A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 544 - 8/17/12   -  
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close-up of a long thin furry animala joshua tree highlighted by the setting suna burro rests on the grounda man and a woman load firefighting geat into a trucka hand holds a crayfish

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


Major fires are burning on BLM public lands throughout the state. Please use caution near fire crews and equipment working in fire areas. Some areas -- and some roads -- may be closed due to fire activity. See our BLM California homepage for links to information on several large fires, currently including:
- the Rush Fire in Northern California;
- the Indian Fire and the Wye Fire/Walker fire in Central California
- and the Jawbone Complex in Southern California:

a man and a woman load firefighting geat into a truckfirefighters pose in front of a heavy loader"Wildland Fire Task Force deploys" (BLM, 8/12/12)
A new interagency task force is prepared to make a big contribution to California's firefighting effort. The task force includes personnel and equipment from several agencies:
• The Bureau of Land Management’s Folsom Lake Veterans’ Crew with 23 members.
• A National Park Service crew from Hawaii with 23 members.
• A Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District wildland fire engine with a crew of four.
• A water tender and operator from the BLM Hollister Field Office.
• A bulldozer with operator and swamper from BLM Hollister.
• Four members of the BLM Fort Ord National Monument weed crew.
The task force includes about 60 people and a dozen pieces of equipment, said Jerry Martinez, task force leader and fire management officer at the BLM’s Mother Lode Field Office. The task force assembled at McClellan Air Base yesterday and headed out to its first assignment, the Star Fire at Hell Hole on the Eldorado National Forest.
Photos on the BLM California Facebook page:

firefighters pose by their truckRELATED: "Folsom firefighters prepared for California wildfires"(KFBK Sacramento, 8/17/12)
Video: "With stints in the Navy, Army and Marines all behind them... the Folsom Lake Hand Crew is uniquely prepared to deal with the blazes dotting Northern California. As KFBK's Megan Goldsby reports... the veterans, who will be sent out to various fires tomorrow, say experience on the battlefield lends itself to battling wildfires."

RELATED: "Firefighters battle blazes across region, state" (CBS13 Sacramento, 8/16/12)
"It was another busy day for firefighters who aren’t getting a break this summer, with the latest fire breaking out in El Dorado County ... Twelve major fires are burning across California with more than 9,000 firefighters on the frontlines ... 'The next couple of months could be even busier than we’re seeing now'."

"Seneca still threatened by Chips Fire" (Chico Enterprise Record, 8/17/12)
"Firefighters continued to keep an eye on the small community of Seneca, south of Lake Almanor, as the Chips Fire was listed as 20 percent contained as of 8 a.m. today ... Seneca remains evacuated. Firefighters are still very concerned about the area ... The smoke was so thick Thursday that an air attack was impossible, so firefighters spayed buildings in Seneca with fire retardant." As of yesterday, "1,105 people, 120 engines, 29 dozers and 31 water tenders were fighting the Chips Fire," including BLM firefighters and firefighters from other states, including Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming and North Carolina.

"With more wildfires, burn ban in effect for one-third of California" (KCET, 8/15/12)
"California hasn't had a wildfire season like this in a couple years and those on the front lines are taking notice. Today CAL FIRE officials announced an indefinite statewide burn ban for 31 million acres of land, an amount roughly equal to a third of the state. Those acres make up what is called the State Responsibility Area, land not under federal or local jurisdiction, thus primarily the responsibility of the state when it comes to wildland fire protection ... The ban suspends all burning permits -- residential, forest management, and other types -- within the area, but still allows for campfires in a designated campfire site on organized campgrounds and private property."

"Buck Fire 100 percent contained" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 8/17/12)
Good news from one fire: "A sudden storm Thursday was not enough to prevent firefighters from gaining significant ground in their battle against the 2,681-acre Buck Fire, which was fully contained Friday morning ... It was among 11 wildfires battled by 8,000 firefighters just in California during what experts are calling one of the West's worst fire seasons in decades."

