Saturday, February 06, 2016

Finicum's Family Remembers Him As A Man Driven By Family And Faith

More than a thousand mourners poured into Kanab, Utah, a tiny town on the border with Arizona, to celebrate the life of a rancher who died in a traffic stop in Oregon. Finicum lay dressed in white in an open wooden coffin built by his family. An American flag was placed across his chest. Spurs, boots and photos of Finicum taken at the refuge were on display in the Kaibab Stake center, the large Mormon church where the funeral was held. Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” and other books about U.S. history and the Constitution were placed on a table, along with a note that read: “Dad’s light reading.” Many of the mourners wore jeans and boots, and held their cowboy hats in their hands as they paid their respects. The funeral drew people from Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Oregon and Kentucky. Patriot group members were also in attendance from the Oath Keepers and the “3%” movement. Finicum’s brother Jody Finicum let out a “holy smokes,” as he looked out across the crowd. He described LaVoy as a deeply competitive person with an irreverent side, who grew up playing golf and leading potato gun fights in the sagebrush. He said LaVoy once rode his horse into the family’s living room just to see if it would fit through the door. “What I most appreciated was his example in the things that really mattered: God, family and country,” Jody Finicum said. Each of Finicum’s 11 children also spoke. They remembered him as a loving father who taught his daughters to ride horses and brand cattle alongside his sons. He studied scripture every night and encouraged his children to be active in the Mormon church. After the funeral, Finicum’s oldest daughter, Thara Tenney, questioned the FBI’s account of his death. “We are calling for a private, independent investigation to find out exactly what happened to our dad in an ambush on a lonely desolate stretch of highway in the dead of winter in eastern Oregon,” she said. The FBI released a video of the traffic stop and has said Finicum twice reached for a gun in his pocket. The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is leading an investigation into the incident. Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy was among those who attended the funeral. “I’m here to honor a great man,” he said, sitting horseback behind the Finicum family. “He was basically crucified.”...more

Friday, February 05, 2016

Pickups and American flags: Supporters mourn Oregon occupier

Sympathizers of the Oregon armed standoff rolled into this desert town Friday, some in pickup trucks flying American flags, to mourn an Arizona rancher and occupation spokesman who was killed last week in a confrontation with authorities.

Hundreds of people from across the country packed a Mormon church for the funeral of Robert "LaVoy" Finicum. Of the trucks filling the parking lot, one had a flier with a picture of Finicum and the words, "Murdered by the FBI," while another was scrawled with one of the rancher's favorite sayings: "By dang, I'm mad."

Finicum's death has become a symbol for those decrying federal oversight, on public lands in the West and elsewhere, and has led to protests of what they call an unnecessary use of force by the FBI and Oregon State Police. But authorities say the 54-year-old was reaching for a gun during a confrontation on a remote road.

The FBI released video of the Jan. 26 shooting during a traffic stop that showed Finicum's hand reaching into his jacket, but supporters dispute he was going for a weapon.

"He's a hero to me, honest. His heart is for everybody," said former occupier Ben Matthews of Port Huron, Michigan, who came to Kanab to pay his respects.

Finicum's daughter Thara Tenney and brother Guy Finicum stood outside the church before the funeral. She said she wasn't sure what lies ahead.

"I know he was where he needed to be," Tenney said. "He was doing what he needed to do. Knowing he was a God-fearing man, and his heart was where it needed to be, I feel peace."

Guy Finicum, recalled the rancher as full of life.

"Bravest person I ever knew," he said.

 ...The day's events in this town just north of the Arizona border were billed as "LaVoy Finicum's Stand for Freedom." After the funeral, organizers have planned a memorial horse ride to a local middle school for a benefit concert.

Sheriff's officials and the Utah Highway Patrol were on hand to ensure the events were peaceful. Given the anti-government sentiment expected among the crowd, local law enforcement agencies pleaded with the FBI and other federal agents to stay away.

Family and friends wore red, white and blue ribbons featuring Finicum's picture and pieces of blue tarp pinned to their shirts. Finicum had been called "the tarp man" after spending a night under a tarp at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge when he feared an imminent raid by officials.

