Friday, October 24, 2014

NMSU rodeo steals the spotlight in last rodeo of the season

The men’s and women’s rodeo teams of New Mexico State University rose to the challenge, taking top spots at the Mesalands College rodeo in Tucumcari, New Mexico, Oct. 10-11.

The women’s team finished in first place, while men’s took second.

“I am very proud of the teams, they competed well and finished the fall season off on top,” NMSU rodeo coach Jim Brown said.

Cody Mirabal was the recipient of the men’s All-Around award.

First place went to Josh Davison in saddle bronc riding, Zoe Billings in breakaway, Tyke Kipp in steer wrestling, Courtney Campbell in barrel racing, Sheldon Church in tie-down and Luke Webber and Garrett Hendrix for team roping.

Winners include: Paden Underwood in bareback, Casey Wood, Ryan McCauley and Tyke Kipp in saddle bronc riding and Channing Moore in bull riding. NaLynn Cline and Makayla Jacobs placed in breakaway, while Carter Blackmore and NaLynn Cline took places for barrel racing. Sheldon Church, Cody Mirabal, Jed Davison and Russel Van Soelen all placed in tie-down, Nicole Sweazea and Zoe Billings for goat tying and Trey Blackmore, Daniel Baeza, Russel Van Solen, Nicole Sweazea and Carl Sweazea in team roping.

“This was a great end to our fall semester rodeos and will be a great starting point when we kick back up in the spring,” Brown said. “Now we can relax and recover. We will continue to practice strong to stay sharp.”

The rodeo team has six rodeos left before they compete at home.

NMSU rodeo hosts the annual “Wild Ride” and the Frank DuBois Bronc Riding/Tie-Down Roping Event at the end of this month.

For a full list of rodeo events visit the NMSU Rodeo Facebook page at

Heated Meeting - Management Plan Is Sought For Area Wolf Introduction

A heated meeting regarding the introduction of Mexican gray wolves south of Interstate 40 highlighted the efforts by the Arizona Game and Fish Department to push the federal government to create a management plan for the wolves. Winslow City Councilman Marshall Losey reported that the federal plan has no cap on the number of wolves and does not include any sort of plan for managing the population, including attacks on livestock. He noted that, according to information presented at the Oct. 15 meeting, Arizona Game and Fish is working to find a balance between the $28 million federal wolf recovery program and the concerns of local residents. “I believe they are trying to do the best they can for all of us,” he said. “I believe they are trying to help ranchers as much as possible to manage it.” Losey noted that the general consensus is that the program cannot be stopped and the wolves are going to be released throughout Arizona, so the best course of action is to try to establish a plan that will limit the population and provide compensation for lost livestock. “The thought is that there’s going to be a wolf rule one way or the other, so we better get on the right side of this,” he said. Game and Fish had previously reached an agreement with the Cattleman’s Association for a cap of 100 wolves, but the department has now asked to increase that number to between 300 and 325. According to Losey, Game and Fish officials feel that the federal government will not accept a cap of 100. “The feds have determined that 100 is not a viable number,” he remarked. Approximately 35 area residents attended the meeting, which was sponsored by Arizona Game and Fish, and of those around 25 were directly involved in ranching. Some ranchers were opposed to the release of any wolves in the area, while others agreed that the best course of action is to work with the federal government to limit the number of wolves. “Arizona Game and Fish’s stance is that an unmanaged wolf program will be disastrous. They are looking toward a compensation program for farmers and ranchers,” Losey said. “It’s a matter of trying to manage it rather than buck it.” The current plan calls for the release of wolves across most of Arizona, including the areas south of Interstate 40 in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is advocating releases to extend across the entire state as a means to ensure recovery,” Losey said...more

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oklahoma State suing NMSU over mascot likeness

Oklahoma State has issued a cease and desist letter to New Mexico State asking it to stop using its Pistol Pete mascot.

