A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 423 - 3/10/10

A man wearing a helmet rides a horse in a corral Looking down through trees at a bend in the Sacramento River A motorcyclist leans into a turn on a dusty trail Yellow and white petals spread out from green plants in a field of flowers Close-up of smiling young lady


- Wild horses and burros
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Environmental ed: 'Students take science outdoors'
- Recreation on public lands
- Sacramento Bend Area
- Renewable energy
- Advisory councils to meet
- Wildlife
- Headlines and highlights: Wildlife, monuments
- Employee profile
- Selected upcoming events
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


A woman leans through a fence to hug a horseA man wearing a helmet rides a horse in a corral"The saga of America's wild horses" (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/7/10)
"The saga of America's wild horses is as mythic and divisive as the West itself. It's a story replete with outlaws, brawls over land, disputes over who the West really belongs to and what freedom actually means."

A man rides a horse in a covered stadium"Wild horses, inmates learn from each other" (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/7/10)
"Before Guapo went to his new home in Oroville, he belonged to Juan Medina, a Nevada state inmate who's serving five to 15 years in prison for drug trafficking. Medina, a rodeo veteran, is among the most experienced and talented horse trainers at the Northern Nevada Correctional Facility. So instead of spending his days playing cards or mopping floors, Medina is part of a unique program in which inmates tame mustangs before the horses are auctioned to the public."

A woman holds her mustangA woman rider turns with her mustang"Bloomington woman readies mustang for competition" (San Bernardino County Sun, 3/9/10)
"Linda Smerber isn't afraid to tame a wild animal. While not on the level of the late Steve Irwin - she doesn't wrestle crocodiles, bears or lions - she can hold her own with wild horses. Smerber, 48, is one of 39 trainers from six states that have 90 days to train a mustang for the Norco Extreme Mustang Trail Challenge in May ... A.C. Byers, a 97-year-old cowboy and friend of Smerber, says it takes a little time, patience and effort to earn the animal's trust. He tamed his own wild mare that was 'rank,' cowboy slang for wild, he said."

"Wild-horse controversy headed to federal court on April 30" (Reno Gazette Journal, 3/7/10)
"The ongoing debate underscores the challenges of managing rapidly growing herds and finding a lasting solution to a problem that is costing American taxpayers millions more each year." On April 30, "a federal court will hear arguments from wild-horse advocates that the Interior Department and Bureau of Land Management are violating the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act by rounding up horses and putting them in expensive holding facilities."


A sage grouse puffs up its chest
Male sage grouse gather during the spring in leks or "drumming grounds." There they:
(a.) Build communal nests to help ward off predators.
(b.) Beat the undergrowth with their wings to drive insects and small lizards toward the center, where their mates and young sage grouse wait to eat them.
(c.) Trample on grasses to drive out snakes that would eat sage grouse eggs.
(d.) Put on courtship displays, to attract mates.
(e.) Engage in team building celebrate their interpersonal growth, and find their "centers," while all play various percussion instruments found in the wild.

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


Students carrying backpacks wade across a streamStudents hike past a towering hill"Students take science outdoors" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 3/5/10)
"The top science students from Desert Ridge Academy, a middle school in Indio, were rewarded for their good grades with an all-day field trip Feb. 25 at the Indian Canyons in Palm Springs to learn about geology, wildlife habitats and the ecosystem. 'What the students learn from one day out in the field is equivalent to three weeks in a classroom setting,' said Tracy Albrecht, interpretive specialist for the Santa Rosa and Santa Jacinto Mountains National Monument, Bureau of Land Management."


Two motorcyclists race amid dustA motorcyclist leans into a turn on a dusty trail"Motorcyclists enjoy late-winter races at Dry Valley" (News.bytes Extra)
A cool and dry late winter day greeted motorcycle riders of all ages and abilities for two days of racing March 6-7 on public lands in the Dry Valley area of northwest Nevada. The races were sponsored by the Motorcycle Racing Association of Northern Nevada and the Lassen Diamonbacks Motorcycle Club under a special use permit issued by the BLM's Eagle Lake Field Office in Susanville.

"BLM extends comment period on Clear Creek draft plan" (BLM-California news release, 3/5/10)
The Clear Creek Management Area in southern San Benito and western Fresno counties has a long history of public recreational use.  But because of increased awareness of potential health risks caused by asbestos, the area has been temporarily closed since May 2008. The temporary closure remains in effect until the new management plan is approved. Comments must be postmarked or received by April 19, 2010.

