A publication of Bureau of Land Management in California

Issue 561 - 12/20/12   -  
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a sea otter eats while floating on its back in the water a recreational off-highway vehicle crosses sand dunes mustangs gallop an oil rig silhouetted by the sun a caribou also known as reindeer


- America's Great Outdoors
- Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area
- Correction to item last week
- Not for educators only: Wildlife trivia question of the week
- Renewable energy
- Traditional 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:

News.bytes will be on vacation for the next two weeks.
Have a happy holiday season, and see you in 2013!

In the meantime, you can track Santa at the North American Aerospace Defense Command's "NORAD tracks Santa" website:

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

a Girl Scout has a snake draped around her necka woman talks with two girls with a toad on one's shoulder"Big day at the BIG Expo" (News.bytes Extra)
Assemble 4,000 Girl Scouts, representatives of everything from Beauty School to BLM and what do you get? A super exciting day of non-stop energy, enthusiasm and awareness for girls, their leaders and the general public attending an amazing expo at the Palm Springs Convention Center. BIG -- which stands for Believe in Girls -- is an annual exposition held in Southern California by the Girl Scouts.

State Director Jim Kenna addresses Youth Summit attendeesa woman points out features to two young boys, at an outdoor area"Report from the BLM California Youth Summits" (BLM California)
The BLM hosted two summits in September. The goal was to encourage and strengthen partnerships on public lands that educate, engage and employ underserved youth, including racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, low-income youth, girls and young women. The summits brought together federal, state and local partners who support youth in California. (Find the link to the report on the right-hand side of the page.)

"Conifer Country theme of first in King Range winter lecture series" (BLM, 12/19/12)
The free talk on 'Conifer Country,' a look at the natural history of trees often referred to as "evergreens," is Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. Teacher Michael Kauffman will share his knowledge of the Klamath Mountains and describe his explorations to "better understand the region's ecology through the eyes of the conifers, one of the Earth's oldest lineages of plants." Other lectures will follow through March 26.

"BLM offers guided bald eagle hikes" (BLM, 12/17/12)
The Bureau of Land Management will host free guided hikes to look for wintering bald eagles in the Cache Creek Natural Area in Lake County on Saturdays, Jan. 12, 19 and 26 and Feb. 2, 9, 16 and 23. Early reservations are requested for the popular hikes, which are limited to 25 participants each and fill quickly.

"King Range National Conservation Area- Trail Conditions" (BLM Arcata Field Office)
Trail conditions as of Dec. 19.

"Ivanpah Dry Lake" (BLM Needles Field Office)
As of Dec. 19: Both east and west sides of Ivanpah Dry Lake are closed and heavily FLOODED. The lake is closed to all activity and is expected to stay that way until after the first of the year.


a recreational off-highway vehicle crosses sand dunesan instructor directs students on ATVs"Imperial Sand Dunes prepares for New Year's Holiday" (News.bytes Extra)
With another big weekend right around the corner, staff at the Imperial Sand Dunes are preparing for what is typically the second largest holiday of the duning season -- New Year's Eve. And with a big change in store for operators and passengers of Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROV) about to take effect on January 1, 2013, now is the time to figure out what is needed to stay safe, and legal.

people carry a stretcher to a waiting helicopterOHV drivers wait at the periphery of a helicopter landing zone"BLM officials urge visitors to steer clear of helicopter landing zones" (News.bytes Extra)
Officials at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area noticed a disturbing trend over the Thanksgiving weekend. Visitors were either ignoring or unaware of the hazards associated with helicopter landing zones. Helicopters are often called to assist in the evacuation of seriously injured visitors. When this happens, a landing zone is secured by staff, and occasionally helpful visitors assist. Helicopter landing zones are dangerous places...

"BLM seeks Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area Subgroup Members, sets next meeting date" (BLM, 12/14/12)
The BLM is seeking nominations for three positions in its Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area Subgroup. Nominees should have experience in the ISDRA and represent at least one of the following: the local community, California Off-Highway Vehicle interests, Arizona OHV interests, or OHV organizations. The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires input from the subgroup to be presented directly to the California Desert District Advisory Council for deliberation and consideration.

