A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 495 - 8/25/11

the roadrunner is an angular-looking bird with a long tail an expanse of solar panels in the desert a student lies in the sand to examine the ground under a bush workers practice installations on a mockup of a house a wide-faced lizard sits in the sand


- Not for educators only:
      - Wildlife trivia question of the week
      - Other wildlife on public lands
      - Get outdoors tip of the week: Birding
      - Our readers write: Noxious weeds
- Wildfires and prevention
- Renewable energy
- Wild horses and burros
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- National BLM and Department of the Interior items
- Wildlife trivia answer and related items
Also see this issue of News.bytes online at:


the roadrunner is an angular-looking bird with a long tail
a greater roadrunner
With which animal does the roadrunner share a notable trait?
(a.) The emu: they are both flightless birds with wings that no longer serve a purpose.
(b.) The cheetah: both can run up to 60 miles per hour over short distances.
(c.) The mountain goat: both are excellent at moving on difficult terrain and have feet specially equipped for gripping rough surfaces.
(d.) The raccoon: both like to live around human settlements and will eat dog food off the back porch.
(e.) The tapeworm: both have starred in long-running cartoon series featuring nemeses -- the Road Runner versus Wile E. Coyote (Nemesis ridiculii) in episodes such as "Soup or Sonic" and Icky Tapeworm versus Al Bendazole in "It's Alimentary."

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


a wide-faced lizard sits in the sanda student lies in the sand to examine the ground under a bush"Horning in: Student interns are hot on the trail!" (News.bytes Extra)
Six student interns from the American Conservation Experience have spent the hot summer months in El Centro's deserts searching for flat-tailed horned lizards. The lizards, often referred to as “horny toads,” are tracked annually to establish population densities and help determine the viability of the species.

a spotted frog sits amid stones"Amphibian species clings to life" (Los Angeles Times, 8/17/11)
"Fewer than 200 mountain yellow-legged frogs are believed to exist. The Station fire destroyed habitat; now 104 have died mysteriously in a zoo's breeding tanks ... zoos in Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego are involved in a public-private effort to pave the way for the Rana muscosa population to reestablish residency in Southern California."

"Salazar announces $53 in grants to support habitat acquisition and conservation planning for endangered species" (Department of the Interior news, 8/24/11)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar "announced more than $53 million in grants to 17 states to support conservation planning and acquisition of vital habitat for threatened and endangered fish, wildlife, and plants." The grants through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, "will benefit numerous imperiled species ranging from the Peninsular bighorn sheep to the Karner blue butterfly."

Full list of awards (PDF file):
California awardees include the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan, the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Plan, the Desert Renewable Energy Plan HCP/NCCP and more.

a furry creature huddles among rocksan orange butterfly with black spots on a green leaf"Critters moving away from global warming faster" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 8/18/11)
"About 2,000 species examined are moving away from the equator at an average rate of more than 15 feet per day, about a mile per year, according to new research published ... in the journal Science which analyzed previous studies. Species are also moving up mountains to escape the heat, but more slowly, averaging about 4 feet a year. ... 'The speed is an important issue,' said study main author Chris Thomas of the University of York. 'It is faster than we thought'."

"Yurok Tribe educates hunters on dangers of lead bullets; Shooting demonstration convinces some to switch" (Eureka Times-Standard, 8/21/11)
"Yurok Tribe wildlife biologist Chris West held up a container holding what was once a lead bullet -- now just gray specks and slivers scattered across the container -- and compared it a solid used copper bullet." The shooting demonstration in Samoa was "to show hunters how lead bullets can be harmful to animals and humans alike." Some residents were convinced: "There was a lot more shrapnel," one said about the lead. "That goes in the meat." The tribe "is studying the feasibility of reintroducing California condors in Yurok country" and says "lead fragments in shot animals or in gut piles left in the woods by hunters are the largest limiting factor for sustainable condor populations."

an owl sits on a tree branchblack birds with red-orange beaks on rocks...let's go bird watching! You may call it birding -- but either way, birders from around the world spot a wide variety of birds on BLM-managed lands in California. With some of the most varied wildlife habitat on earth -- from arid southern desert to snow-capped Sierra Nevada to Pacific seacoast -- California and its public lands provide homes for many birds. And some pockets of BLM California land have become valuable links in bird migration routes, as other land gets more developed. A number of cooperating partners work with the BLM to help preserve this valuable habitat.

