A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 369 - 2/11/09

An Australian firefighter shares a water bottle with a koala A view from the Carrizo Plain to the Caliente Range A giant kangaroo rat in extreme closeup Kevin Rose and Jeremy Mack stand on the summit ridge of Aguas Calientes (5,930 meters) in northeast Chile. Close-up of Vanessa Kobilis

- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - More wildlife news: Bear, koala, desert tortoise, elephant seals, tule elk
- Carrizo Plain Plan
- Recreation on public lands
- Renewable energy
- Mining
- Headlines and highlights: From California desert to Mars, youth award, no "free" land, jobs, more
- Employee Profile
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Secretary of Interior Salazar actions and reactions

This issue of News.bytes is online at:


A giant kangaroo rat in extreme closeup
From a photo by by John Shelton, Department Water Resources, courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

One of denizens of the Carrizo Plain National Monument is the giant kangaroo rat. Which anthropomorphized character might the giant kangaroo rat most identify with, in a sonic way?
(a.) Lassie
(b.) Roger Rabbit
(c.) The velveteen rabbit
(d.) The white rabbit
(e.) Thumper
(f.) Donald Duck
(g.) Donald Trump

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


Workers load Smokey for his ride to an undisclosed locationCarrying Smokey in his box"Updated: Li'l Smokey returned to the wilds in Siskiyou County" (Redding Record Searchlight, 2/5/09)
We have carried previous stories about the bear cub rescued from a fire on BLM-managed lands in Shasta County (most recently in issue 356, Nov. 6, 2008). "Li’l Smokey, a now not-so-little American black bear cub rescued last summer ... was returned today to new digs in the Klamath National Forest in Siskiyou County. The exact location of Li’l Smokey’s new home is being kept a top secret by state Department of Fish and Game officials. But wildlife experts said it is considered to be excellent bear habitat."

An Australian firefighter shares a water bottle with a koala"Koala rescued from Australia's wildfire wasteland" (Associated Press on Google News, 2/10/09)
Speaking of wildlife rescued from wildfires ... we just couldn't resist linking to this remarkable photo and story. Plus, U.S. and Australian firefighting agencies have mutual aid agreements, and BLM and other Department of Interior firefighters have helped fight Australian wildfires in previous years. "David Tree noticed the koala moving gingerly on scorched paws as his fire patrol passed. Clearly in pain, the animal stopped when it saw Tree ... 'I yelled out for a bottle of water. I unscrewed the bottle, tipped it up on his lips and he just took it naturally. He kept reaching for the bottle, almost like a baby'."

"San Diego Zoo joins effort to save threatened desert tortoise" (Imperial Valley News, 2/9/09)
"San Diego Zoo Conservation Ambassador Joan Embery revealed Saturday the Zoo's new role in helping to save the threatened desert tortoise. Embery spoke to a group of about 100 people at the Zoo's annual conference, which explores a different conservation topic each year ... Embery opened the conference with the announcement that the San Diego Zoo will apply expertise by joining the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in operating the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Nevada."

"Public input sought on relocating desert tortoises for military training center project" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 2/7/09)
"The federal government is asking for the public's help in deciding how best to relocate desert tortoises to make way for expansion of Fort Irwin Army training center near Barstow. The effort to move the tortoises to new territory was suspended last fall ... Now the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and Fort Irwin National Training Center have announced a 'scoping period' ending Feb. 18 to hear the public's suggestions on what issues should be addressed before tortoises are again moved from Fort Irwin expansion areas."

Close-up of an elephant seal pup at Piedras Blancas"Birthing season for elephant seals at Piedras Blancas" (Los Angeles Times, 2/8/09)
"Birthing peaks in mid-January with over 50 births a day on the beaches adjacent to the parking lot. The new pups have a shiny black coat and are often quite active. Indeed, with non-dominant bulls trying to invade the harems; mothers defending their section of the beach from encroachment by other females, pups, and even the big males; and the pups screaming for milk or misplaced mothers, the scene is the noisiest and most active of the year." Includes video.
(Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

RELATED: "Piedras Blancas Light Station" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)
Efforts are underway to restore the historical Central Coast lighthouse, as well as surrounding native vegetation.

