A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 466 - 1/27/11

close up of desret tortoise head and front of shell A woman pushes a wheelbarrow along a riverside trail a man steps off stairs from the base of a wind turbine profile shot of a dark brown horse Smiling man sits at computer and refers to printed manual


- Legislation that would affect BLM
- America's Great Outdoors: Alabama Hills and more
- Wild horses and burros
- Not for educators only:
     - Wildlife trivia question of the week
     - More wildlife: Desert tortoise contest
- Renewable energy
- Employee profile
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted public lands topics
- Selected upcoming events
This issue of News.bytes is online at:


"Sen. Feinstein reintroduces desert protection act"
(Barstow Desert Dispatch, 1/25/11)
"If passed, the bill ... will create the Mojave Trails National Monument ... about 941,000 acres of protected land east of Ludlow" and create "the Sand to Snow National Monument" and designate "five new wilderness areas ... 250,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management wilderness areas near Fort Irwin," and designate "four areas in the California desert currently used for off-highway vehicle use as permanent."

"Feinstein reintroduces desert protection bill" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/26/11)
"Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would create two national monuments covering more than a million acres in the Mojave Desert. The California Desert Protection Act of 2011 is similar to a desert bill the California Democrat introduced in late 2009, but this one is more focused on land conservation efforts. The earlier bill also sought to streamline approvals of alternative-energy projects."

A unique rock formation looms over a hiker"Senators seek to expand wilderness in California" (Sacramento Bee, 1/27/11)
"The next California wilderness fights will stretch from the desert to the Delta, in a dicey new political environment. This week, the state's two Democratic senators set the stage by introducing myriad wilderness-related bills ... In Tehama and Shasta counties ... a 17,869-acre Sacramento River National Recreation Area" and "a 941,000-acre Mojave Trails National Monument. Some proposals force stark choices. Feinstein's Mojave Trails bill, for instance, would effectively block major wind and solar energy projects planned in the proposed monument region." Another bill would "buy the 272-acre Gold Hill Ranch in Coloma, east of Sacramento," to "recognize a 19th-century Japanese settlement."

AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS: Alabama Hills and more
America's Great Outdoors logo sports snow-capped peaks
"NatGeo seeks to highlight Southern Sierra attractions" (Inyo Register, 1/20/11)
Inyo County, National Geographic, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the Sierra Business Council want to "educate potential visitors on the region’s many attractions." Residents can nominate "favorite restaurants, trails, attractions and geographic features for inclusion on a map of California." Representatives from the Geotourism council, National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management will review, so no sensitive sites are included on the map.

Workers dig in high desertSnow-covered mountains are a backdrop for volunteers climing a slope"Volunteer Day in the Alabama Hills" (News.bytes Extra)
The Alabama Hills Stewardship Group and BLM Bishop Field Office hosted the first of a series of Volunteer Days in the Alabama Hills for 2011. Folks from Lone Pine, Bishop, and Ridgecrest showed up -- plus others from as far away as Visalia. Eighteen volunteers worked on naturalizing former routes that the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group and BLM agreed should be restored.

A camera crew films a woman in heavy coat and headress crossing rocky hills"Film shoots bring renewed opportunity for residents" (Inyo Register, 1/20/11)
"A French music video ... an Athropologie Catalog Internet video, a Chevy commercial north of Bishop and a cast and crew from episodic television are some of the most recent film projects working locally." European pop star Melissa N’Konde filmed a music video in the Alabama Hills, monitored by BLM Alabama Hills steward Dave Kirk.

RELATED: "The Alabama Hills"(BLM Bishop Field Office)

A woman pushes a wheelbarrow along a riverside trailA man rakes alongside a trail as another takes a short break"American River Conservancy Trail builders" (Mountain Democrat, 1/25/11)
Photo gallery: "A mixture of federal Bureau of Land Management employees and volunteers from the American River Conservancy work to build a new trail along the American River near Greenwood Creek north of Coloma last week.


a young horse, light brownprofile shot of a dark brown horse"My mustang comes home with power" (Poway Patch, 1/22/11)
"In last week's column, I told you how I fell in love with a Mustang at the Bureau of Land Management auction in Ramona a few years ago. I left off at the point where my husband and I were driving our trailer to get this fabulous creature at the event. At the time, I wondered, 'How would
they get a wild horse into a horse trailer?' Here we were picking up an animal that was wild."
silhouettes of wild horse and of a burro
"Horses, burros available for adoption in King City" (BLM news release, 1/21/11)
Residents of the King City area will have the opportunity to add a horse or burro to their families when the Bureau of Land Management brings its Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program to the Salinas County Fairgrounds, February 26 and 27. The BLM will offer 30 horses, mostly yearlings, and 10 burros for public adoption. Anyone interested can preview the animals when they arrive at about 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 25.

