A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 474 - 3/31/11

yellow wildflowers spread across a plain a speckled lizard blends in with the sand a loader moves sand looks like a mountain lion on a roof a mountain biker speeds past a kneeling photographer


- America's Great Outdoors
- Get outside to America's Great Outdoors: Headwaters Forest Reserve
- FREE poster offer
- Wildflowers
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Our readers write: Monoculture?
- Renewable energy
- Wild horses and burros
- BLM advisory councils
- Wildfires and prevention
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- Selected upcoming events
- Department of the Interior: Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee
- More wildlife on public lands

This issue of News.bytes is online at:

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

a mountain biker speeds past a kneeling photographer"Another popular mountain bike event comes to Keyesville" (News.bytes Extra)
Hot on the heels -- that is, pedals -- of last week’s Keyesville Classic Mountain Bike Race, the Keyesville Special Management Area hosted another popular event. For the first time, the SoCal High School Cycling League held a "Cruise the Keys at Keyesville" mountain bike race there. With approximately 200 high school student participants, plus families and supporters from the schools involved, the event topped the previous week’s attendance and filled the staging area.

looks like a mountain lion on a roofA volunteer at the Spring Festival"Spring Festival at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve" (News.bytes Extra)
Hundreds of nature lovers attended the annual Morongo Valley Spring Festival at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve on March 26.  The festival rings in the arrival of spring to the high desert and showcases the efforts of local community groups that work with the BLM and other land managers in the Morongo Basin area of Southern California.

a loader moves sanda loader moves sand"Keeping the roads open!" (News.bytes Extra)
Sand dunes like those in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area offer a unique off-highway recreation opportunity -- and a steady supply of sand blown across access roads. The BLM El Centro Field Office’s "Force Account" maintenance crew tackles the constant challenge of keeping these roads clear of sand and debris and open to the public.  Popular recreation areas -- like the Imperial Sand Dunes -- require the attention of these unsung workers who tirelessly scrape sand and maintain access.

group poses for a photo outside"Alabama Hills group honored" (The Inyo Register, 3/29/11)
"Local men and women who have devoted themselves to caring for one of the Eastern Sierra’s most precious landscapes have been recognized by the Sierra Business Council with a 2011 Vision Award. Announced earlier this month, the Sierra Vision Award is being accepted by the Alabama Hills Stewardship Program as both a validation of the group’s blood, sweat and tears and a source of inspiration as they continue their efforts to preserve and protect the public lands west of Lone Pine."

"If you take the tails on the trails ..." (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 3/30/11)
"More than 35 dogs and their owners met ... last Saturday to participate in the second annual Tails on Trails hike." The Cove Neighborhood Association and City of La Quinta sponsored the event "to educate people about the importance of proper etiquette on trails" and protect wildlife by not taking pets into the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. "A ranger from the Bureau of Land Management conducted the short 'happy trails hike,' pointing out dog-approved hiking trails and areas where owners -- when hiking without their pets -- might spot a roaming Big Horn sheep."

"P.G. museum, federal land agency team up" (The Monterey County Herald, 3/26/11)
"The Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History plans to collaborate with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to help build public awareness about the rocks, islands, reefs and marine-life habitats under the stewardship of the California Coastal National Monument ... The vision for the campaign is in the embryonic stage. Brochures, exhibits and educational events are likely to be part of an evolving plan."

thick stand of treesGET OUTSIDE to America's Great Outdoors...
hikers along a tree-shaded trail... walk through one of the last large stands of old-growth redwood forest at the Headwaters Forest Reserve, where thousand-year-old redwoods seem to touch the sky. Take some time and enjoy the natural and historic values of this unique area.

yellow wildflowers spread across a plainFREE OFFER: Poster of wildflowers on the Carrizo Plain
This year's cold rainy weather has delayed wildflowers at the Carrizo Plain - but you can get a jump on the view with this free poster of the Carrizo Plain National Monument.
Note: our free poster giveaways are always very popular and run out quickly. To try to make this giveaway as fair as possible, we will open this link to requests at 11:15 a.m. (Pacific Time) -- tomorrow (Friday, April 1).


