Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mexico gunfight kills at least 43 as Government retaliates hitting Jalisco Cartel suspects

Government security forces killed 42 suspected drug cartel henchmen and suffered one fatality in a firefight in western Mexico on Friday, an official said, one of the bloodiest shootouts in a decade of gang violence wracking the country. National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido said one federal policeman died and another was injured in the three hour battle on a ranch just inside the Michoacan state border with Jalisco, home of Guadalajara, Mexico's second-biggest city. The death toll was one of the heaviest to hit Mexico since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December 2012 pledging to put an end to years of gangland violence that have claimed more than 100,000 lives since 2007 alone. Government officials said the 42 killed by security forces near the town of Tanhuato were suspected members of the Jalisco New Generation (JNG) cartel, a gang based in the neighboring state that has seriously undermined Pena Nieto's pledge...more

Turner foresees profit on ranches, where wildlife preservation meets luxury lodging

Saving wildlife costs a pretty penny, especially when the efforts are spread across 2 million acres that constitute the largest private property holdings in New Mexico. Hundreds of animal species, including several dwindling ones, find protection and free range on billionaire Ted Turner’s vast Northern New Mexico Vermejo Park Ranch, as well as his Ladder and Armendaris ranches hundreds of miles to the south. Desert bighorn sheep, which not long ago teetered toward extinction, have grown in number from 30 to more than 250 on the high desert grasslands of Turner’s southern properties. Tens of thousands of bison roam, along with pronghorn and elk, mountain lions and oryx. To the consternation of many neighboring cattle ranchers, a small population of endangered Mexican gray wolves are maintained on Ladder Ranch land for eventual restoration to the wild, though earlier this month the state Department of Game and Fish denied the operation’s permit to provide pen space for the animals. Described on the book jacket of his biography Last Stand as a pioneering eco-capitalist, Turner now plans to keep his working ranches and animal preserves operating at a profit through the establishment of a fullscale (and upscale) ecotourism business. The profitability of Turner’s working ranches directly benefits their ecological work, said Mike Phillips, an ecologist who directs the Turner Endangered Species Fund and its Turner Biodiversity Divisions. The new Turner Expeditions model may also be a nod to the fact that New Mexico’s tourism industry has seen steady upward growth and contributes a significant share to the overall state economy...more
They’ll be leading theme-based tours from a kind of menu that can be customized depending on the interests of the clientele, who are more than likely to be culled from an elite class that can afford the luxurious, resort-style accommodations and amenities at the ranches.

Just like Little Tommy YouDull and Marty Heiny are doing with our federal lands:  the elite setting aside lands for the elite.

Looks like Teddy boy, though, may have to wait awhile for his wolf tours

42 Years With Sharon


Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The pocket knife

by Julie Carter

Long ago the “look” of the cowboy was warped and morphed by images on the silver screen along with western wear catalogs and the new age of “country” music singers.

No Virginia, cowboys don’t dress like Buffalo Bill.

In lives dictated by work, wind and other forms of inclement weather, function trumps fashion every time. Cowboys and their female counterparts dress to get the work done including wearing as many of the necessary tools of the trade as possible.

One of those necessary tools is a knife. There is even a statement among cowboys that claims you can’t be a cowboy unless you carry a pocket knife. These are used daily to cut hay strings, change the minds and attitudes of bulls, cut the rattles off a dead snake, perform tack repairs and traditionally, give the fingernails a trim.

For decades, the pocket knife, sleek and in folding form, was transported by simply slipping it into a front jean pocket for safekeeping.  As it became more of tool than just a blade for cutting, knives were worn in a scabbard or sheath in a surprising variety of places: attached to the belt, vertical above their back pocket, horizontally on the belt, in a cross draw position in the front or simply in the pocket of their leggings.

Scabbards can be a personal fashion statement. Often adept at leather work, rawhide stitching, knot tying and tooling, cowboys’ workday knives are usually cased in sturdy proof of their skill. Their Sunday-go-to--meeting knife scabbards may even have tooling to match their saddles and gear.

Knives come in a variety of personal choice brands. We’re not talking Swiss Army here -- these knives are as practical as the cowboys who wear them. You see everything from working knives to seasonal hunting knives to the finest Damascus steel, fancy inlaid-handled knife for church.

Special folding knives made popular by the ropers come with a clip to hold them in a back pocket for quick access in the case of a tangled endangerment. Sometimes it is necessary to cut a perfectly good rope to save the life of a roper or the leg of a horse.

Panhandle punchers who receive load after load of 400-weight steers and bulls swear that in Louisiana knives are used exclusively for peeling pecans because 99 percent of the cattle that come from that area are still bulls. “Steer” is apparently not a Cajun word.

Ranch cowboys are forever using their knives at cattle working time and a measure of pride is taken in just how sharp their knife is, frequently drawing blood just to prove the point as they lightly graze it across their forearm shaving a few hairs as it goes.

However, clean and sanitary is optional. It’s not unusual for cowboys to castrate calves all morning and use the same knife to cut their meat at the meal afterward. Cautious ranch wives make sure there is a clean knife strategically placed by the cake plate.

Not often thought of but definitely one historical use of a knife is in horse trading. Those traders will sometimes whittle during the ensuing lengthy discussions involved in the bartering.

I’m told that if the trade is going the trader’s way, his knife will pull the whittle toward him. If the trade is going the other way, slivers are driven off the piece of wood toward the buyer.

That’s a good point to know. Probably Buffalo Bill first established this principle.

