A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 463 - 1/6/11

mountains against a deep blue sky baby birds stand alert a dune buggy spits up a sand plume as the rider starts down a dune two horses stand in corral A red helicopter lands near a pickup truck


- Wilderness policy
- America's Great Outdoors
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Environmental education
- Wild horses and burros
- Renewable energy
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted public lands topics
This issue of News.bytes is online at:


"Pristine areas of the West are again preserved" (Los Angeles Times, 12/24/10)
"Restoring a policy abandoned by the George W. Bush administration, the top Interior official on Thursday gave the agency that manages 245 million acres of public land the authority to temporarily protect pristine areas of the West. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who issued the order, called it 'a new chapter in terms of how we take care of our Bureau of Land Management lands'."

"Wilderness rules restored for public lands" (Associated Press in Sacramento Bee, 12/23/10)
The 2003 policy being replaced -- "derided by some as the 'No More Wilderness' policy -- stated that new areas could not be recommended for wilderness protection by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and it opened millions of acres to potential commercial development."

"Salazar, Abby restore protections for America's wild lands" (Department of the Interior press release, 12/29/10)
Secretarial Order 3310 directs the Bureau of Land Management, based on the input of the public and local communities through its existing land management planning process, to designate appropriate areas with wilderness characteristics under its jurisdiction as "Wild Lands" and to manage them to protect their wilderness values.

"Sportsmen hail wilderness policy change" (Denver Post, 1/2/11)
"Seven years ago, former Interior Secretary Gale Norton used an unprecedented interpretation of federal law ... to remove federal protections" to areas "across the West, making them vulnerable to activities such as mining, drilling and off-highway vehicle overuse and abuse. These public lands are vital winter range for mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain lions and other species."

"Wilderness policy sparks Western ire" (Wall Street Journal, 12/30/10)
"An Obama administration directive designed to preserve more public lands as wilderness is stirring anger in the West, where ranchers, sportsmen and energy companies say they could lose access to acreage they count on for their recreation and livelihood. The regulatory change ... directs the Bureau of Land Management to survey its vast holdings ... in search of unspoiled back country. The agency can then designate these tracts -- potentially millions of acres -- as "wild lands."

"A new day for wilderness" (New York Times, 12/28/10)
Editorial: "The 'no more wilderness' policy did more than threaten some of Utah’s most fragile wild lands. What it said, in effect, was that none of the lands administered by the department’s Bureau of Land Management, about 250 million acres, mostly in the Rocky Mountain West, would be considered for wilderness designation. Last week, in a very welcome move, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar reversed the Norton/Leavitt agreement..."

"Interior right to end 'no more wilderness' policy" (The Denver Post, 12/29/10)
Editorial: "The BLM will once again have the power to set aside tracts of unspoiled land while Congress contemplates whether to give those areas permanent protection against energy exploration and other activities ... Yet the policy change has provoked criticism from some who call it a monumental land grab that amounts to a gift to radical environmentalists. Such a characterization ignores history and distorts the potential impact."

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

mountains against a deep blue sky"The most brutal hike" (Palm Springs Life, January 2011)
Photographer Tom Brewster, on "his latest mission in documenting the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" ran into countless dead ends, lost the trail, spent a sleepless night, and had a less than fully fun time. "But blistered feet heal, and the worst nights in the wilderness are soon forgotten. The next month, Brewster would be out again, seeking unknown corners" of the monument. Includes several photos.

Photo of smiling manRELATED: "Monument man loves his job" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 1/3/11)
Question-and-answer with Jim Foote, BLM manager of the Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. Includes video (59 seconds).

RELATED: "Calling all dogs, dog owners"
(Palm Springs Desert Sun, 1/4/11)
A monthly event (through March) "offers dogs and their owners a chance for some exercise and to learn about dog-friendly trails in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. Bureau of Land Management Ranger Emily Hoerner will lead the hike."

RELATED: "Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)

"Hike to Anza-Borrego Desert's Rockhouse Valley" (San Diego Reader, 12/26/10)
"Most of the hike is on federal Bureau of Land Management land, and one leaves San Diego County and enters Riverside County early into the hike."

two sand buggies stop atop a dunea dune buggy spits up a sand plume as the rider starts down a dune"Holiday draws riders from near and far to local sand dunes" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/2/11)
Scenes from "Glamis area of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area this weekend as off-roaders came from near and far to enjoy some time on their quads, motorcycles and buggies." Includes video.

