A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 491 - 7/29/11

a woman laughs as she rides a mountain bike down a hillside trail tule reeds loom over a small boat in the water a smiling young woman handles a snake written in the dust on the back of a car: Help - Call police please a sage grouse displaying its feathers


- America's Great Outdoors
- Get outdoors tip of the week
- Our readers write
- Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Renewable energy
- Staying safe on public lands
- Mining on public lands
- Wildfires and prevention
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- National BLM and Department of the Interior items: Personnel moves; environmental bills
- Wildlife stories from your public lands in California
this issue of News.bytes is online at:

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

a BLM employee picks up trash on the desert floor"Don't trash the Dunes, please pack it out!" (News.bytes Extra)
BLM staff spent a day picking up trash left behind by summer visitors to the Imperial Sand Dunes. With relatively few visitors during the hotter months, dumpsters are not as needed there. Removing them saves tens of thousands of dollars. But this summer, trash was left strewn around the dunes....

a woman laughs as she rides a mountain bike down a hillside traila mountain biker looks out over his handlebars at the mountain bikers on the trail in front of him"For mountain bikers, new ways to go downhill fast" (Wall Street Journal, 7/27/11)
"As mountain biking surges in popularity, federal land managers are building dozens of miles of special backcountry trails to accommodate adrenaline-junkie riders and cut down on crashes with hikers." On "flow trails," bikers "ride downhill at breakneck speeds." Many "are built on Western public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. They are specially designed with jumps and berms to allow riders to flow unimpeded down the mountain without stopping, making the downhill-riding experience akin to skiing or sledding."

RELATED: "Trails" (BLM California)
Includes a variety of mountain-biking trails on BLM-managed public lands in California.

workers level grounda young man levels something down in the dirt"Project at Santa Rosa Springs builds wall, relationships" (News.bytes Extra)
A Service First effort in the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument helps stop erosion and preserve a campsite -- after staff and volunteers from US Forest Service, BLM, Friends of the Desert Mountains and NorCal Youth Corps worked last weekend to build a retaining wall on Santa Rosa Mountain.

a smiling young woman handles a snakea plastic boat named Coastie"BLM coastal and desert booths a big hit at San Diego Parks and Open Spaces Day" (News.bytes Extra)
Snakes, tortoises, and button-making attracted hundreds of visitors to BLM booths at the 3rd Annual San Diego Parks and Open Spaces Day held at Cabrillo National Monument. This year, the BLM had two booths side-by-side -- one for the California Coastal National Monument and one for the California Desert District. The two booths had non-stop visitation by many of the more than 3,000 park visitors for the day.

a view along a tree-lined section of river"Artsy kiosk, new trail provide outdoor highlights"
(aNewsCafe.com, 7/22/11)
"The Redding area has two new outdoor features that you need to check out ... you could even tie the two together with a bike ride." A new kiosk, benches and picnic tables are "the latest fruit from the cooperative efforts" of partners including the BLM who also restored "salmon spawning habitat in the creek ... The second new feature is a short but enjoyable trail along the Sacramento River...."

a waterfall cascades over rocksa creek flows through a rocky canyonRELATED: "Clear Creek site dedication"(News.bytes Extra, 12/1/08)
This December, 2008 News.bytes Extra included photos from a new trail dedicated at that time, looking out to Clear Creek Gorge and a waterfall.

"Free, guided hikes offered in King Range" (BLM news, 7/28/11)
A night hike and a trek across the beach of the Lost Coast Trail will be featured in two free guided hikes offered by the BLM in the King Range National Conservation Area in August. On a "Rising Moon, Setting Sun" hike Saturday, Aug. 6,  a BLM wilderness ranger will lead a seven-hour hike up King Peak for spectacular views of sunset and moonrise. Geology and cultural history will be featured Saturday, Aug. 13, with a six-hour hike from the Mattole Campground to the Punta Gorda Lighthouse. 

"BLM offering guided hikes at Headwaters Forest Reserve" (BLM news, 7/14/11)
Learn more about the natural history of the Headwaters Forest Reserve east of Fortuna on free, guided hikes offered by the BLM through the summer. Hikes into the southern area of the reserve will be offered on Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting, through Nov. 15. Hikes may also be scheduled on weekdays, depending on the availability of tour leaders. Reservations are required for all hikes. (Repeated from earlier News.bytes)

"Headwaters Forest Reserve lecture series" (BLM news, 7/20/11)
BLM-sponsored free lectures and hikes on Saturdays in August and September will cover a variety of ecological and cultural history topics, including a marbeled murrelet hike and a historic Falk tour Aug. 6, and others on ecology of Headwaters, and watersheds and geology of Headwaters.

a young girl and a uniformed man turn to watch something interestinga man stands by a smoke-eaters helmet"BLM-California and partner agencies at the California State Fair" (News.bytes Extra)
BLM-California continues to work with other agencies at the California State Fair, July 14-31, 2011 -- to help teach wildfire awareness and prevention, and to celebrate America's Great Outdoors.