Julie can be reached for whittle wisdom or comment at

The Little Cowboy

Loss of Dreams

The Little Cowboy

Unabated Regulation

By Stephen L. Wilmeth

                When I headed out, it was just me and the little cowboy.
                He has never been much of a communicator giving himself to work on an as needed basis. Wind or rain, he has been a trooper. It was no different this time.
            We are continuing to rebuild part of a corral making it reasonable for both us and the cattle. It has been slow go, but water and other factors take priority in May and June New Mexico. Digging fence post holes, setting posts, and reconfiguring alleys have taken a secondary emphasis, but progress must be made.
On this morning it was just Chris, me, and the little cowboy.
            We gathered on the north end of the pens and prepped the little fellow. Making sure his joints were lubricated and free is always important. Like me, if his breathing passages aren’t clean, his endurance is lessened. We worked around him as if he was center stage.
            Finally, we began removing a section of corral fence. Short work and no complaints was the early byline.
            Like so much country in our neck of the woods, caliche is abundant, and, when we started digging post holes, only the first two were without problems. It was on the third hole that Murphy made his first appearance. The little cowboy suffered an injury and it required a quick trip to Hatch to get the proper first aid supplies.
            Back on the job an hour later, the digging continued. We set the posts in the first radius, retrieved and cut some drill stem for the next gate post and brace points, and broke for a drink of water.
            The little cowboy waited patiently.
            As often happens, we talked ourselves into modifying our approach, and decided to use another gate in what will become our loading tub. So, we pulled the 12’ post we had set nearly three feet into the ground and made the move. The little cowboy dug another hole without complaint. He didn’t even question our mark on the ground. He assumed we knew what we were doing.
That job was accomplished and it was time to conclude the corral work for the day. Cattle and water concerns demanded at least cursory runs to key locations. The decision was made to leave the little cowboy where he sat for the night.
The little orange 24 horsepower Kubota backhoe didn’t complain or even suggest he was afraid of the dark, but, as mentioned … he has never been much of a communicator giving himself to work on an as needed basis.
            Unabated regulation
            The unabated march toward regulatory straight jacket status continues.
            The 27 updates coming out of this administration’s federal agency Star Chamber rulings are hitting the heartland with a vengeance. For the uninformed, these are laws being written and promulgated by nonelected agency administrators and applied to the citizenry on the basis of interpreting legislation created by Congress. These are being added to the other 157 similar mandates created and enforced by these same proxy councils. Collectively, the new demands will cost the nation another $80 billion annually to comply. These are taxes in every sense of the word.  
            It is also a national debacle and a continuing threat on our existence.
            The details are tyrannical. A total of $33.1 million of the new burdens will come from added requirements to put labels on vending machines. The idiots who must be spoon fed calorie counts or nutritional data will be offered yet more dosage of detail to go along with the reams of detail they already ignore or can’t read.
            Another $18.7 million (which some sources suggest that the actual decimal point is off to the tune of 1000) will be spent on new insurance requirements for the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare. The acceleration of spending in that national disaster continues to demonstrate it will have no bounds.
            Mandates are always popular with the agencies. A total of at least $141.5 million will be required in added emphasis of energy efficiency mandates. This will be added to another $44.3 million in energy efficiency hardware such as public lighting and light bulbs.
            The refrigeration industries are going to be hammered. That assault starts out with $246.4 million on safeguards to existing technologies. That will be added to some $486.6 million that will be required to be spent in walk-in freezers and coolers. Safety matters in freezers are important, but so is reasonableness.
            The automobile industry will be expected to fess up to its normal annual expansion of extortion spending in the amount of b’s as in $billions. A total of $1.42 billion will come from more stringent emission controls. To that total, some $583.6 million will be spent on updated regulatory demands for rear visibility in vehicles.
            And, the beat goes on according to the allegiance to social priorities and progressive environmental demands set forth in counsel with the agency partnerships.
            The federal rule by unelected officials, though, is not the only regulatory game across the fruited plain. From the left coast, California must have its day in the suffocating environmental web. The most recent indication is the quiet departure of the family tree of my little cowboy.
            Kubota with its Credit Corps segment has quietly announced it will leave California to the more friendly environs of Texas. In a statement by Kubota America CEO, Masato Yoshikawa, the stage has been set to differentiate between the current California interest in economic viability and that of the real world.
“This restructuring and location to Texas aligns with our strategical business objectives to strengthen Kubota’s brand in the U.S. marketplace, enter new industry segments, and to position our company for long term sustainable growth in North America.”
California loses another major corporation, and, with that loss … demonstrates another stride toward the model of terminal exclusion in the matter of real sustainability.
            Dream loss
            Meanwhile, the little cowboy sits ready.
            He also represents the outgrowth of social engineering factors that forces any industry segment toward automation. We have said he is worth 3-4 actual cowboys. No, he doesn’t ride or work cattle, but none of us should be so shortsighted to discount the ability of his family hierarchy to fix that problem as well.
            This whole matter of drones has my attention.
I have heard comments from my friends and colleagues about it. Most of them are negative and have suggested they wouldn’t be caught dead with one of those things, but I am not so sure. As these canyons get deeper, mountains higher, and flats broader, I sort of like the idea of sitting at my laptop and fly around to check things or to bring a pair of two off the highest points.
            The problem is, though, if we don’t fix the debilitating expansion of sycophantical, unelected, and tyrannical forces regulating productive citizenry to the minutest details, all of this is nothing more than waiting for the final collapse of the dreams of an America that actually believes in freedom and independence.

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “As I write, the little cowboy awaits …”

Baxter Black - Loose cows bring folk together

One of the greatest feelings in the world is to see a cow loose on the road and realize it’s not yours!
I know that sounds awful. I do feel a little guilty sayin’ it, but it’s true! Of course, I do feel bad for whos’ever critter it is.

And many’s the time I’ve driven ’em down my lane and penned ’em up and called the owner of the wandering beast.

Chasin’ somebody else’s cow back where she belongs is kinda like drivin’ a rented car. You do your best but you don’t worry about the outcome quite as much. ’Specially if there’s three or four neighbors helpin’!

Or passing motorists who are always willing to help. They’re usually about as much help as a town dog, but they’re enthusiastic! There’s something that draws these good Samaritans, like a car wreck or someone threatening to jump off a bridge!

If things are getting out of hand, there’s always the possibility you can take down your rope and get a shot or two at her before she crawls through the fence! ’Course, if it’s your cow, it’s different!

You’re racin’ around tryin’ to get the lower pasture gate open whilst keepin’ an eye on her last reported position. You’re shouting orders at members of your family and the neighborhood pets, stationing motorists to slow down traffic and mostly makin’ a fool of yourself.