The two schools use a similar likeness of Pistol Pete, a character based on a real cowboy named Frank Eaton. Oklahoma refers to the likeness as Pistol Pete while New Mexico State refers to it as the Classic Aggie. However, New Mexico State doesn't use that particular logo anymore.
We have just learned that OSU has filed a lawsuit claiming it has exclusive rights to the character some call Pistol Pete and which we here at NMSU call Classic Aggie. The basic character has served as mascots for both schools — OSU and NMSU — for many decades. We were surprised that OSU took this step, but are in communication with its legal and academic representatives and are confident that good sense will prevail and that this court action will lead to an agreement that will allow both schools to carry on their respective uses of characters that are part of their academic and athletic traditions.
Oklahoma State said it was the first to have the mascot in the 1920s and then New Mexico State adopted a similar mascot in the 1960s. NMSU said it initially paid Oklahoma State royalties when it adopted the mascot.
Still, Oklahoma State would like the Sun Belt school to stop using it now 50 years later.
Oklahoma State University owns incontestable federal trademark registrations for its Pistol Pete marks. Based on Stillwater-area, real-life lawman Frank Eaton, the Pistol Pete mascot originated from Oklahoma State University in the 1920s and is well-known nationally. For more than 80 years, Oklahoma State has continuously used marks depicting Pistol Pete. The university is strongly opposed to any effort to infringe upon its trademarks and will take the necessary steps to protect its rights to the Pistol Pete marks.
According to legend, Eaton earned his nickname by showing off his shooting skills in Oklahoma and winning a legendary gunfight in Albuquerque.
For more Oklahoma State news, visit

No More Wilderness Designation

GRANTS – The Coalition to Keep Cibola National Forest Open for Multi-use meeting occurred two days before the National Wilderness Conference and Festival in Albuquerque. Protecting public lands while providing public access was the theme of both events. U.S. Representative Steve Pearce, State Speaker of the House Ken Martinez, State Senator Clemente Sanchez, Cibola County Commissioner Pat Simpson, City of Grants Councilman Edwin Dickens, and Village of Milan Manager Marcella Sandoval attended the “Wilderness Prevention Forum” at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Grants on Monday evening. Approximately 200 people gathered to listen to a three-member panel, Clayton Thayer, Kendra Brown, Les Gaines, pose questions to Cibola National Forest (CNF) Supervisor Elaine Kohrman and Bob Davis, director of ecosystems analysis, planning, watershed and air, Southwestern Region. Derrick Underhill, owner of KMIN Radio, provided live coverage. “This Coalition was established to protect all four of the CNF ranger districts,” said Gaines. “No more wilderness designations.” “We are interested in this process,” emphasized Thayer. “We have no other affiliations; we are concerned citizens of Cibola County.” He explained that the questions posed to CNF officials were based on residents’ interest in making sure no further access restrictions were implemented. Anti-wilderness advocates maintain that seven federal laws are already in place and no additional designation is necessary to protect Mount Taylor. Commissioner Simpson asked, “Is the budget not big enough to maintain the roads in the Zunis? Is that why we are shutting roads down?” “How many roads have locked gates?” asked Congressman Pearce. The Supervisor commented that Forest Service budget allocations had been drastically reduced in the past five years. “You have money to lock roads off but not money to maintain them?” questioned Pearce. “Are you mandated to hunt for wilderness areas?” asked Commissioner Simpson. CNF Regional Planner Davis, whose career spans more than 30 years, replied, “There is a mandate to review wilderness every time we update a management plan.” “Where did that idea come from?” questioned Simpson. “Congress,” Kohrman and Davis answered...more