"America's Great Outdoors"

AGO takes as its premise that lasting conservation solutions should rise from the American people -- that the protection of our natural heritage is a non-partisan objective shared by all Americans.

scrub trees and a mountain dome in the backgroundlooking through a break in old lava, toward a treeGET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...find stark and barren landscapes and dramatic vegetation at the Timbered Crater and Lava Wilderness Study Areas -- along with recreation opportunities including mountain biking, wildlife viewing, hiking and fishing in nearby waters. The Pacific Crest Trail is just a few miles south of the Lava Wilderness Study Area.

"I was thrilled to see the rockhounding 'Get Outdoors Tip of the Week' in your most recent News Bytes. However, could you suggest new rockhounds contact an organized Gem and Mineral Society in California. We are organized, and have a Code of Ethics and Land Use Policy … which we all abide by. Interested rockhounds not affiliated with any organized group might want to go to amfed.org. Click on California Federation and there are a host of people they can contact."
- Shirley Leeson, Past President of California Federation; Past President of American Federation; American Lands Access Assn. Vice President.

Editor: Thanks! The Code of Ethics and Land Use Policy can be found under "Quick Links" at the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies website:

Also see the "collecting guidelines" on our rockhounding/gold panning webpage:


a sage grouse displaying its feathers
a sage grouse displaying its feathers
Sage grouse eat mostly soft plants and insects – but during the winter, 99 percent of their diet is:
(a.) hibernating larvae
(b.) roots of dormant wild grasses
(c.) seed pods from wind-blown tumbleweeds
(d.) dormant grasshoppers and cicadas
(e.) sagebrush leaves and brush
(f.) atrocious

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

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

"Calif.'s Chocolate Mountains eyed for large-scale solar, geothermal expansions" (Greenwire at the New York Times, 7/21/11)
"A 59,000-acre strip of public and private land near Southern California's Salton Sea could accommodate enough solar and geothermal energy to power millions of homes and businesses, according to federal officials who are reviewing a plan for what could become a major new renewable energy zone in the United States. The West Chocolate Mountains Renewable Energy Evaluation Area ... includes nearly 21,000 acres of BLM land."

"BLM to analyze geothermal lease proposals in Inyo County" (BLM news, 7/28/11)
The BLM will analyze three geothermal lease proposals on public lands that are within the Haiwee Geothermal Leasing Area in southwestern Inyo County, northwest of Ridgecrest. The BLM is currently writing a draft environmental impact statement to evaluate the HGLA, which includes an estimated 22,040 acres of BLM-managed federal lands.

"BLM announces public meetings for solar project near El Centro" (BLM news, 7/26/11)
Two public meetings as part of an environmental review of the proposed Ocotillo Sol solar energy project in Imperial County, will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 10 in El Centro. The meetings are part of a public scoping period which ends Aug. 15. 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.

"Towers go up to test hills for wind farm" (Hi-Desert Star, 7/23/11)
Black Lava Butte project: Four towers will monitor weather "for a company looking for an ideal spot for a farm of 400-foot-high wind turbines ... Element Environmental, has launched a three-year feasibility study for the project, which would cover 4,000 to 6,500 acres of right-of-way in Pioneertown." Several residents expressed opposition at a meeting. "If the project wants to go ahead, it will require rigorous environmental studies for biologic, visual, cultural and economic impacts," a BLM spokesperson said. "There will be extensive public notice, public comment, public input and public scrutiny."

industrial-scale wind turbines against the skya concept design for a wind turbine resembles mixer blads"Wind farms multiply, fueling clashes with nearby residents" (Los Angeles Times, 7/24/11)
"Demand for clean energy has led to a wind turbine building boom. But many living in their shadow decry the electricity generating projects as pesky eyesores." Includes links to related stories, video and photos.

three me raise a wind test towerRELATED: "Wind turbines growing taller and more powerful" (Los Angeles Times, 7/24/11)
"Wind turbines are getting really big -- some with blades as long as a football field -- and more powerful, often generating 50 times more electricity than the first generation of wind power machines built in the 1980s. But scientists are also studying how to harness the wind in different ways that could help allay concerns that today's turbines are unattractive, noisy and sometimes even dangerous."

