A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 516 - 2/3/11

a gray squirrel with outstretched legs glides through the air a rustic wooden bench along a dirt trail a man administers an oath to another a desert tortoise in the sand a smiling Jennifer Mata


- America's Great Outdoors
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Renewable energy
- BLM advisory councils
- Wild horses and burros
- Wildfires and prevention
- 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:


a boy with a blue design painted on his face holds a small turtleone boy peers through a microscope while another works on a hands-on project"Galt Winter Bird Festival showcases the area’s animals, insects" (Lodi Sentinel, 1/30/12)
"Geese lounged close together, a snake slithered about on a display table and ducks of all shapes and sizes soared overhead at Robert L. McCaffrey Middle School on Saturday, as hundreds came to celebrate Galt’s fifth annual Winter Bird Festival. Bird tours, duck calling lessons and dozens of displays about the numerous species of animals that inhabit wetlands in and around Galt drew crowds of all ages who were not only interested in learning about areas like the Cosumnes River Preserve, but also about conservation efforts for animals like the Sandhill crane."

America's Great Outdoors logo features a family paddling a canoeRELATED: "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. Over 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.

"Fort Ord planting with live music planned February 18" (BLM news, 1/31/12)
Volunteers are being sought for a special tree planting event on Fort Ord Public Lands on Feb. 18, sponsored by the Return of the Natives and complete with live music. "Volunteers are invited to experience some of the most beautiful areas deep in the Fort Ord backcountry while being serenaded as they help restore this area by planting native plants," said Bruce Delgado, BLM botanist. The event will be Saturday, Feb. 18, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Since 1996, Return of the Natives has worked with community volunteers and the Bureau of Land Management to restore and revitalize Fort Ord.

RELATED: "Fort Ord Public Lands" (BLM Hollister Field Office)
Here on the former Fort Ord military base, the BLM protects and manages 35 species of rare plants and animals along with their native coastal habitats. Habitat preservation and conservation are primary missions for the Fort Ord Public Lands but there are also more than 86 miles of trails for the public to explore on foot, bike or horseback.

a man speaks to a small outdoor group "BLM Director, California State Director tour central California public lands" (News.bytes Extra)
BLM Director Bob Abbey and California State Director Jim Kenna saw some of BLM's scenic areas in Central California during a tour of the Ukiah Field Office last week. Abbey and Kenna hiked the Cypress Abbey Phase 1 lands recently acquired by BLM at Point Arena, visited the nearby Stornetta Public Lands, and visited Cache Creek. They also heard presentations from agencies and local governments, and met with employees at the BLM Ukiah Field Office.

"BLM Bishop Field Office seeks collaboration with climbers, campers, to protect public lands" (BLM news, 2/2/12)
The BLM's Bishop Field Office is increasing its efforts to educate climbers and campers on how to enjoy natural resources without damaging them, especially as the number of visitors grows. Over the past decade, the Bishop Field Office has experienced an increase in climbing and car camping activity in the Volcanic Tableland north of Bishop. Damage to cultural and natural resources has also increased, with some visitors leaving trash or human waste, building improper fires, camping in archeological sites or on sensitive vegetation and creating new roads, trails and parking areas.

"Conservation project at Chalfant nears completion" (BLM news, 2/2/12)
The project involves converting BLM motorized routes to hiking, mountain biking and equestrian use and constructing a new route to maintain recreational access. The project was initiated because development of the private property in west Chalfant obstructed vehicle traffic on a traditional north/south route. The new route around the private property will reduce route density in the vicinity and create non-motorized access to avoid user conflicts, said Richard Williams, BLM recreation planner. The project follows two years of discussion by BLM and Chalfant area residents.

a rustic wooden bench along a dirt traila trail signpost along a dirt trail"Tribute Trail offers near-town getaway, access to Deer Creek watershed" (Nevada City Union, 1/27/12)
"As soon as the late January storm let up and the weather broke clear and cold, walkers, runners and bicyclists were out in force again in the early hours of morning on Nevada City's popular Tribute Trail." The trail "offers a calming forested access route to Deer Creek ... resembling a miniature version of the Yuba with roaring white water and some pools deep enough to swim in. Created with funding from the California Natural Resources Agency and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the Tribute Trail is a project that has brought together an exhausting number of community partners" including the Bureau of Land Management.

"Spring Tours planned at Pine Hill Preserve" (BLM news, 2/2/12)
Led by a naturalist, each tour introduces the public to the habitats of the preserve. Although the emphasis will be on the plants, wildlife and geology will also be discussed. The spring tour schedule starts April 14, with a bird tour in the Kanaka Valley/Salmon Falls unit and ends with a June 2 plant tour. The Pine Hill Preserve tours are free and open to all members of the public.