"BLM to offer wildflower hikes at Cache Creek" (BLM news release, 3/8/11)
The Bureau of Land Management will host free guided hikes to look for wildflowers in the Cache Creek Natural Area in Lake County on several Saturdays this spring, including April 9, 16, 23 and 30 and May 7. Early reservations are suggested for the popular hikes -- see news release for details. Hikes will be cancelled in rainy weather.

"2011 wildflower hotline" (Theodore Payne Foundation)
March 25: "The calendar indicates the first week of spring, but the weather is behaving like the first week of winter! Rain, snow and cool temperatures continue to keep areas north of the LA Basin in a holding pattern. Flowers are waiting for warmer conditions before opening. Please check ahead before embarking on any outing as many roads and trails may have weather related damage or closures."

"Wildflowers" (BLM California)
General information, plus links to specific areas on public lands.

"Wildflower Reports 2011 - Southern California" (Desert USA)
Photos and wildflower reports from members of the public. Includes link to wildflowers of "Northern California and the mountains," but no wildflower reports there yet.


a speckled lizard blends in with the sand
flat-tailed horned lizard
Flat-tailed horned lizards require habitats that offer fine sand with little vegetation. Why?
(a.) They burrow into the sand to avoid temperature extremes
(b.) They have no defense mechanisms and need a clear view to spot predators
(c.) Vegetation sucks up the buried water they rely on
(d.) They need to swallow the sand to help grind and digest their food
(e.) They moved to the desert to escape their severe pollen allergies, and retirees planting those water-loving species they escaped, just make them worse

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

Regarding last week's News.bytes Extra on the Scouting for Trees Project, Patricia M. writes about her concern with monocropping (planting just one species in an area).  She worries that "6000 trees in one place creates a wonderful area of speciality - as well as potential for ecological disaster via something like infection ... fungus ... insects...."

We contacted the forestry staff in our BLM Redding Field Office, and they added some details to our original story:
     "We had just thinned the area of dense brush to reduce fire hazard and promote forest succession.  Due to lack of fire disturbance, the area was a high fire hazard of dense mature brush and competing trees.
     "In this project area we are inter-planting native pine trees within the thinned-out brush and oak/pine forest.  Several tree species still grow on the site including gray pine, knobcone pine, western red bud, and three species of oak. The ponderosa pine seedlings were planted at an average of 17' x 17' spacing and typically more than 50% will die due to our long hot and dry summers. At the very best, the surviving trees after one summer would be spaced approximately 35 feet apart.
     "We  share your concern about the importance of planting a variety of species and not promoting monocrops on public lands.  We can discuss with project organizers next year the possibility of planting a variety of tree species in this project."
     Thanks, Patricia, for your comments and your interest in the public lands.

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

"BLM initiates environmental review of proposed Casa Diablo IV Geothermal Development Project" (BLM news release, 3/28/11)
The proposed Casa Diablo IV Geothermal Development Project would be built on Inyo National Forest lands and private lands within existing federal geothermal leases -- and would include the construction of a new 33-megawatt geothermal power plant, up to 16 new production/injection wells, multiple pipelines and an electric transmission line. The BLM will hold a 30-day public scoping period from March 25, 2011 to April 25, 2011.

"BLM to analyze geothermal lease as part of West Chocolate Mountains Renewable Energy Evaluation Area" (BLM news release, 3/29/11)
The BLM is analyzing the environmental impacts of making approximately 20,762 acres of land in the West Chocolate Mountains Renewable Energy Evaluation Area available for geothermal, solar, and wind energy development. The BLM will use this same Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate the impacts of a pending geothermal lease application by Western Geothermal Partners in the planning area.

large area of solar panels across the desertpower lines above the desert"Think globally, destroy locally: Environmentalism for the 21st Century" (The Atlantic, 3/29/11)
"If ever there is going to be a place where solar energy works, the Mojave Desert is it." Besides sunny skies, "it's close to the large electricity markets in southern California and Las Vegas." But 4.6 million of the 16 million acres in the Mojave Desert are"critical habitat" for the desert tortoise. "Putting a solar plant anywhere in -- or near -- that habitat requires extensive off-setting measures, if the plant can even be built despite preservationist opposition. To make matters worse, the desert tortoise and solar developers have the same good taste in Mojave terrain."

