A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 366 - 1/22/09

A raptor in the air ove the Galt Winter Bird Festival-goers BLM volunteer Barbara Williams helps a visitor view birds through a telescope at Cosumnes River Preserve New Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar A western banded gecko, thumbnail from a photo by San Diego Natural History Museum Dinah Shumway of BLM's California Desert Advisory Council

- Wilderness
- Energy
- Recreation on public lands: OHVs, wildflowers, advisory committee
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Crowds view migrating birds at Galt festival
      - More wildlife news: Desert tortoise, fish habitat, poaching
- Headlines and highlights: Carrizo Plain plan, new field office manager, jobs, more
- Meet your advisory council members
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: New Interior Secretary sworn in, economic stimulus

This issue of News.bytes is online at:


"Senate approves 2 million acres for wilderness" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/16/09)
"The Senate approved a major expansion of wilderness areas ... protecting more than 2 million acres of public land from drilling, logging and mining, including 735,000 acres across California ... all on existing public lands - managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and other agencies - but [they] now will have the highest level of protection under law. Under the 1964 Wilderness Act, drilling, mining and logging are banned, as are motorized vehicles, including snowmobiles and four-wheelers. Hiking, camping and horseback riding are allowed, but the areas must be managed to preserve wildlife as well as the untrammeled nature of the ecosystems."

27 miles of the Amargosa River Valley in Death Valley are being considered for a Wild and Scenic River designation in the Wild Heritage Act that was passed by the Senate."Wild Heritage Act passes Senate" (Inyo Register, 1/20/09)
"With approval from the Senate, the bill now awaits a decision from the House of Representatives and a stamp of approval from the Oval Office. The Omnibus Public Lands Package approved Tuesday includes the Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wilderness Bill ... to protect almost half a million acres of wilderness in Mono, Inyo and Los Angeles counties ... The Wild Heritage Act, which designates 472,007 acres of land in Inyo and Mono counties as wilderness, was one of the three proposals included in the Omnibus Public Lands Package."

"Two remote areas of Tulare County to be preserved as wilderness" (Central Valley Business Times, 1/19/09)
"The Wilderness Land Trust says it has acquired 2,635 acres in Tulare County’s southern Sierra Nevada to preserve as wilderness. The trust has purchased a 200-acre tract in the Domeland Wilderness and a 2,435-acre property adjacent to the Sacatar Trail Wilderness. Both parcels are in Tulare County east of the Sierra crest and will be conveyed to the Bureau of Land Management to be administered as wilderness."

A view across a valley into mountains from the Sacatar WildernessRELATED: "Sacatar Trail Wilderness" (BLM-California)
This wilderness encompasses the rugged pristine eastern face of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Topography ranges from valley, canyons and alluvial fans to steep hills that lead into granite peaks and ridgetops reaching elevations of more that 7,800 feet. Vegetation is extremely diversified with creosote bush, desert shrubs and Joshua trees on the lower slopes and cacti and scattered pinyon-juniper woodlands on the upper slopes.


"BLM approves Sunrise Powerlink to run through federal land" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/20/09)
"The federal Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday approved San Diego Gas & Electric's controversial Sunrise Powerlink to run through 85 miles of land it controls. 'If everything goes according to schedule, we're looking at completion sometime in 2012,' said Jennifer Briscoe, an SDG&E spokeswoman. The California Public Utilities Commission approved construction of the line last month ... opponents who say the line is unnecessary, ugly and too expensive have vowed to appeal in the courts, a process they hope will kill the project."

RELATED: "BLM Approves the Sunrise Powerlink Project"(BLM-California news release, 1/20/09)
The BLM today signed a record of decision approving the southern route alternative for the Sunrise Powerlink transmission project proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) designed to help meet state renewable energy goals. BLM California State Director Mike Pool signed the decision to offer a right-of-way grant and temporary use permit to SDG&E with extensive mitigating terms and conditions, including those in the biological opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in compliance with the Endangered Species Act. Once SDG&E agrees to the conditions, the BLM will then issue the grant and permit for the power line.

"Secretary Kempthorne authorizes BLM to establish special offices to expedite development of renewable energy" (BLM national news release, 1/16/09)
To help speed development of renewable energy on public lands, former Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne issued a secretarial order that authorizes the Bureau of Land Management to establish coordination offices to expedite the permitting of wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal projects, along with needed electrical transmission facilities, on BLM-managed lands. The offices will initially be located in those states where the greatest interest has been shown in renewable energy development: Arizona, California, Nevada, and Wyoming.