Tule elk bulls"Once all-but-extinct tule elk thriving in north state" (Chico Enterprise-Record, 2/8/09)
"On a gorgeous winter day near Stonyford, just inside the Sacramento Valley's western foothills, a cluster of animals once thought to be extinct rested in a peaceful valley, safely surrounded by rolling hills. The animals weren't cattle, sheep or goats settled quietly in the sun. They were tule elk, a rare species found only in California. ... Besides Stonyford, the animals inhabit areas such as Cache Creek, Lake Pillsbury, Owens Valley and Potter Valley."

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.


"Editorial: Land bureau on right track for Carrizo" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 2/3/09)
"The Carrizo Plain National Monument is an ecological treasure that requires careful stewardship, and we believe the Bureau of Land Management is on the right track with its new resource management plan. The preferred alternative identified in the report strives to protect sensitive resources while allowing recreation and other public uses ... The management plan is a chance to turn the corner and do things right. We urge BLM to move forward with its preferred alternative."

"BLM releases draft plan for Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM-California news release, 1/21/09)
BLM will conduct three meetings in Central California to gather comments on the draft plan and EIS:
- Feb. 24 at the BLM Bakersfield Field Office, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Feb. 25 at the San Luis Obispo Library, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- March 7 at the Carrisa Plains School , from 10 a.m. to noon.

A view from the Carrizo Plain to the Caliente Range"Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)
The Carrizo Plain, 100 airline miles (160 km) north of Los Angeles, California is an area by-passed by time. Soda Lake, its centerpiece, is a glistening bed of white salt, set within a vast open grassland, rimmed by mountains. The plain is home to diverse communities of wildlife and plant species, and is an area culturally important to Native Americans.

"Wildflowers and sightseeing" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)
February 10, 2009: The Carrizo is just starting to green up a little. There was snow on the plain floor today and more rain expected for this week. Mid March to mid April is the usual time frame for wildflower season, but it is dependent on the weather and varies from season to season. Also beginning in March check this page for more information. There are many factors, including temperature, rainfall and the timing of the two that determine which flowers bloom and their distribution in any given season. Every year is not spectacular and only a few flowers may prevail in some years.


"Travel management workshops to continue" (News.bytes Extra)
The Bureau of Land Management’s Keyesville area near Lake Isabella hosts a variety of users from off-highway vehicle riders to river rafters. Those who use the area would like to see the varied uses remain, but with better user education and law enforcement. Those were some of the main themes that came out at a public workshop last week. In addition to the Keyesville meeting, BLM’s Bakersfield office will host two public workshops in February to discuss travel management for the BLM’s Bakersfield Resource Management Plan.

"Shasta County collects ideas for parks and trails" (Redding Record Searchlight, 2/6/09)
"A horse trail from Red Bluff to the Redding rodeo grounds, Safe Routes to School in Palo Cedro, and an inventory of old mining ditches to use as walking paths were among the ideas residents voiced Thursday for Shasta County's first Parks, Trails and Open Space Plan. The public workshop drew about 75 people..." One resident of "Happy Valley camp, said during a break that she'd like to see trails connecting her community to Cottonwood and Anderson, as well as to new Bureau of Land Management paths in the Churn Creek area, "so you can actually get to things without a car'..."

"Nature topics featured in Whitethorn lecture series" (BLM-California news release, 2/5/09)
Topics ranging from reptiles to lichen will be featured in a series of free lectures and a guided hike to be held between late February and early April at the King Range National Conservation Area west of Redway. The Bureau of Land Management and Sanctuary Forest are hosting the series featuring local nature experts.

