Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Americans will soon have a new national wildlife refuge to visit in five New England states and New York. The Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge, finalized by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on Tuesday, includes 15,000 acres of land that
mainly consists of shrubland teeming with as many as 136 types of
animals and insects, according to the Associated Press, which includes
the New England cottontails and American woodcock. It also hosts
threatened and endangered species such as bog turtles and the
Massachusetts's northern red-bellied cooter. This new refuge is a continuation of President Obama’s streak in holding the record for protecting the most public land
and water of any past president. It will be the 18th created under his
administration since 2009 and the 566th in the nation, joining a network
of protected areas covering over 150 million acres of land. It also
increases the amount of land under FWS’ purview. In August, Obama
expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii to become the world’s largest marine protected area that spans two wildlife refuges. For the refuge to materialize, the next step for FWS is to acquire land from willing landowners in non-contiguous areas in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Rhode Island. According to the Associated Press, the officials say they plan to purchase half of the land targeted while obtaining the other half through conservation easement.
The process could take decades, as the press release points out. It is entirely up to landowners to decide if they want to sell or donate their land to become part of the refuge. They could also opt for conservation easement, where the owners permanently sell property rights to FWS that restricts the types of activities that can be done on the land...more
All refuges within the project area
have approved CCPs, and all have goals and objectives related to the
restoration, maintenance, and continuing management of shrubland and young forest
habitat. All of the CCPs were released for public and partner review and comment, with
accompanying public meetings in their respective areas.
A CCP is a Comprehensive Conservation Plan.
This is for 15,000 acres. All plans are completed with public review and comment prior to designation, and it is voluntary on whether or not you are part of the refuge.
Compare that to the 500,000 acre Organ Mtn-Desert Buttes National Monument. Sec. Jewell held one 'listening session', the plans come after the designation, and there is nothing voluntary about it.
After a weekend of mass arrests, people
protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline are preparing for another clash
with a growing and increasingly militarized police force near Cannon
Ball, North Dakota. On Sunday, demonstrators set up a new camp, called
Winter Camp, in the pathway of pipeline construction, on what they
consider unceded territory belonging to them under the 1851 Laramie
Treaty. But Dakota Access LLC, the pipeline developer, said in a statement that they would be “removed from the land,” which the company purchased from a local rancher last month. Police said
on Wednesday that they are prepared to carry out that threat. “It’s
obvious we have the resources, we have the manpower, to go down there
and end this,” Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said in an interview.
As the prospect of a raid on the Winter Camp looms, human-rights
groups are increasingly concerned about law enforcement’s use of force
against peaceful pipeline protesters (who call themselves “water
protectors”), as well as journalists and legal observers. Demonstrators
reported being pepper sprayed, beaten with batons, and strip searched in
custody during the weekend’s arrests. Journalists were also arrested,
and had their equipment confiscated.
In a Facebook post, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier
described Saturday’s demonstration as a “riot,” and wrote that the
“situation clearly illustrates what we have been saying for weeks, that
this protest is not peaceful or lawful.” But it wasn’t immediately clear
what he meant by a riot: The photo that accompanied the Facebook post
showed protesters walking calmly through a field carrying banners and
signs. Video footage showed people standing together, backing up as
police approached. The only supposedly aggressive acts that the
sheriff’s department described in any specific form included that two arrows
were shot towards law enforcement, one officer was spit on, and that a
drone that protesters were using to monitor police activity “attacked” a
On Sunday, the Morton County Sheriff called for
additional law-enforcement personnel from outside North Dakota.
Officers from at least six other states—Wisconsin, South Dakota,
Minnesota, Wyoming, Indiana, and Nebraska—have arrived so far. In his
call for more resources, the sheriff cited “escalated unlawful tactics
by individuals protesting the construction of the Dakota Access
Pipeline.” State and local officials also requested, and received,
temporary flight restrictions from the Federal Aviation Administration
in a seven-mile radius around the protest camps, which may be an attempt
to keep away news helicopters, as it was during the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
Barbara Lyons considered her miniature horse named Marco Polo part of her family.
“Marco was the sweetest one, shyest one.” Barbara Lyons said. When Marco was missing from his pen at a Malibu Ranch over the weekend, Lyons thought he was stolen. On Tuesday, the horse’s body was found near his pen, killed but not eaten. Evidence shows it was attacked by a mountain lion.
