visitor center is seeking more volunteers to fill a variety of duties. Tight federal and state budgets have made the need even more crucial, monument staffers said."

RELATED: "BLM seeks nominations to Carrizo Plain National Monument Advisory Committee" (BLM-California news release, 12/23/08)
The Bureau of Land Management is seeking nominations from the public to fill positions on the Carrizo Plain National Monument Advisory Committee. The committee consists of nine members.

A view of snow-capped mountains in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National MonumentA view across desert plants to the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National MonumentRELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM-California, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument was established by an Act of Congress on October 24, 2000 “in order to preserve the nationally significant biological, cultural, recreational, geological, educational, and scientific values found in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains and to secure now and for future generations the opportunity to experience and enjoy the magnificent vistas, wildlife, land forms, and natural and cultural resources in these mountains and to recreate therein.”


"Dunes visitors not looking forward to taking out trash" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/5/09)
"Simi Valley resident Keith Northcott said he enjoys the desert here but worries what could happen to it once trash collection ends Feb. 1. The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management is advising visitors, who number in the tens of thousands in the winter months, to pack up their trash and take it home instead of leaving it in the desert or dropping it off at a nearby business."
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"Weekend busy for officials" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/5/09)
"As the new year got under way Thursday, two people were flown out of the Imperial Sand Dunes area to be treated for injuries. Nine other injury calls were handled by U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials in the days leading to New Year’s.
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"Off-road vehicle use fuels tension, violence across U.S." (USA Today, 12/30/08)
"Clashes over the sport of off-roading are becoming more violent for riders, property owners and law enforcement officers as conflicts about the use of all-terrain-vehicles (ATVs) escalate, federal officials, landowners and advocacy groups say. Property owners across the country report that they have been threatened and their homes vandalized by off-road-vehicle users ... Riders also are becoming victims ... In 2007, 4.7 million off-highway vehicle users visited public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), compared with 3.8 million in 2004, the agency reports. At the same time, the U.S. government has stepped up efforts to restrict ATVs to assigned routes rather than allow them to ride cross-country."

"BLM advisory council off-highway vehicle group plans meeting in Visalia" (BLM-California news release, 1/5/09)
BLM advisory council off-highway vehicle group plans meeting in Visalia from about from 10 a.m. to noon. Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting. The subcommittee will conduct organizational business and discuss OHV issues for the subcommittee to address.

"Dirt bike activity stirs a ruckus in Cascade Shores" (Grass Valley/Nevada City Union, 1/6/09)
"Fed up with what they say is the noise, drugs and dirt bike riding in their neighborhood in recent months, a handful of Cascade Shores residents will hold a meeting Wednesday..." Organizers "say the closure of federal and private land in the nearby Greenhorn Creek watershed last year has driven rowdies into their neck of the woods ... Last year, federal, county and private agencies and groups stepped up patrols and closed some areas of the Greenhorn Creek river bed and 'The Narrows,' a popular party place where it was not uncommon to find 100 people gathered, even during a snowy weekend. The closures were done to stop illegal dumping, trespassing on private properties, erosion and damage to archaeological sites."

"Marine base targets off-road area for expansion" (San Bernardino County Sun, 12/28/08)
Officials from the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center say it needs more room to train for the war or terror and to train with "new weapons systems ... An application for the withdrawal of public lands was submitted to the Bureau of Land Management by the Department of the Navy in August ... If the bulk of Johnson Valley is lost to the military ... officials say it would kill the tourism dollars that pour into desert communities from off-road recreators ... those who oppose the base's expansion into Johnson Valley ... would like to see the base expanded to the east and south."

RELATED: "Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area" (BLM-California, Barstow Field Office)


"Free guided Saturday hikes to take in bald eagle habitat" (Sacramento Bee, 1/7/09)
"A series of free guided hikes will scan bald eagle habitat in the Cache Creek Natural Area on six successive Saturdays, Jan. 17 through Feb. 21. The four-mile hikes, led by Bureau of Land Management staff members and docents, begin at 10 a.m. and last three to four hours. Hikes will be canceled in event of rain." Space is limited - call to reserve a space, and review requirements.
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Author of dog trail book with her Malamute"Going to the dogs" (El Dorado Hills Telegraph, 1/6/09)
"Dogs run free on trail after trail detailed for the nearby Sierra Nevada and its foothills by a Rescue outdoors aficionado. Author Debbi Preston, 57, took inspiration from an even more passionate outdoors nut -- a Malamute mix, Toots -- to discover routes and compile data for '48 Dog-Friendly Trails' ... Still not greatly used by the public are many miles of dog-friendly trails between Lotus and Pilot Hill, on U.S. Bureau of Land Management territory west of Highway 49, Preston said."

"Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management extend deadline for California Recreation Resource Advisory Committee member applications" (BLM-California news release, 1/6/09)
The deadline for submitting applications for the Pacific Southwest California Recreation Resource Advisory Committee (RRAC) has been extended to February 6, 2009. The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are seeking applications for the following three positions on the 11-member RRAC: 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.


