A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 545 - 8/24/12   -  
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a firefighter is silhouetted by flamesa woman hugs her child amid rubble from a firea stone natural archa dune buggy moves along a dirt trailrocky outcroppings rise above the desert
a whale breaches right next to a small boatstylized Route 66 route cartoona canoer with his dog in the boata coiled snake, red with yellow and black bandsphoto of a man

- Wildfires and prevention
- Battling damage from illegal marijuana grows
- Johnson Valley's future
- America's Great Outdoors
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Renewable energy
- Wild horses and burros
- Meet your Advisory Council members
- 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:


Fires burning on BLM public lands in California:

Please use caution near fire crews and equipment working in fire areas. Some areas -- and some roads -- may be closed due to fire activity, or post-fire cleanup. See our BLM California homepage for links to updates on several large fires, currently including:
- the Rush Fire in Northern California;
- the Indian Fire and the Wye Fire/Walker fire in Central California are now "100 percent contained," but fire patrols and post-fire cleanup may still be going on.
- and the Jawbone Complex in Southern California, where most fire has been suppressed but may still be smoldering.

"California incidents" (InciWeb)
Current and recent wildfires.

a firefighter hikes through tall dry grassa worker amid burned trees"Dry winter made this a busy summer in wildlands for California firefighters" (Sacramento Bee, 8/21/12)
"A dry winter has turned into a busy summer for firefighters in California's wildlands, and the largest and most intense fires of the year may be yet to come ... wildfires had already burned 276,252 acres across the state as of last week, excluding the large Rush fire" on the California-Nevada border. "That fire, which started Aug. 12, had burned 270,684 acres of grass, sagebrush and juniper ... Last weekend, the Ponderosa fire burning outside Shingletown east of Redding destroyed seven houses."

"Firefighters work toward Monday containment of Ponderosa Fire; Manton saved from total destruction" (Redding Record Searchlight, 8/24/12)
"Firefighters anticipate full containment by Monday of the 27,978-acre Ponderosa Fire even as the blaze burns just miles from the small community of Mineral in Tehama County. Meanwhile, the American Red Cross expects to close its doors to Ponderosa Fire evacuees by noon today as many have been allowed to return ... After the evacuation center closes the Red Cross will shift to helping homeowners assess fire and smoke damage." The fire is still moving toward the community of Mineral in a canyon along Battle Creek.

"Mill Fire fully contained; others are still burning" (Chico Enterprise Record, 8/24/12)
"The Mill Fire in eastern Tehama County was declared fully contained Thursday evening by Cal Fire officials. Containment doesn't mean the 1,675-acre fire ... is out. It means no further growth is expected. Firefighters will be mopping up within the burned area for several weeks. Roads in the Lassen National Forest that have been closed had not been reopened ... The Pass Complex has topped 18,500 acres and is just 10 percent contained. Two outbuilding have been destroyed and 75 residences and 85 other buildings are threatened."

firefighters pose by their trucklogo of the Folsom Lake Hand Crew"New Folsom Lake veterans crew busy at wildfires" (News.bytes Extra)
A wildland fire crew made up of veterans and experienced fire personnel has seen plenty of action in its first month on the job. The crew started training July 2, was sent to the Mill Fire on the Mendocino National Forest July 12, and from there they've been "running and gunning."

flames rise above a foresta woman kisses her child amid fire rubblean American flag sticks up above a burned-out vehicle"Wildfires sweeping the West" (Christian Science Monitor, 8/23/12)
Dozens of photos of wildfires so far this summer, and cleanups in their aftermath. (Most of the photos are by the Associated Press and Reuters).

a firefighter is silhouetted by flames"Costs of big wildfire season hurting some states" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 8/23/12)
"Fires across the West have left some states with thin budgets to scramble to get people, planes, bulldozers and other tools on fire lines to beat back the flames. And that's with about a third of the annual wildfire season remaining. According to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, the nation as of Wednesday had seen 42,927 wildfires this year, which burned just over 7 million acres. While the number of fires is down from the 10-year average of 54,209 as of Aug. 22, the acreage was well above the average of 5.4 million acres..."

"2012 on pace as worst year for wildfires" (USA Today, 8/22/12)
"Wildfires have charred nearly 7 million acres so far this year -- destroying more acreage across the USA in the first eight months of any year since accurate records began in the early 1960s, say federal fire officials. This is an area larger than Maryland. The combination of the very hot summer and the worst drought since the Dust Bowl are providing fuel for the fires, says Ken Frederick, a public affairs specialist with the Bureau of Land Management at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise."

