A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 416 - 1/21/10

A helmeted rider sits atop a dirt bike Close-up of an owl with wide eyes Piedras Blancas Light Station sits among coastal greenery A youngster in blue helmet and bright green boots steps carefully on the sandy ground Close-up photo of Christine Zell


- Spotlight on partners: California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division
- Volunteers
- Recreation on public lands
- Piedras Blancas Light Station
- Clear Creek meetings
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Renewable energy
- Wild horses and burros
- Legislation related to BLM-California
- Headlines and highlights: Listening sessions, tour, fire-resistant garden, jobs
- Employee profile
- Selected upcoming events
This issue of News.bytes is online at:

A helmeted rider sits atop a dirt bikeSPOTLIGHT ON PARTNERS: California Quad runners take to the dunes at GlamisOff-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division
BLM-California's goal with the State of California's OHMVR is to insure that quality recreational opportunities remain available for future generations by providing for education, conservation, and enforcement efforts that balance OHV recreation impact with programs that conserve and protect cultural and natural resources.


A youngster in blue helmet and bright green boots steps carefully on the sandy groundA volunteer tosses filled trash bags into a dumpster"Hundreds clean up dunes" (Yuma Sun, 1/16/10)
"Hundreds of people turned out Saturday to prevent the Imperial Sand Dunes from becoming the Imperial 'Trash' Dunes during the 13th annual Sand Dunes Cleanup. Most of the men and women who were combing the desert sands on their quads had vacationed there during the holidays and returned to make sure the dunes are clean again for next year."

A couple rides in a dune buggy with pink plastic trash bags loaded on itTwo women volunteers hold pink plastic trash bagsRELATED: "Glamis dunes cleanup hauls in truckloads of trash" (IVNews.info, 1/17/10)
"Thirteen years ago, a group of people got fed up with the way Glamis was looking ... Glamis was becoming littered with plastic wrappers, utensils and even used diapers. Those who frequented the dunes wanted to do something about it before it was too late for Mother Nature’s good, and thus, the annual dunes cleanup day was born." Includes slide show of 11 photos from this year's cleanup.

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

Volunteers dig in the sandy and rocky groundA man points out features on the semi-arid landscape"Volunteers take to the hills" (News.bytes Extra)
More than 25 volunteers showed up Saturday under bright, blue skies for a project sponsored by the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group and the BLM. The event preceded the official Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service Monday.

RELATED: "Alabama Hills stewardship public meeting announced" (BLM-California news release, 1/14/10)
The community of Lone Pine and the Bureau of Land Management’s Bishop Field Office will hold a public meeting tonight (Thursday, Jan. 21, at 6 p.m.) in Lone Pine regarding management of the Alabama Hills. The purpose of the meeting will be to discuss stewardship actions completed to date and to discuss future actions proposed for the management of the hills.

"Fort Ord musical planting event planned" (BLM-California news release, 1/13/10)
This weekend: Bluegrass and native grasses will be the order of the day January 23 at the annual Fort Ord Public Lands Musical Volunteer Planting. Local musicians will serenade volunteers with live jazz and funky bluegrass music while they plant approximately 800 native plants. The plantings will help reduce erosion, reduce non-native invasive plants and support the growth of rare and valuable plants and animals historically found on Fort Ord.

Volunteer event postponed: The Steele Peak cleanup originally scheduled for this Saturday, Jan. 23, has been postponed. The severe storms now hitting California has made the site too muddy. The tentative new date is Saturday, Feb. 27, weather permitting.

A black-and-white photo of sand dunes"Our deserts cleaner than Dubai's" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 1/17/10)
"The desert that surrounds the Coachella Valley is a relatively clean, undisturbed environment ... As underground oil supplies are gradually exhausted, countries like the United Arab Emirates are actively promoting tourism as a way to diversify their economies." Tourists join organized trips to the desert, and often leave "a parking lot-sized jumble of vehicle tracks, the charred remains of what little vegetation once existed on the site and a couple of trash cans' worth of refuse. In contrast, it is becoming increasingly less common to encounter these scenes in the California desert."


A rugged batch of dark rocksA climber scrambles up rugged rocks"On Foot: A waterfall that once was" (Chico Enterprise-Record, 1/17/10)
"I had never seen anything like it. The setting of Fossil Falls is a place where a river dropped 40 feet and flowed south to a half-dozen lakes that spread between mountain ranges all the way east to Nevada. Today, it is empty, with just the water-swirled rocks, sharp cliffs and telltale signs of life from the prehistoric people who lived here ... Several signs put in place by the Bureau of Land Management explain the area's history."

RELATED: "Fossil Falls" (BLM-California, Ridgecrest Field Office)

"Rain too late for wildflowers" (Yuma Sun, 1/19/10)
Recent rain "comes too late for the wildflowers that, in wetter years, blanket the desert" near Yuma, but " hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts who venture into the desert in the weeks and months ahead will still be able to see color. In bloom will be the area's hummingbird bushes, also know as chuparorsas; brittle bushes, palo verde and ironwood trees and cactuses. 'We just won't have the carpets of wildflowers'."

