A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 518 - 2/17/12

a land sail craft on the desert floor, with a tower being build in the background a smiling woman sits atop a horse an off-road vehicle climbs over boulders a woodrat on its hind legs peers back at the camera hands hold a mockup of a military shell


- America's Great Outdoors
- Get Outdoors tip of the week
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Renewable energy
- BLM advisory groups
- 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
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America's Great Outdoors logo features a family paddling a canoeAMERICA'S GREAT OUTDOORS

"King of the Hammers, 2012" an off-road vehicle climbs over bouldersa large crowd of parked vehicles and people in the desert(News.bytes Extra)
Off-road enthusiasts gathered at Means Dry Lake in the Johnson Valley OHV Area Feb. 5-11 for the internationally-known "King of the Hammers." The weeklong events included an "Every Man Challenge," Qualifier Courses, a UTV and Motorcycle Course and finished up with the main event Friday. BLM staff plus more than 200 event staff, and several local public agencies, were busy keeping both participants and spectators safe.

RELATED: "Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM Barstow Field Office)

a boy with a rake and a woman with a plant"Building homes for hawks" (Elk Grove Citizen, 2/16/12)
"More than 70 high school students, young children, Lions Club members, and other volunteers spent a cold Saturday morning planting 220 oak and cottonwood trees on Elk Grove city-owned property in the Cosumnes River Preserve on Feb. 11. 'It’s just about having fun and helping the environment,' said ... a Monterey Trail High School student and member of his school’s Environmental Awareness Club .... 'That shows you what the power of a partnership can do,' Preserve Manager Harry McQuillen told the volunteers about the collaboration between government agencies and private landowners."

RELATED: "Cosumnes River Preserve" (BLM Mother Lode Field Office)

"Fundraiser to help Fort Ord habitat" (Salinas Californian, 2/14/12)
"This is the charter school's sixth annual Plant-A-Thon fundraiser in partnership with the restoration project. On March 3, kindergarten through eighth-grade students, parents and faculty will work with the Bureau of Land Management to plant 5,000 native, drought-resistant plants on the Fort Ord Public Lands."

black and white vintage photo of a sprawling old town"The town that is no more Historical Society presents 'A History of Falk'" (Eureka Times-Standard, 2/14/12)
"Little remains of the once-thriving lumber company town" of Falk, "that, in its heyday, included cookhouses, a general store, a post office, a dance hall, family homes, bachelor cabins and more. Bureau of Land Management ranger Julie Clark will lead an image expedition to the town ... as the featured speaker for the Humboldt County Historical Society's annual luncheon" Sunday in Eureka. "Lumber entrepreneur Noah Falk founded the town in 1884 and it endured until the 1930s, when high operating costs and low shipping volumes prompted the mill's closure."

low brown shrubs on rolling hillsGET OUTDOORS TIP OF THE WEEK...
...explore the roads and trails of the El Paso Mountains which will lead you into a region known for its dazzling multihued canyons, historic mining areas and primitive desert landscapes. This area is managed as a Limited Use Area by the Bureau of Land Management and is open to motorized vehicle use on existing routes and trails (unless posted closed). The El Pasos offer great opportunities for exploring with a sport utility vehicle, dual sport motorcycle, mountain bike, on horseback or on foot.


a woodrat sits on a rock
desert woodrat
The desert woodrat - the recent wildlife trivia subject of News.bytes issue 510 -- is the subject of a feature story about its unique contribution to science. That is because the desert woodrat:
(a.) Reproduces so rapidly, it can show the effect of chemical additives on DNA.
(b.) Is especially sensitive to changes in light, making it useful in sleep studies.
(c.) Is being used in studies on the effect of constant noise on animals.
(d.) Has a unique way of preserving the past.
(e.) Can get its tiny paws into those little test tube openings.
See answer -- and more! -- near the end of this issue of News.bytes.

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

a construction worker in an orange vests lines up a site among metal framework in the desert"Problems cast shadows of doubt on solar project" (Los Angeles Times, 2/11/12)
"One of California's showcase solar energy projects, under construction in the desert east of Los Angeles, is being threatened by a deadly outbreak of distemper among kit foxes and the discovery of a prehistoric human settlement on the work site. The $1-billion Genesis Solar Energy Project has been expedited by state and federal regulatory agencies that are eager to demonstrate that the nation can build solar plants quickly to ease dependence on fossil fuels and curb global warming. Instead, the project is providing a cautionary example of how the rush to harness solar power in the desert can go wrong...."

