A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 523 - 3/23/12

a yellow spotted butterfly on a purple flower yellow wildflowers on a spot overlooking coastal rocks a family stands at the edge of a wooden boardwalk and examines vegetation two women look out over coastal rocks close-up of the head and front part of a rattlesnake


- America's Great Outdoors
- Get Outdoors tip of the week
- Spotlight on: Wildflowers
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question 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
- More wildlife items
This issue of News.bytes is online at:

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

"Interpretive hike to view natural arches planned for the Alabama Hills on March 31" (BLM California, 3/21/12)
Another in a series of interpretive hikes to view arches in the Alabama Hills is planned for Saturday, March 31 (weather permitting). "There are hundreds of arches throughout the Alabama Hills," said Dave Kirk, Alabama Hills steward for the BLM's Bishop Field Office. "This is a relatively moderate hike that enables you to view several arches in a seldom visited corner of the hills including the elegant 'Hitching Post' Arch."

a girl with a small grin holds a snakea womaa woman and a man laugh as they hold a snake"The BLM helps make the world a little greener" (News.bytes Extra)
Approximately 2,000 young people, teachers and their families gathered for the Los Angeles Environmental Education Fair in Arcadia this month. BLM California Desert District Outreach Representative Barbara Croonquist and BLM Volunteer Dee Dechert introduced visitors to the BLM with nine live reptiles of Southern California. Many "Oohs" and "Aaahs" could be heard from kids seeing animals up-close and personal -- often for the first time in their lives.

a man holds a free-standing doorway in a forested area, as a girl walks througha boy and girl open a door and head outdoors"BLM, North Coast Students Continue ‘Outdoors Cool’ Campaign" (News.bytes Extra)
After a successful production and broadcast last year of public service announcements celebrating the great outdoors of California’s North Coast, the BLM Arcata Field Office and community partners have begun producing a second series of "Outdoors Cool!" videos for local theaters and TV stations. They encourage young people to discover locations ranging from BLM’s Headwaters Forest Reserve to Eureka’s Sequoia Park Zoo.

two women look out over coastal rocksyellow wildflowers on a spot overlooking coastal rocks"Fort Bragg-Mendocino Gateway Committee is up and running" (News.bytes Extra)

The newest partnership in the BLM’s California Coastal National Monument is off and running on the northern Mendocino coast. The Fort Bragg-Mendocino Gateway Committee held its first meeting March 14, and the committee is progressing on its first project to promote the monument. A draft "Rock Walks" map showing good onshore viewing locations for the offshore rocks was reviewed by committee members, and work is continuing.

a family stands at the edge of a wooden boardwalk and examines vegetationa wooden boardwalk winds through overhanging trees...take time out on the first weekend of spring at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, on a hike or bird watching venture through the eight miles of trails through natural and scenic landscapes. Big Morongo allows for wildlife such as mule deer, big horn sheep and mountain lions to move freely through this corridor looking for food and water, and providing a great opportunity for wildlife viewing.

poppies and orange flowers in a fieldIn the Spotlight: Springtime wildflowers (BLM California)
When California wildflower seasons occur -- and how lush they are -- depends on the weather, and can vary widely from year to year. Unusual rain patterns this year have made it difficult to predict times of peak color -- and some areas may not have much color at all. To avoid disappointment, obtain the latest information from the BLM California Field Office that manages the area you want to visit.

The season usually starts in the southern California desert areas...
"Wildflowers in the Mojave Desert"
(BLM Needles Field Office)
Each year many people wait with great anticipation to see what nature has in store for us in the form of wildflowers. Will winter rains be followed by searing heat and the brown of summer? Or will the gentle warm rains of spring bring forth all the colors of the rainbow waving on stalks of green in a gentle breeze?

"Desert Wildflowers Southern California"
Wildflower reports, from readers.

....continues through central California...
a hiker pauses on a dirt trail surrounded on both sides by California poppiesCalifornia poppies dot a hillside above a river and bridge"Spring in the Merced River Canyon"
(BLM Mother Lode Field Office)
The Merced River is a very special place for viewing wildflowers. For those less inclined to hike, the river can be accessed by car along a six mile BLM road.