"Big Nevada power line proposed" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 1/20/09)
Company plans 347-mile power line "from Yerington in the north to Jean in the south, giving Las Vegas and Southern California access to geothermal power resources in northern Nevada ... Separately, the company has applied to the federal Bureau of Land Management for a 200-foot right of way. The transmission line would interconnect with Vulcan's planned line that would run from Fernley to Bishop, Calif. "


Trash about to be picked up by volunteers at the Imperial Sand Dunes"Duners do part to tidy up sand dunes" (Yuma Sun, 1/17/09)
"Mike and Erica Combs were among the thousands of duners who began their three-day weekend at the Imperial Sand Dunes on Saturday by joining in to make it a cleaner place. 'There is really no reason the dunes should be dirty,' Mike Combs said. 'But we want to keep this place open and if this is what it takes, then we will do our part.' The Combses, who are from British Columbia, Canada, have been coming to the dunes for three years now and said they have participated in the cleanup every year ... Event organizer Matt Molenar was pleased with the turnout, saying they expect a few thousand duners to participate."

"Funds secured for dunes trash pickup"
(Yuma Sun, 1/15/09)
"Dumpsters at the Imperial Sand Dunes will remain and trash collection service will continue until the close of the season May 30. Imperial County Board of Supervisors Chairman Wally Leimgruber said $150,000 has been secured to pay for continued trash pickup for the next four months. Because of a decline in visitors, there was a funding shortfall the U.S. Bureau of Land Management had to deal with. So in September, the BLM planned to discontinue trash service on Feb. 1 ... the board continues to explore ways to continue trash service when the next season begins in October..."

RELATED: "Our opinion: County steps up on trash issue" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/15/09)
Editorial: "All the volunteer programs in the world weren’t going to get all the trash out of our sand dunes, so we are pleased Imperial County is stepping up to provide trash-collection services for the rest of this dunes season ... This is only a stopgap measure, though. Federal, state and county officials must come up with a long-term solution to a problem that is not going to be solved by education programs or volunteerism. It is only going to be solved by big old trash-hauling trucks."

A No Trespassing sign next to a dirt track"Property owners take on illegal off-roaders" (Bakersfield Californian, 1/16/09)
"Palmer and her husband, Steve, have been caretakers of 4,400 acres ... on the southern side of the Tehachapis since 1986. And each year, she said, the number of off-road riders who come onto their property has increased. Palmer is part of a newly formed group of Tehachapi-area residents that hopes to once and for all end off-road vehicle use on private land. Off-Road Vehicle Watch Kern County met with local law enforcement and Bureau of Land Management officials earlier this week. The Kern County Sheriff’s Department’s Off-Highway Vehicle Team planned to confront riders in the area Saturday to warn them they shouldn’t be there."

wildflowers bloom in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument"Wildflowers blooming early" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 1/17/09)
"Spurts of sand verbena, chuperosa and brittle brush are dotting the desert — popping up about two weeks earlier than usual, local experts said. The early showing follows last week's report from Palm Springs ecologist Jim Cornett that ocotillo and fishhook cactuses were blooming earlier than he's ever seen. 'I'm already beginning to see wildflowers popping up on the trails near the visitor center,' 'said Danielle Ortiz, a ranger at Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument off Highway 74 in Palm Desert."

RELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM-California, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)

"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 has been extended to February 6. The U.S. Forest Service and BLM are seeking applications for 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.

"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 Jan. 24 in Visalia, to conduct organizational business and discuss OHV issues for the subcommittee to address. Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting. The subcommittee will

A western banded gecko in the sand
Banded gecko: Thumbnail from a photo by John H. Tashjian, California Academy of Sciences

What is one of the unusual places that Banded Geckos often seek cover during the day?
(a.) Under slow-moving desert tortoises
(b.) Under the bellies of other, larger animals
(c.) Inside hollowed-out cacti
(d.) In the branches of the gecko biloba tree
(e.) Under cow patties

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


Cranes jockey for position in the waters of Cosumnes PreserveBLM volunteer Barbara Williams helps a visitor view birds through a telescope at Cosumnes River Preserve"Crowds view birds at Cosumnes River Preserve" (News.bytes Extra)
An overflow crowd turned out to see sandhill cranes and other birds at the Cosumnes River Preserve as part of the annual Galt Winter Bird Festival last weekend. Tour organizers at the preserve added vans to accommodate members of the public, said Mark Ackerman, BLM biologist at the preserve.

