A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 451 - 10/7/10
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- First-ever solar projects on public lands approved
- More renewable energy
- Wildfires and prevention
- America's Great Outdoors
- National Public Lands Day recap
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Headlines and highlights: Varied topics
- Employee profile
- National BLM and Department of the Interior items
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:
FIRST-EVER SOLAR PROJECTS ON PUBLIC LANDS APPROVED
->This just in: Secretary of the Interior approves first "power tower" solar project on public lands. (See below)
"Solar power plants to rise on U.S. land" (New York Times, 10/5/10)
"Both plants are to rise in the California desert under a fast-track program that dovetails with the state’s own aggressive effort to push development of solar, wind and geothermal power. The far larger one, a 709-megawatt project proposed by Tessera Solar on 6,360 acres in the Imperial Valley, will use 'Suncatchers' -- reflectors in the shape of radar dishes -- to concentrate solar energy and activate a four-cylinder engine to generate electricity. A 45-megawatt system proposed by Chevron Energy Solutions and featuring arrays of up to 40,500 solar panels will be built on 422 acres of the Lucerne Valley."
"Green lights for big solar projects on fed lands" (MSNBC, 10/5/10)
"The announcement comes about five years after solar developers began asking the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for rights to develop hundreds of solar plants ... across the Southwest. The largest of the two projects will use 28,360 solar collectors known as SunCatchers to produce enough electricity to power more than 200,000 homes. The approval gives the project sponsors access to almost 6,800 acres of public lands for 30 years. Construction is expected to start on both by the end of the year, and Interior said the projects should generate almost 1,000 jobs."
"First solar-power projects on public land get Interior Department approval" (Washington Post, 10/5/10)
"The Interior Department approved the first solar projects on public land Tuesday, a move aimed at shifting the type of energy development on federal property in the years to come. The two ventures green-lighted in the Californian desert - the Imperial Valley and Chevron Lucerne Valley solar projects - could provide energy for hundreds of thousands of homes, though neither would start generating electricity for more than a year, at the earliest."
"Solar projects get final OKs" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 10/5/10)
"U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Tuesday approved the first commercial solar energy plants on public land, including one in San Bernardino County, and said more are on the way .... Applications for dozens of solar and wind energy projects in the California desert have been submitted to the federal government. Nine of them -- all but two in San Bernardino and Riverside counties -- have been granted a fast-track approval process so that they can take advantage of stimulus funding available through the end of the year."
"Salazar green-lights first-ever solar energy projects on public lands" (Department of the Interior press release, 10/5/10)
Includes links to fact sheets for the Imperial Valley Solar Project and the Chevron Lucerne Valley Solar Project.
"Salazar approves first 'power tower' solar project on U.S. public lands" (Departmment of the Interior press release, 10/7/10)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today approved the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the first large-scale solar energy project on U.S. public lands to use "power tower" technology. Proposed by BrightSource Energy of Oakland, California, the project could produce up to 370 megawatts of clean energy, enough to power 111,000 to 277,500 American homes.
"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.
|MORE RENEWABLE ENERGY
"BLM to hold third public meeting for Walker Ridge Wind Project October 8" (BLM news release, 9/23/10)
This Friday, Oct. 8: The Bureau of Land Management will hold a third public scoping meeting in Sacramento to gather input on issues that should be addressed in environmental documents for the proposed Walker Ridge Wind Project in Lake and Colusa counties.
"Will governor's final act be renewables-led renaissance?" (Sunpluggers, 10/1/10)
"Mr. Schwarzenegger's seven-year legacy as governor of the nation's most populous state and leader of the world's eighth-largest economy is inextricably tied to the future of solar energy, and abetted by the related industries of wind energy and electric-vehicle development and deployment."
|WILDFIRES AND PREVENTION
"Importance of defensible space to homeowner" (California Fire Alliance, on Facebook)
Creating 100 feet of defensible space is important to homeowners and communities. Hear from Jerry Martinez with the Bureau of Land Management, a firefighter and a local homeowner on how defensible space increases a home and communities chances to survive a wildfire.
