Thursday, October 30, 2014

Editorial: Gerber never stopped fighting to protect our freedoms

    We are as stunned as everyone else at the sudden loss of Grant Gerber, an attorney who dedicated his professional life to maintaining access to public lands.
    He called us a week after his terrible fall to report on the progress his Grass March/Cowboy Express had made as it approached Washington, D.C. He talked about how he had pushed himself clear from his horse when it tripped, but landed hard on his head. He spoke clearly of the group’s hardships through heavy thunderstorms, and expressed optimism that their message was being well received.
    Then, more than two weeks after the accident, his son Travis reported he underwent surgery in Utah. Two days later Grant succumbed to his injuries after miraculously seeing the march through to its completion.
    We offer our condolences to his family, and are inspired by their unwavering faith through this tragedy. They have lost a father, husband and grandfather, but the community has lost a powerful advocate for justice. Grant died fighting for the rights of ranchers to use the resources they had invested in.
    Now we can only look back fondly at the many visits Grant paid our newspaper over the years, usually to let us know what he was planning next in his never-ending battle against federal regulations. He fought hard against unbeatable odds, but always with a wide smile on his face as he approached the next challenge.
    It all started half a century ago when Congress began to designate the nation’s first wilderness areas, including one right here in Elko County. Gerber stood up for those in wheelchairs who would be denied access by restrictions on motorized travel.
    He continued to fight when federal land managers ordered a rancher to remove a water pipe installed at Kelly Spring, organizing citizens who replaced the pipe and sealed it off with fence posts signed boldly with their names.
    His biggest battle came at the end of the millennium when a flood washed out a road leading to a popular recreation site at Jarbidge. The Forest Service placed a boulder in the road to keep traffic out, but Grant helped organize a party to remove it. That battle over road rights continues today.
    When wildfires began consuming large swaths of rural Nevada rangeland, Gerber fought against grazing restrictions because of the fuel they were allowing to accumulate. At this point he decided to use fire to fight fire, creating a character called “Smoked Bear” whose goal was to save all of the animals being destroyed by wildfires. Government agencies disagreed with his conclusions, but Gerber had used their own statistics to support his claims.
    Next came the threat of a sage grouse listing under the Endangered Species Act, and Grant was not one to sit idly by as the federal government began sealing off land from productive use. He organized projects to prove that more predator control was needed to fight the decline in bird populations.
    With all of this activity we were surprised a few years ago when Grant visited us to announce he would be running for county commissioner. He had decided to work within the system as well as from the outside.
    Whatever problem surfaced on public land, Gerber would come up with a potential solution and then struggle to make it work. For that reason, many considered him an agitator. Yes, he loved a good fight, but his motive was to serve the people whose livelihoods were gradually being encroached upon through federal restrictions.
    He genuinely cared about the people who would not be able to enjoy Nevada’s outback because of wilderness restrictions. He genuinely cared about the small number of residents in Jarbidge whose livelihoods were impacted by loss of access to campgrounds along South Canyon Road. And he genuinely cared about ranchers who were losing the use of forage that ended up feeding dangerous, pollution-causing wildfires.

New Mexico Investigator Offers Stern Wolf Warning To Arizona

By Tammy Gray

    Wolves are the main killers of cattle in Catron County, N.M., and are setting a record for the number of confirmed kills in 2014.
    Catron County, which borders eastern Arizona and is included in the Gila National Forest, is the site of the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area. It was one of the first areas where Mexican gray wolves were released in an effort to reestablish their population in western states.
    According to Catron County Wildlife Investigator Jess Carey, the results have been devastating to local ranchers. In a report titled Mexican Wolf Recovery Collateral Damage Identification in Catron County alone, he noted that of five ranches he studied, two went out of business and a third did not restock cattle after 2009. Over the course of the study, the five ranches lost a total of 651 head of cattle valued at more than $382,000.
    “The negative effects to livestock producers caused by Mexican Wolves are a wide spectrum not addressed and/or ignored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Prior negative data and documentation of wolf recovery from other states were not utilized to mitigate the same negative effects of Mexican wolf recovery in New Mexico and Arizona,” he noted.
    Carey also pointed out that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not take into account other types of damage to cattle operations, such as stress deaths caused by wolves running cattle, or loss of production by cows due to stress created by the presence of wolves. He noted that the department “demands that ranchers change their entire husbandry scheme to accommodate the presence of wolves; if the rancher refuses, no compensation is paid on wildlife services findings on confirmed or probable livestock depredations.”
    In addition, payment of claims is running years behind schedule and a pro-wolf non-governmental organization is in charge of processing the claims, according to Carey.
    He notes that he believes that the harm caused to ranchers is not only the result of the federal wildlife service and pro-wolf organizations, but also to a lack of coverage in the media.
    “The truth about the negative impacts to rural folks by Mexican wolves is never provided to the citizens of Arizona and New Mexico because of the failure of the press. The collateral damage to achieve Mexican wolf recovery has destroyed many family ranchers,” he wrote.
    According to Carey’s report, wolves quickly become acclimatized to humans and after a time do not flee even when warning shots are fired in the air. In Catron County, domestic animals besides cattle have been killed and injured, including horses, dogs, chickens and cats. The report notes that in one instance, a wolf bit the head off of a kitten in front of a group of children, and many attacks on domestic dogs occurred in the owner’s front or back yard.
    Wildlife investigation reports from Catron County reveal that between Jan. 1, 2006, and Aug. 30, 2014, a total of 143 cattle were confirmed to have been killed by wolves. That total does not include deaths deemed as “probable” due to wolf depredation, or any other animals killed by wolves. During that same period, a total of 29 cattle were confirmed killed by coyotes, bears and mountain lion combined.
    The wildlife investigation report notes that, “U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service John Oakleaf’s study of confirmed wolf killed livestock found: for every wolf killed livestock ‘confirmed’ there are 7 more that are not confirmed. Example: one ranch in 2009 had 10 confirmed wolf killed yearlings and have another 80 head missing. This is consistent with Oakleaf’s study.”
    ...Carey noted that Arizona residents should take heed.
    “The folks of Arizona do not realize what is coming to their community. Most impacted will be the rural families. They will have their family pets killed, livestock killed, and have to live with habituated wolves in yards, on front porches, and confronting children and adults alike at close range,” he wrote.