"Eradicating iceplant on California's central coast" (Public Works, 1/25/12)
"Point Piedras Blancas on California's central coast, just north of San Simeon State Park, is home to an historic light station built there in 1875 .... When the BLM inherited the property, all but 15 percent of the 19-acre-site was blanketed with a thick mat of iceplant" that had been "
introduced to California in the early 1900s from South Africa to stabilize soil along railroad tracks" and later planted "along coastal highways and beaches to combat sand drift and erosion." Since then, "it has invaded foredune, dune scrub, coastal bluff scrub, coastal prairie, and most recently maritime chaparral communities, competing directly with threatened or endangered plants for nutrients, water, light, and space."

people share information"Students learn about BLM at high school career day" (News.bytes Extra)
Two interns at BLM's Mother Lode Field Office spoke with students at El Dorado High School during a recent career day. About 1,400 students attended the career day to hear about careers in both the public and private sectors.

"BLM seeking public comments on OHV grant application; Public meeting Feb. 16" (BLM news, 2/1/12)
The BLM Eagle Lake Field Office is seeking public comments on its proposed grant application to the California State Parks Off-Highway Motorized Vehicle Recreation Division to help manage off highway vehicle recreation opportunities on public lands. Members of the public can comment in writing or provide comments at a public meeting Thursday, February 16. The BLM will use comments to prepare a preliminary application for grant funds that would support law enforcement patrols in off-highway vehicle areas, including the Fort Sage OHV Area near Doyle. Funds also would be used for operations, development, restoration, trail planning and land acquisition at Fort Sage.

a black and white photo of an old vehicle on a plank road over the sand"Early transportation options included plank road over sand dunes" (Imperial Valley Press, 2/1/12)
"Today the Imperial Sand Dunes west of Yuma attract thousands of people set on having 'fun in the sand.' Getting there is a breeze, thanks to the four-lane Interstate 8 freeway. But a century ago, traveling across the treacherous 'Little Sahara' of shifting, blowing sands was a challenge. From 1912 to 1926, the only viable route was a wooden plank road." A historian says, "travel on the plank road was dangerous even on the best of days. Drifting sand, high winds and flash floods characteristic of the area were but a few of the problems encountered by travelers."

"Offroad vehicle curriculum takes place at AWC campus in San Luis" (Yuma Sun, 1/29/12)
High school and Arizona Western College students "recently unveiled their prototype of an all-terrain vehicle ... fabricated in the welding shop at San Luis High School in a joint venture." College officials "hope their efforts will lead not just to a trail-ready vehicle but a thriving offroading industry in the Arizona border town .... AWC's San Luis campus began offering the offroading curriculum in early 2011, hoping to take advantage of area residents' interest in offroading and of thousands of offroaders from the Phoenix area and California who come to the area each year during the milder months."

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


a squirrel on a branch
northern flying squirrel
The northern flying squirrel doesn''t "fly" so much as glide. But you are unlikely to see one even glide past you because:
(a.) They go by so fast.
(b.) They have very effective camouflage coloration.
(c.) They only fly/glide for very short distances.
(d.) They only fly/glide at night.
(e.) They have learned adaptive techniques from the southern flying squirrel -- and distract you with that tasty Chicken-fried Deep-dish Acorn Pie.
Answer -- and more wildlife stories -- near the end of this issue.

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

"Federal government poised to decide on 'road map' for large-scale solar on public lands as public comment ends"
(KPCC Public Radio for Southern California, 1/27/12)
"Federal land managers are poised to decide where to encourage solar energy in desert areas near Riverside and in other western states. Later this year, desert conservationists, scientists and renewable energy companies who monitor public lands policies anticipate the release of the final plan to guide these decisions in the west. The decision will come in the form of a programmatic environmental impact statement -- a sort of road map for public lands managers overseeing designated zones in California and other states."

"Regulators question NV Energy plan to export renewable power to California" (Las Vegas Sun, 1/27/12)
NV Energy, Nevada's power utility, "is studying shipping solar and geothermal power to California. But regulators and consumer advocates are questioning the mammoth project," one saying, "it's a risk to your shareholders." NV Energy "has met with the Bureau of Land Management on possible transmission line corridors to deliver the power to the border of California." The senior energy advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown said the Brown Administration was concerned "that cost and risk may plague these proposed plans to ship renewal energy into California."