"Solar project could displace 140 tortoises" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/30/11)
" A solar energy development on public land in northeastern San Bernardino County could displace as many as 140 desert tortoises, far more than the 17 that the developer's surveys found before the project was approved ... Biologists with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which is overseeing the tortoise removals, now estimate that an additional 101 tortoises are living in areas of the 5.6-square-mile site that have not yet been cleared...."

"Renewable Energy Priority Projects" (BLM California)
To be a 2011 Priority Project, a company must demonstrate to the BLM that the project has progressed far enough to formally start the environmental review and public participation process, as well as have the potential to be cleared for approval by the end of 2011. In addition, the projects must be sited in an area that minimizes impacts to the environment. The projects are largely low-to-medium conflict, in accordance with the BLM’s policy guidance on pre-application screening.

"Interior report reveals potential to generate significant clean electricity and create jobs at existing dam facilities" (Department of the Interior press release, 3/31/11)
The Department of the Interior today released the results of an internal study that shows the department could generate up to one million megawatt hours of electricity annually and create jobs by adding hydropower capacity at 70 of its existing facilities.

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

This weekend: "Mustangs, burros available for adoption in Red Bluff, Chico"
(BLM news release, 3/3/11)
Animals will be available Saturday and Sunday, April 2-3, in Red Bluff, and Saturday, April 16, in Chico. Both adoption events run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with previews from 2 to 6 p.m. on the preceding Fridays.

"BLM taking proposals for wild horse sanctuaries"
(Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 3/29/11)
The BLM "is seeking proposals for establishing 'eco-sanctuaries' for wild horses amid controversy over its handling of these icons of the range ... requirements for a sanctuary include keeping at least 200 horses in good condition ... Also, horse sanctuaries would need to be open to the public in a way not disruptive to the horses. 'What we typically want out of an eco-sanctuary is something that's better for the taxpayer and better for the horses,' said Karla Bird, the BLM's acting division chief for wild horses and burros."

"BLM releasing small number of horses, mules into Twin Peaks herd area"(BLM news release, 3/31/11)
A small number of wild horses and mules and a wild burro will be released into the Bureau of Land Management’s Twin Peaks Herd Management Area next week as part of the BLM’s work to maintain a sustainable population with desirable animal characteristics.

RELATED: "BLM announces second solicitation for proposals to establish wild horse ecosanctuaries" (BLM national news release, 3/25/11)
The ecosanctuaries would be established on combined public and private lands located within Herd Areas in the West, and would help the BLM feed and care for excess wild horses that have been removed from Western public rangelands. The facilities would be publicly accessible with a potential for ecotourism. Links to questions and answers.

"Wild horses and burros" (BLM California website)
Learn more about wild horses and burros, check the adoption schedule, more.


"BLM seeks nominees for California Desert Advisory Council" (BLM news release, 3/29/11)
The BLM's California Desert District is soliciting nominations from the public for six members of its California Desert District Advisory Council to serve a three-year term. The council’s 15 members provide advice and recommendations to the BLM on the management of 11 million acres (17 thousand square miles) of public lands in eight counties of Southern California. Nominations will be accepted through May 9, 2011.

"Members named to BLM Northwest California Resource Advisory Council" (BLM news release, 3/25/11)
Members reappointed to three-year terms, and their areas of interest, are Michael Kelley, of Berkeley, dispersed recreation and Shirley Laos, of Trinidad, Native American tribes. New members are Robert Schneider, of Davis, environmental groups; Eric Lueder, of San Rafael, off-highway-vehicle interests; and Dennis Possehn, of Anderson, timber industry interests.

