A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 444 - 8/19/10

A coiled rattlesnake Woman with a horse Two women look over Native American baskets on a table A man sticks a long stick into a stand of brush Power line towers march across dry grasslands

THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES: An off-highway vehicle racing tragedy, an ongoing wild horse and burro roundup and progress in renewable energy permitting are the major stories involving the BLM in California this week. A sampling of stories on these issues appears below, with further updates on BLM-California's homepage: http://www.blm.gov/ca/

"Feds to review off-road racing in wake of accident" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/16/10)
"Federal officials will review how off-road vehicle racers use public land and what safety precautions need to be enacted following Saturday's crash that killed eight spectators in the remote San Bernardino County desert. The Bureau of Land Management, which maintains vast swaths of government-owned land in Southern California, launched a national investigation Monday into all of its approved off-road events and their safety provisions."

"Wild horse round-up"(Capital Public Radio Insight, 8/12/10)
"BLM is currently doing a round-up in Lassen County and the Sac Bee’s Sam Stanton is there covering it. Today on Insight, we’ll talk to him about what he’s seen." (Audio file, including several topics -- wild horse segment is at the beginning.)

"Calif. desert on pace to become world's solar capital" (Greenwire at New York Times, 8/13/10)
"Since Aug. 1, the Bureau of Land Management has issued final environmental impact statements for three commercial solar plants that, once built, will cover nearly 20,000 acres of BLM land in the desert regions and produce enough electricity to power nearly 1.6 million homes. Final EISs were issued on Friday to Tessera Solar's 850-megawatt Calico Solar plant and BrightSource Energy Inc.'s 392-megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System."

A selection of stories on each of these issues, below.

This issue of News.bytes is online at:


"Off-roaders worry accident may mean sport's end" (Associated Press in Washington Post, 8/16/10)
"Fans of long-distance off-roading have seen the number of federal sites where they can speed and soar over the desert dunes in Southern California dwindle to just a handful, mainly over environmental concerns. Now, they might drop further, over safety. Off-roaders fear a federal review announced Monday into a weekend race accident that killed eight and injured 10 more in the Mojave Desert could lead to further restrictions - or even spell the end - of their sport."

"BLM race makes tragedy inevitable" (Sacramento Bee, 8/18/10)
Editorial: "Motor-sport competitions are inherently dangerous ... People who attend these events undertake a certain amount of risk from explosions, fires and flying debris -- no matter what precautions are taken to separate them from the racetrack. All that said, the circumstances of the California 200, the off-road race where eight spectators died and a dozen more were injured on Saturday night, bear little resemblance to those at other races."

"Don’t use tragedy to justify off-road regs" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 8/18/10)
Editorial: "We urge the BLM to think very carefully and really listen to what off-roaders are saying before considering adding any potentially unnecessary regulations .... People are responsible for their own lives. The government can’t be relied on to protect people from everything, particularly if they deliberately choose to engage in risky behavior. We don’t see how exactly the BLM can police this problem unless they hire a significant number of people to oversee the races, or, as some off-roaders fear, simply start canceling them."

renewable energy graphic represents solar, wind and geothermal power and transmission linesRENEWABLE ENERGY

"BLM releases final environmental impact statement for proposed solar project in Lucerne Valley" (BLM news release, 8/13/10)
Chevron Energy Solutions applied to the Bureau of Land Management for a right-of-way on public lands to construct a solar photovoltaic power plant facility eight miles east of Lucerne Valley. If authorized, the project would be among the first commercial solar power projects approved for construction on public lands in the United States.

RELATED: "BLM: Project needs plants" (Redlands Daily Facts, 8/15/10)
"One change in Chevron Energy Solutions' proposed solar project plan has been recommended ... a 50-foot-wide vegetation strip added between the one roadway that would lead to the plant and has homes across the street. The agency feels this would reduce visual impacts, provide some benefits to sensitive species and allow some historical artifacts to remain on-site."

"Solar Millennium withdraws request for suspension" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 8/18/10)
The company planning a solar power project near Ridgecrest, last month "voluntarily suspended its application for the solar power plant project pending completion of further studies related to potential impacts of the project on the Mojave ground squirrel." The company has now "formally withdrawn" that request, and is asking to modify the application. "The applicant is seeking a right-of-way from the Bureau of Land Management that will extend across approximately 3,920 acres of federal public lands."

solar panel in desert with a sheep grazing nearbyPower line towers march across dry grasslands"'Big solar' struggles to find home in California" (KDED San Francisco, 8/17/10)
A "fight over where to build large clean-energy projects is slowing the green revolution. One of these battlegrounds is Panoche Valley ... used mostly for cattle grazing ... Solargen Energy was drawn to this slice of Central Valley ranchland because it gets almost as much sun as the scorching Mojave Desert" and "seemed less controversial than the Mojave, which has become a nightmare for many solar entrepreneurs because of its protected national monuments and desert tortoises."

