A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 492 - 8/4/11

white-tailed jackrabbit trash among shrubs a line of firefighters hikes up a hill with a wall of flame backdrop a freeze-branded mark a ranger stands by open door of his vehicle


- Renewable energy
- Environmental damage from marijuana grows
- America's Great Outdoors
- Get outdoors tip of the week
- Wild horses and burros
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Wildfires and prevention
- 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
See this issue of News.bytes online at:

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

a large expanse of solar panels in the desert"Desert energy plan undergoes environmental review" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/3/11)
"Federal and state agencies have launched an environmental review of California's largest habitat conservation plan, which spans 22.5 million acres in San Diego and six other counties" and "are seeking public comments at the start of the program ... aimed at balancing renewable energy development in the California desert with the conservation of the desert landscape."

"BLM initiates environmental review for proposed Stateline Solar Farm in San Bernardino County" (BLM news, 8/4/11)
The BLM published a notice of intent to review the environmental impacts of the proposed Stateline Solar Farm in San Bernardino County near the California-Nevada border. The NOI also includes the possibility of amending the California Desert Conservation Area Plan based on the suitability of the site for solar development, as well as possibly amending both the CDCA Plan and the Las Vegas Resource Management Plan for potential cumulative effects from this project and other projects in the larger Ivanpah Valley watershed in California and Nevada.

"Judge hears BrightSource solar project arguments" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/1/11)
"A federal judge on Monday left unresolved whether construction of a $2 billion solar project in northeast San Bernardino County should be stopped to protect desert tortoises and other wildlife." An environmental group "contends the project, OK'd last year by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, was approved without adequate analysis ... Stopping construction now -- more that eight months after groundbreaking -- could kill the project and waste the money already invested, said ... developer BrightSource Energy."

"Public meetings set for proposed Ocotillo Express wind project in Imperial County" (BLM news, 8/2/11)
Ocotillo Express LLC applied to the BLM for a right-of-way on public lands for a wind generation power plant facility approximately five miles west of Ocotillo that could generate up to 465 megawatts, enough to power about 140,000 homes. The project would be on 12,436 acres of mostly BLM-managed public land, with a small portion under jurisdiction of Imperial County. The project would include wind turbines and related structures. Public meetings will be held in El Centro and Ocotillo.

"Enviros, Rivals Strike Odd Peace"
(Associated Press
at San Francisco Chronicle, 7/30/11)
"Long before studies showed one of the world's largest solar projects could harm or kill more than 1,100 tortoises in the Mojave Desert, the threatened creature's longtime champion already had signed off on the project ... The Center for Biological Diversity agreed not to sue or challenge Oakland-based BrightSource Energy Co.'s project ... in exchange for additional protections and a swath of desert tortoise habitat elsewhere ... Some conservationists have blasted the October agreement but attorneys for the center and BrightSource stand by it..."

"9th Circuit Court denies SDG&E motion to dismiss request for stay in Powerlink case, pending appeal" (East County Magazine, 7/29/11)
"California's Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a motion by San Diego Gas & Electric Company seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed by three East County organizations. The groups have asked the court to issue an injunction halting construction on the Sunrise Powerlink on federal Bureau of Land Management property." SDG&E has said the power line is needed to bring renewable energy from projects in the desert.

"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.


"'Operation Full Court Press' takes aim at illicit marijuana grows on public lands" (Lake County News, 7/30/11)
"At a special Friday event local, state and federal officials offered a glimpse into a multiagency operation to fight the escalating problem of illicit marijuana grows -- and the accompanying violence and ecological destruction -- on public lands. Operation Full Court Press is taking place in Lake, Mendocino, Colusa, Glenn, Tehama and Trinity counties, with emphasis on the Mendocino National Forest" but also with participation of agencies including the Bureau of Land Management.

 a man cuts plants with a machetea line of men in backpacks hike up a trail"Pot plucked in Tehama County" (Red Bluff Daily News, 8/1/11)
"Everything they're putting in destroys the environment," said a National Guard spokesperson. "'A lot of pesticides they use are brought from other countries and are things we banned years ago or haven't known about that immediately diminish the environment.' Often those pesticides are left in bags, which are either chewed on by wildlife or leach into the ground when it rains ... 'They're not here for green grow ... They're here to make money. They're poisoning our land, owned by the people, and they don't care.'"