"Sand dunes' law enforcement presence viewed as essential, excessive" (Imperial Valley Press, 12/16/12)
Visitors remember "the days when the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area was anything but the ideal family vacation," until increases in BLM law enforcement drove away crowds that were primarily going to 'consume alcohol and be crazy and stupid'." Some visitors and vendors feel that less law enforcement is needed now, saying "rangers can always be seen making traffic stops and writing tickets.",0,4914246.story

a law enforcement ranger directs traffic in the dunes"Questions arise about off-highway vehicle fines distribution" (Imperial Valley Press, 12/16/12)
"County officials have expressed concern that the county is not receiving money generated by citations issued by the Bureau of Land Management for a dunes visitor's failure to purchase a fee permit ... The local BLM office disputes the supervisors' contention and insists the county is getting its entitled share of resultant fines.",0,7050864.story

CORRECTION: Last week's Get Outdoors Tip of the Week...
The web page for The Bradshaw Trail incorrectly stated that food, gas, and supplies are available at Desert Center. Desert Center has no gas food or supplies. The cafe closed last April. The only public "business" open is the US Post Office. The other locations listed do have the services as stated (Chiriaco Summit, and Blythe). The web page has been updated.


a caribou also known as reindeer
reindeer, also known as caribou (from wildlife article below)
They may fly over California one night of the year -- but where do most reindeer live?
(a.) The North Pole.
(b.) The South Pole.
(c.) Northern Maine and southern Canada.
(d.) The Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the Canadian province of Ontario.
(e.) Alaska and the Yukon Territory.
(f.) Scandinavia and Siberia.
(g.) At home with their parents, at least until the Christmas economy picks up.
See answer - and more wildlife stories - near the end of this News.bytes.

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

"Secretary Salazar announces milestone on McCoy Solar Energy Project, caps strong year for renewable energy development on public lands" (Department of the Interior, 12/20/12)
As part of President Obama's all-of-the-above strategy to expand domestic energy production, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the McCoy Solar Energy Project, a proposed 750-megawatt facility in Riverside County that would be one of the largest solar energy projects on public lands in the California desert. If approved, the project will join 34 renewable energy projects that the Administration has green-lighted for construction on public lands since 2009. Together, the projects have the potential to produce approximately 10,400 megawatts of energy -- or enough to power approximately 3.4 million homes.

"BLM issues proposal to continue protections on lands approved for solar energy zones"(BLM, 12/14/12)
The BLM announced an amended proposal to extend protections on lands in six western states approved as solar energy zones. The lands are currently protected from mining claims or other lands appropriations; today's proposal would extend this management status for a 20-year period for approximately 303,900 acres on 17 tracts of BLM-administered land in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. The notice amends a previously filed application and proposal to withdraw public lands in the six states from settlement, sale, location, and entry under the public land laws, to protect and preserve Solar Energy Zones for future solar energy development.

"State, Federal Agencies Release Interim Document on Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan" (California Energy Commission, 12/18/12)
"State and federal agencies have released an interim document on a plan that will protect important desert habitat and identify low conflict lands for renewable energy development in the California desert. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) is an unprecedented collaborations among local, state and federal agencies to streamline renewable energy project and transmission line permitting while conserving biological and natural resources in the California desert."

RELATED: "Description and comparative evaluation of Draft DRECP alternatives"(California Energy Commission)

RELATED: "A Glimpse at What's Coming in the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan"
(KCET, 12/17/12)
"The much-anticipated Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), a hydra-headed multiagency and multipurpose document that will chart the course of renewable energy development in the California desert, still hasn't been released in draft form. But the agencies preparing it released an "interim document" today that gives a sneak preview of what that gargantuan draft will include. At more than 100 megabytes not counting the appendices," this "is a daunting document that its authors caution is not to be taken as anything but an informal introduction to the forthcoming draft DRECP."

"BLM extends comment period for West Chocolate Mountains Renewable Energy Evaluation Area" (BLM, 12/14/12)
The BLM is extending until Jan. 14, 2013, the protest period for the West Chocolate Mountains Renewable Energy Evaluation Area (REEA) of Imperial County, California. The BLM released a Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) and Proposed California Desert Conservation Plan Amendment for the area in late November. The Final EIS analyzes the potential impacts of making 20,762 acres of BLM-managed surface lands in the REEA available for testing and developing solar and wind energy facilities and for leasing 19,162 acres of federal mineral estate near Niland, for geothermal energy testing and development.