"Grass fire in Woody area stopped at 242 acres" (Bakersfield Now, 8/16/12)
BLM firefighters helped stop the fire.

wildland fire trucks parked across a wide area"Fairgrounds transformed into Wye Fire command center" (Lake County News, 8/16/12)
The Lake County Fairgrounds "have been transformed into the nerve center of Cal Fire’s firefighting operations" to battle wildfires east of Clearlake Oaks, with food service, sleeping tents, communications equipment and more. The Wye and Walker fires "exploded on Sunday afternoon, burning thousands of acres along Highway 20 and leading to evacuations of Spring Valley and Wilbur Hot Springs, with the Walker Fire moving into Colusa County."

"'Thankful we weren't in it': Wildfire evacuees return to find homes gone"(NBC News, 8/17/12)
"Crews in central Washington, rural Idaho and Southern California made gains on several wildfires, allowing some evacuees to return home and protecting two vacation towns from a massive encroaching blaze." The wildfire near Cle Elum, Washington "burned at least 70 homes, more than 200 outbuildings and about 35 square miles of wildland since it started Monday. Some people were able to return home, only to find nothing left except the land their home sat on."

"California incidents" (IncibWeb)
Current wildfires burning in California, with updated information.

"Fire Information" (National Interagency Fire Center)
"The nation's support center for wildland firefighting." Eight different agencies and organizations are part of NIFC, including the BLM.

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

a smiling man poses with a statue of a bighorn sheep"BLM uses La Quinta volunteer's invention nationwide"
(Palm Springs Desert Sun, 8/16/12)
Retiree Bill Baker came to the Palm Springs area for golf, but "You can just do so much golf," he said. A volunteer with the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, last year he put in "more than 800 hours leading interpretive hikes, rebuilding campsites, cleaning graffiti, clearing litter and removing invasive plants ... And he discovered a cost-reducing way to re-install trail signs so that people and weather don't knock them over." Baker was was one of four volunteers nationally who won BLM's Making a Difference award this year.

"Full moon hike to King Peak"
(BLM, 8/16/12)
A guided hike to King Peak to watch the full moon rise while the sun sets over the ocean will be offered Friday, August 31, in the King Range National Conservation Area. The outing is part of a summer hikes series offered by the Bureau of Land Management and the Lost Coast Interpretive Association. There is no fee.

"Portion of Pacific Crest Trail Closed due to Jawbone Fire" (BLM, 8/15/12)
Due to the Jawbone Complex Fire in northeastern Kern County, the Pacific Crest Trail is temporarily closed from Hwy 58 North to the Jawbone Trail Road/Sequoia National Forest boundary. Follow the link on to InciWeb for updates.

two dogs on leashes  walk a trail"Outdoor destinations for dog lovers"(Eureka Times-Standard, 8/12/12)
"Unfortunately, the very curiosity and vigor that endear dogs to humans also make them dangerous to birds and other forms of wildlife. An unleashed dog on a beach or in a park preserve can wreak havoc on the local ecosystem, destroying nesting habitat and harrying birds to the point of exhaustion or death. That's why several local groups have partnered to produce brochures and maps that outline the best places in the county for people to take their furry friends. A new pamphlet titled 'Enjoying Humboldt's Wild Places with Your Dog' is hot off the press." It is available at the BLM Arcata Field Office, "many more places" and online.

"America's Great Outdoors: Reversing decades of decline, the number of hunters and anglers is on the rise" (Department of the Interior, 8/15/12)
Highlighting the reversal of decades of declining numbers, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the results of a comprehensive national survey of outdoor recreation showing a significant increase in hunters and a double-digit increase in anglers over the past five years.

-->Also see "Selected Upcoming Events" below<--

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

a woman holds a rope while working with a horsea burro rests on the ground"Wild Horse and Burro ambassadors greet Nevada County fairgoers" (News.bytes Extra)
Triple-digit heat didn’t stop people from coming by to meet BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program ambassador animals at the Nevada County Fair in Grass Valley. Fairgoers could visit the booth and learn about the wild horses and burros, with the help of several volunteers.

 girl pets a burro through corral railsa woman looks at a horse  through the rails of a corral"Wild horse and burro adoption held" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/14/12)
"Previewing two yearling-fillies at the adoption, Diana Semler of Riverside, stated that a mustang would be her only choice for a horse ... "It’s the history of the mustang as a survivor, its endurance, intelligence and sturdiness that I would want in a bloodline.”