"BLM initiates environmental study of Walker Ridge wind energy proposal" (BLM news release, 8/13/10)
AltaGas Renewable Energy Pacific, Inc. has applied for a right-of-way authorization covering 8,157 acres on public lands for a 70-megawatt wind energy project with an interconnection to the Pacific Gas & Electric's 115-kilovolt distribution system.

"Renewable energy fast track projects" (BLM California)
Fast-track projects within the State of California are those renewable energy projects that have made significant progress in the permitting process and have either formally begun or will soon begin the environmental review and public participation process. 

Silhouette of a wild horse and a wild burroWILD HORSES AND BURRO ROUNDUP

Horses in a corral"Nearly 600 horses caught so far in federal roundup" (Sacramento Bee, 8/19/10)
"Federal officials said Wednesday that they had collected nearly 600 wild horses from the range near Susanville, about a third of the number they hope to round up by September .... Officials released 27 stallions and six mules back into the wild Wednesday, with 14 mares set to be released today after they are treated with a temporary fertility control vaccine."

"BLM successfully concludes first week of Twin Peaks roundup" (BLM news release, 8/17/10)
One week after the start of the Twin Peaks gather near Susanville, Calif., the Bureau of Land Management has gathered 592 wild horses, and the first 32 animals have been returned to the range.

A horse"BLM moves forward with state's largest mustang roundup this year" (Lake County News, 8/15/10)
"Federal officials have begun a six-week operation to gather horses from one of the state's biggest mustang herds, a roundup that's expected to be California's largest this year and the second largest in the nation."

"Twin Peaks wild horse and burro roundup" (BLM California)
BLM's goal is to leave a healthy herd of at least 450 wild horses and 72 wild burros to reach the Appropriate Management Level set by the Eagle Lake Resource Management Plan in 2008 to ensure healthy rangelands. The current populations are about five times the number of wild horses and two times the number of burros. Our new website is being updated as the roundup progresses. Includes links to reports, adoption opportunities, documents, photos and more.

Follow the Twin Peaks Gather on Facebook...

... and on Twitter:

Photos from the Twin Peaks Roundup have been posted on Flickr:

"BLM says dead foal not shot as advocates suspected" (Associated Press in San Jose Mercury News, 8/17/10)
"Holes in the carcass of a young foal found near a wild horse roundup in northeast California and Nevada were the work of scavenger birds not gunshot wounds as horse protection advocates first claimed, federal officials said Tuesday. A veterinarian with the U.S. Agriculture Department's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service examined the foal on Saturday, two days after horse advocates opposed to the roundup found the animal and complained to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management."


Woman with a horse"Horses, burros available for adoption in Grass Valley"
(Grass Valley Union, 8/16/10)
"Nevada County residents will have the opportunity to add a horse or burro to their families when the United States Bureau of Land Management brings its Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program to the Nevada County Horsemen's Association. The event is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28."

A man and girl look at a horse in a corral"Wild horse, burro adoption event held in Redlands" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/14/10)
"Riverside resident Victor Ruiz ... was once fearful of horses. Now he has three, including a dark bay wild horse that he recently adopted to join his two previously adopted wild horses. Wearing a western hat, shirt and boots Saturday, Ruiz attended the Bureau of Land Management's wild horse and adoption event at the Sundance Ranch in Redlands."

"California wild horse and burro adoption schedule" (BLM California)
This schedule is subject to change. Please call the contact numbers listed, to check that planned events are taking place as planned.


A coiled rattlesnake
red diamond rattlesnake
Which fictional character might a rattlesnake be most afraid of?
(a.) Woody Woodpecker
(b.) Wile E. Coyote
(c.) The Roadrunner
(d.) Lassie
(e.) Huey, Louie and Dewey
(f.) American Idol judges

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


A man leans against a tree"Cooperative effort thins growing problem in Calaveras County" (Stockton Record, 8/17/10)
"Hotshot fire crews from Alaska and local forestry workers teamed up last week for a historic effort to thin overgrown forests ... such as the 70-acre Bureau of Land Management site along Highway 26 ... left as unmanaged tree plantations .... For years, fire safety officials have wanted to thin overgrown forests. Only recently have loggers, public agencies, environmentalists and local leaders ... figured out a way to get the work done." Several partners including the BLM cooperated on the project.

"Mining claim maintenance fees due Sept. 1, 2010" (BLM news release, 7/15/10)
The deadline for filing annual mining claim fees with the Bureau of Land Management is Tuesday, September 1, 2010. All mining claimants who wish to hold on to mining claims on federal public lands through 2011 must pay a $140 maintenance fee or file a maintenance fee waiver certificate on or before September 1st.

