A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 493 - 8/11/11
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- Renewable energy
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- America's Great Outdoors
- River safety: Not just a formality
- Reclaiming public lands from marijuana grow damage
- BLM advisory councils
- Wildfires and prevention
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- National BLM and Department of the Interior items
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:
"Feds approve huge Riverside County solar project" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/10/10)
"Covering over 4,100 acres east of Palm Springs, the project ... by Arizona-based First Solar, would generate 550 megawatts of solar power." The decision "authorizes the federal Bureau of Land Management ... to offer the company a right-of-way grant to use the land for 30 years. During peak construction, the project would create roughly 630 jobs and will infuse $336 million -- including $197 million in wages -- into the local economy, according to Interior Department estimates."
RELATED: "Secretary Salazar approves 550 megawatt solar project in Riverside County, California" (Department of the Interior news, 8/10/11)
The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is the largest photovoltaic facility the Department of the Interior has approved thus far. The project will be developed and operated by Desert Sunlight Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary of First Solar Inc. and use First Solar’s thin film photovoltaic technology, which generates electricity with low visual impact, no air emissions, waste production or water use, and has the smallest carbon footprint of any PV technology.
"BLM announces final environmental document for Rice Solar Energy Project in Riverside County" (BLM news, 8/5/11)
Rice Solar Energy, LLC’s proposed project is a commercial solar thermal electric power plant utilizing thermal "power tower" technology. The solar generation facility is located on privately owned land and the new 10-mile long 230-kV generator tie-line, interconnect substation, and access road would cross public land managed by the BLM. Prior to BLM’s issuance of a Right of Way Grant, the project will require an amendment to the California Desert Conservation Area Plan.
"Bright Source Energy files application for solar plant" (Pahrump Valley Times, 8/10/11)
At the site on private land, BrightSource "won’t clear cut the land, the solar field doesn't require concrete foundations, heliostats will be mounted on 12 foot pylons, half underground. That helps reduce erosion, helps with dust control and runoff during flash flood events" a spokesman said, and BrightSource "is exploring the possibility of being a partner in the transmission with Valley Electric Association, which has already filed a right-of-way application with the BLM for a 500-kilovolt power line."
RELATED: "BrightSource Energy eyes second large solar plant" (CNET News, 8/8/11)
BrightSource Energy is "offering a changed plant design in an effort to avoid environmental permitting problems ... the Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System ... would generate power by using a field of sun-tracking mirrors to create high-temperature steam that turns a standard electricity turbine." BrightSource's Ivanpah solar power plant on BLM-managed lands "is one of the few large-scale solar thermal projects to get through the regulatory process, get financing, and begin construction" but "been slowed by a number of environment-related concerns, including the amount of water used and the impact of construction on endangered desert tortoise."
RELATED: "BrightSource seeks OK for new solar power plant" (Bloomberg with the San Francisco Chronicle, 8/9/11)
To reduce the land needed, the project on "3,280 acres of privately owned land, which had been set for housing construction" would have mirrors set higher than a similar project on BLM-managed lands. "BrightSource and other builders of large solar power plants have been criticized for disturbing pristine desert landscapes, with some environmentalists suing to stop the Ivanpah project."
"Energy news: BLM seeking comments on new solar project near border" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 8/7/11)
The BLM "is accepting public comments on Stateline Solar Farm ... two miles from the Nevada border, close to the Ivanpah Solar Project already under construction." In other energy news, "Barclays Capital announced an energy partnership with K Road Power, the owner of the nearby Calico Solar Project" and "Ivanpah Solar announced ... that it is repairing damages to the site of the 392-megawatt facility caused by storms...."