“I just hope he didn’t suffer,” Lyons said. A spokesman with the Department of Fish and Game says about a
half-dozen mountain lions are known to live along the Santa Monica
mountain range. Any one of them could be to blame, but the one known as
P45 is the prime suspect because he’s known to roam the area. A Malibu
rancher says P45 recently killed some of his llamas and alpacas. Fish and Game officials say there have been a normal number of mountain
lion attacks this year, about once or twice a month. However, they say
they have never seen a miniature horse attack...more
Forest officials have decided to reopen an area where a man was attacked by a grizzly bear twice in one morning...The area was closed after Todd Orr was mauled twice during a morning elk scouting trip nearly three weeks ago. Orr recounted the events in posts on his Facebook page, writing that he ran into a sow grizzly and two cubs.
The sow charged him once, biting and scratching him. Then, as he walked away, he was attacked again. Minutes after the attack, the blood-streaked Orr posted a video to Facebook and explained what had happened. Millions watched the video.
Just a few weeks before Orr’s encounter, there were reports of a hunting group running into and shooting at a bear with one cub. Officials were unable to determine whether Orr ran into the same bear or a different bear...more
A federal judge sided with the U.S. Forest Service this week in a lawsuit over a trail dispute in the Madison Valley, ruling that a trail that partially crosses private lands is public.
U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon ruled that there was a public prescriptive easement — meaning an easement that isn’t in writing — on a trail that crosses the Wonder Ranch, a property south of Cameron near the Indian Creek Canyon...The trail in question begins on an adjacent ranch, passes through the Wonder Ranch and continues on to the Lee Metcalf Wilderness area. No motorized use is allowed on the trail.
Court documents say the landowners’ spat with the Forest Service began when the owners of the Wonder Ranch put up gates and signs that asked people to dismount horses and leash their dogs while passing through the property. Court documents say they put up another sign sometime between 2007 and 2009, saying access was given “by gratuitous permission of the landowner.”
The Forest Service asked the owners to take down the signs and leave the gates open. The dismount and leash signs were removed, but not the one claiming access was given by permission of the landowner.
Forest officials in 2011 filed a document with Madison County asserting that the trail was public. In response, the owners of the Wonder Ranch filed a lawsuit against the Forest Service in 2014. The suit argued that the agency’s claim of a public prescriptive easement had “no validity whatsoever,” citing a 2004 letter from the then district ranger saying that there wasn’t an easement on the property.
But after two years of dueling motions, a trial and a judge’s tour of the property, the court sided with the Forest Service.
Haddon’s opinion says records of the trail go as far back as 1888, and that it was included in a 1940 Forest Service map as trail No. 328. He went on to write about the cavalcade of users the trail has seen, from ranchers moving livestock along the trail as it crosses the property in the ’30s and ’40s to the hunters and hikers that have been using the trail in increasing number since the 1980s. Haddon wrote that during the warm seasons in the 1990s, the trail saw between 10 and 20 users a day. That established that the trail saw ample and varied use, but part of the case hinged on whether the trail users asked for permission. If trail users were consistently asking the landowner for permission, it would show that the landowner was actually granting access by “gratuitous permission,” as claimed by the sign they put up.
But Haddon wrote that the majority of trail users didn’t ask for permission. Ranchers trailing livestock in the last century did so without asking permission and a number of outfitters, hunters and hikers using the public lands accessed by the trail did so without asking permission, supporting the argument that the trail was public.
Haddon wrote that it didn’t matter if the landowners “waved, said hello or served them lunch” — they were accessing a trail they believed to be public...more
The Bureau of Land Management and Idaho Department of Lands hope to improve relations and firefighting efforts with ranchers in east Idaho.
Eight Rangeland Fire Protection Associations have sprung up in many western regions of the gem state with just one so far in north eastern Idaho near Dubois.
These associations allow trained ranchers in a rangeland to provide a quick initial attack on wildfires.
A program like this would have benefited ranchers who wanted to fight the Henry's Creek Fire but couldn't due to lack of training and proper protective gear.
"The RFPA's(Rangeland Fire Protection Associations) allow a channel for those landowners and ranchers to assist us in ways that they want to while also meeting our expectations of safety and communication" said Jesse Bender, Fire Information and Education Specialist.