a woman adjusts a horse bridle"A wild ride for mustang trainers" (Cherry Hill, NJ Courier-Post, 8/11/12)
"The Extreme Mustang Makeover competition rode into the Dream Park Equestrian Center Saturday, making its Garden State debut with 23 horses and their trainers. The mustangs -- from California -- and the trainers — from all up and down the East Coast -- first met in May in Fulton, Va. The horses had never before been touched by human hands and the trainers had about 90 days to gentle the horse and prepare it for the two-day competition."

"Trainer leaves contest with best prize ... her horse"
(New Jersey Herald, 8/13/12)
"As a horse trainer, a township woman said she's grown accustomed to creating a bond with the horses she's trained, then having to let them go; but when it came to parting with Traveler, the wild horse she's spent the last 90 days gentling and training for the Extreme Mustang Makeover challenge, saying goodbye just wasn't an option."

"BLM begins process to analyze proposed northeast Nevada wild horse eco-sanctuary" (BLM Nevada, 8/14/12)
The proposal is to create a wild horse eco-sanctuary of a non-reproductive herd on most of the existing Spruce Grazing Allotment, including about 14,000 acres of private land and 508,000 acres of public land, approximately 25 miles southeast of Wells, Nev. The Notice of Intent opens a 30-day public scoping period that will end Sept. 15, 2012 or 15 days after the last public scoping open house. Three public open houses have been scheduled.

"Piute Mountain burro roundup" (BLM California)
The BLM will begin roundup operations to remove wild burros from the Piute Mountain Herd Area, approximately 25 miles west of Needles in San Bernardino County, in which herds of wild horses and burros are not managed. Due to the unpredictable variations of the water output of the burros' sole water source, Fenner Spring, and expected drought conditions, continued efforts are being made to remove the burros from the Piute Mountain HA.

"Chemehuevi Nuisance Burro Removal" (BLM California)
The Bureau of Land Management will capture and remove approximately 60 wild burros impacting the Chemehuevi Indian Reservation lands near Havasu Lake, California in accordance with the removal of strayed animals from private lands provisions of 43 Code of Federal Regulations 4720.2-1.


side view of a long-bodied thin mammal
long-tailed weasel
The long-tailed weasel makes the most of resources by:
(a.) Saving the fur it grooms from itself, to help insulate its burrow
(b.) Storing seeds in its burrow and eating the sprouts that grow from them.
(c.) Sharing a burrow with nocturnal creatures that are gone when it comes in from hunting.
(d.) Lining a nest in its burrow with the fur of animals it catches.
(e.) Sticking used gum to the roof of its den, to chew it again later.
See answer - and more wildlife stories - near the end of this News.bytes.

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

"Ninth Circuit lets Ivanpah Solar work continue" (KCET, 8/15/12)
A panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to approve a preliminary injunction halting work on the 370-megawatt Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System based on the project's potential harm to wildlife. The panel of judges made the ruling Friday denying a request from plaintiff group Western Watersheds," which is suing the Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for allegedly approving the project "without ensuring the site's wildlife and groundwater resources were adequately protected."


"Who owns the West? Drillers and Environmentalists wage a war of statistics" (Denver Post, 8/9/12)
"To hear oil and gas industry folks tell it, in the last three years drilling on public lands has been choked off by cumbersome new rules and bureaucratic red tape from the Obama administration. Conservation groups, on the other hand, say the last three years represent a rebalancing of variety of public interests, after a frenzy of leasing and drilling approvals in the final months of the Bush administration ... The fact that the two sides can rummage through the data, collected by the federal Bureau of Land Management, and come to different conclusions is a testament to the power of advocacy and the suppleness of numbers."

"Fracking hazards obscured in failure to disclose wells" (Bloomberg, 8/14/12)
"Energy companies failed to list more than two out of every five fracked wells in eight U.S. states from April 11, 2011, when FracFocus began operating, through the end of last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The gaps reveal shortcomings in the voluntary approach to transparency on the site, which has received funding from oil and gas trade groups and $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy."

