A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 489 - 7/15/11

close-up of a furry squirrel a young man and woman near an OHV smile at the camera solar panels on flat ground three cartoon mascots wave to visitors horses and riders take to the hills on a trail


- Renewable energy
- America's Great Outdoors
- Get outdoors tip of the week: Visit us at the California State Fair!
- Wildfires and prevention
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Wild horses and burros
- 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
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:

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

"Feds to refine plan on solar development zones" (Bloomberg Businessweek
, 7/14/11)
"Federal officials are refining their plan for speeding up solar energy development in zones of public lands in six western states, after receiving about 80,000 comments on the plan, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said." The Bureau of Land Management's deputy director of operations, Mike Pool, said "he anticipates eliminating and reducing some zones but that he couldn't give specifics yet."

RELATED: "Solar energy zones will get more scrutiny" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/14/11)
"Patches of public land in the West -- including several in San Bernardino and Riverside counties -- will get additional environmental scrutiny before they are designated as solar energy zones, U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar announced Thursday. With the environmental studies done in advance, energy developers would face fewer bureaucratic hurdles in such zones. The additional reviews will ensure that big solar projects do minimal harm to wildlife habitat and other resources, Salazar said."

RELATED: "Salazar approves major renewable energy projects, identifies next step in solar energy development" (Department of the Interior news, 7/14/11)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the approval of four new projects on public lands, the launch of environmental reviews on three others, and the next step in a comprehensive environmental analysis to identify ‘solar energy zones’ on public lands in six western states. Includes links to fact sheets with more information, and maps.

The BLM initiates environmental reviews for more renewable energy in California:

Solar project near El Centro:
San Diego Gas and Electric has applied to the BLM for a right-of-way on public lands to construct the Ocotillo Sol project, a solar photovoltaic power plant facility on approximately 115 acres about nine miles southwest of El Centro and 82 miles east of San Diego. If approved by the BLM, the project would be a peak 20-megawatt photovoltaic project.

Alta East wind project in Kern County:
Alta Windpower Development, LLC, has requested a right-of-way authorization to construct, operate, maintain and decommission the 300-megawatt Alta East Wind Project, on approximately 3,200 acres near the town of Mojave. The project would include wind turbines, access roads, and energy collection lines on 2,083 acres of public land and 1,117 acres of private land under the jurisdiction of Kern County.

Tylerhorse wind energy project in Kern County:
enXco Development Corporation has applied to the BLM for a right-of-way to construct a wind generation power plant facility on 1,100 acres of public lands approximately 15 miles west of California State Highway 14, 12.5 miles south of California State Highway 58 and 8 miles north of State Route 138.

Renewable energy near the Salton Sea:
West Chocolate Mountains Renewable Energy Evaluation Area: The planning amendment considers approximately 20,762 acres of BLM-managed surface lands for testing and developing solar and wind energy facilities and for leasing approximately 19,162 acres of federal mineral estate for geothermal energy testing and development. A 90-day public comment period ends Sept. 29.

solar panels on the ground"Riverside County plan for solar fee still up in air" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 7/14/11)
"The $600,000 deal First Solar struck with Riverside County officials last week solved the immediate crisis of making sure the company can get the county permits -- and federal loan guarantee -- it needs for its 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight project east of the Coachella Valley. But ... the deal does not set a precedent for any future fees the county might impose on solar projects or their impact on the thousands of jobs and millions in revenue the projects may generate."

"One wind project withdrawn, one still on table" (Mammoth Times, 7/11/11)
"One of the wind farm proposals for the Glass Mountains and Benton area was withdrawn last week on July 5, according to Bureau of Land Management officials. EWind Farms Inc. withdrew their wind energy monitoring and project area (24,000 acre) proposal...."

"Valley solar project signs up on Sunrise Powerlink" (Imperial Valley Press, 7/9/11)
"Solar Gen 2’s project on fallowed land" in Imperial County "is expected to start delivering power by next summer. The project will be transmitted across the Imperial Irrigation District’s transmission network to SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink...." Portions of the Sunrise Powerlink cross BLM-managed lands.

"Desert tortoise actually two species that could affect solar projects" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/7/11)
"Scientists have discovered that the desert tortoise is at least two species divided by the Colorado River, raising new questions about the long-term survival of both reptiles as energy development ramps up in California, Arizona and Nevada. The desert tortoise was first identified -- as a single species -- in the 1860s after a military doctor who also worked as a state zoologist collected one about 50 miles northeast of Barstow."


campers sit around a campfirea young man and woman near an OHV smile at the camera"Summer fun at El Mirage" (News.byes Extra)
The BLM Barstow Field Office and the Friends of El Mirage joined thousands of campers across the country for the National Wildlife Federation's annual Great American Backyard Campout. Nearly 40 participants of all ages attended the campout, hosted at campground #8 in the El Mirage Dry Lake Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area.

