A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 487 - 7/1/11

an otter points to a "play" buttonclose-up of river otter's headfirefighters gather for training a smiling woman stands with her horse a pelican with open mouth stands in shallow water


- America's Great Outdoors
- Get outdoors tip of the week: Rivers
- Funny.bytes: More rivers
- Wildlife trivia question of the week: Even more rivers
- Wildfires and prevention
- Wild horses and burros
- Renewable energy
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- National BLM and Department of the Interior items
- Wildlife stories from your public lands in California
This issue of News.bytes is online at:


workers set a fire ringa dog lies under a picnic tableSanta Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Service First work project with the US Forest Service
The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service worked with staff and volunteers in a Service First project to improve camping amenities on Santa Rosa Mountain, within the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

young people pull a large wooden hand carta large group of people gather around wooden hand carts"Bizz Johnson Trail hosts hard cart trip commemoration"(News.bytes Extra)
The BLM's Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail took on the look of the mid 1800s during the week of June 27, when an event commemorating the Mormon Migration of 1847 traversed the entire 26-mile length of the trail.

America's Great Outdoors logo sports snow-capped peaksRELATED: "Trestle painting will cause detour on Bizz Johnson Trail" (BLM news, 6/28/11)
Visitors to the Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail near Susanville will be directed onto a detour around the historic Devil's Corral railroad trestle during a painting project in July. Walkers, bicyclists and horseback riders will cross the Susan River on a former highway bridge from July 5 through July 22, while workers apply a protective paint coating to the trestle which is about seven miles west of Susanville.

"Students help build replica sand shack at Headwaters Forest Reserve" (BLM news, 6/29/11)
A little more "life" has been breathed into the logging ghost town of Falk in the Headwaters Forest Reserve, thanks to months of work by students from Fortuna's East High School. Construction trades students built a replica "sand shack" next to the Headwaters Education Center, which is a restored locomotive barn along the Elk River Trail east of Eureka. The redwoods of Headwaters were once the lifeblood of this town, with its own lumber mill and railroad.

"New trail projects reach completion" (BLM Wyoming news, 6/27/11)
BLM-Idaho's Shoshone Field Office recently finished two trails projects specifically designed and built for mountain bikers. The International Mountain Bicycling Association provided three of the best trail builders in the country that specialize in flow trails. The BLM also brought in Tom McCown, a BLM employee out of Hollister, California, to help with construction. "Tom, a skilled trail builder, used a trail dozer to build and shape the initial trail tread and features," said BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner John Kurtz.

sign for the Merced Riverflowers bloom on a river bankGET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK:
Ride the rapids on the Merced Wild & Scenic River. Keep in mind, though, that a quickly-melting snowpack is creating high flows and very cold water -- kayaking and rafting conditions are challenging and potentially dangerous for now.

RELATED: "BLM stresses safety for Susan River recreation"(BLM news, 6/20/11)
Thanks to a heavy mountain snowpack, wet spring and quickly rising temperatures, the Susan River near Susanville is flowing higher, faster and colder than normal for early summer. The BLM advises anyone recreating on the river to be careful. Those taking to the water in kayaks, rafts, canoes and even inner tubes should wear life jackets or life vests, helmets and shoes suitable for rocks and swift current. They should be constantly alert for hazards. (repeated from earlier News.bytes)

an otter points to a "play" buttona cartoon kayak makes its way down a riverFUNNY.BYTES: River Adventure game
Something a little different from Funny.bytes this week -- a game instead of a video. Kayak down the river, through the rapids -- pick up trash, but avoid collisions with objects. Note: You may need to adjust the sound level on your computer.
Funny.bytes logo includes a cartoon man laughingFunny.bytes is an occasional feature of News.bytes.


close-up of river otter's head
a river otter pauses on a rocky bank above a river
Speaking of rivers and river otters: A
common otter message to another otter might be called:
(a.) a semaphore
(b.) Morse Code
(c.) a catcall
(d.) a Smell-o-gram
(e.) a smack upside the head
------> See answer -- and more information -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.


firefighters gather for traininga burned-out schoolbus sits amid aftermath of wildfire"Experts: Local wildfire danger minimal, but surrounding areas have been burned before" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 6/26/11)
The surrounding mountains have seen devastating fires and could again. Sparser Coachella Valley vegetation means fire spreads less quickly on the desert floor. But non-native grasses are a danger, and "are denser this year because of the heavy winter rains." Ron Woychak, fire management officer with the BLM's California Desert District said, "It's all over the place. It dries fast and cures really quickly." But "it's still too early to tell whether this year's fire season will be better or worse than any other year...."