"Tapping into the land, and dividing its people"(New York Times, 8/15/12)
Oil companies have leased out the drilling rights for a million of the Blackfeet Reservation's 1.5 million acres. "The move has divided the tribe while igniting a debate over the promise and perils of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in a place where grizzlies roam into backyards and many residents see the land as something living and sacred."


"Hundreds turn up for National Night Out" (Hesperia Star, 8/14/12)
The city of Hesperia recently celebrated National Night Out along with a crowd of hundreds who came to learn about crime prevention and safety and a chance to get to know their neighbor … The Bureau of Land Management showcased a Ranger Rail, an off-road vehicle used for access to desert areas in search-and-rescue missions, specifically around the Dumont Dunes area. The vehicle, which can reach speeds of up to 70 mph, is also used for preventing and fighting crime in the desert.

two people walk near a sprawling desert plant"Invasive species: The more boring, the better" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/15/12)
"Asked about the most problematic invasives in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, Larry LaPre, a wildlife biologist for the federal Bureau of Land Management, listed three plants: salt cedar or tamarisk, Sahara mustard, and giant cane, AKA Arundo donax. These weeds choke out native plants and harm the ecosystem ... The spread of mustard is believed to be among the reasons the tortoise is listed as threatened with extinction."

a joshua tree highlighted by the setting sun"Allure of Joshua Tree leads some to tragic end" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 8/12/12)
The two Dutch tourists looked forward to their desert visit, inspired in part by songs inspired by the landscape. But not being completely prepared in the desert can be fatal. In 2003, an Irvine man died in the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area. In both cases, their vehicles got stuck and the victims walked for help. Includes the "Ten Commandments of Survival in the Desert When Lost or Stranded."

RELATED: "Desert safety" (BLM El Centro Field Office)
Travel on foot or in a vehicle can be an exciting and rewarding experience. No one plans on getting lost, breaking down, or experiencing other mishaps. Being prepared will keep you safe and make for a memorable trip.

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


"The pit lake challenge" (Reno News & Review, 8/16/12)
Many open pit mines in Nevada are dug out below the water table, requiring constant pumping to keep mining. When abandoned, the water keeps flowing in. "Gold-mining pit lakes in Nevada, when filled, will contain more water than all of the reservoirs within the borders of this arid state" -- and most of them are simply fenced off to protect the public. "In a desert state, it’s simply not responsible to ignore that much water," say a few people who want to do something about the many "pit lakes" on public lands.

"Burning Man future in jeopardy" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 8/16/12)
"Burning Man organizers sued Pershing County in federal court on Thursday, claiming the rural municipality is unfairly imposing a festival ordinance that could spell doom for the eight-day arts gathering ... Burning Man organizers say the lawsuit will not affect this year’s event, which starts Aug. 27 and ends Sept. 3 and is expected to attract more than 60,000 people, up from a peak of about 53,000 people last year."

"BLM issues a temporary closure and temporary restrictions of certain activities during Burning Man" (BLM Nevada, 8/14/12)
The temporary closure affects a small portion (14,153 acres) of the Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area Black Rock Desert playa between August 13 and September 17, 2012. The temporary closure is necessary for that period of time because of the event activities in the area, starting with fencing the site perimeter, final setup, the actual event (August 26 through September 3), initial phases of cleanup, and concluding with final site cleanup.

"Bad NV pine nut harvest forecast at BLM auction" (KOLO-Tv Reno, NV, 8/15/12)
"Lingering drought has commercial pine nut gatherers betting on a bad crop in Nevada this year. The Bureau of Land Management says it raised only $2,100 at its annual pinion pine nut auction in Ely on Tuesday - down from more than $35,000 in 2011." Bidders predicted a harvest of "only 8,400 pounds, just a fraction of last year's 144,500 pounds."


Aug. 18 - Amphibian Quest King Range hike

More information on the following events at the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument can be found at:

August 18 - Star Party

August 19 - "Early bird happy tails adventures hikes" with dogs

August 24 - Sunrise hikes

August 29 - Guided hikes in the higher elevations of the monument

close-up of a furry animal faceWILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(d.) Lining a nest in its burrow with the fur of animals it catches.

