A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California
Issue 509 - 12/1/11
THIS WEEK IN NEWS.BYTES:
- America's Great Outdoors
- Not for educators only:
Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Get Outdoors tip of the week
- Renewable energy
- Wild horses and burros
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- Selected upcoming events
- National and Department of the Interior items
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AMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS
"142,000 visit local sand dunes during Thanksgiving holiday" (Imperial Valley Press, 11/28/11)
Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area: "Over the Thanksgiving weekend 142,289 people visited sand dunes in the area, down only slightly from last year, said Park Ranger Michelle Puckett with the Bureau of Land Management .... This year’s turnout was only down about 2 percent, she said. The numbers, though, have dropped quite a bit from previous years that had more than 200,000 visitors on Thanksgiving weekend. Visitation throughout the season starting Sept. 30 is still up by 8 percent as compared to last year."
RELATED: "Sun, sand and speed: Incredible pictures as 170,000 thrill-seekers ride buggies, bikes and quads at dune festival" (London Daily Mail, 11/28/11)
"With the sun beating down and the stench of petrol in the air, all manner of vehicles from dirt bikes to sand rails descended on the Imperial Sand Dunes at Glamis in California for the Thanksgiving holiday. But the event was marred by the death of a 32-year-old Tucson man when his all-terrain vehicle rolled over on top of him just after midnight on Friday." The man "was not wearing a seat belt or a helmet, the California Highway Patrol said."
"U.S. Border Patrol say drug smugglers could blend in with dune enthusiasts" (KSWT Yuma, AZ, 11/29/11)
"Members of the Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue Unit join forces with other law enforcement agencies around this time of year to make sure you have a safe holiday. But the main mission is to find those drug and human smugglers who might be blending right in with you .... Though there will be too many people for agents to keep an eye on, they encourage you to report any suspicious activity you may see."
"2011 'Excellence in Interpretation or Education' awards honor three from BLM California" (News.bytes Extra)
Employees representing three BLM California Field Offices were recently presented awards in BLM’s 2011 “Excellence in Interpretation or Education” Awards competition.
"Partnership with Leave No Trace makes big impact" (News.bytes Extra)
A pair of traveling trainers visiting Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument made an enormous impact on how visitors behave in the outdoors. Leave No Trace trainers Mark Ardagna and Tara McCarthy traveled from Boulder, CO to make a positive influence in a variety of National Monument programs during their four-day stay.
"National Public Lands Day clean-up at La Quinta Cove" (News.bytes Extra)
A clean-up event scheduled to beat the desert heat was held Oct. 29 in celebration of the 2011 National Public Lands Day (most NPLD events were held Sept. 24). The clean-up project was conducted at a now closed and previously unauthorized dump site near trails that lead into the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.
RELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM California Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)
"Red Rock Canyon: Escape from the Las Vegas Strip" (Philadelphia Enquirer, 11/27/11)
BLM Nevada: "There is nothing better to relax a soul after a ... trip to Las Vegas ... than the natural beauty of Red Rock Canyon .... Wow was the first word I uttered once we began the scenic drive. It was easy to see why Red Rock Canyon attracts more than a million visitors a year from all over the world. We saw license plates from California, Arizona, Washington, and Saskatchewan." The "majestic view" featured "towering, picture-perfect rock formations."
RELATED: "Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area" (BLM Nevada)
Red Rock Canyon, 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, is 195,819 acres and is visited by more than one million people each year. It offers a 13-mile scenic drive, more than 30 miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, road biking, picnic areas, nature observing and visitor center with exhibit rooms and a book store. The unique geologic features, plants and animals of Red Rock Canyon NCA represent some of the best examples of the Mojave Desert.
NOT for EDUCATORS ONLY:
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:
Which of the following statements about California condors is true?
(a.) They catch and eat animals as large as small deer.
(b.) Because they mostly glide rather than fly, they must remain near the cliffs where they roost.
(c.) They are nearsighted, but because they eat carrion they can locate food by smell.
(d.) They clean themselves thoroughly after eating.
(e.) They roost alongside each other in large colonies called condorminiums.