Four Marines astride mustangs hold the colors aloft"BLM mustangs to make appearance at Equine Affaire in Pomona"
(News.bytes Extra)
Mustangs from the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro program will be featured again this year at Equine Affaire in Pomona, Jan. 29 - Feb. 1. The United States Marine Corps all-mustang Mounted Color Guard will be arriving on Saturday, Jan 31 and will be showcased at the BLM booth. They will also open the final evening of the Craig Cameron Extreme Cowboy race on Saturday, Jan 31.

RELATED: "Helping hands: the 120th Rose Parade" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 12/29/08)
The Color Guard led the Tournament of Roses Parade New Year's Day in Pasadena, which it has done every year since 1990. "In 1967 the U.S. Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard was established and stationed in Barstow. Horses are wild Palomino mustangs adopted from the Bureau of Land Management’s 'Adopt a Horse' program and trained by the Marines. It is the only equestrian unit in the Marines."

"Keeping an eye on history" (Redding Record Searchlight, 12/26/08)
"Throughout Shasta County, there are many historical sites. Some are well known, others are a little harder to find. History lover Dottie Smith of Palo Cedro is doing her best to help preserve the memories of the greater Redding area ... Once a volunteer signs up, Smith ... assigns them a historic site, which they 'adopt,' that must be monitored at least once a month ... If a volunteer sees anything happening that shouldn't be, they are to immediately call their emergency contact number, either the Shasta County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Forest Service, the Redding Police Department, Native Daughters of the Golden West, Bureau of Land Management or the Anderson Police Department."

"12,000 acres added to Weaverville Community Forest" (Redding Record Searchlight, 12/25/08)
"A 13,000-acre forest around Weaverville is now under the watch of the community ... The town is now sandwiched by its own forests, with the old acreage to the south and the new to the north ... Although still considered part of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, the 12,000 acres north of Weaverville will be managed by the district on the behalf of the public ... The district and the Bureau of Land Management, which had managed the forest's original 1,000 acres, established the Weaverville Community Forest through a stewardship contract in 2005." Members of the public can join the steering committee to help make plans for the forest.

"High hopes for an auto tax credit" (Santa Clarita Signal, 1/7/09)
U.S. Representative has hopes for two bills in the upcoming Congress. One bill would swap land with Cemex to stop gravel mining near Santa Clarita. BLM issued Cemex a permit in 2000. The Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act involves public lands managed by BLM-California.

Note: An Omnibus Bill, which includes a number of items that could affect BLM public lands in California, was introduced today in the Senate as S. 22. We will link to more information as the bill progresses.

"Environmental group calls for investigation into tortoise plan" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 12/29/08)
An environmental advocacy group is calling for a federal investigation into the process of rewriting a recovery plan for the threatened desert tortoise. The Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of the Inspector General Dec. 24 asking for a probe into possible meddling in the rewrite of the plan by former high-ranking political appointees ... In 2003, the group threatened to sue the interior department, the Fish & Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management over issues with the existing tortoise plan, which was completed in 1994."

"Guardians of Joshua Tree" (Plenty Magazine, 1/5/09)
"Donna and Larry Charpied are taking me on a hike through a desert wash in Joshua Tree National Park ... 'This is America’s gift to her citizens,' Donna says, taking in the infinite expanse. 'But if the court rules in favor of the dump, it’s over.' The dump ... has been planned by Kaiser Ventures, LLC, which owns an old iron ore mine at the southwestern edge of the park, on Eagle Mountain. In the late '80s, Kaiser made plans to turn the old mine into a repository for garbage from five Southern California counties ... To facilitate the plan, they applied to the federal Bureau of Land Management for a necessary land exchange. Twenty years later the project has been approved by all necessary agencies, but remains in limbo as suits challenging it wind their way through the courts."

"The Sierra Nevada Conservancy grant that almost was" (Kern Valley Sun, 12/31/08)
"On Friday, Dec. 19, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy unexpectedly announced that all grants would be frozen until further notice due to the State budget crisis. Just two weeks earlier, on Dec. 4, local groups were excited by the news that the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) awarded more than $2.6 million in grants to a variety of non-profit organizations and federal agencies throughout the Sierra..." A BLM representative is a non-voting member of the Conservancy. One affected grant was for the Sand Canyon Environmental Education Program, in which BLM's Ridgecrest Field Office is a partner.

"Pot growth hurting wilderness" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 1/4/09)
"Long after illegal marijuana gardens cultivated on public lands have been cleared, the trash, toxic chemicals and other environmental damage remain. 'They've terraced, they've filled garbage pits, they've contaminated the ground with various chemicals,' some of which have been banned in the United States, said Gary Sharpe, associate field manager with the Bureau of Land Management's Ukiah office. His office's jurisdiction includes two of the state's top five pot producing counties, Lake and Mendocino."

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Current openings include natural resource specialist, administrative technicians, park ranger (interpretive), fire lookouts and wildland firefighter.