"BLM announces fire restrictions for lands managed by Arcata Field Office" (BLM news, 6/28/11)
Effective July 1, the Bureau of Land Management is implementing fire restrictions for lands managed by the Arcata Field Office in Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity and Mendocino counties.  The restrictions will remain in effect until further notice.

"BLM announces fire restrictions for lands managed by Redding Field Office" (BLM news, 6/28/11)
Fire restrictions take effect July 1 on public lands managed by the Redding Field Office in Shasta, Tehama, Butte, Trinity and Siskiyou counties.

"BLM announces fire restrictions for lands managed by Ukiah Field Office" (BLM news, 6/24/11)
Fire restrictions take effect July 1 on public lands managed by the Ukiah Field Office in Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, Napa, Yolo, Colusa, Glenn and Solano counties.

"National fire news" (National Interagency Fire Center, NIFC)
Current wildfire information, updated Monday - Friday during wildfire season.

"InciWeb" (Incident Information System)
An "interagency all-risk incident information management system."

"Take responsibility..." (California Fire Alliance)
Protect your home. Create 100 feet of defensible space. In California, the number of homes and businesses is growing in the Wildland Urban Interface -- and fire is an increasing threat. Reduce your home's fire danger by taking responsibility today.

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

a smiling woman stands with her horse"Meet Sammy B. Good ... and take part in a dinner ride and adoption" (News.bytes Extra)
Meet Karen Lowe's mustang, adopted from the Bureau of Land Management in 2008. "Sam is very sweet, loves people, and lets anyone get on him" - plus he volunteers for search and rescue operations. ALSO: On July 9, the BLM's Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse & Burro Corrals will be hosting an adoption and trail/dinner ride.

"BLM announces wild horse and burro gather schedule for summer 2011" (BLM national news, 6/20/11)
The Bureau of Land Management announced its tentative summer schedule for gathering wild horses and burros from overpopulated herds on Western public rangelands. The gathers are needed to bring herd sizes into balance with other rangeland resources and uses, as required by Federal law and approved land-use plans.

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

"Solar energy zones temporarily segregated under interim rule" (BLM national news, 6/29/11)
24 tracts of BLM-administered land in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah will be temporarily segregated from the location of mining claims or other land appropriations for a two-year period. This is designed to facilitate renewable energy development on public lands by temporarily closing them to the location of mining claims. The segregation applies to the filing of new mining claims and does not affect valid existing rights.

"Solar loan guarantees announced" (Associated Press at Sacramento Bee, 6/29/11)
"The Department of Energy has announced nearly $4.5 billion in conditional commitments for loan guarantees for three California solar projects, the agency said. The announcement includes $680 million for the Antelope Valley Solar Ranch in Los Angeles County, $1.88 billion for the Desert Sunlight project in Riverside County and $1.93 billion in loans for the Topaz Solar project in San Luis Obispo County."

RELATED: Department of Energy news release (6/30/11)

RELATED: "Solar loans to get federal backing" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/30/11)
The Department of Energy announced "a partial conditional guarantee of $1.88 billion in loans for construction of the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight solar power project in eastern Riverside County ... planned on 4,000 acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management near Desert Center ... First Solar officials said earlier this week that their financing plans for Desert Sunlight would have been derailed indefinitely by Riverside County's proposed 2 percent franchise fee on solar project revenues."

RELATED: "Renewable energy priority projects" (BLM-California)
BLM-California is working to diversify the nation's energy portfolio through the development of wind, solar, geothermal, and transmission siting on BLM-managed public lands within the state.  Many of these developments are reviewed and approved jointly with the State of California through a unique partnership among BLM, the California Energy Commission, and the California Public Utilities Commission.

"Supervisors put off vote on solar fee" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 6/29/11)
Riverside County supervisors held off on a proposal for "solar projects that seek a county permit" to "pay a 2 percent franchise fee on the gross annual revenues" to "help offset the increased demand being put on law enforcement, medical facilities and county roads." Supervisors said "the fee would not apply to Oakland-based Solar Millennium, which broke ground June 17 on a 1,000-megawatt project near Blythe ... County supervisors will again discuss the solar franchise fee at the Aug. 16 meeting."