a pile of marijuana plants on the ground"Operation Full Court Press winds down this week" (Willits News, 8/3/11)
"In addition to the removal of the plants, site cleanup has also been a priority for this operation. As of Friday the operation had removed more than 23 tons of trash, more than a ton of fertilizer, 57 pounds of poisons and 22 miles of irrigation piping. In addition to the garbage, poisons and fertilizers there were 13 man-made dams diverting water and 120 propane tanks."

trash among shrubs"A peek inside a typical camp site at a marijuana garden in Tehama County" (Red Bluff Daily News, 7/29/11)
"No one was home when federal agents came knocking at a camp with three plots of grow sites Wednesday at a marijuana garden in the Paskenta area of the Mendocino National Forest where a raid collected 10,000 plants with a street value of $1.25 million. The US Forest Service (USFS) was the lead agency of the raid that was a part of Operation Full Court Press that started mid-July and will end in the first full week of August..."

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

a man installs a sign"Keep it on the sand!" (News.bytes Extra, 8/3/11)
BLM maintenance workers preparing the Imperial Sand Dunes for the upcoming season are installing signs reminding riders to keep their off-highway vehicles off established roads. Travel along each of these roads is by street legal vehicles only. "Keeping OHV's off the roadways is critical to keeping riders safe," says Supervisory Law Enforcement Ranger Sal Nieblas. "Regular traffic is not expecting OHV's, and often cannot maneuver or stop quickly enough to avoid them."

"BLM completes land acquisition to protect ecosystem" (BLM news, 8/2/11)
The BLM announced the completion of a 400-acre land acquisition about 50 miles northeast of San Diego. The acquisition, arranged through The Conservation Fund, will provide a vital wilderness linkage and help offset increasing development pressure in this sensitive ecological area. The purchase provides important connectivity for habitat and wildlife movement between protected lands in the Cleveland National Forest, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Wilderness, and the Beauty Mountain Wilderness.

"Free, guided hikes offered in King Range" (Redwood Times, 8/3/11)
This weekend: "The 'Rising Moon, Setting Sun' hike will be offered Saturday, Aug. 6. BLM Wilderness Ranger Paul Sever will lead participants on the seven-hour hike up King Peak for spectacular views of sunset and moonrise. Hikers will climb 1,900 feet up King Peak and cover two and a half miles each way."

"BLM offering guided hikes at Headwaters Forest Reserve" (BLM 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. 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)

a black horse runs in the dry grassa herd of horses on the prairieGET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...photograph a living legend at one of California's wild horse or burro herd management areas. Herd Areas are those geographic areas where wild horses and/or burros were found at the passage of the Wild Horse and Burros Act in 1971. Herd Management Areas are those areas within Herd Areas where the decision has been made, through Land Use Plans, to manage for populations of wild horses and/or burros. There are 33 Herd Areas and 22 Herd Management Areas within California.

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

"Ten wild horses and five burros to be available for adoption in Redlands" (BLM news, 8/2/11)
Ten mustangs and five burros from America's rangelands will be available for adoption at Sundance Ranch in Redlands on Saturday, Aug. 13 through the BLM's Adopt-A-Horse or Burro Program. The animals were gathered from public lands in California and Nevada, have been wormed and vaccinated, and are in excellent health. (None of the animals have been exposed to the EHV-1 virus.) Preview Friday 1 to 5 p.m.

smiling woman"BLM Director Bob Abbey announces selection of Joan Guilfoyle to lead agency's Wild Horse and Burro Program"(BLM news, 8/1/11)
Guilfoyle will report to her new position on August 15. Abbey said she "brings a diverse set of skills, experience, and expertise that will enable her to meet the formidable challenges facing the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program. Joan has demonstrated a commitment to accountability, transparency, and partnering with stakeholders in her work, and she will advance our agency's effort to create what I have called a 'new normal' for doing business in wild horse and burro management."