RELATED: "El Mirage Dry Lake Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area" ( BLM Barstow Field Office)

a young woman cuts old fencing from a postvolunteers pose behind a trailerfull of rolled up old wire fence"Volunteers Improve Deer Habitat in King Range NCA" (News.bytes Extra)
Volunteers from the Humboldt Blacktail Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation along with the BLM Arcata Field Office removed over 400 yards of dilapidated fences. The barbed and woven wire fence was no longer needed to manage cattle and posed entanglement hazards to deer and other local wildlife at the northern end of the King Range National Conservation Area.

"Learn all about the ecology of river bugs"(Redwood Times, 7/13/11)
The BLM and Lost Coast Interpretive Association will host The Biggest Little Critters in the Creek hike on Saturday, July 23, starting in the King Range National Conservation Area’s Wailaki Campground.
America's Great Outdoors logo sports snow-capped peaks
"BLM offering guided hikes at Headwaters Forest Reserve" (BLM California news, 7/14/11)
Outdoor enthusiasts who want to learn more about the natural history of the Headwaters Forest Reserve east of Fortuna can participate in free, guided hikes offered by the BLM through the spring and summer. Reservations are required for all hikes.

hikers on a trail down a valley"Tulare County residents have a lot of gorgeous hiking options" (Visalia Times-Delta, 7/10/1)
"Residents of Tulare County have a nearby fitness opportunity that not everyone is afforded: numerous hiking trails among the beautiful Sierra ... Those who are new to the outdoor activity should start small, said Dana Dierkes, spokeswoman for Sequoia and Kings National Parks. A mile hike is sufficient for beginner hikers, and they can build from there."

youngsters play lacrosse on the White House lawn"Lacrosse played on the White House lawn highlighting the Let’s Move! in Indian Country initiative" (Department of the Interior news, 7/11/11)
The White House hosted a lacrosse clinic on the South Lawn featuring some of the nation’s best lacrosse players and showcasing the health benefits of the nation’s fastest growing sport to 100 youth. The clinic brought players from the Iroquois Nationals Team, Major League Lacrosse, the National Lacrosse League and others, to introduce local and Native American youth to the sport and its cultural traditions.

three cartoon mascots wave to visitorsa boy paints a plastic fish to make a fish printGET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...visit us at the California State Fair! Help celebrate America’s Great Outdoors at Discovery Island -- where the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation and National Park Service showcase California’s dramatic landscapes, amazing wildlife, majestic reservoirs, rivers and waterways. The BLM also takes part in Camp Smokey, where the family can learn about outdoor fire prevention, fire safety and conservation tasks.


a firefighter drags a hose toward a brush firea firefighter sprays water on a charred pile of debris"Crews keep fire near Hart Park to five acres" (Bakersfield Californian, 7/9/11)
Firefighters from the Bakersfield Fire Department, Kern County Fire Department and Bureau of Land Management stopped a fire that broke out along the Kern River.

"Grass fire blackens 86 acres" (Taft Midway Driller, 7/12/11)
"A truck knocked down power lines north of Taft Monday afternoon" and started a grass fire. "Kern County firefighters responded with four patrols and two engines and several engines from the Bureau of Land Management responded to the fire. Despite its size, the firefighters had the blaze surrounded in a short time.

"Growth of wildfire in Spring Mountains derails containment efforts" (Las Vegas Sun, 7/13/11)
Winds blew a fire through containment lines west of Las Vegas, but "Firefighting crews worked through the night to continue building containment lines and control the wildfire." Officials said a firefighting crew from BLM-California's Kern Valley hotshots was scheduled to arrive yesterday to help.

"Jerry Brown signs bill imposing fire fee on rural properties" (Sacramento Bee, 7/8/11)
The governor signed "a controversial budget bill to charge rural property owners up to $150 each for fire protection," but "said in a signing message that lawmakers must clean up the proposal in subsequent legislation, though he didn't specify what needed to be changed."

firefighters range across a burning hillside"Specially trained crews fight national fires" (The St. George, Utah Spectrum, 7/9/11)
"The Hotshot crew is a unique national resource that responds across the country, trains as a team and works together not only as a professional crew, but a family while members are away from their homes for weeks - sometimes months - at a time if they don't live in the same town as their home base ... The difference between Hotshots and other firefighters is their type of crew classification that requires specific training, experience and physical fitness."

"Hundreds of wildland firefighters attend Caleb Hamm's funeral" (Idaho Statesman, 7/14/11)
Caleb Hamm, 24, died "while fighting a wildfire in Texas with his Bureau of Land Management Hot Shot crew ... He was a member of the BLM’s Bonneville Interagency Hotshot crew, based in Salt Lake City. He died July 7 while fighting a fire near Mineral Wells, Texas."