SOURCE: "Long-tailed weasel - Mustela frenata" (BLM California wildlife database)

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

"Salazar, Vilsack announce members of Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council" (Department of the Interior, 8/17/12)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the appointments of 18 members of the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, an advisory group they established in 2010 to advise them on wildlife conservation, habitat conservation, and hunting.

"Riverside Solar Zone tortoise habitat too widespread to avoid" (KCET, 8/9/12)
"Solar development in the revised Riverside East Solar Energy Zone (SEZ) may harm as much as 14% of the region's habitat for the threatened desert tortoise, and such habitat is too widespread within the SEZ to be avoided by solar developers. That according to the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Solar Energy Development in Six Southwestern States (PEIS), released by the departments of Energy and the Interior in July."

"Supervisors adopts cooperating status for sage-grouse studies" (Lassen County Times, 8/14/12)
"Lassen County’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved invoking cooperating agency status for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) planning efforts regarding habitat for the Greater sage-grouse at its July 24 meeting. “This sage-grouse is like the spotted owl was to the forest,' Lassen County District 2 Supervisor Jim Chapman said, 'and that’s what we have to be mindful of'."

"Agency gets $4 million for habitat preservation" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/14/12)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded the grant to the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority, which will buy land to bolster the survival of 13 species listed as endangered or threatened with extinction. The species include the California gnatcatcher bird, Arroyo toad and the Quino checkerspot butterfly, which all have dwindled because of habitat loss."

the hole of an unidentified creature near a desert plant"The desert, with its life underground" (KCET, 8/14/12)
During the summer,"a lot of the desert's wildlife, perhaps even a majority of it, goes below the surface ... There are entire ecosystems of holes in the top six feet or so of stony soil, entire communities of holes, holes that are excavated by one animal and adapted by another and then another, in the underground housing equivalent of a food chain ... It's just another example of the desert hiding its treasures from us; a seemingly desolate expanse of sand and rock can be as intricate and biologically diverse as a coral reef."

sketches of three invasive fish"California Fish and Game patrols the online waters" (Contra Costa Times, 8/14/12)
Wildlife agents recently cited a man for illegal possession of an alligator gar, spotted gar and two bowfin fish - large predatory fish that could cause great harm in the Delta. "California has some of the most restrictive regulations in the country," to try to avoid "ecological disasters" like other states with lax regulations.

a hand holds a crayfish"Crayfish go on the menu to restore Lake Tahoe's blue hue" (NPR, 8/14/12)
"Last month, the state of Nevada gave business entrepreneur Fred Jackson the green light to harvest crayfish in Lake Tahoe ... the hope is that it will keep the lake clear of algae -- and provide a local dish for area visitors." The estimated 300 million crayfish in the lake "graze on algae at the bottom of the lake ... but the crayfish only make matters worse by eating them."

"Yuba River hydroelectric plan called threat to fish" (Sacramento Bee, 8/17/12)
"A Canadian company's surprise proposal to build a hydroelectric generation facility on the Yuba River has raised alarm among government agencies and nonprofits working to restore salmon runs on the river."

a girl helps a woman band a bird"Banding birds offers special insight" (Sierra Vista, AZ Herald, 8/9/12)
"More than 100 species of breeding birds and more than 250 species of migrant and wintering birds" have been documented within the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA) in Arizona. Banding birds that visit this area can give scientists important information. "Visitors are welcome to come to the banding stations and observe, ask questions, participate, and see exactly why I do, what I do, just for the birds." -article by Heather L. Swanson, Natural Resource Specialist for the BLM’s San Pedro Project Office in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

"BLM Seeks Public Comment on Desert Tortoise Translocation" (BLM Nevada, 8/14/12)
The BLM Southern Nevada and Ely Districts announce the availability of a draft environmental assessment to address translocation of desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) from the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center to 17 wilderness areas, five wilderness study areas and other non-wilderness lands within the districts. The comment period closes September 14, 2012.
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News.bytes published by
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