Here is a follow-up to my previous response on this topic, forwarded to me by another member of SMBAS.
Santa Monica Bay Audubon Soc.
Sent: Tuesday, April 15, 2008 3:16 PM
Subject: [kerncobirding] Butterbredt Spring Access
The following is from Kathy Sharum, a BLM biologist regarding the recent incident where a birder was asked for ID:
I did a little investigating and spoke with a couple of BLM biologists for this area. They told me there has been some recent vandalism to some of the fences. They also said there had been a couple of rangers from somewhere else working there on assignment as well as a couple of non-law enforcement rangers that may not have been familiar with the setup at Butterbredt Spring. Word has been sent to the lead ranger to make sure everyone understands that this area is open to birders. The biologists were not aware of any written permission requirement, the spring is on private land and there is an agreement between the landowner and Audubon who maintains the spring/trough to allow birding/birders. This spring is under the jurisdiction of the Ridgecrest BLM Office, you can call there if you have questions. I would ask for a law enforcement person or a
biologist. If I learn of anything else, I will post it.
Carrizo Plain National Monument
Los Osos, CA
As a long-term member of Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society (SMBAS), it's news to me that the BLM or anyone else is asking about permission to enter Butterbredt Spring.
As our chapter has paid for fences, signs, cattle-watering troughs, etc. for the spring for well over 20 years, and as it's this stuff that has been vandalized in the past and continues to periodically cost us money, I can't say that I personally find such BLM questioning wholly unwelcome.
What Bob Barnes says below coincides with the facts as I know them. The spring and the surrounding property belongs to Onyx Ranch. It's their land that gets torn up by ORV people and it's the wildlife on their property that gets shot by hunters wandering around looking for something to shoot and it's their cattle that suffer when people mess with the gates or the watering systems.
I personally have full faith that birders treat the spring and the structures around it with consideration and respect. To my knowledge, no one in our chapter has ever had any objection to any birder/birders visiting the spring, and I doubt that any such objection has ever crossed the mind of any of us. I think it's considerate that BLM should be watching out for the property and equipment of Onyx Ranch or SMBAS. As B.Barnes says, just tell them that you're there to observe/count birds, and you should be OK. The fact that you're wearing a shady hat and binos rather than a visored helmet and armored body suit and standing astride a smokin' 'cycle should clue the BLM people as to what sort of activity you're up to.
Meanwhile, I will check with the other members of the chapter to see if anything has changed that I don't know about and I'll notify you'all know if it has.
SMBAS Field Trip Chairman
At 08:39 AM 4/12/2008, bewickwren wrote:
>Forwarding the below for Bob Barnes
>From: Bob Barnes
>Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2008 7:55 AM
>I suspect we will find out about be challenge of BLM when going to bird Butterbredt with the spring birding season at Butterbredt upon us. Keith Axelson has covered Butterbredt via a chapter in ABA's A Birder's Guide to Southern California for the past several editions. Keith was the prime mover in getting Onyx Ranch to work with Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society to get the area to be called a sanctuary. Keith has never mentioned in person or in writing about the need for any kind of justification for BIRDING Butterbredt.
>The Butterbredt property, at least the main spring (and numerous acres checker-boarded around it), is private (Onyx Ranch). BLM would almost surely have no authority to regulate use of the land belonging to Onyx Ranch. That would be up to Onyx Ranch. Onyx Ranch folks reportedly strongly dislike OHVs due to their negative impacts on the area. There are round signs all over the place along Kelso Valley Road stating words to the effect of "No ORVs." Those are all on Onyx Ranch property. In his chapter in the ABA SoCal guide Keith tells readers "Butterbredt Spring is included within the largest Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) administered by BLM. All vehicle travel within Butterbredt Canyon is restricted to Butterbredt Canyon Road (SC123) and Gold Peak Road (SC124). There are no designated motorcycle trails, apart from the roads, through this fragile environment. A letter from you to the BLM, Ridgecrest Resource Area, 300 South Drummond Road, Ridgecrest, CA 93555, in favor of continued motorcycle closure will help to keep it this way."
>Based on the above, I think birders are not only welcome to bird, but are seen as "de facto" overseers of the health of Onyx Ranch property in and around Butterbredt Spring ... which clearly has happened when birders have reported prohibited OHV use in the area.
>If birders are stopped by BLM personnel at Butterbredt this spring, I suggest that they take a minute to explain that they are there to witness (and catalog) spring migration as it is a known area for witnessing spring migration and has been publicized as such in ABA's "A Birder's Guide to Southern California" for years and years. I am glad BLM is present to protect the integrity of Butterbredt Canyon. They likely come in with a black and white attitude regarding enforcement. It is up to us to show them the shades of gray which separate birders use of the area from that of OHV users.
>Bob Barnes Ridgecrest, Kern County
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