"Wind foes blast approval process" (Bakersfield Californian, 1/31/12)
"More than a year of pent-up frustration hit county supervisors with a roar ... as a small army of wind energy opponents attacked county-drawn maps that would outline where industrial wind energy projects can and cannot be developed. Supervisors responded by withdrawing the maps for months of more study, community involvement on wind projects and input from property owners who both support and oppose wind energy development. The board also heard from landowners and wind developers who support the wind projects that have been going forward in the county."

National: "Interior moves closer to Atlantic wind leasing"(The Hill, 2/2/12)
"The Interior Department has completed an environmental study that brings the department "a step closer to selling leases for waters off several states. Interior said its analysis of plans to sell leases in regions off Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey found there would be 'no significant environmental and socioeconomic impacts' The department touted the environmental review's completion as a major step toward tapping huge wind energy resources off the coast, which Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has called a priority."



"BLM Resource Advisory Councils to meet Feb. 8-10 in Redding" (BLM news, 1/30/12)
The BLM's resource advisory councils (RACs) for northeast and northwest California will meet individually and in join session Feb. 8-10 in Redding. The meetings and a field tour are open to the public. Northeast California RAC agenda items include recommendations on wild horse and burro management, updates on wind energy proposals, and a report on aquatic condition assessments. Northwest RAC agenda items include status reports on the Walker Ridge wind energy proposal in Colusa and Lake counties, management of the Sacramento River Bend Area of Critical Environmental Concern and an overview of the BLM's National Landscape Conservation System.

"BLM seeks nominations to Central California Resource Advisory Council" (BLM news, 1/30/12)
The Bureau of Land Management in is seeking public nominations for three open positions on its Central California District Resource Advisory Council, which advises the BLM on public land issues. The BLM will consider the nominations until March 12. The Central California RAC advises BLM officials for the Hollister, Mother Lode, Bakersfield and Bishop field offices. The three RAC positions open in the Central California District are in three categories.

RELATED: "Resource Advisory Councils & Committees" (BLM California)
Links to more information.

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

"95-day makeover for mustangs: Adoption in Redlands" (BLM news, 1/27/12)
Thirty-four horse trainers from five western states will gather at the BLM's Ridgecrest Corrals Feb. 3- 4 for the start of an intense competition to determine who among them can best train a wild mustang America's public lands -- in 95 days. On May 18 and 19, each horse and trainer will then compete in Norco's (Horsetown USA) Extreme Mustang Trail Challenge.
Also: Three burros and eight mustangs will be available for adoption at Sundance Ranch in Redlands on Saturday, Feb. 11. A Friday preview runs from 1 to 5 p.m.

a blurry paint of two horses runninga blurry painting of horses on a prairie"Northwest library houses wild horse photo exhibit" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 1/27/12)
Paula Morin "spent three years capturing images that became part of a Nevada Arts Council touring program in an exhibit titled 'Honest Horses: A Portrait of the Mustang in Nevada's Great Basin.' It is on display at the Northwest Reno Library through Feb. 25 .... Granted permission to shoot on federal herd management areas, the photographs capture mustangs roaming the open space, being corralled during a Bureau of Land Management roundup and the horse's life cycle. Morin shot and printed the black and white photographs and then hand-painted them, a process difficult to detect in a giclée."


a man administers an oath to another"BLM Director Bob Abbey swears in new BLM California State Director Jim Kenna " (News.bytes Extra)
BLM Director Bob Abbey was in California last week, in part to preside over a formal swearing-in ceremony for new State Director Jim Kenna. The ceremony took place in downtown Sacramento before a crowd over more than 50 state and local officials and partners. During the ceremony, Kenna outlined his priorities as State Director.

a smiling Jennifer Mata"BLM announces Jennifer Mata as new Field Manager for Redding" (BLM news, 2/1/12)
Jennifer Mata, a Bureau of Land Management natural resources specialist, has been named manager of the agency's Redding Field Office. She reports for duty on March 26.
Mata is currently a supervisory resource management specialist in the BLM's Eagle Lake Field Office in Susanville, Calif. where she oversees the botany, wildlife, archaeology, recreation planning, land use planning, ecology and hydrology programs.

view of the rear of a vehicle down a mine shafta woman looks down into a metal grate covering a large hole in the ground"Stay Out, Stay Alive! BLM El Centro targets abandoned mines"(News.bytes Extra)
Hazards left behind from mining activities abandoned over the years will be getting some attention, thanks to funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Abandoned mine features, like uncovered holes, shafts or deteriorating mine entrances pose serious safety hazards to a number of recreation-related activities. The BLM's El Centro Field Office will use a number of methods to remedy and mitigate hazards to public safety at abandoned mine sites in the Cargo Muchacho Mountains, while preserving habitat for some of the desert's most treasured wildlife.

