A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 470 - 3/3/11

A dune buggy kicks up a wave of sand behind it as the drive tries to climb a dune two burros wait in a corral for adoption Pink flowers spread across a valley floor as snow capped peaks loom in the backgrounds Man in old cavalry cap solar mirrors angle up from the desert floor


- America's Great Outdoors: Imperial Sand Dunes visitors
- More of America's Great Outdoors ... in California
- Wild horses and burros
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Renewable energy
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted public lands topics in California, plus jobs with BLM-California
- Selected upcoming events
- National and/or Department of the Interior items: Wild Lands debate, sound investment, more
This issue of News.bytes is online at:

AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORSAmerica's Great Outdoors logo sports snow-capped peaks

Riders sit inside an off-road vehicle on the sand"Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and BLM Director Bob Abbey become 'Duners for a Day'" (News.bytes Extra)
United Desert Gateway, the American Sand Foundation, Imperial County, and somewhere around 85,000 others, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and A young dunes rider gets his photo taken with Secretary SalazarBLM Director Bob Abbey enjoyed a thrilling ride at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area on Feb. 20. ... learned about safety from young trainees ... heard how the Dunes help Imperial County's bottom line ... and shared a meal with four generations of enthusiasts. The trip was part of the Great American Outdoors initiative announced by President Obama at the White House on Feb. 16.

A dune buggy kicks up a wave of sand behind it as the drive tries to climb a dunea swarm of camping vehicles on the sand"Federal officials travel to California to reach out to off-roaders" (Los Angeles Times, 2/21/11)
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Sunday "kicked up his heels in the California desert, where he raced across undulating dunes in a souped-up sand rail ... to reach out to a constituency often antagonistic to federal officials and their management of public lands in the West ... on a busy holiday weekend." They said that "motorized recreation fits into the Obama administration's vision of America's Great Outdoors, a conservation and health initiative rolled out last week that is heavy on land preservation."

"Interior secretary goes off-roading in Glamis" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/20/11)
"Interior Secretary Ken Salazar went off-roading in Glamis on Sunday as part of nationwide tour promoting outdoor recreation and a variety of other uses on federal land ... Salazar came with Bob Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management, and both also talked about the use of federal land for big energy projects." With photo slide show.

"Our View: Interior dunes visit is a good message" (Imperial Valley Press, 2/22/11)
"That current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar spent part of Sunday in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area having a staged good time under the aegis of promoting President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative is quite refreshing ... Salazar’s visit may have been ceremonial at best, right down to him whooping it up on a sand rail, but this could be the ceremony the dunes needs and the understanding Imperial County needs from its Washington neighbors."

a dirt bike rider takes a jump off the top of a dune"Thousands flock to dunes for holiday weekend" (Imperial Valley Press, 2/22/11)
"Groups flocked to the dunes last weekend for one of the final big holidays of the off-roading season" -- an estimated 85,000 people. "The rain had an effect on the numbers, but it was still a good weekend. While the dunes season lasts until Easter, United Desert Gateway Program Manager Charla Teeters said she expects President’s Day weekend to be one of the last big weekends of the season. And there looked to be a lot of visitors."


Get Outside in America's Great Outdoors...
Pink flowers spread across a valley floor as snow capped peaks loom in the backgrounds...visit the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.
Providing a picturesque backdrop to local communities, the National Monument significantly contributes to the Coachella Valley's lure as a popular resort and retirement community. It is also a desirable backcountry destination that can be accessed via trails from both the valley floor and the alpine village of Idyllwild.

THIS WEEKEND: "See flowers, wine and music at Wildflower Festival" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 3/2/11)
"You'd be hard-pressed to not find something of interest Saturday afternoon at the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument visitor center ... It's all at the annual Wildflower Festival and boosts the monument's tenth anniversary year."