The cow, on the other hand, has developed amnesia!...

Home Country

by Slim Randles

             Delbert’s at it again. You know Delbert McLain, our local chamber of commerce? He’s the guy who wants to bring lots of people here so the place isn’t quite as nice as it is now.

             Well, ol’ Delbert zipped into the Mule Barn truck stop the other day, plopped down at the empty Round Table, and motioned for those of us at the philosophy counter to join him.  We did.

             “Boys,” he said, when we were seated and sipping, “I want to bounce an idea off you and see how it goes.”

            He almost whispered, “Two words … knife sharpening!”

             “Sure,” said Dud, pulling a diamond steel from a holster on his belt. “I’ll sharpen it for you, Delbert.”

            “No, I don’t mean I need a knife sharpened,” he said, “I mean … a knife-sharpening contest. Actually, a knife-sharpening fiesta!”

            His face beamed, he spread his arms, his hands palms up toward Heaven as the sheer Divine magnitude of the idea settled in. Doc reached for another sugar packet.

            “Just think of it, guys,” Delbert said, “A veritable bevy of blade bevellers descending on our community, spending money in our restaurants, buying the latest in knife gear from the hardware store, filling the rooms at the motel.”

            He looked around. Steve’s coffee made him cough. Doc chuckled into his hand. Dud put his diamond steel away.

             “Sounds like a sharp idea to me, Del,” said Doc. “I like the way you came right to the point.”

             “An edgy proposition,” Dud said, “but one that whets the appetite.”

             Steve recovered from his coughing fit. “You could hold it out in the pasture and call it ‘Hone on the Range.’”

             Delbert ignored the groaning and smiled. “That’s it, boys. Think on it. Let’s come up with some good angles.”

             And Doc said, “I hear 10 to 15 degrees is best for a really sharp blade.”

            Cracker packets flew.


You’ll never guess what Windy Wilson says on the Home Country podcast this week:


Pentagon directive authorizes military forces against civilians - Was considered for use in Bundy standoff

A 2010 Pentagon directive on military support to civilian authorities details what critics say is a troubling policy that envisions the Obama administration’s potential use of military force against Americans. The directive contains noncontroversial provisions on support to civilian fire and emergency services, special events and the domestic use of the Army Corps of Engineers. The troubling aspect of the directive outlines presidential authority for the use of military arms and forces, including unarmed drones, in operations against domestic unrest.“This appears to be the latest step in the administration’s decision to use force within the United States against its citizens,” said a defense official opposed to the directive. Directive No. 3025.18, “Defense Support of Civil Authorities,” was issued Dec. 29, 2010, and states that U.S. commanders “are provided emergency authority under this directive.” “Federal military forces shall not be used to quell civil disturbances unless specifically authorized by the president in accordance with applicable law or permitted under emergency authority,” the directive states. “In these circumstances, those federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances” under two conditions. The conditions include military support needed “to prevent significant loss of life or wanton destruction of property and are necessary to restore governmental function and public order.” A second use is when federal, state and local authorities “are unable or decline to provide adequate protection for federal property or federal governmental functions.” “Federal action, including the use of federal military forces, is authorized when necessary to protect the federal property or functions,” the directive states. Military assistance can include loans of arms, ammunition, vessels and aircraft. The directive states clearly that it is for engaging civilians during times of unrest. A U.S. official said the Obama administration considered but rejected deploying military force under the directive during the recent standoff with Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his armed supporters. Mr. Bundy is engaged in a legal battle with the federal Bureau of Land Management over unpaid grazing fees. Along with a group of protesters, Mr. Bundy in April confronted federal and local authorities in a standoff that ended when the authorities backed down...more

Anymore, I don't know what to believe.  This, however, is from the regular feature Inside The Ring by Bill Gertz, a well-known reporter, columnist and author.  Further, the comments and analysis are based upon a public document.

If accurate that military force was "considered but rejected"  under the directive in the Bundy situation, that leads to several questions:  Who requested that military force be considered?  BLM? DOI?  Who in DOD considered the request, and on what grounds did they reject it?

This, of course, leads us back to the questions we've asked before on the Bundy operation.  At some point, those questions need to be answered too, as do the FOIA requests.

In the meantime, the following background information and inventory compilation for each land or water management agency (Forest Service, BLM, USFWS, NPS, EPA, BOR, NOAA) would be helpful to the public:

° The statutory definition of law enforcement officer
° The legislative or other authority authorizing each agency to have LEOs
° The legislative authority of each agency to contract for law enforcement services 
° The chain of command/management structure for law enforcement in each agency or department.
° The number of LEOs in each agency
° The number and type of weapons owned by each agency
° The amount and type of ammunition owned by each agency
° The number and type of vehicles owned by each agency
° The number and type of special equipment, including attack dogs, owned by each agency
° The number of SWAT teams in each agency
° The most recent annual appropriation for law enforcement for each agency or department

A report with the above information, including totals, would not interfere with any ongoing cases, would clarify some issues and make sure the public and Congress have accurate information as they contemplate this issue.


Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1433

From their brand new (March 24, 2015) CD I Firmly Promise You, here are Feller & Hill (Tom Feller, Chris Hill) with Fountain of Love.