"Halter-trained mustangs offered for adoption in Ferndale" (BLM news release, 1/20/11)
North coast equine enthusiasts will have the opportunity to adopt a halter-trained wild horse or mule at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds in Ferndale, Saturday, Feb. 12. The adoption event, being held in conjunction with the Back Country Horsemen of California Redwood Unit Pack Clinic, will feature five mustangs, ranging in age from 1 to 4, and one weanling mule. The animals are certified healthy and ready to continue training.

"Billionaire's wife's wild-horse proposal rejected" (Associated Press in Redding Record Searchlight, 1/24/11)
"A proposal from the wife of Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens to create a sanctuary in Nevada for wild horses removed from public rangeland around the West has been rejected ... Madeleine Pickens' plan wouldn't save taxpayers' money and doesn't include enough water and forage for the mustangs, [BLM] Director Bob Abbey told The Associated Press." Pickens said she would continue to work with the BLM.

"Horse roundup near Pickens sanctuary criticized" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 1/22/11)
"Animal rights activists are lashing out at plans to remove about 2,000 wild horses from the range near two northeastern Nevada ranches that the wife of oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens purchased to serve as a mustang sanctuary ... 'Why disturb them and move them to another state?' Pickens asked ... They oppose gathers, period," said the BLM's Tom Gorey. "They say there's no need and let the population explode. Their laissez-faire management philosophy would result in cataclysm on the range, both to the range itself and the animals that depend on it."

"Oklahoma spending millions of taxpayer dollars to house wild horses" (KOTV Tulsa, OK, 1/25/11)
"It's the amount of money that the government is paying to house the horses that has many people fired up. The younger horses are in short term holding, waiting to see if the public will adopt them. The cost to keep horses in government run short term corrals is much higher, around $5.50 a day or more than $20 million a year." Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma "said that's too much money. He insists the law tells the agency to either adopt extra animals or kill them."


a desert tortoise slowly crosses rocky ground
desert tortoise
During part of the year, desert tortoises go into brumation. What is that?
(a.) The opposite of hibernation: staying awake for months at a time, seeking food to last them through hibernation.
(b.) Sleeping for a week or two at a time, then seeking out food and going back to sleep for a week or two.
(c.) Staying awake, but with such a low metabolism that they don't eat or even move for months at a time.
(d.) Sleeping with their eyes open.
(e.) Standing in the corner chewing their cud, while they think long and hard about what they have done wrong that might have made their parents so unhappy with them.

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

MORE WILDLIFE: Desert tortoise contest

close up of desret tortoise head and front of shell"Mojave Max Emergence Contest" (The Living Desert website)
"Guess when Mojave Max will emerge for Spring and win fun prizes for you and your class! Who Can Play? Southern California Students and Youth Groups from the following counties: Inyo, Imperial, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, Ventura and Kern." Also includes links to more information, a webcam and Mojave Desert Tortoise iPhone app.

Entry form for Mojave Max Emergence Contest

"Desert tortoise" (deserttortoise.gov)
Information and links about the desert tortoise, presented by the Mojave Desert Ecosystem Program, University of Redlands, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Desert Managers Group which includes the BLM.

"Mojave Desert Tortoise App available at the Apple App Store and Droid Market!" (Desert Managers Group)
"The two main goals of this application are to help provide education to the public on the Desert Tortoise and make available crowdsourcing data results for the various agencies within the Mojave Desert."

