A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 419 - 2/11/10

Close-up of what looks like a large frog's face A bee hovers over yellow petals of flowers A close-up of a desert tortoises head and face Woman hugs her horse Close-up photo of Alexander Schriener, Jr.


- Funny.bytes: The mystery of the vanishing dumpsters
- Wild horses and burros
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Historical and cultural resources
- Recreation: Wildflowers, mushrooms, new area map, OHVs, new advisory council
- Renewable energy
- Proposed Eagle Mountain Landfill
- Headlines and highlights: Various BLM-related items, including jobs
- Meet your advisory council members
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Youth, open government
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:

Close-up of what looks like a large frog's faceA boy looks in surprise at a dumpsterFUNNY.BYTES: "THE MYSTERY OF THE VANISHING DUMPSTERS"
Where did they go, and why? How did we get them back? How do we keep them?
Funny.bytes is an occasional look at the lighter side of BLM issues. Note: soundtrack -- you may want to adjust your computer's volume.

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


Man in cowboy hat pets a horseWoman hugs her horse"Wild horses" (KCET Community Television of Southern California, 2/4/10)
"The noble steed, running free on the open range. The wild horse is a potent symbol of the American West. But ... wild horses are so adept at survival, they're over-running government land, and are being rounded up and confined in corrals, instead of roaming free." A video report including a visit to the BLM's Ridgecrest Corrals and interviews with corral manager Art DiGrazia as well as critics of BLM's wild horse and burro program. (length 9:16)

Art DiGrazia speaks to the cameraArt DiGrazia rides among the mustangs at the Ridgecrest CorralsIN THE FIELD: Ridgecrest Corrals
"In the Field" is a video visit with a BLM-California manager at work in the field. Visit online with Art DiGrazia, program manager at BLM-California's Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse and Burro Corrals, as he goes about a day working with the wild horses and burros. (Repeated from an earlier issue of News.bytes.)

"Public comment sought on wild horse roundup" (Sacramento Bee, 2/8/10)
"Federal officials, who last week concluded a controversial wild horse roundup in Nevada, are seeking public comment on another one proposed for the Twin Peaks area northeast of Susanville. The Bureau of Land Management roundup, tentatively planned for August and September, would involve about 1,800 wild horses and 180 burros..."
Note: This news site may require free registration to view its content online.

"BLM seeks public comment on proposed horse gather" (BLM-California news release, 2/4/10)
The Bureau of Land Management's Eagle Lake Field Office is seeking public input on a proposed gather and removal of an overpopulation of wild horses and burros from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area, northeast of Susanville. The gather, involving an estimated 1,800 wild horses and 180 burros, is tentatively planned for August and September 2010. A 30-day public scoping period begins Feb. 5 and ends March 5.

A woman practices packing a mule, with help of man in cowboy hatA young lady stands with the mustang she just adopted "Horse packing clinic features adoption" (News.bytes Extra)
The Bureau of Land Management's Wild Horse and Burro adoption program was a featured part of a packing clinic sponsored by the Backcountry Horsemen of California Feb. 5-7, in Ferndale on the North Coast. The BLM and Back Country Horsemen enjoy a long-standing partnership.

"BLM concludes wild horse round up north of Reno, says it met its goal" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 2/5/10)
The BLM "concluded the Calico Mountains Complex roundup about 100 miles north of Reno with 1,922 wild horses removed from the range. The mustangs ... are being prepared for shipping to an adoption program or to long-term holding pastures in the Midwest. The BLM estimates 600 wild horses remain in the complex, which is within the agency’s target of 600 to 900 established for that area."

"Activists: death rate at mustang roundup excessive" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 2/6/10)
"As the federal government roundup of 1,961 horses 100 miles north of Reno ended Friday, a total of 39 horses have died either at the trap sites or in a holding facility in Fallon, most dispatched in 'mercy killings' by the federal Bureau of Land Management. Just one of those mustang deaths is officially counted as directly related to the BLM's helicopter-gathering operation, which began Dec. 28 in the Calico Mountains area north of Gerlach."

"Wild horses and burros" (BLM national website)
Wild horses and burros are managed in California in accordance with the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. This act gave the Bureau of Land Management the responsibility to protect wild horses and burros while ensuring their populations are managed to maintain or restore a thriving ecological balance.