"Feds, state join forces on acreage" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 3/3/11)
"It all began with Carole Adams’ one-woman effort to remove nonnative plant species from the scenic Piedras Blancas Light Station. Now, after hordes of her volunteers have pulled tons of iceplant and other weeds, the U.S. Outstanding Natural Area that encompasses the light station" extends to "208 acres of adjacent State Park land." Jim Boucher, BLM's Piedras Blancas Light Station manager, credits "incredible" volunteers: "There were 15,000 (volunteer) hours donated three years ago, and in 2009, 18,000 hours. That’s the equivalent of nine full-time employees."

"BLM's Ukiah Field Office invites public comments on OHV grant application" (BLM news release, 2/28/11)
In its draft grant application to the state of California’s Off-Highway Motorized Vehicle Recreation Division, the field office is requesting approximately $250,000 to be used for trail maintenance, law enforcement and operations and maintenance of off-highway vehicle areas. Funds would be used during the 2012 calendar year starting in early January. A public open house to discuss the OHV grants will be held March 24.

RELATED: "Off highway vehicle grant application" (BLM Needles Field Office)
BLM's Needles Field Office is submitting a grant application to the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division to help manage off highway vehicle recreation opportunities on public lands -- requesting funding for operations and maintenance, law enforcement, education, restoration, and planning.

"King Range nature lectures wrapping up" (Eureka Times-Standard, 3/3/11)
Free presentations on Lost Coast fish and birds of prey will be offered Tuesday, March 15, and Tuesday, March 29 in Redway, "wrapping up this year's series of free lectures and outings about the natural wonders of the King Range National Conservation Area … Anyone interested in attending should call Rachel Sowards-Thompson at the BLM King Range National Conservation Area, (707) 986-5411."

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

two burros wait in a corral for adoption"Horse and burro adopters brave cold weather for King City event" (News.bytes Extra)
Seven horses and six burros were adopted in King City over the weekend following a snowy trek from the Litchfield corrals near Susanville. Unseasonably cold weather in the Salinas Valley also failed to deter members of the public who came out to see or adopt horses and burros. Adoptions are scheduled in March for Redlands (March 12) and Temecula (March 19).

"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.

man sits on a horse"Local trainer chosen for 'Mustang Makeover'" (Santa Maria Times, 2/20/11)
"Buellton horse trainer Rouven Krauer has been selected to compete in the Extreme Mustang Trail Challenge in which trainers have 90 days to 'gentle' a wild horse and compete for an estimated purse of $10,000 in prize money. Each competitor picked up a wild mustang Feb. 11-12 to prepare for the competition May 13-15 in Norco."

Man in old cavalry cap"Fort Ord trail named after former Army horse soldier" (The Monterey County Herald, 3/2/11)
"At 87, Allan MacDonald of Marina is still up for a six-mile horseback ride to visit the grave of an old friend -- Comanche, the last ceremonial horse at Fort Ord." The trail leads past a concrete watering trough "built for horses of the 11th 'Blackhorse' Cavalry Regiment and the horse-drawn 76th Field Artillery, both of which were stationed at Fort Ord in the years leading up to World War II." MacDonald got Comanche from the Bureau of Land Management in the late 1960s and "rode her for 23 years in ceremonies at Fort Ord."

RELATED: "Fort Ord Public Lands" (BLM Hollister Field Office)
Come out and enjoy some of the last undeveloped natural wildlands on the Monterey Peninsula, at the former Fort Ord military base. Here the BLM protects and manages 35 species of rare plants and animals along with their native coastal habitats. There are also more than 86 miles of trails for the public to explore on foot, bike or horseback.

"Government wants fewer wild horse and burro roundups" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 2/24/11)
"The federal government wants to round up fewer wild horses and burros from public land and increase the use of birth control to keep the animals from overpopulating their ranges ... In the next two years, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management hopes to reduce the number of animals removed from public land to about 7,600 a year, Bob Abbey, the agency's director, said .... Currently, about 10,000 horses and burros are rounded up annually to keep them from starving or dying of thirst...."