OUR READERS WRITE: Noxious weeds
Probyn Gregory of Tujunga asks, "At the local hospital, there was a poster of fuzzy poodledog bush saying that several forest rangers have contracted the rash attendant upon touching or smelling the plant. I was expecting it after the Station Fire in Tujunga, and sure enough, here it is in LA County. Have you guys posted any info about it lately?"

Editor: we have not, although I do see that the U.S. Forest Service includes a warning about it in their brochure about the Kiavah Wilderness in Kern County, that includes BLM-managed lands. The plant grows after wildfires, and a warning is in order -- especially for areas burned in past years, that are now reopening to the public:

close-up of purple flowers on a stema large plant with purple flowers in a sandy area"Warning: Poodle dog bush" (USDA Forest Service, Angeles National Forest)
"Poodle-dog bush causes severe irritation to the skin if touched, akin to poison oak or poison ivy. It can raise blisters lasting as long as two weeks or more. The plant is covered in sticky hairs, which can dislodge easily and can be passed on to hikers who touch it or brush up against it. The swelling, rash and itching appear twelve hours to two days after contact ... avoid this plant ... frequently found along trails."

RELATED: "Beware of poisonous poodle-dog bush" (Los Angeles Times, 7/24/11)
"Campers, hikers, emergency crews and park rangers are learning the hard way about a little-known poisonous plant that has painted the hillsides of the Angeles National Forest a lovely lavender this summer..." Poodle-dog bush "thrives in areas scorched by wildfire ... Skin contact can cause rashes, blisters, swelling and general irritation. Now that areas swept by the 2009 Station Fire have been reopened to the public, officials are rushing to get the word out: Beware of the poodle-dog. Not everyone has gotten the message."

RELATED: "Kiavah Wilderness" (Sequoia National Forest)
"Poisonous plant found - poodle dog brush. This plant is strikingly beautiful, with a tall cluster of many leafy shoots capped by a long stem of bright, colorful, blue flowers. It can reach heights of up to 8 feet. It closely resembles the common chaparral shrub Yerba Santa (Eridicityon californicum) and grows in the same areas. It causes severe dermatitis and occurs almost exclusively after fires and is generally found in chaparral communities. So be sure you don't pick the flowers. PDF file, 143 KB:

RELATED: "Kiavah Wilderness" (BLM California)

Speaking of harmful plants, the yellow star thistle is a major problem on public and private lands ...

three people walk past a field of yellow flowers"Invasive yellow star thistle aims to take over the world"
(Sacramento Bee, 8/21/11)
"We see it everywhere -- on freeway offramps, in vacant city lots, spreading like some hideous gray-green rash across vast swaths of ranchland. We feel its barbed presence -- on park trails, in camping and wilderness areas, even one's own garden. We gripe about its ... its insidious invasion of our lives and sock linings ... This has been a blockbuster summer for Star ... what with the heavy late-spring rain and milder summer enabling the plant to spread."

...but you can help stop them! Virtually and really:

Funny.bytes logo includes a cartoon man laughingZap the Weed! Game Over - play again?FUNNY.BYTES: "Zap the Weed"
Help stop yellow star thistle from taking over the world! Shoot the weeds and flying saucers to help save the environment, in this Funny.bytes repeat. Warning: sound effects -- check your computer's sound level.

yellow flowers on spiky branchesRELATED: "Yellow star thistle" (BLM California)
...is an aggressive annual that grows from a taproot and stands 1 to 3 feet tall. Native to southern Europe, invades various soil types on waste areas, roadsides, pastures and dry rangelands. Toxic to horses as it causes "chewing disease." Once a plant invades a site it may sit for several years. It becomes genetically adapted to that site and then the population explodes and spreads rapidly. Small populations must be eradicated!


a firefighter sprays water on smoldering ashes"Erosion a concern in aftermath of Ray May Fire" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 8/23/11)
Crews were still dowsing smoldering spots from "one of this summer's largest wildfires" -- and already planning to stop erosion and restore the burned areas. "More than 3,800 acres -- roughly six-square miles-- were burned by the Ray May Fire" between northern Nevada near the California border. "It's a checkerboard of remote and rugged land owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs and private property owners ... An early priority will be controlling erosion in the fire area -- much of which is particularly steep -- during the coming rainy season. Re-seeding burned areas in the fall will likely be a major focus...."

flames burn treesRELATED: "DA: Fire caused by juveniles' negligence, not deliberately set" (Gardnerville, NV Record Courier, 8/24/11)
"Two 15-year-old boys have been charged with a delinquency offense in last week's Ray May fire that burned nearly 4,000 acres which alleges the fire was caused by negligence, and wasn't deliberately set ... The juveniles were charged with destruction of timber, crops or vegetation by fire caused by gross negligence."

