A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 462 - 12/21/10

A mustang wears a Santa hat white polar bear cubs in the snow A girl smiles at a snake draped over her shoulders Snoopy costumed person on floatTwo men stand among solar panels


- Happy holidays!
- NLCS 10th anniversary recap
- NLCS Free Offer
- Renewable energy
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Headlines and highlights: Rare earth mine, jobs, more
This issue of News.bytes is online at:


A mustang wears a Santa hata burro wears a Santa hat"Mustangs and burros help Santa deliver toys"
(News.bytes Extra)
They won’t fit down a chimney or pull a sleigh through the air, but mustangs still helped Santa deliver toys to good girls and boys this year. A half-dozen BLM employees and volunteers rode their mustangs and trailed their burros as part of the West Sacramento Trail Rider’s Association toy drive this year.

Snoopy costumed person on float"Balmy weather aids success of Olde Fashioned Christmas" (Needles Desert Star, 12/13/10)
"The Needles Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management took third place in the float category of the Olde Fashioned Christmas Parade with this portrayal of what may well be the town's most famous resident." The entry featured Spike, from Charles Schultz's "Peanuts" cartoons.

This issue is our last for 2010 -- and the News.Bytes team signs off for the year by highlighting the National Landscape Conservation System. See you in 2011!

NLCS: BLM Celebrates 10th Anniversary "California-Style!"
A girl smiles at a snake draped over her shouldersBearded 49er miner speaks into a microphoneThanks to our many partners, gateway communities, and other supporters, more than two dozen events were held throughout the State to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the National Landscape Conservation System. A special feature highlighting these events can be viewed at:

Nationally, Secretary Ken Salazar marked the anniversary by issuing a Secretarial Order setting policy for the future management of these the special areas within the NLCS, available as a PDF file:

from a poster showing large rocks off shoreThere is also a limited supply of commemorative items such as posters, brochures, bookmarks and other items still available from BLM field offices statewide - contact your local field office for information.

So, Happy Birthday NLCS! -- and the dozens of special areas in California that are part of that system. For a list of these areas and more information, visit our NLCS web page:

Scan of NLCS brochure cover, with a coastal sceneFREE OFFER: NLCS brochure with map
Large (42 inches by 30 inches) foldout pamphlet and map of the National Landscape Conservation System, including 886 areas that have been designated by Presidents or Congress for their special values -- including national monuments, national conservation areas, wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, wild and scenic rivers, and national scenic and historic trails. One side in English, other side in Spanish.

The sun rises behind a palm treeA patch of white flowers among desert dunesRocks among a coastal poolMoss-covered trees and green shrubberyGreen grass slopes down from under tree branches
As featured in News.bytes this spring: You can see these and more photos from the BLM's National Landscape Conservation System every day -- on your computer monitor. Follow the link to the size you want, then right-click the photo and choose "Set as Background" (or similar wording, depending on your browser). On a Mac with Safari browser, control-click on the photo and select "Use Image as Desktop Picture." (Note: Due to a quirk in our web management software, you will need to change the ".gif" at the end of the file name to ".jpg.")

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

Two men stand among solar panels"Obama administration unveils blueprint for solar energy development in West" (Washington Post, 12/16/10)
"The Obama administration issued proposed guidelines Thursday for solar development on public lands in the West, a move that could speed renewable energy projects that have been mired in environmental controversy ... Under the 10,000-page plan, which is now subject to public comment for 90 days, developers would have a higher level of confidence that they could receive federal permits establishing solar ventures in specific areas in states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah."

RELATED: "New program could fast-track solar projects" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 12/17/10)
"Researchers looked for flat, sunny land where projects would pose little threat to the environment or to other natural resources. Bureau of Land Management director Bob Abbey said his agency will continue to evaluate individual proposals, but the process would be 'much expedited' for those companies that apply to build in eastern Riverside County and other solar energy zones."

RELATED: "U.S. selects 24 solar power zones to streamline project approvals" (Bloomberg, 12/16/10)
"The decision would create an environmental-impact evaluation before developers apply for permission to build and may speed the application process, Salazar said. Early approval could also identify the best use of existing transmission lines, he said."

RELATED: "Site near Newberry Springs designated prime solar energy zone" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 12/16/10)
"An area 20 miles from Newberry Springs was identified Thursday as one of 24 prime 'solar energy zones' in a draft of a plan designed to speed the development of alternative energy projects."

