A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 390 - 7/8/09

A smaller giant garter snake Students work around a collapsing barn Trees surround a pond at Cosumnes River Preserve A Marine leads a donkey on a mountain trail A flat-tailed horned lizard blends into the sandy desert background


- Spotlight on Partners: The Nature Conservancy
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Wildlife trivia follow up
      - Youth and BLM
- Wild horses and burros
- Recreation
- Renewable energy
- Headlines and highlights: Navy training, desert train, jobs, more
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Conservation fund, geospatial
- Wildlife trivia follow up
This issue of News.bytes is online at:

Trees surround a pond at Cosumnes River PreservePartners look at a map on the Carrizo Plain National MonumentSPOTLIGHT ON PARTNERS: The Nature Conservancy
BLM’s partnership with The Nature Conservancy spans from the grasslands of the Carrizo Plain National Monument to the wetlands of the Cosumnes River Preserve. Read more:


A smaller giant garter snake
Giant garter snake. Above: from a photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Below: from a photo by California Dept. of Fish & Game
Close up of a large coiled grayish giant garter snake
One of the many animals you might see at the Cosumnes River Preserve is the giant garter snake. What is one reason they would like this area?
(a.) The river brings carp, one of their favorite foods.
(b.) They prefer habitat with valley oak trees, which are found on the Preserve.
(c.) They have a symbiotic relationship with great blue herons, which pick parasites off their backs.
(d.) They need habitat with water.
(e.) They can find the one of their favorite foods, the rare jumping pocket lizard.
(f.) They need habitat with giant discarded stockings to go with their giant garters, but strive to avoid the giant shoes found elsewhere.
------> See answer -- and a follow up on a recent trivia question subject -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.

RELATED: "Significant Trail Closures on Thursday, July 9th" (Cosumnes River Preserve.org)
"Much of the Preserve's public areas will be closed on Thursday, July 9, 2009. The entire River Walk trail and sections of the Wetlands Walk will be closed due to construction activities for the PG&E bridge removal effort. The Visitor Center, visitor Parking area, and business parking area will also be closed. Access to the Cosumnes River via the Preserve's boat dock will be restricted." Also, "summer naturalist training begins July 11."

Department of Interior 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.

Students work around a collapsing barn"Students work, learn on public lands" (News.bytes Extra)
Eight students from the Eastern Sierras are gaining experience in resource management while improving public lands through work with the Youth Conservation Corps. YCC crew members from the Owens Valley are working on community projects, including projects on public lands for six weeks with BLM-California's Bishop Field Office.


A Marine leads a donkey on a mountain trail"Marines' beasts of burden are again leading the pack" (Los Angeles Times, 7/7/09)
"For centuries, donkeys and mules have been the preferred mode of military transport in Afghanistan. At a training center in the Sierra Nevada, Marines learn how to handle the sure-footed animals ... The mules were purchased by the Marines from an outfitter in Montana. The donkeys were rounded up by the Bureau of Land Management from its vast acreage." Includes audio slide show.
(Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

"Wild horses available for adoption in Lakeside" (BLM-California news release, 7/7/09)
Residents of Southern California will have the opportunity to add a wild horse (mustang) to their families when the Bureau of Land Management brings its Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program to Lakeside, July 17-19. The BLM will offer about 36 horses, mostly yearlings, for public adoption.

A woman pets a horse"Halter projects and fostered animals available for adoption" (BLM-California)
After an adoption event is over, our volunteers sometimes offer to take one of the unadopted horses home as a halter project. The volunteers work on getting the horses halter trained for the next adoption or event in their area. All the fostered horses and halter projects are available immediately for adoption. You do not need to wait until the next event to adopt one of these horses.


"Connected trails will create route through Whiskeytown" (Redding Record Searchlight, 7/4/09)
"Two teams of young trail workers are etching a new five-mile route ... between the Sundial Bridge in Redding and the Trinity Alps Wilderness." This project is on National Park Service lands, and both Youth Conservation Corps and Student Conservation Association workers are doing "most of the hard trail-building work." It is part of a larger plan connecting trails to adjacent BLM public lands, including the Swasey Recreation Trail.