"Bureau of Land Management closes Bly Tunnel valves" (Lassen County Times, 2/2/12)
"In all likelihood, the controversy surrounding the valves in the Bly Tunnel and the water that flows through them will probably soon shift from the public sector to the courts -- as water users downstream on Willow Creek pursue their adjudicated right to that water. That consideration aside, Ken Collum, field manager for the Bureau of Land Management's Eagle Lake Field Office, announced the valves in the Bly Tunnel were closed and locked..."

"BLM closes bypass pipe in Eagle Lake Bly Tunnel plug" (BLM news, 2/2/12)
The BLM Eagle Lake Field Office today closed and locked valves on a bypass pipe that passes through a concrete plug in a failed irrigation project tunnel at Eagle Lake in Lassen County. BLM Eagle Lake Field Manager Ken Collum said the action is consistent with the BLM Eagle Lake Resource Management Plan and BLM water policy. "The determining factors for me were letters that we recently received from the California State Water Quality Control Board Division of Water Rights and from the California Department of Fish and Game, both reversing earlier opinions on the need for groundwater flowing through the pipe," Collum said.

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


"Be careful with fire year round"(BLM news, 2/2/12)
The Inyo National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office are asking visitors to be careful with fire year round. Due to the extremely dry winter and the above-normal temperatures across the Eastern Sierras, fire management officials are urging recreationalists to be extremely careful with campfires. Abandoned campfires can and do start wildfires, so observe precautions...


"Salazar: Interior closing in on gas 'fracking' rules" (The Hill, 1/30/12)
"Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is getting closer to unveiling long-planned draft rules to impose new requirements on the natural gas drilling method called hydraulic fracturing, a proposal that President Obama highlighted in his State of the Union speech." Salazar "said that more information would surface in 'several weeks' about the proposed regulations, which will cover ... 'fracking' on public lands under Interior jurisdiction. Interior has been consulting with Native American tribes on the upcoming proposal, and Interior employees in the field have reviewed the proposed rules, he said. The rules will require companies to disclose chemicals used in the fracking process."

"BLM and Forest Service Announce 2012 Grazing Fee" (BLM national news, 1/31/12)
The Federal grazing fee for 2012 will be $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM) for public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and $1.35 per head month (HM) for lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The 2012 fee is the same as last year's.

"Chicago Botanic Garden has a good year" (The Deerfield Review, 1/30/12)
"For the third consecutive year, the Chicago Botanic Garden set an all-time attendance record in 2011, generating 953,864 visits .... The Chicago Botanic Garden is one of the most visited public gardens in the United States, and is a preeminent center for plant conservation science research and education. It is only one of 17 public gardens accredited by the American Association of Museums, recognizing its living collection of 2.5 million plants .... Through a grant from the Bureau of Land Management, 99 Conservation Land Management interns were hired and placed in 2011, serving in 12 western states," including California.

BLM Nevada: "California Trail Center Open for Cowboy Poetry" (BLM Nevada news, 1/27/12)
Come to the California Trail Center through Feb. 4 to find out what the pioneers had to say about the 'Great American Desert!' Trail Center staff in authentic 19th century clothing will bring the pioneers' words to life with hourly readings of poetry, letters, and journal entries from the Overland Trail. On Saturday, Feb. 4. staff and volunteers will perform a special program featuring readings and music from the trail. Selected oral histories from Great Basin College's Indian Archives will be shown daily at 2:30. On Saturday there will be children's activities. The California Trail shop will be open all week.

Congressional testimony:
Testimony of Bob Ratcliffe, BLM Deputy Assistant Director, Renewable Resources & Planning, on H.R. 3440, the Recreational Shooting Protection Act
The link on the following page will take you to a PDF file with a transcript of the testimony:


Feb. 11 and 18-19 - Interpretive hikes to view natural arches - Alabama Hills

Feb. 18 - Fort Ord planting with live music

Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays - Piedras Blancas Light Station -- Public tours are offered September 1 through June 14 at 10 a.m.

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) They only fly/glide at night -- they are nocturnal.

