A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 512 - 1/6/12

a furry little animal off-highway vehicles on sand photo of bright wildflowers blades spin on wind turbines two mustangs rear up on hind legs


- FREE 2012 monthly planner
- America's Great Outdoors
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Renewable energy
- Wild horses and burros
- BLM advisory groups
- Headlines and highlights: Assorted topics from your public lands in California
- Selected upcoming events
- National and Department of the Interior items
This issue of News.bytes is online at:

cover page of calendar is an aerial view of the California coastphoto of bright wildflowers2012 Monthly Planner ... FREE, while supplies last
Fill out the online form with your name and address and we will send you a BLM California Conservation Lands calendar -- with 12 scenes from the National Landscape Conservation System in California. Each photo (and each calendar page) is 11 by 14 inches.

America's Great Outdoors logo features a family paddling a canoeAMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS

off-highway vehicles on sand"Busy New Year’s Weekend at Imperial Sand Dunes" (News.bytes Extra)
A little over 119,000 visitors enjoyed warm temperatures and sunny skies at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area over the New Year’s holiday weekend. The long weekend offered hours of prime riding -- and an opportunity to grab some required ATV training.

a young person -- wearing a helmet - rides an all-terrain vehicleRELATED: "More than 119,000 visitors reported at sand dunes" (Imperial Valley Press, 1/4/12)
"The number of sand dunes visitors was about the same as the previous New Year’s holiday .... The next date that is expected to draw a comparable crowd is President’s Day weekend, Feb. 18-20, although more than 1,000 people are expected to take part in the annual dunes cleanup that is scheduled for Jan. 14 during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend."

RELATED: "Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area upcoming events"
On Jan. 14, United Desert Gateway is sponsoring the 15th Annual Dunes Cleanup at Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.

RELATED: "Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area" (BLM El Centro Field Office)

"Redding Marathon: Much goes into coordinating the big event" (Redding Record Searchlight, 1/4/12)
The Redding Marathon on Jan. 15 "spans federal, county and city jurisdictions" including trails built by the BLM. The writer discusses steps in organizing such a marathon, including permit applications to the "Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, Shasta County, city of Redding and Turtle Bay."

RELATED: "Trails" (BLM Redding Field Office)
Trails managed by the BLM's Redding Field Office, with links to maps and more information.

"Trail hiking, building and maintenance" (Woodland Daily Democrat, 12/31/11)
"Trails don't just appear. They are often the vision of one individual or a group of friends. Ida Merhoff was the vision behind the Blue Ridge Trail that runs from the Cache Creek low water bridge to the summit of Fiske Peak. The Bureau of Land Management, working with volunteers from the Sierra Club Yolano Group and others, spent many days building this trail that was later dedicated in Ida's memory. Last summer, Student Conservation Association crews worked on the trail." Thanks to a "private donation of a trail easement," a "strenuous" trail now being built will offer "a 14-mile round trip hike gaining 2500 feet."

"Natural Life of the Lost Coast: Native freshwater mussels in our local rivers" (Redwood Times, 12/21/11)
"Chances are you have heard about non-native, invasive mussels such as the zebra mussel and the quagga mussel. Invasive freshwater mussels have arrived in California and have been spread unintentionally by humans into rivers and reservoirs. Fortunately, these invaders have not yet made it to the North Coast. Did you know that not all freshwater mussels are invaders? Our local rivers are home to native mussels." Written by David Fuller, planning and environmental coordinator for the BLM Arcata Field Office.


a pudgy little furry animal
American pika
American pika eat primarily:
(a.) Nuts such as acorns.
(b.) Wildflowers such as poppies.
(c.) Arthropods such as centipedes.
(d.) Green plants such as grasses.
(e.) Hot dogs and apple pie.
See answer -- and more wildlife stories -- near the end of this issue.