RELATED: "Proposed wind farm triggers opposition" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 7/28/11)
"Residents near Joshua Tree National Park ... are gearing up for a showdown ... over a proposed wind farm on top of ancient volcanic mesas ... Last month, a renewable energy development company installed two steel masts -- each nearly 200 feet tall -- and guy-wire supports, one on Black Lava Butte and one on Flat Top Mesa, public lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. The towers will be used to measure air patterns and determine the feasibility of erecting turbines to generate electricity."

"Draft environmental study available for proposed Ocotillo Express wind project in Imperial County" (BLM news, 7/22/11)
The Bureau of Land Management has released a draft environmental review for a wind energy project in Imperial County that could generate up to 465 megawatts, on 12,436 acres of mostly BLM land, enough to power about 140,000 homes. Ocotillo Express LLC applied to the BLM for a right-of-way to construct a wind generation power plant facility (wind turbines and related structures). A small portion of the project is on lands under the jurisdiction of Imperial County.

"Head to Head: Is Brown's ambitious renewable energy goal a worthwhile pursuit?" (Sacramento Bee, 7/27/11)
Is California "smart to shift away from dependence on imported oil, for national security and environmental reasons" or is renewable energy just "a beautiful fantasy" that "requires space, and plenty of it?" Two points of view.

"Solar wars" (Sacramento News & Review, 7/28/11)
Bill Gates of Microsoft said of solar energy: "If you’re going for cuteness, the stuff in the home is the place to go. … But if you’re really interested in the energy problem, it’s those big things in the desert." But "others argue just the opposite, and momentum is building on both fronts. Gov. Jerry Brown has endorsed the idea of installing 12,000 megawatts of rooftop solar ... At the same time, large-scale desert solar is attracting billions in investment...."

"Pentagon streamlines approval for energy projects" (American Forces Press Service, 7/26/11)
"A Defense Department clearinghouse for renewable energy projects has approved 229 of 249 projects proposed in 35 states and Puerto Rico ... Working with the military services, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Bureau of Land Management to review the backlog...."

"Tortoises vs. solar power in energy lawsuit" (KABC-TV Los Angeles, 7/25/11)
"At a conference in Los Angeles, Governor Jerry Brown vowed to crush efforts to block renewable energy projects in California, helping them overcome permitting and environmental challenges ... the governor filed a brief with the federal court asking a judge to deny a request by an environmental group to stop a solar thermal power project in the Mojave Desert" where "BrightSource Energy and Bechtel want to put up 347,000 heliostat mirrors around three power towers."


written in the dust on the back of a car: Help - Call police pleasesign in the desert says "Stay on Designated Roads""The GPS: A fatally misleading travel companion" (KQED/NPR, 7/26/11)
"In remote places like California's Death Valley, over-reliance on GPS navigation systems can be a matter of life and death ... Each summer in Death Valley, a quarter-million tourists pry themselves from air-conditioned cars and venture into 120-degree heat to snap pictures of glittering salt flats ... But when dozens of abandoned dirt roads lie between you and that destination, things can get tricky." The BLM employee who brought this to our attention noted, "We have had members of the public rely too much on GPS, here in the Needles area."

"Staying safe on Kern waterways" (Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 7/21/11)
"The Kern River has taken 267 lives since 1967. The Kern County Sheriff has received 50 calls for service since Memorial Day. Of those calls, 27 were river rescues and seven were river drownings." The Kern County Sheriff's Department advises how to keep safe.

RELATED: "Keyesville Special Recreation Management Area"
(BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
A popular stretch of white-water rafting river runs through here, and fishing is popular -- but take extra precautions to keep safe.

"South Cow Mountain OHV Area to be temporarily closed for public safety" (BLM news, 7/27/11)
The South Cow Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle Area will be closed to general recreation use and through traffic on Aug. 5 and 6 during the Mendocino Redtail Rally. NorCal Rally has been granted an exclusive use permit to use the length of Mendo-Lake Road for this “stage rally” event, and the rally cars will be racing at high speeds on the road in both directions.

"Headwaters trail closed due to tree fire" (BLM news, 7/22/11)
The BLM has temporarily closed the Elk River Trail in Headwaters Forest Reserve to protect public safety after someone set fire to the "bachelor’s quarters" tree -- a large redwood stump with a large sitka spruce growing from the stump. The BLM is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the apprehension and prosecution of the person(s) who started the fire.