A raptor in the air ove the Galt Winter Bird Festival-goersBLM biologist Mark Ackerman helps a young visitor with a telescope during the Galt Winter Bird Festival"Birds of a feather flocked together" (Galt Herald, 1/21/09)
"For hundreds of bird enthusiasts, Galt was the place to be on Saturday as Galt’s second annual Winter Bird Festival drew visitors from all over California to share in the splendor of the valley’s winter bird residents ... As an added bonus, hundreds of festival visitors boarded buses and took a tour of the Cosumnes River Preserve, a natural jewel found right in Galt’s own backyard."

RELATED: "Cosumnes River Preserve" (BLM-California, Folsom Field Office)


A close-up of a desert tortoise in the wild"Plenty spent on endangered species list's tortoise"
(Associated Press on Google News, 1/19/09)
"Leathery, shy and a bit world-weary, the Mojave desert tortoise doesn't come across as a high-roller. But among land-going critters on the endangered species list, it's among the top recipients of money spent by state and federal agencies trying to keep it from the brink of extinction, according to an Associated Press analysis of the last 11 years of available data ... One of the most ambitious plans was to relocate 770 of the reptiles to Bureau of Land Management land to make way for the expansion of Fort Irwin, a national military training center near Barstow, Calif."

Salmon Creek spreads out as it approaches the Pacific Ocean"New structure on Salmon Creek expected to help restore stream" (Eureka Times-Standard, 1/14/09)
Restoring area stream "to something resembling its historic condition" includes "improved flow of water" that "will make better conditions for fish and other species. Over time, the sediment that has choked the lower stream should get washed out ... Road removal projects in the upper watershed on the Headwaters Forest Reserve and Green Diamond Resource Co. land have also reduced the amount of sediment moving into the lower parts of the creek..."

RELATED: "Headwaters Forest Reserve" (BLM-California, Arcata Field Office)

"Wildlife in the crosshairs as poaching ramps up" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 1/15/09)
Sandhill cranes and tundra swans are among the endangered species spotted at Cosumnes River Preserve -- and "among hundreds of endangered, threatened and protected birds that wardens found in the freezers" of a California man, "who pleaded no contest in November to three violations. He was placed on two years probation and ordered to pay a $7,105 fine and perform 100 hours community service ... California's rich waterfowl population is suffering more poaching than it has for a century, officials said."


Looking down toward Soda Lake in the Carrizo Plain National MonumentPoppies and lupine in this 2005 photo from the Carrizo Plain National Monument"BLM releases draft plan for Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM-California news release, 1/21/09)
The Bureau of Land Management has released for public review and comment a draft resource management plan/draft environmental impact statement for about 206,000 acres of public lands in the Carrizo Plain National Monument administered by the agency’s Bakersfield Field Office. The draft RMP provides management guidance for public lands in San Luis Obispo and Kern counties. BLM will conduct three meetings in Central California to gather comments on the draft plan and EIS. (Includes link to the document, which is in PDF format.)

RELATED: "Bakersfield Field Office" (BLM-California)
Includes link to the draft plan document for Carrizo Plain National Monument, and to more information on the monument.

"BLM names new Needles Field Office manager" (BLM-California news release, 1/16/09)
Raymond Conner Lee will become the Bureau of Land Management's Needles Field Office Manager Feb.1. Lee has been the assistant manager of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. "I am looking forward to returning to the desert of my childhood, and the region that first captivated my imagination," says Lee.

"BLM firefighters move to Taft" (KERO-TV Bakersfield, 1/16/09)
"About a dozen firefighters from the Bureau of Land Management are moving into a fire station on the Westside to get closer to the area they're designated to protect ... 'It's going to save us at least a half-hour in response time,' BLM field manager Tim Smith said. 'That better response time sometimes makes the difference between a 100,000-acre fire and a 5-acre fire,' fire captain John Moreno added."