...to northernmost California:
a yellow spotted butterfly on a purple flower"Wildflowers of the Surprise Field Office" (BLM California)
Start planning now -- the month of May is usually the best for wildflowers in northeastern California. The high desert is a wonderful place to view wildflowers -- spring and early summer bring a rainbow of color to the landscape. The entire field office area offers the opportunity to enjoy the colors of spring. One option is the Barrel Springs Back Country Byway -- drive along the 93-mile route and stop along the way to take a closer look.


a large rattlesnake with a greenish hue
a Mojave green rattlesnake
Mice make up the biggest part of the Mojave rattlesnake’s diet. To add insult to injury, the Mojave rattlesnake…
(a.) …hides in cotton fields where mice often feed (hence the name "cottonmouth").
(b.) …takes over mouse burrows for its own home.
(c.) …secretes an odor that simulates mouse pheromones, to attract prey.
(d.) …can squeak like a mouse that has found food.
(e.) …posts spurious and vituperative (some say viper-tuperative) comments to the rudimentary mouse blogs.
See answer -- and more on wildlife -- near the end of this News.bytes.

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

"Interior announces onshore wind energy guidelines" (Department of the Interior, 3/23/12)
The Department of the Interior today released guidelines designed to help wind energy project developers avoid and minimize impacts of land-based wind projects on wildlife and their habitats. The voluntary guidelines will help shape the smart siting, design and operation of the nation’s growing wind energy economy.

wind turbines tower over a desert building"Tribes fight green energy wind project in desert" (KPBS, 3/19/12)
"Several Native American tribes in the Southwest are fighting a large wind farm planned near the town of Ocotillo, in Imperial County, CA. The tribes say there are more than 400 archeological sites on the land where the turbines would be located. The Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Project ... would produce up to 356 megawatts of electricity ... to power more than 130,000 households. Ocotillo wind is one of the largest renewable energy projects planned on public land administered by the BLM."

RELATED: "Tribes implore President Obama to stop Ocotillo Express wind project, save cultural resource sites" (East County Magazine, 3/23/12)
"For months, Ocotillo residents and conservationists have been ... seeking to stop" the Ocotillo Express Wind Energy Project." Several Native American tribes have also "banded together to oppose the massive project -- joining residents, desert conservation groups and outdoor enthusiasts who seek to protect resources from destruction -- including hundreds of cultural and archaeological sites. On March 28, the Imperial Valley Planning Commission will rule on whether to approve the controversial project." The Secretary of the Interior "is expected to issue a final decision by May 1."

tall wind turbines behind a group of men talking"California lawmakers explore desert 'green' zone" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 3/17/12)
A "brisk wind" spun "hundreds of turbines in North Palm Springs as if on cue," as "a small busload of state legislators and area energy leaders" toured renewable energy sites with the state legislature's Select Committee on the Renewable Energy Economy in Rural California. The group then "headed to Imperial County for tours of a solar project in Niland and a geothermal plant in Calipatria, followed by a public hearing in El Centro." Renewable energy company officials raised concerns such as a shortage of transmission lines and the end of renewable energy incentives." With video.

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

"Halter trained horses to be offered for public adoption" (BLM, 3/20/12)
Halter-trained geldings and fillies will be among 18 wild horses and burros offered by the Bureau of Land Management for public adoption Saturday, March 31, during the Back Country Horsemen of California State Rendezvous at the Tehama County Fairgrounds in Red Bluff. Wranglers from the BLM’s wild horse and burro corrals near Susanville have been gentling nine animals for adoption. "They are all at different stages, but all will accept a halter and can be led," said corral manager Doug Satica. The gentled horses range in age from about a year to 3 years old.

"BLM Director approves nearly $300,000 in funding for projects aimed at improving conditions on Western rangelands where wild horses and burros roam" (BLM, 3/22/12)
The on-the-ground work will also support the BLM’s forthcoming strategy to put its national Wild Horse and Burro Program on a sustainable path, as called for by the Government Accountability Office and members of Congress. The approved projects include conducting inventories of water sources, monitoring riparian area conditions, removing invasive plant species, and protecting spring sources.

"BLM sets meeting of National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board for April 23-24 in Reno, Nevada"
(BLM, 3/19/12)
The Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board will meet in April in Reno, Nevada, to discuss issues relating to the management, protection, and control of wild horses and burros on Western public rangelands. The day-and-a-half meeting will take place on Monday, April 23, from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday, April 24, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., local time.

"BLM seeking information on wild burros killed"
(BLM Arizona, 3/15/12)
Federal law enforcement rangers seek the public’s assistance in the investigation of wild burro shootings north of Phoenix, Arizona. Rangers found six dead burros on March 13. Five adult animals were shot, one foal died when the jenny (mother) was killed. The evidence collected indicates other animals may have been shot. The investigation is ongoing.


hikers head down a rocky path toward the valley belowa hand-painted sign on rocks warns of no water ahead"Hikers fear land swap could be end to popular Palm Springs trails" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 3/18/12)
A proposed land swap between the BLM and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians "would give the tribe 9.1 square miles of public land in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument in return for 2.3 square miles of tribal land in the park. The acreage wasn't as important as the value of the land, BLM officials said." And trail heads to "some of the Coachella Valley's most popular trails ... would remain on public land, which should ensure open access for valley residents and visitors. But those assurances rang false for hikers, mountain bikers and others who quickly criticized the plan."

