A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 410 - 11/24/09

A close-up of a Belding's ground squirrel on standing on its rear feet A close-up of a trona - a rocky natural round pillar Historical 1940s photo of the Napa horsemen A wide view of Trona Pinnacles shows rocky features spiking up from the valley floor Profile: Robert Pawalek with his dog


- Renewable energy
- Oil and gas
- BLM Ridgecrest Field Office featured in:
      - Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Recreation on public lands
      - Employee profile
- Wild horses and burros
- Headlines and highlights: Congressional hearing on abandoned mines, marijuana problems, jobs, more
- Employee profile
- Selected upcoming events
This issue of News.bytes is online at:


"Public can discuss planned solar power projects" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 11/24/09)
"Public meetings scheduled for Dec. 10 in Blythe and Dec. 11 in Palm Desert will give Coachella Valley residents a chance to raise their concerns about three huge solar power projects planned for 202,000 acres of federal land east of the Coachella Valley. Federal and state officials have targeted all three projects, all solar thermal plants, for fast-track approval by December 2010 ... 'This is the most important opportunity the public will have to weigh in,' said Holly Roberts, associate field manager for the Bureau of Land Management's Palm Springs Field Office."

"BLM initiates environmental review of solar project in California desert" (BLM-California news release, 11/23/09)
Solar Millennium LLC applied to the BLM for a right-of-way on public lands to construct a 250-megawatt dry-cooling, parabolic trough, solar thermal, electric power plant facility on both sides of Brown Road, southwest of Highway 395, approximately five miles southwest of Ridgecrest.

"BLM initiates environmental review of solar project in eastern Riverside County" (BLM-California news release, 11/23/09)
NextEra Energy applied to the BLM for a right-of-way on public lands to construct a 250-megawatt solar energy power plant facility on approximately 1,800 acres of public land, 25 miles west of Blythe and 10 miles north of Interstate 10.

"BLM announces intent to prepare EIS for two solar energy projects in Riverside County"(BLM-California news release, 11/23/09)
Chevron Energy Solutions/Solar Millennium has requested two separate right-of-way authorizations to construct and operate the solar thermal power plants with an expected combined capacity of 1,452 megawatts, using commercial solar parabolic trough generating stations. Approximately 10,100 acres of BLM-administered public land are needed to develop the two projects. The Palen site is 10 miles east of Desert Center; the Blythe site is eight miles west of Blythe.

"BLM initiates environmental review of wind energy generation project in California desert" (BLM-California news release, 11/23/09)
AES Wind Generation has applied to the BLM for a right-of-way on public lands to construct a 82.5 megawatt wind generation power plant facility on approximately 1,957 acres.  Approximately 1,577 acres would be on public land managed by the BLM.  Approximately 380 acres would be on private land owned by AES Wind Generation.  The project site is southeast of Barstow and southwest of the town of Daggett.

"BLM announces intent to conduct environmental review of proposed renewable energy plan" (BLM-California news release, 11/20/09)
The BLM published a Notice of Intent to conduct an environmental review on the impacts of a proposed Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan covering lands in Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Tulare counties. The plan will be written jointly with the California Energy Commission, the California Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The DRECP will identify conservation zones and energy zones, to expedite permitting of jurisdictional renewable energy facilities and provide for conservation and management of identified species in the California desert.

"Counties take on federal government for geothermal money" (Lahontan Valley News, 11/19/09)
"Less than 50 words in an obscure amendment included in a Department of the Interior appropriations bill may cost ... counties in at least six Western states millions of dollars in lost revenue" from geothermal leases on public lands. Tim Josi, president of the National Association of Counties Western Interstate Region "estimates this change will hurt at least 31 counties in six states including Nevada, California, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah."

"Solar project boosts green jobs" (San Bernardino County Sun, 11/23/09)
Op-Ed by Linda K. Jones, executive director of the High Desert Region Green Jobs Initiative and Bill Perez, executive secretary of the California Building Trades Council, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties: "BrightSource Energy's Ivanpah solar project represents a tremendous opportunity for the High Desert region, our state and our nation."


"Salazar announces 38 lease sales for oil and natural gas on public lands in 2010" (Department of the Interior news release, 11/24/09)
The Bureau of Land Management’s 37 quarterly oil and natural gas lease sales scheduled for 2010 will offer thousands of parcels in a dozen states, most in the West, including California.

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


A close-up of a Belding's ground squirrel on standing on its rear feet
Belding's ground squirrel
One animal found in the area managed by BLM's Ridgecrest Field Office is the Belding's ground squirrel. Some of you might feel like this animal after Thanksgiving, because Belding's ground squirrels:
(a.) double their weight while preparing for hibernation.
(b.) eat seasonal foods they wouldn't touch the rest of the year.
(c.) live in an environment where food is scarce, so when they come upon a food source they will eat until they are in a stupor.
(d.) move so slowly after eating, they have to hide out from predators.
(e.) travel miles to form large family groups just before winter, in order to find quarters where they can all hibernate together.
(f.) tell themselves they're just storing up calories to make it through the next day's "Black Friday" sales.