------> See answer -- and more -- near the end of this issue.
|GET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...watch wildlife at the San Joaquin River Gorge-- including California mule deer, California quail, band-tailed pigeons, waterfowl, Audubon cottontail rabbit, gray squirrel, and mourning dove. (Also, The San Joaquin River Gorge is a "Hands on the Land" and "Project Archaeology" program site, offering a variety of hands-on, interactive natural and cultural resource education programs. Reservations are required for these programs and they fill quickly -- so call early to inquire.)
"Concerns shared that solar plant might harm river" (Pahrump, NV Valley Times, 11/30/11)
"When President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, it included the designation of 20 miles of the Amargosa River ... as a wild and scenic river." A supporter "said at the time it wouldn’t affect economic development from solar projects in Amargosa Valley. But the federal designation could come back to bite the permitting process for the BrightSource Energy Hidden Hills solar project ... which would use 170,000 heliostats, to focus solar power on a 750-foot tower" to generate 500 megawatts."
"Race on to build Powerlink before eagles' nesting" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/29/11)
"Construction and helicopter crews are racing to build key portions of a cross-county power transmission line before the official onset of golden eagle nesting season on Thursday. San Diego Gas & Electric has until the end of Wednesday to complete four relatively short, overhead sections of the 117-mile transmission line known as the Sunrise Powerlink. An agreement with state and federal regulators places those areas off limits from Dec. 1 through June 30."
"Significant leasing reform will spur commercial, residential and renewable energy development on Indian Lands" (Department of the Interior news, 11/28/11)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk announced a sweeping reform of federal surface leasing regulations for American Indian lands that will streamline the approval process for home ownership, expedite economic development and spur renewable energy development in Indian Country.
"Developers seek to limit bird deaths" (Casper, Wyo. Star-Tribune, 11/28/11)
On a future 100,000-acre Wyoming wind farm site, "about half federal land and half private," scientists monitor birds and bats in order to help protect them at wind power projects. "[O]ne of the biggest quandaries for ... developers is the degree to which wind farms hurt federally protected golden eagles and how that damage can be decreased. The Fish and Wildlife Service is working on an eagle conservation plan that calls on developers to work with the service from the beginning of a project, when assessing sites, through post-construction with monitoring."
RELATED: "How many dead eagles?" (Casper, Wyo. Star-Tribune, 11/28/11)
"Wind farms and golden eagles seem have trouble coexisting. But conservationists, biologists and energy companies agree: No one really knows what harm wind farms cause to golden eagles and their numbers. The available data, science and policy haven't caught up with the pace of wind energy development. Still, wind energy development is apparently killing golden eagles, which seem especially susceptible to collisions with the turbines.
|WILD HORSES AND BURROS
"Mounted patrols beefed up at the border" (USA Today, 11/27/11)
Clyde, a lean, copper-colored mustang, is one of the latest weapons in the struggle to tighten the U.S. border with Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol has used horses since its inception in 1924, but new funds from headquarters and a federal program that captures, breaks and donates wild mustangs is bringing more mounted patrols than ever to the border." The horses come from the BLM "at a crucial time for the southeastern area of the border, the Rio Grande Valley Sector...."
“Holiday Fest draws locals, tourists” (Barstow Desert Dispatch, 11/27/11)
“San Diego resident Ivy Miersma, 3, rides a donkey led by Dan Ellison of Banning at the Holiday Fest at Calico Ghost Town on Saturday afternoon .... The donkeys are both former wild donkeys ... from the Bureau of Land Management and reside at Long Ear Donkey Rescue in the Inland Empire.”
"All these beasts want for Christmas is a ride to work" (Wilkes-Barre, PA Times-Leader, 11/26/11)
"For 11 years, Neil Young has been bringing smiles to many faces -- from children to hospital patients and senior citizens -- with the gang of donkeys, miniature horses, ducks and dogs from his Young’s Funny Farm .... Young said the donkeys were obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management .... That includes Henry and Honeybun, Young’s two 'therapy donkeys,' and Ruby and her baby, Surprise."
