A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 406 - 10/29/09

A California newt looks like a little dragon as it appears to eye the camera A young volunteer spreads straw to help prevent erosion A man with a chainsaw cuts a "red ribbon" A woman holds a gold hunting pan Charlotte Hunter points out details in a photo of petroglyphs


- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - BLM and youth: SCA WildCorps wilderness work
- Volunteers on public lands
- Archaeology anniversary:
      - ARPA turns 30
      - Employee profile
      - Funny.bytes: Curse of the stolen artifacts
- Recreation on public lands
- Energy and renewable energy
- Wildfire and prevention
- Wild horses and burros
- Headlines and highlights
- Jobs: Featuring Desert District Manager
- Selected upcoming events
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


A California newt looks like a little dragon as it appears to eye the camera
A California newt in the wild
"Eye of newt, and toe of frog, wool of bat, and tongue of dog" – these are some of the ingredients used by the witches in Macbeth to cast spells. Why would it be a bad idea for non-witches to use newts as a spell-casting ingredient?
(a.) They have large, sharp teeth
(b.) They are poisonous
(c.) They carry a virus that causes warts in humans
(d.) Their skins excrete a powerful hallucinogen
(e.) They have very sharp barbed spikes on their forelegs
(f.) Most Halloween newts are imported from China and contain unacceptable levels of lead and antifreeze

------> See answer near the end of this issue

Department of Interior logoYOUTH AND BLM 
News.bytes will feature occasional stories on youth who take part in BLM-California programs, or the Department of the Interior's Office of Youth in Natural Resources.

Two students work on shrubs in a semi-desert areaTwo young men shovel vigorously in the dry dirt"SCA WildCorps crew works on restoration in new Granite Mountains Wilderness" (News.bytes Extra)
A crew from the Student Conservation Association WildCorps has been working on a variety of projects on lands managed by BLM-California. The crew made a ten-day stop at the new Granite Mountain Wilderness area managed by BLM-California's Bishop Field Office, to work on wilderness restoration of old roads.


A young volunteer spreads straw to help prevent erosionA large group helps spread straw"Hundreds turn out to improve Fort Ord lands" (News.bytes Extra)
Hundreds of volunteers including Scouts, athletes from CSU-Monterey Bay, members of the military, recreation clubs and the general public took part in combined National Public Lands Day and Make A Difference Day events Saturday at Fort Ord. Approximately 340 volunteers turned out to: spread seeds and straw to slow erosion and restore maritime chaparral; help conduct trail repairs; clean up illegal dumping and litter and collect native seeds for the winter planting season.


"Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979"

This month marks the 30th anniversary of ARPA, which recognized "archaeological resources on public lands and Indian lands are an accessible and irreplaceable part of the Nation's heritage" and was intended to, among other things, "secure, for the present and future benefit of the American people, the protection of archaeological resources and sites which are on public lands and Indian lands.." PDF file, 245 kilobytes, nine pages:

Charlotte Hunter points out details in a photo of petroglyphsEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Dr. Charlotte Hunter...
...has been digging in the ground since she was a year old and could hold a spoon.  "I should have known I was an archaeologist from birth, but it took me a while to figure it out,"  she says. She is now the cultural resources program manager for BLM-California.

The curse of the stolen artifacts - movie introFUNNY.BYTES:
"Curse of the stolen artifacts"
Protectors of ancient artifacts reach across the centuries -- to the dismay of modern-day plunderers. Based on a true story. This is a repeat performance from Funny.bytes -- an occasional look at the lighter side of BLM issues. Note: this has a soundtrack. You may want to adjust the volume on your computer before you follow this link.


"Imperial Sand Dunes season ramps up with new road, increased emphasis on safety" (BLM-California news release, 10/23/09)
The new season for off-highway vehicle enthusiasts at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area opens with the newly constructed Wash Road and an increased emphasis on safety.

RELATED: "Imperial Sand Dunes" (BLM-California, El Centro Field Office)

"Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service seeking nominations for key positions on California Recreation Resource Advisory Committee" (BLM-California news release, 10/27/09)
Nominations are being accepted through December 11 for eight positions on the Pacific Southwest Region California Recreation Resource Advisory Committee. The RRAC provides recommendations on recreation fees for federal lands within California.

A woman holds a gold hunting panA very small amount of gold flakes in a black pan"New California gold rush reaches fever pitch" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/25/09)
"Some want to beat the punishing recession, some just want a quick buck for fun. Some are with big companies, some are lone folks in sedans.They all have dollar signs in their eyes. Gold mining permits, or claims, on file with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for California have shot from 15,606 in 2005 to 23,974 this year. They're popping up in every corner of the state..."

RELATED: "Gold panners digging up a new income in Mariposa County" (Merced Sun-Star, 10/24/09)
"In the 1930s, during the Great Depression, people came to the Sierra foothills to find gold. That era was known as the 'second gold rush,' when people were out of work and desperate for money. 'I think this might be the third gold rush,' said [Ron Loya of the Mariposa Museum and History Center in Mariposa.] 'People are out of work, and they're up here working the streams'."


"Salazar testifies on 'The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act' before Senate Environment and Public Works Committee" (Department of the Interior news release, 10/27/09)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar: "The Administration supports enactment of comprehensive legislation that will make America more energy independent, create clean energy jobs here at home, and protect our children and planet from the dangers of pollution ... We are creating Renewable Energy Coordination Offices in our western states to help speed completion of reviews on the most ready-to-go solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass projects on public lands."