RELATED: "King Range National Conservation Area" (BLM-California, Arcata Field Office)

"Fort Ord mushroom foray and sauté event planned" (BLM-California news release, 2/10/09)
Event is planned for this Sunday: "Let's hope for good shroom-growing conditions, that is rain and warmth in the five days prior to our foray. We will make three or four stops around Fort Ord and learn about the ecology and identification of mushroom species," said Bruce Delgado, BLM botanist in the Hollister Field Office.

RELATED: "Fort Ord Public Lands" (BLM-California, Hollister Field Office)


"Dark days for green energy" (New York Times, 2/3/09)
"Wind and solar power have been growing at a blistering pace in recent years, and that growth seemed likely to accelerate under the green-minded Obama administration. But because of the credit crisis and the broader economic downturn, the opposite is happening: installation of wind and solar power is plummeting."
(Note: This site may require free registration to view its content online.)


"Environmental concerns roadblock to renewable energy" (Las Vegas Sun, 2/6/09)
"A few years ago, residents and environmentalists rarely objected to clean energy development in their hometowns. But as the country prepares for massive growth in the number of renewable energy installations, environmental lawyers say there are rumblings from various groups about where these electric plants are located and whether the benefit of the emission-free electricity is worth the environmental price ... Environmentalists are battling California solar companies to stop planned solar plants in the Mojave Desert as well as expansion of the transmission grid between California and Nevada."

"Hurdles (not financial ones) await electric grid update"(New York Times, 2/6/09)
"Environmentalists dream of a bigger and 'smarter' electric grid that could move vast amounts of clean electricity from windswept plains and sunny deserts to distant cities ... Opposition to power lines from landowners and neighbors, local officials or environmental groups, especially in rural areas, makes expansion difficult -- even when the money for it is available. And some experts argue that in the absence of a broader national effort to encourage cleaner fuels, even the smartest grid will do little to reduce consumption of fuels that contribute to climate change."
(Note: This site may require free registration to view its content online.)

"Don Quixote fights the windmills -- and so does Boulevard" (East County Magazine, February 2009)
"Editor’s Note: Should wind turbines hundreds of feet tall -- higher than the existing Kumeyaay wind farm turbines -- be allowed in the rural McCain Valley/Boulevard region in East County? Does the nation’s critical need for 'green' energy outweigh the concerns of residents seeking to preserve the rural character of their backcountry communities? With new industrial-scale wind farms proposed across America, East County Magazine’s Gayle Early set out on a quest to explore these issues in depth for our three-part series on wind energy."


"Study: Climate change may reshuffle western weeds" (Associated Press in San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/6/09)
"Climate change will likely shuffle some of the West's most troublesome invasive weeds, adding to the burden faced by farms and ranchers in some areas and providing opportunities for native plant restoration in others, according to a new study ... Yellow starthistle may expand in California and Nevada as the climate changes ... The models take into account many of the possible scenarios of a warming climate, but it's still difficult to predict changes at a local level. That's especially true for precipitation, including when it will fall and how much."

"Calif steps up effort to halt invasive species" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 2/10/09)
California's new Invasive Species Council "includes secretaries of five state agencies that previously had dealt with the environmental problem within their own bureaucracies ... Nonnative bugs and plants cause at least $138 billion in losses nationwide each year to agriculture, power and water delivery systems and forests..." Among the invasive threats is "Yellow Star Thistle, which kills horses and has choked 10 million acres of pastureland..." The BLM cooperates with the state in battling invasive species.

"Yellow Starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis)" (BLM-California, Arcata Field Office)
California is heavily infested with yellow starthistle statewide. It is toxic to horses as it causes "chewing disease." Once a plant invades a site it may sit without increasing for several years. It becomes genetically adapted to that site and then the population explodes and spreads rapidly. Small populations must be eradicated!