"Take responsibility..." (California Fire Alliance)
Protect your home. Create 100 feet of defensible space!

"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."


an orange snake with yellow and black bands lies on sandy ground
ground snake
The ground snake shares a trait with last week's wildlife trivia guest, the pallid bat. What is it?
(a.) They both seek cool daytime spots in hollowed-out trunks of cacti.
(b.) They both use echolocation to find food.
(c.) They both survive in the desert because of water sacs near their tails.
(d.) They both eat scorpions.
(e.) They both fly only after dark, darting around the night sky in search of flying foodstuffs.

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


man with a cowboy hat talks to a horse ownerhorses and riders take to the hills on a trail"Wild horse and burro event: Not just an adoption" (News.bytes Extra)
The morning began with a typical wild horse and burro adoption event at Sundance Ranch in Redlands on Saturday, July 10. But the afternoon turned magical, with a warm breeze blowing as 25 riders stepped out into the Badlands for the 1st annual Redlands Wild Horse and Burro Program Trail Ride...

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burro"Wild horses available for adoption in Lakeside" (BLM news, 7/13/11)
Residents of the San Diego area will have the opportunity to add a wild horse to their families when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) brings its Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program to Pillsbury Ranch, 13036 Willow Road in Lakeside, July 22-24.


"BLM announces open house on arsenic investigation plans at Longfellow Mill" (BLM news, 7/11/11)
The Bureau of Land Management will hold an open house for the residents of Big Oak Flat, Groveland and surrounding communities on Thursday, July 28, to discuss the updated status of the abandoned mine investigation project on public lands at the Longfellow Mill at Big Oak Flat in Tuolumne County.

"National Monument seeking nominations for Advisory Committee" (BLM news, 7/7/11)
The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument is seeking nominations for appointment to the Monument Advisory Committee -- for both primary and alternate representatives of various interests and organizations to serve on the committee.  Members of the committee provide advice to the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service regarding implementation of the National Monument Management Plan. 

RELATED: "Carrizo Plain National Monument" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)

"Family, friends continue search for man last seen in river" (Bakersfield Californian, 7/14/11)
Another drowning in the Kern River: "It's sad because we deal with this every year," said a spokesman with California's search and rescue program. "But with the river's especially swift and cold current this year, it's been worse." He said, "Nobody should be going into the river. 'Even highly trained rescuers shouldn't be going into the river.'"

RELATED: "Keyesville Special Recreation Management Area" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
By far the most dramatic natural feature of the parcel is an approximately 3.5-mile stretch of the Lower Kern River Gorge. This white-water river attracts about 12,000 commercial and non-commercial rafters from all over the USA each year. Fishing is also popular, "but be careful, the rocks along the river were polished smooth by spring floods before the Lake Isabella dam was built and the river current can be swift and dangerous."

trash heaped up on public landsa tarp lean-to behind marijuana plants"Pot harvest hits mid-season" (Porterville Recorder, 7/9/11)
"The middle of the growing season for Tulare County’s leading cash crop is here. In 2010, the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department seized nearly $1.67 billion worth of marijuana, slightly outdoing $1.6 billion in revenue fetched the same year by the dairy industry ... so far this year authorities have already eradicated 39,737 plants and seized 18 weapons" including 36,000 plants on Bureau of Land Management land in the Springville area .

"Arrests, firearms in pot garden bust" (Corning Observer, 7/8/11)
"Two men were arrested, two handguns confiscated and 22,302 marijuana plants eradicated during the third marijuana cultivation raid by the Tehama County Sheriff's Department on forest lands this season." Sheriff's deputies from Tehama and Trinity counties, agents from Fish and Game, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Campaign Against Marijuana Planting agents took part in the raid in the Trinity National Forest.

"Life sentence in US border agent's death" (Associated Press in Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 7/6/11)
"A Mexican man was sentenced to life in prison ... for striking and killing a U.S. Border Patrol agent with a drug-laden Hummer as the officer laid spike strips in an attempt to puncture the vehicle's tires" in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.

"Developers cleared to start DesertXpress engineering" (Vegas Inc, 7/12/11)
artist's conception of train pulling into station"The U.S. Transportation Department has given the green light to developers of DesertXpress to begin preliminary engineering for the $6 billion, 186-mile high-speed rail project that would link Las Vegas with Victorville, Calif. ... 185 miles through federal lands and a national preserve." The environmental review process "was complicated because the route crossed land administered by the Federal Highway Administration, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and Surface Transportation Board, and each agency had to sign off on the plan."

