A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 560 - 12/13/12   -  
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youth work on the ground a coiled snake volunteers sift for fossils flames loom over a prairie a male sage grouse displays feathers


- America's Great Outdoors
- Get Outdoors tip of the week
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Energy
- 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

- More wildlife stories from your public lands (and elsewhere)
This issue of BLM California News.bytes is online at:

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

youth work on the ground"Interagency cooperation at work in the high desert" (News.bytes Extra)
In the space of two weeks, the BLM's Barstow Field Office worked with two agencies and three different partnerships groups to both rehabilitate public lands and promote conservation themes in the surrounding communities. At the center of all these activities in the High Desert were five members of the Student Conservation Association's NLCS WildCorp.

a young man in a helmet works on the groundyouth work on a trail"CCC crew pitches in at BLM Bishop Field Office" (News.bytes Extra)
A California Conservation Corps crew from Meyers, Calif. recently spent a week performing trail maintenance and rebuilding a bridge that spans a small creek along a trail on public lands managed by BLM's Bishop Field Office. The crew was funded through a cooperative agreement between the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division and the BLM Bishop Field Office. Corps members must be between the ages of 18 and 25.

youngsters look over their shoulders at surprise visitor Smokey Bear"Smokey make friends at Collett School" (News.bytes Extra)
Learning came alive for 120 Riverside second graders, as they received a visit from BLM employees, volunteers, and Smokey Bear. In what has become an annual event at the school, teachers invited the BLM to help the kids learn their new fire-related vocabulary words from those who are in the field.

"Interpretive hike to view natural arches planned for the Alabama Hills on December 15" (BLM, 12/10/12)
Back by popular demand, interpretive hikes to view arches in the Alabama Hills will continue during the winter of 2012-13 On Saturday, Dec. 15 (weather permitting), Dave Kirk, Alabama Hills steward for the Bureau of Land Management's Bishop Field Office, will lead the hike. There are hundreds of arches throughout the Alabama Hills. Find out what geologic processes lead to their formation.

"It's true: Getting out in nature will help clear your mind" (Salt Lake Tribune, 12/12/12)
"Individuals were studied during various four- to six-day Outward Bound backpacking expeditions held in Alaska, Colorado, Maine and Washington in the summer of 2010. People who had been submerged in the outdoors four days scored higher on the test than those who had yet to begin their trips, leading researchers to believe that nature has a profound effect on the brain ... 'Three or four days in, you change into a different state and let all the stuff at the office slide away and you're in the moment, you're in the present, you're not ruminating about the past or anticipating things from the future'."

...Take a drive on the Bradshaw Trail Backcountry Byway. The Bradshaw Trail is a graded 70-mile dirt road. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended due to stretches of soft sand. The trail traverses mostly public land and offers spectacular views of the Chuckwalla Bench and the Orocopia, Chuckwalla and Mule Mountains.


a coiled snake
California mountain kingsnake
How venomous is the California mountain kingsnake?
(a.) They have a neurotoxin that can damage nerves or cause paralysis.
(b.) Their venom is a hemotoxin that destroys red blood cells and sometimes other tissue.
(c.) They are non-venomous, but are often confused with snakes that are.
(d.) Their venom is not dangerous to humans, only their lizard prey.
(e.) Their venomous sarcasm can wither small mammals at 100 yards.
See answer - and more wildlife stories - near the end of this News.bytes.


"Feds auction prime Monterey County land for oil development" (Associated Press in Monterey County Herald, 12/13/12)
"The federal government auctioned off nearly 18,000 acres of oil leases on prime public lands on Wednesday in Central California, home to prized vineyards, endangered species and one of the largest deposits of shale oil in the country. Eight groups ... bid for the leases involving 15 parcels of land up for auction in rural stretches of Monterey, San Benito and Fresno counties, Bureau of Land Management spokesman David Christy said. The agency plans to announce the winners within 24 hours. Numerous environmental groups that saw the auction as a sign that California is next in line for an oil and gas boom protested outside the auction in Sacramento, with some activists donning hazmat suits."