A desert tortoise makes its way across the desert
desert tortoise
Failed attempts to keep desert tortoises as pets have endangered their entire population, and it is now illegal to buy or sell desert tortoises, or to take them from the desert. Which of these is the worst danger?
(a.) They get too fat from table scraps and junk food, and can no longer fit in their shells.
(b.) They do not get enough exercise in the confines of a backyard, so their muscles collapse under their own weight.
(c.) They catch a respiratory disease in captivity, and it infects others if they are released back into the wild.
(d.) They are unfamiliar with cats and dogs, and do not know how to protect themselves from them.
(e.) They chase down passing cars and bring the smaller ones back to their yards, inviting a mostly unwelcome legal response.

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


A petroglyph on rocks at the Carrizo Plain is lit up under an evening sky"A tree carving in California: Ancient astronomers?" (Time, 2/9/10)
The discovery of "the West Coast's only known Native American arborglyph" has convinced some researchers that "despite centuries of being classified by historians as merely hunter-gatherers, the Chumash lived in a very complex and sophisticated society" that made astronomical observations.

"History: Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM-California, Bakersfield Field Office)
Painted Rock: During the months of March through May, guided tours are offered to view this magnificent representation of a time and civilization that is little known to us. The Chumash, Yokuts, and other Native Americans hunted and traded here.

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 ... 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." (repeated from News.bytes issue 416)

Close-up of metal stamped "Union Iron Works" San Francisco"Thieves mine historic sites in Lode for iron" (Stockton Record, 2/6/10)
"Massive iron objects that have weathered the Mother Lode's fires and rains since the Gold Rush are now melting away in the face of more insidious forces: thievery and strong prices for scrap metal. In the past two years, thefts of iron objects have been reported at four historic mine sites in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties, as well as from two historic buildings in downtown San Andreas." Three men are being prosecuted in one theft. Another theft from a BLM-managed site is under investigation.


A bee hovers over yellow petals of flowersA bee landing on the underside of a red flower"January showers bring March flowers" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 2/6/10)
"It's going to be a good -- and possibly even spectacular -- year for wildflowers in the Coachella Valley. Just not yet ... 'The ground (is) covered with green sprouts waiting for the first warm spell,' desert ecologist Jim Cornett said. 'The first time we get three days of 76-degree weather, then we'll start seeing some blooming.' Buds also are out at the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto National Monument in Palm Desert, which will host the Wildflower Festival" on March 6.

RELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument - wildflower viewing" (BLM-California, Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
Tips on viewing wildflowers. The wildflower festival here is planned for March 6.

A close-up of a hand holding mushroomsTwo women smile as they hold up mushrooms"More than 200 take Fort Ord mushroom tour" (News.bytes Extra)
More than 200 people of all ages learned about poisonous and edible wild mushrooms on the former Fort Ord near the Monterey Bay during a recent tour. The tour included a discussion of open space values and resources on BLM-administered lands, U.S. Army lands and lands to be transferred to the County of Monterey.

"Wetlands map, guide highlights local areas" (Eureka Times-Standard, 2/4/10)
"Friends of the Dunes has announced the release of the '2010 Humboldt Bay Beaches, Dunes and Wetlands Map and Guide.' The free map and guide highlights natural areas where people can enjoy a variety of coastal habitats while providing in-depth information about local natural history and the importance of conserving the beauty and diversity of the coast." The BLM's Arcata Field Office helped bring the map to the public.

RELATED: "Arcata Field Office" (BLM-California)
The Arcata Field Office is responsible for the administration of natural resources, lands, and mineral programs on approximately 200,000 acres of public land in Northwestern California. The Area includes the 60,000 acre King Range National Conservation Area and the 7,472 acre Headwaters Forest Reserve.

"BLM's Ukiah Field Office invites public comments on OHV grant application" (BLM-California news release, 2/10/10)
The field office is requesting approximately $290,000 from California’s Off-Highway Motorized Vehicle Recreation Division, to be used for trail maintenance, law enforcement and operations and maintenance of off-highway vehicle areas. A public meeting to discuss the OHV grants is scheduled for March 16

"Salazar, Vilsack establish new advisory council on wildlife conservation and hunting issues" (Department of Interior news release, 2/4/10)
"The new Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council will help to promote and preserve America’s hunting heritage for future generations. The Council will also provide a forum for sports men and women to advise the Federal government on policies related to wildlife and habitat conservation endeavors that (a) benefit recreational hunting; (b) benefit wildlife resources; and (c) encourage" partnerships.