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

"Large wind farm earns federal approval" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/20/11)
"The Interior Department approved plans ... for a wind farm east of San Diego on more than 12,000 acres of public lands centered in the McCain Valley. The Tule Wind Project, developed by Iberdrola Renewables, the U.S. division of the Spanish energy company, will be able to power about 65,000 homes. Iberdrola hopes to complete the desert power plant by the end of 2012 to take advantage of U.S. government incentives before they expire, but it still needs approvals from the California Public Utilities Commission, U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, California State Lands Commission and County of San Diego."

wind turbinesa view over hills"U.S. Dept. of Interior approves Tule Wind Project in McCain Valley" (East County Magazine, 12/26/11)
"Local business leaders praise decision to expand renewable energy; Opponents hope Supervisors, court will protect scenic, cultural and wildlife resources .... The Interior Department chose an option that reduced the number of turbines on public lands from 128 to 62 to avoid biological, cultural and hydrological resources."

solar panels angle toward the sun on flat desert ground"Feds Ok Another Giant California Solar Farm" (Forbes, 12/31/11)
"Local and federal regulators approved a giant solar power project in California ... one of more than a dozen giant solar farms that have secured permits...." The 275-megawatt Centinela Solar project "received the nod from the U.S. Department of Interior to put transmission lines on 19 acres managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The solar farm itself should materialize on 2,600 acres of private land in Imperial County .... County officials approved Centinela earlier in the week after hearing from supporters who saw job opportunities in the project and critics who saw instead a disappearance of farmland and a way of life."

"Secretary Salazar approves renewable energy projects in California, Oregon" (BLM national news, 12/29/11)
The projects -- a solar plant in California and a wind farm in Oregon -- will be built on private lands and will use power lines that cross public lands to connect to their respective power grids.  When built, the projects will deliver 379 megawatts of power - or enough to power 112,500 homes - and help support over 600 jobs through construction and operations. 

"BLM Seeks Comments on Development of Regulations for Competitive Leasing of Solar and Wind Energy on Public Lands" (BLM national news, 1/3/12)
The BLM published in the Federal Register an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to give the public background information about the BLM’s interest in establishing an efficient, competitive process for issuing right-of-way leases for solar and wind energy development on the public lands, to help ensure fair access to leasing opportunities for renewable energy development and capture fair market value for the use of public lands.

"Revival of iconic California condor threatens state's wind farm boom" (Forbes, 1/16/12)
Condors ride "those same thermal currents" that are used to generate wind power. Biologists "fear itís only a matter of time before the condor begins hitting the 500-foot-high machines. A single death could be catastrophic for the wind industry, the regional economy and, not least, the condor .... Under the federal and California endangered species acts, itís illegal for anyone to kill a condor without first securing a permit to do so. Given that the government has not issued such an 'incidental take' permit and has no intention of doing so, if a turbine kills a condor, the operator could be charged criminally."

RELATED: "Condor controversy puts Google, other wind investors In cross-hairs" (Forbes, 1/6/12)
"Government biologists, wind industry executives and environmentalists have formed a task force and are racing to find a technological solution to the condor conundrum. On the verge of extinction 25 years ago, North America’s largest bird is rapidly expanding into its historic range where wind turbines are sprouting like California poppies after a March rain."

"Golden eagles face extinction in U.S. as numbers plummet, new study reveals" (East County Magazine, 1/5/12)
"San Diego County’s 48 pairs of nesting golden eagles and even rarer bald eagles could be in peril if proposed industrial-scale wind farms are built. In a press release issued today, Save the Eagles International (STEI) issued a dire warning, providing detailed documentation proving that golden eagles and their nests are disappearing rapidly near wind farms across the U.S."

"Solar Millennium deal to sell U.S. projects not dead" (Forbes, 12/22/11)
"When German developer Solar Millennium filed for bankruptcy ... it cited the failure to complete a deal to sell its U.S. power plant projects" as one reason. But "the company’s U.S. joint venture, Solar Trust of America, said that deal is not dead yet." The company cited conditional agreements "related to the purchase of Solar Trust’s 1,750-megawatt pipeline of solar power plant projects in California."

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

"Welcome to the BLM wild horse and burro adoption at Sundance Ranch!" (BLM California Desert District)
The adoption is in Redlands on Saturday, Jan. 14 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Horses and burros may be previewed on Friday, Jan. 13th from 1 to 5 p.m. Call 1-800-951-8720 for more information.