"Correction to email address for submitting comments on Casa Diablo IV Environmental Document" (BLM, 12/19/12)
An incorrect email address was published for submitting comments on the Casa Diablo IV Geothermal Development Project Public Draft Joint Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Report. The correct email address is


"BLM oil and gas lease auction brings in over $104 thousand" (BLM, 12/13/12)
Fifteen oil and gas lease parcels in Fresno, Monterey and San Benito counties were auctioned for a total of $104,099.50, including administrative fees, by the Bureau of Land Management Dec. 12 in Sacramento. West Coast Land Service, Bakersfield, paid the highest total bid price, $23,200 for a 2,320-acre parcel. That was also the highest amount per acre at $10 per acre. The parcel is located in Monterey County. Full results of the lease sale are available online.

RELATED: "Green California to Vie With Texas as U.S. Oil Heartland: Energy" (Bloomberg BusinessWeek,  12/19/12)
"California, even as it seeks to be the greenest U.S. state, stands a good chance of emerging as the nation's top oil producer in the next decade, helping America toward what once seemed an unlikely goal of energy independence. The catalyst is the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's sale last week of 15 leases covering about 18,000 acres of the Monterey Shale, a geologic formation whose sweet spots stretch from east of San Francisco more than 200 miles south to Monterey County. The auction was dominated by Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum Corp. and smaller companies betting on a coming boom."

"Draft of fracking regulations released" (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/19/12)
"California would require oil companies engaged in the controversial practice of fracking to pressure-test their wells first, notify the state in advance and make sure they aren't working too close to a fault line under regulations proposed Tuesday. But the draft regulations, issued by the California agency that oversees oil drilling, would not force companies to obtain a special permit for fracking. Nor would the regulations give people living near oil wells much warning that fracking was about to begin. Environmentalists immediately attacked the proposals as too weak."

"California releases first-ever fracking regulations" (San Jose Mercury News, 12/19/12)
"Companies in California have used fracking at least since the 1960s. But most of it has been done to produce oil, and largely in Kern County and other Southern California areas. But now the oil industry is looking at a dramatic expansion into the Monterey Shale, a huge geologic formation that extends through much of the Central Valley into San Benito and Monterey counties. The formation is believed to hold as much as 15.5 billion barrels of recoverable oil, which would make it the nation's largest shale oil formation. Last week, the federal Bureau of Land Management leased 18,000 acres in southern Monterey County for fracking."

"How do California's fracking regulations compare to other states'?" (KQED, 12/14/12)
"Our survey is about fracking for shale gas and the majority of fracking occurring in California is for shale oil. But I think it's still useful to talk about the shale gas regulations in California because a lot of these regulations apply to the process of getting oil and gas from the ground, not fracking in particular. California's regulations on shale gas are relatively unexceptional. If I wanted to pick out some things where California's regulations are a little bit different from other states, one thing is that California relies somewhat heavily on its permit process."

"Salazar announces BLM onshore oil & gas lease sales garnered $233 million for taxpayers in 2012" (BLM, 12/17/12)
In 2013, the BLM will hold 33 lease sales around the country. Since President Obama took office, domestic oil and gas production has grown each year, with domestic oil production in 2011 higher than any time in nearly a decade and natural gas production at its highest level ever. Foreign oil imports now account for less than 50 percent of the oil consumed in America – the lowest level since 1995. These sales build on that record and the President's goal of responsibly leveraging our domestic resources.

an oil rig on the prairiean oil rig silhouetted by the sun"Oil, gas drilling rile West's energy embrace" (Associated Press in San Jose Mercury News, 12/19/12)
"This used to be a land proud of its oil barons. Now the energy industry that has brought wealth and jobs across the interior West is prompting angry protests by citizens sporting gas masks and using bullhorns at public hearings."

"Secretary Salazar announces plan for additional development, wildlife protection in 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska" (Department of the Interior, 12/19/12)
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the availability of the Integrated Activity Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final IAP/EIS) for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A). The preferred alternative identified in the EIS would allow for the development of 72 percent of the estimated economically recoverable oil in the Reserve while protecting the vital subsistence resources of Alaska Natives and the habitat of world-class wildlife populations.

silhouettes of wild horse and of a burroWILD HORSES AND BURROS

mustangs gallop"Wild Horses Are Running Out of Room, On and Off Range" (New York Times, 12/14/12)
"Long a totem of the American frontier, the tens of thousands of wild horses who roam across forgotten stretches of the rural West are at the heart of an increasingly tense dispute over their fate." The BLM "says their numbers continue to grow at an unmanageable rate, despite years of removing wild horses from the range to enclosed pastures so that wildlife and livestock can share the land. Horse advocates contend that the government's approach has not only failed, but is also needlessly cruel. And they say the horses should be able live out their lives freely. Despite deep differences on how the animals should be managed, both sides agree on one thing: The situation has reached a tipping point."