Feelings Are Mixed About Wilderness Designation As Group Celebrates 50 Years

CIBOLA COUNTY - “It is the job of the [U.S.] Forest Service to ensure that our national forests are preserved, but also to ensure that they are kept open for outdoor recreation and resource development that does not harm the environment,” according to U.S. Representative Steve Pearce’s recently published opinion column. He expressed concern that some groups wish to directly affect the way ranchers and job creators work within the forests and claimed their goal includes the reduction of ranching and resource production. “Recently, environmental groups pushed the Cibola National Forest (CNF) to move forward with the initial steps of a wilderness designation within the Mt. Taylor Ranger District during the development of the new forest management plan,” noted Pearce. Furniture Zone 3 CNF Supervisor Elaine Kohrman explained that federal regulations require the Forest Service to evaluate areas for potential wilderness designation when revising existing management plans. She has repeatedly reassured community members, “We are very far away from deciding on areas of [wilderness] recommendation. This is only one part of the process.” Once the evaluation process is completed, USFS then makes recommendations to Congress, which has the final decision-making authority. Forest Service staff began revising the 1985 CNF Management Plan in 2012. The five-year process is scheduled for completion in 2017. “We (CNF) are at the first stage of a six-step process before any public land can be designated. I am responsible for making the final recommendation(s) to Congress if any areas are identified as suitable,” said Kohrman. One example of concern focused on area ranchers with grazing allotments in the national forest. One man questioned how a wilderness designation might affect them. CNF officials assured audience members that active grazing allotments in good standing would remain valid for use. Kohrman added that existing mining rights would not be affected; firefighters and emergency personnel would be granted access to deal with threatening situations; and valid in-holdings would be provided with access to their property...more

Sen. Reid quietly moves to block development of 800,000 acres in central Nevada

A bill quietly introduced in Congress would restrict mining and energy exploration over a sweeping area of rural Nevada, preserving scenic valleys and buffering a landmark piece of desert artwork. Sen. Harry Reid last month introduced legislation to withdraw 805,100 acres of federal land in Garden Valley and Coal Valley straddling the Lincoln and Nye county lines, a desolate area bigger than Rhode Island. The restrictions would not affect current valid land use such as grazing, but it would forbid the Bureau of Land Management from selling any land or granting permits for oil or mineral prospecting. Activities for new geothermal, solar or wind energy development also would be restricted. The bill would ensure the most significant feature in the 1,250-square-mile area would be “City,” one of the largest earth sculptures ever created. It is roughly the size of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and has taken its creator, noted artist Michael Heizer, more than 40 years to craft. But conservationists said the withdrawal would have a much broader impact, offering a level of protection to some of Nevada’s more stunning landscapes...more

What? No Wilderness or National Monument?  Just a simple withdrawal to protect the lands.  Guess Harry's not as radical as Tom Udall who, when he couldn't get his Wilderness bill passed went running to his buddy Obama and had the lands placed in a National Monument.

Sportsmen seek room for wildlife amid drilling push

Sportsmen's groups see the White River plan as a key opportunity for BLM to enhance protections for backcountry lands that nourish big game and imperiled birds like the greater sage grouse. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership has mobilized hundreds of Colorado sportsmen and more than a dozen hunting- and fishing-related businesses to lobby BLM to set aside nearly two dozen backcountry conservation areas (BCAs) under the field office's jurisdiction, totaling about 230,000 acres. The BCAs would be managed primarily for wildlife and nonmotorized recreation. Oil and gas development -- wells, pipelines and new roads -- would be either banned from the surface or tightly restricted. "We want a tool that considers backcountry lands as one value in multiple use," said Joel Webster, who directs the Roosevelt partnership's Center for Western Lands from Missoula, Mont. "BLM has few tools in [the] administrative process for protecting special places." The partnership is mobilizing sportsmen across the West to urge similar BCAs in lands under the jurisdiction of BLM offices in north-central Montana, eastern Idaho, southern Oregon and central Nevada, among other places. It sees a major window of opportunity as BLM updates RMPs covering 123 million acres, Webster said. RMPs are the blueprints BLM relies on to decide where and how the public lands may be used, be it for drilling, all-terrain vehicles, hikers, hunters or wildlife. The sportsmen's effort comes as BLM also pursues a major overhaul of its planning process, a move aimed at updating RMPs more frequently and with an eye toward landscape-scale planning and mitigation...more

Federal Land Managers Agree To Collaborate On National Wilderness Preservation System

