A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 458 - 11/24/10

A wild turkey flares its tail A rocky bluff overlooks a desert floor A smiling girl holds the reins of two horses A ranger stands under a gnarly tree A bearded man stands on a bluff above a river


- BLM report on Johnson Valley OHV crash
- Off-highway vehicles
- America's Great Outdoors
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Renewable energy
- Wild horses and burros
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics related to your public lands
- Selected upcoming events
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


"BLM releases internal report on Johnson Valley OHV race permit" (BLM national national news release, 11/19/10)
An internal review by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management found its policies and procedures for permitting off-highway vehicle events are sound, but the agency did not adhere to these procedures in permitting Mojave Desert Racing Production’s California 200, the race that resulted in eight spectator fatalities in a tragic accident in San Bernardino County on August 14, 2010.

"Report: BLM at fault in deadly off-road crash" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/19/10)
"Although the internal review concluded the agency's rules for off-road events are sound, BLM officials vowed increased oversight to ensure the procedures are properly followed."

"BLM rules not followed in race deaths" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 11/19/10)
"BLM Director Bob Abbey said the agency had taken steps to improve oversight of recreational events, including providing adequate staffing and requiring more oversight to ensure its employees are complying with agency rules."

"Federal agency failed to follow safety rules prior to desert crash, report finds" (Los Angeles Times, 11/20/10)
"Since the Aug. 14 tragedy at the California 200, about a dozen applications have been submitted for off-road events. Of those, four have been denied because of inadequate notice or failure to adhere to permit requirements."

This story was also covered in many other news outlets. The stories above offered the most comprehensive information.


"Big turnout expected at dunes this weekend" (Yuma Sun, 11/23/10)
Last year 185,000 people visited the Imperial Sand Dunes and "between 175,000 and 200,000" may show up for the four-day Thanksgiving weekend. One tip: "it's a good idea to buy a pass ahead of time." Also, the American Sand Association offers safety tips, especially with "increased scrutiny ... by the public, politicians, land managers and the off-roaders/duner community, due to some of the tragic events that have happened on public lands." The ASA stated in a press release, "We, as the dune community, must address the issues ourselves or they will be addressed for us."

RELATED: "Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area" (BLM El Centro Field Office)

"High Desert residents aim to curb illegal off-roading" (KESQ-TV, 11/22/10)
"Some residents in the high desert are fed up with illegal off-roaders. They called a public forum with law enforcement and Bureau of Land Management to discuss how to curb the problem." Includes video.

America's Great Outdoors logo sports snow-capped peaksAMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS

"ARRA funds improvements to 200 miles of Pacific Crest Trail ... and counting" (BLM news release, 11/17/10)
Federal agencies, conservation groups and partners came together to celebrate a year of major accomplishments along the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, and to celebrate A bearded man stands on a bluff above a riverthe 10th anniversary of the National Landscape Conservation System. Funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was used to employ nearly 60 young adults with the Student Conservation Association to maintain, reconstruct and rehabilitate morethan 200 miles of the 2,650-mile trail ... so far.

RELATED: "Pacific Crest Trail gets upgrades" (Los Angeles Times, 11/17/10)
Photo from along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Desert plants around a sandy patch of ground"Myer Valley in the Jacumba Wilderness" (East County Magazine, 11/17/10)
"Have you ever driven down Interstate 8 east of Jacumba and, eyeing the immense boulder piles that rise on both sides, wondered what it would be like to clamber over them?" The writer says "intrepid hikers" can explore "this rugged and picturesque high-desert area" administered by the BLM. The area "gets relatively few footprints from recreational hikers ... Due to formidable fencing recently installed along much of the international border, there’s not as much immigrant traffic as there used to be. Nevertheless, for safety, it’s advisable to travel in groups out there."

Rocks cover every surface, piled up into hillsA rocky bluff overlooks a desert floorRELATED: "Jacumba Mountains Wilderness" (BLM El Centro Field Office)
The Jacumba Mountains sit on the eastern flank of Southern California's coastal peninsular ranges, extending to the international border.