"Annual dunes cleanup is Jan. 15"
(Yuma Sun, 1/2/11)
"The 14th annual Sand Dunes Cleanup will be Jan. 15, and the United Desert Gateway invites all “desert enthusiasts” to join in the effort to rid the dunes of trash ... 'The annual cleanup is an important date on any duner's calendar and is vital to the sustainability of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area'."

A ranger tends to a simulated crash victimA red helicopter lands near a pickup truck"BLM field offices prepare for dunes OHV season with emergency training
(News.bytes Extra)
Personnel from the BLM's El Centro and Bakersfield Field Offices trained for the winter off-highway vehicle season. Training included emergency medical response and proper handling of sand dune vehicles -- culminating in a simulated mass casualty incident in the Imperial Sand Dunes.

"January activities planned for Alabama Hills" (BLM news release, 1/5/11)
Interpretive hikes to view natural arches and a volunteer day to restore native plants are among the activities planned for the Alabama Hills area in January.

"BLM Ukiah Field Office offers bald eagle hikes" (BLM news release, 1/3/11)
The Bureau of Land Management will host free guided hikes to look for wintering bald eagles in the Cache Creek Natural Area in Lake County on Saturdays, Jan. 15, 22 and 29, and Feb. 5, 12, 19 and 26. Those interested in participating should reserve space for a specific date. Early reservations are suggested for the popular hikes, which are limited to 25 participants each.

"Free talk will explore the world of phytoplankton"(BLM news release, 1/3/11)
The fascinating world of phytoplankton, producers of half the entire world’s oxygen, will be featured in a talk by Bureau of Land Management Interpreter Rachel Sowards-Thompson, Tuesday, Jan. 11, at 7 p.m.  at the BLM King Range Project Office on Shelter Cove Road in Whitethorn.


a small bird on a beach
western snow plover
Western snowy plovers:
(a.) Locate prey with echolocation, similar to bats
(b.) Can locate hibernating insects under the snow
(c.) Commonly nest among barbed wire to protect their young
(d.) Can't fly, but run very fast
(e.) Don't feed their chicks
(f.) Came West to get away from the snow, but ended up in snowy mountain areas anyway

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


close up of desert tortoisea horse and a burro in a corral"BLM introduces Girl Scouts to horse, burro, tortoises" (News.bytes Extra)
BLM staff brought a mustang, a burro and desert tortoises to the B.I.G (Believe in Girls) Expo last month at the Palm Springs Convention Center. B.I.G. organizers estimated a crowd of 4,000 to 5,000 Girl Scouts with parents and leaders attended this year’s event. Girls came from as far away as the Big Bear area, Yucca Valley, Lancaster, and Fontana.

"Free program teach kids about Mojave Desert" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 12/27/10)
"Kids who want to learn more about the Mojave Desert’s plants and animals are invited to join a free after school program at the Desert Discovery Center, which is now taking applications for the 2011 program called 'Discovering the Mojave Desert'."


two horses stand in corralHorse looks sideways at cameraTHIS WEEKEND: "Welcome to the BLM Redlands wild horse and burro adoption at Sundance Ranch! " (BLM California Desert District)
Photos of wild horses and burros available for adoption this Saturday Jan. 8 in Redlands. Animals available for adoption may be previewed from 1 to 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 7. Approved adopters will receive a lottery number, which is required to participate in the lottery adoption Saturday morning, Jan. 8, starting at 9 a.m.
silhouettes of wild horse and of a burro

"Wild horses and burros available for adoption at Pierce College Equestrian Center" (BLM news release, 1/5/11)
There are 30 young animals -- 20 wild horses, and 10 burros -- available for adoption in Woodland Hills, Jan. 21-22. Spectators are welcome. The mustangs and burros were gathered from public lands in California and Nevada, have been wormed and vaccinated, and are in excellent health. Animals arrive at noon on Friday, Jan. 21, and potential adopters may view the mustangs and burros from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Marines on horseback"Local Marine Mounted Color Guard to ride in Rose Parade" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 12/30/10)
The Marine Mounted Color Guard rode New Year's Day in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Based in Barstow, this "is the only mounted color guard in the Marine Corps ... All of the horses that are used for the Mounted Color Guard are adopted from the Bureau of Land Management."
close up of brown horse face"Wild horse roundup triggers controversy"
(CNN International, 1/3/10)
Wild horse and burro "roundups are becoming showdowns between protesters and the Bureau of Land Management ... A rare unanimous vote in 1971 directed the secretary of the interior to protect and manage these horses and burros, as much a part of the American West as the cowboy. But as the number of animals began to grow, the program began to shift to population control. And that has triggered an outcry from wild-horse advocates..." With video.