SOURCE: "Northern Flying Squirrel - Glaucomys sabrinus" (BLM California wildlife database)

a gray squirrel with outstretched legs glides through the airRELATED: "Officials to study flying squirrels" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 1/31/12)
"Federal wildlife officials have agreed to review the status of the San Bernardino flying squirrel -- once plentiful in the San Jacinto Mountains -- to see if the distinctive animal warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service said .... that a petition filed in 2010 ... provided 'substantial' information showing that climate change, development, domestic and feral cats and forest fuels management may be threatening the squirrel's habitat and range .... The local species are a sub-set of the more plentiful northern flying squirrel that lives across much of the United States."

More wildlife news from your public lands (and elsewhere):

a large desert tortoise in the sand"When will Mojave Maxine emerge? Contest challenges kids to guess"
(Palm Desert Patch, 1/31/12)
"With 70 degree mid-winter weather in Southern California, it does not matter if the most famous groundhog weathercaster Punxsutawney Phil [saw] his shadow or not on Feb. 2 .... The contest will remain open until Maxine emerges from her burrow for students in K-12 grades, enrolled in public, private and registered home school in the following southern California counties: Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura."

RELATED: "Mojave Maxine vs Punxsutawney Phil: Who will "Spring" first?" (Desert Managers Group, 1/31/12)
"The Living Desert, in partnership with the Desert Managers Group, announce the 2012 Mojave Maxine Emergence Contest, (formerly known as the Southern California Mojave Max Emergence Contest). Southern California* students are encouraged to go online to guess the time and date when Mojave Maxine, a large female desert tortoise who lives at The Living Desert, will emerge from her burrow for the first time in 2012; thereby ushering in the new season." The BLM is a partner in the Desert Managers Group.

a human in a tortoise mascot costume shares the stage with a human and a cartoon tortoiseRELATED: BLM Nevada: "Students learn about desert alternative to Punxsutawney Phil"(Las Vegas Sun, 2/2/12)
"While millions of people across the country heard about Punxsutawney Phil casting a shadow Thursday and forecasting six more weeks of winter, students at one Clark County elementary school learned about ... a more 'desert-accurate' approach to Groundhog Day: Mojave Max .... "The Mojave Max Education Program -- sponsored by Clark County in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, the Clark County School District and the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association- throws a competition every year, open to all Clark County students, to see who can guess when Mojave Max will awaken and leave his burrow."

"Wolf heads back west; canine turns around before Nevada border" (Associated Press in Redding Record Searchlight, 1/29/12)
"A young gray wolf's search for a mate apparently won't take him to the northern Nevada desert where the annual Burning Man festival is staged. The wolf known as OR-7 came within 15 miles of the Nevada line near Susanville early last week before he decided to head back west away from the nation's most arid state, said Mark Stopher, spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game. It had been headed toward the Black Rock Desert where the eclectic art and music festival is held each summer, wildlife officials said. The 2-year-old wolf has wandered hundreds of miles across Oregon and Northern California."

a pudgy bird with spiky tail feathers"Grouse heads toward listing" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 1/30/12)
"Maintaining the status quo when it comes to protecting Nevada's sage grouse will eventually lead to its listing under the Endangered Species Act, a situation that could come with widespread economic impact to the state, experts said. Instead, federal and state officials and private property owners must work together in a unified strategy to conserve increasingly threatened sagebrush habitat vital to the bird's future, participants in a 'stakeholder's update' hosted recently by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval's office agreed. 'If we keep doing the same thing, we will end up with a bird that is listed,' said Amy Lueder, Nevada's state director for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management."

Department of the Interior: "Pythons eating through Everglades mammals at 'astonishing' rate?" (National Geographic, 1/30/12)
"Before 2000 it was common to see mammals such as rabbits, red foxes, gray foxes, Virginia opossums, raccoons, and white-tailed deer on roadways after dark" in the Everglades, but in recent animal surveys, "raccoon observations dropped by 99.3 percent, opossum by 98.9 percent, and bobcat by 87.5 percent. The scientists saw no rabbits or foxes at all during their surveys." This month, "the U.S. Department of the Interior announced a new law banning importation and interstate transport of four species of invasive snakes, including the Burmese python."

a white bird tries to take a frog from another bird's beak"Setting it straight: Photo manipulated" (Sacramento Bee, 2/1/12)
"The Sacramento Bee published a photograph taken during the Galt Winter Bird Festival of a snowy egret grabbing for a frog just caught by a great egret. This week we learned the photograph had been digitally altered by the photographer in violation of our standards. While the original photo did show that same snowy egret grabbing for the frog from the great egret, the photographer merged in a different image of the great egret, in which the frog was more visible .... The photographer has been suspended pending investigation."
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