A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 490 - 7/21/11

a girl wears a hand-colored butterfly mask a smiling woman holds an owl on her arm a feral pig Smokey Bear, Sparky the Fire Dog and Woodsy Owl with a visitor profile: Keith Johnson poses under a tree


- America's Great Outdoors: Events, activities, places
- Get outdoors tip of the week
- Wildfires and prevention
- Wilderness suggestions outreach
- Energy and renewable energy
- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Funny.bytes recap: War of the Weeds
      - Unlikely connections: Helium, invasive weeds, the BLM in Texas
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- Employee profile
- 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:

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

"California Coastal National a girl wears a paper pelican headbandMonument activities at the Coastal Discovery Fair" (News.bytes Extra)
BLM’s California Coastal National Monument hosted an outdoor booth at the Coastal Discovery Fair last Saturday, at Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach in
San Simeon. More than a hundred kids colored, cut, and assembled pelican headbands and made booklets adorned with rubber stamp images of coastal animal and plant life. Many event visitors also learned about the monument and the BLM from the monument manager.

two girls marvel over a large raptor on a perchRELATED: "Coastal Discovery Fair: A wonder-full time" (San Luis Obispo County Tribune, 7/21/11)
"An estimated 650 people turned out" for the fair. "Hosted by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and State Parks with the help of cosponsor the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation, the fair celebrates the conservation partnership supporting the Coastal Discovery Center as it protects and educates about the spectacular juncture of land and sea."

RELATED: "California Coastal National Monument" (BLM California)

a girl wearing a hand-colored butterfly mask scans nearby treesa smiling woman holds an owl"America's Great Outdoors outreach at the California State Fair, week two" (News.bytes Extra)
Lots of visitors have dropped by Discovery Island at the California State Fair this week, to help celebrate America's Great Outdoors with the Department of the Interior agencies -- the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation and National Park Service. The kid's activities tables have been busy with fun and learning, and special visitors such as bats and a great horned owl have attracted fans.

trash litters the groundworkers in orange jumpsuits pick up mounds of trash"20-year-old dumpsite eradicated from public lands"(News.bytes Extra)
Little by little, truck load by truck load, an illegal public dump had spread across a tract of public land in Lassen County -- growing for 20 years in the brush and volcanic rock. The area is sparsely populated and lightly used, so the dump went undiscovered until two years ago. Today, the dump is no more, after the BLM enlisted help of prison inmates from Intermountain Conservation Camp....

"Learn all about the ecology of river bugs"(Redwood Times, 7/13/11)
This weekend: "The Bureau of Land Management and Lost Coast Interpretive Association will host the Biggest Little Critters in the Creek hike on Saturday, July 23. The hike will begin at 10 a.m. in the King Range National Conservation Area’s Wailaki Campground...."

"Pack some sandwiches and find a picnic spot" (Merced Sun-Star, 7/16/11)
"Being that July is National Picnic Month, I thought I'd share a list of our favorite picnic spots with you" the writer says, including "the Bureau of Land Management's Merced River Recreation Area at Briceburg. It's a great spot for camping, too."

merced river recreation area sign above a stretch of waterRELATED: "Merced River Recreation Area" (BLM Mother Lode Field Office)
Visitor activities include whitewater rafting (Class III-V), hiking, camping (fee), picnicking, nature study, hobby gold prospecting, wildflower viewing, birding, and swimming.

"Salazar announces $37.4 million for state and local conservation and outdoor recreation projects" (Department of the Interior news, 7/19/11)
The $37.4 million in state grants from the Land and Water Conservation Fund are to establish and renovate parks and open spaces, through matching grants. The funds will enable state and local governments to establish urban parks and community green spaces; to restore and provide public access to rivers, lakes and other water resources; and to conserve natural landscapes for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment.

a hand holds a gold pan with water and sanda layered rockGET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...let's go rockhounding! Rockhounding and recreational mining are permitted activities on public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management.  The usual rockhound materials, including agates and stones, may be collected in reasonable quantities for hobby use. Panning and sluicing for gold may be arranged through permit at certain areas.


children watch animal puppets teach wildfire safetya red fire truck on display"Camp Smokey at the California State Fair" (News.bytes Extra)
BLM partners in this popular area that teaches children about fire prevention awareness and safety. With Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl puppet shows, a fire safe house, fire engine display, and other fun and instructive activities.

Smokey Bear, Sparky the Fire Dog and Woodsy Owl with a visitoryoungsters gather outside a tiny "fire safe house"RELATED: "Visit Camp Smokey at the California State Fair" (CalFire)
Through July 31:Visit this popular area that teaches children about fire prevention awareness and safety. PDF file:

"Please explain: Wildfires"(WNYC New York City, 7/15/11)
"This summer wildfires have raged in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, as well as throughout the country, and so far over 5,800,000 acres have burned this year alone. Ken Frederick and Tom Romanello, Bureau of Land Management fire specialists at the National Interagency Fire Center, explain how wildfires start and spread, how they behave, and how they’re contained and extinguished. We’ll also find out why there seem to be so many this year, and what happens to an area after a fire." (Audio, 31:58)

"Illegal shooting problem for firefighters" (Victorville Daily Press, 7/18/11)
In the past 30 days, Apple Valley firefighters have had to respond to four fires of at least 100 acres. "Of those, two were started because of illegal shooting" -- especially people "shooting items that will create an explosion such as propane and oxygen tanks and aerosol cans."