The return of wolves stirs up old hostilities between rural and urban Oregonians


   In March, Rob Klavins and his wife, Emily, picked up their life in Southwest Portland and moved to Enterprise, a town with 1,888 people and zero stoplights in the northeastern corner of Oregon. Rob grew up in Wisconsin, a scruffy-bearded, sharp-eyed and talkative son of concert violinists. He fell in love with the rural West during his college years. He and Emily realized a dream when they bought Barking Mad Farms, a bed-and-breakfast situated in a century-old farmhouse with a wraparound porch and an eye-popping view of the Wallowa Mountains. 
    ...Settling in Wallowa County isn’t easy. Winters are brutal. It’s isolated. The county has eight times the landmass of Multnomah County, yet contains only 7,000 residents.
And it’s been harder for the Klavins clan, because Rob has a very controversial second reason for moving here—wolves. 
     Wallowa County is cattle country. For every resident, there are an estimated 10 cattle, many owned by third- or fourth-generation ranchers. Cattle are as central to the area’s economy and identity  as Yamhill grapes.
     And wolves are not considered friends of cattle.
    ...And to people like Klavins. In addition to operating his B&B, he works for Oregon Wild, a group that’s taken the lead in defending wolves. 
     “Wolves are captivating and interesting animals, to be sure, but I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily any more into wolves than sea otters,” he says. “Why is Rob Klavins the wolf guy? Because there isn’t a campaign against bald eagles.”
     Klavins has been harassed. Earlier this month, he was the first on a hall-of-shame list posted by the Oregon Outdoor Council, a hunting group, which also targeted leaders of the Portland Audubon Society and the Humane Society.
    ...Tensions between environmentalists and Eastern Oregonians are hardly new. Back in September 1994, an effigy of Oregon Wild’s former head, Andy Kerr, was tarred, feathered and lynched in Joseph during a conference sponsored by the local newspaper.
     Klavins has also fared better than the former owners of Barking Mad, Diana and James Hunter, who were harassed for hosting an Oregon Wild campout. They were denied a zoning variance to build a bunkhouse in a fight that had very little to do with actual zoning issues.
     “I liken this to building a mosque at ground zero,” a neighbor testified.


It's Time For True Blue Conservation


Aubrey L. Dunn, Candidate for New Mexico State Land Commissioner

On one of the walls in the New York Natural History Museum is a partial quote from 1910 by President Theodore Roosevelt, which in its full form states that

“[c]onservation means development as much as it does protection. I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land; but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful means, the generations that come after us.”

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, from our beautiful state of New Mexico, does not understand and does not agree with that quote.  That is obvious from his rhetoric filled op-ed and his rhetoric fueled attack on my campaign to be New Mexico’s State Land Commissioner.  Senator Heinrich’s drop into rhetoric attacks is misplaced, and the result is an attempt to fear monger people into believing that those of us that want to engage in real, on the ground conservation and local management of public lands are trying to steal them away from the public.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

True blue conservation is not done by those sitting at desks in Santa Fe or in Washington, D.C.  It is not done by government bureaucrats in federal agencies making one size fits all decisions based upon environmental rhetoric.  No, true blue conservation is done by the people that live on the land.  It is done by ranchers, loggers, hunters, farmers, fisherman, etc.   It is done by people that make their living actively caring for the land.  True blue conservationists like President Theodore Roosevelt know that when you use the land in a responsible manner, it thrives and will be there tomorrow to provide for us.  They know it will be there for generations to come.  

In contrast, the green movement, or environmentalism, is based upon the premise that the only way protect the environment is to exclude people from the lands.  That movement represents the single greatest threat to the preservation of our western landscapes, the wildlife and the people whose customs and culture depend on healthy landscapes.  A great example is the environmental push to end logging by abusing the Endangered Species Act under the guise of protecting the Mexican Spotted Owl.  20+ years ago environmentalists like or including Senator Heinrich pushed to end logging under the guise of saving the Spotted Owl, but it turns out that logging wasn’t the greatest threat to the continued existence of the owl.  The federal government now admits that the greatest threat to the owl is catastrophic wildfire, the kind of catastrophic wildfire that is created when you don’t actively manage the forest with cutting and thinning or prescribed fire.  The greatest threat to the continued existence of the endangered spotted owl is environmentalism that has caused our forests to be overgrown and has devastated rural communities.

That is what the debate is about in the West.  It is not a land grab.  It is a discussion about the idea that instead of managing public lands based upon environmental rhetoric from D.C. we actually engage in local and state management of public lands based upon a knowledge of those living on the land and more closely tied to the issues.  The destruction of our forests and the Mexican Spotted Owl is no shock to those communities that have existed on the land for hundreds of years; they saw it coming, and they told the federal government that this is what would happen.  True blue conservation would have averted this disaster, the kind of true blue conservation that can only come from those that live on the ground with a close connection to their local and state governments. 

This debate is not about taking the land away from the public; rather, it is about caring for the land through active conservation for the benefit of the public.  This debate is about realizing that the green religion that Senator Heinrich believes in is destroying our public lands and understanding that we need real, on the ground, locally driven conservation so that future generations of Americans and our wildlife can actually enjoy healthy western landscapes instead of devastated moonscapes after catastrophic wildfires. 

Fracking: In the path of the ‘shale gale’

The oil company had hoped that by taking only written questions from the residents, it could keep a lid on their emotions. But it was only seconds after the chief executive of Great Western Oil & Gas began the Q&A with the people of Windsor, Colorado, that the lid blew off. Before Rich Frommer could read out the first submission, Connie Reifschneider rose from her fold-up chair to interrupt him. “I’m shaking because I’m angry,” she said. The family-owned oil company’s plans would turn her neighbourhood of bike-riding kids, pastureland and wild deer into a health hazard scarred by drilling rigs, trucks, noise, dust and chemical pollutants, she said. “How can you and your family, with any conscience at all, disrupt and possibly ruin the lives of so many other families by drilling in such close proximity to so many homes?” Mr Frommer was already wealthy and his only concern, she said, was to enrich his family further. “Answer this please: when is enough money enough?” Passions over fracking are on the rise in America. A boom in US production of oil and gas from shale rock formations – enabled by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing that cracks open the dense rocks – has upturned energy markets. It has been cheered by both Democrats and Republicans for making the US the world’s largest natural gas producer, reducing its dependence on Middle Eastern energy and creating jobs. President Barack Obama, a champion of action on climate change, praises fracked natural gas for being “clean”, because it produces limited greenhouse gases when burnt for electricity.  But the rush to extract more shale energy is bringing industrialisation to picturesque rural towns and densely built city suburbs, where horrified residents say fracking is anything but clean. In places such as Windsor, the industry’s growth is causing political fractures as well as cracks in the rocks. That signals trouble for Democrats and Republicans in the state, as fracking joins the long list of issues stoking disillusionment with government among voters. Next Tuesday’s midterm elections will offer more evidence of the problem...more

Enviro groups file suit, claim wolverines at risk due to global warming

A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Montana charges that federal wildlife managers broke the law and violated the Endangered Species Act in multiple ways when they abandoned consideration of protecting the wolverine. A 38-page complaint was issued by the law firm Earthjustice on Oct. 13 on behalf of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, Greater Yellowstone Coalition and six other environmental advocacy groups. The coalition alleges three violations of the Endangered Species Act: a failure to rely on the best available science, an “arbitrary and capricious” evaluation of the species’ listing factors and a failure to recognize threats to the wolverine throughout a significant portion of its range. In a statement the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance said best available science indicates that climate change “will significantly reduce available wolverine habitat over the next century, and imperil the species.”...more