"Busy week of pot busts: Sheriff's Office, CAMP pull 60,000 marijuana plants" (Eureka Times-Standard, 8/14/10)
"In the first four days of last week, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office seized more than 60,000 marijuana plants with the help of other agencies. Assisted by the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management personnel, the Sheriff's Office conducted marijuana eradication activities in Humboldt County."

RELATED: "Officials hope gates stop pot"(Redding Record Searchlight, 8/16/10)
"Whiskeytown National Recreation Area officials plan to put up 10 gates on service roads to deter illicit marijuana growing. Marijuana growers rendezvous with suppliers on the roads, the longest of which is half a mile long .... Whiskeytown rangers also have found 20,597 plants growing on lands adjacent to Whiskeytown and managed by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. "

"Lands committee protests pipeline deal across Nevada" (Lahontan Valley News,
Nevada legislators, cattlemen's group and county commissioners say they are concerned that "a $15 million mitigation fund" that a pipeline company agreed to in order to reduce opposition to its Ruby Pipeline proposal, would be used to permanently buy out grazing rights and harm ranchers. The natural-gas pipeline would cross parts of Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and California, to supply western markets.

Cranes move an openwork towerMan wears an American flag safety helmet"First stage of Taft's Oilworker Monument takes shape" (Bakersfield Californian, 8/18/10)
"It's taken more than four years, but the first stage of the Taft Oilworker Monument is being assembled .... The monument will be dedicated to oil workers Oct. 15, which kicks off Oildorado, the city's 10-day, 100th anniversary party. 'It's to honor the oil workers of Kern County,' ... said Vic Killingsworth, chairman of the Oilworker Monument Committee.

RELATED: "Oil and gas operations" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
Five of the ten most productive oil fields in the United States are in California, with many oil wells on lands managed by the BLM's Bakersfield Field Office.

"20-year fight against landfill may end" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/16/10)
"Long before California's deserts became disputed hot spots for solar and wind energy development, there was Eagle Mountain. The idea to turn a defunct iron ore mine east of Indio into the world's largest dump surfaced in 1988. The proposal has been mired in legal battles since, but closure may finally come this year."

Two women look over Native American baskets on a table"Yurok Indians exult at return of sacred cache" (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/13/10)
"The Smithsonian Institution has returned a trove of precious artifacts to the Yurok Indians in California in what is one of the largest repatriations of Native American ceremonial artifacts in U.S. history." The BLM supports the return of cultural and religious artifacts to tribes, when appropriate, and has partnered with the Yurok Tribe in resource management efforts such as preserving native basket-making skills and materials, and in the California Coastal National Monument.

Feather headresses on a tableA red feather headressRELATED: "Sacred artifacts returned to Northern Calif. tribe" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle. 8/14/10)
"White deerskins, condor feathers and head dresses made of bright red woodpecker scalps are among more than 200 sacred artifacts that are once again in the possession of a Northern California Indian tribe ... from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian."

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

Find events online at:

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) The Roadrunner

SOURCE: "Red diamond rattlesnake - Crotalus ruber" (BLM California wildlife database)
Kingsnakes, roadrunners, and owls are the most common predators of this snake.

RELATED: "Geococcyx californianus - greater roadrunner" (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Animal Diversity Web)
"The diet of G. californianus is omnivorous and varied, a good strategy for survival in the typically harsh environments of the southwest. They eat large insects, scorpions, tarantulas, centipedes, lizards, snakes, and mice. They have even been known to eat rattlesnakes, although this is rare."

A man holds a long stick high over his head and into a stand of brush"Scientist rustles up rattlers" (San Bernardino County Sun, 8/18/10)
"Loma Linda University doctoral herpetology student Aaron Corbit, who is researching the collision of rattlesnakes and people in the hills of Loma Linda. But his findings will have applications for people who live near wildlands across the American West. So far, his research is finding that snakes seem to be drawn toward houses in the summer and away during the winter, when they are inactive."

Rattlesnakes coiled around each other in a culvert"Rattlesnakes stay cool in a culvert" (News.bytes Extra, 7/2/02)
This photo -- taken in 2002 by a BLM crew near wetlands in the area of Jelly's Ferry, along the Sacramento River -- has resurfaced often over the years, on the Internet and in forwarded emails.
Here is the original.

RELATED: "Power struggle" (Snopes.com)
The BLM photo recycled: "A Florida Power & Light crew putting in lines for an addition to the Orlando International Airport found the following in a culvert they were using..." Operators of this website investigate Internet and "forward this email to everyone" rumors, to determine which are true and which are not.
- 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 online news sites require free registration to view their content online. Some news sites 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

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