woman reaches out to a horse"'The Heart of a Mustang' online documentary tells the story of a horse named Aries" (Sonoma West Times and News, 7/27/11)
"A West County woman is sharing her adventures of taming a wild mustang, via weekly videos posted on her website. Kathryn Barrett, of Petaluma, eventually wants to film a documentary about the 12-year-old red roan horse named Aries that she [adopted] in May from the Bureau of Land Management."

a freeze-branded marktwo wild horses look at the camera"Managing mustangs is costly for the U.S." (The Oklahoman, 7/31/11)
"The mustang program is plagued by growing herds, declining adoptions in a difficult economy and horses so hardy they live longer than 30 years. With no natural predators, the herds are doubling about every four years. A critical report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office calls the program unsustainable. 'We are fully aware this is a very costly program,' said Tom Gorey, Bureau of Land Management spokesman."

woman with her horsehorses in a pasture"How a billionaire's wife is becoming the mustangs' messiah" (Time, 8/4/11)
"Madeline Pickens, wife of billionaire T. Boone Pickens ... intends to turn her giant ranch ... into a wild horse sanctuary ... many of Nevada's ranchers look upon these wild horses as vermin, chomping grass that should be meant for their cattle." They fear Pickens "might be leading a stampede of 'touchy-feely' millionaire horse-lovers who will start buying up pastures to save the pretty horses" and "run the cattlemen out of business .... The ranchers are trying, so far unsuccessfully, to push through a law banning wild horses from having access to water..." With related video.

"Feds back off Wyoming wild horse castration plan" (Associated Press in Sacramento Bee, 8/2/11)
A lawsuit had sought to block a Wyoming roundup of wild horses. "The groups said the BLM's plan ... to geld and release wild stallions - would violate federal laws and leave the herds unable to survive ... an association of private livestock operators who own land in some of the same disputed areas filed a federal lawsuit ... to force the federal government to remove all wild horses from private lands in an area of roughly 2 million acres. The suit covers private lands in the so-called 'checkerboard' area ... mixed federal and private land that runs along the old railroad route across southern Wyoming."


white-tailed jackrabbit
white-tailed jackrabbit
When it comes to escaping predation hares and rabbits look at things differently ...
(a.) Hares will sometimes charge a predator -- relying on their powerful legs to leap over the threat and the element of surprise to get away.
(b.) A rabbit -- being the faster of the two -- is more likely to run.
(c.) A hare ("No way -- I'm the faster one!") is more likely to run.
(d.) A hare is more likely to try to hide under a nearby bramble bush.
(e.) Rabbits have been known to attack and decimate the ranks of fully armored knights in combat.

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


a line of firefighters hikes up a hill with a wall of flame backdrop"Sierra fire crews on guard despite cool, wet spring" (Sacramento Bee, 7/31/11)
In the Sierra Nevada, "At times, a single fire has brought tremendous losses -- 280 homes destroyed or damaged in the 2007 Angora fire in South Lake Tahoe, a 145,980-acre expanse of timber and brush burned in the Stanislaus complex fire of 1987." A witness to the Cleveland Fire in 1992 recalled, "'I have never witnessed anything so devastatingly powerful either before or since' ... He told of how pine trees 'popped and exploded as the moisture from within was released with the thunderous roar of lightning cracking.'"

"Budget cuts leave California with fewer hands to fight wildfires" (Sacramento Bee, 8/1/11)
At a Fresno County wildfire in June, "under state budget cuts, Cal Fire was battling the blaze with three firefighters per engine instead of the normal four-man crews used in the wildfire season. They couldn't get water around the fire in time. It jumped the ridge and devoured the next canyon...."

"Interactive map: A history of wildfires in California"(Sacramento Bee, 7/27/11)
"This map shows areas burned in over 7,000 of the largest wildfires between 1950 and 2010."

"Update: McKittrick fires burned almost 700 acres" (Taft Midway Driller, 8/4/11)
"Four fires burned in the McKittrick area Wednesday afternoon. It took 150 Kern County and Bureau of Land Management firefighters backed by dozers, two water-dropping helicopters and four air tankers more than two hours to get the upper hand on all the fires."