"Wild Horses: Preservation program flies out of control" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 12/18/11)
"Wild horse advocates complain BLM is managing mustangs to extinction by inhumanely rounding up too many. Ranchers and their allies argue the agency must pull more off the overgrazed range and sell the excess -- including for possible slaughter -- to cull growing herds. Caught in the middle, the BLM plans to remove at least 15,000 more wild horses from the West during the coming two years, contending the public land can support only 26,600 mustangs and burros."

a man in a cowboy hat watches a dog jump onto the tailgate of his pickup truck"Wild Horses: Ranchers struggle against variety of forces" (Las Vegas Review-Journal, 12/18/11)
Three dozen mustangs "are hanging around" a rancher's "water sources on the pasture he just cleared." He says, "They paw and paw and break the pipe. They love a mud bath." But "they can't be moved by anyone but the Bureau of Land Management, which is charged with managing and protecting them .... The ranchers' main complaint about the wild horses is simple: They tear up the public land and ruin it for everybody else -- the cattle, wildlife and plant life, and people who want to hunt and play there."

a man in uniform rides a horse"Inmates train America's wild horses to help enforce U.S. border security" (Oklahoman, 1/2/12)
Two U.S. Border Patrol agents "waited in the darkness" watching the border area. But black gelding Nitro saw or sensed something they didn't. " Eleven mustangs from public lands were trained by prisoners and adopted by the U.S. Border Patrol. With their help, agents in the Rio Grande Valley Sector -- 316 miles of the Texas-Mexico border -- "have arrested 784 people attempting to enter the U.S. illegally" and "seized more than 6,000 pounds of marijuana in two months."

a helicopter herds mustangstwo mustangs rear up on hind legs"Mustang plan riles the West" (Wall Street Journal, 1/3/12)
"Federal wildlife managers are fighting in court to take the unprecedented step of castrating 200 wild stallions in Nevada, in an effort to control surging populations of wild horses across the West. Animal-rights activists oppose the plan, which they contend would strip the wild stallions of their fighting spirit and change herd dynamics .... Federal scientists contend they have no choice but to try dramatic steps such as castration because the wild horse population is out of control -- and costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a year .... herds can double in size every four years."


"BLM Advisory Council Wild Horse and Burro Subcommittee to meet in Alturas" (BLM news, 1/4/12)
A subcommittee of the Bureau of Land Management’s Northeast California Resource Advisory Council will discuss wild horse and burro management issues when it meets Wednesday, Jan. 11 in Alturas. The meeting is open to the public. The group will draft comments on issues that should be considered as the National Academy of Sciences conducts an independent technical evaluation of the science, methodology and technical decision-making approaches that the BLM uses in managing the wild horse and burro program.

"Experimental Stewardship Steering Committee meets Jan. 12 in Cedarville" (BLM news, 1/4/12)
Updates and recommendations from technical review teams working on livestock grazing management issues will be presented to members of the Modoc-Washoe Experimental Stewardship Steering Committee when they meet Thursday, Jan. 12 at the Bureau of Land Management Surprise Field Office in Cedarville. The meeting is open to the public.

"Salazar announces new appointments to BLM Desert Advisory Council" (BLM news, 12/27/1)
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has appointed three new members and re-appointed two members to the Bureau of Land Management's citizen-based California Desert District Advisory Council which advises the BLM on public land issues.

"Appointments announced to BLM Central California Resource Advisory Council" (News, 1/3/12)
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has made one new appointment and two re-appointments to the Bureau of Land Management’s Central California District Resource Advisory Council, which advises the BLM on public land issues.

"Members named to BLM Northwest California Resource Advisory Council" (BLM news, 1/5/12)
The U. S. Bureau of Land Management’s Northwest California Resource Advisory Council will welcome back four members who have been reappointed to three-year terms by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.


"Public meetings scheduled to address West Mojave Desert routes of travel designations" (BLM news, 12/21/11)
The BLM has scheduled eight public scoping meetings to gather public comments and recommendations on the preparation of environmental assessments for eight travel management areas within the West Mojave Planning Area. Each area will be a focus of one of the eight meetings. This information will be used to compile travel management area information and develop preliminary route network alternatives for the West Mojave planning area.

"BLM oil and gas lease auction brings in almost $2 million" (BLM California news, 12/19/11)
Thirteen oil and gas lease parcels in Kings and Kern counties were auctioned for a total of $1,968,938.50, including administrative fees, by the Bureau of Land Management Dec. 14 in Bakersfield.

a maze of buildings in the desert hills"Molycorp says it has secured 78% of its Phase 1 rare earth production" (San Bernardino County Sun, 1/3/12)
Mining firm Molycorp Inc. says "it has reached customer agreements to sell nearly 60 percent of its projected 2012 manufacturing output at its Mojave Desert complex. Molycorp's mine at Mountain Pass is the only place in the United States where rare earths metals are mined. The company ... plans to manufacture mined materials into high-powered magnets and other products .... Molycorp also announced last month that it received permission from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to conduct exploratory drilling operations" near its mine.