"Lease sales start for oil, gas development in Monterey County" (Monterey County Herald, 12/12/12)
"The lease sale in Sacramento by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management comes with protests from environmental groups concerned that the increasingly controversial drilling method of hydraulic fracturing -- or fracking -- will be used to extract oil and gas from the lease lands ... Critics say it poses a threat to groundwater and could induce earthquake activity. The lands up for lease in Monterey County are in remote areas of the southwestern part of the county ... the BLM is engaged in a federal court case with the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity over a smaller 2011 lease sale covering 2,600 acres in Fresno and Monterey counties."

"With Large Oil Reserve, California Faces Fracking Debate" (KQED, 12/7/12)
"California has long been an oil-producing state, but it's getting renewed attention because of the Monterey Shale, the country's largest shale oil resource. It stretches under a large part of Central California. In places like Southern Monterey County, where new oil leases are being offered, the battle for fracking is heating up ... the federal Bureau of Land Management is opening 18,000 acres for oil leases in Monterey, Fresno and San Benito Counties."

"Editorial: Rules on oil and gas fracking are way out of whack" (Sacramento Bee, 12/7/12)
"Are regulators at the California Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources free to make decisions in the public interest? Despite serious complaints voiced by farmers and environmentalists in Kern County, state regulators over the past year and more have waived environmental review for dozens of controversial new gas and oil drilling operations … Regulators must demonstrate they are working to safeguard the public, not to make life easier for energy companies with political clout."

"Fracking will drive oil boom, federal report says" (Los Angeles Times, 12/5/12)
"As oil regulators draft rules for hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking,' in California, a new federal report underscores the critical role the controversial procedure will play in what energy authorities predict will be a national oil boom. The federal report, released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration, projected a sharp rise in U.S. oil production in the coming decades, driven largely by fracking, which involves injecting chemical-laced water and sand deep into the earth to break apart rock and release crude. The predicted boom has big implications for California."

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

"Interior Secretary Moves to Tighten Rules Over Sale of Wild Horses" (Colorado Springs Gazette, 12/9/12)
"Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar says he will tighten regulations of the federal government's wild horse program, restricting the number of horses people can buy and making it easier for the government to prosecute buyers who sell mustangs to slaughter. Salazar laid out the plan in an interview Thursday with The Gazette in his Washington, D.C., office, saying the changes were in response to a ProPublica investigation published in September…"

a helicopter herds a horse"Fact checker: Do wild horses double every 5 years?" (Reno Gazette Journal, 12/8/12)
"Wild horse advocates often criticize the Bureau of Land Management over its claims about horse population growth ... The BLM website says, 'Wild horses and burros can quickly overpopulate an area.' ... When asked for its sources, the BLM's Dean Bolstad pointed to three scientific papers ... even if the studies are correct, they can be misinterpreted. So let's take a look at the three cited by the BLM ... The verdict: current science backs the BLM's claim that wild horses can double every four to five years ... Truthmeter: 8 (out of 10)"

"BLM announces updates to fall-winter wild horse and burro gather schedule"(BLM, 12/7/12)
Changes from the previous gather schedule reflect a re-prioritizing of gathers based on drought and, in some cases, animal conditions that have been affected by diminishing forage and water across the West. The gathers and removals are needed to bring herd sizes into balance with other rangeland resources and uses, as required by Federal law. The BLM is also nearing full capacity at its short-term holding corrals and long-term holding pastures...

"Economic pressures revive horse-meat processing" (MSN Money, 12/11/12)
"The population of wild horses in the US is hard to manage. Although the thought might be hard to stomach, could using horses for food be a solution?"


a volunteer plants a seedling in a burned areaa volunteer plants a seedling"Volunteers help public lands heal after Rush Fire" (News.bytes Extra)
Volunteers have been demonstrating their appreciation of the public lands by donating time and money to help the BLM restore lands burned in last summer's Rush Fire in northeast California and northwest Nevada. Members of the Mule Deer Foundation and Lassen County's Honey Lake Valley Pointing Dog Club joined eight staffers from the Eagle Lake Field Office over the weekend of Dec. 8 to plant 1,500 bitterbrush seedlings on a burned site. The volunteers plan to assist on two more planting outings.