"BLM announces King Range National Conservation Area lecture series" (BLM news release, 11/22/10)
The Bureau of Land Management’s King Range Project Office will sponsor a series of Tuesday lectures from Dec. 14 through March 29. Lectures will include "Beyond the clouds: astronomy" - "Through the lens: examining phytoplankton" - "Exploring geologic processes along the Lost Coast" - "The loneliest lighthouses" and more. See the news release to sign up.


A wild turkey flares its tail
wild turkey
Wild turkeys:
(a.) can't launch into flight without climbing to a high spot of ground.
(b.) flare out their tails to sense the size of openings in dense brush or other obstacles -- much like a cat's whiskers.
(c.) were not a standard item on Thanksgiving tables until Abraham Lincoln's son Todd specifically requested one.
(d.) in the form of jerky, supplied much of the KP rations to American soldiers during the Spanish-American War.
(e.) were thought by Benjamin Franklin to be a better choice than the bald eagle for the national symbol of the U.S.
(f.) inspired the Wild Turkey, the national dance of Yjkvznstan before it was replaced by the Funky Chicken and then -- under former President for Life Zbyzznewski Brrrrgnrssszz -- by the Compassionate Yak.

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

Renewable energy graphics represent solar, wind and geothermal power, plus transmission linesRENEWABLE ENERGY

A hand reaches out to a desert tortoiseFor the desert tortoise, a threat and an opportunity" (Green at New York Times, 11/17/10)
"The protected desert tortoise has become the totemic animal for environmentalists fighting to ensure that the huge solar farms don’t eliminate essential habitat for the long-lived reptile and other wildlife ... But as much as some biologists fear that the need to generate electricity without carbon dioxide emissions will harm the desert tortoise, the projects offer an opportunity for intensive research on the critter ... regulations require solar developers to monitor tortoises for three years after they are relocated."

"California puts Tessera solar plant on temp hold" (Reuters, 11/22/10)
"The California Energy Commission has temporarily withdrawn approval of a controversial solar power plant by NTR's Tessera Solar after opponents protested that the 663.5-megawatt Calico project had been improperly licensed ... Karen Douglas, the energy commission's chairman ... wrote that the withdrawal of approval did not mean that the commission agreed with the argument by the California Unions for Reliable Energy that its decision had been improper."

"Northrop opposes solar energy project" (Los Angeles Times, 11/23/10)
"Northrop Grumman Corp. contends that a proposed 230-megawatt plant near Rosamond to be built by First Solar Inc. could impair operations at a sensitive installation for testing radar-evading stealth technology on aircraft."

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

A smiling girl holds the reins of two horses"Brown competes in Extreme Mustang Makeover; takes home third, sixth" (Daily Iowegian, 11/22/10)
"Seymour High School sophomore Abby Brown hasn’t been around horses her entire life, but three years ago, she started her work with the Extreme Mustang Makeover competition and now has four mustangs," that "hail from Nevada, Oregon and California." Her mustangs "each have placed at competition. Ford took fourth out of 28 last year in Tennessee in the yearling competition and most recently placed third in the two year old lunging division."

"Fertility control to be focus of eleven FY 2011 wild horse gathers" (BLM news release, 11/24/10)
During these gathers, known as “catch, treat, and release,” the BLM will apply the fertility-control vaccine known as PZP to approximately 890 mares, which will be treated and then released back to the specific Herd Management Areas from which they were gathered.


A ranger stands under a gnarly treeA ranger photographed in the rear view mirror of his vehicle"BLM ranger patrols Fort Ord" (Off 86/The Californian, 11/19/10)
"Despite the natural beauty of the setting, crime does occur on the 7,200 acres of Bureau of Land Management land open to the public on the former Fort Ord. 'Just because we're a park doesn't mean some of these things don't happen here,' said Eric Morgan, BLM manager of Fort Ord lands. That reality explains the presence of Peter Fonken, a veteran law enforcement ranger hired in July to patrol the BLM Fort Ord lands."

RELATED: "Fort Ord Public Lands " (BLM website)
Habitat preservation and conservation are primary missions for the Fort Ord Public Lands but there are also more than 86 miles of trails for the public to explore on foot, bike or horseback.