"Improvement work limits Elk River Trail access" (BLM news, 7/27/11)
Access to the Elk River Trail in the north area of the Headwaters Forest Reserve will be limited to three miles while workers complete projects to improve drainage and stabilize the trail. Work is expected to be complete by Aug. 15.


"Public comment period extended for Briggs Mine expansion" (BLM news, 7/28/11)
The BLM is extending to Aug. 31 the public comment period for the proposed 94-acre expansion of the CR Briggs Corporation’s gold mine operations area, eight miles south of Ballarat. Briggs has proposed expanding the existing 2,363-acre operations area, including the Goldtooth pit and associated additions to stockpiles of waste rock, ore, and topsoil, extending the mine life by three to five years.

"Mine could create 400 jobs" (Hi-Desert Star, 7/20/11)
"About 400 jobs could be created -- from heavy equipment operators to truck drivers -- when the Iron Age Mining Co. sets up shop at a former iron ore mine in Wonder Valley, 15 miles east of downtown Twentynine Palms." Company official said they "hope to begin operations sometime in 2012 ... Permits needed to make the operation a go include Bureau of Land Management right of way access to get the tailings from the mine to Twentynine Palms Highway."


RELATED: "A battle brewing?"
"Proponents of the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project want to capture tens of thousands of acre feet of water each year they say are currently lost to evaporation in Bristol and Cadiz dry lake beds" and send it Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties. There is "an exceptional amount of activity proposed for such a remote region" which could affect public lands, such as expansion of the U.S. Marine Corps' Twentynine Palms base, "a large solar energy project ... in the works for the Iron Mountain area south of Cadiz ... Several gas companies have pipelines criss-crossing the area."

"Battle continues over mine" (Santa Clarita Signal, 7/26/11)
"As Washington politicians get ready to leave for summer vacation, city and Cemex officials wrangling over mining in Soledad Canyon have agreed to keep working toward a legislative solution -- even if it takes all year." Cemex holds BLM permits to mine sand and gravel from Soledad Canyon. "Under the proposed legislation, the Bureau of Land Management would have sold three parcels of land in Victorville and used the proceeds to pay Cemex the value of its canceled mining contracts."


flames loom in the darkness"Eagle Fire 90 percent contained, full containment expected Saturday" (KFMB-TV San Diego, 7/29/11)
"Lost Valley Boy Scout Camp in Warner Springs reopened to the public [today] following a weeklong closure prompted by a fire that has scorched 14,100 acres of brush in the rugged northeastern reaches of San Diego County and is now 90 percent contained after it "spread throughout Los Coyotes Indian Reservation and extended into Anza-Borrego Desert State Park."

an air tanker drops bright red fire retardant"Weekend wildfires under investigation" (Kern Valley Sun, 7/27/11)
"Arson investigators are working to determine the cause of two fires, the Erskine Creek fire and the Borel fire that erupted during the weekend." The Erskine Fire on Bureau of Land Management lands, was battled by firefighters from several agencies. BLM firefighters also joined the fight against a wildfire "in the lower Kern Canyon, three miles west of Borel."

"Fire ignites along 178 near Lake Isabella"(Ridgecrest Daily Independent, 7/25/11)
The "Borel" fire was reported Sunday, and "150 fire fighting personnel, from the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Kern County Fire Department responded."

a firefighter aims a hose at a large firesmoke looms over hills"Fire burns in Klipstein Canyon" (Taft Midway Driller, 7/23/11)
"Fire broke out in Klipstein Canyon early Saturday afternoon, destroying a barn, injuring one man and spreading into the brush where firefighters battled it in the air and on the ground" -- including firefighters from the BLM.


"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.


Testimony of BLM Director Robert Abbey at Legislative hearing on H.R. 2578, Amends the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act for the Lower Merced Wild & Scenic River (BLM, 7/26/11)
"Before further action is taken on H.R. 2578, the BLM recommends that all of these implications of de-designation of Wild and Scenic River and changes to the level of Lake McClure be more fully explored. The Department believes the values for which Congress initially designated the Merced Wild and Scenic River should not be sacrificed without a full analysis through the prism of the BLM."

"Obama officials 'strongly' oppose roadless release bill" (Greenwire in the New York Times, 7/26/11)
"The Obama administration today roundly denounced a proposal by Republican lawmakers that would release several million acres of protected public lands into local management plans, potentially opening them to timber harvests, oil and gas development, motorized recreation and other uses."

RELATED: Testimony of BLM Director Robert Abbey at Legislative hearing on H.R. 1581, Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011 (BLM, 7/26/11)
"Much as the Department of the Interior would oppose a blanket designation of all WSAs as wilderness, we oppose this proposal to release over 6.6 million acres of WSAs from interim protection."