"Locals rally behind Conservation Corps" (Eureka Times-Standard, 1/15/09)
Some locals counter the governor's suggestion that the California Conservation Corps costs too much to keep going. "The corps is known for its trail building, wildfire suppression support and efforts to rehabilitate damaged salmon habitat. It's often seen as a key nudge for kids teetering between trouble and productivity" with "a reputation for doing extremely hard work in terrible conditions ... Finding a die-hard workforce willing and able to, say, manually yank invasive European beach grass from sand dunes, or hike in daily to bust rock to make trails, wouldn't be easy, said U.S. Bureau of Land Management Arcata Field Manager Lynda Roush. The CCC is a source of maintenance that the agency doesn't have, she said."

"Bono Mack fights for new jail site" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 1/16/09)
"Rep. Mary Bono Mack has contacted the federal Bureau of Land Management in hopes of finding another location for a controversial county jail proposed for Whitewater ... as a growing number of groups -- including tourism and hospitality agencies -- raise red flags at the Riverside County's proposal to build a jail ... along Interstate 10 just west of Highway 111 ... 'If we can find a site that works and do a land exchange with the BLM, we would be very open to that it," said a county supervisor.

"Wildfire protection plan prepared for Inyo County" (Inyo Register, 1/22/09)
The BLM works with communities around the state on protecting communities from wildfire. Inyo County says its plan should help it compete for grants to help fund wildfire prevention projects.

"County News Digest: Partnering funds future advances" (Fort Bragg Advocate-News, 1/15/09)
The BLM cooperated with Mendocino County, utility companies and property owners on easements and rights-of-way, so the county could replace a microwave communications system. The former system was so outdated that the county was "buying parts off eBay to keep it running." An undersheriff says with the new system, "I can assure you that every time a deputy pushes a radio, they're going to get a better reception..."

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Current openings include GIS specialist, administrative technician, human resources assistants, fire lookouts and wildland firefighting jobs.

Dinah Shumway of BLM's California Desert Advisory CouncilMEET YOUR ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS: Dinah Shumway...
...represents non-renewable resources on BLM's California Desert District Advisory Council. She is also a community college geology instructor and has extensive experience working with disparate groups to achieve collaborative solutions. Read more:

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

January 24 - Central California RAC, Off-Highway Vehicle Subcommittee meeting

January 28 - Public workshop on Keyesville Area recreation
Lake Isabella


New Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar"Ken Salazar Confirmed as 50th Secretary of the Interior" (Department of the Interior news release, 1/20/09)
"Ken Salazar, a fifth-generation Coloradan who served as the state’s U.S. Senator, Attorney General and Director of Natural Resources, was confirmed today by a unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate to become the 50th Secretary of the Interior." Includes links to more information, including biography and a photo gallery.

"Salazar: Interior will help 'remake America'"(Associated Press on KRDO-TV Colorado Springs, 1/22/09)
"Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the department will play a key role in President Barack Obama's quest to 'remake America' and free the country from dependence on foreign energy sources. Salazar ... spoke Thursday to department employees in Washington while others across the country listened by phone and satellite."

"Salazar stressed stewardship and service during first day as Secretary of the Interior" (Department of the Interior news release, 1/21/09)
"Welcomed by a large crowd of employees this morning when he entered the Department of the Interior headquarters a day after his Senate confirmation, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar promised to bring positive change to what he called the 'Department of America.'"

"Billions for buildings, cars, infrastructure" (Federal Times, 1/18/09)
"Among the measures in the Democrats’ huge stimulus plan are billions of dollars worth of spending on federal building repairs, energy-efficiency upgrades, and thousands of new cars and trucks that run on alternative fuels ... he National Park Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and others would share a combined $3.1 billion for infrastructure projects, including improving visitor facilities, preserving buildings of cultural and historical importance, restoring roads and trails, and cleaning up environmental hazards."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(e.) Under cow patties

SOURCE: "Western banded gecko - Coleonyx variegatus" (BLM California wildlife database)
Some individuals may also be seen basking in late afternoon. During the day they seek cover under rocks, fallen vegetation, in mammal burrows, and even under cow dung.

A western banded gecko, thumbnail from a photo by San Diego Natural History MuseumRELATED: "Coleonyx variegatus - Western Banded Gecko" (San Diego Natural History Museum)
More information, plus a photo.

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