The day's events in this town just north of the Arizona border were billed as "LaVoy Finicum's Stand for Freedom." After the funeral, organizers have planned a memorial horse ride to a local middle school for a benefit concert.

Sheriff's officials and the Utah Highway Patrol were on hand to ensure the events were peaceful. Given the anti-government sentiment expected among the crowd, local law enforcement agencies pleaded with the FBI and other federal agents to stay away.

Family and friends wore red, white and blue ribbons featuring Finicum's picture and pieces of blue tarp pinned to their shirts. Finicum had been called "the tarp man" after spending a night under a tarp at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge when he feared an imminent raid by officials.

...The standoff began Jan. 2, with the group demanding the government change federal land policies and free two ranchers imprisoned for setting fires. The government says the group brandished firearms to keep officials from carrying out their duties, threatened violence and intimidated locals.

Defense attorneys have said their clients engaged in civil disobedience and are being punished for political speech. They say the only use of force during the standoff was by police who shot Finicum.

#Agfacts for Super Bowl 50

By Laura Mushrush, Assistant Editor, Drovers CattleNetwork

...1. One cow hide makes 20 pigskins, aka footballs. The term pigskin comes from the 1800’s when animal bladders, most typically pig, were inflated to be used as a ball since they had a round shape. 120 game balls are used during the Super Bowl, including 12 kicker balls, meaning six cow hides will be tossed around the stadium on Sunday.
2. 1.25 billion chicken wings will be consumed on Sunday by Super Bowl fans – enough to circle the Grand Canyon 120 times. The first chicken wings were fried up at Anchor Bar, Buffalo, N.Y., in 1964 and have been a tradition ever since the first Super Bowl on January 15, 1967.
3. 325.5 million gallons of beer will be drank on Super Bowl Sunday.  One bushel of barley produces approximately 565 12-ounce beers. A little bar stool math tells us that 6,145,132.74 bu of barley are used to make the brews for the game, and that barley farmers are the real MVP.
4. 139 million pounds of avocados (about 278 million avocados) are expected to be eaten during the game – most likely to be smashed up into that sweet, sweet guac. To get a visual, this is enough avocados to fill a football field end zone to end zone in a pile 53 feet high. This is a 15 percent surge from 2015, says Hass Avocado Board, and has even lead to Avocados from Mexico to buy a 30-second commercial spot on game day.
5. 10 million pounds of ribs are sold during Super Bowl week, say our friends at the National Pork Board. Since Farm Journal Media has an office location in the Kansas City metro area, we recommend cooking those baby backs up with a Kansas City-style barbecue sauce. Put extra napkins on your shopping list because things might get messy.
6. 12.5 million pounds of bacon (#merica) are also consumed, adds the National Pork Board. The editors at PorkNetwork recommend “Bacon Explosion: The BBQ Sausage Recipe of all Recipes.” This bacon wrapped sausage roll will make you a believer in a higher power.
7. 11.2 million pounds of potato chips will be snacked on. It takes four pounds of raw potatoes to make one pound of chips, meaning potato farmers will be feeding the country 44.8 million pounds of spuds in one day.
8. 14 billion hamburgers are expected to be served up during the game this year. Estimating each patty is a quarter of a pound, 3.5 billion pounds of ground beef are going to be put on buns this Sunday.
9. 4 million pizzas are expected to be delivered by Dominos, Pizza Hut and Papa Johns. Estimating that each pizza has 8 ounces of cheese, that is 2 million pounds of cheese or 200,000 pounds of whole milk. But since cheese is a gift from the heavens, we won’t judge if you load up your pizza pie with 32-ounces of dairy goodness. Go big or go home.
10. 3.8 million pounds of popcorn will be served on Sunday. Not a fan of plain popcorn? Turn it up with this kettle corn recipe.  While we’re on snacks, fans will also consume 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips and 3 million pounds of nuts.