"Reduced desert attendance affects local businesses" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/17/10)
"Attendance to the Imperial Sand Dunes is down almost 29 percent compared to the 2007 dunes season, and according to most it is affecting local businesses. Those businesses affected include gas stations, convenience stores, grocery stores and restaurants along Interstate 8 and in Brawley ... as well as vendors in the sand dunes...."

RELATED: "Reasons for decreased dunes attendance" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/17/10)
Observers cite the economy and rising gas prices as probable reasons.

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


A man speaks before a large audience"BLM holds public meetings on Clear Creek Management Area" (News.bytes Extra)
Public meetings held during the past two weeks by the Bureau of Land Management on the future of Clear Creek Management Area drew hundreds of people to Coalinga, Hollister and Santa Clara.
  Although oral comments were noted on flip charts, BLM will only respond to written public comments in the proposed RMP and final EIS. Comments must be postmarked or received by BLM no later than March 5, 2010.

RELATED: "People fight to open San Benito County recreation site" (KION-TV Monterey, 1/15/10)
"Thursday night in Hollister, nearly 300 angry recreationists voiced their concerns over a closed piece of land in San Benito County. Clear Creek is a recreational site located South of Hollister and East of King City. People all over the area go there to dirt bike, hunt, gem collect, etc. In 2008, the Bureau of Land Management closed the area because of high asbestos levels found in the dirt." Includes video.

"Clear Creek Management Area Draft Resource Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement" (BLM-California, Hollister Field Office)


A squirrel holds something in its paws as it eats
San Joaquin antelope squirrel
San Joaquin antelope squirrels (also known as Nelson's antelope squirrels) live in very harsh desert environments. They have adapted to most elements of their environment -- but are extremely sensitive to one thing. What is it?
(a.) Lack of humidity
(b.) Sunlight
(c.) Heat
(d.) Cactus thorns
(e.) Inflammatory reader comments at the end of their favorite Internet news stories and blog entries.

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


Piedras Blancas Light Station sits among coastal greenery"Piedras Blancas lighthouse offers celebratory tours" (Ventura County Star, 1/16/10)
"In honor of the station’s 135th birthday on Feb. 15, free tours will be offered Feb. 16 and 18." Call to reserve a space. "'The Piedras Blancas lighthouse was first lit on Feb. 15, 1875, by the U.S. Lighthouse Service,' said Jim Boucher, light station manager for the Bureau of Land Management ... The BLM has created a network of partnerships to assist with the operations at Piedras Blancas."

RELATED: "Record bass confirmed" (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/17/10)
This hunting, fishing and outdoors column mentions that "condors have been seen with some regularity ... near the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse, where elephant seals are pupping."
The column also mentions brown pelicans "migrating north, rather than south, last week." You may be able to spot flocks such as these at a visit to other gateways of the California Coastal National Monument.

RELATED: "Piedras Blancas Light Station Outstanding Natural Area" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)

RELATED: "California Coastal National Monument" (BLM-California)
The monument is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.


"Geothermal drilling safeguards imposed" (New York Times, 1/15/10)
"The United States Energy Department, concerned about earthquake risk, will impose new safeguards on geothermal energy projects that drill deep into the Earth’s crust ... AltaRock Energy would have fractured bedrock and extracted heat by digging more than two miles beneath the surface at a spot called the Geysers, about 100 miles north of San Francisco" but "was shut down by technical problems and encountered community opposition."
(Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.)

"Geothermal plant seeks Imperial Irrigation District water" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/19/10)
"The Hudson Ranch geothermal plant would buy 800 acre-feet of water each year from the Imperial Irrigation District, "to dilute brine -- or saltwater -- byproducts from the plant." The plan is to drill for brine, use it to produce steam, then "pump leftover brine back into the ground ... IID water will dilute the brine’s solids so it can be pumped back into the earth." The BLM was "among oversight agencies" on the project.

"Powerlink revelations spark heated debate in Alpine" (East County Magazine, 1/17/10)
"San Diego Gas and Electric’s current proposal for Sunrise Powerlink ... was not well received by 400-plus people" at a recent meeting." A county supervisor said the community was not notified of some impacts. "Ultimately she believes the courts will decide the fate of Powerlink; multiple lawsuits seek to halt the project by challenging approvals by the PUC and by the federal Bureau of Land Management." The line was proposed to carry renewable energy from the Imperial Valley to Los Angeles.

RELATED: "Court ruling stands on seeking federal approval for power line"(San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/20/10)
"The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday took away a trump card that San Diego Gas & Electric could use if California courts side with its critics over the disputed Sunrise Powerlink. The high court let stand a lower-court ruling from February that removed the ability of power companies to seek federal approval when massive transmission lines are rejected by state officials. SDG&E said the development doesn’t matter, because California regulators have approved Sunrise."


