A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 460 - 12/9/10

a very heavyset salamander visitors walk up path toward lighthouse Smokey Bear smiles from front seat of a truck a river flows through a rocky gorge wild mustangs on the range


- Renewable energy
- Wild horses and burros
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- America's Great Outdoors
- Headlines and highlights: Smokey, award, pot resolution
- Selected upcoming events
- National items: National Landscape Conservation System
This issue of News.bytes is online at:

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

solar power plants flare across the desert in this sketch"Renewable power is heating up fast in California" (San Francisco Chronicle with Bloomberg News, 12/7/10)
"California's electric utilities have spent the last four years scrambling to meet an aggressive goal set by the state - get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by the end of 2010. They won't make it. But they won't miss by much. And the process of trying to reach that goal has helped make California the center of renewable power development in the United States, although the cost to consumers remains to be seen."

"Oakland invades the desert" (East Bay Express, 12/8/10)
"The entire California desert is under siege by solar power developers, thanks to federal incentives promoting renewable energy that expire at the end of the year, along with California's call for public utilities to draw 33 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020 ... both the California Energy Commission and Bureau of Land Management have approved seven huge solar plants on federal land in the desert since late August, and more are on the way ... a surprisingly large number of them will be built by companies based right here in the East Bay."

"Local leaders create plan for renewable energy industries" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 12/8/10)
Community leaders hear proposal for "a plan to bring renewable energy technology ... in a way that will be beneficial to area stakeholders, instead of waiting for large outside companies" to set the agenda. "Doing nothing is unacceptable," said China Lake Alliance Executive Director Mick Gleason. "There are currently 13 pending applications for solar projects alone in eastern Kern County."

looking up into framework of an electric powerline towerdetail from map of power line route across southern California"Sunrise Powerlink breaking ground next week" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/3/10)
San Diego Gas & Electric's Sunrise Powerlink: "After years of legal fights and regulatory approvals, SDG&E ... will begin work on a section to actually carry power. The move is significant because it marks the first work on an actual section of the line. Prior work earlier this year involved setting up construction sites and upgrading substations to deal with the increased power." The BLM approved rights-of-way for part of the line, proposed to bring renewable power from the Imperial Valley to San Diego area.

"New Altamont wind turbines aim to cut bird deaths" (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/7/10)
"The largest wind-power company in the Altamont Pass will replace thousands of turbines as part of a settlement with lawmakers and environmental groups hoping to reduce the number of golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and other birds killed each year by the whirring blades ... 'This is the first chance across the nation to take what was learned about turbines over the last 30 years and put it into use,' said Mark Welther, executive director of the Golden Gate Audubon Society." (These towers are not on BLM-managed lands.)

"CEC okays squirrel study plan" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 12/7/10)
"The California Energy, in consultation with the California Department of Fish and Game and the Bureau of Land Management, approved Solar Millennium's proposed two-year Mohave ground squirrel study." The study is for a solar-thermal electric power generating facility with "a nominal output of 250 megawatts, consisting of a single power plant utilizing two solar fields ... The project right-of-way, for which a ROW grant sought by the applicant from the Bureau of Land Management, will extend across approximately 3,920 acres of public lands..."


2 horses look through a fencetwo burros in a corral"Welcome to the BLM Redlands wild horse and burro adoption at Sundance Ranch!" (BLM website)
This weekend: Wild horse and burro adoption at the Sundance Ranch in Redlands, CA. Saturday D
ec. 11, From 8:00 am - 3:00 pm. Animals may be previewed on Friday, December 10 from 1:00 - 3:00 pm. silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroCall 1-800-951-8720 for more information. Meet the animals:

Man holds horse by reins"Application deadline nears for Mustang Makeover" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/2/10)
"Not many things are a more perfect match than the city of Norco and the Extreme Mustang Makeover event, which will return next year to Horsetown USA. In May, this one-of-a-kind equestrian event will test the horsemanship skills of trainers who will have 90-days to take a wild American mustang from undomesticated to competing in saddle competition ... On May 15, the public will have the chance to adopt the mustangs that competed in the event, with the animals going to the highest bidder. Adopters must be pre-approved by the Bureau of Land Management."

"BLM releases report by independent observers on handling of animals at three wild horse gathers" (BLM news release, 12/3/10)
The report prepared by four independent, credentialed equine professionals concerns the care and handling of wild horses and burros at three major gathers or round-ups held over the summer. The full report, accessible at the BLM's national website, made several observations and findings, including the observation that, in general, "horses did not exhibit undue stress or show signs of extreme sweating or duress due to the helicopter portion of the gather, maintaining a trot or canter gait only as they entered the wings of the trap..."

"Statement of BLM Director Bob Abbey on 'Summit of the Horse'" (BLM national news release, 12/3/10)
"As Director of the Bureau of Land Management, which manages America's public lands for multiple uses, I am committed to meeting with diverse stakeholders who have an interest in public land management issues. I have therefore tentatively accepted an invitation to speak at an event called 'Summit of the Horse,' sponsored by the United Horsemen organization, which will be held Jan. 3-6, 2011, in Las Vegas."

wild mustangs on the rangeWoman stands on grassland with mountain peaks in distance"Mustang lover roils the range" (The Wall Street Journal,12/7/10)
"Nevada cattle ranchers, having long battled the land's harsh elements, now find themselves up against a new force of nature: Madeleine Pickens ... wife of Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, caused an uproar when she proposed the Bureau of Land Management let her fence off more than 500,000 acres of federal land to create a sanctuary for wild horses near a 14,000-acre ranch she bought ... ranchers worry Mrs. Pickens's plan threatens to force them off the range. Nevada's estimated 450,000 cattle graze mostly on federally owned lands in a practice dating from the 19th century."


a very heavyset salamander
Pacific giant salamander
The Pacific giant salamander is SO large that it:
(a.) bends over small bushes to eat the tender leaves at the top.
(b.) is unable to cross mudflats that smaller salamanders navigate easily.
(c.) weighs too much to climb most bushes.
(d.) eats snakes.
(e.) is used for transportation in some rural communities.