The Idaho Department of Land is hoping to create two new associations in east Idaho, one east of Idaho Falls and the other near Rockland. KPVI
With your Agri-Business Update I’m Susan Allen. Agri-Pulse one of most trusted farm and rural policy sources in Washington, D.C. conducted a new nationwide poll from Oct. 15-18 on how farmers and ranchers will vote in the presidential election. 55 percent of those surveyed in say they'll support Donald Trump while 18 percent are throwing their support behind Democratic Hillary Clinton. Only 2 percent plan to vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and just 1 percent for the Green Party's Jill Stein. 15 percent of respondents said they were undecided and 8 percent refused to answer. Trump attracted 59 percent of the male and 37 percent of female voters, while Clinton drew support from 15 percent of the males and 33 percent of the females. Some 18 percent of the female respondents said they were undecided. The GOP nominee scored particularly well in two battleground states, with support from 68 percent of the farmers and ranchers in Ohio and 58 percent in Florida. The Agri-Pulse Poll, conducted by Aimpoint Research reached out to commercial operations of 200 acres or more. When asked if they were satisfied or dissatisfied with the way things are going in this country, a whopping 86 percent said they were “somewhat” or “very dissatisfied.” Indicating uptick from another Agri-Pulsepoll conducted in late January of this year. AgInfo.net
Borgos, a 50-year Nevada resident, began researching his first novel
more than 15 years ago. He was intrigued by news stories about Nevada
ranchers, like Cliff Gardner, who were fighting federal control. When an
armed standoff erupted between cattlemen and the Bureau of Land
Management in 2014, Borgos reworked his work-in-progress to reflect
current events. The result was “Holding Fire.”
It feels like six people and a dog in a phone booth.
gray smoke envelops us. Visibility zero. “Hang onto something!” the
pilot commands us, struggling to get us off the ground. I look to the
back as I buckle into the seat. There isn’t a whole lot for them to
grab. Jordan has her arms wrapped around Natty. Rodney has one hand on
Pal and one hand on the back of the pilot’s seat. John Henry has worked a
hand through the cargo netting. As we lift off, we manage to gain a
little height, maybe 30 or 40 feet, but the heat and wind from the fire
below us has us bucking and rolling, and just as quickly we’re almost on
the ground again. And then back up in the air. The rear rotor warning
light appears on the panel in front of us, followed by a loud alarm.
Christ, this isn’t working. I look out the window and down, but there is nothing on the mountain
top but fire and smoke. He can’t dip us over the edge of the ridgeline
either because he can’t see the treetops that surround us through all
the smoke. Only place to go is straight up.
“We’re still too heavy!” the pilot yells. “I can’t get altitude!”
I twist in the seat and turn back to John Henry. “Pass me whatever is left!”
A repeat from last years' reunion: For the NMSU Cowboy Reunion. 1964 Part 1 Roger Miller - Chug Uh Lug, Buck Owens - My Heart Skips A Beat, Connie Smith - Once A Day, Stonewall Jackson - BJ The DJ, Marty Robbins - Cowboy In A Continental Suit.
U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown summoned the jury in the Oregon standoff trial Wednesday morning to Courtroom 9A and dismissed one of the jurors on the panel, a day after another juror had sent the court a note questioning the man's ability to be impartial in deliberations. She immediately had her deputy summon an alternate juror, selected randomly from numbers in a cup, to be ready to join the jury in federal court at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
The judge's decision came after she proposed the solution, saying she found "good cause'' to dismiss the juror but would only do so if both the prosecution and defense teams agreed to his release. If not, she said she'd likely have to question each juror, which could "run afoul'' of federal rules that prohibit the court from inquiring about their "mental processes'' in jury deliberations. After about a 15-minute break, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Knight announced his team would agree with defense lawyers to dismiss the juror.
"I've determined Juror 11 needs to be excused,'' the judge told the jury moments later, citing the "interests of justice'' and to ensure the case isn't jeopardized by the court's deeper questioning of jurors to figure out the fuller context of Juror 4's note. Brown expects to give the new panel, now made up of nine women and three men, jury instructions again.
Alternate juror No. 18, a woman from central Oregon who works as a legal assistant for a state public defender and family law attorney, will join the remaining 11 jurors Thursday morning.
"You need to start over with that alternate juror,'' the judge told the remaining jurors.
