A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 459 - 12/2/10
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted public lands topics
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- America's Great Outdoors
- ARRA: American Reinvestment and Recovery Act
Wild horses and burros
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Cobell, fracking, climate change
This issue of News.bytes is online at:
|HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Fire crews seek answers in Coachella Valley Preserve fire" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 11/30/10)
"The fire burned live palm fronds and the dead fronds that form a skirt on about 90 native California fan palms in the Willis Oasis ... Palm fronds are expected to grow back on many of the trees next spring. But the trees will be without full skirts for years, which the bureau said would affect birds, bats and small mammals that live in the preserve. Fire investigators are still looking into what sparked the blaze..."
RELATED: "Crews mop up palm grove fire" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 11/28/10)
Photos related to the story above.
RELATED: "Burned palm tree oasis should recover" (BLM news release, 11/30/10)
Many of the approximately 90 native California fan palms in the Willis Oasis portion of the Coachella Valley Preserve that burned last Friday, Nov. 26, should recover. BLM, CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department, and the U.S. Forest Service responded to the fire, the cause of which remains under investigation.
"Conservancy looking to restore first Japanese colony in North America" (Sacramento Bee, 11/28/10)
"They crossed an ocean to escape oppression, looking for a haven in America. They founded a colony and tried to grow crops to survive." Not pilgrims, but "the Wakamatsu tea and silk colony founded in 1869 near Placerville -- the first Japanese colony in North America ... Today, the American River Conservancy ... is making a rare attempt to manage a historic and cultural resource." A bill pending in Congress would authorize the BLM to acquire the Gold Hill Ranch site from willing sellers and preserve it as a site of historical and cultural value. The Gold Hill-Wakamatsu Preservation Act (S. 1596/ H.R. 4108) was introduced in 2009.
"San Diego County pot raids net $1 billion in seizures" (Los Angeles Times, 12/1/10)
"The overall number of marijuana plants seized in San Diego County this year declined from last year, but the number seized on the county's vast tracts of public land increased ... For 2011, officials are vowing to increase surveillance on public lands, particularly those controlled by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management."
"State, federal agencies likely to take land" (Stockton Record, 11/30/10)
"New owners ... may soon be designated to take control of thousands of acres Pacific Gas and Electric Co. holds along the Mokelumne River and nearby high-country lakes. The transfer of the lands is required by PG&E's 2003 bankruptcy settlement ... The Stewardship Council board is scheduled to vote Thursday on recommendations that Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management should be the new owners of PG&E land along the North Fork Mokelumne."
"A water-providing marvel -- and a 'death trap'" (Los Angeles Times, 11/26/10)
"The All-American Canal, long an engineering, hydrological and agricultural wonder, has had another reputation in recent years: the spot where hundreds have drowned trying to make their way north." A public-service message from agencies including BLM aims to increase safety.
"Forum focuses on off-roading flashpoints" (Hi-Desert Star, 11/27/10)
People at "a packed public forum" heard discussions of off-road vehicle issues. "Steve Razo of the BLM's California Desert District said, 'One of the biggest challenges we have in the Desert District is checkerboards of private, state and federal lands up against each other, with off-road or recreational activities through those areas ... What’s happening here tonight is the best way to deal with it -- get together, talk about it and understand it'."
"BLM announces openings for northern California firefighting positions" (BLM news release, 12/1/10)
The BLM is accepting applications for summer seasonal fire fighting jobs on Northern California fire engine crews, a helicopter-borne fire crew and the Diamond Mountain Interagency Hotshots. Also available are positions in the agency’s hazardous fuels reduction program which focuses on projects to reduce wildfire danger.
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include state director, archaeologist, fire logistics dispatcher and other firefighting positions.
"Power line project faces challenges in California valley" (New York Times, 11/27/10)
San Diego Gas & Electric chairman calls the area around El Centro “the most productive renewable energy fields in the world ... Where else in the world in the same area do you have wind, spectacular solar and geothermal?" But "in what may be a dress rehearsal for skirmishes across the country over renewable energy and transmission," SDG&E "has spent seven years and $100 million trying to start work on a 117-mile high-voltage line to reach the resources of El Centro." The BLM and other agencies have approved the line.
"Government denies cutting corners in solar farm" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/30/10)
"Responding to a lawsuit by an Indian tribe, government lawyers said Monday that officials properly approved a 10-square mile solar farm to power San Diego and asked a judge not to stop the project. The Quechan Indian tribe has sued in San Diego federal court to stop the Imperial Valley Solar project," saying "the environmental reviews of the project didn't fully consider the impact on artifacts and sacred sites."
"Can Imperial County come back from the dust?" (San Diego Reader, 12/1/10)
"The feat of irrigating a desert seems also to generate a bumper crop of grand dreams." When the BLM "approved the largest solar-electric project ever on federal lands in Imperial County ... many took it as a sign that dreams can come true ... A single desert county, albeit one the size of Connecticut, powering the state without pollution ... And, possibly, without many workers or much in the way of local taxes, due to exemptions for solar projects. And there’s the rub. Imperial County has a renewable-energy dream for the future, while the vast valley provides a nightmarish economy for many in the present."
"Calif. reinstates Tessera solar project approval" (Reuters, 12/1/10)
"The California Energy Commission reinstated approval for a controversial $2 billion solar power plant to be built by NTR's Tessera Solar that opponents had said was wrongly licensed."
UPDATE TO: "Solar project hits a procedural glitch" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 11/30/10)
"A solar project approved last month on public land east of Barstow faces permitting delays because labor groups said the California Energy Commission failed to provide key environmental findings after making the decision." The commission reinstated the approval yesterday.