View of the 55-acre pit at Molycorp Minerals mine, seen here Tuesday, January 27, 2009 in Mountain Pass, CA.A hand holds a sample of bastnasite ore from the 55-acre pit at Molycorp Minerals mine"Expansion in works for mine with troubled environmental past" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 2/9/09)
"The 57-year-old Mountain Pass Mine off Interstate 15 near the Nevada border has one of the world's few ready supplies of elements known as rare earths, used in manufacturing wind turbines, hybrid cars, fluorescent light bulbs, computer hard drives, DVD players, small electric motors and hundreds of other products." The company says it "is awaiting Bureau of Land Management approval" for work testing earlier pollution.
(Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

"BLM seeks public input on proposed Bodie Hills mineral exploration" (BLM-California news release, 2/11/09)
The Bureau of Land Management has initiated a 30-day public scoping period and will hold a public meeting on February 25 in Bridgeport to seek public comments on specific and relevant issues for an environmental assessment (EA) being prepared on a proposed mineral exploration drilling project in the Bodie Hills. Cougar Gold LLC, Denver, has submitted a proposal to conduct mineral exploration drilling activities in the Bodie Wilderness Study Area (WSA) and adjacent private lands.


Kevin Rose (University of Miami Ohio) and Jeremy Mack (U.S. Geological Survey) stand on the summit ridge of Aguas Calientes (5,930 meters) in northeast Chile.The red water of the lake, Simba"From BLM's California Desert District to a place like Mars" (News.bytes Extra)
What do scientists in the California Desert do with their time off? Jeremy Mack, at least, joined a NASA team to conduct science among some of the highest mountains in the western hemisphere. Mack, a U.S. Geological Service ecologist who works in BLM’s California Desert District office in Moreno Valley, was part of a team of 17 scientists investigating the impact of increased environmental stress on high-altitude lake habitats in Chile...

"BLMer presented award for service to youth through camping opportunities" (News.bytes Extra)
Noël Stephens, BLM Public Contact Representative for the California Desert District, was recently presented a Certificate of Appreciation by the American Camp Association for her stellar service to youth through camping.

One of the fireboxes at locations around the area"Fire boxes equipped with local info" (Kern Valley Sun, 2/4/09)
"While passing through areas of the Kern Valley, you may have seen various locked red boxes labeled Fire Department. The Kern County Fire Department compiled information for all communities in the Kern Valley and Walker Basin that are considered at risk for wildland fires. While the boxes are small, the contents of the boxes could end up saving your home one day ... The project has taken much work by the Kern Valley Fire Safe Council, The Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Kern County Fire Department."

"BLM executes addendum to national agreement and conducts tribal outreach" (BLM national news release, 2/6/09)
In recognition of their important partnership, the Bureau of Land Management, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers announced today an addendum to the 1997 national programmatic agreement (PA). The PA has long been a tool for the BLM to meet its responsibilities under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The addendum recognizes that the BLM is working to make tribal coordination and consultation more effective.

"Con artists are peddling bogus lists of 'free' government land or property for sale" (Los Angeles Times, 2/8/09)
"The federal government often puts real property up for sale, but it no longer gives land or houses away for nothing, at least not to individuals. So the next time you see an advertisement or receive an e-mail that trumpets 'free' government land, don't believe it. No matter what the ad claims, Congress put an end to the giveaways more than 30 years ago. The Homesteading Act of 1862 was repealed in 1976 because all the good agricultural land -- 287.5 million acres of it -- had already been transferred out of federal ownership."
(Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

RELATED: "I've heard that I can get free land from BLM, what can you tell me about this?" (BLM national website)
"There is not any free public land. Americans have always had to pay for the land in cash, military service, or in the case of homesteads, by living on and developing the land before they received title.  Congress abolished homesteading in 1976..."

"National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board to meet in Reno in March; BLM announces three appointments to board" (BLM national news release, 2/5/09)
The Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board will meet in Reno on Monday, March 2, 2009, to discuss issues relating to the management, protection, and control of wild horses and burros on Western public rangelands. The advisory board provides input and advice to the BLM as it carries out its responsibilities under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. 