Utah sues federal government over sage grouse plan

Utah has decided to sue the federal government over its new set of rules intended to protect the greater sage grouse — following similar lawsuits lodged by Idaho and nine Nevada counties, ranchers and two mining companies. Utah state officials argue that the guidelines announced in September impose unnecessary restrictions for activities on and near sage grouse habitat. A state plan unveiled in 2013 is sufficient for the conservation of the hen-sized bird, the Utah Attorney General contends in the lawsuit filed Thursday. State officials and members of Utah's all-Republican congressional delegation called the lawsuit an important stance against federal overreach. "This one-size-fits-all decision does not reflect the tremendous diversity in greater sage-grouse habitats across the West," Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement. "Utah is better positioned to manage our sage-grouse population than the federal government." Herbert, a Republican, said in a statement that the new regulations are more restrictive in many ways than an Endangered Species Act designation. He said the state is better positioned to know how to manage sage grouse, as evidenced by the restoration of 500,000 acres of the bird's habitat and small increase in the animal's population. He is backed by the state's top politicians. Sen. Mike Lee said there's no need for the federal government to control public lands in Utah. Rep. Rob Bishop said the plan is an example of the Obama administration imposing its "misguided will on the West." Longtime Sen. Orrin Hatch also took the opportunity to blast the President: "The Obama administration has decided to fudge the facts and flout the law in pursuit of its radical anti-development agenda," Hatch said in a statement. "I applaud Gov. Herbert for his efforts to hold the administration accountable and protect our lands and jobs from this latest federal overreach."...more

Ammon Bundy’s Eugene lawyers release jailhouse statement after Bundy is indicted

The Eugene attorneys representing Ammon Bundy said at a news conference Thursday that they have advised their client that he has the right to remain silent. “But he continues to want to voice his political speech from jail,” said Lissa Casey, a member of the Mike Arnold law firm. At that, Casey played a prerecorded statement that Bundy made on Thursday morning from the Multnomah County Jail in Portland, where he is incarcerated. In the statement, Bundy said he is in solitary confinement and just learned that he has been indicted. “I ask the question: What are people to do?” Bundy says on the recording. “This is what you get when government officials ignore the people. We exhausted all prudent measures to get government officials to investigate the abuses to the Hammond family. Tens of thousands of people understood injustices were taking place by government officials, and their petitions were ignored.” Ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond are the father and son whose recent return to jail on arson convictions spurred Bundy and others to take over facilities at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge south of Burns on Jan. 2. Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy, and several others were arrested north of Burns on Jan. 26 during an FBI and Oregon State Police traffic stop that resulted in the shooting death of occupier Robert “LaVoy” Finicum. An unapologetic Bundy asserted in his recorded statement that government actions are what result in such counter-actions as the occupiers’ takeover of the Malheur refuge. “Taking over the refuge was not only right, it was the duty of the people to do,” Bundy says in the statement. “When government officials are acting in contrary to the people, they must not get away with it. “The takeover of the Malheur refuge was a needed action to show government officials that the people will not be complacent when they prosecute and bully good families like the Hammonds. Government officials chose to end our educational efforts with attacks of force, and it appears they intend to do it again. Go home Oregon State Police, you have already killed enough. Go home FBI, it is time to end this.” Also at Thursday’s press conference, held at the Arnold law firm’s offices in the Hult Plaza, Casey asserted that Bundy was wrongfully denied the opportunity to question government witnesses Wednesday before the indictment against him was issued. The indictment was issued Wednesday but wasn’t unsealed until Thursday. “It’s a big problem that an accused political protester, who already mistrusts the government, is prevented access to the courts where federal prosecutors are speaking about his case,” Casey said. “The irony here is that the government already attempted to restrict him and his liberty by preventing his release ... “Political protesters need access to the courts,” Casey said. In a criminal complaint, defendants have a right to a preliminary hearing in which they can question the arresting officer under oath about probable cause for the charges. After an indictment, however, they are no longer entitled to such a proceeding. Thus, the preliminary hearing for the defendants in the case was canceled on Wednesday in a routine move after the federal grand jury’s indictment was issued...more