Study confirms EPA’s proposed carbon regs will fuel spike in energy costs

New analysis predicts that compliance with EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas regulations could total upwards of $366 billion. As jarring as the numbers are, they’re of little surprise to farmers and ranchers who have been warning that the regulations would greatly jeopardize the availability of an affordable and reliable supply of energy. The analysis, provided by NERA Economic Consulting, also finds that 43 states will have double-digit electricity price surges, with 14 states potentially facing peak-year electricity price increases that exceed 20 percent. Much of NERA’s cost projection is based on consumers having to spend more than $500 billion to reduce their use of electricity. Last June, President Barack Obama issued an executive memorandum directing EPA to put in place new rules to limit carbon emissions from both new and existing power plants. These two regulations set the stage for similar regulations directed at other sectors of the economy like refining, chemicals, natural gas development, iron and steel, livestock operations and pulp and paper. In addition to the staggering $41 billion-plus annual price tag, NERA analysis also finds that the proposals could shutter 45,000 megawatts or more of coal-based electricity, which is more than the entire electricity supply of New England. The proposed rules , which the administration has dubbed its Clean Power Plan, fail to take into account farmers’ and ranchers’ leadership in producing and using clean, renewable fuels, said Andrew Walmsley, American Farm Bureau Federation energy specialist. Further, while the administration’s proposals come with significant costs for all consumers, they’ll provide very few, if any, environmental or health benefits. “Unfortunately, this plan does little to address the problem it seeks to solve,” Walmsley said. “Merely reducing fossil fuel emissions without producing a measurable impact on world temperature or climate cannot be regarded as a success.” “Instead, EPA’s plan will affect all Americans negatively, and farmers and ranchers will be especially hard hit because of the energy intensive nature of producing food, feed, fuel and fiber,” he added. For farmers and ranchers in a large part of the country, coal supplies all or most of their electricity. As coal plants in these areas age and are de-commissioned, these proposed rules will prevent the construction of a reliable and affordable source of electricity to take their place...more

USDA to spend $4M on honey bee aid in 5 states

Midwestern farmers and ranchers are getting $4 million in federal help to improve the health of honeybees, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday. The aid through USDA's' Environmental Quality Incentives Program would help producers in the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan implement conservation practices, such as seeding alfalfa or clover crops on pasture land. Bees play an important role in food production, pollinating an estimated $15 billion worth of crops, according to USDA. Their numbers have been declining at a sharp rate in recent years due in part to colony collapse disorder, blamed on a number of factors including mites, pesticides and habitat loss. "The future of America's food supply depends on honeybees, and this effort is one way USDA is helping improve the health of honeybee populations," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement Wednesday. The government is focusing its efforts through the EQIP program on the five Midwest states because about two-thirds of the commercially managed honeybees spend their time there from June to September. The $4 million for fiscal 2015, which began Oct. 1, builds on $3 million approved in fiscal 2014, USDA spokesman Justin Fritscher said. The federal government also is providing $8 million in similar incentives in those states through the Conservation Reserve Program, according to U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, D-North Dakota, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee...more

Buzz, buzz, buzz goes your tax money, right down the rat hole.

And I'm sure we're all surprised this should be released in the week prior to an election.

USDA offers farm loans for socially disadvantaged groups

COLLEGE STATION, TX – October 27, 2014-- USDA Texas Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director, Judith A. Canales, reminds producers that FSA offers specially-targeted farm ownership and farm operating loans to Socially Disadvantaged (SDA) applicants. "Each year, a portion of FSA's loan funds are set aside to lend to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers," said Canales. "Farming and ranching is a capital intensive business and FSA is committed to helping producers start and maintain their agricultural operations." During fiscal year 2014 (Oct. 1, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2014), Texas FSA obligated $52.2 million in SDA loans. USDA defines socially disadvantaged applicants as a group whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice because of their identity as members of the group without regard to their individual qualities. For farm loan program purposes, SDA groups are women, African Americans, American Indians and Alaskan Natives, Hispanics and Asians and Pacific Islanders...more

Hey folks, I'm sure its just a coincidence this "reminder" goes out the week before an election.

USDA extends dairy program deadline

Grapevine, Texas - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, speaking at the National Milk Producers Federation annual meeting, today announced extended deadlines for the dairy Margin Protection Program. Farmers now have until December 5, 2014, to enroll in the voluntary program, established by the 2014 Farm Bill. The program provides financial assistance to participating farmers when the margin - the difference between the price of milk and feed costs - falls below the coverage level selected by the farmer. "We want dairy producers to have enough time to make thoughtful and well-studied choices," said Vilsack. "Markets change and the Margin Protection Program can help protect dairy producers from those changes." Vilsack encouraged producers to use the online Web resource at to calculate the best levels of coverage for their dairy operation...more

Wow, another coincidence.  If I didn't know better one could surmise federal farm dollars are being slung around strictly for political purposes...but we all know the DC Deep Thinkers would never stoop so low.

Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat - 'Beef Daily' Photo Contest

by in BEEF Daily

On Monday, I announced a new photo contest hosted by BEEF magazine and sponsored by Greeley Hat Works. The theme of the contest is “Home Is Where You Hang Your Hat,” which is a nod to both ranchers and the cowboy hats they often wear.

We are asking for photographs featuring images of what “home” means to you. The entry deadline is next Wednesday, Nov. 5. For more information on the contest, click here.

Folks have already sent some incredible photos, and it’s clear that the definition of home is as varied as our readership. We’ve received images of kids, horses, cattle and beautiful ranch scenery. The sky is the limit for this contest, so send us your best! Two readers will each take home a Greeley Hat Works cowboy hat, valued at $300.

View the complete gallery of photos here. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Secretary Of The Interior Sally Jewell Looks To Millennials To Push The Climate Change Agenda

Despite the partisan squabbles that seem to be consuming Congress these days, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has faith that millennials can make serious progress in American domestic policies. In an interview with HuffPost Live on Monday, Jewell said that because environmental issues are a priority for younger voters, they could help turn the tide on climate change. “My optimism rests with the young generation. The millennial generation cares deeply about [climate change], and they want to be part of the solution,” she told host Josh Zepps. “And they aren’t pleased with the elected officials in Congress. You see that in approval ratings.” With the growing influence of young voters, they will soon be a force to be reckoned with, Jewell added...more 

Watch the full HuffPost Live interview with Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell here

Nature Conservancy to buy 75 square miles of land

The Nature Conservancy is buying about 75 square miles of land near Cle Elum, Roslyn and Snoqualmie Pass from Plum Creek Timber Company for wildlife protection, outdoor recreation and clean water, according to a news release. Jill Scheffer, senior conservation director in Central Washington for the statewide Forterra group, said she was thrilled at the news of the sale. Efforts have been underway for many years by conservation and environmental protection groups to find ways to sell the land as a block to allow better habitat and wildlife management, instead of selling it off piecemeal, Scheffer said. The Conservancy is buying 47,921 acres of forest land in northern Kittitas County. The $49 million purchase is the nonprofit group’s largest acquisition in Washington and will double its holdings in the state. The project is part of a larger, $134 million purchase that also includes 117,000 acres from Plum Creek in Montana’s Blackfoot River Valley, for a total of 165,000 acres...more

Bureaucratic blunder of San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

By Judy Nelson

This month President Obama designated 350,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains as a national monument. This action was prompted by a request from Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, to create the monument by executive order because her legislative bill, HR4858, the San Gabriel Mountains Recreation Act, had stalled in Congress. Just seven weeks after Chu announced her request, President Obama signed the monument into effect.

Obama used the controversial Antiquities Act of 1906 to create the monument. This act allows a president to rapidly create a national monument without congressional approval. The designation was rushed through so quickly that the County Board of Supervisors, the mayor of Los Angeles and cities throughout the San Gabriel Valley did not have an opportunity to state a formal opinion before it was enacted.

