A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 389 - 7/1/09

Two horse-drawn wagons loaded with passengers Firefighters light spot fires with torches to destroy noxious weeds House with safe fire clearance man looks at framing under his house close-up of John Key


- Renewable energy: New solar initiative
- Renewable energy issues: Geothermal, power line siting
- Wildfires and prevention
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Youth and BLM
- Recreation and issues
- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
- Headlines and highlights: Fire versus weeds, mining fees, marijuana issues, jobs, more
- Employee profile
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: California water meeting
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


"Secretary Salazar, Senator Reid announce 'fast-track' initiatives for solar energy development on western lands" (Department of the Interior news release, 6/29/09)
"Under initiatives announced today by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), federal agencies will work with western leaders to designate tracts of U.S. public lands in the West as prime zones for utility-scale solar energy development, fund environmental studies, open new solar energy permitting offices and speed reviews of industry proposals."

"Solar energy study areas" (BLM national office)
Links to maps of the solar energy study areas published in the Federal Register.

"U.S. works to speed solar energy development in the West" (Los Angeles Times, 6/30/09)
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed "an order that sets aside more than 1,000 square miles of public land for two years of study and environmental reviews. Although the clean-energy initiative identifies some 676,000 acres of federal land for study, more than half -- 351,000 acres in the Mojave Desert -- are in California."
Note: This news site may require free registration to view its contents online.),0,5913261.story

part of a map of proposed solar energy areas"Nearby desert eyed for solar project" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 6/30/09)
"Tens of thousands of watts of solar energy -- and thousands of green jobs for Riverside County -- could be generated by a new federal initiative to build commercial solar plants on public land east of the Coachella Valley ... Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the government's goal of beginning to build 13 large-scale solar plants in six western states, including California, by the end of 2010."

"BLM to study solar potential on area east of Barstow" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 6/30/09)
"The solar potential for an area about 20 miles outside of Newberry Springs may increase. The Bureau of Land Management will conduct an environmental impact study on a 26,292-acre parcel of land near Pisgah, about 40 miles east of Barstow. This parcel is one of 24 sites the Department of the Interior designated for solar energy exploration."

"Accelerated solar site review includes Mojave Desert acreage in the Inland region"
(Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/29/09)
"The streamlined review and approval process would take one year, instead of three to four years, Interior spokesman Frank Quimby said. Three of the study areas are in the Mojave Desert: one off Highway 40, northwest of the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base, and two east of Joshua Tree National Park. The federal proposal includes four times as much land as environmental groups wanted."
(Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

"Big step for local solar" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 6/26/09)
"Renewable energy in the Indian Wells Valley took a step forward last week as Southern California Edison signed ... to purchase the energy generated from proposed solar fields in two southern California cities over 20 years - one in Blythe and the other in Ridgecrest. Solar Millennium, a company currently engineering Solar Thermal Plants in several countries, has been working with the local Bureau of Land Management office since 2007 to gain approval..."

RENEWABLE ENERGY: Geothermal, transmission lines

geothermal plant"New geothermal project raises questions, concerns" (Lake County News, 6/29/09)
First of a two-part series on "a new geothermal drilling project at The Geysers ... the technology is heralded ... as a promising new clean energy source, it's also known to cause sizable earthquakes at some of its test sites around the world. That's raising concerns for the earthquake-prone Geysers area's residents, who already contend with small earthquakes on an almost daily basis."

RELATED: "Company says proposed geothermal project holds promise for renewables" (Lake County News, 6/30/09)
Part two of the above story.

man looks at framing under his houseRELATED: "Neighbors worried about quakes in back yard" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 6/27/09)
"Folks in Anderson Springs, a tiny community near The Geysers, have been living for years with small earthquakes triggered by geothermal energy production ... Now they’re worried about an experimental deep-drilling project that would tap a new heat source more than two miles below the surface."

high-power lines stretch off into the fog"Power line frenzy hits rural America" (Daily Yonder, 6/29/09)
"To get power from wind turbines to customers in the cities will require thousands of miles of new transmission lines. Wind is the easy part. Building the lines is tougher ... The oldest story in the country is that rural America pays the largest price for producing the power used in the cities" and residents in states including California are protesting.

"North state TANC opposition swells" (Redding Record Searchlight, 6/24/09)
"Rapidly swelling opposition to a proposed 600-mile high-voltage transmission line through Northern California has grabbed the attention of top north state legislators." Includes a non-scientific poll.

RELATED: "Power line debate pits green against green" (Redding Record Searchlight, 6/29/09)
"The fact is no one wants a power line in their own backyard. Compounding the problem is that environmentalists are fighting environmentalists. We want non-polluting energy supplies but do not want to upset frogs, fish or deer to get it. Caught in the middle are the electric suppliers under a state mandate to provide renewable sources of energy."