RELATED: "Editorial: A dark day for solar power as tax on plants proposed" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 6/25/11)
"The Desert Sun is not convinced the impact justifies such a sweeping change for solar projects that are so close to final approval. The proposed fee comes too late for projects that have been on a fast-track approval process since December 2009. The projects are in remote areas, many so distant they can't been seen from the freeway. There may be an impact in case of a wildfire, but that has already been addressed. We don't see much else."

construction workers around a deep trench in a street"Powerlink work takes toll on East County, residents say" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/24/11)
Pretty much everyone knew ... that the construction of SDG&E's $1.9 billion Sunrise Powerlink across East County would strain the region. Now that the transmission line is starting to take shape along a serpentine stretch of mountain, dale and country road, residents say the massive project is taking a toll all right." San Diego Gas & Electric proposed the line to bring renewable power from projects in Imperial County.


"Fourth of July weekend on the Kern River Ranger District" (Kern Valley Sun, 6/29/11)
The Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce is putting on a Independence Day weekend fireworks display on Saturday July 2, under a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service. "Forest Service, Kern County Fire Department, and Bureau of Land Management firefighters will be on standby during the fireworks event, which will start at approximately 9:00 PM Saturday. The agencies look forward to helping the public attend a wonderful show while minimizing the risk of wildfires."

"BLM seeks public comment on Briggs mine expansion" (BLM news, 6/30/11)
The BLM is seeking public comment on a proposed 94-acre expansion of the CR Briggs Corporation's gold mine operations area located eight miles south of Ballarat, on the western front of the Panamint Mountains. The expansion would extend the mine life by three to five years.

"BLM proposes to complete route designation for Furnace Creek Road" (BLM news, 6/29/11)
The BLM seeks public comments as it considers an appropriate vehicle route designation for Furnace Creek Road in Mono County. In 2009, Congress passed legislation designating the White Mountains Wilderness, and closed 8.5 miles of the Furnace Creek vehicle route on the Inyo National Forest to vehicles. That left about two miles of the route undesignated on BLM land within a narrow 60-foot-wide non-wilderness corridor.

"Pot farm eradicated north of Springville on BLM land" (Visalia Times-Delta, 6/30/11)
"Officers eradicated 35,988 marijuana plants and confiscated 400 pounds of partially processed marijuana" from an "operation on Bureau of Land Management land" that "was spotted during a reconnaissance flight over public lands in Tulare County."

RELATED: "Ranchers alerted about marijuana operations" (Capital Press, 6/28/11)
"Criminals are establishing more and increasingly sophisticated illegal marijuana operations on public and private lands in the West, a federal agent says ... the people who grow the marijuana are well armed and will not hesitate to defend their illegal interests ... While ... farmers and ranchers know the land better than anyone and can be the agency's eyes and ears, he cautioned them to make a hasty retreat if they accidentally run into one of the operations. There were two shootings at marijuana operations in Oregon last year and five in California..."

"Dogs sniff out invasive plants on Western lands" (Reuters, 6/25/11)
"Dogs trained to sniff out invasive plants are the latest weapon in the war against weeds that threaten to choke off vast stretches of native forests and grasslands across the West ... More than one-quarter of the 250 million acres of mostly Western lands under BLM management have been ravaged by invasive plants, which daily claim thousands of additional acres."

"Part of popular Bump and Grind trail closed" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 6/28/11)
A spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game "said closing the upper Bump and Grind is necessary to encourage endangered peninsular bighorn sheep to return to the plateau and raise their young ... Hikers and other opponents of the closure say there's no scientific basis for the claim the trail closure will help bighorn sheep survive." A study to determine that "was never funded."

RELATED: "Trails and trailhead locations at the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument"(BLM Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
Much of this landscape is remote and challenging.  You can't always depend on a signpost or a ranger to get you out of a fix. Pack so that you could take care of yourself -- if necessary -- overnight.

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)


"Federal agencies to improve coordination to support energy development and safeguard air quality" (Department of the Interior news, 6/24/11)
In keeping with President Obama's strategy to expand domestic oil and gas production safely and responsibly, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released an interagency approach to address air quality issues associated with onshore oil and gas development on public lands.