The San Gabriel Mountains are a vital natural resource and have been part of the Angeles National Forest since 1908. U.S. Forest Service rangers have been protecting and preserving the area for over 100 years. The mountains are not in any danger that would require an emergency order of protection, and any isolated issues with trail maintenance, signage or litter could have been handled with an increased budget for the USFS or by volunteer efforts from local organizations. To create a new bureaucratic overlay with unknown outcomes and expense was unnecessary.

The mountains are adjacent to the greater Los Angeles metro area, and the new monument raises many issues regarding drinking water rights, recreation access and land management that would have benefited greatly from prior discussion with local stakeholders. However, when a national monument is created with the Antiquities Act it can be done without any public input, studies or reviews. It does not require a vote or written legislation. Now that the monument has been enacted, the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. is tasked with creating a new management plan, which is projected to take at least three years.

This is the 13th national monument the President has signed into effect with the Antiquities Act. This legislation was created to allow presidents the power to quickly protect objects or structures that are in imminent danger of destruction such as cliff dwellings, pueblos and other archeological ruins. The legislation states that monuments should be created from “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” Presidential authority regarding size was supposed to be narrow and limited. Large-scale designations over 5,000 acres, such as the San Gabriel Mountains, were expected to be voted on by Congress to allow for the democratic process to occur.

One of the major concerns with this monument designation is that the San Gabriel River has been included within the boundaries. The river provides approximately 30 percent of the drinking water for the Los Angeles region and several foothill cities rely on it for up to 85 percent of their water. The river allows many cities to be largely independent from importing expensive water from Northern California.

Unfortunately, we now have no written assurance that the collection of water from the San Gabriel River will not be restricted.

Judy Nelson is mayor of Glendora

The Mayor's concerns over abuse of the Antiquities Act, more bureaucratic overlays, water issues and lack of public input will sound familiar to the residents of Dona Ana County.  Unfortunately, Obama says he is "not done" with this type activity and he has 15 more months to wreak havoc on the West.

Could federal protection mire sage grouse conservation?

As federal officials mull whether to protect the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act, some conservationists say a federal takeover would undermine support from states, agriculture interests and hunters. Putting the species under federal management, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has to decide on by the end of September, 2015, could result in a backlash from states that have invested heavily in grouse conservation, several key players say. A listing would also cut funding from sportsmen and could undermine the Endangered Species Act itself, they say. Among those holding such opinions are an architect of Wyoming’s Sage Grouse Core Area Program and the former head of Nevada’s Department of Wildlife. Their opinions are not universally embraced, however they point out that the 11 western states where the greater sage grouse still struts have spent about $200 million in grouse conservation since 2000. State contributions amount to a 21 percent share of the projected $85 million annual sage grouse conservation budget nationwide, according to one research paper. If grouse were managed from Washington, D.C., states would be less inclined to pony up, said Audubon Wyoming director Brian Rutledge. Rutledge has worked extensively with Wyoming and other states’ governors and said he’s taken their temperatures. “It would certainly reduce the investment in the grouse,” he said of federal protection. The Endangered Species Act is better used to negotiate with states for improved local grouse conservation, than it is to impose federal management, he said. Some of the 11 governors would be reluctant to cooperate with their major landowner should the grouse be listed, Rutledge said. From 2000 to 2012, the 11 western states spent at least $132 million in grouse conservation, said Ken Mayer, former director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife who helped author a 2012 white paper on the topic. That sum is closer to $200 million today, he said. “When a species gets listed, people start walking away,” he said. Among those would be sportsmen and state game and wildlife agencies...more

Decriminalizing marijuana would protect national forests

For the Capital Press 

In 32 years working for the U.S. Forest Service, I have seen the Northwest’s national forests face various threats, from the eruption of Mount St. Helens to the drought of 1977. Today, our forests face a threat that generates wildfires, deforestation, pollution and wildlife poisoning: illegal marijuana grow operations tied to international drug cartels. In both 2010 and 2011, law enforcement found over 90,000 of their marijuana plants in Oregon’s national forests, and thousands more doubtless escaped detection. Our national forests face an epidemic of marijuana cultivation from the Siskiyou to the Wallowa-Whitman.

Many voters know that Measure 91, on the ballot this November, would regulate, tax and legalize marijuana sales to adults 21 and older. But Measure 91 is also the most effective step we can take to reduce the environmental impact from illegal growing operations in our public forests. Since Measure 91 would permit licensed marijuana farms to supply the legal market at lower cost, the legal supply would gradually replace the illegal supply from operations in our national forests.

Drug cartels recruit low-income workers with promises of high wages and mentions of tree planting jobs, not marijuana. Once in the forests, workers are trained, supplied and armed. They are then criminals, facing 10 to 15 years in federal prison if caught. While taxpayers pay $300,000 to incarcerate a single grower, the cartels have no trouble recruiting replacement workers.

The growers hide in remote areas of the forests, generating plenty of flammable slash as they clear trees for their grows. They use generators, car batteries, pumps and stoves. They are concerned with avoiding detection and staying out of prison, not taking precautions against forest fires. Between 2006 and 2011, illegal growers in California started wildfires that burned 93,535 acres at a cost of $35 million.

Growers have every incentive to maximize their harvest at the expense of wildlife. They draw water from nearby creeks and rivers and pollute them with chemicals. These are the water sources from which we catch steelhead and salmon for our families to eat. Growers also douse plants with rodenticides that kill rodents and their predators, including the Pacific fisher and Northern spotted owl. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service researcher found that in forests near marijuana grow sites, 80 percent of fishers and 40 percent of owls tested positive for rodenticide.

Rich Fairbanks of Jackson County, Ore., worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 32 years, mostly as a firefighter and fire prevention. For the last two years he taught fire behavior to inmate fire crews.

Feds analyzing comments on proposed Idaho wolf, coyote derby

Federal officials are going through some 38,000 comments concerning a proposed wolf- and coyote-hunting derby on public land in the east-central part of the state. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s extended comment period ended last Thursday concerning Idaho for Wildlife’s request for a Jan. 2-4 competitive event near Salmon. If the agency grants the permit it will be good for additional derbies for five years. BLM officials are analyzing the impacts of an estimated 500 hunters on about 3 million acres of BLM land over a three-day period. Spokeswoman Sarah Wheeler tells KIFI-TV that the agency expects to make a decision next week. The event last winter was held on U.S. Forest Service land and private land.  AP

Reversing Course on Beavers

Once routinely trapped and shot as varmints, their dams obliterated by dynamite and bulldozers, beavers are getting new respect these days. Across the West, they are being welcomed into the landscape as a defense against the withering effects of a warmer and drier climate. Beaver dams, it turns out, have beneficial effects that can’t easily be replicated in other ways. They raise the water table alongside a stream, aiding the growth of trees and plants that stabilize the banks and prevent erosion. They improve fish and wildlife habitat and promote new, rich soil. And perhaps most important in the West, beaver dams do what all dams do: hold back water that would otherwise drain away. Beavers are ecosystem engineers. As a family moves into new territory, the rodents drop a large tree across a stream to begin a new dam, which also serves as their lodge. They cover it with sticks, mud and stones, usually working at night. As the water level rises behind the dam, it submerges the entrance and protects the beavers from predators. This pooling of water leads to a cascade of ecological changes. The pond nourishes young willows, aspens and other trees — prime beaver food — and provides a haven for fish that like slow-flowing water. The growth of grass and shrubs alongside the pond improves habitat for songbirds, deer and elk. Moreover, because dams raise underground water levels, they increase water supplies and substantially lower the cost of pumping groundwater for farming. And they help protect fish imperiled by rising water temperatures in rivers. The deep pools formed by beaver dams, with cooler water at the bottom, are “outstanding rearing habitat for juvenile coho salmon,” said Michael M. Pollock, a fish biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle, who has studied the ecological effects of beaver dams for 20 years...more