JaNeil Anderson

Friday, May 22, 2015

Energy, Water Appropriations Bill Headed to Senate Floor Without Clean Water Rider

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a $35.4 billion spending bill for water and energy on Thursday, after Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced -- but then withdrew, at the urging of his colleagues -- a controversial amendment that would have blocked the Obama administration from modifying the Clean Water Act (CWA). The bill now heads to the Senate floor.  The bill includes $10.5 billion for energy programs, $610 million for energy research and development, $6 billion for environmental management activities at the Department of Energy (DOE), and $5.5 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). It also allocates funds for nuclear and science programs.  Republicans and some supporters of the oil and natural gas industry believe efforts by USACE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt a new Clean Water Rule (CWR) amount to an overreach by the federal government. They claim that the rule -- which is currently under review by the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB), with final authorization expected later this spring (see Shale Daily, April 7) -- would harm domestic oil and gas production, increase permitting delays for wells and increase drilling costs. Hoeven introduced an amendment to the FY16 Energy & Water Development Appropriations Bill that called for defunding a proposal by USACE and the EPA to redefine the "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rule. "For our farmers and ranchers, this is a huge problem," Hoeven said. "The EPA has gone beyond the statutory authority it has, and instead of limiting its regulation to navigable bodies of water, it now says that it can, in essence, regulate any water. They argue that under the legal theory of 'significant nexus' that they can go from navigable bodies of water to regulating any water. "It's clear infringement of private property rights, creates tremendous uncertainty for our farmers and does exceed their authority and it is problematic not for just for agriculture but across virtually every industry sector."  Hoeven touched on S 1140, a separate bill that calls for USACE and EPA to issue a revised WOTUS rule and would limit the scope of federal oversight. Specifically, it would include traditional navigable waters, interstate waters and certain streams and wetlands, but it would exclude groundwater and isolated ponds, among other things. "I think there's a good chance that we may be able to get 60 votes to de-authorize WOTUS on the Senate floor, but at the same time I think that we have to work to defund it," Hoeven said. But Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said that while he also wants to block USACE and EPA from finalizing the rule -- quipping "I don't think we should be regulating mud puddles from Washington, DC," -- he urged Hoeven to "exercise some restraint." Alexander chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which passed the appropriations bill on Tuesday (see Shale Daily, May 20). "There are other ways to deal with this issue," Alexander said. "The energy and water appropriations bill in the House contains the language that you're suggesting. The Interior appropriations bill might be able to contain that language. Or we may be deal with it in conference. So I wonder, even though I agree with the senator and will vote with him, if he might be willing to withdraw his amendment in the committee and either offer it on the floor or bring it up in any of these other forums where we might be able to act on it. That way we may be able to get a result on this very important bill." Hoeven relented and agreed to withdraw the amendment "on the basis that I believe we have strong support to bring it back and work further when we address the EPA budget. But I think it's very important that we do defund this rule...more

This is Senator Alexander up to his tricks again.  He wants Hoeven to withdraw the amendment because Alexander 1) has long been in the environmental camp, and 2) doesn't want anything to jeopardize or complicate his ability to spend money.  After all, $35 billion dollars is at stake.  Can't risk that over a piddly little water and property rights issue, now can we.  Hoeven complies because he doesn't want to jeopardize any of that spending in his state.  No, he will amend the EPA budget.  EPA doesn't spend much in North Dakota, you see.  

And so goes things in DC, and in the Republican Senate.

House Bill Would Give DOI Power to Approve NatGas Pipes on National Park Land

Legislation that would establish “national energy security corridors” on federal lands, streamlining the right-of-way approval process for natural gas pipelines crossing National Park Service (NPS) lands by removing Congress from the process, was the subject of a hearing Thursday of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. "The National Energy Security Corridors Act will empower the Secretary of the Interior to make decisions about natural gas pipeline projects on federal lands instead of having to go through Congress every time," said Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA). "By streamlining that permitting process, we'll create jobs, give a much-needed update to our energy infrastructure, and reduce power costs for families on the East Coast." Currently, congressional approval is required for each natural gas pipeline project seeking right-of-way across federal land. "Since the late ‘80s, there have been five bills to grant this approval. It should not take an act of Congress to get this done," said subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO). Both America's Natural Gas Alliance and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America support the legislation.  But DOI isn't among the bill's supporters. Most of the authorizations in the legislation are already within the agency's purview, according to Timothy Spisak, senior adviser for energy, minerals and realty management at DOI's Bureau of Land Management. "The department strongly opposes the bill's provisions that would authorize the Secretary to issue natural gas pipeline rights of way on NPS lands," Spisak said in testimony Thursday. Two years to designate at least 10 new eastern U.S. corridors "is too short a timeframe to adequately coordinate with states, tribes, other federal partners, and the public," he said. And DOI questions the significant role it would be given in designating corridors in the eastern United States, where it "manages very little multiple-use land and has a significantly different role than it does in the western United States. "Furthermore, the department opposes the bill's provisions declaring that energy corridor designation and incorporation into a land use plan shall not be treated as major federal actions under NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act]and that approvals are required. This NEPA waiver is unnecessary and counterproductive as it would only complicate the deliberative process necessary for the appropriate consideration of specific authorization decisions."...more 

 A Dept. that doesn't want additional authority?  How unusual.  In this case DOI doesn't want pipelines through the parks so the longer and harder the process the better they like it.

Can't help but notice the agency opposes the NEPA waiver as it would "complicate the deliberative process."  What a laffer that is.  It would take the enviros primary legal tool, the NEPA process, away from them and speed up the final decision.  That's why DOI opposes the waiver.

Oath Keepers standing down at Sugar Pine Mine

Armed guards are standing down from an Oregon gold mine after an administrative law judge put on hold any plans by a federal agency to enforce an order to stop mining. Mary Emerick, spokeswoman for the Josephine County chapter of Oath Keepers, said Thursday the guards are leaving the Sugar Pine Mine outside Galice, where they have been for five weeks. But they will maintain a staging area in Merlin. Guards moved onto the mine to assure owners get their day in court after the U.S. Bureau of Land Management ordered miners to stop work until they got the proper approvals. The Interior Board of Land Appeals put enforcement on hold after both sides agreed not to press the issue while the appeal is heard.  AP