"BLM announces availability of the Lucerne Valley Solar Project draft environmental impact statement and draft plan amendment for public review" (BLM-California news release, 2/5/10)
A 90-day public comment period ends May 13, 2010. A public comment meeting will be held Tuesday, March 9, in Lucerne Valley. Chevron Energy Solutions applied to the BLM for a right-of-way on public lands to construct a solar photovoltaic power plant facility on an approximate 516-acre site in San Bernardino County, approximately eight miles east of Lucerne Valley.

"BLM initiates environmental review of proposed West Chocolate Mountains renewable energy project" (BLM-California news release, 2/10/10)
The proposed renewable energy development includes geothermal, solar, and wind, on public lands within the West Chocolate Mountains area -- on approximately 21,300 acres of BLM-managed public lands bordered by the Imperial/Riverside County line on the north, the Chocolate Mountains Aerial Bombing and Gunnery Range on the east, the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area on the south and the Imperial Valley agricultural belt on the west. A public scoping period of 30 days ends March 12.

"Supes, BLM to meet about Mojave Desert solar complex"(San Bernardino Sun, 2/9/10)
"The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors will address the California Energy Commission and U.S. Bureau of Land Management with its concerns about a 440-megawatt solar complex slated for construction in the Mojave Desert." The supervisors "agreed, in closed session, to submit to the Energy Commission and BLM a list of their concerns about the 4,000-acre Ivanpah solar complex north of the Mojave National Preserve and about five miles southwest of Primm, Nev."

RELATED: "BrightSource plans to work with county despite project opposition" (Victorville Desert Dispatch, 2/10/10)
"The developers of a 400 megawatt solar plant near the Nevada border will continue communicating with San Bernardino County officials even though the Board of Supervisors announced its plans to intervene Tuesday. Another company that is developing a solar project east of Newberry Springs also plans to step up communication with the county because of the Board’s decision...."

"PUC: Water now key to start of Sunrise" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/6/10)
"A state official overseeing construction of the proposed Sunrise Powerlink has brushed aside concerns that East County residents didn’t have a chance to be heard about the impact of the power line after its route was changed to run through their communities. But she said this week that San Diego Gas & Electric Co. can’t start construction until it better explains where it will get hundreds of thousands of gallons of water for the project and what impact that will have on the environment ... Approvals from the PUC and the federal Bureau of Land Management are facing legal challenges."

RELATED: "Imperial County supes show support for Sunrise Powerlink" (Imperial Valley Press, 2/7/10)
"The 123-mile, $1.883 billion power line system between Imperial and San Diego counties is an important feature for Imperial County becoming a renewable energy hub, claimed members of the Imperial County Board of Supervisors." They expressed "support for the Sunrise Powerlink transmission line ... that will transport 1,000 megawatts of power out of the county, if the project gets approval."
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"Wind turbines can be harmful to beneficial bats" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 2/3/10)
"As energy companies work to tap the wind as a clean energy source, research is showing that turbines can kill bats, even if they don't touch the machines. Extreme variations in air pressure caused by the rotation of turbine blades can fatally damage the bats' lungs. Researchers say care should be taken when selecting turbine sites to avoid the bats' flight routes."
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An aerial view of the scraped surfact of the mine at Eagle Mountain"What's best for Eagle Mountain?" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 2/7/10)
Editorial: "The Desert Sun has long supported putting the nation's largest landfill in an abandoned iron ore mine in a remote area known as Eagle Mountain. This issue has been debated for 20 years and some believed it was finally over when in November the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling, upheld a lower court's rejection of the plan. Proponents, however, will continue to press their case through the courts. We hope they succeed."