REALATED: "BLM accelerates fundamental reforms to wild horse and burro management" (BLM news release, 2/24/11)
The proposed strategy includes reducing the number of wild horses removed from the range for at least two years; reaffirming the central role that the National Academy of Sciences' on-going review of the program will have on decisions; increasing adoptions; significantly expanding the fertility control to maintain herd levels; and improving procedures to enhance the humane treatment of the animals. The BLM will continue to oppose the killing or slaughter of wild horses or burros as a management practice.


top view of a lizard with a blue tail
western skink
Roses are red,
wild carnations are pink.
What does orange
have to do with a skink?

(a.) Male skinks have blue tales, while females have orange tails.
(b.) Juvenile males usually have orange tails until they are old enough to mate.
(c.) Males often have patches of orange during breeding season.
(d.) During breeding season, male skinks will inflate an orange-colored membrane on their necks, that is usually not visible.
(e.) Skinks have an inordinate liking for "skink oranges" -- a foul-smelling flower found only in southern California.
(f.) It is difficult to find a rhyme for either "orange" or "skink."
------> See answer near the end of this issue of News.bytes.

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

solar mirrors angle up from the desert floor"Solar energy faces tests on greenness" (New York Times, 2/23/11)
"Just weeks after regulators approved the last of nine multibillion-dollar solar thermal power plants to be built in the Southern California desert, a storm of lawsuits and the resurgence of an older solar technology are clouding the future of the nascent industry."

"Native American groups sue to stop solar projects" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 2/27/11)
"Native Americans are clashing with the federal government over plans to fast-track approval and construction of massive solar energy projects that the Indians fear will harm sacred and culturally significant sites in Western deserts ... One suit already has halted work on a major solar farm in Southern California."

"AES anxious to move forward" (KXO Radio, 3/1/11)
Imperial Valley Solar, "a major solar field proposed for the west Imperial County, on Bureau of Land Management land … has been bogged down by litigation filed by the Quechan Indian Tribe and others." Tessera sold the project to AES Electric Utility. Both companies say plans are to "move forward with the project," but that it would "redesigned to a more traditional project and permits would be amended."

"Solar energy farms must be located carefully" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 2/24/11)
Editorial: "To reach our renewable energy goals ... it will take vast solar farms such as those planned east of our valley ... The Desert Sun is a huge fan of solar energy, but these vast developments must be planned in a way that minimizes the impact on the environment and respects tribal culture ... The public has until March 17 to comment on the BLM's plan on where solar farms can be located."

"Renewable energy growth requires expanded transmission line system" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 2/17/11)
"There were two things almost everyone agreed on at the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership's Thursday workshop on transmission lines and renewable energy development in the region. More lines will be needed to take the region's solar, wind and geothermal power to coastal markets, but getting them will be a long, complex process."

RELATED: "CA Supreme Court rejects UCAN appeal, sides with SDG&E on Powerlink" (East County Magazine, 2/24/11)
"The California Supreme Court has denied without comment an appeal filed by Utility Consumers Action Network, which sought to stop the Sunrise Powerlink project on the basis that it violated the California Environmental Quality Act ... Several other lawsuits remain in state and federal courts." SDG&E says the line would carry renewable energy, including energy from several projects on BLM-managed land.

RELATED: "Edison proposes new power substation near Newberry Springs
"Southern California Edison is proposing a new power substation east of Newberry Springs that will be used to transmit power from the proposed Calico Solar project to Southern California customers. The station will be located in Pisgah -- about 35 miles east of Barstow -- and is expected to cover about 70 acres of public land owned by the Bureau of Land Management...."


"Contaminated tailings temporarily close route" (BLM news release, 2/17/11)
The BLM has temporarily closed BLM-designated route CM7602 near the Calico Historic Mining District northeast of Barstow to protect public health and safety. A test using federal testing procedures found concentrations of mercury in mill tailings along the road, that exceed the allowable state and federal standard.

"A wilderness sliced in two" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/1/11)
Editorial: A "beautiful and unscarred territory" in the area "lies in a curious dichotomy. North of the San Diego County line, thousands of acres of federally owned land were designated as wilderness after a three-year effort by Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Palm Springs. That’s not the case south of the line as separate legislation by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, did not pass. Commendably, the congressman is now trying again to preserve 21,000 acres ... It’s a world that well deserves a wilderness designation."

