A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 469 - 2/17/11

"Challenge in the Sand" title over desert landscape an off-road vehicle climbs over large boulders A man holds a rock of gold ore a horse lifts its head and whinnies A man looks at a map on a hillside overlooking the desert


- America's Great Outdoors:
      - New initiative
      - In California
      - Get outside in America's Great Outdoors
      - More activities
      - Wildflowers
- Funny.bytes: Challenge in the sand
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Wild horses and burros
- Gold mining on public lands
- Wildfire and prevention
- Renewable energy
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics, public lands in California
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Budget, oil and gas oversight
This issue of News.bytes is online at:

America's Great Outdoors logo sports snow-capped peaksAMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
President Obama established the America’s Great Outdoors initiative on April 16, 2010, to develop a 21st century conservation and recreation strategy based on the priorities of American communities.

"Obama pushes effort to protect public lands" (Associated Press at the Washington Post, 2/16/11)
"President Barack Obama says a new administration effort to protect public lands will put people back to work in tourism and recreation and help Americans stay healthier by encouraging outdoor activities." The "America's Great Outdoors" initiative also "aims to double federal spending on land and water conservation to $900 million."

"President Obama announces plan for community-based conservation through the the America’s Great Outdoors initiative" (Department of the Interior press release, 2/16/11)
President Barack Obama announced the Administration’s action plan, under the America’s Great Outdoors initiative, to achieve lasting conservation of the outdoor spaces that power our nation’s economy, shape our culture, and build our outdoor traditions. This initiative seeks to reinvigorate our approach to conservation and reconnect Americans, especially young people, with the lands and waters that are used for farming and ranching, hunting and fishing, and for families to spend quality time together.

"America's Great Outdoors: A promise to future Americans"
Includes more information, including a link to the Great American Outdoors report, that "outlines ways in which the Federal Government will help empower local communities to accomplish their conservation and recreation priorities by recognizing that the best ideas come from outside of Washington."

President Obama greets guests before his talk"President Obama speaks on the Great American Outdoors initiative" (The White House, 2/16/11)
President Obama's talk that streamed live on the Internet, is available as video, audio, and text transcript at the White House website.

"Youth in the Great Outdoors" (Department of the Interior)
Youth in the Great Outdoors circular logo"The Department of the Interior is uniquely positioned to help millions of young Americans reconnect with our natural and cultural heritage, put thousands of young people to work in the great outdoors, and inspire the next generation of conservation leaders ... The Youth in the Great Outdoors Initiative will help us achieve the vital goal of connecting young people with America’s natural and cultural heritage."

"BLM Junior Explorer" (Department of the Interior)
For children and youth who have an interest in the outdoors, and who want to learn more about public lands. Includes links to BLM's "Hands on the Land" and "Take It Outside" programs, which support the AGO initiative by instilling modern stewardship ideals and connecting youth with the public lands. Also links to Junior Explorer activities.


... visit the Imperial Sand Dunes. Largely known as a favorite location for off-highway vehicle enthusiasts, the dunes also offer fabulous scenery, opportunities for solitude, and a home to rare plants and animals. In coming weeks, News.bytes will be highlighting other locations in California where you can get outside in America's Great Outdoors.

an off-road vehicle climbs over large boulders"King of the Hammers, 2011" (News.bytes Extra)
A large off-road vehicle stopped on the sandOn a dry lake bed managed by the Bureau of Land Management’s Barstow Field Office, 20,000 spectators watched 100 competitors take part in an international off-road event last week. Participants faced the technical challenge of “rock crawling” over vertical walls of rocks, maneuvering through tight canyons, and then racing through the desert course to see who can come up with the best time.

"Volunteers needed for planting native plants on Fort Ord" (Monterey County Herald, 2/16/11)
This weekend: "Volunteers are invited to help plant native species from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19, on Fort Ord. Return of the Natives, the federal Bureau of Land Management and the Monterey Chapter of the California Native Plant Society are cooperating in the effort to restore plants historically found on Fort Ord. Tools, water and snacks will be provided, along with live music by the Dulce de Leche jazz band."