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

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

visitors walk up path toward lighthouse"Spotlight on lighthouse" (The Cambrian, 12/2/10)
"Much is new at the old Piedras Blancas Light Station, about 6 miles north of Old San Simeon Village on Highway 1. Accomplishments range from several restored or replaced buildings and new pathways around the scenic point to an entirely new board of directors for the historic station’s nonprofit foundation. The site is one of three sites officially designated as a national outstanding natural area, and is on the National Register of Historic Places."

RELATED: "Piedras Blancas Light Station" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
The lighthouse was completed in 1875. A two story Victorian style dwelling was completed later that year. The original tower was 110 feet tall and housed a first-order Fresnel lens. Structural damage to the tower and new technology eventually replaced many of the functions of the lightkeepers as they became automated.

"Guided hike, volunteer day planned for Alabama Hills" (BLM news release, 12/3/10)
On Saturday, Dec. 11, Dave Kirk, Alabama Hills steward for the Bureau of Land Management’s Bishop Field Office, will lead a guided hike. The Alabama Hills Stewardship Group and BLM Bishop Field Office will sponsor a volunteer day on Saturday, Dec. 18. Volunteers will restore a formerly disturbed area by broadcasting native plant seed and mulching.

rocky trail on a hillsidea river flows through a rocky gorge"Trail a great winter hike" (Merced Sun-Star, 12/8/10)
Outdoor columnist: "The Merced River Trail is a great place to hike anytime the weather isn't too hot -- just don't try it in the middle of the summer! ... There are some nice wildflower displays along the river in March and April, and the legendary Hite's Cove wildflower trail is only a few miles further east." Several camping locations are available. "Call the BLM ... to check [road] conditions before you go."

"Palm Desert art show to benefit Friends of the Desert Mountains" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 12/8/10)
"More than a dozen local artisans will participate in an art show and sale at the [Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains] National Monument Visitor Center Saturday in Palm Desert. The art show is free to the public. Proceeds will benefit Friends of the Desert Mountains, a nonprofit organization that purchases property for public conservation and conducts educational programs."


Smokey Bear smiles from front seat of a truck"Smokey's ride: Buckle up for the holidays!" (News.bytes Photo Extra)
André Jeanpierre of BLM's Bakersfield Field Office transports Smokey Bear -- safely strapped into his seatbelt -- to downtown Bakersfield. Smokey was slated to ride on the BLM float during the annual Christmas Parade. Jeanpierre was driving one of the vehicles that carried presents and escorted the float.

"Herger's pot resolution passes overwhelmingly" (Redding Record Searchlight, 12/8/10)
"A resolution authored by U.S. Rep. Wally Herger geared toward urging federal agencies to take a more active role in getting pot growers off public lands passed the House overwhelmingly today ... Saying that local law enforcement agencies haven’t received enough manpower or funding from the federal government, whose land the growers are exploiting, Herger urges the Office of National Drug Control Policy to 'develop a comprehensive and coordinated strategy' to fight drug trafficking."

"Southern Humboldt BLM employee wins National Interpretation Award" (Redwood Times, 12/8/10)
Profile of Rachel Sowards-Thompson. "It is not uncommon for BLM career employees to have degrees from Humboldt State University in Arcata. The school is known for their College of Natural Resources and Sciences. Rachel has a bachelor’s degree from Humboldt State and it’s a science degree -- however, it is in political science. So, how did she jump from politics to outdoor recreation?"

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Visit this site for the latest listings.


"National Landscape Conservation System" (KUER University of Utah, 12/7/10)
"The National Landscape Conservation System has been around for a decade, but its profile was raised just last month when the Secretary of the Interior issued a new order making conservation the highest priority for its management. The NLCS includes all the wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, national conservation areas and national monuments managed by the Bureau of Land Management." Radio interview with NLCS Director Carl Rountree. (mp3 file, time 6:35)

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) eats snakes.

SOURCE: "Pacific Giant Salamander - Dicamptodon ensatus" (BLM California wildlife database)
Pacific giant salamanders are among the largest salamanders that occur in California. Their large size allows them to eat animals such as snakes and small rodents.

More California wildlife:

red and gray fox caught in the flash of a camera"More rare red foxes found in Sierra" (The Sacramento Bee, 12/5/10)
"Researchers have found more rare Sierra Nevada red foxes near Sonora Pass, confirming that one of America's rarest mammals hangs on as a surviving population where it was long feared extinct ... The species once lived at high elevations throughout the Sierra Nevada. Trapping in the early 1900s and habitat loss reduced it to about 20 foxes in the Lassen Peak area ... The latest findings include pictures of as many as four different foxes visiting camera bait stations ..."

side view of red foxRELATED: "Red Fox - Vulpes vulpes" (BLM-California wildlife database)
The Sierra Nevada red fox is a subspecies of this species of fox. Red foxes have a diverse diet, and they will change their eating patterns to accommodate the season and habitat. Red foxes most commonly eat small mammals such as rabbits and voles, but will also eat eat birds, berries, and insects.
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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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