"Solar Millennium submits ground-squirrel plan" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 12/2/10)
Solar Millennium, developer of a proposed solar power plant near Ridgecrest, "has submitted its revised Mohave-ground-squirrel connectivity study plan to the California Energy Commission, and approval is expected this week." The company also plans to record data on desert tortoises. "This information will be entered into a special database and made available to the responsible agencies, including California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management."
"Veterans searching for purpose back home take on 'green' jobs" (Denver Post, 12/1/10)
Story of "a growing number of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans turning to trades aimed at improving the environment as they struggle to adjust. Some say being outdoors helps their heads. Others say they just want to be able to see the result of their labor, team up with fellow soldiers again and help push the nation off its addiction to foreign oil."
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
An anthropomorphized raccoon would be most wise to reject advice from:
(a.) Dear Abby
(b.) Gamblers Anonymous
(c.) Weight Watchers
Web tip: type "define: anthropomorphized" into Google search to see definitions of the word.
--> See answer near the end of this issue.
|AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"Green future for Desert Discovery Center" (News.bytes Extra)
The Barstow community rallied round the Desert Discovery Center’s open house recently to see how the center’s expansion and renovation will incorporate sustainable technologies and energy efficient design features. New features will include an outdoor classroom, as well as public park land enabling visitors to explore the natural, cultural, and historic resources associated with the Mojave Desert.
"Two BLM-Californians presented with Excellence in Interpretation or Environmental Education Awards" (News.bytes Extra)
The BLM recognized outstanding BLM interpreters and educators at the National Association for Interpretation National Workshop. Honored at the Nov. 18 ceremony were Rachel Sowards-Thompson, interpretive outdoor recreation specialist with the BLM's King Range National Conservation Area and Joyce "Joya" Szalwinksi, interpretive park ranger with the BLM's El Centro Field Office.
"Astronomy topic of first King Range winter lecture series" (BLM news release, 12/2/10)
Astronomer and physics professor Dr. David Kornreich will present "Beyond the Clouds: Astronomy," Tuesday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. in Redway. Call or email for reservations.
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"Holiday wild horse and burro adoption in Redlands" (BLM news release, 11/29/10)
The BLM may have the perfect gift for that special someone on your holiday list. Six black burros and 10 wild horses, including tri-colored Pintos and large two-year-old bay horses, will be offered for adoption at $125 each on Saturday, Dec. 11 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., first come, first served. On Friday afternoon, Dec. 10, from 1 to 5, you may preview the animals available for adoption.
"BLM to reduce wild horse fertility to limit roundups" (Sacramento Bee, 11/28/10)
"The federal Bureau of Land Management plans to use a fertility suppressant on hundreds of wild horses that it will capture in roundups this year. If the 'catch, treat and release' approach works, it could result in fewer of the controversial roundups in years to come, said BLM spokesman Tom Gorey."
|ARRA - BLM FUNDS UNDER THE AMERICAN RECOVERY AND REINVESTMENT ACT OF 2009
The project below was funded with part of approximately $40 million in ARRA funds appropriated to BLM-California.
|"Fort Ord ARRA projects improve emergency access" (News.bytes Extra)
Infrastructure work at Fort Ord funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide better access for fire suppression and emergency response. The BLM’s Hollister Field Office received $1.17 million in ARRA funding to repair roads and replace culverts. The roads provide primary access to Fort Ord lands for fire suppression and emergency medical response.
|NATIONAL AND/OR DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"House clears Indian, black farmer settlements" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30/10)
"The package would award some $3.4 billion to American Indians over claims they were cheated out of royalties overseen by the Interior Department for resources like oil, gas and timber ... The settlements have broad bipartisan support but had stalled on Capitol Hill over costs until the Senate broke a stalemate earlier this month."
"U.S. weighs disclosure rules for natural gas drillers" (National Geographic,12/1/10)
"The Obama administration, while weighing new chemical disclosure requirements for the natural gas industry when it operates on public lands, signaled support for the drilling boom that technological advance has spurred in the United States."
RELATED: "Interior may force drillers to disclose chemicals" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30/10)
Policy would affect companies drilling for natural gas on public lands using hydraulic fracturing. "Also known as 'fracking,' the process involves pumping millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals underground to force open channels so natural gas will flow.
RELATED: "Secrecy of fracking chemicals takes Beltway spotlight" (Reuters, 12/1/10)
At a forum, a critic said of the natural gas industry, "It’s not as if it looks like the industry is hiding something. They are hiding something.” An industry association spokesman said, “If you give them enough fear, people can be scared of chemicals … The fact that we’ve been diverted on this path about chemicals … is an orchestrated effort to try to terrify lots of people.”
"GAO report: U.S. loses royalties as oil and gas drillers vent methane" (Greenwire at New York Times, 12/1/10)
"Oil and gas operators could economically capture nearly half their flared or vented natural gas on federal land to boost government royalties and reduce heat-trapping emissions, the Government Accountability Office said in a report..."
"New web pages present BLM's response to climate change" (BLM national news release, 11/29/10)
“Public lands managed by the BLM are facing widespread environmental challenges that transcend traditional management boundaries,” said BLM Director Bob Abbey. “These challenges include managing wildfire, controlling weeds and insect outbreaks, providing for energy development, and addressing impacts from climate change.” These new web pages highlight two connected initiatives the BLM is undertaking to address these complex resource management issues.
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) Weight Watchers
SOURCE: "Common raccoon - Procyon lotor" (BLM California wildlife database)
During cold weather, raccoons may sleep for days or months at a time, but they do not hibernate. They are able to sleep for so long without eating because about 1/3 of their body weight is stored fat.
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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
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