"Three fires hit Victor Valley" (Victorville Daily Press, 7/20/11)
Officials believed one wildfire was caused by illegal shooters. "Crews found ammunition at the scene and neighbors reported hearing gunshots, though ... the shooters had fled by the time officials arrived."

firefighters in yellow uniforms spray water on a wildfire"Fighting fire with money" (Los Angeles Times, 7/20/11)
Editorial: "If people whose homes border wilderness areas paid the real expenses for their way of life, the bill would be daunting. Maintaining a local fire crew capable of defending those homes against catastrophic wildfire is more than municipalities can manage. So taxpayers throughout the state have been picking up most of the tab by paying for Cal Fire ... a new law has been passed that levies a $150-a-year fee directly on homeowners who live in these areas, known as state responsibility zones."

"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.


"BLM to engage state, local and tribal government in bipartisan wilderness agenda"(BLM national news, 7/19/11)
As part of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s push to build a bipartisan wilderness agenda that can be enacted in the 112th Congress, the BLM-California state office will solicit suggestions and recommendations from state and local elected officials, Tribes, and other federal land managers on areas that deserve wilderness protection and that have broad support for congressional designation. Members of the public can contact their local elected officials or members of Congress on potential wilderness areas that have community support for wilderness designation.

Renewable energy graphics represent solar, wind and geothermal power, plus transmission linesENERGY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY

power lines and towers in the twilight"Feds approve new power line through desert" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 7/15/11)
"U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on Thursday approved a 152-mile transmission line project that will bring renewable energy from large-scale solar projects east of the Coachella Valley to homes and businesses across the state. The secretary also announced a year-long extension for the completion of the department's Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on solar development."

"BLM announces scoping meeting for proposed wind farm in Kern County"(BLM news, 7/20/11)
The public scoping meeting for the proposed Rising Tree Wind Farm is set for Aug. 4 in Mojave, Calif. The BLM and the County will use the public scoping comments to prepare the draft plan amendment and EIS/EIR for public review. Horizon Wind Energy, LCC, submitted a right-of-way application to construct the 234 megawatt Rising Tree Wind Farm about three miles west of Mojave. The site includes 2,217 acres of private land under Kern County jurisdiction and about 528 acres of BLM-administered public land.

abandoned gas pumps"Desert Center sees potential and pitfalls in solar" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 7/18/11)
"The last gas station closed a few years ago ... discussions about the future of Desert Center and its 204 year-round residents have taken on new urgency as the town, which has been bleeding jobs and people since the Eagle Mountain iron mine closed in 1983, finds itself near the epicenter of California's solar gold rush. A number of huge arrays are planned for the federal lands that surround Desert Center. Construction of the arrays could create as many as 2,000 jobs and generate $100 million a year in spending. But solar farms create a relatively small number of permanent jobs."

a pit filled with liquid next to a drilling tower and pipes"Fracking: Monterey shale exploration draws protest"(Los Angeles Times, 7/19/11)
"Environmental groups filed a formal protest this week with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management calling for a halt to the leasing of 2,600-acres in California's Fresno and Monterey counties for oil and gas shale exploration. They said future drilling would likely involve high-pressure hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking,' a new drilling method linked to water contamination in other parts of the country."

RELATED: "Groups protest drilling leases in Fresno Co. " (Fresno Business Journal, 7/18/11)
"Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves pumping liquid into rock to cause cracks through which oil or natural gas can be extracted. The method is highly controversial. The groups maintain Jacalitos Creek in Fresno County, located in the Coast Range west of Coalinga, is at risk from the practice."



two wild pigs
two wild pigs
As with many other introduced or invasive species, California’s wild pig populations grow rapidly because:
(a.) Their usual predators did not come with them.
(b.) They eat foods that native animals will not touch.
(c.) The diseases of their home environment do not occur here.
(d.) They don’t mate during snow season, but there is no snow where they live in California.
(e.) Irresponsible wild pig fertility clinics, whose billboards line freeways up and down California, that cater to the well-hooved client.

----> See answer -- and more information -- near the end of this issue.

Funny.bytes logo includes a cartoon man laughingFUNNY.BYTES RECAP: War of the Weeds
an evil weekWhat are these alien invaders? Can they be defeated?
We bring you this encore performance to help mark California Invasive Weeds Awareness Week - this week.

UNLIKELY CONNECTIONS: Helium, invasive weeds, the BLM in Texas
What is the connection between an invasive weed that has gobbled up seven million acres of land in the U.S., a looming shortage of helium for scientific uses as well as party balloons, and the BLM Amarillo, Texas Field Office?

pipes run out of the grounda man stands in a field of pipesLast federal helium reserve, near Amarillo, is running out" (Forth Worth, Texas Star-Telegram, 7/16/11)
"Nearly two dozen underground wells" near Amarillo, Texas supply "more than one-third of the world's helium supply ... including nearly half of the U.S. supply." But some fear a shortage "of the gas that inflates balloons, cools MRI machines and detects leaks in NASA space shuttle fuel tanks." The Helium Privatization Act of 1996 calls for reserve officials "to sell off most of their helium … 'There is just a finite amount of helium out here,' said Leslie Theiss, field office manager for the Bureau of Land Management's Amarillo field office. ‘There's only so much we can do. The clock is winding down on this place'."