"BLM plans December oil and gas auction" (BLM-California news release, 10/26/09)
The Bureau of Land Management will hold an auction of oil and gas leases on federal land on Dec. 9 in Bakersfield. The competitive lease auction involves nine parcels for a total of 8,587.42 acres of public lands in Kern and Kings counties.

"BLM oil and gas operator seminar" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)
BLM is planning its sixth biennial daylong seminar for all federal operators on November 5 in Bakersfield. The seminar will provide an update for federal operators on their responsibilities on federal leases and information on permitting, leasing, split estate issues, assignments/transfers, bonding, field operations, BLM’s inspection, idle well and royalty rate reduction programs and other important items.

"Solar project to sell watts to PG&E" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 10/27/09)
"A 250-megawatt solar project planned for federal land just east of the Coachella Valley will sell its power to Pacific Gas and Electric Company, providing the Northern California utility with enough electricity for more than 80,000 homes ... The Genesis project is one of four located on about 202,000 acres of federal land between Joshua Tree National Park and Blythe -- called the Riverside East solar zone -- that the federal government has on a fast-track schedule for approval by early December 2010."

"Bottle Rock geothermal expansion elicits harsh reactions from community" (Lake County News, 10/28/09)
"Community members ... let local and state officials know during a Tuesday evening meeting that they're none too happy about a geothermal plant in their midst that is seeking to expand its operations ... building the new well pads and infrastructure requires both approval from the county and the federal Bureau of Land Management, which also had representatives in attendance."


A man with a chainsaw cuts a "red ribbon""Hotshots fire crew opens their new home" (News.bytes Extra)
When the Diamond Mountain Hotshots fire crew held a grand opening of their new headquarters in Susanville last week, they did it with hotshot flair: the ribbon was cut with a chainsaw. A group of about 50 officials joined the BLM and the hotshots for the ribbon cutting and facilities tours on Monday, October 26. The interagency crew of highly skilled federal firefighters housed by BLM, has been using temporary quarters since its 1993 formation..

"BLM will burn slash piles in French Gulch area" (BLM-California news release, 10/27/09)
Crews from the Bureau of Land Management will be burning slash piles near French Gulch beginning Thursday, Oct. 29, and continuing for three days, weather permitting. Elimination of the slash piles will improve wildfire protection and improve wildlife habitat.

"Take Responsibility..." (California Fire Alliance)
"Protect your home. Create 100 feet of defensible space!" The BLM is a member of the California Fire Alliance.


A burro stands and looks at the camera"Burro roundup time" (Big Bear Grizzly, 10/28/09)
"The BLM is rounding up about 50 wild burros who have wandered into residential areas from the wilderness. Once the burros are loaded onto trailers, they are taken to an adoption facility in Ridgecrest. 'People will adopt them as companion animals for their horses,' said BLM wrangler Alex Neibergs ...'They are used as pack animals, to pull carts and as guard animals for livestock,' he said. 'Parents get them as pets for their kids. And burros are also used for weed control. They are hardier than goats'."

Wild horse debate gallops on" (USA Today, 10/27/09)
Animal rights groups "want the 37,000 horses now roaming federal lands in the West to remain despite the risk of starvation and conflicts with cattle. In response to Salazar's proposal, they reiterated their stand during the Bush administration: let the mustangs run loose on millions of acres of federal land where beef cattle are raised."


"BLM Desert District manager announces his retirement" (BLM-California news release, 10/22/09)
After 33 years of public service, California Desert District Manager Steven Borchard has announced his retirement, effective January 1, 2010. Borchard assumed his duties as district manager in January 2006.


"District manager" (USAJobs)
California is seeking candidates for its Desert District Manager, GS-15, located in Moreno Valley, CA. This key management position, reporting directly to the BLM California State Director, is responsible for administering the 25-million -acre California Desert District. This broad expanse, including 11-million acres of public lands, is perhaps the most complex land management challenge in BLM.

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Current openings include wildlife biologist and assistant fire engine operator.

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

Oct. 30 - "David Burton to Lecture at Sierra College Natural History Museum" (Rocklin & Roseville Today, 10/13/09)
Aspen tree expert David Burton discusses the natural history of quaking aspen trees on Friday, October 30, 2009 at 7:30 PM as part of the Sierra College Natural History Museum Lecture Series. David Burton is principal coordinator of the Aspen Delineation Project, a collaborative effort including the BLM.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(b.) They are poisonous

SOURCE: "California Newt - Taricha torosa" (BLM California wildlife database)
California Newts are quite poisonous, as are all newts of the genus Torosa, so it is not advised to handle these salamanders. If you do, wash your hands before touching your eyes or anything that you might put in your mouth.


"National Zoo to breed bats to study disease" (Scripps News, 10/27/09)
"Wildlife experts believe the White Nose Syndrome epidemic that has killed more than a million bats isn't going away anytime soon, so Washington's National Zoo is creating an 'insurance' population of bats to preserve one species and study the disease."

"New tools in the fight against frog-killing fungus available online" (Scientific American, 10/27/09)
"As the deadly chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or Bd ) continues its spread around the globe, putting thousands of amphibian species at risk of extinction, scientists are taking a few steps to control it, or at least understand it better." One recent discovery: the fungus leads to frog heart attacks.

RELATED: "Bats reintroduced into Vermont caves hit by fungus"
"Wildlife biologists studying a mysterious fungus killing off hundreds of thousands of bats around America want to find out if they can repopulate caves decimated by the disease. Researchers will introduce 79 healthy little brown bats to two hibernation sites in Vermont hit hard by the fungus ... Scientists suspect a fungus that thrives in cold, moist caves causes white-nose syndrome, named for the sugary smudges of fungus on the noses and wings of hibernating bats."
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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834
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(916) 978-4600

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