"Don’t know the nuances of turkey hunting?" (Colfax Record, 2/15/11)
"California’s spring turkey hunting season runs from March 26 through May 1." A seminar on Saturday, March 5 will cover turkey hunting techniques and "hunting on public land, including DFG-managed wildlife areas and Bureau of Land Management properties."

"Hunting and target shooting" (BLM California)
Hunting is permitted on public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). State of California hunting regulations must be followed on Federal lands.

"Secretary Salazar announces funding for state fish and wildlife projects" (Department of the Interior press release, 2/16/11)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced distribution of more than $749 million in excise tax revenues to state and territorial fish and wildlife agencies" for restoration of wildlife and sport fishing. Funds come from excise taxes paid by manufacturers, producers, and importers on various sporting goods and through fuel taxes on motorboats and small engines.

"The west side's next big ride" (Redding Record Searchlight, 2/15/11)
"Representatives from the Bureau of Land Management's local office dropped by the Board of Supervisors' meeting this morning to give a slide show and presentation on recent BLM activities --- including fire-safe thinning projects ... as well some new trails. I'd heard rumors of the planning for an addition to the Swasey Recreation Area network ... but I didn't know the office is looking to start building this spring. "

Funny.bytes logo includes a cartoon man laughingFUNNY.BYTES: Challenge in the Sand...
"Challenge in the Sand" title over desert landscapeIt's a race ... it's a puzzle ... it's a matter of doing the right thing ... it's a matter of safety. (Note: this Flash presentation includes a soundtrack -- you may want to adjust the volume on your computer speakers.) Funny.bytes is a look at the lighter side of issues facing the BLM in California.

WILDFLOWERS: Start of California season moves northward

"Wildflowers and sightseeing, Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
15 February 2011: A few Goldfields, Hillside Daisies and Fiddleneck are beginning to show up at the south end and east side of the monument. The Hillside Daisies are noticeable but do not occur in large quantities.  Because of recent the warm weather, the flowers are two to three weeks ahead of schedule.  However, the weather forecast for the next 10 days is colder, ranging from the mid-50s during the days to twenties and thirties at night.

close-up of yellow flowers on a bushgreen hillsides show just a start of yellow flowers"Wildflower Reports 2011: Southern California" (DesertUSA)
"Feb 14, 2011 Cathy Reports: Went for a drive into the hills west of Coalinga and then NW thru the hills ending in Hollister. Not much is blooming yet, but..."

an illustration of a dragon with wings
not the correct answer
Which of the following is a real animal found in California?
(a.) gossip snake
(b.) mariner's albatross
(c.) Solano endive
(d.) screaming meemie
(e.) steel duck
(f.) bronze sea lion
(g.) clay pigeon
(h.) rubber boa
(i.) karma chameleon
(j.) ex gubernatorii Californicus

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


a horse lifts its head and whinniesa smiling woman holds a burro's halter"Ferndale wild horse and burro adoption and clinic" (News.bytes Extra)
Wild horses, burros and a baby mule found new homes, when the BLM Wild Horse and Burro adoption program visited the Victorian village of Ferndale on Saturday, Feb. 12.  The animals were offered for adoption during a pack clinic organized  by the Back Country Horsemen of California's Redwood Unit at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds.  Five of the seven animals offered were adopted.
silhouettes of wild horse and of a burro

close-up of a burro's faceRELATED: "Finding homes for horses: Backcountry Horsemen of California puts on clinic, mustang adoption in Ferndale" (Eureka Times-Standard, 2/13/11)
"After begging her mom for months, Susan Wirgler got to do what many 7-year-olds dream of -- take her first horse riding lesson. Fast-forward more than 20 years, and Wirgler was all smiles as she adopted an eight-month-old mule at the annual Mustang Adoption at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds in Ferndale on Saturday. Wirgler was one of dozens of people who turned out for the event put on by the Backcountry Horsemen of California Redwood Unit and the Bureau of Land Management."

