A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 392 - 7/22/09

Close-up of the head and neck of a Swainson's hawk Front view of the horse, a recent photo Tour leader talks to others, amid shade of trees Great egrets take flight from a wetlands Skip Ritter and his wife pose for photo


- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Youth and BLM: Getting out into the field
- Wildfires and prevention
- Wild horses and burros: Free Spirit turns 30 and more
- Renewable energy
- Habitat preservation
- Jobs
- Employee profile
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: 1872 Mining Law editorial

This issue of News.bytes is online at:


Close-up of the head and neck of a Swainson's hawk
Swainson's hawk
One of the birds spotted briefly on the the Cosumnes River Preserve field trip (below) was the Swainson’s hawk. They belong to the buteo family of hawks, which also include red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks. But unlike other buteos in the western United States, the Swainson's hawk:
(a.) Eats mainly small rodents
(b.) Eats mainly carrion
(c.) Can dive underwater to catch fish
(d.) Likes to hang out with others
(e.) Likes to be called by its nickname, “Cubby”

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

Department of the 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.

Tour leader talks to others, amid shade of treesGreat egrets take flight from a wetlands"Getting out into the field" (News.bytes Extra)
Land management takes both field work, and office work with permit applications, environmental documents, correspondence, web pages and much more. The BLM personnel busy with these office tasks may not get out into the field very often. To help remedy this situation, several new BLM-California interns, employees and a volunteer headed out to Cosumnes River Preserve one day last week, to learn first-hand about land management issues and solutions.


"Fire near Bishop forces evacuation" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 7/20/09)
"A lightning-sparked wildfire in the Inyo National Forest near Bishop surged to 2,000 acres on Sunday and forced the evacuation of a small community and several campgrounds..." The fire was "the largest of 23 likely started by lightning in the forest over the weekend."

Sketch shows vegetation cleared back from a house"Learn how you can create defensible space!" (California Fire Alliance)
"How to create and maintain 100 feet of defensible space around your property to reduce the risk of losing your home -- even in severe wildfires."

"Wildfire season 2009" (Reno Gazette-Journal)
A roundup of fires In Nevada and California's Eastern Sierra.

"National Fire News" (National Interagency Fire Center)
Updated daily during fire season.


Front view of the horse, a recent photoA photo of Free Spirit the former wild horse, in his jumping days"Free Spirit turns 30" (News.bytes Extra)
In October 1980, Danielle Belliveau adopted a wild horse from the BLM at Camp Pendleton. That horse, Free Spirit, recently turned 30. Danielle catches us up on their lives together.

"Room to roam: House votes to rescue wild horses" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 7/17/09)
"The plan aims to reduce the number of animals kept in holding pens awaiting adoption and to reduce the stress on land currently set aside for them ... The Congressional Budget Office estimated that enacting the Restore our American Mustangs Act would cost about $200 million over the next five years" plus up to $500 million to increase their range from 30 million to 50 million acres. "However, no comparable bill has been sponsored in the Senate, which doesn't bode well for final passage of the measure."


"BLM schedules scoping meetings for solar project in California Desert" (BLM-California news release, 7/14/09)
The BLM will hold public scoping meetings as part of an environmental review on the impacts of the proposed Lucerne Valley Solar Project in San Bernardino County. Chevron Energy Solutions has applied to the BLM for a right-of-way on public lands to construct the solar photovoltaic power plant on approximately 516 acres about eight miles east of the community of Lucerne Valley.

RELATED: "Chevron says L.V. solar project to begin construction this year" (Lucerne Valley Leader, 7/15/09)
"In Lucerne Valley, Chevron Energy Solutions plans to construct a 45-megawatt solar project using photovoltaic panels. At the other end of the desert, Southern California Edison plans to build a new substation in the Ivanpah Valley and connect it to another substation on the Nevada side using 35 miles of upgraded transmission lines. The project will support the solar energy project proposals in the Ivanpah area..."

"Cagey solution: Will nano traps make geothermal power earthquake-safe?" (Scientific American, 7/20/09)
"Scientists could use nano 'cages' to increase the heat-storing efficiency of shallow, low-temperature geothermal wells, thereby decreasing the need for deeper, more earthquake-prone ones."

"Wind surveys continue on federal land in Lassen County" (Lassen County News, 7/14/09)
"A number of meteorological towers, designed to collect wind and weather conditions, dot Lassen County and Northeastern California ... once the BLM determines a plan of development is adequate, that determination launches an exhaustive environmental review process ... The temporary meteorological towers collect wind and weather data only and no decisions have been made regarding the construction of wind turbines at the sites."