A work crew operates a wood chipper"Fire reduction projects to help local economy" (News.bytes Extra)
The Bureau of Land Management’s Mother Lode Field Office has completed the first in a number of projects to reduce fire danger while helping the Calaveras County economy.

"Fire officials stress caution for July Fourth holiday" (BLM-California news release, 6/24/09)
Fire officials remind residents and visitors to be careful with fire and fireworks when they celebrate Independence Day. Spring rains are gone but left "a good crop of grass that can feed feed a wildfire when it dries out."

House with safe fire clearanceBurned house was not fire safe"Take Responsibility..." (California Fire Alliance)
Updated with an interview after the Jesusita Fire in Santa Barbara: "with aerial photography ... you'll see scorched earth as far the eye can see" -- with surviving houses only where the homeowners "took responsibility" and "created 100 feet of defensible space!"

"Searing heat amps wildfire dangers" (Grass Valley Union, 6/30/09)
"The Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit of Cal Fire is suspending all burning permits ... because of severe heat, which helped spur several vegetation fires over the past weekend ... 'Due to high temperatures and low humidity, forest fuels are quickly approaching a critical point,' Cal Fire Chief Mike Noonan said ... The Mother Lode office of the Bureau of Land Management is also implementing fire restrictions..."

"BLM sets fire restrictions on northwest California public lands"(BLM-California news release, 6/30/09)
With wildfire dangers steadily increasing, the BLM has announced fire restrictions starting today.

RELATED: See more recent fire restrictions on BLM-California's news release page:

"Volunteers recognized for their FSC efforts" (The Alpine Sun, 6/25/09)
"Community Fire Safe Councils and the volunteers that run them were honored last week ... San Diego County boasts formation of nearly 90 community Fire Safe Councils -- more than any other county in California." BLM-California helps support fire safe councils throughout the state, and BLM representatives joined others in presenting awards.


Question mark among the underbrush
What is a vole?
(a.) a type of freshwater fish
(b.) a small rodent
(c.) a small songbird
(d.) a type of sea worm found only along the California coast
(e.) the inspiration for a major Olympic event, the vole pault

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

Note: Due to last-minute editing changes, the answer for last week's Wildlife Trivia Question listed the correct answer as "(e.)" when it was in fact (d.). The text of the answer was still correct: about 10,000 miles round trip.

Department of the Interior color logo features a buffaloYOUTH AND BLM
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently established an Office of Youth in Natural Resources, "to provide jobs, outdoor experiences and career opportunities for young people." News.bytes will feature occasional stories on youth who take part in BLM-California programs.

girl on horseback at stadium"Mustangs lead young woman to BLM program" (News.bytes Extra)
Three years ago, Katherine Cumberland attended a wild horse and burro adoption in San Luis Obispo as part of a college class. Last month, she won the Extreme Mustang Makeover in Sacramento. Learn more about this young lady's plans:

"Wild horses and burros" (BLM-California)
More information and photos.


Two horse-drawn wagons loaded with passengers"Horse-drawn wagon tours enable visitors to Bizz Johnson Trail" (News.bytes Extra)
The look of the old west returned to the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail west of Susanville when horse-drawn wagons from Access Adventure completed outings on trail sections managed by the BLM and the Lassen National Forest. Access Adventure, a program of the Solano Land Trust, provides outdoor experiences for disabled people.

"Destination Kern: Officials work to promote county as sports mecca" (Bakersfield California, 6/30/09)
The Bakersfield Convention & Visitors Bureau works to attract sports-related visitors. That includes "bringing Southern Californians to Kern County’s great outdoors for activities ranging from dirtbike riding to river rafting." Local communities also work "to tap the growing popularity of weekend off-highway vehicle trips, said Cindy Velador, manager of the Friends of Jawbone Bookstore, part of a desert information center run by the federal Bureau of Land Management."
(Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

RELATED: "Recreation opportunities" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)

"End of the trail" (Silicon Valley metroactive, 6/24/09)
Dirt bikers were "once commonplace in the Clear Creek management area, a stretch of public land 60 miles southeast of Hollister nationally known as a dirt-bikers' heaven. Hundreds of miles of trails wove through thousands of acres of hills, a departure from many bike parks, where riders are often packed nose-to-tailpipe. And at just a two-hour drive from the South Bay, where hundreds of bikers live, Clear Creek made for a convenient slice of off-road paradise."

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act circular logoAMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT PROJECTS
BLM-California is slated to receive $36 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. News.bytes will feature occasional stories of that money at work.

Firefighters light spot fires with torches to destroy noxious weeds"Clear Creek noxious weeds attacked with fire" (News.bytes Extra)
Approximately 30 acres of California annual grassland was burned at the Clear Creek Management Area this spring as a control measure for two invasive weeds. The Bureau of Land Management’s Hollister Field Office and Monterey 1 fire crews carried out the prescribed burn on the grassland containing yellow star thistle and the equally noxious invasive annual grass medusahead. The project was funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

RELATED: "Agency recovery plan" (
Department of the Interior recovery program plans, including the BLM.