Congressman Has Plan To Force Bundy Militants, Not Taxpayers, To Foot Bill For Occupation

The occupation of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Preserve continues to drag on, at an ever-rising cost to the local community. Now, Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced legislation to make sure the rural Oregon community doesn’t end up footing the bill. If enacted, H.R.4431 would require the federal government to reimburse state and local law enforcement agencies for security costs above their standard budget incurred during the threat to the Malheur preserve — which is federal, not state or local, land. Then Congressman Blumenauer wants the government to send the bill to the Bundys. Although Blumenauer’s bill would have the federal government immediately reimburse the state and local agencies, section 2 of Blumenauer’s bill would allow the attorney general to sue the occupiers for the cost after the federal government reimburses the local agencies. “It is not just enough to enforce the law. We should recover damages from lawbreakers who tear up the landscape, degrade wildlife habitat, and destroy property,” Blumenauer said in his address to Congress. And, if the Government were to give up the land for some reason, Blumenauer points out that it shouldn’t go to people like the Bundys. Instead, Native Americans ought to be “first in line.”...more 

Let's make sure Blumenthal's concept also applies to Occupy Wall Street and the whole Occupy Movement.  Urban occupiers should foot the bill also.  The law should also have a self-enforcing provision such as the Equal Access To Justice Act to make sure the provision is enforced.

FBI’s hands-off strategy follows lessons learned

Federal officials have allowed the armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge to drag on for more than a month as part of a strategy learned from past standoffs in Texas and Idaho that ended in bloodshed and spurred more government mistrust, experts say. Critics say the wait-it-out strategy sends a mixed message and can embolden others to lead takeovers. The decision to monitor from a distance the Oregon occupiers opposing federal land policy has not changed since Jan. 2, but U.S. officials are stepping up the pressure outside the refuge and in the courtroom. Authorities arrested leader Ammon Bundy and others on a remote road when they left Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for a community meeting. The confrontation on Jan. 26 also led to the shooting death of an occupier, who the FBI says was reaching for a gun. With four holdouts refusing to leave, the government went further, surrounding the refuge and getting them added to an indictment charging 16 people with conspiracy to interfere with federal workers. But the overall strategy is de-escalation, experts say. “The federal response to sieges has changed dramatically since the early 1990s — authorities have been very careful to avoid turning the federal law enforcement response to such standoffs into a catalytic symbol for extremists to capitalize upon,” said Brian Levin, a criminal justice professor at California State University at San Bernardino. Others say any other armed group would be rooted out. “This very small group feels empowered to seize, vandalize and destroy public property,” said Eric Herzik, chair of the University of Nevada, Reno’s political science department. Authorities have set up checkpoints around the refuge but have not forced out the occupiers. “Their approach is — time is on their side,” said Carl Jensen, a former FBI supervisory special agent who is director of the Intelligence and Security Studies program at the Citadel military college. “The first priority is to end it peacefully and not light a match to set it off.” That goal came about the hard way, following bloody standoffs in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas. They forced the FBI to re-organize and end its “militaristic” response and employ behavioral experts instead, said Levin, the California professor. The strategy was tested in 1996 when the “Patriot” Freemen group held an anti-government standoff on a Montana ranch. After arresting the group leader while he was away from the compound, the FBI negotiated with the occupiers, who gave up after 81 days. “The Freemen standoff was a template for what happened in Oregon,” Levin said. “Strategically, this will be a model on how to respond to sieges. They claimed victory over Bunkerville, (Nevada,) but they won’t do that over Oregon.”...more

How the Bundy Gang Won

One consequence of the Bundy Gang take-over of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in central Oregon has been the abundant media attention to their assertions of government “overreach” and “aggressive enforcement“ of environmental regulations that according to Bundy and Gang has driven ranchers, miners, and loggers from the land. Unfortunately, the media have been slow to counter such assertions.

The reality on the ground is much different from the delusional version put forth by Ammon Bundy and militant associates. Most federal and state agencies are lax in their enforcement of environmental regulations. Though many local people in Harney County, where the Malheur Refuge is located, decry the use of armed intimidation and threats, a sizeable minority or perhaps even majority agrees with the Bundy gang assertions that local people should control management of these public lands.