“Governor Brown declares state of emergency in Plumas, Shasta and Tehama Counties” (State of California, 8/22/12)

"BLM fully implements fire restrictions; Chainsaw use suspended" (BLM, 8/20/12)
Use of chainsaws for firewood cutting on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management in northeast California and far northwest Nevada has been suspended because of extreme fire dangers. The chainsaw prohibition and other fire restrictions apply to BLM managed land in Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Sierra, Shasta, Siskiyou and Washoe counties. Restrictions will remain in place until fire dangers decrease.

"Ray May burn area at risk for more landslides" (KRNV-TV Reno, NV, 8/20/12)
"Last summer's Ray May fire destroyed more than 3,600 acres and caused more than $2.8 million in damage. It also made that area incredibly vulnerable to landslides. One year and one day after the devastating Ray May fire started, a landslide in the same area stopped traffic for hours ... The typical solution is to plant seeds to regrow the area, which the Bureau of Land Management has already tried." But the plants and grasses require a wet winter to grow -- but not too much rain, or it causes landslides.

two men pose in front of their fire truck"Father worries about his wildland firefighting sons" (Greeley, Colo. Tribune, 8/22/12)
Matt Voegtle is "proud of his two boys -- really proud -- but he can’t relate to their jobs as wildland firefighters. So because he’s a father, and because it’s hard for him to know exactly what goes on out there, he worries. Brandon, stationed in Craig, fights fires all over the country, and even Matt, who is stationed as a hotshot [nearby], tends to be away, and Voegtle likes it that way. It’s much easier not to worry when the fires are far away. They won’t even make the local news that way."

"Five target shooters cited in Alfalfa wildfire" (KTVZ Bend, Oregon, 8/20/12)
Five people were cited " on reckless burning charges in connection with target practice with a substance called Tannerite that apparently ignited a 35-acre wildfire." Tannerite "is not supposed to cause a fire, but is 'expected to cause some kind of flash' when struck by bullets traveling at certain speeds." A sheriff said that "'there's no argument' that a fire resulted in this case ... The fire was fought by crews from the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry and the city of Bend."

"Take responsibility..." (California Fire Alliance)
In California, the number of homes and businesses are growing in the Wildland Urban Interface -- and fire is an increasing threat. Reduce your home's fire danger and prevent wildfires from spreading by taking responsibility today.

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

"Why are so many forests on fire?" (The Guardian, 8/22/12)
"They may be an annual occurrence in California but 'wildfires' seem particularly ubiquitous this summer, with big blazes everywhere from Spain to Sri Lanka, Bosnia and Greece."


men look at marijuana plant"Operation Mountain Sweep targets illegal marijuana grows on public lands" (News.bytes Extra)
BLM California State Director Jim Kenna joined US Attorney Ben Wagner, US Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and others at an event August 21 announcing Operation Mountain Sweep, an eight-week, multi-agency and multistate marijuana operation targeting large-scale, illegal marijuana grows on public lands.

"$1 billion in pot destroyed in raids on federal lands" (CNN, 8/22/12)
Operation Mountain Sweep, aimed at "growing sites on public lands in seven Western states -- Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington ... has resulted in the destruction of 578,000 marijuana plants ... Among those pot farms were sites in national forests and parks, including Death Valley National Park. Besides producing an illegal crop, the pot farms can do long-term damage to public lands by destroying trees and vegetation, introducing chemicals and pesticides, diverting water sources, and generating large amounts of trash" and are a safety hazard to public land visitors.

"Officials target hidden pot fields" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 8/24/12)
A state and federal team raided an illegal marijuana grow in the San Jacinto Mountains, "just west of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway" and arrested one man. "The raid was not connected to the ongoing multi-jurisdictional multi-state 'Operation Mountain Sweep' being lead by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration." Firefighters battling the Buck Fire earlier this month also ran across a field of marijuana.

"Big pot bust, five handguns, two arrests" (Mammoth Times, 8/17/12)
The BLM assisted the Mono Narcotic Enforcement Team (MONET) with the eradication of "a large marijuana operation located on Forest Service lands in the Inyo National Forest ... With these types of illegal marijuana grow sites, public lands are routinely desecrated with garbage, piping material" and more.