"Ojai area seniors get free weed abatement" (Ventura County Star, 10/1/10)
"The CREW, or Concerned Resource and Environmental Workers, a nonprofit group that hires 14- to 21-year-olds to do back-breaking work that helps nature and people .... has been clearing ivy, cutting down trees and raking leaves around hundreds of homes in the Ojai Valley to get them ready for the fire season .... CREW received a $186,000 grant from the California Fire Safe Council as well as other grants." The BLM helps support Fire Safe Councils around the state.
"Californians reminded to Take Responsibility during Fire Prevention Week" (BLM news release, 10/7/10)
During Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 3-9, the BLM reminds Californians to "Take Responsibility" for creating and maintaining 100 feet of clean, open space around their homes to reduce fire danger and the risk of fires spreading. According to a Government Accountability Office report, an estimated 41 percent of homes in California are located in wildland urban interface zones, with 3.2 million homes at significant risk from wildfires.
"Bureau of Land Management to conduct prescribed burn in Laguna Mountain and Condon Peak areas" (BLM news release, 10/4/10)
The Bureau of Land Management’s Hollister Field Office plans to conduct prescribed burns this fall in northern Fresno and southern San Benito counties. The goal of the prescribed burn will be to improve wildlife habitat and reduce hazard fuels (brush) in the area.
"Prescribed burn on former Fort Ord" (KION-TV Monterey, 10/6/10)
"Helicopters and other equipment have begun to mobilize to Fort Ord where prescribed burns may be conducted any time over the next few days if appropriate weather conditions are present." No roads will be closed, but "several of the trails near the Bureau of Land Management offices will be closed for a short time."
"Bureau of Land Management Hollister Office lifts fire restrictions" (BLM news release, 10/4/10)
With the onset of cooler temperatures, the Bureau of Land Management will lift fire restrictions on public lands within the Hollister Field Office jurisdiction effective Oct. 15. This includes the Tumey, Griswold, Ciervo and Panoche hills. Visitors will be able to have open campfires and barbecue fires at campsites on BLM public lands with a valid California campfire permit. Visitors should use appropriate methods to contain campfires.
"Learn how you can create defensible space" (California Fire Alliance)
How to create defensible space around your property, to reduce the risk of losing your home - even in severe wildfire.
"National fire news" (National Interagency Fire Center, 7/29/10)
Reports from across the country, including California. Updated Monday through Friday during the fire season.
|AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"Groups receive Partners in Conservation Award from Interior Department" (BLM news release, 9/30/10)
A group of northeast California organizations has received the 2010 "Partners in Conservation" award from the U. S. Department of the Interior, for development of the Sage Steppe Ecosystem Restoration Strategy. The strategy is designed to improve ecological health by reducing juniper that has encroached into the sagebrush-grassland ecosystem of northeast California and northwest Nevada.
RELATED: "BLM Director presents Secretarial 'Partners in Conservation' Awards to four agency-led partnerships" (BLM national news release, 9/30/10)
The Secretary of the Interior’s Partners in Conservation Awards honor agency partnerships that promote the conservation of America’s cherished landscapes, preserve natural and cultural resources, bring innovative approaches to resource management, and engage diverse entities -- including youth -- in accomplishing the mission of the Department of the Interior. Includes link to photos.
"Bizz Johnson Trail Activities and Events" (BLM Eagle Lake Field Office)
This weekend: Each year in the early Fall, visitors and residents flock to the Susanville Depot for the Rails to Trails Festival. This year's event is coming up soon, on Oct. 9-10. Also this weekend, the trail will host the and the Bizz Johnson Marathon.
RELATED: "BLM to celebrate completion of Bizz Johnson Trail trestle restoration" (BLM news release, 10/5/10)
A ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating restoration of the Devil’s Corral Trestle on the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail is set for Friday, Oct. 8, at 3 p.m., at the trestle west of Susanville. Anyone interested is welcome. Those attending the celebration will be among the first members of the public to cross the restored bridge, which spans the Susan River at a height of 70 feet.