"Land-swap plan discussed" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 3/23/12)
"More than 70 people came to a public meeting Thursday night in Palm Springs to vent their long-standing concerns about a proposed land swap" between the BLM and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. "Jim Foote, manager of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, was there to identify issues the agency would need to address in an environmental impact report it will prepare on the swap."

"Lawmakers look to bring down gate at Bump and Grind trail" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 3/23/12)
"Hikers of the popular Bump and Grind trail will once again have unfettered access to its finishing point if the Coachella Valley's two state Assembly members have their way." Their bill "would remove a gate installed by the state Department of Fish and Game to block the uppermost portion of the trail," in "an effort to protect the endangered population of Peninsular bighorn sheep in the mountains circling the Coachella Valley when the gate was installed last June. Reaction from hikers was swift and negative. A Facebook group called Save the Bump and Grind has more than 700 members. Some hikers have questioned whether the closure was based on scientific evidence."

RELATED: "Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument" (BLM Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office)

"South Cow Mountain OHV Area to be closed temporarily for public safety" (BLM California, 3/21/12)
The Bureau of Land Management will close the South Cow Mountain Off-Highway Vehicle Area to general recreation use and through traffic from Friday, March 30, through Sunday, April 1, for public safety during two motorcycle races. In the event of rain, the races and subsequent area closure will be postponed to April 13 through April 15.

"Experimental Stewardship Steering Committee Meets April 5 in Cedarville" (BLM California, 3/21/12)
Status reports 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, April 5.

"Bigger spotted owl habitat proposed" (Redding Record Searchlight, 3/19/12)
"Timber industry officials and environmentalists are criticizing a proposal that would nearly double the acreage designated as critical habitat for the northern spotted owl. After the initial attempt in 2008 to set new habitat boundaries failed to pass legal and scientific review, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials are trying again. The current proposal includes nearly 10 million acres in California, Washington and Oregon, including "some acreage in Shasta, Tehama, Trinity and Siskiyou counties. Most ... on U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land" and "a small proportion of private land."

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

RELATED: "’Tis the season for temporary work" (Washington Post, 3/21/12)
"The Bureau of Land Management is hiring for seasonal jobs "such as recreation assistants and park rangers, but it also seeks people for positions in forestry, engineering, surveying, physical science and cartography. Add to that wildland firefighters, fire ecologists, laborers, motor vehicle operators and more."

RELATED: "Student Temporary Employment Program" (BLM National)
So, you're a student in high school or college. Another summer is coming .... A STEP internship is a great way to make some summer money while working for the natural environment and learning a lot.


"Oversight Hearing: FY 2013 Energy & Minerals Budget Request" (BLM)
Congressional testimony of BLM Director Bob Abbey, before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy & Mineral Resources (3/20/12) and enate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, & Related Agencies (3/14/12)

The West:

"Interior moves forward with efforts to preserve and interpret World War II Japanese American Internment Sites" (Department of the Interior, 3/23/12)
The National Park Service is awarding funding to help preserve and interpret the U.S. confinement sites where more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. The 17 grants, totaling nearly $2.9 million, are part of Interior’s ongoing efforts to capture and tell a more inclusive story of American history. California sites to receive funding include the Angel Island Detention Station and Manzanar National Historic Site.

a wagon wheel highlights a stone monument marker"Following the Old Spanish Trail across the Southwest"
(High Country News, 3/19/12)
"In his search for the routes used by the West's early travelers," archaeologist Jack Pfertsh has become expert at spotting faint signs. Example: the Old Spanish Trail, "some 2,700 miles across six Southwestern states." From 1829 to 1848, "traders followed it from New Mexico to Los Angeles to swap woolen goods for California-bred horses." The Trail "physically tied these distant settlements together in a way that had never been done before," says a Bureau of Land Management archaeologist and lead manager of the trail through Colorado. "It created the whole concept of North America as a unit."

RELATED: "Old Spanish National Historic Trail" (BLM Arizona)
The Spanish outpost of Santa Fe, New Mexico was founded in the early 1600's and the pueblo of Los Angeles, California was founded in 1781. But it was not until 1829 when Santa Fe merchant Antonio Armijo led 60 men and 100 mules northward on the known trails blazed by native peoples that a suitable land passage between these colonies became established and regularly used. The Old Spanish Trail was designated by Congress as a National Historic Trail in December 2002.