A unified approach to managing the country's wilderness areas has been agreed to by the land management agencies under the Interior and Agriculture departments, with goals of connecting more people to wilderness areas and completing wilderness inventories of lands that might be suitable for inclusion in the wilderness system. The 2020 Vision: Interagency stewardship priorities for America’s National Wilderness Preservation System was signed this past weekend in Albuquerque, where a conference was held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act. As envisioned, the agreement is to guide the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Geological Survey, all under the U.S. Department of Interior; and the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The document outlines interagency work and partnerships with non-government organizations for the management of wilderness. The plan emphasizes three broad themes: * Protect wilderness resources. * Connect people to their wilderness heritage. * Foster excellence in wilderness leadership and coordination During the next five years, the agencies will focus on four priorities: * Completing wilderness character inventories across the National Wilderness Preservation System using standardized interagency protocols and institutionalizing ongoing monitoring. * Fostering relevancy of wilderness to contemporary society by inspiring and nurturing life-long connections between people of diverse cultures and wilderness. * Strengthening commitment to and support of the interagency Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute to foster excellence in interagency leadership and coordination. * Conducting climate vulnerability and adaptation assessments across the National Wilderness Preservation System to improved ecological resiliency across broad landscapes...more

Environment Is Grabbing Big Role in Ads for Campaigns

In Michigan, an ad attacking Terri Lynn Land, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate, opens with a shot of rising brown floodwaters as a woman says: “We see it every day in Michigan. Climate change. So why is Terri Lynn Land ignoring the science?” In Colorado, an ad for Cory Gardner, another Republican candidate for Senate, shows him in a checked shirt and hiking boots, standing in front of a field of wind turbines as he discusses his support for green energy. And in Kentucky, a spot for the Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, depicts him flanked by coal miners as a woman intones, “The person fighting for our coal jobs is Mitch McConnell.” Ads mentioning energy, climate change and the environment — over 125,000 spots and climbing on the Senate side — have surged to record levels during the 2014 midterm election cycle, reflecting the priorities of some of the nation’s wealthiest donors, with Democrats now pouring millions into campaigns to match Republicans, according to an analysis by Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks political advertising. The message that voters are receiving about energy and the environment in this election cycle depends on where they live. In Kentucky and West Virginia, where many rely on jobs in the coal industry, political advertisements from both parties have been overwhelmingly pro-coal. In states likely to be battlegrounds during the 2016 presidential race, groups like NextGen Climate have been airing anti-oil and green-energy ads...more

The black-footed ferret, once thought extinct, is again eating prairie dogs

Rancher Gary Walker squats in his cowboy boots and jeans and rests a small animal carrier against a black-tailed prairie dog hole before swinging the door open. He's careful to keep his hands out of the way. "These are little vicious guys, too," Walker says, with a laugh. "I just love 'em." The black-footed ferret inside is timid at first, and buries herself in the shredded paper of her enclosure. But with a little coaxing, she bounds into the hole, than peeps her head out to stare across 65,000 acres of flat, short-grass prairie that will be her new home. Her pink snout twitches. Her eyes blink behind a Zorro-like mask of black fur. If all goes well, this little girl and her buddies will live to be 3 or 4 years old here on Walker's Turkey Creek Ranch, located between Fort Carson and Pueblo West. They'll live in prairie dog holes, emerging mostly at night, when they'll search from burrow to burrow until they find a sleeping prairie dog, which they'll bite on the neck and asphyxiate with their slinky bodies. A ferret can live on a prairie dog corpse for about three days before killing again. She and the 18 others being released today could produce as many as four litters, usually of three to four kits, but sometimes as few as one or as many as 10. Less than a year after they're born, the young males will begin mostly solitary lives. The females hopefully will grow up and have families of their own...more

Rural Nevada Residents See Bank, Brothel Closures

Life in rural Nevada has its challenges. Jobs can be scarce. A full-service supermarket is usually 70 miles from home. And a doctor’s appointment may be a two-hour trip. For years the local bank branch has been a staple of rural life -- meeting the financial needs of farmers, ranchers and business owners. Now that’s even disappearing from rural Nevada, replaced by so-called smart ATMs. Washington Federal is the latest bank to pull out. The bank is closing branches in Beatty, Pioche and Hawthorne. All three were purchased from Bank of America earlier this year. Lynn Lundahl, division manager for Washington Federal in Nevada, says there just aren’t enough households to generate the income to make it work. Banks aren’t the only businesses that are closing in rural Nevada. Brothels, once a stable business, are facing hard times in some communities. In August, Angel Lady’s brothel near Beatty closed its doors for good, a victim of the recession. Mack Moore bought the brothel in 1997, and for years, business was good. He though it was a sure bet, making an investment in an 80-acre ranch, which included a brothel...more

No brothels and no banks!  