"Disagreements on proposed plant's wildlife impacts" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 2/13/12)
"The Rio Mesa Solar Energy Generating Facility southwest of Blythe would consist of three solar fields and generate 750 megawatts, enough electricity to power 300,000 homes. The fields' mirrors would focus sunlight on 760-foot-tall towers to generate steam." Agencies "have raised concerns that the project's location near the Colorado River flyway poses significant risks to birds such as the bald eagle and yellow-billed cuckoo. Birds, they said, could crash into the mirrors or be burned by their heat. But at an energy commission workshop ... BrightSource officials said the towers would be built in a way that dissipates the mirrors' heat."

dry grasses line still watersRELATED: "Birds big concern for solar project"
(Riverside Press-Enterprise, 2/11/12)
"With a promise of 2,500 construction jobs and about 150 permanent positions, the $3 billion Rio Mesa development has enthusiastic backing from labor unions and from civic leaders and many residents in the nearby town of Blythe .... But questions linger about whether the technology would harm birds in an important avian flyway that parallels the river."

RELATED: "Rio Mesa Solar Electric Generating Facility" (California Energy Commission)
"The proposed project site consists of three 250-megawatt (nominal) solar concentration thermal power plants situated on the Palo Verde Mesa in Riverside County, California, 13 miles southwest of Blythe, and is located partially on private land and partially on public land administered by the United States Bureau of Land Management."

framework of construction in the desert"Uncertainty clouds Obama's latest solar push" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 2/11/12)
"President Barack Obama wants to revive the renewable energy push that fostered a solar development boom in the first years of his administration, particularly across the sun-drenched deserts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. But clouding his effort is the expiration of federal programs meant to spur investment, a backlash against the White House's policies in the wake of the Solyndra debacle, and unresolved questions about where large-scale plants can be built."

"Wesley Clark: Make Solar Energy A Military Mission" (Forbes, 2/14/12)
Guest column by Wesley K. Clark, the retired Army general and former NATO supreme allied commander: Solar, wind and other clean energy technologies are "already providing a welcome spot of job and market growth .... But while all eyes are on the economy, let's not forget that those same clean energy investments are mission critical to another top national priority: to strengthen American energy security .... Here at home, virtually all military bases including Fort Irwin here in the California desert are shifting to solar energy in order to develop a more secure, on-site power supply that will increase resiliency and reduce dependence upon imports of fossil fuels from hostile countries."

"Audit fails to turn up waste in federal loan guarantee programs" (Los Angeles Times, 2/11/12)
"An independent audit of federal loan guarantees that backed such alternative energy projects as now-failed solar equipment maker Solyndra failed to turn up the waste and incompetence that critics said riddled the programs. But the audit showed that laws establishing the Energy Department programs lacked adequate provisions for thorough monitoring and oversight of the loan guarantees once they were approved."

"Solar studies: The good, the bad, etc." (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 2/10/12)
"[I]t seems barely a day goes by without some solar study landing in my email box .... How good or effective the studies are depends on how closely they reflect what's really going on -- and provide useful information -- rather than trying to oversell the impact of green jobs or manipulate public perceptions." One study "billed as a survey of public attitudes toward solar development .... is a poll funded by a major solar corporation, BrightSource Energy, with softball questions designed to elicit desired answers." Another study "does show, without overselling or manipulating data ... that the green economy is growing as energy efficiency, renewable energy and recycling all go mainstream and are integrated into the supply chain and, that in many cases, its growth is bottom-line driven."

"Jacumba" A town surrounded" (East County Magazine, 2/15/12)
"Though clean energy is touted as the key to a self-sustaining energy future for America, the devastating effects of huge 'green' energy projects on small communities like Jacumba -- and federal lands previously preserved for us all --are not being taken into consideration." Residents worry about the effect of large-scale solar farms, wind turbines -- and power lines to carry their energy: Sunrise Powerlink towers and 124 wind turbines, each "450 feet tall -- 45 stories, or nearly half the height of the World Trade towers demolished in the 9/11 attacks." The turbines "are set to line both sides" of the "only entrance to Sawtooth wilderness area and the breathtaking Carrizo Gorge."

"Renewable energy priority projects" (BLM California)

"Workshop to be held February 22 for Hidden Hills Solar Electric Generating System Project" (California Energy Commission, 2/16/12)
"The 500-megawatt project will be located on 3,277 acres of privately owned land leased in Inyo County next to the Nevada border. The project site is about eight miles southeast of Pahrump, Nevada and about 45 miles west of Las Vegas. The transmission line and the natural gas pipeline will be located in Nevada, primarily on land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The applicant for the project is Hidden Hills Solar Holdings, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of BrightSource Energy, Inc."