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


"BLM issues guidance on carbon sequestration studies" (BLM news, 12/21/11)
The BLM recently issued guidance on processing land use proposals and permit applications for exploration and site characterization studies for potential subsurface carbon sequestration projects on BLM lands.


Jan. 10 - "Animals Don’t Cover Their Tracks" - Redway
Part of the King Range National Conservation Area 2012 Winter Lecture Series

Jan. 14 - 15th Annual Dunes Cleanup - Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area

Jan. 14-15 - ATV certification training - Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) Green plants such as grasses.

SOURCE: "American Pika - Ochotona princeps" (BLM California wildlife database)
American pikas eat a variety of green plants, primarily grasses and sedges.

a furry little animalRELATED: "California seeks public input on American pika" (Sacramento Bee, 1/4/12)
"State wildlife officials are seeking public comments on the status of the American pika in California. This tiny member of the rabbit family, a high-mountain resident, is thought to be threatened by climate change. In 2009, the state Fish and Game Commission considered and rejected protecting the pika under the California Endangered Species Act."

More wildlife on public lands:

"Celebrate the fifth annual Galt Winter Bird Festival"
(Galt Herald, 12/28/12)
"Rain or shine, the annual Winter Bird Festival offers the community a chance to discover why birds play such an important role in nature and why wetlands, agriculture and open space are all crucial to their survival. Best of all, the festival is free. Since there’s so much to see and do, several guided bus tours help guests make the most of their festival experience .... Tours require pre-registration and space is limited." Tours such as one to the Cosumnes River Preserve fill up early.

"Cosumnes River Preserve"(BLM Mother Lode Field Office)
Nestled in the heart of California's Central Valley, the Preserve is a critical stop on the Pacific Flyway for migrating and wintering waterfowl. More than 250 species of birds have been sighted on or near the Preserve, including the State-listed threatened Swainson hawk, greater and lesser sandhill cranes, Canada geese and numerous ducks.

"Scoping meetings set in Alturas, Susanville on sage grouse conservation" (BLM news, 1/5/12)
The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service are holding scoping meetings in northeast California to provide an opportunity for anyone interested to help identify issues that should be addressed in environmental impact statements related to conservation of sage grouse habitat. Meetings are scheduled for Jan. 18 in Alturas and Jan. 19 in Susanville.

"BLM issues greater sage-grouse conservation guidance"
(BLM news, 12/27/11)
The Bureau of Land Management issued two Instructional Memorandums that will help guide both immediate and longer-term conservation actions aimed at conserving the greater sage-grouse and its sagebrush habitat in 10 western states -- aimed at benefiting the species while maintaining a robust economy in the West.

close-up of duck's head with green coloringpeople with binoculars and scopes look out over water"Falcated duck attracts bird watchers to Colusa County" (Sacramento Bee, 1/5/12)
"A male falcated duck, a bird common to China where flocks have been heavily hunted, was first spotted at the Colusa Wildlife Refuge on Dec. 8. Since then, its fame has spread." It can be seen on YouTube, "but many interested birders have been making their way to see the handsome duck in person" as people fly in from as far away as "Florida and Canada."

a collared wolf lies down on green grass"Wild wolf makes historic crossing into northern California" (Sacramento Bee, 1/4/12)
"A wild gray wolf is confirmed to be roaming California for the first time in 87 years after a young male migrating in search of a mate crossed over the state line from Oregon .... The 2-year-old wolf, known as OR7, has roamed more than 750 miles, crossing the length of Oregon in search of a new territory to call his own."

black and white photo of a wolf sniffing the ground among treesRELATED: "Wolf that crossed into Calif. likely photographed"(Associated Press at San Francisco Chronicle, 1/4/12)
A photo "taken Nov. 14 by an automatic trail camera set up by a hunter tracking blacktail deer on public land east of Butte Falls .... shows a wolf sniffing the ground in a stand of dense forest. It is likely the animal known as OR-7...."

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