Surprised about the brothels.  If any business qualified for stimulus funds you'd think it would be brothels. 

If the feds owned 85 percent of every state like they do in Nevada, we'd all be facing the no dinero, no dames syndrome.

Feds Capture Accused Head of Cartel Gun Manufacturing Ring in Texas

A South Texas man who claimed to have been a U.S Navy Seal has been accused of running a large gun running group that also manufactured hundreds of firearms for Mexican cartels. The accusations against accused gun runner Jose Guadalupe De Leon come after more than three years of investigation into illegal gun purchases and gun smuggling which included a Dallas area gun manufacturing group whose members have not been charged in the matter, court records obtained by Breitbart Texas show. The investigation into De Leon began on January 2011 when U.S. Border Patrol agents at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge seized a shipment of 15 rifles that had been hidden inside the gas tank of a truck. Agents with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives traced the weapons to a Dallas man who had sold the weapons to De Leon at a gun show just days before. The two men then met several other times to exchange firearms...more

Canada threatens tariffs on U.S. wine, juice and ketchup after WTO ruling

Canada is looking at slapping duties on iconic U.S. products ranging from California wine to ketchup after the World Trade Organization (WTO) found the country’s meat-labelling laws offside for a third time in five years. A WTO appeal panel ruled that a U.S. law requiring grocery stores to list the country of origin on meat products discriminates against Canadian and Mexican livestock, in a decision made public Monday. The Conservative government warned that it will strike back with punitive duties unless the U.S. ends the “blatantly protectionist” regulations, which its says are costing the North American cattle and hog industry more than $1-billion a year. Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz insisted Canada will use “any and all means” to get the United States to repeal its labelling country-of-origin (COOL) legislation...more

Native Women Aim to Make Waves in NM Political Arena

A record number of Native American women in New Mexico are jumping into the political arena, looking to win over non-Native American voters in races with statewide impact. For the first time in the state’s history, a Native American woman is running for lieutenant governor from one of New Mexico’s two largest parties. Two Native females are vying for a seat in the House of Representatives and three are seeking House reelection. Debra Haaland of Laguna Pueblo is on the ticket for lieutenant governor. Catherine Begaye and Doreen Wanda Johnson, both Navajos, are on the ballot for a House seat. Sharon Clahchischilliage of the Navajo Nation and Georgene Louis of Acoma Pueblo are running for reelection. Sandra Jeff, a Navajo and an incumbent in District 5, which includes Gallup, is running against Johnson as a write-in candidate after she did not produce enough signatures to be eligible to run in the primary. Seats in the New Mexico House are up every two years, whereas elections for the Senate are every four years. Although Native women have been part of the New Mexico Legislature since 1989 when Lynda Lovejoy, a Navajo, was the first Native American female elected to the House, this is the first time there are several Native women running and competing in districts without a high Native American population...more

Don Imus puts New Mexico ranch up for sale

A northern New Mexico cattle ranch belonging to radio personality Don Imus is on the market for $32 million. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that the 2,400-acre ranch near the small community of Ribera and about 45 miles east of Santa Fe has been used to benefit children afflicted by cancer. The 74-year-old Imus says he is selling the property to support charitable foundations with the sale proceeds. He says he hopes to sell the ranch to a group interested in continuing the goal of benefiting kids. Imus and his wife founded the ranch in 1998. It has hosted children for nine-day visits during summer months. AP

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Federal Judge: Eric Holder’s DOJ Likely Defrauded Company of $55 Million And 22,500 acres