Wild horses and burros" (BLM California website)
Wild horses and burros are managed in California in accordance with the Wild Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. This Act gave the Bureau of Land Management the responsibility to protect wild horses and burros, while ensuring their populations are managed to maintain or restore a thriving ecological balance.
|HEADLINES and HIGHLIGHTS
"Angie Lara selected as BLM California Associate State Director" (BLM news, 11/29/11)
Angie has served as the District Manager for BLM’s Colorado River District in Arizona for almost two years. Previous to that, she served as the Associate District Manager in the Southern Nevada District in Las Vegas for ten years, during which she also collaterally served as the Las Vegas Field Manager and Assistant District Manager for Special Legislation. "Angie’s extensive experience in public service and public land management will be a tremendous asset to BLM-California," said BLM California State Director Jim Kenna. "Her enthusiasm and expertise will significantly contribute to the management of our public lands."
"Capitol Christmas Tree visits the BLM in Barstow, California" (News.bytes Extra)
The official Capitol Christmas Tree celebration began in 1964. This year's tree comes from the Stanislaus National Forest in California. The convoy carrying the tree made a stop at the BLM Barstow Field Office, as it collected 5, handmade ornaments from California residents to hang on the tree, and nonperishable food items for donation to Gallup, New Mexico residents.
RELATED: "2011 Capitol Christmas Tree" (Architect of the Capitol)
The 2011 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree arrived at the West Front of the Capitol on Monday, Nov. 28. It will be decorated with "approximately 3,000 ornaments, handcrafted by Californians to reflect this year’s theme, 'California Shines,' highlighting the rich cultural and ecological diversity of the Golden State." Speaker of the House John Boehner will light the tree during a ceremony that begins at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
RELATED: "Capitol Christmas Tree takes longer to arrive than Magi"(Fox News, 12/1/11)
"It's that time of year in Washington .... The lighting of the National Christmas Tree ... outside the White House is just the start. But the upcoming ceremony Dec. 6 for the 63-foot fir outside the U.S. Capitol is what's generating all the buzz. Unlike the National Christmas Tree ... from New Jersey, the Capitol tree has traveled across the country from California to get to D.C. And the fanfare surrounding the tree's selection and transport over the years has become an odd mix of reality show, beauty pageant and national security event."
RELATED: "Capitol Christmas Tree" (Official US Capitol Christmas Tree 2011 site)
The U. S. Capitol Christmas Tree is privately funded, by corporations and individual donors.
"Finding a fix for dying Salton Sea" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 11/29/11)
Witnesses at a California Assembly hearing on the Salton Sea said "time is running out on efforts to repair the sea and sustain its wildlife .... overwhelming public health and economic crises will follow." A state restoration plan stalled over its $9 billion cost. Some witnesses "pushed public-private partnerships on new geothermal and solar energy projects at the sea" to raise restoration funds -- including a proposal for "taking a 7,000-acre former military test site at the sea's south shore, now controlled by the federal Bureau of Land Management, and converting it into a renewable energy depot that ... could provide 700 megawatts of power and produce at least $40 million a year in restoration funds."
"Ice Age giants lurk in desert underground" (Hi-Desert Star, 11/29/11)
"Eric Scott, curator of paleontology at the San Bernardino County Museum, has been digging the Ice Age scene in the Upper Las Vegas Wash for the past 10 years .... Scott’s team from the SBC Museum has been digging in the Las Vegas Wash under contract from the Nevada Bureau of Land Management .... the significance of the Upper Las Vegas Wash is its huge time span and the events taking place during that time span that aren’t represented anywhere else in a single locality."
"Maps help utilities, others pinpoint solutions" (Stockton Record, 11/27/11)
"New maps posted online this month by the U.S. Forest Service pinpoint where the nation's drinking water is most jeopardized by wildfires and other threats to high-country forests" including "the headwaters of the Mokelumne River in the high Sierra east of Stockton." The Sierra Nevada Conservancy -- a California government agency -- wants to head off the problem and encourages talks among affected agencies including the BLM.
"Current job openings - BLM California" (USAJOBS website)
Current listings include wild horse and burro specialist, fire lookout, wildland firefighter and other firefighting jobs.
|NATIONAL AND DEPARTMENT of the INTERIOR ITEMS
"Federal, State partners on Bay-Delta restoration effort announce updates on transparency, release of draft technical documents" (Department of the Interior news, 11/29/11)
The U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the California Natural Resources Agency and the California Department of Water Resources announced a first step in responding to public comments on a draft Memorandum of Agreement with California water agencies that will enhance transparency in developing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan by speeding access to draft technical documents.