Randy Banis of BLM's California Desert District Advisory CouncilMEET YOUR ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS: Randy Banis...
...represents the public-at-large on BLM's California Desert District Advisory Council.  He is the founder and owner of a multi-media and internet development firm and is the editor of an online resource for backcountry travel in Death Valley and the Mojave Desert. Read more:

Watch for more details online at:


"Secretary Kempthorne applauds nomination of Senator Salazar" (Department of the Interior news release, 12/17/08)
Statement from the Secretary: Ken Salazar is an excellent selection for Secretary of the Interior. As a lifelong Westerner and rancher who has led Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources and is a member of the Senate Energy Committee, Senator Salazar already understands many of Interior’s diverse and complex issues. He recognizes the importance that America’s federal lands must play in reducing our dependence on foreign energy; he supports our national parks; he has positive relationships with American Indian tribes; he understands the complexities of western water issues."

"Is Ken Salazar too nice? (New York Times, 1/1/09)
Editorial: "The word on Ken Salazar, tapped by President-elect Barack Obama to run the Interior Department, is that he is friendly, approachable, a good listener, a genial compromiser and a skillful broker of deals. That is also the rap on Ken Salazar."

"Kempthorne touts Interior reforms in final speech" (Associated Press on Google News, 1/6/09)
"Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne defended his two-year tenure in Washington, D.C., saying it was highlighted by ethics reforms he hopes will improve the agency's integrity after a slew of scandals. The former Idaho governor, who took national office in May 2006 after Gale Norton's departure, spoke [in Boise, Idaho] Monday in what he called his "last formal speech" as a Bush administration cabinet member."

"Bush Interior Dept. is giving itself a pat on the back" (Washington Post, 1/1/09)
"As President Bush's tenure comes to a close, independent experts and administration insiders are delivering their assessments of his government's performance over the past eight years. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has posted his own verdict on his department's Web site, and the upshot is that he did great."

"Bush Administration accomplishments at the Department of the Interior" (Department of the Interior)
Note -- PDF file, eight pages, 665 kilobytes:

"Nevada state BLM director going to Washington" (Associated Press in Las Vegas Sun, 1/6/09)
"The head of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Nevada is headed to Washington, D.C., to serve as acting agency director during the transition to the Obama administration. Ron Wenker is expected remain in the temporary post for about four months until a new director and deputy director are named." Note: Wenker is a native Californian, born in Huntington Park, and graduated from California State University, Humboldt. He has been the BLM Nevada state director since 2005. Prior to that, he served as Colorado state director. His previous career positions include District Manager in Medford, Oregon and earlier in the Winnemucca, Nevada, office. He also served as an Area Manager in the BLM Kemmerer, Wyoming office.

"BLM Director names new National Landscape Conservation System director" (BLM national news release, 1/5/09)
Carl Rountree, a natural resources civil servant for more than 30 years, currently serves as the budget officer in the agency's Washington, D.C., headquarters. Among other positions, Rountree has served in a number of management positions in the BLM's California State Office. Since its inception in 2000, the National Landscape Conservation System has been a showcase for managing special areas in a multiple-use context. The NLCS consists of 866 areas comprising nearly 27 million acres in 11 western states, plus Alaska and Florida. Congress and the president have the authority to designate these areas, which include national monuments, national conservation areas, wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, wild and scenic rivers, and national scenic and historic trails.

"Drillers eye oil reserves off California coast" (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/28/08)
"The federal government is taking steps that may open California's fabled coast to oil drilling in as few as three years, an action that could place dozens of platforms off the Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt coasts ... Millions of acres of oil deposits, mapped in the 1980s when then-Interior Secretary James Watt and Energy Secretary Donald Hodel pushed for California exploration, lie a few miles from the forested North Coast and near the mouth of the Russian River, as well as off Malibu, Santa Monica and La Jolla in Southern California ... The Interior Department has moved to open some or all federal waters, which begin 3 miles from shore and are outside state control, for exploration as early as 2010. Rigs could go up in 2012."

"Calif. sues to block Bush endangered species rules" (Associated Press on Google News, 12/30/08)
"California is suing the Bush administration to block last-minute endangered species regulations that are intended to reduce input from federal scientists, state Attorney General Jerry Brown announced ... The Interior Department issued the revised rules this month. They allow federal agencies to issue permits for mining, logging and similar activities without getting a review from federal wildlife biologists if their own research shows the project will not affect plants and animals. The changes also block agencies from using the Endangered Species Act to consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on ecosystems when reviewing projects such as new roads or coal plants on federal land."

RELATED: "California sues federal government over changes in Endangered Species Act" (Los Angeles Times, 12/31/08)
"California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown filed suit against the federal government Tuesday, charging that a recent rule change by the Bush administration illegally gutted provisions of the Endangered Species Act, essentially quashing the role of science in decisions made by federal agencies ... Critics argued that agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management do not have sufficient scientific expertise to properly evaluate threats to wildlife."
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WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(b.) They both bury food to eat later.

SOURCES: "Red Fox - Vulpes vulpes" (BLM California wildlife database)
These foxes tend to store extra food underground for times when food is scarce.

"Western gray squirrel - Sciurus griseus" (BLM-California wildlife database)
They like to eat fungi, acorns, nuts, seeds, green vegetation, and insects. They often hide acorns under the ground in various locations for later use. They relocate the acorns by scent.

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

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