Review of Public Broadcasting Nature film The Sagebrush Sea

This past week, Public Broadcasting’s Nature film series featured the Sagebrush Sea. The film’s main focus was on the Greater Sage Grouse which is the emblematic creature found in this vast landscape that covers the bulk of many western states including substantial parts of New Mexico Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, California, Montana and Idaho...While the movie’s producers did mention fragmentation of habitat resulting from oil and gas development as one major threat, it failed to articulate the greatest threat coming from livestock production. Like everyone from Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell on down to some conservation organizations, there is a disconnect between the proximate causes of sage grouse decline and the ultimate cause. For example, the movie did mention cheatgrass wildfires as a threat to the grouse. Cheatgrass is an annual grass that dries out early and becomes highly flammable fuel for fires. While sage brush ecosystems are adapted to fire, the historic fire regime burned these landscapes at intervals of decades to hundreds of years. This gave sage brush plenty of time to recover from any fire. However, with the advent of cheatgrass fires, the interval has shortened dramatically with some Sagebrush Sea sites burning every few years so that the only plant that can survive on cheatgrass infested sites is cheatgrass. Where the film failed, however, is making the connection between livestock grazing and the spread of cheatgrass. Cheatgrass does not magically appear. Its spread is exacerbated by livestock production. The natural sage brush grassland is dominated by perennial bunchgrasses that are widely spaced with the intervening soil covered by lichens, mosses, and algae collectively called “biocrusts”. These biocrusts serve many purposes. By capping the soil, they prevent wind and water erosion. They capture atmospheric nitrogen and transfer it to the soil, enriching the site for all plants. However, what might be the most important factor in the health of the Sagebrush Sea ecosystem is these biocrusts hinder the establishment and germination of cheatgrass seeds. So when the biocrust is intact and healthy, cheatgrass has a difficult time becoming established and competing with the native grasses on the site. Livestock hooves, however, trample and break up the soil biocrusts giving cheatgrass the added advantage it needs to colonize the landscape. Cattle further tip the balance in favor of cheatgrass by selectively grazing the native perennial grasses. Heavy grazing can reduce the production of seeds by such natives, and reduce their vigor. Over time the loss of perennial grasses favors even greater colonization by cheatgrass. It must be mentioned that historically over most of the Sagebrush Sea ecosystem bison or other large herding herbivores were absent. The dominant hoofed animals were highly migratory bands of pronghorn and deer so the soils of these sagebrush ecosystems are not adapted to concentrated heavy trampling by native wildlife. Finally if the annual cheatgrass burns, its seeds, buried in the soil, quickly germinate, and outcompete the native perennial grasses which tend to produce successful seed crops and germination at irregular and long intervals...more

Conservation group criticizes BLM fire plan for ignoring grazing

By ignoring the effect that livestock grazing has on the spread of cheatgrass, a rangeland fire-management plan released by the U.S. Department of the Interior on Tuesday will not adequately protect sage grouse habitat, Hailey-based conservation organization Western Watersheds Project contends. The plan states that increasing livestock grazing at the proper seasons and locations can help reduce fine fuels, and suggests that the department provide technical support and incentives for ranchers to work with federal and state partners to implement targeted fuel treatments. However, nowhere does the plan suggest that livestock grazing be reduced. “Science shows that ungrazed lands are more resilient to devastating large-scale fires,” said Ken Cole, Western Watersheds Project’s National Environmental Policy Act coordinator. “The land management agencies can sink all of the hundreds of millions of dollars into this strategy, but none of it will have any effect until land managers address the destruction caused by the sacred cows.” Cole said the Department of Interior should pay ranchers to retire grazing permits...more

Chuck Wagon Gathering

Cattle herd finally enters expansion phase

The Jan. 1 cattle inventory came in at 89.8 million head, up 1.3 million head or 1.4 percent from a year ago. From the 2007 peak to Jan. 1, 2014, the cattle inventory had declined 8 million head to 88.5 million, the lowest total since 1952. The liquidation phase of this cycle was extended at least a couple of years by drought and high feed costs. However, signs of a transition to expansion began to emerge in mid-2013 and extended throughout 2014. As pasture conditions improved and forage supplies increased, producers sharply reduced cow cull rates and began to hold back heifers to place in the cow herd. And that impact was evident in the upturn just revealed, occurring sooner than most analysts expected. In part, the surprisingly large increase in cattle numbers was due to a nearly 800,000-head upward revision to the 2014 inventory to 88.5 million head. The majority of the increase was in calves under 500 pounds, adding 533,000 head to that category. Overall, the 2014 supply of feeder cattle outside feedlots was revised up 1.3 percent to 25.1 million. In addition to the year-ago revisions, the report shows a larger than expected increase in the cattle inventory during 2014. While most of the various categories of cattle were higher than a year ago, the increases were concentrated in the number of beef cows and heifers for beef replacement. The beef cow herd as of Jan. 1 totaled 29.7 million head, a 600,000-head or 1.8 percent increase from a year ago, driven largely by an 18 percent yearly decline in the number of beef cows slaughtered during 2014. This follows a 6 percent decline in 2013...more

Retaliation threat against U.S. meat-labelling real, but Ritz hopes it won't be needed

CALGARY -- Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says it's time for the United States to come to terms with country-of-origin labelling rules. The World Trade Organization ruled Monday that the U.S. labelling requirement, known as COOL, violates that country's trade obligations. It said the labels put Canadian and Mexican livestock at a disadvantage and rejected a U.S. appeal following a similar ruling last year. "The rules have been adjudicated, the U.S. was found offside and now it's up to them to find the fix that makes us happy," Ritz said Thursday. "We're now driving the bus. We're not under it anymore, so we'll see at the end of the day." A committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has already voted to repeal the law, which requires labels that say where animals were born, raised and slaughtered. Canada will probably be able to impose retaliatory tariffs against the United States by late summer or early fall if Washington doesn't repeal COOL rules. "If they don't come up with the fix to COOL, like repealing it, then that's our Plan B," said Ritz. The extent of retaliatory tariffs would depend on what the WTO would allow, Ritz said. There are 38 commodities already listed that Canada could put tariffs on and the list could grow even higher...more