Fire Shelter Inventor Says New Design Will Save Lives On Front Lines Of Wildfires

The inventor of a new fire shelter says his design is going to save lives as the last line of defense on the front lines of a wildfire. More than a year ago, 19 firefighters who were part of an elite hotshot crew lost their lives in the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona when their fire shelters couldn’t withstand the inferno. Ever since that tragedy, Jim Moseley has worked to come up with a better fire shelter. The Arizona inventor believes his solution, which includes technology from NASA’s space shuttle, seems to hold strong. He says the blanket can withstand head up to 3,000 degrees, which would be three times more effective than firefighters’ current gear. “I was at the Reno Fire Show last week and most of the fire chiefs on the West Coast were completely blown away.,” he said. He says the U.S. Forest Service is currently testing his product...more

The Kidnapping Capital of America and a Thriving Drug Trade


With the much-touted arrest of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in February, the United States has won a battle. Not on the drug war itself, but on the perception that we are somehow winning. The Los Angeles Times called the capture a "symbolic blow," musing on whether or not his removal will even affect the drug trade, considering that his Sinaloa cartel "has already expanded to more than 50 countries in the Americas, Europe and Africa, and is likely to continue without him." The Congressional Research Service goes further, stating that in 2012, "General Charles Jacoby testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that Mexico had at that time succeeded in capturing or killing 22 out of 37 of the Mexican government's most wanted drug traffickers." He "noted that their removal had not had "any appreciable positive effect" in reducing the violence."

Despite the news of Guzman's arrest, the situation in Arizona remains harrowing. Regardless of whether or not it can be considered the Kidnapping Capital of the U.S.A., Phoenix has become a hub for illicit activity, with the state serving as the largest drug gateway into America. And with drugs comes violence. To provide context, in 2012 Phoenix had an average violent crime rate of 373 per 100,000--beating out the national average by 159. That same year, New York City had an average of 343.3 violent crimes, despite a much denser population (8.4 million compared to Phoenix's 1.5 million.) In a 2013 report compiled by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Maricopa County, which houses Phoenix, saw a total of 18,334 drug-related arrests. And with an ounce of meth worth 10 times as much as gold, the war shows no signs of slowing. (On Oct. 28, 2014 gold was $1,230 an ounce, compared to estimates around $17K an ounce for cocaine, with prices rising as it crosses state lines.)

Outside of Phoenix, smugglers are utilizing Federal and State Parks as pathways into the United States, headed for the more lucrative trade centers on the East Coast (90% of the drugs smuggled through Arizona travel out of state, with Chicago quickly becoming one of the largest trading hubs.) Signs in state and federal parks, such in the 3,500-acre Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, warn visitors of an "Active Drug and Human Smuggling Area. If you see Suspicious Activity, Do Not Confront." Where travelers were once warned of bears and coyotes, these smugglers are quickly becoming the new carnivores. A female rancher near the border, requesting anonymity, reported to The Blaze, "we may be bound to the laws of our country, but we're living by the law of the cartels."

Ag Census Data Takes Map Form in New USDA Web Application

The USDA's National Ag Statistics Service this week released a new web application that gives users access to interactive agriculture maps and data based on information collected in the Census of Agriculture. The new portal allows users to navigate to an area of interest, print the map, display and extract a county's data, download maps and accompanying data for use with common software programs, and integrate the web map services with other mapping applications.  NASS developed the application in collaboration with USDA's Economic Research Service. The web application includes county-level maps and statistics in five categories: crops and plants; economics; farms; livestock and animals; and operators. Information about harvested acreage, agricultural sales, enrollment in crop insurance programs, natural resources use, statistics on cattle, demographics about farmers and ranchers, and much more can be visualized and analyzed using the Ag Census Web Maps application, USDA says...more

Defending Property Rights in the West

Defending Property Rights in the West

7:00 p.m.
Boulder, Colorado

Millennium Harvest House (

The sponsor is The Land Use Coalition (
Please also check their Facebook page regarding his talk.
Please make your reservation early, as the room is limited to 100 people.

Perry Pendley will address: "Defending Property Rights in the West" -
an overview on MSLF’s (Mountain State Legal Foundation) battles
in defense of your right to own and use property:

Perry will have available copies of his book Sagebrush Rebel and Sagebrush Rebel – the AUDIOBOOK.
Here is a recent review:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Smokey says stop taking 'selfies' with bears,

Apparently some people need to be told taking 'selfies' with bears is a bad idea. So that's what officials with the U.S. Forest Service in charge of maintaining the popular Taylor Creek Visitor Center in South Lake Tahoe are doing. The creek is the site of a spectacular annual run of kokanee salmon, which also attracts hungry bears.  And lately it's also attracting lots of smart phone-wielding photographers desperate for unique social media profile photos. "We've had mobs of people that are actually rushing toward the bears trying to get a 'selfie' photo," said Lisa Herron, spokeswoman for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit...more

Here's the Buzz:60 video report:

UPDATE I've removed this video because it plays automatically, whether you want to see it or not. The video is at the link provided.

Work to begin on catwalk reconstruction next year

Officials with the Gila National Forest say reconstruction of the Catwalk National Recreation Trail in southern New Mexico is expected to be done by the end of 2015. Contractors toured the trail with forest officials earlier this month. They will have until late November to submit their proposals. Forest officials say the reconstruction contract will likely be awarded in February and work on the trail and parking area could be done by December 2015. The Catwalk trail remains closed after flash flooding damaged the recreation area. Forest Service engineers applied for emergency funding to reconstruct the entire Catwalk hanging structure, pedestrian bridges, trails and picnic areas. Flooding also washed out a section of New Mexico Route 174, making the recreation area inaccessible. State transportation officials have assessed the road damage.  AP