Yellow and white petals spread out from green plants in a field of flowers"Late winter rains will intensify flowers' glory" (Fresno Bee, 3/3/10)
"Whichever poet wrote that 'April showers bring May flowers' didn't reside in Central California. Around here, the timetable gets fast-forwarded two months. Problem is, 'February showers bring March flowers' isn't nearly as poetic. But it's true. ... Here are some of the best places to view the color display" including BLM-managed lands. Includes links to March guided hikes.

RELATED: "Wildflowers" (BLM-California)
Tips on viewing wildflowers on public lands.

RELATED: "Wildflowers"(Theodore Payne Foundation)
This non-profit organization gathers reports of wildflower blooming status at various California locations. This year's hotline was scheduled to start to tomorrow, March 5.

Two women sign a documentThree people sitting at a table smile at the camera"North Coast Partners, National Geographic launch MapGuide website" (News.bytes Extra)
Dozens of top national and local leaders in nature, travel and sustainability will come together tomorrow, March 11, to mark the rollout of the Redwood Coast Geotourism MapGuide and Web site. This landmark project, a partnership between National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations and the North Coast Tourism Council, has taken several years to plan and execute and is a historically significant asset for everyone who visits or lives in Northern California. BLM personnel have coordinated many planning and design sessions for the project.

"Let's celebrate the trail renaissance" (Redding Record Searchlight, 3/7/10)
OpEd by Brent Owen, founder of the Redding Foundation: "At no time in my 40 years of dealing with governmental agencies have I witnessed anything close to the level of cooperation that has been exhibited by and between the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, Shasta County and the city of Redding to make these trails a reality. Private parties have also played vital roles by granting the all-important trail easements where necessary. In the last three years, approximately 55 miles of trail have been or are under construction."


Looking down through trees at a bend in the Sacramento RiverLokking across a stream, bordered by brown and green grasses"Sierra Nevada Conservancy tours Sacramento Bend Area" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy Board of Directors got a close look at public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in the Sacramento River Bend area of northern Tehama County as part of their board meeting held March 3 and 4 in Anderson. The Sacramento River is the western extent of the SNCs area of interest.

"Group says federal status is still likely for the Bend Area" (Red Bluff Daily News, 3/8/10)
"The head of the group that first pitched the idea of turning 17,600 acres of public land - the Sacramento River Bend Area - into a National Recreation Area believes success is just around the bend. 'I'm confident it will get through,' said Bob Warren, general manager for the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association and Redding's Tourism Bureau manager."

RELATED: "The way I see it: The right thing is becoming obvious"(Red Bluff Daily News, 3/8/10)
Columnist: "Elevated traffic through Bend and in front of the Bend school, poaching of livestock, trespassing, objections by environmentalists or other busybody types to hunting, horses or even the development of adjoining properties all these and more have to be weighed against exactly what benefits? ... I recommend a 'No' vote."


"Interior Secretary Salazar announces advisory committee consensus on wind turbine guideline recommendations" (Department of the Interior press release, 3/5/10)
"Highlights of the committee’s recommendations include: A decision-making framework that guides all stages of wind energy development; reliance on the best available science when assessing renewable energy projects and their potential environmental impact; and use of landscape-scaled planning that recognizes the need to think long-term about protecting our nation’s economic and natural resources."

"SDG&E claiming eminent domain on Powerlink" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/7/10)
"San Diego Gas & Electric Co. is going to court to get the land it needs to build the Sunrise Powerlink ... SDG&E says the eminent domain actions, which began last week, are a last resort after negotiations to purchase the property hit an impasse or when ownership of the land is so confusing that it’s best to get a judge or a jury to settle the matter." The BLM has approved rights-of-way for portions of the project.

"Los Angeles is expected to announce it's dropping Green Path North power line through the desert" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/8/10)
"The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power had proposed seven possible routes for the project to carry geothermal, wind and solar energy from Imperial County to Los Angeles and some Inland cities through 80 miles of high-voltage lines and towers." The department is expected to focus "on a solar development covering more than 600 acres in the Owens Valley, in the eastern Sierra Nevada, where the agency already owns land and transmission lines." Portions of proposed Green Path North would have crossed BLM-managed lands.


"BLM Desert Advisory Council to meet in El Centro" (BLM-California news release, 3/4/10)
The BLM California Desert Advisory Council will meet in formal session on Saturday, March 27. A field trip to the sites of Solar Two, the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, and Ormat 45 geothermal plant is scheduled for Friday, March 26.