Judge England
In 2012, Sierra Pacific Industries was ordered to pay $55 million to the United States and transfer 22,500 acres of land to the United States government after the Department of Justice launched a massive lawsuit against the company. The DOJ argued that the company was responsible for a massive fire that destroyed 65,000 acres of land in California. Since the beginning of the case, however, Sierra Pacific has insisted that the fire started elsewhere and that the Department of Justice was being deceitful in their prosecution. Now, new evidence showing an outrageous miscarriage of justice has emerged, including the DOJ’s interest in gaining large “revenue” from a “deep pocket:” large companies. In other words, the basis of the lawsuit was not justice, but rather making money for the government. In a stunning turn of events, Judge Morrison C. England Jr. agrees that the appearance impropriety occurred. He has taken a second look at the case and ordered the recusal of every single federal judge in the Eastern District of California. He wrote in his ruling, “Based upon facts alleged in the Motion and accompanying Declarations and Exhibits, the impartiality of the District and Magistrate Judges in the Eastern District might reasonably be questioned… Accordingly, all District and Magistrate Judges in the Eastern District of California are RECUSED from hearing case number 2:09-cv-02445 and all related matters.” The same case was looked at by Judge Leslie C. Nichols earlier this year. He stated bluntly that there was not nearly enough evidence to pin the blame on Sierra Pacific.More, he called the government’s actions “egregious and reprehensible”...more

Commissioner pleads not guilty to charges stemming from ATV protest ride

A San Juan County commissioner who organized a ride to protest the federal government's closure of an ATV trail in southeastern Utah pleaded not guilty along with four others Friday to misdemeanor charges. Federal prosecutors charged the five men, including Commissioner Phil Lyman, with one count of conspiracy to operate off-road vehicles on public lands closed to off-road vehicles and one count of operation of off-road vehicles on public lands closed to off-road vehicles. Also charged are Jay Demar Redd, Shane Morris Marian and Franklin Trent Holliday. This spring, Lyman told reporters he organized the ride in San Juan County's Recapture Canyon to protest the decreasing access to ATV trails on public land. The Bureau of Land Management declared the area off-limits to all-terrain vehicles because off-roading was causing damage to ancestral Puebloan ruins. The county submitted a right-of-way application to the agency for construction of a new trail in the canyon, a decision that remains under review and is fueling frustration over a closed trail that Lyman says has been a thoroughfare for cattlemen and others since pioneer days. Lyman appeared in court without a lawyer, but U.S. District Magistrate Judge Evelyn J. Furse appointed him one for the hearing. Lyman told the judge that the County Commission has an interest in the validity of the right-of-way and is willing to participate in his defense, which adds "complexities" to his hiring an attorney...more

Thousands of federal workers on extended paid leave

Tens of thousands of federal workers are being kept on paid leave for at least a month — and often for longer stretches that can reach a year or more — while they wait to be punished for misbehavior or cleared and allowed to return to work, government records show. During a three-year period that ended last fall, more than 57,000 employees were sent home for a month or longer. The tab for these workers exceeded $775 million in salary alone. The extensive use of administrative leave continues despite government personnel rules that limit paid leave for employees facing discipline to “rare circumstances” in which the employee is considered a threat. The long-standing rules were written in an effort to curb waste and deal quickly with workers accused of misconduct. And the comptroller general, the top federal official responsible for auditing government finances and practices, has repeatedly ruled that federal workers should not be sidelined for long periods for any reason. But a report by the Government Accountability Office, first made public by The Washington Post on its Web site Monday, found that 53,000 civilian employees were kept home for one to three months during the three fiscal years that ended in September 2013. About 4,000 were idled for three months to a year and several hundred for one to three years. This is the first time the government has calculated the scope and cost of administrative leave...more

These are the same federales that everybody claims do a much better job of managing land than the states could ever hope to...

Rugged ranchers or welfare cowboys? Dispute over grazing fees on public land rages on

By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

SANTA FE, N.M. — The accusation is a blunt one: That ranchers who hold permits from the federal government to graze their cattle on public land are little more than welfare recipients. The response is just as blunt: Like hell we are.

The argument has kicked around the West for years, and it’s come into sharper focus in recent months as ranchers in parts of northern and southern New Mexico have clashed with environmentalists over the recent listing of a critter most people in the Land of Enchantment have never even seen — the meadow jumping mouse.