"Solar firms agree to wildlife protections for Carrizo Plain" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 8/10/11)
"Two solar companies proposing large photovoltaic plants for the Carrizo Plain have reached an agreement that will prevent a lawsuit from three national environmental groups ... The agreement does not affect a separate lawsuit filed by three local plaintiffs ... SunPower plans to build a 250-megawatt solar plant along the eastern edge of the Carrizo Plain, and First Solar plans a 550-megawatt plant to the west. Both projects have received county approval and are scheduled to begin construction in September." The projects are not within the Carrizo Plain National Monument.
"Pioneertown locals fight potential wind farm" (KPSP Palm Springs, 8/9/11)
"A group is fighting a potential wind farm in Pioneertown ... where Portland-based Element Power is already leasing 4,030 acres from the Bureau of Land Management for green-energy production. The proposed project is still very early in the testing phase - for now the company is only allowed to place four 60-meter tall meteorological testing towers to check the wind viability in the area but local residents are already furious..."
RELATED: "Now is time to act, wind-farm foe says" (Hi-Desert Star, 8/9/11)
"About 200 citizens turned out for Save Our Desert’s Saturday rally against a possible wind farm in Pioneertown." The group was organized in response to "wind-monitoring masts erected on Black Lava Butte ... part of a feasibility study Element Power is conducting for a wind farm in Pipes Canyon." The organizer told the crowd, "We can make this a very frustrating, expensive process for them. We need to persuade them that they can’t ride roughshod over us."
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
What separates the mountain beaver from other beavers?
(a.) They do not divert water.
(b.) They do not eat bark.
(c.) They are not vegetarian.
(d.) They are not really beavers.
------> See answer -- and more -- near the end of this issue.
|AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"Meteor shower to light up sky this week" (Victorville Daily Press, 8/10/11)
This year's Perseids meteor shower will be a bit harder to see, because of a full moon. Astronomy professor Scott Bulkley "suggests people find a spot where the full moon is obscured -- such as by a wall or tree -- and to lie as flat as possible with a lawn chair, blanket or in the back of a truck. Brad Mastin, a ranger for the Bureau of Land Management, said some excellent places to view meteorites nearby include places far from lights such as Owl Canyon Campground, Stoddard Wells Off-Highway Vehicle area, Harper Dry Lake, El Mirage Dry Lake and Tecopa Hot Springs."
RELATED: "Recreation" (BLM Barstow Field Office)
Links to sites mentioned for viewing the Perseids meteor shower.
"Putting it on the map!" (News.bytes Extra)
A pocket-sized guide detailing designated routes of travel in Eastern Imperial County is now available to the public from the BLM’s El Centro Field Office. The "Routes of Travel for Eastern Imperial County" map complements the Northern and Eastern Colorado Desert Management Plan. The map provides visitors with an overview of the varied recreational opportunities this area has to offer.
|GET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...explore cultural and heritage sites in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. There are hundreds, from prehistoric Native American campsites as much as 10,000 years old to 19th century homesteads. The Painted Rock site is a highlight, but other important cultural sites also add to our understanding of life on the Carrizo. Old farm buildings, machinery and implements, fence posts, water troughs and even historical period dump sites represent aspects of a way of life we are trying to preserve. If you visit historical and cultural sites on the Carrizo, please help us preserve them for future generations by following the guidelines:
RELATED: "Scientists perform quake research on Carrizo Plain" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 8/7/11)
Though a new study was based on drilling on private land, "nowhere is the awesome tectonic power of the San Andreas on better display than at Wallace Creek in the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The creek flows out of the Temblor Range and takes a 420-foot dogleg to the right when it reaches the fault. That’s how much a series of quakes has moved the fault over the past 3,800 years. If that movement is averaged out, it comes to 1.3 inches a year or about the same rate that a person’s fingernails grow."
|RIVER SAFETY: NOT JUST A FORMALITY
A heavier-than-usual snow melt has made many California rivers faster and colder than usual this year. Hot weather brings many people to the rivers for a fun outing -- but visitors need to take safety warnings to heart. A rash of drownings in the Kern River has especially brought this message home. Most victims appear to have fallen from banks, or tried to swim in the river.