flames loom over a prairie"Tracking invasive cheatgrass role in larger, more frequent Western fires" (PhysOrg, 12/5/12)
New research that relied in part on satellite images suggests that cheatgrass, an invasive species brought west by settlers in the 1800s, is one cause for the larger, hotter and more frequent range fires experienced recently in the Great Basin of the American West. The arid region covers about 230,000 square miles (600,000 km) over much of Nevada and parts of Utah, Colorado, Idaho, California and Oregon.


a man speaks to a group"Monument Advisory Committee discusses issues" (News.bytes Extra)
Members of the public and the Carrizo plain National Monument Advisory Committee discussed travel management and other issues facing the monument, at a Dec. 1 meeting. As part of implementing the monument's resource management plan, BLM is preparing a travel management plan. Following a scoping meeting held as part of an advisory committee earlier this year, BLM identified some preliminary issues to address.

"BLM announces new appointments to the California Desert District Advisory Council" (BLM, 12/12/12)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has appointed three new members and re-appointed a fourth to the California Desert District’s citizen Desert Advisory Council, which advises Interior’s BLM on public land issues. The council, composed of citizens chosen for their expertise in various fields of natural resource use and management, help the bureau carry out its stewardship of 11 million acres of public lands in the California Desert.

"Experimental Stewardship Steering Committee meets Jan 10 in Cedarville" (BLM, 12/13/12)
Discussions about livestock grazing permits and wild horse management highlight the agenda for a meeting of the Modoc-Washoe Experimental Stewardship Steering Committee. The meeting is open to the public.


a barricade and a road closed signa pickup truck parked near a washed-out bridge"County erects signs on Hammonton Road, but won't make repairs" (Marysville Appeal-Democrat, 12/10/12)
"The long road that is the status of Hammonton Road took another twist in recent days, when Yuba County put up signs along it saying a washed-out section of road is closed, though county officials have never defined the road as part of its system." The road leads to the Yuba Goldfields and an area managed by the BLM.

volunteers sift for fossils"'Christmas trees' in Rainbow Basin?" (News.bytes Extra)
As you decorate your holiday tree, reflect on the long history of pine and cedar in the southern California deserts. Volunteers recovered 16-million-year-old pine and red cedar remains from Rainbow Basin, the world famous "fossil bed" north of Barstow.

RELATED: "Rainbow Basin Natural Area" (BLM Barstow Field Office)
Many visitors come to see exciting multi-colored rock formations and walk the scenic canyons. A variety of desert wildlife is found here, including the desert tortoise.

"New no-drilling ocean preserve off Sonoma coast pushed by California Democratic lawmakers" (San Jose Mercury News, 12/6/12)
"California lawmakers are quietly mounting a campaign to persuade President Barack Obama to protect a 50-mile stretch of California coast along Sonoma and Mendocino counties by the end of this month -- a move that would permanently ban offshore oil drilling there and create California's largest ocean preserve in 20 years."

RELATED: "California Coastal National Monument" (BLM California)

"BLM reminds miners to file Notice of Intent to Hold by December 31, 2012" (BLM, 12/13/12)
The BLM reminds certain mining claimants that the deadline to file a Notice of Intent to Hold (NOI) their claims or sites is December 31, 2012. Miners who paid maintenance fees for the assessment year ending September 1, 2012, who then elected to file a Maintenance Fee Waiver Certification, or fee waiver, for the 2013 assessment year must now file a NOI for their mining claims or sites. The BLM will accept any filings delivered in person or postmarked on or before Monday, December 31, 2012. The NOI must be filed in the proper BLM office for the state where the mining claims or sites are located.

"Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and Interior Sign Memorandum to Collaborate to Protect Indian Sacred Sites"(DOI, 12/6/12)
Four cabinet-level departments joined the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation today in signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to improve the protection of Indian sacred sites. The MOU also calls for improving tribal access to the sites. It was signed by cabinet secretaries from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy and Interior. It was also signed by the chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

"Study anticipates significant Colorado River shortages" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/12/12)
"The Colorado River Basin, which provides water to millions of homes and farms in seven Western states, could fall 3.2 million acre-feet short of meeting demand by 2060 ... such a deficit would take a toll on the Southwest if pre-emptive measures aren't taken soon, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said ... in announcing the results of a three-year study. The basin already is suffering under a 12-year drought. Increased demand from population growth and supply shortages from climate change are expected to make the situation more severe."