“BLM sets aside 21,000 acres near Yuma for possible solar project”(AzCapitolTimes, 2/14/12)
"The Bureau of Land Management ... put aside nearly 21,000 acres of public land near Yuma for the next two years while it studies its potential for use as a solar energy site ... the 'segregation' of land in Agua Caliente protects the area from mining claims and other prospective uses as the bureau analyzes its potential .... It is part of a statewide effort by the agency to identify public lands that could be used for renewable energy. The Restoration Design Energy Project looks at lands previously used for mines, landfills and agriculture as well as places where solar energy developments would not cause conflict."

RELATED: "Salazar advances blueprint for renewable energy development in Arizona" (BLM, 2/16/12)
As part of President Obama’s initiative to spur renewable energy development, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management released the draft plan for the Restoration Design Energy Project. The initiative seeks to identify lands across Arizona most suitable for wind and solar power projects, with a focus on areas that are previously disturbed or have low natural and cultural resource conflicts.

See also "Desert Advisory Council Field Trip to the Ivanpah Valley" below.


a land sail craft on the desert floor, with a tower being build in the backgrounda person sits in a land sail craft"Desert Advisory Council Field Trip to the Ivanpah Valley" (News.bytes Extra)
Photos from the DAC's Feb. 10 tour of BrightSource Energy's Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System Ivanpah 1, about three miles southwest of Primm, Nev. and First Solar’s Silver State photovoltaic facility on the Nevada side of the border; and time out for land sailing on Ivanpah Dry Lake.

RELATED: "Ivanpah Dry Lake" (BLM Needles Field Office)

people walk past an explanatory sign on a traila woman holds a plaque"BLM’s two northern California Resource Advisory Councils jointly tour partnership projects" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of the BLM’s two northern California Resource Advisory Councils gathered in Redding for combined and individual meetings and a tour of Redding partnership projects. The members of the Northeast and Northwest California RACs were able to get to know one another and discuss issues in common regarding public lands and natural resource management. BLM California State Director Jim Kenna attended part of the meeting and thanked the RAC members for their contributions to public service.

"Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area subgroup members selected" (BLM, 2/16/12)
The California Desert Advisory Council has selected members for the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area subgroup: Meg Grossglass, representing the DAC; Donald Wharton, representing Local Community; and Jim Bramham, representing California off-highway vehicle enthusiasts; and Lee Banning, representing Arizona OHV enthusiasts. Under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the DAC provides advice to the Secretary through the California Desert District Manager.

"WEMO Route Network Project subgroup members selected" (BLM, 2/16/12)
The BLM's California Desert Advisory Council has selected members for the West Mojave Route Network Project subgroup: Dinah Shumway, representing the DAC, with Council Members Kim Erb and Randy Banis as alternates; Ron Schiller, representing motor-dependent activities; Jill Bays, representing biological resources with Tom Budlong as alternate; Robert Reynolds, representing non-biological resources; Ed Waldheim and Bill Maddux representing motorized recreation with Jim Wilson as alternate; and Mark Algazy, Jim Kenney, and Tom Laymon representing the public-at-large.

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

a smiling woman sits atop a horsea woman leads a horse on a halter"Mustangs find new homes at Ferndale adoption event"(News.bytes Extra)
The BLM-California wild horse and burro program visited the Victorian Village of Ferndale on Feb. 11, rolling into town with five mustangs and a burro to offer for adoption. The trailers left the Humboldt County Fairgrounds empty, as all offered animals found homes with North Coast families.

"Mustang advocates say panel is hostile to cause" (Associated Press in Reno Gazette-Journal, 2/13/12)
"Wild horse protection advocates are accusing the federal Bureau of Land Management of stacking a public advisory board with friends of cattle ranchers at the expense of mustangs, and warning that the panel is increasingly sympathetic to the idea of slaughtering excess animals in overpopulated herds on U.S. lands in the West. BLM officials denied the charges and are fighting back in uncharacteristically strong terms, saying the activists are resorting to dishonest scare tactics to help push their 'anti-management agenda by any means possible'."