"Wild horses and burros available for adoption in Redlands" (BLM news release, 2/8/11)
This weekend: adoption event at Sundance Ranch in Redlands, Calif. on Saturday, Feb. 19. The mustangs and burros were gathered from public lands in California and Nevada, have been wormed and vaccinated, and are in excellent health. A preview runs Friday from 1 to 5 p.m.

"Horses, burros available for adoption in King City" (BLM news release, 1/21/11)
At the Salinas County Fairgrounds, Feb. 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.

"BLM and Napa Valley Horsemen's Association plan mustang seminar and clinic" (BLM news release, 2/3/11)
The Bureau of Land Management and the Napa Valley Horsemen’s Association will hold a seminar and handling clinic in April on adopting and caring for a wild horse or burro. The seminar will include information on the adoption process, housing and fencing, feed and health care, and handling and gentling. A handling clinic April 16 will include live demonstrations on how to safely gentle and train a wild horse or burro.

"House votes BLM budget cut over wild horse dispute" (Associated Press at San Jose Mercury News, 2/16/11)
"The U.S. House approved an amendment on a voice vote Wednesday that would cut the Bureau of Land Management's budget by $2 million in protest of the agency's wild horse roundups that some critics say are too costly and others say are inhumane."


"Cougar Gold says won't mine unless wilderness protection removed, county supervisors divided" (Mammoth Times, 2/16/1)
"Cougar Gold, a gold mining exploration company with claims in the Bodie Hills Wilderness Study Area, said ... they won't continue their exploratory drilling until the 'regulatory purgatory' of the Wilderness Study Area designation is removed from the hills." Mono County Supervisors gave "no clear answer" as to whether they would support that bid. "At least 120 people filled the Bridgeport Memorial Hall room ... hoping to hear specifics ... but the four hour meeting left most with as many questions as answers...."

"Gold mine uncertainty at Bodie" (Sierra Wave, 2/16/11)
"Officials claimed actual mine development would result in more than 1,000 local jobs - an appealing prospect during a recession. On the other side of the equation were those who fear destruction of habitats, wildlife and views at Bodie."

A man holds a rock of gold oreA man inspects a wall in a mine shaft"In new California Gold Rush, old mines reopen" (New York Times, 2/11/1)
"Standing in a cramped, slanted and slippery crevice some 500 feet below the earth’s surface, David Cochrane turned his eyes to a ribbon of marbled quartz -- mainly gray, amber and white -- and found the one hue he was actually looking for ... It was gold, and if people like Mr. Cochrane have their way, gold will soon be big business again in California’s Mother Lode...."

RELATED: "Federal royalties for gold and copper?" (The New York Times, 2/15/11)
"The new Obama budget calls for a 5 percent royalty on the minerals extracted in new projects on public lands like those managed by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management or the Forest Service. The amount of revenue projected in the first few years from this royalty is minuscule (in terms of the federal budget), about $7 million or less a year. But the principle of subjecting international mining giants... to the same kind of royalty regimen that is a way of life for oil, gas and coal companies is significant...."


"Plan addresses wildfire concerns" (The Union Democrat, 2/10/11)
"The Community Wildfire Protection Plan is being developed with a $13,500 federal grant to the Calaveras Foothills Fire Safe Council. It will determine where county residents want to implement clearing projects and fire breaks to ensure the safety of their communities in the event of potentially damaging fires ... fire departments and districts in the county would then apply for their own federal grants to reduce fire danger with fuel clearing and similar measures." The BLM helps support Fire Safe Councils in California.

"Prescribed burn planned at Whiskeytown" (National Park Service news release, 2/13/11)
"Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is planning to conduct 50 – 300 acres of prescribed burning over the next several weeks, weather and air quality conditions permitting. The Buck and East Boundary Prescribed Burns are located along the east boundary of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, which borders private property and a small portion of land administered by Bureau of Land Management above the community of Old Shasta."