Roots of rebellion: A forum

A year ago, High Country News Senior Editor Ray Ring and contributor Marshall Swearingen sent out about 100 requests under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, seeking incident reports on threats and violence targeting employees of the federal Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest service. They discovered tens of thousands of pages indicating that threats and violence toward agency employees are fairly common, although seldom reported in the media. On Oct. 8, Tay Wiles and Paul Larmer of HCN sat down with four public-land experts to discuss the issue. We asked what inspires these kinds of incidents, why they persist and where we can go from here. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity, and a shorter version appeared in our recent print edition.
BOB ABBEY – Former director of the Bureau of Land Management.
PHIL LYMAN – County commissioner in San Juan County, Utah.
JOHN FREEMUTH – Boise State University professor of political science and public policy and administration.
JEFF RUCH – Executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which provides legal support for government employees working on environmental and public health issues...
Wiles: Let’s talk about the origins of these types of confrontations between federal land managers and individual public-land users in the West. Could you talk about the creation of the public lands and how it’s relevant to where we are today?
Freemuth: You can take public-land history back in some ways to Western concern over the establishment of the forest system. People forget that actually several presidents created the current forest system, when they were given that power that was then removed. But people pushed back 110 years ago about that sort of conservation policy. From then on, there have been things that stir up Western anger. The Sagebrush Rebellion was hardly the first time. But usually it had something to do with something like the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, or FLPMA. What’s interesting this time is, I don’t see anything particularly in a big policy sense that the federal land agencies have done that would cause Western anger. I could see it in the past, but this time this seems to be driven as much from ideological think tanks from the East rather than bad Western land policy per se.
Ruch: Phil, are you being driven by ideological think tanks from the East?
Lyman: Well, I wanted to get a little clarification on the ideological think tanks from the East. That kind of struck me, too. I would have thought you’d said maybe ideological think tanks from the West.
Freemuth: Well, we know Mountain States Legal Foundation has always been involved. But I’ve noticed this time that with some of the stuff that’s come up in states like Utah, Arizona, Idaho, these sort of various demands to quote “return the federal lands,” which is historically and legally probably wrong, but these resolutions were sort of passed in various state legislatures and they were all inspired by ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nationwide think tank based in Arlington, Virginia). I’m not diminishing legitimate Western concerns about federal land management, but … it seemed like this current “we want the federal lands” sort of movement didn’t come from any, that I saw, horribly bad federal land event — more that it’s part of our politics today, where these ideas were coming from elsewhere and Westerners adopted them.
Larmer: The West has been built on the back of a lot of a lot of federal dollars. But (then there were) the regulations that happened in the ’60s and ’70s, NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) and the Endangered Species Act. Then FLPMA in the ’70s. These were all direct laws that tightened the conservation focus on these lands. So I guess you’re confirming that indeed that was part of it, but you’re not seeing it now.
Freemuth: Yeah, I could totally understand why Westerners, especially, felt that regarding the BLM lands that they had quote a “promise” that those lands would eventually be disposed of. And then when FLPMA was passed, it made it clear that the federal BLM lands would remain under federal management. I think that sort of set off the Sagebrush Rebellion. I just simply contrast that with our current era, and I never saw an event like that which made Westerners angry.
Wiles: So, sticking with the historical perspective for a moment here. Bob Abbey, would you comment: Are there any other key moments in our nation’s history and the history of the West that lead to where we are right now on these issues?
Abbey: Controversy between citizens in the Western states and the federal government really isn’t anything new. The West has depended on and resented Washington, D.C., involvement in its activities since the first settlers. … My first exposure to the Sagebrush Rebellion was in the early 1980s. The emotions were really set off by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act in 1976, where for the first time in many years or probably forever, many state legislators as well as members of the public in Western states were told through the passage of this law that it would be the intent of federal government to retain most of these public lands. If you look at the passage of FLPMA and the cumulative effects of all the other environmental laws that were also being passed in the 1970s, I believe it was a combination of all these things coming together that put the emotions at a fever pitch.
Tactics back in the ’80s were very similar to what we’re seeing today. They ranged from legal challenges of federal authority to outright defiance of federal law. During that period back then, we saw state legislatures pass laws laying claim to millions of acres of federal land within their borders. (Public) concerns ranged from administrative processes that contained too much red tape to stubborn and inefficient bureaucracies and needless interference in daily activities. Many of those citizens were accustomed to being able to do without any permit or authorizations.
Ruch: But these laws are 40 and 50 years old. (What) is going on recently is sort of a combination of a healthy dollop of political opportunism, but more importantly a thick crust of resource scarcity. BLM has been avoiding really enforcing these laws particularly in recent years to the point where the Cliven Bundy situation is just outrageous as to how lax it is. The agencies bend over backwards not to enforce the law. And to some extent, some of these tensions are, in our view, self-imposed from BLM not doing its job.
Abbey: I think (these laws) have been enforced. I don’t think they’ve been enforced consistently from office to office or state to state. … But I also agree that the political rhetoric today does lead to animosity and increased tension, and there is a belief because of that rhetoric that it’s OK to do certain things outside the law and some people believe that they’re going to get away with it.
Ruch: The last cycle was in the ’90s, and it was capped by the Oklahoma City bombing. That’s what cooled the rhetoric. But you had a similar involvement by public officials encouraging acts of defiance and characterizing federal employees, range cons and other people like that, from the same towns, as “jackbooted thugs” and making comparisons to Nazi Germany.  
Freemuth: You do find that there have always been incidents for as long as those agencies existed, if not longer. The rhetoric might be worse than it’s ever been today. And I’d like to hear from other people, especially from Phil: Are on-the-ground managers making more decisions that concern you, or is it occasionally a bad decision gets people upset but you’re alright dealing with more or less the local land managers on the ground? ... Has that changed, in your opinion?
Lyman: My perspective is maybe it’s unique being in the West, I don’t know. I’ve seen a change in the BLM and with the Forest Service and the approach they take. For example, the Forest Service now, when they close the road, they say, “It’s part of our 1991 travel plan.” People say, “If it was passed in ’91, why are you doing it now?” “Well, we just hadn’t gotten around to it until now.” And that gets people frustrated. It’s an emotional issue. At the local level, we get along well with most of our local BLM. We get to know them, their families. But I’m speaking from my office in Blanding, Utah, which was the site of the raids in 2009, with the 140 federal agents (investigating the theft of Native American artifacts from public land), pulling people out of their homes in shackles early in the morning and they say they were breaking the law, but that kind of stuff is not good for relationships. That show of force frightens people.

Federal agencies unveil 2020 wilderness vision

Federal land managers say they want complete wilderness area inventories develop climate-change vulnerability and adaptation studies across 110 million acres of wilderness lands in the U.S. in the next five years as part of an interagency wilderness vision for 2020. The plan is aimed at ensuring continued preservation of the lands that make up the National Wilderness Preservation System across the jurisdictions of various agencies that manage wilderness lands, including the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The document also outlines how partnerships with non-government organizations are important for the management of wilderness, emphasizes three broad themes: protecting wilderness resources, connecting people to their wilderness heritage, and fostering excellence in wilderness leadership and coordination. The 758 wilderness areas in 44 states and Puerto Rico showcase some of America’s most pristine landscapes, including forested mountains, alpine meadows, rock peaks above timberline, tundra, lava beds, deserts, swamps, coastal lands, and islands. “Our responsibility for administering wilderness came late, compared to other Federal agencies,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze, “but BLM lands are now, and will remain, absolutely central to the nation’s conservation vision.” Kornze said nearly two-thirds of the wilderness that has been designated since 2000 has been on BLM-managed lands and that the BLM has more than 500 wilderness study areas under its management. “Many of us have experienced the majesty of being out on Western landscapes that have remained largely unchanged for thousands of years,” Kornze said. “With that same sense of wonder, the BLM looks forward to continuing its protection of wilderness in cooperation with all who care about the effective stewardship of these lands.”...more