"Placer Sheriff’s Office removes 16,721 marijuana plants near Colfax" (CBS 13 Sacramento, 8/17/12)
"Placer County sheriff’s detectives cut down 16,721 marijuana plants growing near Colfax" after discovering the grow during a helicopter surveillance mission. "The plants were growing on a large plot of private property that borders Bureau of Land Management land in a remote area called Secret Ravine northeast of Colfax."

"Legislature approves bill to protect forests and forest users from criminal activity " (Lake County News, 8/23/12)
"The state Legislature has given final approval to and sent to the governor a bill by Assembly member Wesley Chesbro (D-North Coast) to give law enforcement tools to battle illegal drug operations, protecting environmentally sensitive forest lands and those who use them. AB 2284 goes to the governor for his signature nearly a year after the death of Ft. Bragg City Council member Jere Melo, who was killed when he stumbled on an illegal grow while inspecting forest lands near the city on Aug. 27, 2011."

"Pot crackdowns in California push growers out of state" (Associated press at Bakersfield Now, 8/21/12)
"Law enforcement crackdowns on illegal marijuana groves on California's public lands appear to be pushing some growers into other states, federal authorities said Tuesday, prompting a multi-agency effort across the West this summer ... California still accounted for 83 percent of the marijuana seized in the western region, however."

"Helicopter fighting wildfire spots 22-acre pot grow" (ABC7 Denver, Colo., 8/21/12)
"A helicopter fighting the Waldo Canyon Fire earlier this summer spotted a 22-acre illegal marijuana grow in the Pike National Forest, authorities said. The pot grow, which contained about 7,500 plants and was estimated to have a $15 million street value, was cited by federal officials as an example of the rampant outlaw pot plantations inflicting damage on Colorado's scenic wilderness."

"Law enforcement discover more than $100 million in marijuana in Idaho forests" (Idaho Weekly, 8/23/12)
The latest raids were part of Operation Mountain Sweep. "Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Haws said marijuana growers using public land to grow marijuana destroy vegetation and contaminate water sources. Olson estimated costs to repair land used for illegal marijuana growing are between $14,000 and $17,000 per acre."

"Nevada part of coordinated crackdown on marijuana grow sites" (Las Vegas Sun, 8/21/12)
"The total value of the marijuana seized at four grow sites in Nevada — three in the northern part of the state and one in the Southern Nevada — is estimated at $61.7 million, officials said. It represents more than two-thirds of all the marijuana seized in the Nevada over the last two months."


a dune buggy moves along a dirt trailrocky outcroppings in the desert"Johnson Valley off-road lovers fight Marines to stay on trails" (Palm Springs Desert Sun,
"At the weekly community breakfast Saturday mornings in Johnson Valley, you're "likely to get an earful about the proposed expansion of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms into the community's 189,700 acres of federal land that is one of the nation's largest and most spectacular off-roading areas. 'It's the best riding in the world; this place is just legendary,”'said Preston Mattecheck, 50, of Altadena ... His views on the expansion sum up what many in the community feel about the valley and its off-roading area: “Keep it the way it is; just leave us alone.” That's not likely." With photos.

"Enthusiasts float own alternatives to military's plan" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 8/22/12)
"Off-roaders and Johnson Valley residents have a few ideas for how the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center could expand its training areas without permanently cutting the Johnson Valley off-roading area in two:"

"Marines propose Twentynine Palms expansion " (San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/19/12)
The warfare training "could undergo a significant expansion if the Navy Department and Congress approve a plan presented in an environmental study released last month ... The Corps wants to be able to train an entire Marine Expeditionary Brigade at the base ... about 15,000 troops plus equipment, weapons systems and aircraft ... The Johnson Valley off-road recreation area would lose 57 percent of its available space, the report states. However, the public could still use part of the land west of the base for 10 months of the year when the large-scale exercises aren’t performed. The military would use non-dud-producing ordnance in those areas during exercises, so it would be safe for the public to return."

"'The Hammers' draw riders from across the globe" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 8/22/12)
"The King of the Hammers is to off-roaders what the Coachella festival is to rock music fans -- an ultimate gathering of the tribes -- and since it started six years ago, it's been growing just as fast. The race covers an 85-mile course through the Johnson Valley off-road area, including flat-out dry bed racing and rock crawling. Racers come with specially designed four-wheel-drive vehicles that literally climb the big rocks at the eastern edges of the valley, collectively known as the Hammers." An organizer says, "It was created based on the unique terrain of Johnson Valley."

"Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area" (BLM Barstow Field Office)
Johnson Valley is a varied landscape for the off-highway vehicle driver. It is punctuated by steep red rocky mountains, rolling hills, open valleys, dry lake beds and sandy washes. Elevations range from 4,600 feet at Hartwell Hills to 2,300 feet at Melville Dry Lake. Vegetation consists of creosote scrub, annual grasses, wild flowers and Joshua Trees.

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

"Obama Administration announces new design, expanded content for Recreation.gov as part of initiative to boost tourism, strengthen economy" (Department of the Interior, 8/20/12)
As part of President Obama’s initiative to fuel the a field of yellow amid tall hillseconomy and create a canoer with his dog in the boatjobs by promoting travel and tourism, the administration today announced a new design, improved navigation tools and expanded content for Recreation.Gov, the interagency website that guides visitors to 90,000 sites on federal lands such as national parks, wildlife refuges, waterways, forests and recreation areas. The redesign is an initial step in a multi-year strategy to engage visitors with enhanced interactive content and more multimedia, mobile, trip-planning tools.

logo announces Recreation.govRELATED: "Recreation.gov"

a stone natural archa sage grouse puffs up its chest"Share the Experience Photo Contest"
Enter your amateur photos that highlight the best of America's federal lands, national parks and historical sites in these categories: Adventure & Outdoor Recreation, Historical & Cultural, Scenic, Seasons & Landscapes, Friends, Family & Fun(ny) on Federal Lands and Wildlife. Photos must be taken on lands or in facilities managed by any of several agencies – but wed like to see more representation of the Bureau of Land Management lands.

"Gun group to clean up wilderness" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/23/12)
A group with "CalGuns.com, a nonprofit website dedicated to supporting gun owners" is joining the BLM to lead a cleanup tomorrow (Saturday, Aug. 25) in the Perris area. "The land is one of few open areas of wilderness where locals can fire weapons," an organizer said. "Volunteers plan to clean up the mess other gun owners left in the area." The organizer "hopes that while the group cleans up the wilderness, they can clean up people’s perception of firearm enthusiasts."

guides in historic costumes welcome visitors to a lighthouse"Shedding some light on history" (San Luis Obispo County Tribune, 8/16/12)
More than 100 visitors celebrated National Lighthouse Day at Piedras Blancas Light Station Aug. 4. "Enactors in 1890 period attire brought the historic district to life" while repairing a door, painting the fence and preparing to clean the lens in the lighthouse. "One of the keepers’ wives shared insights into their lives, another was busy doing laundry. The grown daughter of one the keepers shared her boredom from living at the light station and her desire to move elsewhere to begin her life. Cookies baked from an old lighthouse recipe were served. National Lighthouse Day is in observance of the signing of the Lighthouse Act by George Washington on Aug. 7, 1789."

RELATED: "Piedras Blancas Light Station" (BLM Bakersfield Field Office)

"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.


a coiled snake, red with yellow and black bands
ground snake
Among the things that ground snakes are known to eat are:
(a.) Gila monsters
(b.) saguaro cacti pulp
(c.) road runners
(d.) vultures
(e.) scorpions
(f.) ground coffee with road donuts
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

"California finally beats Texas for wind installations in 2011" (KCET, 8/17/12)
"As political battle lines are drawn up over the looming expiration of the federal Wind Production Tax Credit, which many observers credit for a rapid increase in wind turbine installations, the Department of Energy this week released its Wind Technologies Market Report for 2011 -- and it indicates that the tax credit really has kicked up wind energy production ... wind power installations accounted for a third of new power generating capacity installed in 2011 -- and California led the pack in new wind power capacity for the year." But "the possible expiration of the Production Tax Credit in December, record-low prices for natural gas and declining demand for power driven by a slow economy" threaten the industry.

"Ocotillo businessmen call for Pattern's business" (Imperial Valley Press, 8/16/12)
Business owners say they haven't seen a predicted increase in business from construction of a wind power project. One problem: "based on scoping meetings and studies the developer ... stated in the permitting process that they would avoid town and use an alternate route to alleviate traffic and mitigate any impact that construction traffic could create ... Consequently, the developer has told its employees to avoid going through town."

RELATED: "Ocotillo should benefit from windmill construction" (Imperial Valley Press, 8/19/12)
Editorial: "Business owners in Ocotillo find themselves caught in the middle between construction of the Pattern Energy wind turbines near town and the groups that have been fighting what they claim is a violation of tribal history, culture and sacred land. Opposition by Ocotillans and by conservation and Native American groups has been ongoing in the area since Pattern announced plans to build more than 100 turbines on U.S. Bureau of Land Management outside of town."