RELATED: "Department of Interior releases Colorado River study" (Las Vegas Sun, 12/12/12)
"Future demands on the Colorado River water supply due to projected population growth far outweigh supply, according to a highly anticipated Department of the Interior study ... The Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study took three years to complete and analyzes future water supply and demand possibilities based on variables such as projected climate changes climate and varying levels of growth in communities, agriculture and business in the seven Colorado River Basin states -- Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming."

RELATED: "Secretary Salazar Releases Colorado River Basin Study Projecting Major Imbalances in Water Supply and Demand" (Department of the Interior, 12/12/12)

a cactus an an palm tree in the desert"Do California's Deserts Help Control Climate Change?" (KCET, 12/5/12)
"Living ecosystems in the Western United States sequester a substantial amount of carbon, meaning that preserving those intact landscapes may prove crucial in mitigating the effects of greenhouse gas-driven climate change. That's according to a report released today by the U.S. Geological Survey. Included in those carbon-storing ecosystems are the warm deserts of the southwest, currently being eyed for massive development for utility-scale solar power plants."

"Current job openings - BLM California"
(USAJOBS website)
Current listings include firefighting positions.


"Lawmakers seek to rekindle mining reform efforts" (Associated Press at KLAS Las Vegas, 12/12/12)
"While the U.S. government reaps billions of dollars in royalties each year from fossil fuels extracted from federal lands and waters, it does not collect any money from gold, uranium or other metals mined from the same places ... there is no federal law requiring the disclosure of production figures from individual mines." Two lawmakers "are hoping public concerns over the economy and the 'fiscal cliff' will reinvigorate a movement on Capitol Hill to reform the General Mining Act of 1872, which exempted mining companies from paying royalties for profiting from U.S. public lands. They want miners to pay the same 12.5 percent in royalties as oil companies..."

"BLM breaks ground on seed warehouse" (Ely Times, 12/7/12)
"Expected to be completed next spring, the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act-funded regional seed warehouse will provide native seed for rehabilitation and restoration efforts within the Great Basin and Mojave Desert ecosystems."


Dec. 15 - Alabama Hills interpretive hike

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

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(c.) They are non-venomous, but are often confused with snakes that are.

SOURCE: "California Mountain Kingsnake - Lampropeltis zonata" (BLM California wildlife database)

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

a dead squid lies on a beachtwo boys poke a dead squid on a beach"Squid deaths are a many-tentacled mystery" (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/12/12)
"Legions of big predatory squid have gathered along the Northern California coast, where they are stranding themselves on Santa Cruz beaches by the hundreds in a mysterious frenzy of suicide. The jumbo invertebrates, known as Humboldt squid, are far north of their normal habitat in the warmer waters of Baja California and along the west coast of South America."

"Ocean life suffers from human-caused noise" (New York Times at San Francisco Chronicle, 12/10/12)
"Nature has its own undersea noises. But the new ones are loud and ubiquitous. Marine experts say the rising clamor is particularly dangerous to whales, which depend on their acute hearing to locate food and one another. To fight the din, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is completing the first phase of what could become one of the world's largest efforts to curb the noise pollution and return the sprawling ecosystem to a quieter state."

a male sage grouse displays feathers"Nevada moves forward with sage grouse protection plan" (Reno Gazette-Journal, 12/11/12)
"Nevada is continuing its efforts to prevent listing of the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act with today's release of a new plan designed to protect sensitive sagebrush habitat needed by the bird. The proposed management actions for conservation of the Greater sage grouse will be submitted as the state's alternative to a draft environmental impact statement for sage grouse habitat management being prepared by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which administers about 67 percent of land across the state."
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News.bytes published by
Bureau of Land Management
California State Office
2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-1834
Sacramento, Ca 95825
(916) 978-4600

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