The irony of such claims is that local people already have a disproportional control and influence on national public lands. They can attend meetings, go on field trips, communicate their views through local media and use their connections with local and higher level politicians to promote their economic and other interests.

If they disapprove of federal management activities, local people often exercise social manipulation against federal administrators. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service (FS) managers and staff that live in rural areas. Federal employees, like people everywhere, want to be accepted in their local communities. Any manager or staff who initiates management action that upsets the local people or local business interests like ranchers, miners, or loggers, will quickly find themselves socially isolated, their kids mocked or verbally abused in local schools, and at times employees and/or their families are even subject to physical violence or death threats.

I fear that in the aftermath of the Malheur event, no matter how it is resolved, we will see federal administers even more “cowed” by local hostility to national interests. What BLM or FS manager will be willing to restrict or otherwise control activities that damage public resources if he/she knows that local communities like Burns, Oregon, as well as county, state and sometimes even Congressional members are opposed to the laws or regulations these agencies are supposed to uphold?

Several years ago a friend of mine, who is high up in the BLM, attended a meeting of BLM state directors and district managers convened by Department of Interior lawyers. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the managers that Department of Interior legal teams were losing law suits over and over because they, the people on the ground, were continuously violating the law. The lawyers were young and naïve. They thought, according to my friend, that they were telling these managers something they did not know. The BLM field staff sat stoically, with arms crossed, and listened.

Finally one of them quipped, “Yes, I know I am violating the laws. I do it all the time. You know why? Because if I followed the law I’d have every county commissioner, state legislator, the governor and the state Congressional delegation on my ass–and you know what? You’re not paying me enough to take that kind of abuse.”

Then another BLM manager followed up and said, “I don’t follow the law either. I count on being sued by the environmentalists, so that I can tell the delegation or the loggers or the ranchers that I had no choice in the matter. The court is telling me I must do this.” He went on to acknowledge that unless he was sued and had that political cover, he would not enforce the law.

According to my friend, there were a lot of other people in the room nodding their heads in agreement.

With the recent empowerment of militant groups around the West, particularly militants with guns and other weapons, what rational field manager, especially one living in a small rural community is going to challenge the local “custom and culture?” As one of the field managers said, “You’re not paying me enough.” And indeed, we are not.

Most of the article discusses the intimidation of federal employees.  No mention is made of the west-wide impact on ranchers of the Hammonds being labeled and convicted as terrorists by the feds. 

Malheur Occupation Indictment Released - Read It Here

Here is the indictment:

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1556

Today's selection is Clyde Moody's 1952 recording of I Love You Dear Forever.  The tune is on his British Archives of Country Music CD titled Six White Horses

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Feds vs. Ranchers

At a recent congressional hearing called in St. George where local ranchers aired concerns with the federal Bureau of Land Management, Utah Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, noted that tensions between pro-land development factions and the federal land agency tasked with managing public lands had grown so tense that he feared there would be "bloodshed." Four days later, his prediction came true with the Jan. 26 shooting death of Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, one of the militant occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., who was shot by an Oregon state trooper at a highway barricade. The St. George meeting took place on Jan. 22. Reps. Rob Bishop, Chris Stewart and Jason Chaffetz —Republican representatives for Utah's 1st, 2nd and 3rd districts, respectively—were present at what was an oversight hearing for the Subcommittee on Federal Lands, called to ensure that local concerns were being addressed in the wake of the BLM's recent release of a proposed management plan for national conservation areas (NCAs). St. George Mayor Jon Pike complained that in the six years the BLM spent developing the proposed management plan, not once was he, his predecessor or the city council of St. George ever consulted. Whitlock didn't deny that the BLM hadn't directly worked with the St. George city government but noted the agency had taken in more than 1,000 comments in the past few years and was considering "each one." Two hours after the hearing Reps. Bishop, Stewart and Chaffetz convened a congressional "listening session," where the three heard comments from constituents about federal land agencies. Fourteen speakers were pre-selected by the congressmen's offices, with the majority adamant in their dislike of federal land agencies, particularly the BLM and Forest Service. Randy Parker of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation claimed, "We are seeing the systematic dismantling of ranchers' ability to graze their livestock. The BLM and the Forest Service are attacking livestock grazing and water rights," he said. Parker also claimed that the number of ranching families in the area has been reduced by more than 60 percent since the 1950s, and that he believes that is "entirely the fault of federal agencies' policies and grazing fees." Piute County Commissioner Darin Bushman echoed other speakers, claiming that there is a vast "collusion scheme between federal agencies and special interest [environmental] groups."...more