RELATED: "Fall colors highlight weekend bus shuttle for Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail" (BLM news release, 10/7/10)
Autumn colors are starting to pop along the Bizz Johnson Trail between Susanville and Westwood in northeast California, and a great way to enjoy the scene is from the saddle of a mountain bike. The BLM will make a fall color outing easy with the annual Fall Colors Ride and bus shuttle on Saturday, October 23. The shuttle enables mountain bikers, runners and hikers to organize one-way rides without the logistics of arranging their own vehicle shuttles. There are two options this year.
"Crowd attends dedication of important trail segment"(News.bytes Extra)
The 25-mile South Fork American River Trail was dedicated Sept. 30 with completion of the final 8.5-mile segment from Cronan Ranch to Salmon Falls. About 70 people attended the ceremony. Hikers, fisherman, bird watchers, mountain bikers and equestrians will now be able to travel through pine and oak landscapes to riverside and scenic overlooks of the lower South Fork American River Gorge.
|NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY
Volunteers joined the BLM and other agencies last month at a number of sites, to help improve public lands. Here are recaps of two more events:
"National Public Lands Day brings volunteers to Bishop-area BLM events" (News.bytes Extra)
Local residents and staff from several agencies joined forces to collect trash, remove weeds and do other work as part of the National Public Lands Day celebration in this part of the Eastern Sierra. The effort to clean up trash and preserve and restore an historic spot, included representatives of several groups and a newlywed couple.
"Santa Rosa Mountain Road cleanup" (News.bytes Extra)
In honor of National Public Lands Day, the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument held a clean-up and site preparation project in the Santa Rosa Mountains. Santa Rosa Mountain Road is one of few access roads into the National Monument, and volunteers removed illegal and outdated fire rings along its route. It was a day of dust, ash and rock throwing, but it was a lot of fun!
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"Wild horses and burros available for adoption in Redlands" (BLM news release, 10/5/10)
This weekend: Wild horses and burros from the rangelands of the American West are available for adoption this weekend at the Sundance Ranch in Redlands through the BLM's Adopt-A-Horse or Burro Program. The mustangs and burros were gathered from public lands in California and Nevada, have been de-wormed and vaccinated, and are in excellent health. Animals available for adoption may be previewed from 1 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8.
"Horses, burros available for adoption in Bishop" (BLM news release, 10/4/10)
Residents of the Eastern Sierra will have the opportunity to add a horse or burro to their families when the Bureau of Land Management brings its Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program to the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds on Oct. 23. The BLM will offer about 20 horses, mostly yearlings, and 10 burros for public adoption. Anyone interested can preview the animals from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 22.
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
Pygmy rabbits are the only member of the Leporidae family to:
(a.) eat tarantulas
(b.) dig its own burrows
(d.) return to the same burrow year after year
(f.) be too small to ride most attractions at the traveling bunny carnival
------> See answer -- and news stories -- near the end of this issue.
|HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Bollschweiler named new manager for BLM Surprise Field Office in Cedarville" (BLM news release, 9/30/10)
The BLM has has named Allen Bollschweiler of Santa Fe, N. M., field manager for the Surprise Field Office in Cedarville. He reports for duty on Nov. 7. He is currently branch chief for geographic services in the BLM’s New Mexico State Office and has been involved in fire and GIS programs in New Mexico.
"RAC members discuss Central California issues, tour public lands" (News.bytes Extra)
Issues from the Alabama Hills in the Eastern Sierras to the Cievo Hills west of Interstate 5 were on the agenda when BLM’s Central California Resource Advisory Council met Sept. 17-18 in Coalinga.