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

a white horse grazes on dry grassa man walks on a area where the grass has burned away"BLM plans to rescue 300 wild mustangs from drought" (KSL Salt Lake City Utah, 8/21/12)
Wild mustangs in Utah's Tooele County are "facing a rough winter because drought and wildfires have ravaged their habitat." BLM Wild Horse and Burro specialist Gus War said, "Right now these horses are doing fine. But they're thriving off last year's grass. The big concern is this winter they could be in real trouble ... You know, I've seen animals that have died from starvation and dehydration. It's the worst thing I've ever experienced. And so we're going to insure that these animals survive next year and for many years to come."

"BLM concludes horse gather in the Desatoya Mountains"
(BLM Nevada, 8/22/12)
BLM Nevada concluded the Desatoya Horse Gather on Tuesday, August 21. The preliminary numbers of animals gathered are 429 wild horses. Of those gathered 24 stallions were released back to the range. The gather area is located approximately 70 miles east of Fallon, Nev. within Churchill and Lander counties. The purpose of the gather was to reduce the herd populations of excess wild horses and to implement population growth controls to achieve or maintain a thriving natural ecological balance on the public lands.

"Homeless horses face dwindling chances of adoption" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 8/20/12)
Donations are down at organizations that provide homes to unwanted horses, and 'Private homes for adoptive horses also are dwindling, said Brian Cronin, chief of the San Bernardino County Division of Animal Care and Control. Yet the number of homeless horses is rising."


Jim Chapman serves as the local elected official on BLM's Northeast California Resource Advisory Council:


"Trash system strong after four years" (Lake Havasu News-Herald, 8/20/12)
"Lake Havasu Marine Association has purchased another 150,000 trash bags after cruising through the last round of 150,000 that was purchased in July 2011 ... the trash bag post, and “Pack it In, Pack it Out” philosophy system, currently has 71 operable posts along the Arizona and California shores of Lake Havasu." The program has many sponsors, including the BLM.

"Our View: It’s time to push D.C. on Cemex" (Santa Clarita Signal, 8/19/12)
Editorial: "Cemex purchased mining contracts from the Bureau of Land Management in 1990 to open the proposed mine in Soledad Canyon in Canyon Country. This mine would truly ruin the quality of life in our valley by polluting the air and clogging our roads with huge sand and gravel trucks ...Legislation to curtail the mine has been introduced in years past but has not gone anywhere. We hope this time there will be a different outcome ... now, more than ever, is the time for residents of this valley to get involved and let our public officials both locally and in Washington know that we will not just sit back and let inertia cause the eventual opening of this mine."

stylized Route 66 route cartoonWigwams of the Wigwam Motel"Route 66 and San Bernardino motor on, despite bankruptcy" (KCET, 8/16/12)
"Railroad town, Mormon settlement, birthplace of American and Mexican fast food stands which changed the way people eat -- right now San Bernardino's making national headlines because elected officials have filed for bankruptcy, but when I went twice last week to Route 66, a lot of people said what really outraged them: The city council said it couldn't host the Route 66 Rendezvous downtown, where it has been held for 22 years." The author visits with aficionados including Albert Okura, who loves road so much, he bought the Route 66 town of Amboy and Roy's Café and Motel, "much beloved by people all over the world who've seen the movie 'Cars'" and with the owner of the Wigwam Motel.

RELATED: "Historic Route 66" (BLM Needles Field Office)

a man and a woman pose in front of old military tankstwo women pose by the BLM's new Fort Ord National Monument sign"Department of the Interior official sees BLM Central California resources first hand" (News.bytes Extra)
Marcilynn Burke, Department of Interior Acting Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, saw the wide array of resources managed by the Bureau of Land Management during a tour of the Central California Coast this week.

"New Bristlecone Visitor Center opening soon"(Inyo Register, 8/21/12)
"Visitors hoping to see some of the oldest living plants on the planet now have a brand-new visitor center to welcome them and introduce them to the Bristlecone Pine Forest." The grand opening celebration for the Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitor Center in Inyo National Forest is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 1. "The original Bristlecone Visitor Center was burned to the ground by an arsonist in September of 2008."

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Current listings include physical science technician and continuing openings.