The judge said they must "set aside the conclusions'' they've drawn, destroy any verdict forms they were given and clean up the jury room so the new panel can start afresh.
"It's a new jury, a new day, a new start,'' Brown said. Brown had arrived in court Wednesday morning with her own proposed plan and noted that Ammon Bundy's lawyer had filed a motion asking the court to either dismiss the juror, question the other members of the jury panel or declare a mistrial. The judge thanked Juror 11 for his service and told him his dismissal does not mean he's done "anything wrong or anything untoward.''
"But the problem is, a question was raised and it can't be resolved without me questioning every one of you about your deliberative process,'' the judge said, and that's unacceptable and could violate federal rules.
The jurors sat stone-faced, displaying no visible emotion. They were allowed to leave for the day by noon Wednesday, ordered to return Thursday morning...more
...Although Brown initially said the juror in question could still serve, she changed her decision Wednesday morning after the prosecution and all seven defense teams reached an agreement on the matter.
Juror No. 18, a paralegal from central Oregon, will take the dismissed juror’s place. After making her decision, Brown called the 12 jurors into the courtroom, telling them the only way to deal with the question of bias was to dismiss the juror. She told the jury they need to completely restart the deliberative process.
“You’re going to have to set aside the conclusions you have and start over, just like when the case was handed to you,” Brown told the jurors.
Neither the defense nor the prosecution knows where dismissed juror’s alleged bias falls — with the defense, which strongly advocated for his dismissal, or the prosecution, which initially opposed the idea of a dismissal.
Marcus Mumford, the attorney for occupation leader Ammon Bundy, spoke about that lingering question.
“I’m racked with self-doubt (that this juror may have been on the defense’s side), but when it comes down to it, you have to be confident in your case, in your cause and in the presentation that you’ve been able to make and in justice,” Mumford said. Earlier in the day, Mumford asked Brown to dismiss the juror or declare a mistrial...more
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Judge Anna Brown on Wednesday morning agreed to dismiss a juror in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge standoff case whose impartiality has come into question.
The juror will be replaced with an alternate and the jury will start deliberations from the beginning...more
Embedded below is the motion filed by attorneys for Bundy which asks that juror #11 be dismissed or that a mistrial be declared. Otherwise, they argue, the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to impartial jurors and a "fair trial" will have been violated.
Federal Magistrate Judge John T. Johnston heard arguments for 55 minutes Tuesday from attorneys representing the activist legal fund R-CALF USA and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about the Beef Checkoff program.
Judge Johnston of the U.S. District Court in Montana then took his range of options under advisement. R-CALF wants him to grant a temporary restraining order while Secretary Vilsack believes the challenge to the Beef Checkoff should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or for failure to state a claim. R-CALF would also settle for a preliminary injunction. R-CALF, with the long formal name of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, is a Billings, MT-based organization for independent cattle and sheep producers. It sued the secretary May 2, “alleging that the United States Department of Agriculture turns over proceeds from a federal tax on each sale of cattle to the private Montana Beef Council, to fund the council’s private speech, harming R-CALF USA’s members.”
It said “the government-compelled subsidy of the speech of a private entity, which is not effectively controlled by the government, is unconstitutional under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and should be enjoined.”
The R-CALF lawsuit, however, revisits some of the the same ground as a 2005 challenge to the Beef Checkoff program that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which found the $1 per head charge for industry marketing and research funds “government speech,” not the commercial speech of individuals...more
The slogan spotted on signs outside New Mexico Game Commission meetings, on bumper stickers around the state and quoted by conservationists reads: More wolves, less politics.
Whether that’s what conservationists find when the US Fish and Wildlife Service releases a long-awaited recovery plan for Mexican gray wolves remains to be seen. A federal district court judge signed off this month on a settlement stemming from a lawsuit filed against the federal wildlife management agency over the ongoing absence of a formal recovery plan for this most rare subspecies of wolf. Now the agency has a deadline of Nov. 30, 2017 for completing that plan.
“We hope this is a turning point in the race to save the Mexican wolf—a unique, beautiful animal of the American Southwest—from extinction,” Bryan Bird, Southwest program director for Defenders of Wildlife, said in a statement issued shortly after the court decision was announced on Oct. 18.