In June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed the mouse — which can hop up to three feet from its hind legs — on the endangered list. That has prompted the U.S. Forest Service to reinforce a gate along the Agua Chiquita in Otero County and erect barbed-wire fencing near the Rio Cebolla creek in the Santa Fe National Forest to keep cattle from damaging the mouse’s habitat.

“The livestock industry has enjoyed special treatment from the federal government for so long that our streams have been trampled to death,” Bryan Bird, program director at WildEarth Guardians, said earlier this month when his group filed a lawsuit just before the fencing was constructed.

Bird’s comment echoes a long-running complaint environmentalists have about grazing fees on public lands.

They say ranchers have been getting a sweetheart deal from the government for too long, pointing to fees charged by the entities such as the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service charging $1.35 a month for what’s called “Animal Unit Months,” compared to an estimated $16-$20 a month on private land.

They also cite data from a 2005 report from the General Accounting Office and say U.S. taxpayers suffer a direct loss of more than $120 million because of the fees.

“Ranchers have benefitted from a whole suite of subsidies. I used to call them welfare queens,” John Horning, the executive director of WildEarth Guardians-NewMexico, told New Mexico Watchdog in an interview in July. “I don’t really care if it’s welfare because the bigger issue for me is not that (taxpayers) subsidize it, but that we allow the activity to degrade so many valuable things.”

But cattle growers push back just as forcefully.

“It couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association. “And it’s a tired old argument.”

Cowan says the price difference between grazing fees is misleading because ranchers have to pick up the costs for things such as managing and fencing their allotments, supplying their herds with water and absorbing any losses due to death and attacks by predators that aren’t usually incurred when grazing on private property.

“It’s kind of like you renting a house in Albuquerque that has all the amenities,” Cowan said. “It’s furnished, you’ve got electricity, all the utilities are done.” But grazing on public lands is like “renting a house that’s totally vacant, has no amenities … and anyone can come through your house and use the bathroom anytime they want … The price is low until you look at the amenities that don’t go with it.”

Conservation Leaders to Discuss North America’s Large Landscape Challenges and Offer Solutions

This week conservation leaders and policymakers are meeting to consider landscape-scale conservation initiatives that are helping to address some of North America’s most significant land and water challenges. The National Workshop on Large Landscape Conservation (NWLLC) on Oct. 23-24 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center is a collaborative forum that will feature keynotes from conservation leaders such as Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Mike Boots of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. They join other notable conservation experts from the public, private, nonprofit, and academic sectors, including USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden and the former governor of Wyoming, Jim Geringer, now a director at Esri, a leading provider of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. Presenters are sharing research and insights that show how large landscape efforts are an integral part of our response to challenges such as wildlife habitat degradation, threats to water quality and quantity, losses of working farms and forests, and limited public access to urban, rural, and wild open spaces. The sold-out workshop draws nearly 600 national experts interested in large landscape conservation issues, which directly impact environmental, wildlife and public health...more

  "Large landscapes" - Sounds a whole lot like National Monuments.

Photographers sue to stop Grand Teton elk hunt

Two Teton County photographers filed a lawsuit in Washington, D.C. Monday seeking to stop the annual elk hunt in Grand Teton National Park. Tim Mayo and Kent Nelson, operating as Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, target the “elk reduction program,” in which hunters killed 202 elk last year. The hunt also resulted in the shooting of a grizzly bear, a federally protected species, in 2012. The suit goes beyond hunting alone, challenging supplemental winter elk feeding on the nearby National Elk Refuge. The hunt violates a slew of federal laws, the suit claims, including the Grand Teton Act, the National Park Organic Act the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act. Nelson and Mayo ask a judge to declare the 2014 hunt illegal, along with the park’s “policy, practice and pattern,” of adopting it annually. The suit challenges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2013 determination that park hunters could kill four additional grizzlies by 2022 before Grand Teton would run afoul of the Endangered Species Act. The suit seeks reversal of that Fish and Wildlife “incidental take” number. It also asks for an environmental review, with public comment, of the park’s elk reduction program...more