RELATED: "VV to Vegas high-speed train is full steam ahead"(Barstow Desert Dispatch, 7/13/11)
"The City of Barstow previously opposed the DesertXpress project because an economic study commissioned by the city estimated it will decrease traffic traveling through the city to Las Vegas by up to 33 percent" with a "loss of 2,295 jobs within the city. The city has spent more than $100,000 fighting the train so far by hiring a public relations firm and a law firm." Some city officials say they now "would attempt to work with DesertXpress to bring jobs to Barstow residents."

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


"Spending bill deals steep budget cuts to EPA, Interior" (Federal Times, 7/13/11)
"The Interior Department would see a $715 million cut under a bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday ... Land management agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management ... will freeze new construction and defer construction of replacement facilities, according to a budget statement by the Interior Department."

"Panel considers reversing Supreme Court on tribal land trusts" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/13/11)
Legislation seeks "to expand the federal government's authority to place land into trust for Indian tribes ... Supporters argue that action is needed to end unequal treatment of tribes under current law. Opponents say the legislation ignores the concerns of non-Indians -- including Inland Southern California residents -- living near reservations. And, they say, it would pave the way toward unchecked proliferation of Indian gaming operations, particularly in California."

"Removal studies map promise, uncertainty"(Capital Press, 7/7/11)
Two studies conclude that removing four dams from the Klamath River "would improve conditions for imperiled salmon, but uncertainties remain ... dam removals and restoration efforts planned for the river basin in Southern Oregon and Northern California would be 'a major step forward,'" but "the degree of success would depend on how well numerous factors are addressed...."

an old racing car races across a flat desert with mountains in the distancea man in old racing goggles sits in a car from an earlier era"A lifetime of speed, preserved in salt" (The New York Times, 7/11/11)
"The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah were popularized by a dedicated, if lunatic, fringe of motoring culture, who saw in the uninterrupted expanse of white an ideal surface for testing the limits of automotive technology. A new documentary positions one man at the middle of the movement ... The flats are managed by the Bureau of Land Management ... over the years, mining of salt and potash has weakened the surface ... it has become difficult to find unbroken smooth areas on which to run. This partly has led to the rise in popularity of the Black Rock Desert in Nevada...."

RELATED: "Bonneville Salt Flats" (BLM Utah)

RELATED: "Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area" (BLM Nevada)

"Salazar announces $26.7 million in grants to states, territories and Pacific nations for historic preservation"(Department of the Interior news, 7/8/11)
The grants will enable the states to preserve and protect our nation’s historic sites without expending tax dollars. The Historic Preservation Fund is supported by revenue from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf.

"Salazar announces $4.4 million in grants for historic preservation by American Indian Tribes" (Department of the Interior news, 7/8/11)
The grants from the Historic Preservation Fund to 117 American Indian tribes are to assist with the preservation of important historic and cultural sites and to promote education and interpretation programs. "These investments will not only help protect cultural and historic sites, but also provide tools to spur new economic opportunities in tribal communities," Secretary Salazar said.

"Salazar establishes commission to evaluate Indian trust management and reform" (Department of the Interior news, 7/8/11)
The commission will evaluate and suggest improvements to the Department of the Interior’s trust management. The announcement kicks off a 30-day period during which Secretary Salazar is seeking nominations and input from the public on individuals to serve on the new commission, as well as comments on its proposed charter.

"Interior hopes to save $500 million through IT transformation" (Federal Computer Week, 7/11/11)
The Department of the Interior's IT Transformation Strategic Plan is expected to "save up to $500 million by 2020 by leveraging modern technology ... including a single e-mail system for the department, telecommunications, account management, hosting services, workplace computing services, risk management, and an enterprise service desk."

RELATED: "Interior IT transformation funding cut in half by House Appropriations" (Fierce Government, 7/13/11)
"House appropriators voted ... to halve an Interior Department request for $5 million to spend on information technology modernization" and "to halve the department's $5 million spending request for an effort to identify operating efficiencies through the consolidation of services, facilities and infrastructure -- and completely deny a $5 million request for acquisition workforce training, recruitment and hiring."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) They both eat scorpions.

SOURCE: "Ground snake - Sonora semiannulata"

Ground snakes eat a variety of arthropods, insects, and insect larvae. They are one of the predators of scorpions and centipedes.

More wildlife stories from your public lands:

"America's Great Outdoors: Salazar announces new initiative to support coalition-based conservation" (Department of the Interior news, 7/14/11)
The initiative is to spur collaborative efforts to protect vital wildlife habitat through community-based coalitions of private landowners, conservation groups, and state and federal agencies.

close-up of a furry squirrel"Settlement forces action on endangered species listings"
(Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/12/11)
A settlement between an environmental group and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service " will require decisions over the next six years on whether to protect 757 plants and animals." The agreement between Fish and Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity awaits approval by a federal judge" and would cover "51 species in California that have been nominated for protections under the Endangered Species Act."

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