"Plan to be presented on wild horse policy" (Sacramento Bee, 12/20/12)
"Carla Bowers, a mustang advocate, will present a proposal for managing wild horses to the Modoc-Washoe Experimental Stewardship Steering Committee when it meets in public session Jan. 10. The committee is scheduled to discuss livestock grazing permits and wild horse management at the meeting, which starts at 9 a.m. at the Bureau of Land Management Surprise Field Office in Cedarville. It will also discuss genetic diversity in the wild herds and Forest Service management in wild horse territory in northeastern California, said Jeff Fontana, a BLM spokesman."

"Drivers advised to be on lookout for burros, other wildlife in area" (Mohave Valley Daily News, 12/14/12)
"In cooler weather, burros venture out more to find newer feed,' said Chad Benson, wild horse and burro specialist for the Bureau of Land Management Kingman Field Office. 'Burros are curious animals and occasionally cross the road. They are most likely to be encountered at night or in the early morning hours when it's dark out, which makes it hard for people to see them.' Recently, Bullhead City's 9-1-1 Dispatch Center has received calls of high burro activity..."

mustangs gallop past a barn"Wild horses gallop into new home" (Wyoming Business Report, 12/13/12)
"About 200 of Wyoming's wild horses have found welcome pasture at the 4,000-acre Deerwood Ranch in a public-private partnership between the Bureau of Land Management and the ranch situated 30 miles east of Laramie. Since wild horses have long been deemed a problem by BLM managers, the partnership has sought to turn the horses into a commodity of sorts through ecotourism potential. The ranch owners, Rich and Jana Wilson, responded to a 2010 classified ad placed by the BLM to seek out possible places for the wild horses to graze."

RELATED: "Deerwood Ranch Wild Horse Ecosanctuary" (BLM Wyoming)
The Deerwood Ranch Wild Horse Ecosanctuary is the first BLM-sponsored wild horse ecosanctuary in the United States. The ecosanctuary is located on a 4,000-acre, family-owned ranch approximately 30 miles west of Laramie in southeastern Wyoming. Public lands are not included in this project.

"Wild horse slaughter in the West invigorates debate over BLM policy" (High Country News in Denver Post, 12/17/12)
Wild horses "exist in a sort of legal and cultural gray area, caught between different mandates for their management. To many people, they represent the fierce independence that once defined the frontier and is increasingly scarce today -- a quality that earned them federal protection. But they are also technically feral -- non-native transplants, like wild hogs or knapweed. That means that the government is charged with keeping their numbers in check, so that they don't graze arid valleys down to dirt, out-competing livestock and native species."


firefighters light a prescribed burn"BLM, partners complete prescribed burn at Lacks Creek site" (News.bytes Extra)
The BLM Arcata Field Office and its partners have completed another in a series of projects to improve natural resource conditions at the Lacks Creek Area northeast of Arcata. A seven-acre prescribed burn completed Dec. 11 at Sidehill Prairie capped this year's work to restore oak woodlands, prairies and wildlife habitat.


"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.

"BLM seeks comments on an environmental assessment of proposed mining in El Paso Mountains" (BLM, 12/14/12)
The Bureau of Land Management has issued an environmental assessment on California Portland Cement's LaPozz Project proposal to mine a layer of hard siliceous rock from 34 acres of public land in the El Paso Mountains of eastern Kern County, Calif. California Portland Cement proposes to mine, load, and truck about 30,000 tons a year of the mined material to its cement plant near Mojave, where it will be used in the manufacture of cement.

"Congress: Clock running out on Inland wilderness bills" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 12/14/12)
"Every United States Congress for nearly half a century, no matter how divided, has agreed to set aside undeveloped tracts of land for future generations by designating them as wilderness areas. But as the nation's 112th Congress draws to a close, lawmakers have yet to protect a single acre of forest, mountain or desert under the Wilderness Act. The clock is running out on 27 such bills, including Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's plan to preserve more than a million acres in San Bernardino County's High Desert and Republican Rep. Darrell Issa's legislation to expand an existing wilderness area along the Riverside and San Diego county line." Both bills cited would affect public lands managed by BLM in California.