Ranchers Worried About Grand Canyon Monument Proposals

Parks said the Native Americans and environmentalists behind the monument proposals are misinterpreting the 1906 Antiquities Act.  “The original intent is to set aside a piece of land that will protect the artifacts but with the minimum amount of land around it to actually keep it within a protected status,” Parks said. Parks said 1.7 million acres is asking too much, when Arizona already has the most monuments of any other state. A monument designation does not mean grazing is automatically prohibited. But some monuments have shut out ranching. But Parks said the militia group in Oregon who took over a national refuge to protest federal overreach isn’t helping their cause. “Standing outside the government building with a sign, that’s fine,” Parks said. “But they should not have broken a law.” We’ve arrived at Diana Kessler’s home, where her family has been ranching for over a century. They have permits to graze their cattle on state and Forest Service land.  Kessler has fought with the Forest Service over management practices for years. “People are so frustrated and not being heard that they’re going to any lengths,” Kessler said. “And you wonder why young people aren’t going into agriculture or this kind of business. Why would you? Why would you want to fight that much and lose?” There are two monument proposals. Both would set aside 1.7 million acres of land north and south of the park. The Center for Biological Diversity has pushed President Obama to proclaim a national monument that would protect the watershed from new uranium mining claims. The center’s public lands campaigner Katie Davis said mining isn’t the only concern. “A number of issues that we’ve seen with grazing include erosion, which can lead to water pollution; disruption of natural fire processes; as well as displacement of native wildlife,” Davis said. The second monument proposal comes from Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva. He said a monument does not initially affect existing and historic uses of the land. “But it does set a template down about an overall preservation and restoration for the canyon,” Grijalva said...more

Ranchers ask for more Air Force flight information

A South Dakota livestock organization is petitioning U.S. Air Force officials to provide more information to ranchers who monitor their herds and land by air in a newly expanded training zone. The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association's request to officials at Ellsworth Air Force Base this week addresses the expansion of the Powder River Training Complex, which roughly quadrupled the training airspace to nearly 35,000 square miles in the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming — the largest over the continental U.S. Stockgrowers President Bill Kluck said Air Force officials committed to making flight information available to ranchers who fly small aircraft to survey their herds and hunt coyotes, but said they have not effectively followed through. Kluck said a website set up to inform pilots about training missions is not updated regularly and that it's difficult to call the base directly for information. "All of that has to be kept very current, or somebody's going to get hurt because of it," he said. "They have to know if they're up there or not." Officials at Ellsworth didn't respond to questions from The Associated Press on Wednesday. The Air Force has said any given location across the training area could experience up to nine low-altitude overflights annually. Supersonic flights would be limited to 10 days a year during large-scale exercises, which could cause up to as many as 88 civilian flights a day to be delayed, though the Air Force said that number would likely be smaller. Kluk said there haven't been any incidents so far, but that some pilots have told him they voluntarily grounded themselves after realizing missions were taking place nearby...more