"Desert fire near windmills" (Tehachapi News, 8/23/11)
"Approximately 40 Kern County firefighters with assistance of Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service aircraft, hand crews, dozers, Helicopter 408, and fixed wing aircraft for retardant drops responded" to a grass fire Sunday ... Reportedly a lot of Joshua trees will need to be felled as once they catch fire it becomes necessary to tear them up to put them out."

"Wildfire plan set for county" (Willows Journal, 8/19/11)
"A new wildfire protection plan is ready and approved for Glenn County. It is the result of a collaborative effort between local and state fire agencies, landowners, local government agencies and the Glenn County Resource Conservation District, which coordinated the plan ... The resource plan was created from a template developed by the California Fire Safe Council and adapted to Glenn County." The BLM helps support Fire Safe Councils in California.

"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.

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

"Salazar approves transmission fo major solar project in California" (Department of the Interior news, 8/25/11)
"Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has approved a transmission line on public lands that will connect a 250-megawatt solar power project to the energy grid in California. The transmission line will connect to the Imperial Solar Energy Center West Project in Imperial County that, when constructed, will generate power for more than 75,000 homes" and " is expected to create up to 285 jobs during construction and infuse up to $5 million in sales tax revenue to the local government."

"Massive solar project on hold" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 8/20/11)
A "rosy vision" of construction jobs and a boost to the inland southern California economy "was clouded" with changed plans at a Blythe solar plant. "Terrible news, it's devastating to us," said the business manager for the Inland Empire's Building and Construction Trades Council, "which had hoped to put hundreds of its members back to work with the project. 'This would have been the springboard to recovery in construction in Riverside County,' he said. 'As it stands, now we're really back to square one.' The change will mean fewer jobs and delays of a year or more while the project gets new permits from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management."

RELATED: "Solar developer will forgo $2 billion loan guarantee" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/19/11)
A project on BLM-managed lands near Blythe will now use photovoltaic panels instead of solar-powered steam turbines to generate electricity. "We are still going to be the largest solar project in the world," said a spokesman for Solar Trust of America "'We are still going to employ hundreds of people, and we are still going to supply clean solar power to over 300,000 homes..." He added that "photovoltaic technology is friendlier to the environment because it uses less water and requires less intensive grading."

an expanse of solar panels in the desert"Report: The West's clean energy future in doubt" (Forbes, 8/24/11)
Utilities have invested in renewable electricity and "technologies that cut inefficient energy use. But evidence shows that these initiatives will not likely lead to a strong shift away from using fossil fuels" without "more aggressive policies and investments." So far, "Western states have led the country in renewable energy development, particularly in solar, wind and geothermal, because of a mix of policies and the availability of large tracks of public and private land. In 2010 alone, the federal Bureau of Land Management approved nine solar power plants that could produce nearly 3,700 megawatts in California, Nevada and Arizona."

workers practice installations on a mockup of a housea woman looks closely at a panel as she works on it"Number of green jobs fails to live up to promises" (New York Times, 8/18/11)
Growth in green jobs suffers from inconsistent federal support, some say; California is trying to buck the trend. Backers say the Blythe Solar Power Project in the Mojave Desert, "will create 5,390 construction jobs and 400 permanent positions. The 600-turbine Alta Wind Energy Center southeast of Bakersfield is set to become the world's largest wind farm when it is completed in 2015 ... But even when it is fully up and running, the wind farm will bring only 50 permanent operations and maintenance jobs to rural Kern County, the company said."

a flat plain backed by mountains"Solar energy development in the Carrizo Plain draws lawsuits" (KCET, 8/23/11)
Columnist: "If agriculture gives way to solar development" at a proposed site in the Carrizo Plain, "the kit fox and its kangaroo rat prey stand to lose a major migration corridor between the 250,000-acre Carrizo Plain National Monument ... and the relatively undeveloped land to the north" according to a lawsuit. Local environmental groups sued soon after an agreement between developers and national environmental groups that included "purchase of mitigation land, removal of wire fences from other parts of the Plain, and a commitment by the developers not to use rat poison."