House Ag Committee approves COOL repeal bill

The House Agriculture Committee approved H.R. 2393, a bill to repeal Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements for beef, pork and chicken. The panel amended the Agriculture Marketing Act of 1946, on a 38-6 vote. While repealing the labeling requirements on beef, pork and chicken, it leaves intact the requirements for all other covered commodities. The bill was approved on May 20, just two days after the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body ruled against the United States’ COOL requirements for meat. Canada and Mexico had challenged the rule for muscle cuts of meat at the WTO, arguing that COOL has a trade-distorting impact by reducing the value and number of cattle and hogs shipped to the U.S. market. H.R. 2393 was authored by House Ag Committee Chair K. Michael Conaway (R-Texas), and co-sponsored by 68 Democrats and Republicans. Conaway pledged to work to get the bill to the House floor as quickly as possible. When WTO finalizes the ruling by the end of the month, Canada and Mexico can formally request permission to retaliate against the United States. Retaliation will be determined by how much the two countries can raise tariffs to address their losses under the U.S. meat labeling requirement. A panel will have 60 days to review the tariff amount, although the United States, Canada and Mexico could discuss a settlement before the 60-day clock runs out. Without a settlement, the United States could see retaliatory tariffs by late summer or fall. Canada has already issued a preliminary retaliation list targeting a broad spectrum of commodities and manufactured products. Mexico has not yet announced a preliminary retaliation list, but has implemented retaliatory tariffs in the past, which may be indicative of future tariff actions...more

Quarter Horse great Bobby Adair dies at 71

Robert Adair, the leading rider at Los Alamitos for much of the 1970s and one of Quarter Horse racing’s leading all-time jockeys, died on Saturday after a lengthy battle with cancer, according to a statement released by Los Alamitos.

Adair was 71. He died at his home in Southern California.

Adair won 1,705 Quarter Horses races at Los Alamitos, including 114 stakes. He won his first race at a recognized racetrack in 1962 and rode until 1984 when he sustained d a shoulder injury in an accident at Los Alamitos. Adair later worked as an outrider at Los Alamitos in the late 1980s and 1990s.

In a six-year span at Los Alamitos from 1968 to 1974, Adair won riding titles at nine of 11 race meetings, and won a then-record 103 races in a single meeting in 1969.

A native of Hagerman, N.M., Adair won with such notable stakes runners and champions as Band of Angels, Charger Bar, Don Guerro, Easy Treasure, Kaweah Bar, and The Plan. Aboard Kaweah Bar, Adair won a remarkable 32 races, including the 1969 Los Alamitos Derby and the Los Alamitos Championship in 1970 and 1972.

Adair won the prestigious Champion of Champions twice – with Don Guerro in 1974 and Mr Doty Bars, a 22-1 shot, in 1979.

“I thought I could ride anything that had hair on it,” Adair once said. “And, there’s no thrill that can compete to riding in a 10-horse race. I get a thrill every time I win a race.”

In the late 1970s, Adair was instrumental in advising Bob Baffert to ride at Los Alamitos at a time when Baffert was riding on the Arizona fair circuit. Years later after Baffert turned to training Quarter Horses, Adair rode a stakes winner for Baffert in New Mexico. Earlier this month, Baffert dedicated his victory with American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby to Adair.

Friday, Los Alamitos announced that the track will run the $60,000 Bobby Adair Stakes for Quarter Horses at 350 yards, beginning in April 2016.

Adair’s survivors include his wife, Linda, and daughter, Julie Adair-Stack.

Gimble's Swing

For a shorter documentary but with better music, here's a 1981 profile of Johnny Gimble and his life in Western Swing.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1432

We'll wind up our tribute to Johnny Gimble with Twinkle, Little Star + Darling Nellie Gray.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hispanic ranchers cite discrimination in grazing suit

It’s up to a federal judge to decide whether to let a case move forward in which a group of Hispanic ranchers is suing the U.S. Forest Service over a decision to limit grazing on historic land grant areas in Northern New Mexico. The ranchers claim the agency is discriminating by trying to push them from land that has been worked by their families for centuries. U.S. District Judge James Browning heard arguments Thursday on a motion by the Forest Service to dismiss the case. He’s expected to make a decision by September. At stake, ranchers say, is a piece of Hispanic culture and the economic viability of several Northern New Mexico communities that depend on access to surrounding lands for everything from grazing to firewood. Simeon Herskovits, an attorney for the ranchers, argued that the Forest Service was using the motion to short-circuit a full-fledged discussion of the issues raised by the case. He also suggested that the agency failed to understand the intrinsic cultural connection the ranchers have to the land. “There’s a very special relationship, history and heritage that exists in parts of Northern New Mexico. This must be considered carefully,” he said. The lawsuit centers on a 2010 decision to cut grazing by 18 percent on the Jarita Mesa and Alamosa grazing allotments, which are part of an area recognized by the federal government for special treatment aimed at benefiting land grant heirs. The Forest Service has argued that management practices by the ranchers contributed to overuse of meadows in the two allotments and that fences were either poorly maintained or in disrepair. The ranchers disputed those claims, pointing to what they called the agency’s failure to manage wild horses and elk grazing in the area. They said the decision to curb livestock grazing was retribution for them speaking out about Forest Service management practices...more

California no longer going with the flow on water

In the fourth year of the most severe drought in state history, Californians are finally starting to turn away from arcane rules and practices that have allowed them nearly unlimited use of water since the era of the Gold Rush. This week, a group of farmers who enjoyed a so-called riparian right to as much water as they needed from the San Joaquin River sought to strike a bargain with state officials: They would voluntarily cut the amount they use by 25 percent in exchange for keeping the remaining 75 percent for irrigation, even as the drought continues. The director of the State Water Resources Control Board is expected to decide Friday whether to accept the proposal. Meanwhile, the city of Sacramento, which for decades resisted a basic step to conserve water — putting meters on homes to measure use — is scrambling to finish a $390 million project to install them at every home and business. The city also draws water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The delta is so dry that young chinook salmon die trying to migrate 90 miles from the San Joaquin River in the Sacramento area to the San Francisco Bay. State officials are in the middle of an effort to truck 30 million of them to the bay from several hatcheries in a dozen 35,000-gallon water tankers. The hatcheries would normally release the young fish in the San Joaquin basin, but the water in some places has dried up; in others, it is too warm and shallow. Sacramento's dated infrastructure — and thinking, some critics say — is emblematic of the challenges California faces in its push to carry out the order by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown to cut statewide water use by 25 percent. The Golden State has been lax about its water use since it was founded in the mid-1800s, experts said. State lawmakers passed legislation requiring all cities to gradually install water meters just a decade ago, and only last year took steps to start measuring the amount of groundwater taken by homeowners, ranchers and farmers.

video - Rural Residents Thank NM Officials For Wolf Decision

This is a NMCGA video made at Tuesday's rally, and reminding folks to call Governor Martinez at 505.476.2200 and thank her for the Game Commission decision.