Federal grand jury returns indictments against Bundys and co-defendants

A federal grand jury Wednesday issued indictments against Ammon Bundy, his brother and at least nine other co-defendants arrested last week in the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge outside of Burns. A scheduled preliminary hearing was canceled as a result. Yet the defense lawyers in the case showed up, demanded immediate copies of the indictments and questioned why their clients weren't allowed to be in court. Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoff Barrow said the indictments were returned earlier in the day and he would move to unseal them in less than 24 hours. Oregon federal public defender Lisa Hay — who represents Ryan Payne, one of the occupation leaders — objected to keeping the indictments secret and the court's unilateral decision not to bring the defendants to the courtroom. Hay said she headed to the courthouse expecting to see her client. She said she believes the federal government told the U.S. Marshals Service a day earlier not to transport the defendants from jail to court before prosecutors had an indictment in hand. "It makes a mockery of the grand jury process to alert marshals ahead of time,'' Hay argued. Mike Arnold, attorney for key occupation figure Ammon Bundy, asked that his client be present for all court hearings. Amy Baggio, an attorney for accused co-conspirator Joseph O'Shaughnessy, cited Rule 6 of the federal rules of criminal procedure, arguing that it doesn't allow the government to keep the indictment under seal for 24 hours and urged immediate disclosure. U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice M. Stewart told the defense lawyers that they'd get the indictments in due time. "When an indictment is returned, a defendant no longer has a right to the preliminary hearing,'' the judge said. "No need for your client to appear.'' The indictments hadn't been released by late afternoon Wednesday, but they're likely to add charges. Those could include trespassing on federal property, destruction of federal property, unlawful access to federal computers and possession of firearms on a federal facility, according to legal observers...more

FBI cover-up? Dead Oregon rancher’s family call his shooting unjustified for a second time

The family of a rancher who was shot by law enforcement during the Oregon standoff is calling the shooting death unjustified for a second time, accusing the FBI and Oregon State Police of a cover-up.

“At this point, based on additional information we have now received, it is our position that not only was the shooting death of LaVoy Finicum completely unjustified, but that the FBI and Oregon State Police may also be engaging in a cover-up, and seeking to manipulate and mislead the media and the American public about what really happened,” read a statement from Finicum’s family, obtained by the Oregonian.

The family said new information from eye witness accounts supplemented their previous accusation that the FBI and OSP could not show any justification for Finicum’s death. One of the passengers riding in the white Jeep driven by Finicum, Shawna Cox, allegedly gave a different account of what happened that day after she was released from custody.

According to Shawna Cox, they were being fired upon right from the outset at the second stop, before LaVoy exited the vehicle. Bullets had already come through the front windshield….there was no question that LaVoy was trying to draw gunfire away from the others in the vehicle,” read the statement.

Cox told the family that it was clear LaVoy had his hands in the air and meant to keep them there, not to pull out a firearm.

[The] best explanation for LaVoy’s arguably furtive hand movements, and why he lowered his hands and reached for his side at one point is because he had already been shot, and he was reaching toward the area where he had been hit as an involuntary physical reflex…before being shot again and collapsing,” read the statement.

 ...“After re-reviewing the extended video with better technology, we want to reiterate that we are not accepting at face value the FBI’s statement that LaVoy was actually armed,” the statement said.

Finicum’s family are demanding all applicable audio recordings and sound tracks from the FBI, a full-length unedited video of the operation and complete and close-up images of LaVoy’s truck “following the siege.”

Voices of the Wilderness artist residency applications due March 1

Alaska-based artist residency program Voices of the Wilderness, now in its sixth season, is currently accepting applications for more than 10 residencies across the state. Applications are due March 1. Residencies are open to art professionals in all media – visual (photographers, sculptors, painters), audio (musicians, singers, composers), film, and writers. Residency dates vary, but typically they are hosted June through September, lasting 7-9 days. Organized by former Juneau resident Barbara Lydon, it is modeled after traditional residencies in the national parks, but includes a twist. In addition to focusing on their art, artists are actively engaged with a wilderness ranger during their residency, taking part in stewardship projects such as research, monitoring, and education. As a volunteer, each artist will assist with some basic ranger duties, which may include boarding a tour boat to provide education, participating in research projects, such as seal counts or climate change studies, walking a beach to remove litter, or other generally light duties. However, an emphasis for the artist will be experiencing the wilderness and exploring how to communicate its inspirational qualities through their artwork. Each artist will be provided the same safety training as other volunteers. The program is sponsored collaboratively by the US Forest Service, National Park Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service. The hosting federal agency will provide transportation to and from the field, camping and field gear, and in most cases, food as well. Travel to and from Alaska is the artist’s responsibility...more