"BLM Central California Advisory Council plans meeting in Bakersfield" (BLM-California news release, 3/9/10)
Land management issues for the Bakersfield Field Office will be on the agenda when the Bureau of Land Management’s Central California Resource Advisory Council meets in Bakersfield on April 9.

"Alabama Hills Stewardship Group Plans Public Meeting" (BLM-California news release, 3/3/10)
The community of Lone Pine and the Bureau of Land Management’s Bishop Field Office will hold a public meeting on Thursday, March 18, regarding the future management of the Alabama Hills.


"Sage grouse don't get federal protection" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 3/6/10)
"The government concluded that listing the chicken-sized brown bird as threatened or endangered is warranted but precluded by "higher priorities "-- other species considered in greater danger. The decision opens the way for continued development of energy across the West...."

RELATED: "Interior expands common-sense efforts to conserve sage-grouse habitat in the West" (Department of the Interior news release, 3/5/10)
"The Department of the Interior will expand efforts with state, local and tribal partners to map lands that are vital to the survival of the greater sage-grouse, a ground-dwelling bird that inhabits much of the West, while guiding and managing new conventional and renewable energy projects to reduce impacts on the species, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced...."

"Researchers report a 40 to 50 percent death rate among a group of tortoises relocated from Fort Irwin" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/5/10)
"Government scientists tracking 158 desert tortoises relocated from Fort Irwin nearly two years ago to make way for military maneuvers say that nearly half of the animals have died, mostly from coyote attacks ... In September, the federal Bureau of Land Management backed away from helping the Army move tortoises in October because of uncertainty about their chances of survival. The Army canceled that relocation and still hadn't decided whether to move more tortoises this spring."

"Supes oppose Obama's efforts" (Colusa Sun-Herald, 3/9/10)
"The Colusa County Board of Supervisors have taken steps to oppose efforts by President Barack Obama to designate the Berryessa Snow Mountains as a national monument ... The Board on Tuesday approved a resolution stating the county's opposition to using the Antiquities Act to designate the region as a national monument that, over time, could have a negative impact on accessing the land for recreation and other uses, as well as infringe on the rights of private landowners to access their property."

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)

Close-up of smiling young ladyEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Focus on Youth
Lauren Pidot grew up in an outdoor-oriented family in Hallowell, Maine. Growing up with a caring intellectual family, in a state where natural resources are still a pretty big deal, it almost seems she was predestined to come to the BLM. A Presidential Management Fellow, she is on a field rotation to the BLM California State Office, focusing on the National Landscape Conservation System and legislative affairs.

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

March 12 - Guided tour of the Alabama Hills

March 15 - Public meeting on Bodie Hills report

March 20 - Clean-up day
Chalfant area

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and more wildlife
(d.) Put on courtship displays, to attract mates.

SOURCE: "Sage Grouse - Centrocercus urophasianus" (BLM California wildlife database)
During the spring breeding season, male sage grouse gather together and perform courtship displays in areas called leks (also known as "drumming grounds"), which are relatively open sites often surrounded by denser shrub-steppe cover. Read more:


A head-on view of a wide, dark salamander's face"More protections urged for tiger salamanders" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 3/4/10)
"State wildlife officials Wednesday ruled that the California tiger salamander deserves protection as a threatened species, a move that adds another administrative layer to scrutiny over development projects in the amphibian's habitat. Federal law already protects salamander habitat at the higher, endangered level, and the state's new designation is expected to mean state permits will also be required."

RELATED: "Calif. salamander protection could affect farming" (Sacramento Bee, 3/3/10)
"The California Fish and Game Commission made the decision after finding roughly 400,000 acres of the amphibian's habitat is threatened by future development and the expansion of farming, mostly in the Central Valley. The tiger salamander lives in nearly half the state's counties, in a region that stretches from Yolo County north of Sacramento to Santa Barbara County."

- If your e-mail program does not allow you to click on the above links to visit that Web page, copy and paste the URL into your browser's "Location" or "Address" bar.
- Some publications remove news stories from the Web soon after publication. If you plan to keep a story, you should print a copy or save the Web page to your computer.

DISCLAIMER: By linking to Web sites, the BLM does not imply endorsement of those sites, or of products or advertisements on those sites.

News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834
Sacramento, Ca 95825
(916) 978-4600

We appreciate feedback. Send comments to the News.bytes team at:

To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to:
OR visit our News.bytes subscription page at: http://www.blm.gov/ca/caso/getnewsbytes.html.