"Salazar: No new federal limits on target shooting" (Associated Press in Sacramento Bee, 11/23/11)
A proposed policy "could have closed millions of acres of federal land to gun use, a prospect that caused alarm among gun owners, particularly in the West, where target shooting on public land is a longtime tradition." But "in rapidly growing areas of the West ... some residents have clashed with gun owners who use public lands for target practice." A memo from Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said "his department supports opportunities for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting on federal land" and directs BLM Director Bob Abbey to "take no further action to develop or implement" the draft policy on recreational shooting.
"Group: BLM ecological study flawed due to politics"(Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 11/30/11)
An environmental group on Wednesday accused the U.S. Bureau of Land Management of neglecting science in favor of politics while the agency conducts six ecological studies covering millions of acres and a variety of landscapes across the West." The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility wrote in a complaint that "the BLM ignored concerns raised by scientists by not evaluating livestock grazing as one of the most significant causes of environmental change on Western public lands."
"Salazar names members to national commission on Indian Trust administration and reform"(Department of the Interior news, 11/30/11)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar named five prominent American Indians to a national commission that will undertake a forward-looking, comprehensive evaluation of Interior’s trust management of nearly $4 billion in Native American trust funds.
"Salazar announces finalization of Soboba Tribal water rights settlement..."(Department of Interior news, 11/29/11)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced $21 million in federal funding under the Soboba of Luiseño Indians Settlement Act, marking the final step in an historic water rights settlement and fulfilling promises made when the Act was approved by Congress in 2008. The implementation of the settlement is expected to stabilize water supplies in the region and enhance economic development opportunities for the Band and its neighboring communities.
"Interior's planned bureau merger irks lawmakers, industry" (GovExec.com, 11/23/11)
"On Oct. 26, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued an order to shift operations from the independent, regulatory OSM to a new office in the larger and more administratively oriented BLM .... The Office of Surface Mining has 525 employees, and BLM has 10,000. At a Nov. 17 hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the reaction among lawmakers and industry witnesses was almost uniformly negative."
RELATED: "Secretary Salazar extends the time for gathering input on realignment of certain BLM and OSM functions" (Department of the Interior news, 11/28/11)
"Survey: Addicts looters of U.S. archaeological sites" (USA Today, 11/24/11)
"'Archaeological fieldwork has become an increasingly dangerous occupation around the world,' finds the survey of 2,358 archaeologists .... About 79% reported looting of their sites .... And 24% reported finding it 'in progress' .... Alone among survey respondents, U.S. archaeologists described methamphetamine addicts as often responsible for looting," including a 2005 Bureau of Land Management report and a 2009 report of "meth lab operators stealing Anasazi relics." Similar comments came from researches in Arkansas, California, Oregon and Southeastern states.
|WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) They clean themselves thoroughly after eating.
SOURCE: "California Condor - Gymnogyps californianus" (BLM California wildlife database)
Condors are fastidious birds -- after eating, they clean their heads and necks by rubbing them on grass, rocks, or tree branches. Condors also bathe frequently and spend hours preening and drying their feathers.
RELATED: "California condor population still struggling in southern Utah, northern Arizona"(Deseret News, 11/29/11)
"The California condor continues to suffer from lead poisonings, shootings and interactions with humans since they were introduced in southern Utah and northern Arizona in the mid-1990s, with little more than half of those released into the wild still surviving. Efforts continue to bolster their numbers, with a goal of having two geographically separate populations of 150 birds each — one in California and the other along the Utah and Arizona border .... The California condor reintroduction program comes under review once every five years, with part of that a public comment period designed to measure public acceptance of the program and garner recommendations."
RELATED: "Input sought in review of Southwest California Condor Program" (BLM Arizona news, 11/23/11)
More wildlife on public lands:
"A disease-carrying bullfrog straddles a cultural divide" (Los Angeles Times, 11/21/11)
"Most of the millions of bullfrogs imported to California each year for use in the food, pet and dissection trades are infected" with a fungus that "can spread to native frog populations if an infected frog escapes captivity or is set free, or if the water from its holding tank is released into the environment." But proposals to ban imported bullfrogs have "pitted environmental organizations against Asian Americans who regard the animals as traditional cuisine and important commodities for family-owned businesses."
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