"BLM chief rules out horse slaughter" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1/5/11)
"The nation's public lands chief offered a few solutions Tuesday to keeping the West's population of 38,000 free-roaming wild horses and burros in check -- but turning them into horse meat for humans to eat wasn't one of them. 'They're part of our nation's heritage, and they need to be protected,' Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey said."

RELATED: "Horse slaughter is reconsidered" (Wall Street Journal, 1/5/11)
"Less than four years after the last equine slaughterhouses in the U.S. closed down, an unlikely coalition of ranchers, horse owners and animal-welfare groups is trying to bring them back. The group ... aims to map out a strategy for reviving an industry ... Advocates say the slaughterhouses could bring an economic boost to rural areas and give owners who no longer have the means or inclination to care for the horses an economical and humane way to dispose of them."

RELATED: "Northwest tribes seek solutions to unwanted horses" (Seattle Times,
"A horse summit planned for the first week of the year is expected to draw to Las Vegas representatives from Northwest tribes, federal agencies and conservation groups, as well as wildlife advocates, and horse people vexed by too many horses with no market to cull the herds." Includes photo gallery.

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

"Draft environmental study available for proposed Tule Wind Energy and East County Substation projects" (BLM news release, 12/23/10)
Iberdrola Renewable/Pacific Wind Development applied for a right-of-way on public lands to construct the Tule Wind generation power plant facility on approximately 60 miles east of San Diego. The project would be constructed on lands administered by the BLM, the California State Lands Commission, the Campo, Cuyapaipe, and Manzanita Indian Reservations, and on privately owned property under jurisdiction of San Diego County.

RELATED: "US Interior urges Iberdrola to cut size of California wind farm" (Platts, 1/3/11)
The Bureau of Land Management's federal register notice for a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Iberdrola Renewables' Tule Wind project "advises the company to reduce by 62 its number of turbines. BLM must still publish a Final EIS, however, with the final determination for the project -- publication typically takes place at least a few months after the publication of the DEIS."

"Indian activists file lawsuit to block big solar farms" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/28/10)
"A group of activists is seeking to block six massive solar projects in the California desert, claiming that federal officials didn't properly consider the damage they would cause to the desert ... American Indian activists filed a lawsuit ... saying they are trying to protect native sacred sites in the California desert. They are joined in the lawsuit against the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management by another group, Californians for Renewable Energy, and five individuals."

"Tribal group suing over Inland desert solar projects" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/29/10)
"The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego, seeks to rescind the approvals of the Ivanpah, Calico and Lucerne Valley projects in San Bernardino County; the Genesis and Blythe projects in eastern Riverside County; and the Imperial Valley project in Imperial County. The developments collectively cover 23,842 acres of previously undisturbed land."

"Scoping meeting puts wind farm before public's criticism" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/6/11)
"The first -- and possibly only -- wind farm in Imperial County went in front of the public Wednesday and faces potential criticism from Ocotillo residents tonight. The first of two scoping meetings for the Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Project took place Wednesday night in El Centro."

"Disease found in some tortoises moved for solar project" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/4/11)
"Some of the desert tortoises displaced by a solar energy plant under construction in northeast San Bernardino County appear to have an infectious upper respiratory disease," according to "a status report made public by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management."


selection from sketch and map"Feinstein vows to get Inland Desert Monument Act passed" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/2/11)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein's "efforts to pass the Desert Monument Protection Act of 2010 before Republicans claim control of the House and add to their numbers in the Senate next month fell short ... Yet Feinstein, who spent more than a year building support from area off-roaders, solar energy and environmental groups before introducing the bill, said she is undeterred by the prospect of a tougher political landscape in the next Congress."

"Cemex bill gets buried again" (Santa Clarita Signal, 1/2/11)
"The sixth attempt to kill a proposed giant gravel mine north of Canyon Country died a quiet death last week when the 111th Congress adjourned ... The bill aimed at terminating Cemex’s mining contracts in Soledad Canyon ... enjoyed bipartisan support from lawmakers and was bolstered by city officials’ lobbying trips to Washington, D.C. ... The fight between Santa Clarita and Cemex began in 1990 after the Bureau of Land Management awarded the Mexico-based cement company two 10-year mining contracts..."

"GAO: BLM mishandled land trades with Calif., Wash." (Associated Press in Sacramento Bee, 12/27/10)
"The U.S. Bureau of Land Management overstepped its authority to exchange federal land in California and Washington state by buying and selling properties outside of Congress' appropriations process, according to a government audit released Monday ... In California, where the BLM worked on land deals in conjunction with the U.S. General Service Administration, all but two transactions since 1995 involved buying or selling land, the agency said."