"Judges rule for wild horse advocate" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 2/14/12)
"A photographer and leading wild horse protection advocate who says her First Amendment rights were violated when she was denied access to mustang roundups in Nevada has scored a victory in the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel in San Francisco overturned a lower court ruling Tuesday and sent the case back to a federal judge in Reno to determine if the government restrictions on access to roundups are constitutional .... The BLM argued that Leigh had been granted no less access than any other member of the public and that the restrictions were necessary for the safety of the horses and the observers" and the District Judge had agreed.


"BLM Redding Field Office plans prescribed burns through Spring" (BLM, 2/16/12)
The burns are to remove brush piles remaining from vegetation improvement projects and improve landscape health -- and will be conducted only if weather conditions allow for safe and successful burning and smoke dispersion. A pile burning project in the Weaverville Community Forest in Trinity County will be conducted by BLM crews starting Feb. 21. Crews will burn piles to clear out slash from timber thinning projects over the last five years, to reduce wildfire danger and improve the health of the forest.


a man points to a point on a wall mapthree smiling people speak together"State Director Kenna visits BLM's Northern California Field Offices" (News.bytes Extra)
BLM State Director Jim Kenna made his first visit to northern California field offices recently, spending time with office staffs, stakeholders and members of the Northeast and Northwest California Resource Advisory Councils. During visits to BLM field offices and in conversations with BLM constituents, Kenna discussed his management philosophy that centers on themes of sustainability, heritage and community, stressing the BLM’s continuing commitment to partnerships that are a major focus for the BLM in California.

hands hold a mockup of a military shell"Avoiding blasts from the past" (News.bytes Extra)
With a good deal of the resource area located in the former California-Arizona Maneuver Area, the odds of finding munitions and munitions debris from training activities remains high. The BLM's El Centro Field Office took part in training on this unexploded ordinance (UXO) by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for the clean-up and environmental restoration of these areas. Visitors to BLM public lands, and other Imperial Valley desert locations, are reminded that UXO are often very unstable and dangerous -- see this News.bytes Extra for some tips:

"Daredevil Mike Wilson's Giant Gap stunt shut down" (Auburn Journal, 2/14/12)
"A Squaw Valley daredevil looking for a new round of extreme viral video fame in the American River canyon has been shut down by authorities. Citing concern over safety to aircraft passing through Giant Gap, near Alta, the Bureau of Land Management ordered Mike Wilson to reel in a 4,000-foot cable strung across the canyon over the North Fork American River .... the quarter-inch cable -- with no markers on it and virtually invisible to helicopter or airplane pilots -- was taken down Friday."

"Lamont man pleads guilty to assisting in marijuana grow on public land" (Bakersfield Californian, 2/13/12)
The BLM is one of the agencies involved in stopping the grow on the Sequoia National Forest. Law enforcement agents "found over 16,205 marijuana plants, over 850 pounds of processed marijuana, and three firearms, including an assault rifle. Native vegetation was cut to make room for the marijuana plants. Trash and fertilizer containers were scattered throughout the site, including in a flowing stream."

"Proposed Suction Dredge Regulations for Public Review" (California Dept. of Fish and Game, 2/17/12)
"On February 17, 2012 the Department of Fish and Game released proposed regulations for suction dredge mining in California. DFG released an earlier draft of these regulations for public review in February 2011. Two versions of the currently proposed regulations are available. The first version is a plain text presentation of the currently proposed regulations. The second version includes all changes, using underline/strikeout formatting, based on the regulations originally adopted in 1994, the modifications proposed in February 2011 and the additional modifications currently proposed."

"BLM to hold public meeting on Prosper Ridge restoration effort" (BLM, 2/15/12)
Proposals to restore coastal prairie habitat on Prosper Ridge in the King Range National Conservation Area will be discussed in a public meeting Wednesday, Feb. 29 in Petrolia. Restoration proposals are being considered to reduce the encroachment of trees and brush into the prairies, displacing native plants and the reducing the habitat they provide for wildlife.

sketch of water storage underground"OC agency revives failed desert water plan" (Orange County Register, 2/10/12)
"A plan to boost water supplies using a Mojave desert aquifer is being floated by an Orange County water agency -- nearly 10 years after a similar plan for the same aquifer failed to gain approval .... The Santa Margarita Water District says its $225 million plan for the Cadiz Valley aquifer is different from a Metropolitan Water District plan scuttled in 2002, and is designed to reduce potential environmental concerns." Rather than pump water into the aquifer for storage as in the old plan, the new Cadiz project "would use wells to harvest water flowing beneath dry lake beds that would otherwise evaporate into the atmosphere. A later phase of the project could involve storing water as well, but that is not part of the initial plan...."