"Groups call for more studies of proposed power line routes" (Redding Record Searchlight, 7/21/09)
"Saying federal agencies haven't done a sufficient environmental review for potential power line and pipeline corridors around the West, a coalition of conservation groups has filed suit." They "contend that the agencies should have focused more on solar, wind and other renewable energy sources in crafting the West-wide Energy Corridor plan..."

"New developments give Sunrise opponents hope" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 7/16/09)
"Even as San Diego Gas & Electric Co. orders huge latticework towers and a big helicopter to lift them into place for its controversial Sunrise Powerlink electric line, opponents are gearing up for a bigger fight ... In legal challenges, they say that federal and state officials ignored key evidence and were influenced by politics rather than sound policy. Two moves this week mean the original decisions approving Sunrise will get a second look."

RELATED: "2 legal decisions on Powerlink issued, clouding future of $1.9 billion project" (East County Magazine, 7/15/09)
"A pair of state and federal legal decisions further muddy the future of Sunrise Powerlink, the 150-mile-long high voltage line proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric ... One cleared a hurdle for the utility company at the state level while also opening the door to future legal challenges, the second imposes a significant barrier into SDG&E’s plans to build Powerlink on key federal lands."


"Lassen County lands donated to public ownership; BLM will manage for habitat" (BLM-California news release, 7/22/09)
Lassen Gold Mining, a subsidiary of Kinross Gold, has transferred into public ownership 756 acres near Hayden Hill in northwest Lassen County. The area will be managed by the Bureau of Land Management’s Alturas Field Office as wildlife habitat. “The donated sagebrush grasslands are home to sage-grouse and mule deer and include over 18 acres of constructed wetlands that mitigate the impacts of mining,” said BLM Alturas Field Manager Tim Burke.

"Conservation Commission to buy Big Morongo parcel" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 7/15/09)
"Coachella Valley officials are spending $3.9 million to acquire 638 acres in Big Morongo Canyon, the largest land purchase since the desert multi-species protection act went into effect last fall ... 'This land is part of a significant wildlife corridor,' said Katie Barrows, environmental resources director for the Coachella Valley Association of Governments." The BLM is a participant in the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.

RELATED: "Big Morongo Canyon Preserve" (BLM- California, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
The Preserve includes an internationally recognized desert oasis and marsh that is one of the 10 largest cottonwood and willow riparian (stream) habitats in California. It is also identified by the Audubon Society as one of the most important avian habitat areas in California.

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Currently advertised positions include recreation aid/recreation assistant (off-highway vehicles), motor vehicle operator, park ranger (river patrol), laborer, and range aid/technician. Some listings are for temporary jobs.

Skip Ritter and his wife pose for photoEMPLOYEE PROFILES: Skip Ritter...
...may have sap running through his veins.  From an early age, he knew he wanted to get into forestry. Read more about BLM-California's state forester.

Unless otherwise noted, find more details online at:

July 25 - Interpretive hike - "Tidepool Exploration"
King Range National Conservation Area

July 28-30 - Scoping meetings for solar project proposal
Various locations

July 30-31 - Northern California Resource Advisory Council Meeting
Arcata, plus field tour


"137 years later" (New York Times, 7/20/09)
Editorial: "It’s hard to believe that the 1872 mining law is still with us. Signed by Ulysses S. Grant four years before the invention of the telephone, the law sets the rules for mining hardrock minerals like gold and copper. Useful in the days of westward expansion, it is a disaster now."
(Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and other wildlife stories
(d.) Likes to hang out with others

SOURCE: "Swainson’s hawk - Buteo swainsoni" (BLM California wildlife database)
Unlike any other buteos in the western United States (e.g., red-tailed hawk, red-shouldered hawk), Swainson’s hawks are highly gregarious (foraging for food and roosting overnight in groups)...

Selected wildlife news:

A researcher holds a long-eared myotis bat"Field notes on Tahquitz Valley's life forms"
(Los Angeles Times, 7/21/09)
"Retracing the steps of two zoologists from a century ago, a San Diego-based team is recording the biological landscape of the valley."
(Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

"County warned about rattlesnake encounters"
(Ventura County Star, 7/17/09)
"Locally and statewide, rattlesnake incidents typically increase between April and October ... Bites are relatively rare, and they usually happen when people handle or accidentally touch the snakes..." Includes advice on avoiding bites, and what to do if bitten.

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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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