PLF sues over feds’ regs for ‘phantom jaguar’ in New Mexico

The designation of tens of thousands of acres as “critical habitat” for the jaguar is illogical — and illegal — because the species hasn’t been present in the region for years

Albuquerque, N.M.; May 21, 2015: Attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) have just sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for illegally designating tens of thousands of acres in New Mexico’s Hidalgo County as “critical habitat” for the jaguar even though the species has not been sighted in the county, or anywhere else in New Mexico, for years; indeed, the state doesn’t even have any environmental features that are essential to jaguar recovery. 


M. Reed Hopper
Principal Attorney

Tony Francois
Senior Staff Attorney
Donor-supported PLF is a watchdog organization that litigates nationwide for limited government, property rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations.  In asking the court to overturn the designation of jaguar critical habitat in New Mexico, PLF attorneys represent three broad-based organizations with members who are harmed by this reckless and unjustified expansion of federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) regulations in the region — the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association, and New Mexico Federal Lands Council.

PLF represents these organizations free of charge, as with all its clients.

Reckless regulating:  Roping off “critical habitat” for a species that isn’t there


The jaguar’s global population is estimated to be at least 30,000; 90 percent live in tropical, jungle, and swamp habitats in Central and South America.  According to the FWS Recovery Outline for the species, there are no jaguar populations in New Mexico — or anywhere in the United States.

The jaguar has been listed as “endangered” under the ESA since 1972; but the FWS did not designate any terrain as “critical habitat” for the species until more than 40 years later (in 2014), and then only in response to a lawsuit by environmental activists.  This long practice of not designating jaguar habitat reflected a basic biological reality, at least in New Mexico:  The state has not been occupied by jaguars in many decades, and it is not home to any environmental features that are essential to the future of jaguar recovery.  Indeed, the closest jaguar population to New Mexico is a small one (100 animals or fewer) living fully 130 miles south of the border, according to the FWS’s Recovery Outline.

Hurting landowners and wasting environmental resources


“Habitat designations mean significant — sometimes crippling — restrictions on property owners and managers, both private and public,” said PLF Senior Staff Attorney Tony Francois.  “They also compete for the limited money and resources available for environmental protection.

“Clearly, the government doesn’t have the luxury of careless overreach when it comes to roping off property as critical habitat,” he continued.  “But that’s exactly what we see with the jaguar habitat designation in New Mexico.  The bureaucrats have cordoned off tens of thousands of acres for a phantom species.  This amounts to reckless regulating, and a heavy-handed power play against landowners.

“At most, only two jaguars have been credibly sighted anywhere in the state over the past four decades,” Francois noted.  “There are no breeding pairs or evidence of resident jaguars in the state.  This species’ connection to New Mexico is a matter of distant memory, not recent reality.  There is no justification for bringing down the regulatory fist on property owners, and wasting scarce environmental resources.”

Jaguar regs’ threat to fire prevention


A significant portion of the New Mexico habitat designation lies within the Coronado National Forest — creating an impediment to fire-prevention and fire-fighting initiatives in that region.

Indeed, the FWS’s “Final Critical Habitat Designation” for the jaguar admits that the designation of critical habitat creates new regulatory hurdles for forest-fire management strategies, such as “fuels-management activities, and some prescribed fire.”

“Over and above the legal issues, it’s simply poor public policy to designate a fire-prone National Forest as critical habitat for an animal that isn’t there,” said Francois.  “Important projects to reduce fire risk will be impeded by new layers of bureaucracy and a time-consuming approval process.  It will be harder to implement effective, flexible fire-prevention strategies.  This means increased danger of catastrophic wildfire, with potentially devastating impacts not just for people, property and natural resources — but also for species.  That’s right:  The environment is at greater risk because of unjustified regulations by the very bureaucrats who are paid to protect the environment.

“The jaguar habitat designation can also impede development of community infrastructure like road improvements and pipelines, and range improvements for cattle ranches that are important to the local community and economy,” he noted.

Statement from the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau


“Food producers in New Mexico are under the gun as the federal government continues to endanger their livelihood,” said Chad Smith, CEO of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau.  “The designation of tens of thousands of acres of prime New Mexico ranch lands as critical habitat for endangered jaguars is one more example of how endangered species have taken precedence over people.  We must restore balance, and members of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau ask the federal government to ensure a successful future for ranchers in Southern New Mexico by overturning the designation of jaguar habitat.”

Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, the lawsuit is New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau, et al. v. Jewell.  More information, including the complaint, may be found at PLF’s website:

About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation is the leading legal watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations, in courts across the country.

Press Release

My apologies to the news hawks

I spent much of the a.m. figuring out which songs of Johnny Gimble's I would play, and then making the video.  I then made the "mistake" of watching documentaries on his life and music.  I'll share one of those today and one tomorrow.

I like swing, especially Western Swing, and I love the way Gimble played it.

So the news hawks must take a back seat today and I'll get back to regular business tomorrow.

Waco Remembers - Johnny Gimble (Produced by The City of Waco)

 This is the most complete documentary I've found so far.  Will have shorter one from 1981 tomorrow.

Uploaded on Dec 9, 2011
Johnny Gimble shares his life story and talks about the road that led him to become "American's Greatest Fiddler".