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


"Will the West ever solve its water woes?" (Washington Post, 12/13/12)
"The Colorado River provides fresh water to nearly 40 million people in seven states out west: Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. A sizable chunk of U.S. agriculture relies on that water -- about 15 percent of the nation's crops and 13 percent of its livestock. (Indeed, the vast majority of the river's water is used for irrigation and agriculture.) But there's a problem: The Colorado River may soon no longer have enough water to satisfy the region's needs."

Related: "How do you wrap an iceberg?" (Los Angeles Times, 12/13/12)
"As part of a new study of future water shortages in the Colorado River Basin, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation solicited ideas on how to solve the looming gap between supply and demand. They received about 160 suggestions, ranging from the common-sense (use less water) to the ideological (control the population) to the far-fetched (tow icebergs to Southern California) and the high-tech (reduce evaporation from reservoirs by covering them with solar panels). Although U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made it clear when he released the lengthy study Wednesday that the more fanciful schemes were dead in the water so to speak, the analysis included at least a cursory examination of them.",0,4851807.story

"Healing the Salton Sea" (Palm Springs Desert Sun, 12/15/12)
"A decade ago, this 600-acre inlet on the southern end of the Salton Sea was filled with water. But the Red Hill Bay that U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar observed Friday, from a rugged hilltop during his first trip to the Salton Sea, has completely evaporated as less water from farm fields and water deals flows into the massive basin – leaving a mucky, clay-red lake bed behind. It's one of the most vivid examples of the dying Salton Sea's plight — and the widespread economic, public health and environmental consequences that could hit the Coachella and Imperial Valleys if nothing is done."


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

WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
(f.) Scandinavia and Siberia.

SOURCE: "Frequently asked questions about caribou" (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
"Caribou and reindeer are the same species (Rangifer tarandus). Reindeer are a domesticated variety of caribou that are herded by humans and used for pulling sleds. Most reindeer occur in Scandinavia and Siberia. They generally are smaller and have shorter legs than their wild relatives. In Siberia, caribou are referred to as 'wild' reindeer."

a reindeer grazes on a hillsideRELATED: "Reindeer milk, the next tourism industry for Arctic?" (Radio Sweden at Alaska Dispatch, 8/5/12)
"Greta Huuva is the ambassador of food for the Sami region, which covers parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Russian Kola near the Arctic circle. She had also once wanted to see reindeer milk on the market. 'There just isn't any to get a hold of. People used to use it to make cheese that they would smoke or dry along with soured greens. Or, they'd mix it with berries, so it would be kind of like ice cream. I would certainly buy it,' says Huuva."

RELATED: "Reindeer grazing" (BLM Alaska)
Currently, there are no domestic livestock grazing on Bureau lands in Alaska. However, reindeer herders on the Baldwin and Seward Peninsulas have received permits to graze reindeer on 15 designated allotments. Only Alaska Native Peoples can apply for reindeer grazing permits. Herds graze on large allotments that may include over a million acres of land. All allotments contain land managed by different land owners or agencies. BLM cooperates with the state, NPS and other land managers to issue grazing permits.

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

a sea otter eats while floating on its back in the water"U.S. scraps 'otter-free zone' in Southern California waters" (Los Angeles Times, 12/19/12)
"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has decided to allow sea otters to roam freely down the Southern California coastline, abandoning its program to relocate the voracious shellfish eaters from waters reserved for fishermen. Federal officials determined that their sea otter trans-location program had failed after 25 years and thus they were terminating it, according to a decision published in the Federal Register on Wednesday. 'As a result,' the federal notice said, 'it allows sea otters to expand their range naturally into Southern California'.",0,6414668.story?track=rss

"California's marine reserve network now complete" (Los Angeles Times, 12/19/12)
"Surviving budget cuts, mobs of angry fishermen and death threats, California officials today completed the largest network of undersea parks in the continental United States -- 848 square miles of protected waters that reach from the Oregon state line to the Mexican border ... In the works since 1999, California's reserve, meant to protect marine life, is the largest network of undersea parks in the continental United States.",0,4717471.story
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