"GOP plan would open more public land to off-road vehicles" (Sacramento Bee, 6/27/11)
"Motorcyclists and ATV riders are revved up by a Republican plan that would remove restrictions on motorized access to 43 million acres of public land nationwide, while environmentalists say it would be a big mistake ... critics have long complained that current federal policies put far too much land off-limits for motorized access, making it impossible for motorcyclists and snowmobilers to take their vehicles to remote wilderness areas."

"Sudden reversal on 'wild lands'"(San Bernardino County Sun, 6/26/11)
Editorial: "The Obama administration's about-face on a policy that would allow temporary protection of pristine federally owned land is disappointing, particularly here in California, where residents so clearly value wilderness. In a memo this month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said his agency would not designate U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands as 'wild lands,' which would safeguard them while lawmakers mull whether to permanently protect them..."

"Salazar announces $2.9 million in grants to preserve Japanese American confinement sites" (Department of the Interior press release, 6/23/11)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the National Park Service is awarding 24 grants totaling $2.9 million to preserve and interpret sites where Japanese Americans were confined during World War II. Grants from the Japanese American Confinement Sites Program may go to the 10 War Relocation Authority camps set up in 1942, or to other sites, including assembly, relocation, and isolation centers.

"Federal agencies partner to revitalize urban waterways in communities across the U.S." (Department of the Interior press release, 6/24/11)
A new federal partnership aims to stimulate regional and local economies, create local jobs, improve quality of life, and protect Americans' health by revitalizing urban waterways in under-served communities across the country. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership, an innovative federal union comprised of 11 agencies, will focus its initial efforts on seven pilot locations, including the Los Angeles River Watershed in California.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) a Smell-o-gram

SOURCE: "We 'otter' learn about otters" (Redwood Times, 6/21/11)
"River otters, like some of their weasel cousins, use scent to communicate among members of their species. They do this is several ways. One way is by making scent mounds. An otter will scrape together a mound of mud, grass, and debris, then it will deposit musky-scented urine or feces on top. Otter scent glands can produce a yellowish secretion that is quite pungent. Another method is to use their scat, or droppings."

Related items:

"Northern River Otter - Lutra canadensis" (BLM-California wildlife database)

"Orphaned baby otters get swim lessons at Florida Aquarium" (Tampa Bay Online, 6/1/11)
"A pair of orphaned otters poked snouts tentatively into the water, backed away and generally dithered until a fish dangled before their noses was too much to resist and they plunged into a pool at The Florida Aquarium. Today was the final lesson in their swimming instruction..."

close-up of face of river otter"Lontra canadensis - northern river otter" (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Animal Diversity Web)
Individuals live alone or in family groups, typically females and their young. They are known as playful animals, exhibiting behaviors such as mud/snow sliding, burrowing through the snow, and waterplay. Many 'play' activities actually serve a purpose. Some are used to strengthen social bonds, to practice hunting techniques, and to scent mark." More information and photos, from this "educational resource written largely by and for college students."

"River otters"(National Geographic Creature Features)
Photos and information for kids.

More wildlife news from your public lands:

a desert tortoise among dry grasses"Genetic analysis splits desert tortoise into two species" (U.S. Geological Survey, 6/28/11)
"A new study shows that the desert tortoise, thought to be one species for the past 150 years, now includes two separate and distinct species, based on DNA evidence and biological and geographical distinctions. This genetic evidence confirms ... that tortoises west and east of the Colorado River are two separate species."

RELATED: "Desert tortoises may be two separate species" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 6/28/11)
Along with the genetic differences between the tortoises, there are also some physical and behavioral differences, said Mickey Quillman, chief of resources for the Barstow Bureau of Land Management office.

a pelican with open mouth stands in shallow water"Brown pelicans' journey not an easy flight this year" (Imperial Valley Press, 6/24/11)
"Between 5,000 and 10,000 brown pelicans normally come from their breeding colonies in Mexico up to the Salton Sea to spend the summer and then return in the fall." This year, many are "are either coming to rest in unusual areas such as people's backyards, injuring themselves or dying," said biologist Tom Anderson of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge.

"Colorado caves opened despite threat to bats" (Los Angeles Times, 6/28/11)
"The Bureau of Land Management has opened access to three caves in Colorado that state officials had recommended remain closed to prevent human spread of a deadly bat disease. The agency placed tight restrictions on a permit for access to three caves in Glenwood Springs, Colo., that the agency said have either no use or very limited use by bats."
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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
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