"John Reginato commemorated with state resolution, boat ramp" (News.bytes Extra)
For more than five decades, John Reginato was hailed as a tourism leader for Redding and Shasta County. Among many community positions, he was a close advisor to the Bureau of Land Management for over four decades and a leading voice promoting the natural beauty and richness of Northern California. He died at age 89 in August 2007. This summer, the California State Legislature passed Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 132, to honor his accomplishments by designating the John F. Reginato Boat Ramp in Redding.
RELATED: "Resolution: John F. Reginato Boat Ramp" (California State Senate)
"This measure would designate the South Bonnyview Boat Ramp in the City of Redding as the John F. Reginato Boat Ramp" in honor of his many contributions to tourism and boating in northern California, including service with the BLM's advisory councils.
"BLM testing for silver-mine-era hazards near Calico" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 10/1/10)
"Silver mining operations disappeared from Calico long ago, but potentially hazardous minerals left in their wake may remain. The Bureau of Land Management is currently testing mineral trails from a long-abandoned mine near Calico for potentially toxic heavy metals."
"Outreach to mining claimants about abandoned mine hazards" (BLM national news release, 10/7/10)
The effort responds to growing concerns about the number of accidents and hazards related to abandoned mines, particularly on the National System of Public Lands. To assist with this effort, the BLM has identified abandoned mine sites, as well as nearby active claims, using computerized land records and maps.
"Park agreement close to complete" (Lake County Record-Bee, 10/4/10)
"After almost 10 months of negotiations for an easement ... to access the new Mount Konocti County Park .... The park opening has tentatively been scheduled for April 30, 2011 .... Lake County is currently working with a volunteer committee to develop a Master Management Plan for the site that includes representatives from the public," the BLM and other agencies.
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Listings include land law examiner and assistant fire engine operator.
|EMPLOYEE PROFILE: Lori Rosenstein
As an employee relations specialist in the human resources office for BLM-California, Lori advises managers and supervisors on various employee performance and conduct issues. Lori began her government career as a Peace Corps volunteer in August 2000. She taught English to Russian and Uzbeck children in Karshi, Uzbekistan. Read more:
|NATIONAL BLM and DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Secretary Salazar promotes clean energy, signs Cape Wind lease at AWEA conference" (Department of the Interior press release, 10/6/10)
"Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar delivered the keynote address at the American Wind Energy Association’s annual North American Offshore Wind Conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Following his remarks, Secretary Salazar and Cape Wind Associates, LLC signed the nation’s first lease for commercial wind energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf."
"Interior establishes Office of Natural Resources Revenue" (Department of the Interior press release, 10/1/10)
"A major step in the Department of the Interior’s plan to fundamentally restructure its mineral leasing, regulatory and revenue collection agencies occurred today with the official establishment of the Office of Natural Resources Revenue within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget."
"The public trust" (New York Times, 10/3/10)
Editorial: "The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management oversees about 250 million acres of public land in the West. Much is leased out, some to energy and mining companies, but mostly to ranchers for grazing cattle and sheep. The bureau is supposed to find a balance between the public interest and the interest of the leaseholders -- upholding the public interest whenever conflicts arise."
"Border Patrol projects caught up for months in red tape, government study shows" (Fox News, 10/5/10)
"Border Patrol agents trying to keep up with the pace of illegal immigration along the southwest border have gotten stuck in a kind of bureaucratic limbo .... Border agents want access to federal land, but several other agencies are tasked with protecting that land from human interference. Tire tracks, for instance, can trap water and disrupt the ecosystem."
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(b.) dig its own burrows
SOURCE: "Pygmy Rabbit - Brachylagus idahoensis" (BLM California wildlife database)
This is the only species in this family that digs its own burrow system, which can be quite extensive and is frequently used by other animals once it is abandoned by the rabbit.
RELATED: "Pygmy rabbits denied Endangered Species Act protections by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service" (Reuters in Los Angeles Times, 9/29/10)
"The hardships facing the pygmy rabbit of the western United States don't warrant protections under the Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced." The agency found that "there has been some loss and degradation of pygmy rabbit habitat range-wide, but not to the magnitude that constitutes a significant threat to the species."
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