"Dying in the Kern River: Drownings up 75 percent this high water year" (Bakersfield Californian, 8/7/11)
More than two dozen people have drowned in the Kern River this year, as meltoff from heavy winter and spring snows has "turned the upper Kern into a roaring creature that even commercial rafting companies and rescuers have at times refused to enter." An "illusion of calm water ... hides flows that have snatched people from rafts, snapped ropes and sucked swimmers downriver into deadly rapids." Some visitors "ignore signs posted near popular river entry points urging visitors not to swim" and then "often forgo life vests, helmets and -- because water temperatures can dip into the 50s -- wetsuits."
"A boating trail guide to the Upper and Lower Kern River" (California Department of Boating and Waterways)
"The Kern River is the longest river in the Sierra Nevada, and in terms of whitewater, it is perhaps the most variable. Whitewater boating on the Kern offers a range of technical difficulty comparable to any river in the West, with runs ranging from Class II to Class V and V+. With proper training and sound judgment, whitewater boating on the Kern River is an exciting, safe and rewarding experience." Includes "Recommended river safety equipment." PDF file:
"California boating fatalities and water rescues on the rise" (California Department of Boating and Waterways news, 6/29/11)
As reported earlier in News.bytes, this year's high water flows and the cold temperature of snow runoff has led to dangerous conditions on or near rivers. "With water temperatures being extremely cold, outdoor enthusiasts can become incapacitated in just 10 minutes, to the point that the muscles in their limbs stop working and they will no longer be able to swim or rescue themselves." Read the "tips that water enthusiasts should follow to improve their chances of survival."
"Keyesville Special Recreation Management Area" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)
A popular stretch of the white-water rafting river runs through here, and fishing is popular -- but take extra precautions to keep safe. Among other dangers, the rocks along the river were polished smooth by spring floods before the Lake Isabella dam was built, increasing the chances of falling in.
"BLM stresses safety for Susan River recreation"(BLM news, 6/20/11)
Those taking to the water in kayaks, rafts, canoes and even inner tubes should wear life jackets or life vests, helmets and shoes suitable for rocks and swift current -- and be constantly alert for hazards. Trees that have fallen across the river are especially dangerous, and boaters should also watch for undercut boulders protruding from river banks, rocks in rapids, partially submerged trees and fast current. (Repeated from an earlier News.bytes.)
|RECLAIMING PUBLIC LANDS FROM MARIJUANA GROW DAMAGE
"Reclaiming public lands with Operation Full Court Press"(News.bytes Extra)
Law enforcement personnel took a large step in reclaiming public lands from illegal marijuana production with Operation Full Court Press. The operation included Mendocino National Forest lands and 300,000 acres managed by BLM’s Ukiah, Arcata and Redding field offices. In addition to damaging land and water by the use of fertilizers and pesticides, some illegal in the United States, armed growers pose a threat to the safety of the public and agency employees, said Rich Burns, Ukiah Field Office manager. "These are our public lands. When we can’t go out and use them, then it crosses the line," he said.
"Operation Full Court Press finishes for the year" (Ukiah Daily Journal, 8/8/11)
Said BLM Special Agent in Charge Laurel Pistel: "I've spent 18 years with the BLM in Northern California, and I've seen the marijuana industry evolve from small, personal use gardens to large-scale complexes with armed guards on public lands. We were proud to be a partner in this large-scale effort. It's a win for the environment and the public."
"Nearly a ton of pot destroyed in forest raids" (Willows Journal, 8/8/11)
"Reclamation efforts will continue as law enforcement strives to remove the gardens, chemicals and related camps ... most local officials have applauded the wide-ranging approach, but insist it must be a long-term approach to be completely effective."