"Members named to BLM Northeast California Resource Advisory Council" (BLM news release, 3/25/11)
Members reappointed to three year terms, and their areas of representation are Todd Swickard, of Susanville, livestock grazing; Alan Cain, of Alturas, wild horse and burro interests; Gale Dupree, of Loyalton, national and regional environmental groups; and Jim Chapman, of Susanville, elected officials. Susanville resident Brad Hanson was newly appointed as a public at large representative.

"BLM Resource Advisory Council to meet in Ukiah" (BLM news release, 3/31/11)
Public land and natural resource management topics in northwest California are on the agenda for a meeting of the Bureau of Land Management’s Northwest California Resource Advisory Council on April 28 and 29, in Ukiah. A field tour is April 28.


"Departments of Interior and Agriculture improve wildland fire management" (Department of the Interior press release, 3/28/11)
Two new documents -- A National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (Cohesive Strategy) and The Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act of 2009 – Report to Congress -- provide the framework for a three-phase, strategic effort to restore and maintain resilient landscapes, create fire-adapted communities, and respond to wildfires.

"NM fire investigators learn how to find the cause" (Carlsbad Current-Argus reprinted in Monterey County Herald, 3/27/11)
"Have you ever wondered how, after a fire has burned thousands of acres, investigators can pinpoint where it started and determine if it was arson, human negligence or weather-related?"Fire investigators from agencies including the BLM learned how in a recent training course in New Mexico.


"Valley fights Marines' expansion plans" (Hi-Desert Star, 3/30/11)
"As the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center explores a 379,000-acre expansion, residents in the Johnson Valley area are voicing their disapproval of the project. By February of this year, the Department of the Navy had received 20,000 public comments, which began flooding in since the Navy began studying the expansion areas in October 2008. Overwhelming public input led to the drafting of a sixth alternative to the original plan..."

"Supreme Court stays out of Joshua Tree landfill dispute" (Greenwire at the New York Times, 3/28/11)
"The Supreme Court decided today not to take up a dispute over a land transfer involving the federal government that could lead to the construction in California of the nation's largest landfill. The proposed transfer, involving land near Joshua Tree National Park, is between Kaiser Ventures LLC and its subsidiary, Mine Reclamation Corp., on one side and the Bureau of Land Management on the other."

RELATED: "Supreme Court denies hearing for Eagle Mountain dump" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/28/11)
"The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to review arguments over Eagle Mountain, a long-proposed plan to situate the nation's largest trash dump in the desert east of Joshua Tree National Park. The decision is the latest in a series of hurdles for the landfill's developers, Kaiser Ventures and Mine Reclamation. They have been trying for 23 years to convert industrialist Henry Kaiser's former iron ore mine east of Indio, which closed in 1982."

"BLM announces three additional community planning meetings for Kanaka Valley" (BLM news release, 3/29/11)
The Bureau of Land Management’s Mother Lode Field Office will hold public meetings in Cameron Park in May, June and July for the community-based management plan of the Kanaka Valley area near the Pine Hill Preserve. The working schedule of meeting topics for the full series of meetings is posted at the Mother Lode Field Office website.

"Yurok Tribe seeks input on draft legislation; plan seeks transfer of federal land to tribe's control" (Eureka Times-Standard, 3/26/11)
The tribe is "only working on draft legislation" to "transfer federal lands at the mouth of the Klamath River and near the town of Klamath to the tribe." Earlier plans called for allowing the Yurok Tribe "to buy or acquire through transfer of lands some 238,000 acres and redraw Yurok Reservation boundaries, including "Redding Rock, a culturally significant sea stack off Freshwater Lagoon" managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

artist's conception of Desert Xpress high-speed train"Desert high-speed rail stays on track: Groundbreaking could be in a year" (KCET Los Angeles, 3/26/11)
"The Federal Railroad Administration released its final environmental report on the Las Vegas to Victorville route Friday, placing the proposed $6 billion DesertXpress one step closer to breaking ground. U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood reintroduced the project, and the 30,000 construction jobs it would create ...." Planned routes could impact BLM-managed lands in California.