"BLM announces adjustments to mining-related location and annual maintenance fees" (BLM news release, 6/29/09)
The location fee will increase from $30 to $34 and the maintenance fee will rise from $125 to $140 for such unpatented claims, in which no Federal land has been transferred to the individual or company staking the claim.

"Marijuana, shooting suspects face federal charges" (Lassen County News, 6/30/09)
Followup on an earlier story: "The Lassen County Narcotics Taskforce along with agents from the Bureau of Land Management were looking for marijuana cultivation" when they "ended up on top of a camp." A gunfight broke out, leaving one suspect dead and two agents wounded. A district attorney said "If tried by the state ... they could get six to eight years but the federal court could impose a 15-to-20 year sentence."

RELATED: "Sheriff gives update on shooting incident" (Lassen County News, 6/30/09)
"Even though he couldn’t disclose the information, Lassen County Sheriff Steve Warren said a lot of new developments have emerged in an incident that occurred in North Lassen County that resulted in the death of one suspect, the arrest of six others and injured Lassen County Sheriff sergeant Dave Martin and deputy Dave Woginrich."

"North Coast pot seizures off to strong start" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 6/30/09)
"In its first official week in just five counties, CAMP-assisted marijuana operations seized 440,902 plants ... Those figures do not include marijuana seizures made prior to CAMP’s official start last week." Officers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service seized more than 7,000 plants west of Ukiah one day last week. "CAMP seized more plants -- 499,508 -- in Lake County than any other county last year. Most of that marijuana was found on public land."

"26,500 marijuana plants, worth $106 million, seized from Yokhol Valley land"
"County, state and federal law enforcement agencies removed more than 26,500 marijuana plants from six sites on federal land ... over last two days, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department reported. The plants "were located on Bureau of Land Management land at an elevation level of 3,000 feet."

"County moves toward Mount Konocti purchase" (Lake County Record Bee, 6/25/09)
Lake County wants to buy 1,520 acres "contiguous with an existing 821 acres of public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management .. The ultimate goal is to link the county- and BLM-owned land with Clear Lake State Park making it possible to develop trails from Clear Lake to the top of Mount Konocti." The county must close escrow by September, and is seeking donations.

"BLM accepting comments on Bly Tunnel" (BLM-California news release, 6/30/09)
The BLM is accepting public comments on issues that should be considered regarding a bypass pipe in the plug of the Bly Tunnel at the east shore of Eagle Lake. Written comments will be accepted until Aug. 4.

Artist's conception shows streamlined train on two tracks in the desert"Tourism: DesertXpress on right track?" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 6/28/09)
Critics of a proposal for high-speed railroad from Las Vegas to California cite "a line that stops 80 miles short of downtown Los Angeles" in Victorville, and the difficulty of finding an acceptable route. "DesertXpress backers say they have the business and political juice and ridership demand to start construction on the project in 18 months." Portions of proposed routes would cross BLM-managed lands.

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Current openings include surveying technician, project manager, outdoor recreation planner, resource management specialist and more.

close-up of John KeyEMPLOYEE PROFILE : John Key
In an agency noted for its array of critical, science-based positions, John Key holds one of those jobs that may be distasteful, but necessary to the management of public lands. He looks into incidents involving abandoned mine lands, hazardous materials and natural resource damage. With more than 37 years of federal service, John is retiring in early July -- but plans to continue to serve in his field.

Unless otherwise noted, find more details -- and more events -- online at:

July 11 - Wild horse and burro adoption (preview July 10)
Angels Camp

July 12 - Marbled murrelet monitoring (for very early rising volunteers)

July 14 - Joint geothermal lease sale for California, Nevada and Utah
Reno, NV


"Secretary Salazar, senior administration and congressional officials hold town hall meeting on California water shortage" (Department of the Interior news release, 6/28/09)
At the town hall meeting in Fresno last week, officials announced steps the federal government is taking "to alleviate the heavy toll on Californians resulting from the ongoing water shortage."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(b.) a small rodent

SOURCE: "California Vole - Microtus californicus" (BLM California wildlife database)
Voles belong to the order rodentia.

RELATED: "Microtus californicus - California Vole" (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Animal Diversity Web)
"It seems to utilize unusual habitats in California compared to other species of voles throughout the North American continent." More information, on this website and "educational resource written largely by and for college students."

RELATED: "Order rodentia" (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Animal Diversity Web)
"With over 2000 living species placed in about 30 families, rodents are by far the largest order of mammals, at least in terms of number of taxa (well over 40% of mammalian species belong to the order Rodentia!)."
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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834
Sacramento, Ca 95825
(916) 978-4600

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