"Why legislators like land-swaps" (The Santa Clarita Valley Signal, 2/20/11)
Senate bill to exchange land in Santa Clarita for which Cemex holds a permit from the BLM to mine gravel: "Washington legislators can look west to Nevada or Virginia for proof that similar bills adopted more than 10 years ago continue to work effectively."

Smiling young man"CCC member named a national Corpsmember of the Year" (Lake County Record-Bee, 2/27/11)
California Conservation Corps member Chris Thomas "joined the program after serving three tours with the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was wounded twice during that time. While in the CCC, Thomas was promoted to crew leader and worked on natural resource projects for the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Water Resources and California State Parks."

"Sheep are back to work on Fort Ord public lands"(BLM news release, 3/3/11)
More than 600 ewes and their lambs are back at work on the BLM’s Fort Ord public lands in Monterey County. The grazing program is part of a cooperative strategy to improve rangeland conditions in this ecologically unique area. "The sheep grazing program at Fort Ord has a proven track record of reducing wildfire hazards and stimulating native plant regeneration. The sheep have also been effective in controlling invasive thistle populations," said Eric Morgan, BLM’s Fort Ord manager.

"BLM Desert Advisory Council to meet in Victorville" (BLM news release, 3/3/11)
The next meeting of the Bureau of Land Management’s California Desert Advisory Council will be March 26 in Victorville. The council will meet in formal session on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be no field trip on Friday, March 25. On that date, the council will hold an internal business meeting on administrative matters.

"Shooting area to close temporarily for one-day tree planting project" (BLM news release, 2/24/11)
A shooting range along Iron Mountain Road west of Redding will be temporarily closed to shooting this Saturday, March 5, when up to 600 Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and their families participate in a one-day tree planting project on public land in the area. The scouts will plant up to 6,000 ponderosa pine seedlings as part of a long term effort to restore a pine-oak forest that was heavily impacted by historic copper smelting activities.

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Listings include petroleum engineer technician (geothermal), fire logistics dispatcher, various firefighting jobs and more.

Our calendar of selected BLM-California events:


"'Wild lands' policy under fire by Republicans" (MSNBC.com, 3/1/1)
"A battle over the West was waged Tuesday in Congress, where House Republicans and 2 Republican governors accused the Obama administration of a land grab by creating 'wild land' designations on federal tracts that could also hold lots of oil, gas and/or minerals."

RELATED: "Wild Lands policy testimony" (BLM national website, 3/1/11)
Transcript of the statement of BLM Director Robert Abbey to the House Natural Resources Committee Tuesday.

RELATED: "'Wild Lands' policy would allow limited development, BLM chief says" (Greenwire at the New York Times, 3/2/11)
"'Wild lands' could accommodate rangeland improvements, wildlife-habitat enhancements or mountain biking as long as those activities don't impair wilderness characteristics, BLM Director Bob Abbey said."

"BLM restores guidance for managing lands with wilderness characteristics as part of multiple-use mission" (BLM news release, 2/25/11)
Since 2003, when its wilderness inventory handbook was revoked as a result of a controversial out-of-court settlement, BLM has lacked comprehensive, long-term guidance on how to identify and manage lands with wilderness characteristics.

oil drilling workersworkers in hard hats gather near wind energy towers"The BLM: A sound investment for America" (BLM national website, Feb. 2011)
The BLM manages 245 million acres of public lands -- and each year, raises more money for the American taxpayer from the use of these lands, than it spends. (PDF file, 1.2 megabytes):

"BLM extending deadline for nominations for Reclamation and Sustainable Mineral Development Awards"
The Bureau of Land Management is inviting nominations for the 2011 Reclamation and Sustainable Mineral Development Awards. These awards recognize solid mineral (non-coal) development operations that embody the principles of sustainable development or represent outstanding examples of reclamation or environmental stewardship.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related website
(c.) Males often have patches of orange during breeding season.

SOURCE: "Western skink - Plestiodon skiltonianus" (BLM California wildlife database)
Males often have orange patches on the sides of their heads and tips of their tails during the breeding season.

- 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.