"At home on the range" (Los Angeles Times, 1/14/10)
OpEd from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar: "Without natural predators, wild horse populations have grown beyond the carrying capacity of the sensitive and sparse lands on which they live, causing damage to ecosystems and putting them at risk of starvation. As a result, federal managers must move thousands of wild horses each year off the range to pastures and corrals, where they are fed, cared for and put up for adoption. The current situation is unsustainable."
Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.

A woman pets a burro"BLM: Progress in burro plan" (Mohave Daily News, 1/17/10)
Wild burros are a tourist draw to Oatman, Arizona, near the California border, but "with thousands of tourists buying bags of carrots and hay pellets to feed to the burros ... the burros are sick from hoof disease, behavior problems and are extremely overweight ... Last summer the Bureau of Land Management asked shopkeepers in Oatman to help with implementing a new policy - not feeding the burros." Burros are also available for adoption.

"Pickens' wife calling attention to plight of wild horses" (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 1/16/10)
"Madeleine Pickens, who is pushing for the creation of a million-acre sanctuary for wild horses in northern Nevada, has turned to local sports figures like the SMU football coach, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, former Cowboys stars Emmitt Smith and Roger Staubach, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban" to publicize her proposal.

"Groups back roundup of wild horses" (Associated Press in Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1/17/10)
"Two environmental groups are joining ranchers in an unusual coalition supporting the government's contentious removal of about 2,500 wild horses from the range north of Reno. The Sierra Club and Friends of Nevada Wilderness, which have been at odds with ranchers on past issues, agree with the need for the ongoing roundup of wild horses in the Calico Mountain Complex."


"Desert monuments legislation faces a busy Congress and political obstacles in Washington" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/15/10)
"Sen. Dianne Feinstein worked for years to reconcile the competing interests of environmentalists, renewable energy developers and others before crafting her recent legislation to create two national monuments in the Mojave Desert. But political obstacles and unresolved concerns about power-line routes remain." The proposed monuments would be called Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow.
Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.

"Sacramento River Bend Area comments requested" (Red Bluff Daily News, 1/19/10)
"After years of congressional discussion, members of the public will have the chance Feb. 3 to weigh in on whether to give some 17,600 acres of public land national recognition. The Sacramento River Bend Area is maintained by the Bureau of Land Management and is available to the public, free of charge, with few restrictions on camping or hunting. Changing the name of the area, however, will put it on national maps and increase its funding, a strategy Tehama County officials hope will draw tourists ... A draft of the bill may be available for public purview for a meeting" Feb. 3.


A man and woman look over vegetation"Deputy Director Marcilynn Burke Visits California for Listening Session with Native Americans and Field Tour"(News.bytes Extra)
Marcilynn Burke, the new Deputy Director for Policy and Programs for the Bureau of Land Management, visited Southern California last Thursday and Friday to hear the concerns of California's Native Americans and to tour renewable energy sites and the new Sand to Snow National Monument proposed in Congress.

People stand near a small patch of garden"Fire-resistant garden unveiled" (Santa Maria Times Press Recorder, 1/15/10)
Volunteers replaced "overgrown ivy plant and the lawn" near the Arroyo Grande Fire Department with a "new garden that’s designed to show people how to use plants to create a 30-foot defensible space around their home ... The garden is expected to be especially valuable for individuals living on rural lots with numerous trees and shrubs, and that are near wildland areas." BLM supports the California Fire Safe Council, which funded the project.

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Current openings include fire lookout, wildland firefighter, natural resources specialist (fire biologist) and "rangeland management specialist/natural resource specialist/wildlife biologist/botanist."

Close-up photo of Christine ZellEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Christine Zell...
...has moved through a number of jobs in a number of places including Okinawa, Japan, on her way to becoming training officer at BLM-California's state office in Sacramento. Read more: http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/info/employee_profiles/christine_zell.html

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

Jan. 23 - Carrizo Plain National Monument Advisory Committee meeting
Carrissa Plain Elementary School

Jan. 23 - Chalfant public land stewardship field trip

Jan. 23 - Musical planting event
Fort Ord

Jan. 27-28 - Scoping meeting for proposed Tule wind energy generation project and transmission line - Jacumba, CA and Boulevard, CA

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) Heat

SOURCE: "San Joaquin Antelope Squirrel - Ammospermophilus nelsoni" (BLM California wildlife database)
San Joaquin antelope squirrels live in very harsh desert environments. Although they have adapted to most elements of their environment, they are extremely sensitive to the heat. They cannot withstand temperatures greater than 90 degrees Fahrenheit without shelter. They usually seek refuge in their burrows or in the shade of a shrub.


Close-up of an owl with wide eyes"Bird life changes in Carrizo Plain" (Atascadero News, 1/14/10)
"This year’s numbers are in for the Christmas count, a yearly bird count across the U.S. that includes a one-day count in Carrizo Plain, locally, and which gives avian enthusiasts a way to track trends, which have vastly changed in Carrizo since it became a national monument in 2001."

RELATED: "Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)
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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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