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

"Supervisors begin renewable energy lobbying push" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 2/10/11)
Riverside County "is proving to be a hotbed for solar, wind and geothermal energy, and supervisors don't want to disproportionately bear the cost of its production" such as "transmission lines ... crisscrossing the county to carry power to other population centers without seeing any financial benefit for local residents ... The county has jurisdiction over renewable energy projects that generate less than 50 megawatts of power and are on unincorporated land." The BLM manages permits on public lands and "the California Energy Commission permits projects that put out more than 50 megawatts of power."

"Tessera Sells Off 2nd Big Cali Solar Project" (Reuters, 2/16/11)
"The sale by Tessera isn't surprising considering the obstacles it faced with the 850-MW Calico Solar Power Project, which it sold to K Road Sun last December. Tessera had just secured state and federal permits for both projects, to be located in California and on land managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, when news hit that its parent company was besieged by financial woes."

"Solar firm BrightSource raising $100M" (Reuters, 2/14/11)
"Turns out building massive solar farms in the desert takes a massive amount of funding ... BrightSource is busy working on getting its inaugural 392-megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System constructed and providing solar power. Ivanpah received the approval of the California Energy Commission and the federal Bureau of Land Management last year. BrightSource planned to start construction on Ivanpah by the end of 2010, and expects to complete the project it in 2013."


"A fracking ordeal; Community group seeks answers to regulatory loopholes" (Monterey County Weekly, 2/10/11)
"Officials are scrambling to learn about a practice widely used by the oil industry, hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking,' even as a letter sent to the EPA by ranking U.S. House committee members found some fracking fluids violate the Safe Drinking Water Act." Their concern is a use permit issued for "up to nine exploratory wells ... using fracking" and "at least one oil company has expressed interest in leasing 2,445 acres of Bureau of Land Management mineral estates of the same Monterey shale formation."

A man looks at a map on a hillside overlooking the desert"Act would set aside Mojave land" (Hi-Desert STar, 2/16/11)
"As the region celebrates the 75th anniversary of Joshua Tree National Monument this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is introducing federal legislation to designate additional areas of the Mojave Desert for recreation and environmental conservation ... The riverbank habitat of the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in Morongo Valley is one of the areas that would be get additional protection in Feinstein’s act."

RELATED: "Big Morongo Canyon Preserve" (BLM Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
Nestled within the western extension of the Little San Bernardino Mountains, the 31,000 acre Big Morongo Canyon Preserve and Area of Critical Environmental Concern is managed by BLM to preserve its outstanding natural and scenic values as well as recreational opportunities within a preserve environment.

"Serious, lighter sides of science to gel at MJC" (Sacramento Bee, 2/15/11)
The Modesto Junior College Science, Mathematics and Engineering Division again will offer a series of free miniseminars under the theme of ' Science that Matters.' The short, informal presentations are held Tuesday afternoons." On April 12, Susan Bowman from the Bureau of Land Management will present "Plesiosaurs in California."

"Lonely lighthouses save many lives" (Redwood Times, 2/16/11)
Summary of a BLM lecture, "on the history of lighthouses, focusing on North Coast lighthouses." For more information or to sign up for an upcoming lecture, contact Rachel Sowards Thompson at the BLM's King Range office at (707) 986-5415, or email Rachel_Sowards@blm.gov.

"Joshua Tree: Smog continues to plague national park" (Riverside Press Enterprise, 2/13/11)
"More than 1,200 square miles of open space, six mountain ranges, vast valleys, striking pink granite boulders and its namesake desert plant life make Joshua Tree National Park a paradise for visitors escaping suburbia." But "air pollution is a significant challenge at Joshua Tree and Sequoia national parks ... Park managers, with little control over smog that drifts from elsewhere, are left to monitor the problem, deal with consequences and worry about what the future holds." The story mentions a solar energy project awaiting approval by the BLM.