"Helium" (BLM New Mexico-Oklahoma-Texas-Kansas)
Helium is commercially recovered from natural gas deposits mostly from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. That’s where BLM New Mexico comes in. We operate and maintain the only government helium storage reservoir and pipeline system in the country. The Amarillo Field Office is responsible for the conservation and sale of helium for government use. Includes more information and links.

a boy examines a large mass of kudzu weedsthe boy is now wearing a white lab coat and working with other lab technicians"Teen inventor combats kudzu menace" (CNN, 7/18/11)
"Jacob Schindler is not your typical American teenager. He spends his days battling kudzu, an invasive plant that has overrun millions of acres of land throughout the Southeastern United States." His sixth grade science project explored the topic of "planting kudzu on Mars" but he said that led to "How can I eliminate kudzu in an environmentally-friendly way?" He has developed a machine using helium, and "his mom, Julie has helped him apply for a patent on the device and his methodology." He was also "recognized by Congress for eradicating several large infestations of kudzu" near Valdosta, Georgia. With video.

"California Invasive Weeds Awareness Week" (California Invasive Plant Council)
"California Invasive Weeds Awareness Week is an annual event that brings attention to the problems caused by invasive plants in California, and to the work of local groups that work to protect our natural areas and rangelands. In 2004, the state legislature signed a proclamation declaring California Invasive Weeds Awareness Week to begin the third Monday of July each year."


rangers from two agencies pose for a group portrait"Service First in action" (News.bytes Extra)
The Bureau of Land Management El Centro Field Office and Lake Mead National Recreation Area have teamed up to provide protection and help ensure public safety. BLM Rangers work alongside National Park Service Rangers throughout the year on busy holiday weekends. Service First is a partnership authority among four agencies: The Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service -- and a way for the agencies to explore methods of delivering one-stop customer service to the public and sharing people and resources.

"State commission urges feds to reopen Clear Creek" (Hollister Free Lance, 7/19/11)
"The California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission has officially urged the federal government to reopen Clear Creek Management Area while including recommendations for strategies to minimize health risks ... The U.S. Bureau of Land Management in the summer of 2008 closed the recreation area, largely used by off-road enthusiasts, and contended that asbestos levels there are dangerous," citing an Environmental Protection Agency study

"BLM hosts Bodie Hills vegetation restoration public field trip" (BLM news, 7/21/11)
The Bureau of Land Management’s Bishop Field Office will host a public field trip to view vegetation conditions proposed for treatment in the Bodie Hills Upland Vegetation Restoration Project and clarify the treatment methods. The project is designed to protect and enhance the ecological condition of the area. The trip is to clarify the proposed action and answer questions for those who have commented on the proposal or participated in the public process that led to it.

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

profile: Keith Johnson poses under a treeEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Keith Johnson...
...and the BLM are a natural fit. A forester with the Mother Lode Field Office, Keith loves to ride horses, hunt and fish....


"Abandoned mine lands: Innovative solutions for restoring the environment, improving safety and creating jobs" (BLM news, 7/14/11)
Testimony of Marcilynn Burke, Deputy Director of Bureau of Land Management, before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy & Minerals Resources.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer - and related websites
(a.) Their usual predators did not come with them.

(c.) The diseases of their home environment do not occur here. But wild pigs can carry swine brucellosis and pseudorabies -- which have been eliminated from U.S. commercial-production swine herds -- and can easily infect domestic pigs with these diseases.

SOURCE: "Wild pig - Sus scrofa"
(BLM-California wildlife database)
Wild pigs are destructive animals that were first introduced from the Black Forest of Germany to the United States in 1893 to give hunters a new animal to hunt. Their population grew rapidly because their natural predators do not occur here. In addition, the diseases that are common among wild pigs do not occur here. As a result, the reproduction rate is extremely high but the death rate is extremely low.

a feral pigRELATED: "Prolific wild pigs a growing Inland problem"
(Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/17/11)
Dramatic stories of wild pig sightings are "numerous. But beyond their long and storied existence along the river bottom, along San Timoteo Creek between Beaumont and Moreno Valley, and in the Cleveland National Forest, the pigs root, trample and eat their way through sensitive plant and animal species. They also threaten Native American artifacts and have damaged agricultural crops across the state, said Andrew Hughan, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game."

"Wild boar/feral pig hunting - frequently asked questions" (BLM Hollister Field Office)

RELATED: "Feral/wild pigs: Potential problems for farmers and hunters" (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service)
Adult swine can be "silent carriers" of pseudorabies -- a disease fatal to farm animals such as cattle, sheep and goats and to dogs and cats. Wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, opossums and small rodents can also be fatally infected.

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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834
Sacramento, Ca 95825
(916) 978-4600

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