"Marijuana grow suspect pleads guilty to conspiracy" (Bakersfield Californian, 8/8/11)
"Officials seized about 6,540 marijuana plants and about 407.8 grams of processed marijuana at the site." The defendant "agreed to forfeit the firearms and make restitution to the Bureau of Land Management for damage to public land caused by his marijuana cultivation." This arrest occurred before the start of Operation Full Court Press.
|BLM ADVISORY COUNCILS
"BLM Resource Advisory Council to meet in Susanville" (BLM news, 8/5/11)
Natural resource topics including sage grouse habitat conservation and alternative energy proposals will be on the agenda when the Bureau of Land Management’s Northeast California Resource Advisory Council holds a field tour and meeting, Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 24 and 25, in Susanville.
"BLM Desert Advisory Council to Meet in Barstow" (BLM news, 8/9/11)
The next field trip and meeting of the BLM’s California Desert Advisory Council will be held Sept. 9-10 in Barstow. A field tour of BLM-managed public lands will be Sept. 9, and a formal session Sept. 10. The formal session Saturday will focus on recreation fees, as well as include updates by council members, the BLM California Desert District manager, five field office managers, council subgroups, and renewable energy. The field tour will include Sawtooth Canyon Campground and El Mirage Dry Lake OHV Area.
|WILDFIRES AND PREVENTION
"Covelo fire burned 617 acres" (The Willits News, 8/10/11)
As many as 921 firefighters fought to contain a wildfire east of Covelo. "Containment was particularly challenging in the area located in the steep canyon slopes above the Eel River ... Although the fire began in the state responsibility area, it quickly crossed into lands managed by the US Bureau of Land Management and Mendocino National Forest."
"Peak fire contained at 200 acres" (Kern Valley Sun, 8/11/11)
A cutting machine operated by a homeowner "triggered a brush fire near Walker Basin Road and Valley View Road in Walker Basin ... About 200 firefighters from Kern County Fire Department, US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management fought to keep the fire from structures in the area."
"Fire burns brush near Hesperia" (San Bernardino County Sun, 8/6/11)
"Fire officials are asking the public's help in finding the person or person's responsible for starting a 44-acre brush fire" southeast of Hesperia ... in the Deep Creek drainage area north of State Highway 173 on a steep, rocky slope." BLM and other firefighters were able to contain the fire. "Fire investigators later determined illegal fireworks were responsible for the incident."
"Crews battle brush fire in Holcomb" (Big Bear Grizzly, 8/10/11)
It "has been a relatively calm summer fire season thus far" but "in the past couple of weeks the Forest Service has battled two fires in the Silverwood Lake areas caused by illegal fireworks. Fireworks are not allowed in the National Forest, ever .... Anyone who witnesses use of fireworks is urged to dial 9-1-1." Also, "Property owners and residents are advised to create defensible space around their homes as the first line of defense."
"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.
|HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Invasive weed control project planned for Cache Creek"(BLM news, 8/8/11)
The East Lake and Yolo County resource conservation districts, in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management’s Ukiah Field Office, other agencies, organizations and private land owners, will do work in mid-August to control an invasive weed on Cache Creek. The purpose is to remove ravenna grass, similar to pampas grass, from the target areas before they become a serious threat to the aquatic habitat of Cache Creek.
"Battle over Bump and Grind trail involves hikers, bighorn sheep and the state" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 8/7/11)
"The gate marks a battle line that pits the users of what may be the Coachella Valley's most popular trail against a state agency that says it's trying to protect bighorn sheep. The dispute highlights the complicated tangle of local, federal and state bureaucracies involved in managing the land, looking after the bighorn, and regulating people's activities in local mountains." The manager of Fish and Game's Inland Desert region "said the agency didn't close the Bump and Grind; it was never legally open."