Bring them in, house them, feed them, indoctrinate them and send them out to praise Wilderness in their artwork.  No matter how you cut it, this is paying people to write, paint, sing about a single, government-supported topic.  Those things that have real value and are truly desired by the public, don't require a subsidy to produce.  Wilderness must be in trouble.  Otherwise, why would the feds be trying to artificially increase the demand for their product?

U.S. Forest Service releases findings on the effects of drought for forests and rangelands

The U.S. Forest Service Feb. 1 released a new report, Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis, that provides a national assessment of peer-reviewed scientific research on the impacts of drought on U.S. forests and rangelands. This report will help the Forest Service better manage forests and grasslands impacted by climate change. “Our forests and rangelands are national treasures, and because they are threatened, we are threatened,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This report confirms what we are seeing, that every region of the country is impacted by the direct and indirect effects of drought conditions and volatile weather patterns. Sixty million Americans rely on drinking water that originates on our 193 million acres of national forest and grasslands. They support 200,000 jobs and contribute over $13 billion to local economies every year,” said Vilsack. The report establishes a comprehensive baseline of available data that land managers can use to test how well their efforts to improve drought resilience and adaptation practices are working nationwide. The assessment, a broad review of existing drought research, provides input to the reauthorized National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), established by Congress in 2006, and the National Climate Assessment (NCA), produced every four years to project major trends and evaluate the effects of global climate change on forests, agriculture, rangelands, land and water resources, human health and welfare, and biological diversity. Together these serve as key, science-based, resources for anyone working to maintain or improve public and private lands in the face of a changing environment. The implications of the findings of this report are likely to have far-reaching effects on the environment for the foreseeable future. As climate change drives temperatures increases and precipitation patterns change, drought–and associated disturbances such as insect outbreaks and wildfires-will only get worse across many areas of the United States...more

You have to wonder if the Forest Service, in the last several years, has released a study or report, of any kind or topic, that doesn't contain the phrase "climate change." 

Pine beetle outbreak ends in Colorado

Experts delivered good news about Colorado’s beloved aspen trees, which turn mountainsides bright yellow and orange every autumn: They’re generally faring well after suffering worrisome die-offs from drought in previous years. The U.S. Forest Service and Colorado State Forest Service conduct an aerial survey of the state’s trees every year, and the 2015 survey was released recently. It showed the mountain pine beetle has returned to pre-epidemic levels after attacking more than 5,300 square miles of forest since 1996, leaving large swaths of forest a dull reddish-brown. The epidemic subsided because few vulnerable trees were left for the beetles to infect, the survey found. The beetle primarily attacks tall, slender lodgepole pines, but it also got into larger ponderosa pines. A related insect, the spruce beetle, attacked another 285 square miles of spruce trees last year for a total of 2,500 square miles since 1996. That was a smaller increase than the year before, but Cain said it’s too early to tell whether the epidemic has peaked...more

US Forest Service hiring hundreds of seasonal employees in Rocky Mountain region

Now hiring! Must love the outdoors. The U.S. Forest Service is recruiting for hundreds of temporary jobs around the southwest and across the country. "We are interested in any motivated potential employees that want to come work for the forest service," said Anthony Madrid, of the San Juan National Forest. And they have plenty of seasonal jobs to fill. The US Forest Service is gearing up for the busy season -- 450 jobs in the Rocky Mountain Region alone. "Some hard work and some learning as well," said Madrid. In the San Juan National Forest, they are looking to fill 30 positions - everything from park ranger, to driver and even recreation. But the jobs are only open through Feb. 8, so apply soon if you are interested. The pay on those jobs is between $12 and $17 an hour. For more information on applying, click here...more

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1555

Delmore Brothers - Blues You Never Lose was recorded in Cincinnati in 1950.