"Mother of off-road crash victim sues promoter, driver" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/4/11)
"The promoter of the Johnson Valley off-road race where eight spectators were killed has been sued in Los Angeles County by the mother of a Riverside man who died ... And the federal agency responsible for managing the land could be added as a defendant, an attorney handling the wrongful death lawsuit said ... Attorneys have filed a claim against the BLM, which is the first step in suing the federal government."

weed with fuzzy tops grows in soil"Invasive medusahead weed threatens ranches in West" (USA Today, 1/5/11)
"Casey Wilber's grandfather first noticed some odd weeds popping up on the family's eastern Oregon cattle ranch about 30 years ago. It was a weed called medusahead, a spiky, grasslike plant inedible for both livestock and wildlife. Now, Wilber says, it's all over the place and causing big problems." Wilber said that "unless the federal government becomes more aggressive in fighting the weed on surrounding Bureau of Land Management land, it may win in the end."

"BLM proposes direct sale of land in Kern County" (BLM news release, 12/23/10)
The Bureau of Land Management has proposed a direct sale to Kern County of approximately 160 acres of public land available for sale under the 1980 California Desert Conservation Area Plan, as amended. The public lands for sale are located in Kern County and will act as a buffer area to prevent incompatible development around the Mojave Rosamond Landfill and Sanitary station.

A man walks through a green area"Yurok seek land for a tribal park on the North Coast" (Los Angeles Times, 12/26/10)
"California's largest tribe has set its sights on obtaining a 1,200-acre slice of Redwood National Park, part of an ambitious plan to cobble together a new tribal park that could add eco-lodges, gift shops and water taxis into backcountry along the Klamath River ... Tribal leaders see their aspirations to gain land as nothing less than essential nation-building, and are seeking congressional approval for the transfer of thousands of acres of public land from the park service, forest service and the Bureau of Land Management."

"BLM plans public meetings on fire fuels management at Pine Hill Preserve" (BLM news release, 1/5/11)
The Bureau of Land Management’s Mother Lode Field Office will hold two meetings in January to discuss fire fuels management, including pile burning, at the Pine Hill Preserve in western El Dorado County. Meetings will be held Jan. 18 and 22 at the Cameron Park Community Services District Community Center.

"What will happen to property values if the Klamath dams are removed?" (Siskiyou Daily News, 12/28/10)
"Renee Snyder, Klamath Basin Project Manager for the United States Bureau of Land Management, stated in an e-mail that the real estate team is working on an assessment of how property values have been, and might be, affected by the loss of reservoirs."

"BLM to make record system change concerning information about public land ranchers" (BLM national news release, 12/28/10)
In a move that will increase the transparency of its records, the Bureau of Land Management published in the Federal Register a notice announcing a change in the way that the agency handles certain personal information relating to public land ranchers.

"Applications available to fight summer wildfires"
(Sacramento Bee, 12/24/10)
"Winter snows may be blanketing the woods, but for the Bureau of Land Management fire season is just around the corner. The federal agency is accepting applications for summer seasonal fire fighting jobs throughout Northern California."

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Listings include firefighting jobs, natural resources specialist, supervisory civil engineering technician, fire lookout and more.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(e.) Don't feed their chicks

SOURCE: "Western Snowy Plover - Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus" (BLM California wildlife database)
Snowy plover chicks leave the nest within hours after hatching to search for food. Adult plovers do not feed their chicks, but lead them to suitable feeding areas.

baby birds stand alertA beach bird holds a bug in its mouth"Snowy plover continues rebound along Oregon coast" (Oregon Coast Beach Connection, 12/28/10)
"While the threatened western snowy plover is steadily backpedaling from extinction, federal and state officials realize that the work is not done and have approved a plan for the beach-loving bird to continue its comeback in Oregon." The BLM and other agencies "all have signed off on the plan..."

sketch of a bird"Is rare plover endangered? California survey to help decide" (Sacramento Bee, 12/24/10)
"The mountain plover has been hiding in plain sight in California for decades. But that's about to change. A major new survey starting in January aims to find out just where this rare shorebird spends its time, with the goal of figuring out once and for all if it merits protection as an endangered species ... The bird is a regular visitor in Yolo, Solano and Sutter counties, the San Joaquin Valley and Carrizo Plain."

RELATED: "Biological resources, Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
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