"Interior’s WaterSMART Program funds studies of water supplies and river environments in five Western water basins" (Department of the Interior, 3/21/12)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today that Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation is providing $2.4 million in funding for comprehensive water studies in California, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

BLM Oregon:

two women walk down a rocky trailtwo women sit at the top of a tall hill overlooking greenery and water below"Table Rock diet" (Medford, Oregon Mail Tribune, 3/18/12)
"Two old friends have found better health -- and lost more than 100 pounds" walking a trail. One was "a walking time bomb" who weighed 235 pounds and had high cholesterol. The other "wanted to be around to enjoy" her new grandson. After a year, one has lost more than 40 pounds, the other about 70. But "you don't need to be on a weight-loss program to enjoy the trails on the two Table Rocks ... one of the Rogue Valley's most popular hiking spots ....The two prominent mesas feature one of the most diverse assortments of wildflowers in Southern Oregon."

"Two bills would expand Rogue wilderness" (Medford Mail Tribune, 3/23/12)
The Rogue Wilderness Area Expansion Act of 2011 "would expand the existing wilderness area by some 60,000 acres, place 93 miles of the river's tributaries under wild and scenic protection and withdraw some 50 miles of tributaries from mining activity."

BLM Utah:

a woman holds an umbrella over a motorcycle rider about to take off over salt flatsan aerodynamic vehicle speeds across salt flats"Flat out: End of the road for Utah's speed plains"
(The Independent, London, England, 3/17/12)
Bonneville Salt Flats in western Utah: "This famous patch of desert, wide, perfectly flat, and covered by a smooth layer of white salt, has been part of motor racing history since the 1930s, when Sir Malcolm Campbell … became the first man to drive a vehicle at more than 300mph .... though huge, vibrant crowds still travel from across the world to watch them race, there are growing fears for the future of these octane-fuelled high-speed sporting events." Racers blame a mine that harvests potash by collecting salt brine off the flats in the rainy winter season. "Geologists estimate that 18 inches of salt crust have completely vanished," leaving only half an inch in places.

an off-road vehicle climbs steep rocks as a crowd watches"Plan ahead to enjoy spring break in Utah" (Salt Lake Tribune, 3/20/12)
"If you want to head to Utah’s warmer recreation areas any time between now and the end of April, you need to plan ahead. Moab’s Easter Jeep Safari and St. George’s Art Festival draw big crowds. If the weather is good, the Little Sahara Sand Dunes will play host to as many as 35,000 off-highway vehicle enthusiasts on Easter weekend" -- and it "doesn’t have hotel rooms. Most people who haul their ATVs, dirt bikes and sand buggies just camp on site. Because Easter is early in April, the water may not be available, said Lisa Reid of the Bureau of Land Management, which manages Little Sahara."

BLM Nevada:

snowshoers with lights on their hats make their way through the night"Snowshoeing by Moonlight in Lamoille Canyon"
(Elko Daily Free Press, 3/17/12)
"Enveloped by darkness, with only a small circle of light acting as a guide, more than 70 individuals made their way through the snow .... there was near silence ... as they enjoyed the serenity of night snowshoeing .... The gathering of people was the last Snowshoeing by Moonlight hike of the season put on by the Elko District, Bureau of Land Management...."

BLM Arizona:

two men work on a rocky area near a vehicle"Club wraps up mineshaft fencing, plans abandon vehicle removal"
(Lake Havasu News-Herald, 3/19/12)
Havasu 4 Wheelers off-road club "has secured 25 mine shafts ... in desert areas near Lake Havasu City ... The project, in its third year, is a partnership with Bureau of Land Management. It focuses on closing off mine shafts that present major hazards to inattentive desert visitors. Hazards include suffocation from poisonous gases, fall injuries, shaft cave-ins, and harmful health effects from bat guano, according to earlier reports. In the partnership, BLM supplies the materials, such as the steel posts and guide wires. The project also is subsidized by a $500 grant through non-profit organization, Tread Lightly."

a ranger's hat sits on a rock memoriala pile of trash"Border tour an eye-opener for leader of immigration reform group
(Salem, Oregon Statesman Journal, 3/13/12)
"Cynthia Kendoll, as president of Oregonians For Immigration Reform, considered herself fairly knowledgeable about immigration issues. And then she went on a six-day tour of the Arizona-Mexico border." Her group "saw the border from several different vantage points, with Border Patrol agents, law enforcement officials and other .... folks on the front lines, guiding them on intimate tours .... Meeting and getting to know some of the agents who work along the border personalized the issues for Kendoll .... She learned, for example, that Jon Young, [chief ranger] for the Arizona Bureau of Land Management, has a $10,000 bounty on his head."