RELATED: "Trails and trailhead locations at the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
"Bodie Hills resolution dies in county supervisors' chambers" (Mammoth Times, 8/6/11)
Mono County Supervisors denied a "request by a Bridgeport community group to take the Bodie Hills Wilderness Study Area out of its semi-protected status," referring to "The almost 3,000 letters and emails that had come into their inboxes ... the vast majority of them supporting protection for the Bodie Hills." A company had earlier asked for removal from WSA status so it could mine. The Bridgeport Regional Advisory Committee that put the Bodie resolution on the supervisor's agenda "also asked for support on backing a huge Congressional bill that would strip protection from many of the country’s WSAs and its Roadless Areas."
"Cemex legislation introduced by Boxer, public support sought" (KHTS, 8/5/11)
"While the issue of establishing a cement mining operation for Cemex in Soledad Canyon may seem like a long-ago subject, the struggle to maintain Soledad Canyon in its natural state is long from over. Recently, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer introduced legislation that would preserve the canyon, provide an amicable solution for all parties involved and resolve the issue ... 'This is extremely important to our community,' said Mayor Marsha McLean. 'While we've had great cooperation with Cemex, they are anxious to get this issue settled and we are too'."
RELATED: "Our View: Santa Clarita not a mining town" (The Santa Clarita Signal, 8/7/11)
Editorial: "It’s been roughly 21 years since a large-scale mining proposal first came to be in the SCV. Life in the valley has changed dramatically since then, but things could take a turn for the worse pretty soon if residents don’t make their opinions known.The gist of the issue is that the Transit Mixed Concrete company obtained two consecutive 10-year federal mining contracts in 1990 for Soledad Canyon."
"Conservation area proposed" (Lake County Record-Bee, 8/4/11)
"An effort is currently under way proposing to create the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area. The proposed area stretches 100 miles along the inner coastal range of Northern California encompassing nearly 500,000 acres of publicly-managed land" including BLM-managed lands.
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
|NATIONAL AND DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Nominations open for Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board" (BLM news, 8/8/11)
The BLM is requesting public nominations to fill three positions on the national Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. Nominations are for a term of three years and are needed to represent the following categories: wild horse and burro advocacy; veterinary medicine; and general public interest (with special knowledge). The Board advises the BLM and the Forest Service on the management and protection of wild free-roaming horses and burros on public lands administered by those agencies.
"Panel seeks stiffer rules on drilling of gas wells" (The New York Times, 8/10/11)
"In a report on the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that is used currently in most oil and gas wells, the seven-member Natural Gas Subcommittee called for better tracking and more careful disposal of the waste that comes up from wells, stricter standards on air pollution and greenhouse gases associated with drilling, and the creation of a federal database so the public can better monitor drilling operations."
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) They are not really beavers.
SOURCE: "Mountain Beaver - Aplodontia rufa" (BLM-California wildlife database)
Mountain beavers are the only survivor of the Aplodontidae family. Although these animals are not actually beavers, they do divert water into their tunnels. These vegetarian mammals occasionally gnaw on tree limbs, but their main diet consists of leaves, ferns, grasses, tree bark, and some wild berries.
RELATED: "Point Arena Mountain Beaver - Aplodontia rufa nigra" (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
"Mountain beavers are ... are considered the most primitive living rodents. Mountain beavers are stout, compact and cylindrical and have a broad, massive, laterally compressed skull. They average about one foot in length and two to four pounds in weight."
- If your e-mail program does not allow you to click on the above links to visit that Web page, copy and paste the URL into your browser's "Location" or "Address" bar.
- Some online news sites require free registration to view their content online. Some news sites remove news stories from the Web soon after publication. If you plan to keep a story, you should print a copy or save the Web page to your computer.
DISCLAIMER: By linking to Web sites, the BLM does not imply endorsement of those sites, or of products or advertisements on those sites.
News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834
Sacramento, Ca 95825
We appreciate feedback. Send comments to the News.bytes team at:
To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to:
mailto:Join-Newsbytes@List.ca.blm.gov OR visit our News.bytes subscription page at: http://www.blm.gov/ca/caso/getnewsbytes.html.