"BLM initiates environment review of proposed wind energy project; Scoping meetings scheduled for Ocotillo and El Centro" (BLM news release, 12/16/10)
Ocotillo Express, LLC's proposed wind generation power plant facility approximately 30 miles west of El Centro would generate 550 megawatts of wind energy on 15,000 acres (23.4 square miles) of mostly public lands administered by BLM, as well a small portion of land under the jurisdiction of Imperial County. The BLM will hold public scoping meetings for the review in Ocotillo and El Centro in early January.

sketch of molten solar configuration"California says yes to molten solar" (CNET News, 12/16/10)
SolarReserve's Rice Solar Energy Project, 30 miles from Blythe: "The molten salt system will enable the solar farm to store and release solar energy so that it can continue to generate electricity for up to eight hours after sunset, according to SolarReserve." The company reports that it was approved by the California Energy Commission, but "still needs to receive approvals from both the Bureau of Land Management and the Western Area Power Administration."

round parabolic mirrors reflect the sunA protestor in a red headband near a "Hasta this vista" sign"Federal judge halts first large-scale solar project on public lands" (East County Magazine, 12/16/10)
A judge "issued a temporary restraining order halting construction on the first massive desert solar project authorized on public lands -- a project that if built, would be one of the largest solar power plants in the world ... The Court ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management failed to adequately consult with the [Quechan] tribe regarding protection of 459 cultural resources identified at 300 locations on the site in Imperial County."

RELATED: "Judge blocks Imperial Valley solar project" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/17/10)
"Tessera Solar, the company behind the Imperial Valley Solar project, warned that unless it began the project before Dec. 31, it was at risk of losing $600 million in federal stimulus funding. Without that funding, the company warned, the project would likely not go forward."

"Big challenges for big solar in California's deserts" (KPCC Southern California Public Radio, 12/20/10)
"'Fast-track' solar hasn't moved that fast -- just a few months ago the first of these projects gained go-aheads. The environmental assessment process has taken 18-24 months. There are still fewer than a dozen in California, Nevada and Arizona. But with several projects now breaking ground, Californians are looking closely at wind and solar projects, where they're sited and what impacts they'll have."

"BLM and CPUC announce final joint environmental review of Eldorado-Ivanpah Transmission Project" (BLM news release, 12/17/10)
Southern California Edison has applied for a right-of-way authorization to upgrade and replace approximately 35 miles of an existing 115-kilovolt transmission line on public lands with a new double circuit 230-kV transmission line -- to handle electricity from several renewable energy project proposals in and around the Ivanpah Valley. The joint FEIR/FEIS is now available for a 30-day public review ending January 17, 2011.


white polar bear cubs in the snow
polar bear cubs
To mark the holiday and winter seasons, we head north out of California toward the North Pole. Polar bears:
(a.) turn brown during the summer months, then regrow white fur in the fall.
(b.) evolved from Novosibirsk white bears that crossed the former land bridge from Siberia.
(c.) actually live near the South Pole, not the North Pole.
(d.) evolved from brown bears, adapting white fur for life amid snow and ice.
(e.) are known to befriend sea lions in online social networks, not always to the benefit of the sea lions.

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

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

"BLM seeking comments on proposed horse gather" (BLM news release, 12/16/10)
The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comments on issues to be considered in an Environmental Assessment for a proposed roundup of excess wild horses from the Fox-Hog, High Rock, Bitner and Wall Canyon herd management areas in far northwest Nevada. The roundups are being evaluated collectively as the High Rock Complex. Comments are being accepted during a 30-day "scoping" period, Dec. 15, 2010 to Jan. 15, 2011. The area is managed by BLM-California's Surprise Field Office.


industrial structures spread out over a hillsideIndustrial structures in a small valley"Mining demand for rare earths" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/18/10)
An old mine in eastern San Bernardino County holds "rare earths ... essential ingredients in the manufacture of everything from fighter jets to hybrid cars to cellular phones. For more than a half century, rare earths ... were extracted ... at Mountain Pass, an open-pit mine about an hour's drive southeast from Las Vegas that, in its heyday, was the world's foremost supplier. But mining ceased in 2002 in the wake of environmental problems and low-cost competition from China. This month, Colorado-based Molycorp Minerals is launching a $531 million plan to build a state-of-the-art new processing facility and resume digging..." The BLM is monitoring the cleanup from the prior operation.

People stand among the tall rocks of the Alabama Hills"The hills have ayes" (The Inyo Register, 12/18/10)
County supervisors vote 4-1 to support the "Alabama Hills Stewardship Group’s efforts to have a federal designation placed over the Alabama Hills." One supervisor said he "did not support more land designations in the county," but "the four remaining board members said they will continue to support the proposed National Scenic Area designation as long as more land use restrictions are not added on in the future."

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
See current listings.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) evolved from brown bears, adapting white fur for life amid snow and ice.

SOURCE: "Polar bear" (Alaska Department of Fish & Game)
Polar bears evolved from brown bears and are still closely related, as demonstrated by matings and production of fertile offspring in zoos, and hybrids found in the wild.

RELATED: "Polar bear information" (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
Links to news, fact sheet, photos, video and more.
- 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

We appreciate feedback. Send comments to the News.bytes team at:

To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to:
OR visit our News.bytes subscription page at: http://www.blm.gov/ca/caso/getnewsbytes.html.