"Pershing County fires back at Burning Man suit" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 8/18/12)
"Pershing County officials are taking exception to claims by Burning Man organizers that a new ordinance that would raise fees is intended to pad the county's coffers and otherwise infringe on the rights of participants at the annual counterculture event." The county issued a statement stating that "a federal court lawsuit filed by Burning Man organizers challenging the county's new ordinance is 'replete with misrepresentations, omissions and inaccurate information'."

"BLM Colorado River District welcomes new manager" (BLM Arizona, 8/21/12)
Roxie Trost's swearing-in ceremony will be August 24 in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Trost began providing leadership to the Colorado River District on May 6, 2012, which was her official start date. As Colorado River District Manager, Trost oversees the Yuma, Kingman, and Lake Havasu Field Offices. For the last eight years, Trost served as the BLM Barstow Field Manager in California.

"From solider to park host, Don Patterson enjoys life after service" (Newton Daily News Iowa, 8/20/12)
"When it’s winter in Iowa, 75-year-old Don Patterson travels to Arizona to 'boondock.' From September to April he and his wife of three years, Kathy, will load up their RV and head for the desert to work as hosts for the Bureau of Land Management."


Aug. 31 - Full moon hike to King Peak

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

August 24 - Sunrise hikes

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

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(e.) scorpions

SOURCE: "Ground snake - Sonora semiannulata" (BLM California wildlife database)

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

a whale breaches right next to a small boata whale breaches amid small boats and paddle boaters"A whale of a photo op at Port San Luis" (San Luis Obispo County Tribune, 8/21/12)
Bill Bouton drove from San Luis Obispo to Oso Flaco Lake on Saturday morning to photograph birds with a lens he’d recently purchased." There "wasn't much to see" until he spotted "at least 1,000 pelicans and gulls diving around a 'bait ball' of fish ... birds fly around the open mouth of a whale coming out of the waterThat’s when his day took a turn. For an hour and a half, Bouton shot photos as at least one, perhaps two, humpback whales lunged out of the water to feed about an eighth of a mile from shore." He shared the Flickr photos with his wife, but now "His Flickr account has received more than a quarter of a million views, and he’s been contacted by television networks ABC, CNN and NBC."

a whale tailRELATED: "Endangered whales invade California coastal waters" (Associated Press in San Francisco Chronicle, 8/21/12)
"Grab your camera and binoculars: There's rarely been a better time to go whale-watching off the California coast. Tourists from around the world have been flocking to Monterey Bay to catch a glimpse of the massive marine mammals, including impressive numbers of blue whales, the largest animals on earth. Longtime observers say they've seen a sharp increase in endangered blue and humpback whales feeding near California shores, where they spend the spring and summer before heading to their winter breeding grounds off Mexico and Central America ... What's bringing the whales so close to shore? A bumper harvest of their favorite food: tiny, shrimplike critters known as krill."

RELATED: "Whale sightings in Avila Beach raise questions of safety" (KSBY, 8/21/12)
Kayakers, swimmers and boaters need "to stay at least 100-yards away from the whales, if possible ... if people persist on getting close on purpose, they could face a hefty citation." A kayaker's video shows a whale coming up just feet away, between her and her daughter.

maps of proposed marine sanctuaryfog covers part of the Golden Gate Bridge and rocks below"NOAA proposes to expand Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to Golden Gate Bridge" (San Jose Mercury News, 8/22/12)
"Twenty years after President George H.W. Bush created the largest national marine sanctuary in the continental United States, banning offshore oil drilling along 276 miles of California coast from the Marin Headlands to Hearst Castle, the Obama administration is trying to fill in the missing piece. The proposal would expand the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary by just 1 percent. But the area isn't just any small patch of ocean water. It's the busiest, most high-profile section of Northern California's coast, a highway for oil tankers and fishing boats, a recreational haven and a backdrop for millions of photographs -- the waters directly west of the Golden Gate Bridge."

"Dam removal results in record spring-run chinook on Battle Creek" (Redding Record Searchlight, 8/22/12)
"Fisheries officials said they have not seen any effect on salmon in Battle Creek spawning downstream of the Ponderosa Fire. A record number of spring-run Chinook Salmon swam up Battle Creek this year and one of the largest runs of fall-run salmon in many years is making its way up the Sacramento River toward the creek now ... The spring run was hurt in 1910 after the first hydroelectric plant was built on the creek ... to provide electricity to the now closed Iron Mountain Mine ... So far, one dam has been removed and fish screens and ladders have been built around three other."
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