"BLM operation nets 7.5 tons of garbage near border" (KTAR Phoenix, AZ, 2/19/12)
BLM Arizona completed its fourth anti-smuggling operation at "a popular corridor used by smugglers and illegal immigrants. During these operations, BLM brings additional law enforcement rangers to state-owned land to clean-up the area, confiscate any drugs left behind and possibly arrest any suspicious persons found in the area. The most recent operation was called Operation ROAM (Reclaim Our Arizona Monuments) and focused on the Ironwood Forest and Sonoran Desert National Monuments."

BLM New Mexico:

'SW Border Security Task Force eases NM borderland residents"
(Deming, New Mexico Headlight, 3/15/12)
James Johnson says "500 people in a night" sometimes crossed his ranch, entering the U.S. illegally from Mexico …. Now, he says, the acres of his farm are much quieter, 'the best that it's been in 30 years' .... He credits the Southwestern Border Security Task Force … The task force is comprised of members from the New Mexico Border Authority, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Bureau of Land Management, the New Mexico State Police, the Luna County Sheriff's Office, and property owners....."

"Supporters back national monument status for Organ Mountains" (Las Cruces Sun-News, 3/20/12)
"With the afternoon sun creating all kinds of hues and shadows, the Organ Mountains served as the backdrop Tuesday of a news conference of southern New Mexico leaders urging President Barack Obama to designate the mountain range as a national monument. 'It's time to get it done, it's time it happened,' said Billy Garrett, Doña Ana County commissioner...."


March 24 - Volunteer opportunity - Steele Peak, Stephen's Kangaroo Rat Reserve cleanup - near Perris
Illegal dumping and misuse of the area has resulted in an accumulation of garbage including household refuse, broken target boards, spent shotgun shells, and other items littering the ground. Using a variety of hand tools such as rakes and garbage pickers, volunteers will assist BLM staff in performing a general cleanup of the area. Please RSVP. Details:

March 31 - Wild horse and burro adoption - Red Bluff

April 14 - Alabama Hills Day - Lone Pine
"The purpose of this new annual event is to celebrate this incredibly scenic landscape and educate the public about the wide variety of groups that use and enjoy the Alabamas," said Chris Langley, stewardship group chair. "Bring your family and friends to show your support for the Alabama Hills and enjoy a unique learning experience." Free.

RELATED: "The Alabama Hills" (BLM Bishop Field Office)

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(b.) …takes over mouse burrows for its own home.

SOURCE: "Mojave rattlesnake - Crotalus scutulatus" (BLM California wildlife database)

close-up of the head and front part of a rattlesnakeRELATED: "Rattlesnake season has arrived" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/15/12)
"William Hayes, a rattlesnake researcher and professor of biology at Loma Linda University, said it’s no surprise that people have encountered rattlesnakes this year, considering the [warm] weather ....

More wildlife news from your public lands:

"Eagle counts leave biologists encouraged" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 3/19/12)
"The most recent bald eagle counts show there’s a baby eagle at Big Bear Lake and likely a nesting mother at Lake Hemet .... Lake Hemet campground residents use scopes and binoculars to keep an eye on the nest from a distance so as not to disturb the federally protected birds. U.S. Forest Service and the state Department of Fish and Game are seeking more volunteers to use spotting scopes to monitor the nest site at Big Bear Lake."

a bird on the ground"Not just for the birds: Human-made noise has ripple effects on plants, too" (Science Daily, 3/20/12)
"A growing body of research shows that birds and other animals change their behavior in response to human-made noise, such as the din of traffic or the hum of machinery. But human clamor doesn't just affect animals. Because many animals also pollinate plants or eat or disperse their seeds, human noise can have ripple effects on plants too .... researchers conducted a series of experiments from 2007 to 2010 in the Bureau of Land Management's Rattlesnake Canyon Wildlife Area in northwestern New Mexico."

an antlered elk stands amid tree branches"Elk hunters may face more restrictions in Cascade Range" (Portland Oregonian, 3/22/12)
"Hair tags" are "good for 'one elk' .... those taking part in archery and muzzleloader hunts can ply the woods for that branch-antlered bull ... but they can also shoot a cow elk for meat .... All it needs to be legal is elk hair. But the amount of elk hair ... is dwindling." So hair tags may be changed to "bull elk-only tags beginning in 2013 to address declines in Roosevelt elk numbers from Washington to California …. The changes ... could be pared to include just national forests, allowing hair tags to apply on private land or Bureau of Land Management land. It would not affect coast-elk hunts."

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