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

"Lawsuit can halt two major San Bernardino County projects" (San Bernardino County Sun, 1/22/11)
"A lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court by a national environmental group has the potential to shut down two major San Bernardino County projects.The complaint ... specifically names only the Ivanpah Solar Power Plant being built by BrightSource in the desert near the California-Nevada line. It could also end up shutting down or delaying Molycorp Mining's resumption of mining and processing of rare earths at its Mountain Pass facility ... about 10 miles from Nevada."

transmission line tower rises above the desert"Third lawsuit filed to stop Imperial Valley solar project" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/21/11)
"The lawsuit is the third in San Diego federal court seeking to block construction of the Imperial Valley Solar Project. Lawyers for the federal government and the developers say the project was approved properly, and point out that it was changed to deal with possible harm to wildlife and cultural sites."

a man steps off stairs from the base of a wind turbine"Should we build big wind farms east of SD? " (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/26/11)
"Hundreds" of wind turbines planned "in San Diego and Imperial counties and across the border in northern Baja California" are "part of an ongoing clash pitting people seeking to fight global warming and profit from it against those who want to keep California’s backcountry the way it’s been for thousands of years." With "lawsuits seeking to stop SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink and several large solar farms planned for the desert ... What happens to the wind projects will depend on whether regulators approve them, financiers back them and power companies buy their power."

wind turbines range across foothillsRELATED: "Big wind in the county, questions and answers" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/20/11)
"Developers, activists and politicians chime in on the wind debate: Big wind farms are planned on public and private land in eastern San Diego County, western Imperial County and northern Baja. We wanted to know what people on different sides of the wind debate thought. So we asked them. Some answered the questions directly. Others gave us short statements."


"Solar Millennium withdraws project" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 1/26/11)
"Weeks before it was scheduled to begin its Mohave-ground-squirrel connectivity study, Solar Millennium has withdrawn its applications before California Energy Commission and the Bureau of Land Management for a solar-energy project approximately five miles south of Ridgecrest."

RELATED: "Locals react to Solar Millennium's withdrawal" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 1/26/11)
"While city leaders argued that it was unfortunate that stringent environmental regulations in the state seemed to have defeated the project, a potential economic boon for the Indian Wells Valley, others said this scenario underscores the importance of creating a coordinated plan to bring alternative energy industries to the local area. Still others said Solar Millennium may not have been the right project for the area."

Smiling man sits at computer and refers to printed manualEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Mike Sintetos...
...is a renewable energy project manager with BLM's California State Office. Not often can someone say they’ve won a national championship before. In fact, neither can Mike -- but he sure was close.


group stands smiling as one holds plaque"Local fire fighters honored by KV Exchange Club" (Kern Valley Sun, 1/26/11)
The Kern Valley Exchange Club honored three firefighters "chosen to receive the honor by their fellow fire fighters ... presentations were made by their superiors." Honored this year were Steve Watkins of the BLM and firefighters with the Kern County Fire Department; and U.S. Forest Service.

"Deadly off-road accident in Mojave spurs lawsuits" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 1/20/11)
"The off-road racing accident in the Mojave Desert last summer that claimed the lives of eight people, including four San Diego County residents, is about to generate a plethora of lawsuits against the race organizer, the driver of the truck that careened out of control and eventually the federal Bureau of Land Management."


"Open House for off-Highway vehicle grant requests to be held February 15, 2011" (U.S. Forest Service news release, 1/27/11)
The Inyo National Forest and the BLM's Bishop Field Office will request grant funds from the State of California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation division for enhancing and managing motorized recreation. The agencies will hold an informal Open House Feb. 15th in Bishop to answer questions about potential grants and to receive your ideas about the types of projects and other opportunities funded through the grants.

"Mercury contamination in California’s South Yuba River" (U.S. Geological Survey news release, 1/25/11)
"Gold dredging that disturbs fine-grained, mercury-laden sediment in California’s South Yuba River can allow higher amounts of mercury to enter the environment, potentially threatening food webs far downstream ... The Bureau of Land Management and the California State Water Resources Control Board requested that USGS conduct this research..."

RELATED: "Studies judge dredge" (The Grass Valley Union, 1/27/11)
"Fans -- and foes -- of suction dredge mining will have to wait a little bit longer to find out whether a ban instituted in 2009 will remain in effect."

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Listings include administrative technician, supervisory civil engineering technician, fire logistics dispatcher and other firefighting jobs.

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

Feb. 3 - Kanaka Valley community planning meeting - Rescue

Feb. 4 - Identifying northern California mushrooms - Horsetown Clear Creek Preserve

Feb. 5 - Mustard pull volunteer project - Palm Springs area

Feb. 7 - Solar energy zone plan public meeting - El Centro

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) Staying awake, but with such a low metabolism that they don't eat or even move for months at a time.

SOURCE: "Desert tortoise - Gopherus agassizii" (BLM California wildlife database)
They enter brumation during the winter months - unlike hibernation, they do not actually sleep, but their metabolisms slow greatly and they can go months without eating or moving.

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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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