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


A wide view of Trona Pinnacles shows rocky features spiking up from the valley floorA close-up of a trona - a rocky natural round pillar"On Foot: Trona Pinnacles are vaguely familiar" (Chico Enterprise Record, 11/22/09)
"The pinnacles are made of tufa, much like the tufa found today at Mono Lake ... Shapes vary from tombstones, wide and flat, to tall lean towers, to ridges and cones ... The landmark is open to the public and free with some 500 pinnacles spread out over 14 square miles. Overseen by the Bureau of Land Management, there are driving and walking trails through the area ... finally on our way out we stopped by several signs that explained the mystery" of why it looked familiar.

RELATED: "The Trona Pinnacles" (BLM-California, Ridgecrest Field Office)
However it may appear to you, a visit to the Trona Pinnacles will be a journey into one of the most unusual geologic wonders in the California Desert. This unique landscape consists of more than 500 tufa spires, some as high as 140 feet, formed underwater 10,000 to 100,000 years ago when Searles Lake formed a link in an interconnected chain of lakes stretching from Mono Lake to Death Valley.

Profile: Robert Pawalek with his dogEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Robert Pawelek...
...along with his friends growing up in Texas, once aspired to become a rodeo cowboy. That was just the first step in a journey that led him to become resource management branch chief with BLM-California's Ridgecrest Field Office. Read more:


Historical 1940s photo of the Napa horsemen"Horsing around" (Napa Valley Register, 11/22/09)
"This year, the Napa Valley Horsemen’s Association is celebrating its 70th anniversary ... Founded in 1939 as the Napa Valley Horse Lovers Association, with 61 members, today’s organization boasts 150 members. There is also a Junior Horsemen’s Club that has eight young riders ... Earlier this year, the association sponsored Mustang Days, which featured the Bureau of Land Management’s Mustang adoption program." The association has also worked with the BLM on other events.

"Suit may block BLM roundup of mustangs in Nev." (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 11/23/09)
"Animal protection advocates are asking a federal judge to block the government's planned roundup of thousands of wild mustangs in Nevada next month, saying the helicopter-aided gathers are illegal because they 'traumatize, injure and kill' some of the animals ... The U.S. Bureau of Land Management says the continued growth of the animals' population and the soaring costs of managing them leaves the government no choice but to remove them from federal lands..."

"Sheryl Crow takes up cause of wild horses in West" (Associated Press in North County Times, 11/21/09)
"Sheryl Crow is joining others in calling on the federal government to halt roundups of wild horses in the West, branding them as inhumane and unnecessary. The Grammy Award-winning singer has asked President Barack Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to scrap a proposed roundup of 2,500 mustangs in northern Nevada."


Sign at entrance to abandoned mine warns, "Stay Out! Stay Alive!""Congressional field hearing examines abandoned mine lands in California" (News.bytes Extra)
The Bureau of Land Management , U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency joined state and county officials, along with industry and public advocacy groups at a Sacramento hearing to explore ways to address California's and the nation's abandoned mine lands challenges.

RELATED: "Subcommittee On Energy And Mineral Resources Oversight Field Hearing On 'Abandoned Mines And Mercury In California'" (House Committee on Natural Resources, 11/24/09)
Click on the names of witnesses to open transcripts of their testimony (PDF files).

"Public land gone to pot" (Lake County Record-Bee, 11/20/09)
"For the past three years more marijuana plants have been eradicated in the county than anywhere in the state ... Most of the plants were eradicated on public lands such as the Mendocino National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands ... Member of the Lake County Fish and Wildlife Advisory, Dennis Reynolds ... presented a high-impact presentation on Thursday night that exemplified the vast damage to land, animals and quality of life in Lake County ... The next meeting addressing this issue will take place on Jan. 21."

RELATED: "Environmental impacts of pot growth" (Ukiah Daily Journal, 11/23/09)
"A meeting held in Lake County Thursday night addressed the ways such illegal grows damage the environment on public lands. The gardens destroy the forests, rob wildlife of habitat and water, are surrounded by undiscriminating booby traps and are marked by left-behind hoses, crude structures and trash. In 2009 alone, 130 illegal marijuana sites were found on public land in Lake and Mendocino Counties ... Of those, 60 sites are on Ukiah BLM field office land."

"BLM announces wet weather closures for Cow Mountain" (BLM-California news release, 11/20/09)
With the coming of the rainy season, the Bureau of Land Management, Ukiah Field Office has announced that intermittent closures of the South Cow Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle Area have gone into effect beginning Monday, Nov. 23.

"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Openings include petroleum engineering technician and administrative technician.

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

Dec. 7 - National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting

Dec. 8 - Wailaki culture
King Range interpretive hikes and lectures

Dec. 9 - Oil and gas lease auction

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(a.) double their weight while preparing for hibernation.

SOURCE: "Belding's Ground Squirrel - Spermophilus beldingi" (BLM California wildlife database)
Belding's ground squirrels spend the majority of their time in hibernation. They spend their summer months foraging on vegetation and insects, nearly doubling their weight in preparation for the months ahead.


"Wildlife projects need volunteers" (San Bernardino County Sun, 11/19/09)
"Desert Wildlife Unlimited and the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep are both doing December projects that will benefit desert critters ... Since very little wildlife is capable of getting by without a drink, the water projects are critical. New volunteers are welcome at both projects. The first project is Dec. 4-5 in the desert between Brawley and Blythe." Desert Wildlife Unlimited was featured in a BLM "Spotlight on Partners" in News.bytes issue 264 (January 2007).

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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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