Department of Interior draws ire of Siskiyou County supervisors

The rift between the United States Department of the Interior and Siskiyou County may have widened over a recent letter from DOI representative John Bezdek. Bezdek has been the point of contact for DOI regarding two Klamath River agreements. The first, the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, allows for the possible removal of four dams on the river, and the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement allows for the funneling of federal funds to numerous restoration projects in the basin. The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors has long expressed its opposition to the removal of the dams, but the way Bezdek characterized that opposition stoked an impassioned response earlier this month. Bezdek, who has met with individual supervisors behind closed doors in recent weeks, mailed a letter April 24 in order to update the board on events related to the two agreements. He noted in his letter that legislation required to authorize execution of the agreements – Senate Bill 133 – now includes language that would allow for compensation to property owners if dam removal occurs and depresses their property values. The specific language states that the costs of dam removal would include “reasonable compensation for property owners whose property or property value is directly damaged by facilities removal, consistent with State, local and Federal law.”  The bill states that those additional costs would have to fall within the $450 million cap on funds raised through a California bond measure and through dam-owner Pacificorp’s surcharges on customers’ bills. Bezdek notes other possibilities for future changes to the bill, including safe harbor provisions under the Endangered Species Act for landowners in the Shasta and Scott valleys. “As discussed in our meetings, we believe there is the potential for real benefits to Siskiyou County regarding lands, water, and power resources as part of the overall package with the Klamath Agreements. These benefits are real, they are meaningful, and they will add to the quality of life in Siskiyou County,” he stated in the letter. Bezdek went on to state that he believes the county would like to maintain the status quo for Klamath River resource management, drawing the ire of the board in a follow-up letter on May 12. The board’s letter calls Bezdek’s characterization “simply inaccurate,” stating that for “the past two decades, Siskiyou County has supported and implemented a multitude of actions to improve water quality, water supplies, and aquatic habitat in the Klamath River watershed.” The letter notes that the board’s biggest objection has long been tied to dam removal, noting that potential negative impacts to the county are part of the push for “more focused and pragmatic resource management alternatives for the Klamath Basin.”...more

Wild `teddy bear` of Louisiana no longer endangered

The Louisiana black bear, which inspired the popular stuffed animals known as teddy bears, is no longer an endangered species, US officials said Wednesday. After more than two decades of conservation efforts, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to remove the bears from the endangered list because their numbers have rebounded. "Across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, we have worked together with our partners to protect and restore habitat, reintroduce populations and reduce the threats to the bear," said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. "Today`s recovery of the bear is yet another success story of the Endangered Species Act." The Louisiana black bear, a subspecies of black bear that lives in certain areas of the American south, rose to fame in the early 20th century after one bear`s encounter with the president. In 1902, president Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was on a hunting trip in Mississippi. He was unable to find any bears to shoot until the third day, when aides found a black bear that had been chased and attacked by dogs and tied it to a tree for Roosevelt to shoot. The US leader decided he could not shoot the bear, but ordered that it be put down to end its suffering. The story spread in US newspapers and editorial cartoons, and inspired the creation of stuffed animals named "teddy bears" by a Brooklyn candy store owner...more

One might question the timing on this announcement. Right when the Republicans are organizing to amend the ESA, Jewell finds a "success", and one that involves a former Republican President?  "Obama saves the cuddly 'teddy bear' and Republicans want to gut the law that made this happen" will be their battle cry.  Are we to believe the timing on this is just a coincidence?

Calif. House bill in works could portend wider Western drought legislation

House Republicans from California are readying legislation to address their home state's ongoing drought by focusing on water transfers and storage while attempting to avoid the most controversial proposals to roll back environmental regulations that sank earlier legislative efforts.

A bill is expected to be introduced as soon as next month, after lawmakers return from their upcoming weeklong Memorial Day recess. Details are being closely guarded, but sources familiar with the effort say the California-specific legislation would likely become part of a broader bill addressing drought conditions across the West.

A draft bill circulating among stakeholders would tweak Endangered Species Act protections for fish that inhabit the state's main water delivery system in order to send more water south, similar to bills that passed the House last year. But a GOP aide said the proposal was not a reflection of the "current state of play" on a California water bill, which would focus primarily on delivering water south and increasing storage capacity.

Rep. Jim Costa, a moderate Democrat who represents parts of California's agriculture-heavy Central Valley, said he has offered Republicans some suggestions for their bill but that the authors have been "understandably" tight-lipped about its contents. He said he expects a bill to be introduced the week of June 1, following the congressional recess, and added that action is even more necessary this year as conditions continue to deteriorate because of the drought.

"Just as last year we were attempting to deal with both short-term and long-term solutions, we were not successful, and things have not gotten any better," Costa said.

The goal of the California Republicans writing the bill is to arrive at a proposal that could win support from at least six Senate Democrats whose votes would be needed to avoid a filibuster in that chamber and to win President Obama's signature, these sources say. But it remains to be seen whether such consensus would be possible.

Key targets include Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Michael Bennet of Colorado and Tom Udall of New Mexico, an aide involved in the process said. But House Republicans are largely writing off the chance of securing support from more liberal Westerners such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada or California Sen. Barbara Boxer, who objected to earlier drought bills over proposed changes to environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act.

Barack the Bee Savior, President's Pollinator Protection Plan, US to be'Honey Heaven'

Drastic honeybee deaths are threatening ecosystems and food production across the United States, and the White House now has a strategy to cater to the bees' needs. The number of honeybee colonies has been cut in more than half since the 1940s, according to the White House's "National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honeybees and Other Pollinators." That's significant considering that pollinators, which includes the imperiled monarch butterfly, increase U.S. crop values by $15 billion. "[The strategy] focuses on both immediate and long-term changes that can be made to improve the well-being of pollinator populations. Consequently, the strategy addresses the many factors impacting pollinator health, including certain land-use practices, declining forage and nesting resources, pests and diseases, pesticides and bee biology," the White House said in the report...more

Just Another Bee Bailout by the DC Deep Thinkers, this time by El Presidente himself, otherwise known as Barack the Bee Keeper.  General Motors survived it, let's hope the bees do too.

This is just an Obama slick trick to control more land and spend more money.

Personally, I wish he would quit cross-pollinatin' this country.

Ranch Radio Song Of The Day #1431

We lost Johnny Gimble last week, so the rest of this week will be a tribute to his great music.  Today, using some cowboy magic, we've spliced together Fiddlin' Around + Quick Step Annie