RELATED: "Environmental study completed on Desert Xpress Project" (KLAS-TV Las Vegas, 3/25/11)
"But the $6 billion project promising 30,000 jobs could still be a couple years out. Animation of the DesertXpress high speed train shows passengers going 150 miles an hour. It connects Las Vegas to Victorville, California, 85 miles away from downtown Los Angeles. Designers claim it would take 3 million cars off I-15 and create 30,000 construction jobs."

RELATED: "DesertXpress - Las Vegas to Victorville" (Federal Railroad Administration)
"The FRA is serving as the lead federal agency for the environmental review of the DesertXpress High-Speed Passenger Train project. The DesertXpress project is proposed by DesertXpress Enterprises, LLC to provide reliable and safe passenger rail transportation along an approximate 200-mile corridor between Southern California (Victorville) and Las Vegas, Nevada, as an alternative to automobile or air travel."

"Pot-busting operation still on for Mendocino National Forest" (The Willits News, 3/30/11)
"The summer's six-county operation targeting pot growers in Mendocino National Forest is definitely still a "go" despite budget woes at the county, state and federal levels, Sheriff Tom Allman said this week ... "The US Forest Service has been a huge partner in this operation," says Allman. "We are also working with Lake County and the Bureau of Land Management on problems in the Cow Mountain area. This operation is not just about the national forest but one on public lands."

marijuana among treesRELATED: "Hidden pot farms pose threat on public lands" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 3/26/11)
"In 2008, the Mexican cartels started moving onto public lands in Nevada as a result of increased law enforcement pressure in California and Oregon, where they are well established," said JoLynn Worley, spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

"BLM grants Burning Man 2011 permit in Nevada" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 3/30/11)
"Burning Man organizers have been granted the federal permit they need to hold their annual counter-culture festival in the desert 100 miles north of Reno this summer. Officials for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved the special recreation permit Wednesday for a 4,400-acre section of the Black Rock Desert...."

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Check the site for the latest listings.

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

April 1 and 2 - El Centro ATV safety training
See details with listing

April 7 - Kanaka Valley community planning meeting
Rescue, CA


"Secretary Salazar opens comment period on sites significant to the life of César Chávez" (Department of the Interior press release, 3/31/11)
Secretary Salazar encouraged the public to comment on sites significant to César Chávez and the farm movement in the western United States for potential preservation, interpretation and possible inclusion in the National Park System. The comments will be considered as part of a congressionally mandated special resource study.

"Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee to hold first meeting" (Department of the Interior press release, 3/31/11)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement Director Michael R. Bromwich today announced that the Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee will hold its first public meeting on April 18. "The safe, responsible and appropriate development of our nation’s offshore oil and gas resources requires a thoroughly coordinated and comprehensive approach," Secretary Salazar said.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(a.) They burrow into the sand to avoid temperature extremes

SOURCE: "Flat-tailed horned lizard - Phrynosoma mcallii" (BLM California wildlife database)
Flat-tailed honed lizards require habitats that offer fine sand with little vegetation. They burrow into the sand to avoid temperature extremes and stay for hours buried just beneath the surface.


close-up of a desert tortoise"Mojave Max emerges to signal beginning of spring" (Las Vegas Sun, 3/29/11)
"Spring has arrived in Southern Nevada, according to Mojave Max, the desert tortoise that serves as Las Vegas’ version of Punxsutawney Phil. Mojave Max emerged from his burrow at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area at 2:03 p.m. Tuesday, nine days after the spring equinox and nearly two months after the groundhog in Pennsylvania predicted an early spring."

RELATED: California's own Mojave Max emerged from her burrow last month. The winning guess of the time came from a 7th grader at Toro Middle School in Thermal.

a boy clasps hands to his head as a large bird lands on ita group of people in the dusk hold binoculars"Birding festival offers a 'hoot' for everyone" (Yuma Sun, 3/30/11)
Just east of the California state line: BLM-Arizona takes part in this year's Yuma Birding and Nature Festival April 13-16 -- "one of Yuma's signature events, drawing visitors from across the nation to not only witness firsthand our rare ecology but also to experience it."
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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
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