"Budget stalemate causing huge problems for conservation projects" (Redding Record Searchlight, 2/8/09)
"The state's suspension of bond sales - and resultant lack of funding - has halted many environmental improvement projects and caused some agencies to cut jobs ... Among the projects most affected in the north state is the revival of Clear Creek, which flows just south of Redding. The creekbed was literally turned over during the Gold Rush days and over the past decade, a combination of local, state and federal agencies, as well as nonprofit groups, have worked to restore the waterway to prime salmon-rearing habitat." BLM-California has worked with others in the restoration of Clear Creek.

"Conservation Corps in serious fiscal danger" (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/10/09)
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest budget proposal would eliminate the iconic state agency that employs 3,300 people, many of them teenagers and young adults down on their luck, who provide services to 250 communities and organizations statewide." BLM conservation projects are among those helped by CCC workers.

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Current openings include wildlife biologist, petroleum engineering technician, planning and environmental coordinator, fire lookout, wildland firefighter positions, and more.

Close-up of Vanessa KobilisEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Vanessa Kobilis...
...is program support assistant with BLM-California's state office of Fire and Aviation. Her coworkers claim she is feisty and stubborn.  And with a maiden name like Balboa, you might guess it is common for her to be called "Rocky." Read More:

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

February 19-20 - Northeast California Resource Advisory Council meeting

Other February events include these mentioned above:
- Public meetings, Carrizo Plain National Monument management plan
- Workshops, Bakersfield Field Office travel management plan


"Our Opinion: Salazar good pick for Interior" (Imperial Valley Press, 2/5/09)
Editorial: "Salazar is known as a moderate Democrat who is respected on both sides of the aisle. He appears free of the ethical entanglements that have plagued other Obama nominees ... Previous Interior secretaries have been either longtime bureaucrats and/or politicians or, in the case of James Watt and Gale Norton, end time believers who showed little interest in preserving the environment or its natural resources. Salazar, however, knows what it is like to work the land and has knowledge of how important water, particularly the Colorado River water that feeds the Imperial Valley, is to the West."

"Ken Salazar: A New Era of Land Management" (ABC News, 2/6/09)
"Like all newly minted Cabinet members, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has been adjusting to life in the executive branch. Five years of sticking up for the beauty of his home state of Colorado in the U.S. Senate appears to have left him well prepared for his appointment as the nation's top conservationist. Supervising about 70,000 employees in 2,400 offices across the country, Salazar, who oversees the Fish and Wildlife and National Park Services, as well as the Bureaus of Land Management, Reclamation and Indian Affairs, has found himself in charge of 500 million acres of land, about one-fifth of the United States."

"Salazar puts coastal drilling plans on hold" (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/10/09)
"President Obama is shelving a plan announced in the final days of the Bush administration to open much of the U.S. coast to oil drilling, including 130 million acres off California's coast from Mendocino to San Diego. On Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ordered the plan be put on hold while his agency conducts a 180-day review of the country's offshore oil and gas resources. Salazar's critical comments about the plan signaled that the new administration will seek to rewrite it if not completely scrap it."

RELATED: "Secretary Salazar details strategy for comprehensive energy plan on U.S. outer continental shelf" (Department of the Interior news release, 2/10/09)
"His strategy calls for extending the public comment period on a proposed 5-year plan for oil and gas development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf by 180 days, assembling a detailed report from Interior agencies on conventional and renewable offshore energy resources, holding four regional conferences to review these findings, and expediting renewable energy rulemaking for the Outer Continental Shelf."

"Interior funding in Economic Recovery Act would create 100,000 jobs" (Department of the Interior news release, 2/9/09)
"Both the House and Senate versions of the bill include over $4 billion in investments in conservation projects, water infrastructure, roads, Native American schools, and other ready-to-go projects."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(e.) Thumper -- see details next...

SOURCE: "Giant Kangaroo Rat - Dipodomys ingens" (BLM California wildlife database)
"Some individuals also pile their seeds outside of their burrow ... They warn potential thieves to stay away by drumming their hind feet on the ground ... Giant kangaroo rat burrows tend to be rather shallow. In fact, during late spring and summer when drumming seems to be at its greatest, humans can often clearly hear it below the ground."

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