"Boxer-sponsored bill is last-ditch try to block Cemex mine" (Santa Clarita Signal, 2/14/11)
"Mining and airborne dust in Soledad Canyon, along with a daily parade of gravel trucks on Highway 14, would likely become fixtures if an omnibus bill introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., goes off the rails in the Senate, according to the city official monitoring Santa Clarita's relationship with Washington, D.C.," Michael P. Murphy. "Years ago, Cemex obtained favorable court decisions allowing it to mine, Murphy said. 'They don’t need to do anything else,' he said. “They can go out tomorrow and mine'."

"$300k grant won to restore Tulare Lake Basin" (The Fresno Bee, 2/11/11)
"A Valley conservation group will get a $300,000 state grant to continue restoring wildlife, wetlands and ground water around the vast Tulare Lake Basin ... The money for the three-year grant comes from Proposition 84, a 2006 bond." The Tulare Basin Wildlife Partners, which includes "including government agencies, industry officials and conservation organizations" has worked on the Atwell Island project -- in which the BLM is a partner -- to restore marginal farmland to wildlife and wetlands habitat."

RELATED: "Atwell Island Land Retirement Demonstration Project" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
Atwell Island is located within a portion of now-drained Tulare Lake which as recently as 100 years ago was the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. The lake has been dry for many years, with its water now stored behind foothill dams and used for agriculture. BLM is restoring native valley grassland, a wetland, and alkali sink habitats on an area that for the past century was covered by fields of cotton, oats, and alfalfa.

sign announces new Bump and Grind trailhead"State to close off upper stretch of Bump and Grind" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 2/15/11)
"California Fish and Game officials plan to put a gate across the upper portion of the popular Bump and Grind trail in the Santa Rosa Mountains west of Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage, though past efforts to do so have proven futile ... the half-mile path ... juts into a preserve for the endangered peninsular bighorn sheep and other wildlife." A Fish and Game scientist said the area "was purchased with wildlife money and is there to manage wildlife...."

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Listings include petroleum engineer (geothermal), fire lookout, outreach and administrative program support assistant and several types of firefighting jobs.

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

Feb. 17 - Kanaka Valley community planning meeting - Rescue

Feb. 19 - Tall Forest bird count - Cosumnes River Preserve

Feb. 22 - Solar Energy Zone public meeting - Sacramento

Feb. 23 - Solar Energy Zone public meeting - Barstow


"Interior's budget request would boost conservation, increase OCS oversight" (Greenwire at New York Times, 2/14/11)
The Obama administration "proposed significant new funding for land and water conservation and offshore drilling oversight that would be counterbalanced by cuts ... Obama's requested funding for renewable energy permitting at the Bureau of Land Management would remain at $73 million, which is designed to allow the agency to reach a goal of permitting 9,000 megawatts of renewable energy on public lands by the end of this year."

RELATED: "President’s $12.2 Billion 2012 budget for Interior focuses on spending discipline, strategic investments, and vital missions" (Department of the Interior press release, 2/14/11)

"GAO report adds Interior Department's oversight of oil and gas leases to high-risk list" (The Washington Post, 2/15/11)
After last year's Gulf Coast oil spill, the department might be unable to manage oil and gas leases while overhauling the agencies and offices responsible for them, according to the Government Accountability Office's biennial 'High-Risk Report'."

"Bishop calls for end to BLM conservation system" (The Salt Lake Tribune, 2/16/11)
"Environmentalists and public-land users blasted a proposal Wednesday by a Utah congressman that would stop funding the National Landscape Conservation System .... Rep. Rob Bishop ... says it would not close anything — just eliminate duplicative administration of lands that the Bureau of Land Management already administers."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(h.) rubber boa

SOURCE: "Rubber Boa - Charina bottae" (BLM California wildlife database)
- 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.