"Judge dismisses challenge to Coast Dairies deal, Coastal Commission to weigh in now" (Santa Cruz Sentinel, 11/18/10)
"A judge this week tossed out a legal challenge to the transfer of nearly 6,000 privately-owned acres on the North Coast to the Bureau of Land Management. The decision ... removes a hurdle in the decade-long effort to put much of the rural and highly coveted Coast Dairies property under federal stewardship. But it's not the only hurdle remaining for the land deal."

"Salazar, Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies announce completion of sage-grouse habitat map in the West" (Department of the Interior press release, 11/23/10)
"The map identifies important range-wide focal areas having high density occurrences of greater sage-grouse, a ground-dwelling bird that inhabits much of the West. These focal areas were determined by estimating the male’s attendance on leks, the communal breeding grounds of the bird. The BLM will work with the state fish and wildlife agencies to further refine the map by incorporating more specific state-level data."

"Trails should remain open and free to all" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 11/17/10)
Editorial: "Hiking in the glorious mountains that surround the Coachella Valley is one of the best things about living here. Understandably, the hiking community is nervous about the proposed exchange of about 5,800 acres of Bureau of Land Management property for nearly 1,500 acres of land owned by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians."

Tire tracks on flat expanse of sand with mountains in the distance"Can Black Rock Playa survive Burning Man?"
(Reno Gazette-Journal, 11/16/10)
"At all times, it's an exceptional place. Stretching across about 200 square miles, the playa of the Black Rock Desert is as flat as a tabletop ... Silent, empty and harsh, few places like it exist on the planet." It is also the site of "Burning Man ... The festival's organizer ... is asking the federal Bureau of Land Management to issue a five-year permit to continue Burning Man on about 4,400 acres of public land from 2011 to 2015. It would increase the number of people potentially attending the event to 60,000."

RELATED: "Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area" (BLM California)

"Route 66: Groups seek to preserve the Mother Road" (San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 11/18/10)
"Route 66 was the Mother Road of hopes and dreams, of fun and adventure. It embodied the spirit of a nation on the move..." The Route 66 Preservation Foundation works toward "the preservation and benefit of the Route 66 corridor and its community" including parts in California. Part of their effort is support for the California Desert Protection Act of 2010, which would include some lands managed by BLM California.

A man wears a headlamp inside a mine"California Gold Country raises objections to reopening mines"
(Sacramento Bee, 11/22/10)
"Despite sky-high prices and the state's rich gold legacy, the industry here is mostly dormant. California trails the leading gold-producing state, Nevada, by a wide margin ... A California revival is hardly imminent ... Standing in the way: scarcity of capital and strict environmental standards. There's a cultural issue, too. Old mining towns still embrace their Gold Rush roots but have become havens for tourists and retirees."

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Listings include administrative assistant, assistant fire engine operator and hotshot wildland firefighter.

Find more details -- and more events -- online at:

Nov. 30 - Public meeting on Clear Creek mining claims

Dec. 2 - Kanaka Valley community planning meeting

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(e.) Ben Franklin thought the wild turkey would be a better choice than the bald eagle for the national symbol of the U.S.

SOURCE: "Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)" (Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment)
"Benjamin Franklin wanted wild turkeys to be our national symbol instead of the bald eagle. He felt that the stately, majestic qualities of the wild turkey would make it a fine symbol for the new country."

"A much more respectable bird" (U.S. Library of Congress)
"For in truth, the Turk'y is in comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America." (from the partial transcript of a letter from Ben Franklin to his daughter, actually criticizing "the new American hereditary military order of the Society of Cincinnati" and its choice of a bald eagle for its symbol.)

A flock of wild turkeysA woman shoos away a turkey with a broom"Truths and myths about wild turkey" (Purdue University)
"Many human-turkey interactions in which turkeys were confirmed to be a nuisance have involved pen-raised or hybrid birds – not wild turkeys ... True wildturkeys are very wary of people and will flee when approached." Biologists raise concerns about pen-raised turkeys cross-breeding with wild turkeys, because of "nuisance birds, the spread of disease from domestic flocks to wild turkey populations and the loss of genetic integrity of wild turkey stocks through hybridization." PDF file:

"Wild Turkey - Meleagris gallopavo" (BLM-California wildlife database)
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