Note: BLM approved the Eagle Mountain land exchange in 1997, transferring public lands in and around the Eagle Mountain Mine to Kaiser, in exchange for critical desert tortoise habitat. The landfill proposal is under state and county jurisdiction. BLM's decision was litigated by opponents, and the case is pending in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

RELATED: "Yes: Eagle Mountain perfect for our needs" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 2/7/10)
OpEd by Buford Crites, former mayor and City Council member in Palm Desert: "The Eagle Mountain Landfill was first approved what seems a lifetime ago, in 1992, by Riverside County. The project is 60 miles east of Indio at the former Kaiser iron ore mine because that is where the huge hole in the ground is ... Having researched and followed this project for more than 20 years, I remain convinced of its value and I believe that when we set aside scare tactics and focus on facts not rhetorical fiction, we will find that Eagle Mountain serves the greater good of our region."

"No: Landfill a danger to the environment" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 2/7/10)
OpEd by Seth Shteir, senior program coordinator at the National Parks Conservation Association in Joshua Tree: "There is more than one mountain in the Eagle Mountains. This is arid, remote and subtly beautiful country -- a place that's home to secretive desert bighorn sheep, comical roadrunners and sleek kit foxes. But for many of us, Eagle Mountain brings to mind the proposed Eagle Mountain Landfill, which would cause irreversible harm to our beloved national treasure -- Joshua Tree National Park."


"BLM Mother Lode Office plans meetings on Pine Hill Preserve pile burning" (BLM-California news release, 2/9/10)
The Bureau of Land Management’s Mother Lode Field Office will hold two public meetings -- on plans for burning small piles of brush on the Pine Hill Preserve around Cameron Park. The piles were created while building fuel breaks. Burning would be done this spring and next fall and winter as weather conditions allow.

"BLM Bishop plans prescribed burning at Fish Slough"(BLM-California news release, 2/8/10)
Fire management personnel from the Bureau of Land Management’s Bishop Field Office and the Inyo National Forest will conduct prescribed burning at Fish Slough in southern Mono County -- as weather conditions allow -- to restore and enhance habitat for Owens Valley native fish species and the Fish Slough milk vetch, a threatened plant species.

"County weighs in on plan for Merced River" (Sonora Union Democrat, 2/10/10)
"The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors has weighed in on a proposed plan designed, in part, to ensure the Merced River stays wild and scenic. Supervisors are urging federal land managers to look out for Tuolumne County’s economic interests, while yet protecting the river." In 1987, 122 miles of the Merced River were declared Wild and Scenic. "The Forest Service and BLM promptly developed management plans for their sections of river."

RELATED: "Wild and scenic rivers" (BLM-California)
More information on the Merced River and other wild and scenic rivers managed by BLM-California.

"BLM plans socio-economic workshop on Clear Creek plan" (BLM-California news release, 2/8/10)
The Bureau of Land Management’s Hollister Field Office will host a workshop Feb. 22 in Hollister, to discuss potential social and economic impacts under alternatives in the BLM’s Clear Creek Management Area draft resource management plan and environmental impact statement. The goal is to provide business leaders, private landowners and local government with information about the draft plan and to help the BLM identify social and economic trends to consider in public land use planning decisions for the CCMA.

"Beaumont's position on desert protection bill is no position" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 2/3/10)
"If a desert preservation bill goes forward, it will be without the support or opposition of the Beaumont City Council. The federal legislation proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein would, among other things, establish the Mojave Trails National Monument, 941,000 acres of federal land between Joshua Tree National Park to the Mojave Preserve managed by the Bureau of Land Management."
Note: This news site may require free registration.

"Battle for Bend" (Red Bluff Daily Bulletin, 2/5/10)
"Would creating a National Recreation Area in Tehama County give the Bureau of Land Management and the Bend area needed funds, or would increased tourism make the Bend area more crowded and dangerous? A public meeting ... shows just how close Tehama County is to getting the recreation area officials have wanted for years. But a crowd of about 150 was at anything but a consensus on a bill written by Sen. Barbara Boxer...."

Cattle straggle across a green pasture under a blue skyCattle range across a flat green area at the base of green hills"Coast Dairies deal in lurch with Cemex closure" (Santa Cruz Sentinel, 2/10/10)
"The 7,000-acre Coast Dairies, which includes vast expanses of forest and prairie, has long been eyed by environmental groups as a place for outdoor recreation and conservation. The Trust for Public Land bought the property in 1998 ... The 470-acre stretch along the coast, west of Highway 1, has already been allocated to State Parks, but the inland transfer [to the Bureau of Land Management] has remained hung up over the Cemex landfill."