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


"Interior Dept. faces resistance in push for more public lands" (Sacramento Bee, 2/15/12)
"It's cost $15 to shoot a duck since 1991.... under the president's new budget proposal, the cost of the federal duck stamp required for hunting would rise to $25 next year ... making it easier for the Interior Department to buy more land for migratory waterfowl. It's just a small example of how the Interior Department wants to get both larger and leaner in the coming year, relying more on fees and less on tax dollars." Secretary of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar" wants to make the U.S. the world's top tourist destination and to get more visitors into the national parks." Salazar said "the Interior Department planned to do 'more with less' in 2013, noting that the entire department ... would lose 591 positions through attrition and buyouts."

"President proposes $1.1 billion for BLM in Fiscal Year 2013 to protect resources and manage uses of public lands"
(BLM national news, 2/13/12)
With a focus on outdoor recreation, renewable energy, environmentally-sound oil and gas development, sage-grouse conservation, and other key priorities, this request is essentially level with the FY 2012 enacted level for the BLM, which employs 10,365 full-time equivalent staff. The BLM is one of a handful of Federal agencies that generates more revenue than it spends. Under the President's proposed budget, the BLM will focus on the following priorities: America's Great Outdoors; New Energy Frontier Initiative; Sage-Grouse Conservation; Secretary's Western Oregon Forest Management Strategy; and Wild Horse and Burro Management Strategy.

RELATED: "President's 2013 budget for Interior focuses on fiscal discipline, core missions, strategic investments" (Department of the Interior new, 2/13/12)

drawing of a dancing desert tortoise and birdBLM Arizona: "New book tells tale of tortoise who turns 100 with Arizona" (Prescott, Arizona Daily Courier, 2/10/12)
"Just in time for Arizona's 100th anniversary," the BLM "is releasing a free children's book about the delightful journeys across Arizona of a 100-year-old tortoise. Tori the Tortoise was born on Feb. 14, 1912, the same day as her home state of Arizona. In 'Tori Tortoise Turns 100,' Tori tells her great-grandson a tale of an ironwood tree who urges Tori to travel the Copper State and see all the beauty that the tree has been unable to explore .... Desert tortoises can live a century, so Tori is the perfect animal to feature in the book and celebrate her 100th birthday alongside Arizona."

BLM Oregon: "BLM issues forestry pilot project report" (BLM, 2/15/12)
The BLM is making available a report titled "Southwest Oregon Secretarial Pilot Projects on BLM Lands: Our Experience So Far and Broader Considerations for Long-term Plans," prepared by Norm Johnson, Oregon State University, and Jerry Franklin, University of Washington, two of the principle authors of the northwest forest plan. Over the past year, Johnson and Franklin have been working with resource professionals from the BLM, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Coquille Indian Tribe to apply forest restoration principles on forests in the BLM Roseburg, Coos Bay, and Medford districts. Implementation of forest restoration projects involves a high level of public outreach.

BLM Colorado:
"Two Gunnison County drillers pay $550,000 to settle federal antitrust suit" (Denver Post, 2/15/12)
"Two oil and gas drillers have agreed to pay a total of $550,000 to settle a federal antitrust lawsuit that alleged they worked together in bidding on public land leases" in Colorado, agreeing that only one company would bid at the BLM auctions "and then the acreage would be split between the two companies." The scheme "won leases with an average price of $25 an acre, and in one case .... $2 an acre, according to the court documents. The settlement brings the average price to $175 an acre..."


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

Feb. 18 - Fort Ord planting with live music

Feb. 21 - Presentation on wasps - Redway
Part of the King Range lecture series

Feb. 29 - Public meeting on Prosper Ridge restoration effort - Petrolia

Check dates - Public tours - Piedras Blancas Light Station

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) Has a unique way of preserving the past.


Desert Woodrat - Neotoma lepida" (BLM California wildlife database)

a woodrat on hind legs peers back at the cameraAND: "Woodrats: How the desert's smallest librarians contributed to scientific discovery" (KCET Los Angeles, 2/7/12)
Researchers "doing ecological survey work" in Nevada's Mojave Desert in 1961, "didn't expect to find one of the most important libraries in the world. They especially didn't expect that the archivist would be one of the desert's most common rodents" .... with the advent of packrat midden science, an astonishingly detailed and diverse record emerged, materials deliberately collected and preserved in 'amber,' across a wide swath of the arid southwest."
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