"BLM finds funds for trash service" (Imperial Valley Press, 7/1/09)
"The Bureau of Land Management has identified funds to continue providing trash service at the Imperial Sand Dunes for the 2009-2010 season, assuming that no changes are made to the bureau’s budget, which has yet to be approved by the Senate." Clarification: The funds cited are specified in the report accompanying the House bill. If enacted, the final outcome of the availability of these funds will be subject to a complex budgeting process.

Rafters in inflatable boats take to rapids"Mokelumne River rafting a rapid success" (Amador Ledger-Dispatch, 7/3/09)
A rafting company took 72 passengers "on a five-and-a-half mile ride through the swiftly flowing, chilly water of the Mokelumne River" as a fund-raiser for the Foothill Conservancy. A spokesperson said "the future of commercial rafting on the Mokelumne is dependent upon the BLM, which will need to strike a deal with the East Bay Municipal Utility District. The river flows into Pardee Reservoir, the primary water storage for EBMUD's millions of customers."


"Salazar cites Interior Department efforts to develop renewable energy, respond to climate change" (Department of the Interior news release, 7/7/09)
The Department of the Interior is accelerating the development of renewable energy on its vast public lands and offshore areas “to help power President Obama’s vision for a new energy economy,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Tuesday. Includes link to a transcript of his testimony.

"Lawsuit filed over federal energy corridors" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 7/7/09)
"More than a dozen conservation groups filed suit Tuesday alleging that the federal government skirted several laws when designating thousands of miles of energy corridors in New Mexico and other Western states ... The 6,000 miles of corridors through federal lands in 11 Western states mark future routes for oil and natural gas pipelines and electric transmission lines. The 3,500-foot-wide corridors generally follow major highways."

"Environmental assessment for proposed wind energy project available for public review" (BLM-California news release, 7/1/09)
Mesa Wind Power Corporation has applied to amend and extend their BLM right-of-way grant to allow for repowering and replacement of wind turbines on an existing wind energy generating facility in the San Gorgonio Pass, in Riverside County. The project site is north of Interstate 10 and east of the community of Cabazon. Upon completion of a 15- day review period, which will conclude on July 15, 2009, the BLM will prepare and issue a decision record.

"SMUD drops power line plan" (Sacramento Bee, 7/2/09)
"Sacramento's energy provider has decided to pull out of a plan to join forces with a collection of other municipal power providers to build a $1.5 billion high-voltage power line from the Valley to Lassen County." The decision by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District "leaves a gaping hole" in the budget of the Transmission Agency of Northern California (TANC) power line SMUD "was expected to pay for 35 percent of the project's cost" but "officials said the project is not dead." Proposed routes would cross BLM-managed lands.
(Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

RELATED: "TANC opponents decry meeting cancellation" (Redding Record Searchlight, 7/3/09)
"The day after the biggest municipal utility among those planning the 600-mile Transmission Agency of Northern California (TANC) line pulled out of the project, those opposing it said their fight is long from over."

"Power plant's conversion a positive for Calaveras County" (Stockton Record, 7/4/09)
"Over the next year, the former coal-fired electrical power plant ... will be converted to burn a much cleaner fuel - wood waste. Not only will the plant provide electricity for about 16,000 homes, but it will also solve some environmental problems ... Calaveras officials are collaborating ... with state and federal agencies including the Stanislaus National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management to get the paperwork and planning done to greatly increase the rate of forest thinning work."

"Supervisors approve adding geothermal company to mitigation committee"(Lake County News, 7/8/09)
"AltaRock Energy ... will now officially be a member of the Anderson Springs Geothermal Mitigation Committee ... Last month the company began drilling on a Bureau of Land Management lease held by the Northern California Power Agency..." The company plans "to drill deep into bedrock in an effort to release heat. The process will then inject water to get steam for geothermal energy production."