"Investigation ongoing on BLM ranger for running over alleged fleeing parolee in Plaster City" (Imperial Valley Press, 2/9/10)
"The suspect ... was driving on Evan Hewes Highway when the ranger tried pulling him over for expired registration tags on his vehicle" but "allegedly sped away into the open desert and subsequently abandoned the pickup before fleeing on foot...."

"Update: CHP releases details of fatal Carrizo motorcycle crash" (Taft Midway Driller, 2/9/10)
Police report a group of friends were in the Carrizo Plain National Monument, "riding together at speeds ranging from 55 to 70 miles an hour when they approached a deep ravine" and one "applied his brakes but still flew across the ravine, slamming into the dirt on the other side ... the investigation is continuing to determine if the accident occurred in an area that is open to off-road riding or not."

"Inyo looking for more control over lands" (Inyo Register, 2/9/10)
" Inyo’s Planning Commission recently approved a General Plan amendment that clearly defines the 'county’s goals for a greater role for the county and its population in decisions affecting public lands in the county, including Bureau of Land Management, forest, state and city lands'...."

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Current openings include archaeologist, archaeological technician, fire lookout, hotshot wildland firefighters and more.

Close-up photo of Alexander Schriener, Jr.MEET YOUR ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS: Alexander Schriener, Jr....
...has worked as a professional geologist and resource manager in the geothermal energy industry for 30 years. He represents renewable energy interests on the BLM's California Desert District Advisory Council . Read more:

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

Feb. 13 - Winter plant hike
King Range

Feb. 22 - Socio-economic workshop on Clear Creek Plan

Feb. 20 and 27 - Bald eagle hikes - by reservation only
Cache Creek

Feb. 23 - Habitat gardening presentation
King Range


"Secretary Salazar unveils new and expanded 'Youth in the Great Outdoors' initiative" (Department of Interior news release, 2/8/10)
"Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar told the annual Corps Network Forum that he has challenged the Interior bureaus to increase youth employment opportunities in 2010 by 50 percent over 2009 figures and in 2011 by 60 percent. This new challenge will give a big boost to youth employment and education programs throughout the nation."

"Interior opens conversation on open government" (Department of Interior news release, 2/5/10)
The Office of Management and Budget's the Open Government Directive instructs federal agencies to take specific steps to increase transparency, participation and collaboration in government. Last week, the Department of the Interior launched DOI.gov/open – "an online portal to Interior’s Open Government Plan and other efforts in to increase transparency, participation and collaboration in our agency."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and more about desert tortoises
(c.) They catch a respiratory disease in captivity, and it infects others if they are released back into the wild.

SOURCE: "Desert tortoise - Gopherus agassizii" (BLM California wildlife database)
Although the desert tortoise population remained healthy for three million years, it is now experiencing a serious decline. One cause for this decline is an upper respiratory disease. This disease is usually found in captive pet tortoises, but some pet owners have released their sick tortoises into the wild. As a result, some wild tortoises have contracted and spread the disease.

A close-up of a desert tortoises head and face"Mojave Max versus Punxsutawney Phil: Spring on the way?" (KMIR-TV, 2/3/10)
This is California's Mojave Max -- a female, or "Mojave Maxine" as one person in the video says. The desert tortoise, about 30 years old, is said to predict spring when it comes out of a burrow at the Living Desert. Southern California now has its own Mojave Max Emergence Contest, that started with Nevada's male Mojave Max.

"Southern California Mojave Max Emergence Contest"
"Guess when Mojave Max will emerge for spring and win fun prizes for you and your class." The contest is part of an effort to help people learn "about native species, what they can do to protect their local environments and how to safely enjoy nature."

A costumed Mojave Max mascot takes hands with students"In predicting spring, groundhogs have nothing on Mojave Max" (Las Vegas Sun, 2/3/10)
"Though Mojave Max hasn’t yet stirred, about 180 fourth-graders got together ... to learn more about the 19-year-old desert tortoise, the West’s equivalent to Punxsutawney Phil. Max is Nevada’s harbinger of spring. When he wakes from his brumation -- a lighter form of hibernation -- and emerges from his burrow, it signals the end of winter." Includes video from the classroom.

"Desert tortoise data and information portal" (DesertTortoise.gov)
More information and links related to desert tortoises.
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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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