"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 Director Bob Abbey announces selection of Jim Kenna as new California State Director" (BLM news, 8/2/11)
James G. Kenna, who is currently the State Director for BLM in Arizona, will report to his new position in September.  Kenna succeeds acting California State Director Jim Abbott. Kenna served as the BLM's Arizona State Director from January 2009 to September 2011. He previously served in numerous key agency positions, including Manager of BLM-California's Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office.

"BLM seeks Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area Subgroup members; sets next meeting" (BLM news, 8/2/11)
The BLM is seeking nominations for three positions in its Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA) Subgroup. The three positions include a representative from the local community, one member representing California Off-Highway Vehicle interests, and one member representing Arizona OHV interests. Persons interested in serving on the subgroup should have expertise in the ISDRA.

"BLM plans hunting enforcement checkpoint on Carrizo" (BLM news, 8/2/11)
Law enforcement officers from the Bureau of Land Management's Bakersfield Field Office, in cooperation with local and state law enforcement agencies, will conduct a hunting enforcement checkpoint in the Carrizo Plain National Monument -- to promote safe, sustainable hunting practices and protect visitors and wildlife and to ensure visitors have an understanding and are complying with California Department of Fish and Game regulations.

"Public comment period extended for Furnace Creek Road route designation"(BLM news, 8/1/11)
The BLM is extending the public comment period until Aug. 31 on the appropriate vehicle route designation for Furnace Creek Road in Mono County. The BLM will use those comments in conducting an environmental analysis for the appropriate designation of the off-highway vehicle route that leads to the recently designated White Mountains Wilderness. In 2009, Congress passed legislation designating the 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.

"Bill viewed as 'last chance' to stop mine" (Santa Clarita Signal, 8/2/11)
"Legislation being carried by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., is the last hope for halting a giant pit mine in Soledad Canyon, city officials said ... city heads fear Cemex will start large-scale mining at the eastern edge of Canyon Country as early as the start of 2013 if ... Senate Bill 759 fails to pass in Washington this year ... The issue has dragged on for so many years that some residents think it has been resolved, while many simply don't know about it, city officials said." The BLM issued Cemex permits in 2000, to mine sand and gravel from an existing mine in Soledad Canyon.

"Historic Hogarth Stamp Mill display unveiled" (The Union Democrat, 8/1/11)
An historic mill "used to pound ore and extract gold" and one of only a few to "have survived to the modern day in the Mother Lode ... became an official display of the Angels Camp Museum ... In December 2008, the Angels Camp City Council approved $12,000 in funding to purchase the mill from the Hogarths' descendants and move it from a deteriorating wooden structure on Bureau of Land Management property south of the city to the museum grounds ... legend holds that when the last of what were once a plethora of mills ... shut down, residents could not sleep for weeks due to the deafening silence."

"Rail project seen as threat to fragile Barstow economy" (Redlands Daily Facts, 7/31/11)
"A proposed high-speed train that would link Victorville to Las Vegas could spell economic disaster for this High Desert city of 22,000. That's the assessment of a consultant's study that says the Desert Xpress would siphon off freeway travelers who otherwise would have spent time - and money - in Barstow." Desert XPress is planned to cross lands including those managed by the BLM.

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

a ranger stands by open door of his vehicleEMPLOYEE PROFILE: Darrin Von Helf...
a Bureau of Land Management law enforcement ranger, has traded the Dumont Dunes in the Mojave Desert of southern California for the Pine Dunes in the high, cold desert of  northeast California....


"Protests of onshore oil and gas leases down significantly in 2011" (Greenwire at the New York Times, 8/3/11)
"The Interior Department is facing far fewer environmental protests of oil and gas leases on public lands in 2011 ... The decline comes as the Bureau of Land Management implements a suite of reforms designed to increase oversight of the impacts of leasing and give the public a greater role in environmental reviews. The reforms, while criticized by industry and some Western lawmakers who argue they will result in delays and a net decrease in leases, will provide greater certainty to developers that leases sold will be issued on time, said BLM Director Bob Abbey."

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) a hare is more likely to run than a rabbit

SOURCE: "White-tailed jackrabbit - Lepus townsendii"
(BLM-California wildlife database)
White-tailed jackrabbits are actually hares and not rabbits. Hares have bigger ears and bigger hind legs that allow them to run faster and leap higher to escape predation. Learn how fast they can run, at:

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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
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