"Energy News" (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 8/21/11)
Solar projects at Fort Irwin could be part of "Army’s goal of using 25 percent renewable energy by 2025" ... group files appeal after their request for injunction against Ivanpah Solar Project on BLM-managed lands near the California-Nevada border ... California Energy Commission says complaint by BNSF Railways against Calico Solar projects "lacks merit because of changing circumstances."

a man walks among desert scrub brusha man looks at the camera amid a flat desert expanse with only scrub brush and wheel tracks"Cogentrix solar applications denied" (Associated Press in Sacramento Bee, 8/20/11)
"Federal land managers are rejecting a Goldman Sachs-owned company's applications to develop solar projects on public lands in the sun-drenched Nevada desert; years after the subsidiary filed more claims to build glimmering solar farms than anyone else." An initial "first-come, first-served leasing system ... allowed companies, regardless of solar industry experience, to squat on land without any real plans to develop it," but the BLM "is now conducting environmental studies to determine which lands are suitable before offering them for lease."

trucks and construction equipment surrounded by orange roadway cones"Construction blues and broken promises" (KUSI San Diego, 8/23/11)
"The huge towers of the Sunrise Powerlink are now marching toward San Diego, but thirty miles to the east in the small town of Alpine, SDG&E agreed to put the Powerlink underground. That's supposed to help preserve this historic community, but now some local businesses say it just may do them in...." The powerline also crosses BLM-managed lands. Some charge that various companies

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

"BLM sets meeting on vehicle, aircraft use in Wild Horse and Burro program" (BLM news, 8/24/11)
Use of aircraft and motor vehicles in wild horse and burro management on public lands will be discussed in a public meeting Monday, Sept. 12, at the BLM Eagle Lake Field Office in Susanville. At the meeting, BLM staff specialists will discuss vehicle and aircraft use plans for herd management areas managed by BLM-California. Participants can provide written comments or make statements.


"West Mojave supplemental maps" (BLM California)
The supplemental map includes the current legal motorized road and trail network in limited use areas on Bureau of Land Management public lands in the West Mojave Planning Area. Motorized use is permitted only on routes signed "Open." Any route that does not have an "Open" sign is not legal for motorized use. Motorized use of any closed route will result in a fine or criminal prosecution.

"California asbestos deposits mapped" (Los Angeles Times, 8/23/11)
"The U.S. Geological Survey this week released a comprehensive map of all the known places in California where asbestos is found, including mines and exposed natural formations. Off-roaders in the Clear Creek Management Area, in San Benito and Fresno counties, are all too familiar with white asbestos in the form of the mineral chrysotile. A 31-square-mile swath of the off-road vehicle area was closed in 2008 after a report suggested that extensive long-time use of the area (five visits a year over 30 years) could be hazardous to your health."

"Anti-poaching checkpoint planned at Carrizo Plain monument" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 8/22/11)
The checkpoint at an undisclosed location "is timed to coincide with this year's deer-hunting season ... part of a comprehensive effort to promote safe, sustainable hunting practices and protect visitors and wildlife within the monument."


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


close-up of a man"BLM chief visits Elko; He wants ‘fair return' on mining" (Elko Daily Free Press, 8/24/11)
"U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey said Tuesday he believes hardrock-mining companies should pay a royalty for use of the public land, especially at this time of high gold prices. He said, however, that Congress isn't showing much interest in the BLM's latest proposal."

a cartoon roadrunner - "not a real roadrunner, but plays one on TV"WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) The raccoon: both like to live around human settlements and will eat dog food off the back porch.

Greater Roadrunner - Geococcyx californianus" (BLM California wildlife database)
Roadrunners are not bothered by people and like to nest near human settlements. Roadrunners will sometimes eat dog food off of back porches. They may also eat hummingbirds that come to feed from hummingbird feeders.

RELATED: "Wildlife in the city in the desert" (KCET Southern California, 8/18/11)
"Roadrunners were once fairly common throughout California ... But the birds require a network of uninterrupted desert or coastal scrub habitat ... Los Angeles roadrunners are a rarity now, but in desert cities -- especially in the Coachella Valley, with the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains right here -- they pop up with some regularity." Walking through a parking lot near his Palm Springs home, the author spots a roadrunner "foraging in the trash for live prey. It caught something...."

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