Iron County Commission denounces BLM actions

The Iron County Commission passed a resolution Monday morning condemning the recent actions of the Bureau of Land Management in San Juan County. The resolution denounces the decision by the BLM and the U.S. Attorney’s office to criminally charge five individuals for their involvement in a protest in San Juan County. Those charged included San Juan Commissioner Phil Lyman, who the Iron County Commission maintains was acting on behalf of his oath of office and the residents of San Juan County. The charges came about after Lyman and several others took part in an ATV ride on a road referred to as Recapture Canyon Road in protest to the closure of the road in 2007 by the BLM. It was closed under temporary pretenses, said Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller. “They expected it to be closed for about 18 months, and after making multiple requests for it to be reopened the commissioners and others felt they needed to do a demonstration,” Miller said. The county maintains the road is used for pipeline maintenance and is a right of way for the water conservancy district. Permission to conduct the protest ride was granted by the district. According to the resolution, BLM documents state that the federal government does not claim the road yet they still has the right to close it. Federal authorities claim the protest by the commission and others constitutes political resistance to the BLM and, in turn, criminal conspiracy. The Iron County Commission, however, argues that is not the case and demands that the BLM “drop all charges against the four protestors and elected official Phil Lyman.” The resolution also likens a recent BLM order for the county to rescind a resolution asserting its claim to the road to that of a “king dictating to the peasants.”

Rancher calls new public lands plan retaliation

Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy claims “the Feds” are retaliating against his family with a wide-ranging public lands plan that would blanket a swath of Southern Nevada with environmental protections, including much of the Gold Butte range around his 160-acre ranch. “As proposed nearly 3 million acres in Southern Nevada will be locked away from the people. This includes most uses on the land,” such as recreational, agriculture — including ranching — “or otherwise,” the Bundy family said in a blog post Sunday. The Bureau of Land Management put out its draft Resource Management Plan and impact statement for review on Oct. 9. The comment period will close Jan. 7 after a series of public meetings set to begin Nov. 3. “I can’t get too excited about it,” Bundy said by telephone Monday. “What it amounts to is they’re going to treat this whole Southern Nevada area like wilderness. It’s a stricter rule for land use. It’s policing power is what they’re after,” he said. His wife, Carol Bundy, said she feels “like they’re trying to surround us by controlling all the land. People should know they’re doing this without the knowledge of the people who use it.” Before the standoff there were about 1 million acres designated as critical to the environment in Southern Nevada, but the draft plan proposes adding 1.8 million acres for protection. “This is a direct assault on the State of Nevada. It is also a deliberate retaliation against the people for standing against the horrific action of several federal agencies at the Bundy ranch,” the Bundy family blog post says. “The boldness of the federal government’s timing and action on these matters are astonishing,” the blog reads. “They are again making a clear case that they are willing to use federal power to punish the local people.”...more

The Anti-Hunting Machine: Exposing the Humane Society of the United States

Article by Tony Hansen, Frank Miniter, and Alex Robinson

The Muck Boots Company waded deep into a quagmire this summer and emerged on the other side soiled, smeared, and worse for the wear. The outdoor footwear company announced via Facebook on August 1 that the Muck Team had raised more than $2,000 for the Humane Society of the United States. Its customer base of farmers, ranchers, and hunters went ballistic.

One customer identified HSUS as “the sworn enemy of hunting and the outdoors lifestyle.” Scores more declared they would never again buy a Muck product. A #WhatTheMuck hashtag lit up Twitter. When the dust settled, it turned out the announcement was written in error—employees had intended to identify a local animal shelter—but the damage was done.

This incident made it clear that HSUS’s anti-hunting agenda is common knowledge within the outdoor community, and that sportsmen and women throughout the nation refuse to support HSUS.

Which raises the question: If we are so staunchly united against HSUS, why is this organization of antis creeping closer to shutting down hunting?

The answer lies in the virtually inexhaustible financial resources HSUS has at its disposal. After paying the bills, HSUS reported $195.4 million in net assets on its 2012 tax returns, which includes nearly $178 million of investments in publicly traded securities. That means HSUS is largely liquid—it can convert those investments into cash essentially whenever it wants.

Those public tax documents also reveal HSUS collected nearly $113 million in contributions and grants in 2012. That’s $7.8 million more than the previous year. HSUS capitalizes on its ability to suck up dollars from animal-lovers who think they are donating to local pet shelters, and it pours those donations into anti-hunting crusades.

HSUS has a long list of victories against sportsmen and wildlife conservation in its ongoing battle to destroy hunting.

Today, HSUS continues to lead a multi-pronged attack against America’s hunters. The antis are deploying their political contacts and financial assets to strike at both state and federal levels. Current campaigns seek to overturn wolf hunting in Michigan; ban lead ammunition on public lands; and outlaw bear baiting, trapping, and hunting with hounds in Maine. If successful, these unwarranted restrictions will cripple wildlife management and hunting as we know it.

It’s no easy feat to disable such a well-funded, well-connected, and well-oiled political machine. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Alberta approves killing six wolves in national park after ‘cows ripped open from one end to the other’

A pack of wolves roaming Elk Island National Park and a neighbouring provincial recreation area has grown in the past few years, and concerned farmers believe the wolves killed several grazing cattle this summer. Dan Brown, president of the Blackfoot Grazing Association, said 29 calves, yearlings and cows have either been killed or have gone missing from pasture in the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Grazing, Wildlife and Provincial Recreation Area, about 50 kilometres east of Edmonton, since the end of May. He believes wolves are largely to blame. “We’ve had cows that have been absolutely ripped open from one end to the other and the majority of that was done when they were still alive,” he said. In an attempt to manage the wolf pack and minimize the impact on livestock, the Alberta government has approved the culling of six wolves by the grazing association inside the provincial recreation area. So far, three have been killed...more

New pain for seniors resulting from EPA 'Climate Crusade'

A new report by the Southwest Power Pool warns of dire short-term and long-term consequences, including power outages and blackouts, for 15 million consumers in nine states if the EPA imposes carbon dioxide emission restrictions on power plants. The news comes in the wake of widespread concern that the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to severely restrict the use of coal for power generation is bound to sharply increase the cost of electricity. Coal is used to produce about 41 percent of our electricity and is our cheapest source of power. "The elderly on low and modest fixed incomes, already reeling from the prospect of higher utility bills, will also be hardest hit by the threat of these cascading power outages. They are not equipped to deal with the unexpected loss of power nor with the anticipated spikes in the cost of electricity. They will have to choose between heating their homes or having enough money for food and medicine," according to Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens. The impact assessment report produced by the Southwest Power Pool focuses on customers in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The report concludes that users in those states face major blackouts and serious reliability problems due to the rapid pace of capacity reductions required by the EPA's proposed rule to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants...more