"BLM to authorize Navy training on public land in eastern San Diego County" (BLM-California news release, 7/1/09)
The Navy has released an environmental assessment for public review on the proposed action to expand the Remote Training Site Warner Springs. The Bureau of Land Management, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office has authorized the use of 609 acres of public land as part of the proposed expansion and realignment of the training areas which also includes U.S. Forest Service and Vista Irrigation District lands.

"Ruby Pipeline project draft EIS available for public review" (BLM-California news release, 7/7/09)
Federal agencies are seeking public comments on the draft environmental impact statement for the Ruby Pipeline Project, a proposed natural gas pipeline that would stretch from Wyoming through Utah and Nevada to Oregon. BLM-California's Surprise Field Office is one of the offices responsible for issuance of rights-of-way permits for the project.

"A boost for DesertXpress" (Las Vegas Sun, 7/3/09)
"Nowhere on the official documents from Thursday’s announcement of a new high-speed rail corridor between Las Vegas and Los Angeles is the proposed DesertXpress featured as the preferred project. But make no mistake: DesertXpress is the chosen one, at least for now." The proposed corridor would cross BLM-managed lands.

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Current openings include resource management specialist, recreation aid/recreation assistant (off-highway vehicles), motor vehicle operator and more.


"Report proposes conservation overhaul" (Government Executive, 7/6/09)
"Congress should consider turning the Interior Department's Land and Water Conservation Fund, the main mechanism for federal and state acquisition of park and recreation land, into an independent trust funded by royalties from the development of conventional and renewable energy on public lands, according to a new report."

RELATED: "Panel urges huge increase in outdoor spending" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 7/6/09)
"Despite the recession, a blue-ribbon panel says the federal government should increase by tenfold its spending on outdoor recreation and conservation. At least $3.2 billion a year -- up from current funding of about $255 million -- is needed to conserve and protect the nation's outdoor heritage, including parks, wildlife refuges and open space, the group says." Honorary co-chairs of the group "presented the report to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar..."

"Interior Department Seeks Nominations for National Geospatial Advisory Committee" (Department of the Interior news release, 7/6/09)
"The NGAC provides advice and recommendations on Federal geospatial policy and management issues and provides a forum to convey views representative of partners in the geospatial community."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) They need habitat with water.

SOURCE: "Giant Garter Snake - Thamnophis gigas" (BLM California wildlife database)
The giant garter snake needs habitat with permanent or summer water with vegetative cover, dense populations of food organisms, and higher elevation uplands not subject to flooding.

Two extensive stories on California tiger salamanders -- the subject of the wildlife trivia question of the week in News.bytes issue 384:

A flat-tailed horned lizard blends in with its gray speckled surroundings"'Horned toad' lizard's on again, off again saga as an endangered species" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/30/09)
"A 16-year battle over the small, flat-tailed horned lizard -- a resident of sandy plains in the Coachella Valley and other patches of the Southwest -- has taken yet another twist, this time with a federal appeals court ruling that the small reptile again be considered for endangered species status."
(Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

A hands holds a striped hybrid salamanderA barred salamander in a tank"New threat emerges to tiger salamander" (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/5/09)
"As if it isn't enough that the California tiger salamander and other amphibian pond-dwellers are forced to fight for survival against overdevelopment and pollution in the state, along comes a predatory half-breed salamander to present another serious threat."

A flat-tailed horned lizard blends into the sandy desert background"Lizard's valley habitat dwindling" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 7/5/09)
"It's the small, reptilian Zen master of the Coachella Valley: a 4-inch long lizard that hides from predators by lying still on its belly to become 'one with the sand,' as one local ecologist put it. Unfortunately, its camouflage act can't protect it from human encroachment. The flat-tailed horned lizard, a curious-looking reptile that resembles a miniature iguana, used to thrive in the local desert."

"Coachella Valley Preserve" (BLM-California, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
For thousands of years, particles of sand from the San Bernardino Mountains and Indio Hills washed into the Coachella Valley, forming a system of dunes. Today, these dunes are part of the Coachella Valley Preserve System, a 20,000-acre sanctuary that is home to several species of increasingly rare wildlife including the flat-tailed horned lizard.
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Bureau of Land Management
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