"BLM seeks public comment on proposed grazing allotment in Inyo County"(BLM news, 7/25/11)
The BLM seeks public comment on a proposal to issue a 10 year term permit for livestock grazing on the Lacey-Cactus-McCloud Allotment, east of Olancha. In accordance with the California Desert Conservation Area Plan, as amended by the West Mojave Plan amendment, BLM is proposing specific permit terms and conditions to ensure that an appropriate multiple use balance is maintained on the allotment, while providing for conservation in accordance with the WMP and the associated biological opinion.

"Brown extends moratorium on suction dredging" (Sacramento Bee, 7/27/11)
"The bill, AB 120, includes a five-year extension of an existing moratorium against the practice of suctioning river-bottom gravels in search of gold and other minerals. That would stop dredging at least until June 30, 2016." BLM regulations require compliance with state law, including having a permit from the California Department of Fish and Game to operate suction dredging equipment.

"Big pot bust in San Benito County"(KION-Tv , 7/28/11)
The BLM assisted in eradication of approximately 18,000 marijuana plants during a recent raid on a remote location.

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


"BLM Director Bob Abbey announces selection of Amy Lueders as new Nevada State Director"(BLM news, 7/26/11)
Amy Lueders, who is currently acting Director of the Nevada State Office, will report to her new position on August 1.

"Salazar names Marcilynn Burke as Acting Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management" (Department of the Interior news, 7/27/11)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar named Marcilynn Burke to serve as Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management at the Department of the Interior. Burke, who currently serves as Deputy Director for Policy of the Bureau of Land Management, will take over for Wilma Lewis, who is being commissioned as Judge for the District Court of the Virgin Islands.

"Legislative riders target environmental protections" (Washington Post, 7/28/11)
House member voted down one amendment that "forbade the Fish and Wildlife Service from listing any new plant or animal as endangered" but are still considering "a long list of other amendments aimed at weakening environmental protections at the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency. Nearly 40 amendments would stop the enforcement of water quality standards, abolish rules that protect streams from surface mining, gut a budget to acquire and protect pristine forestland...."

RELATED: "ESA rider averted, but some species remain in cross hairs" (Greenwire at the New York Times, 7/29/11)
One rider relates to the BLM's issuance of grazing permits.

RELATED: "Republicans seek big cuts in environmental rules" (New York Times, 7/27/11)
Among 39 amendments to an appropriations bill in the House of Representatives were provisions "to significantly curtail environmental regulation. One would prevent the Bureau of Land Management from designating new wilderness areas for preservation."

"Wild horses are (again) losing their home on the range" (The Atlantic, 7/28/11)
"Everyone but the most ardent zealots agree that wild horses do have to be 'managed' from time to time by the Bureau of Land Management. Reasonable people on both side of the wild-horse divide understand that the occasional culling of herds has benefits both to the horses themselves and to the neighboring flora and fauna." The writer takes issue with how the BLM manages the herds.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(e.) sagebrush leaves and brush

SOURCE: "Sage grouse - Centrocercus urophasianus" (BLM-California wildlife database)

More wildlife and habitat news from your public lands in California:

"Sage grouse ' core area' concept in Wyo. could provide blueprint for BLM" (Greenwire in New York Times, 7/28/11)
"A groundbreaking Wyoming state program aimed at mapping and protecting millions of acres of greater sage grouse breeding grounds in Wyoming could be expanded to cover federally owned lands in 11 states across the West, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said this week."

RELATED: "BLM announces strategy to conserve sage-grouse and protect habitat" (BLM news, 7/25/11)
In response to requests from state and local governments to facilitate ways to conserve greater sage-grouse and protect its habitat, Bureau of Land Management scientists and managers met with state wildlife management officials to brief them on the agency’s National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy -- that emphasizes a cooperative approach and provides a framework.

"Sage grouse success stories"(BLM national website)
Projects like these address threats to sage-grouse and improve overall land health on several other fronts, to help avert the need to impose restrictions on uses of public lands in the future.

tule reeds loom over a small boat in the watera kayaker paddles past tule reeds"Tule vegetation infests Lower Owens River"
(Los Angeles Times, 7/25/11)
"The largest river restoration ever attempted in the West -- intended to support a cornucopia of wildlife and outdoor activities — has left a 62-mile stretch of the Lower Owens so overrun with cattails, cane and bulrushes that it may take decades to bring them under control." The river was "essentially left dry" after "city agents posed as farmers and ranchers to buy up land and water rights" for Los Angeles in 1913.

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