For 40 years, Mexican wolves have hovered in a sort of recovery limbo—an endangered species managed as an “experimental population.” That designation extended more flexibility to land managers on behalf of ranchers to remove and kill wolves when they interfered with or killed cattle, but conservationists argue the leeway has given too much room to the livestock industry and leaves wolves at risk of extinction. Both sides have called for an updated plan for how the species is managed, but the process has stalled out often over state objections and disagreements over how to deploy, as the Endangered Species Act mandates, the “best available science.”
The plan is subject to an independent peer review before its completion, and plaintiffs, including Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Endangered Wolf Center and the states of Arizona and Utah, will be updated every six months between now and the deadline, according to the settlement terms. The public will also have a chance to review the plan before it’s finalized. The state of New Mexico had at one point joined the list of plaintiffs, but dropped out of the settlement, calling the deadline too hasty...more
Tuesday's stunning development in the Oregon standoff trial - with one juror questioning another juror's impartiality in a note to the court - coupled with another jury question about what to do if unanimous decisions can't be reached on certain defendants and their charges - led to plenty of legal speculation on what it all means. The fact that jurors asked what to do if they're able to "agree on a verdict for 3 of the defendants but are at a standoff for the others,'' had defense lawyers in the federal conspiracy trial buoyed with optimism that they may have raised some reasonable doubt in the jurors' minds regarding four of the seven defendants. Defense lawyer Matthew Schindler, a standby counsel for defendant Kenneth Medenbach, sent out a message on Twitter shortly afterwards that read, "Some of the defendants almost certainly acquitted.''
While the parties agreed to have the judge respond with a message to jurors that if they are unable to reach an unanimous decision and are satisfied that additional deliberations will not change that status, then they should report that to the court. If the jury can't come to agreement on a certain criminal count, the court could declare a "hung jury,'' on that count, and the charge could be retried. But it was the second juror question that presented even more of a quandry for the court: "Can a juror, a former employee of the Bureau of Land Management, who opens their remarks in deliberations by stating, 'I am very biased...' be considered an impartial judge in this case?''
While the judge Tuesday questioned Juror 11, the former BLM employee, if anything had changed since jury selection when he said his former job as a BLM ranch tech and firefighter "20 years ago,'' wouldn't impact his ability to fairly weigh the evidence in this case, he said no.
But the simple presence of a former employee of the federal land management agency on the jury had some legal observers scratching their hands as to why he was allowed to serve in the first place.
Lewis & Clark Law Prof. Tung Yin said he was curious why the defense didn't use a "peremptory strike'' to knock this man off the jury during the voir dire process.
The lawyers are due back in court Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. Judge Brown said she'd consider defense requests to ask any other questions of Juror 11, or Juror 4, who raised the question about juror impartiality, based on supporting case law they can cite. Andrew Chongseh Kim, a Concordia University law professor, said keeping the jury as is in the Bundy trial deliberations could lay grounds for an appeal if there are convictions.
"The easiest way to avoid an appeal by the defense would be to replace Juror 11 with an alternate juror,'' Kim said. "The prosecution, however, would likely object that this would be interfering with the jury in the middle of deliberations.''
Yet Yin said the judge's query of Juror 11 and finding that he can be fair and impartial is a finding that would be "very difficult to challenge successfully on appeal.''
Other legal observers said the jury questions indicates there's some dissension or discord among the jurors, which is not welcome news for prosecutors.
Removing a juror that could be favorable to the prosecution could alter the deliberations, yet leaving the juror who allegedly cited his own bias at start of deliberations could leave the potential for a future appeal, they said...more
Ammon Bundy's personal bodyguard, Brian Cavalier, was sentenced Tuesday to the time he's already served in custody - exactly 9 months in jail - for conspiring to impede federal workers and having guns in a federal facility during the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Cavalier, 45, a broad-shouldered, sturdy man who goes by the nickname "Booda,'' stood before U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown, as a jury five floors down in the federal courthouse in downtown Portland continued to deliberate on the same federal conspiracy charge that Ammon Bundy and six other co-defendants, who went to trial, face.
Cavalier, wearing blue jail scrubs, said nothing and showed no emotion.
"You've fulfilled the custody provision of the sentence,'' Brown told him.
Cavalier remains under a U.S. Marshals Service hold, and is expected to be transferred to Nevada, where he faces another federal indictment stemming from the 2014 armed standoff with federal agents outside controversial rancher Cliven Bundy's ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada...more