Journal Poll: 2 of 3 top races for statewide office are close

...In the land commissioner race, Dunn, a Lincoln County rancher, is threatening the re-election of Ray Powell, the state’s longest-serving land commissioner. While Democrat Powell’s tenure in office has been largely noncontroversial and his campaign “relatively quiet,” Republican Dunn has run an “aggressive, effective” campaign, Sanderoff said. “I think that’s hurt Ray Powell and put him in a place where he is in a competitive race,” the Journal pollster said. Twenty percent of voters polled hadn’t made up their minds about the contest – including 26 percent of those in the Albuquerque area. “It’s not terribly unusual that one in five is undecided, considering it’s a low-profile race,” Sanderoff said. Powell’s strength was in the heavily Democratic north-central region, where he had 59 percent of voters to Dunn’s 26 percent. Dunn, meanwhile, was favored by 61 percent of voters on the state’s more conservative east side, while Powell had the support of 25 percent. Sanderoff attributed much of Dunn’s success in deadlocking the race to a television ad featuring Becky Mullane, former owner of the popular Dixon’s Apple Orchard, attacking Powell for his actions after a wildfire and subsequent flooding destroyed the orchard on state trust land. Sanderoff said the compelling ad personalizes the issue of state land management, and typically a candidate would want to come back with a “spirited defense.” Powell has countered with ads of his own, but they are running on radio and on less expensive cable television, rather than the networks. One of the TV ads has been running for a week, while a second just started; Dunn’s ads began more than a month ago...more

Searching for shale oil near El Paso

On the surface, the Orogrande Basin Prospect is unremarkable – an empty area of desert grasslands just east of El Paso, stretching from the Hueco Mountains to the Cornudas Mountains. But an oil and gas production company based in Plano, Texas is searching for oil there, and investors believe it has the potential to become one of the country’s next big shale-oil “plays.” Torchlight Energy Resources (Nasdaq: TRCH) recently acquired the 172,000-acre prospect in Hudspeth County and has announced plans to start drilling there early next year. “This is a game changer for Torchlight,” Willard McAndrew, the company’s chief operating officer, told El Paso Inc. The venture is speculative and rests largely on the research of Rich Masterson, a 62-year-old geologist who is credited with originating various shale-oil and gas plays in the Delaware Basin, east of the Guadalupe Mountains in Texas, where fracking technology has unlocked vast stores of oil and natural gas. Masterson’s research on the Orogrande Basin Prospect is founded on data collected by three test wells drilled in the area eight years ago. “I know there is oil in rock, know it is fairly thick and know there are different types of oil in various zones,” Masterson said. “What I don’t know is how easy it is going to be to get out of the ground.” Torchlight Energy will start drilling four new wells by the end of the first quarter of 2015 that will provide the data needed to answer that question, he said...more

Algae bloom killed 95 percent of fish in NM lake

Hundreds of fish are dying at a New Mexico lake, and now, people who have caught some of those fish are wondering if they could get sick, or even die. Rotting fish are everywhere at Lake Van in Dexter. "The more I look, there's thousands and thousands of fish just floating to the top, and now the stench is getting really bad; there's flies everywhere," said Colleen Cole-Velasquez. Velasquez lives on the lake. She says the smell from the rotting fish is getting into her home. "People should be worried," said Game and Fish Biologist Shawn Denny. "When you see something dying in your environment, that should set off an alarm bell for you." Denny says the reason for the die-off is a microscopic plankton called golden algae. Denny says since last Monday, the algae have wiped out 95 percent of the fish in the lake. Now there's a whole lot of rotting fish, flies and questions.

Legal dispute may jeopardize Gila water project

A dispute over alleged Open Meetings Act violations by the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission has put the state “in grave and immediate jeopardy” of missing a federal deadline for funding for a southwestern New Mexico water project, attorneys for the state said in a motion filed in state district court on Friday. A Santa Fe district judge Thursday issued a temporary restraining order against further action by the Stream Commission on a proposal that New Mexico accept federal money to pay for water development projects on the Gila River. The restraining order was needed, Judge Raymond Ortiz ruled, to give time for the court to sort out allegations that a commission subcommittee has been violating New Mexico’s open meetings law. The allegations came in an Oct. 15 lawsuit by Norm Gaume, an engineer who once headed the state agency he is now suing. Gaume alleges that a board subcommittee made key decisions about the Gila River project in secret meetings, with no notice or opportunity for public participation. State lawyers deny the charge, saying the subcommittee was not subject to the Open Meetings Act because it did not represent a quorum of the commission. Keitha Leonard and Dominique Work, attorneys for the state, said the court’s restraining order in response to Gaume’s suit forced cancellation of a public meeting that had been scheduled for Monday and could lead to further meeting cancellations that jeopardize the state’s ability to meet a Dec. 31 federal deadline. Lawyers for both sides are scheduled to meet in Ortiz’s courtroom Thursday afternoon to argue whether the restraining order should be extended, modified or set aside...more

WTO meat labeling rule invites backlash from U.S. interest groups

Both sides in a debate over meat labeling have begun pressing their cases over a World Trade Organization decision against labels that specify where animals are born, raised and slaughtered. The WTO said that new U.S. rules requiring those specifics on meat packages would put Mexican and Canadian livestock producers at an unfair disadvantage. Now, the U.S. must decide how to react. The labeling issue has ignited a huge legal and regulatory battle pitting American consumer and farm groups against the meat industry and foreign livestock producers who fear that a “buy American” movement will cut their U.S. sales. The American Meat Institute, which includes Minnesota-based Cargill and Hormel, has sued the government to stop the new labeling measures. It welcomed the WTO report on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s so-called COOL — country of origin labeling — rules. “USDA’s mandatory COOL rule is not only onerous and burdensome on livestock producers and meatpackers and processors, it does not bring the U.S. into compliance with its WTO obligations,” the institute said in a statement. “By being out of compliance, the U.S. is subject to retaliation from Canada and Mexico that could cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars.” Cargill did not respond to a request for comment on the WTO report. Labeling supporters are also working to get their voices heard. In an editorial circulated to reporters Monday, Minnesota Farmers Union president Doug Peterson called for an appeal. “The U.S. needs to appeal the WTO’s ruling in defense of rights of American citizens,” Peterson wrote. “And MFU looks forward to working with the USDA and other key stakeholders on a conclusion that is positive both for farmers and for consumers.” Meanwhile, the chances of tariffs and other import restrictions for U.S. farmers and livestock producers who sell to Canada and Mexico remain real. The Canadian and Mexican governments have both threatened to slap supplemental charges on U.S. meat, wine, cheese and exports unless the U.S. reverses meat-labeling rules...more

US, Mexico near deal on sugar trade

The US socked Mexican sugar imports with steep anti-dumping duties Monday, but said a new agreement with Mexico City was in the works that would eliminate any such penalties on Mexican exporters. Two months after levying 17 percent anti-subsidy duties on imported sugar from Mexico, the Department of Commerce announced additional duties of up to 47 percent for dumping sugar into the US market. All told the duties pose a potentially huge blow to the $1.1 billion annual trade. But as it announced the newest penalties, the department said officials from the two countries had initialed a deal that, if finalized, would end probes into alleged trade violations by Mexican producers and remove the duties. "The suspension agreements initialed today will, if finalized, suspend the investigations, allowing Mexican sugar to continue to enter the US market without antidumping or countervailing duties. The agreements create mechanisms to ensure that unfairly traded imports of Mexican sugar do not cause injury to US sugar producers." To end the countervailing or anti-subsidy duties, the Mexican government agreed to quantitative export limits on sugar exports to the US, the department said. As for the dumping issue, Mexican producers and exporters agreed to accept a minimum price on sugar shipped to the United States...more

Singing Brothers Share Story Of Agriculture

Here is the RFD-TV report on the Peterson Brothers: