Saturday, October 04, 2003


Oregon's economic distress is deeply felt in Grant County Grant County's plight points to a structural problem in Oregon's rural economy that eludes easy answers. Much of rural Oregon was built on the promise of never-ending supplies of timber or fish or gold. As access to those resources dwindle in the 21st century, the question becomes one few can answer: What does Oregon do with the battered economies of isolated, rural counties like Grant?... Gov promises quicker drilling permits, more enforcement Gov. Dave Freudenthal told natural gas producers he would work to speed permitting and access to federal lands but also promised more enforcement of environmental rules. ''I'm more than willing to work to make sure that the federal resources are available. I'm more than willing to streamline, speed up permitting,'' he said at the seventh annual Wyoming Natural Gas Fair at Snow King Center. ''The flip side of that is, I intend to make sure that we have water quality standards (and) enforcement.'' Freudenthal said he will ask the Legislature for more funding to increase staff in the Department of Environmental Quality and State Engineer's Office...Forest Service hit with another timber sale lawsuit For the second time in less than a month, environmentalists have sued to stop a timber sale in the Seeley-Swan corridor of Highway 83, arguing the timber cut would hurt big game animals... Segment of National Forest blocked by landowners Private landowners have blocked access across their property, cutting off entry to the Lone Cone area of the San Juan National Forest north of Dolores. An earthen berm prevents visitors from entering the forest from the west on Forest Service Road 534. The same road is blocked at the eastern edge of the forest by a new wooden fence... Bates Hole ranchers work with creek The Bates Hole water basin southwest of Casper features solid examples of neighborly cooperation, stream rehabilitation and sustainable water development...Jonah field air quality questions arise Internal Bureau of Land Management e-mail correspondence leaked to an environmental group suggests federal regulators may have considered barring the general public from the Jonah gas field -- which lies on federal lands -- due to air quality concerns that would arise from intensified natural gas development...Editorial: Bad to worse It was bad enough that the governor of Utah and the U.S. Interior secretary cooked up a secret deal that took millions of acres of public lands out of the running for permanent federal wilderness protection. It is worse that Interior's Bureau of Land Management has announced that it will now apply the standards of that deal to nine other Western states, whether those states think it is a good idea or not. That is not only an offense to the people in those states, who didn't even have the privilege of sending one of their elected officials into secret talks with the feds, but also to all the people of the rest of the United States, in whose name the BLM supposedly does its work... Drilling debate The state Department of Natural Resources is being alternately praised and criticized for recommending limited gas drilling on the Roan Plateau. The Department of Natural Resources - or DNR - recently called for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to allow drilling pads to be spaced no more densely than one every 160 acres, and to use directional drilling on the plateau, located northwest of Rifle...Bureau takes Blame for Animas-La Plata costs Proponents of the Animas-La Plata Project have joined forces to lay blame for $162.1 million in cost overruns solely on the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation - blame the bureau says it will accept. Forty-four proponents and lawyers, meeting in secret Aug. 14 at Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, agreed to try to get the bureau to take responsibility for the ballooning construction costs, rather than to point fingers at one another...Klamath interests working on accord Klamath Basin tribes and farmers are seeking to resolve their battle over water through a historic accord, according to published reports. Recent meetings in Klamath Falls have drawn nearly 20 leaders from Southern Oregon and Northern California. Their goals are to assure farms a predictable, if reduced, water supply and to restore fish and wildlife promised to the tribes under their 1864 treaty with the government. The talks come as the Bush administration continues weighing a return to the tribes of roughly 690,000 acres of former reservation land that is now national forest, according to The Oregonian and (Klamath Falls) Herald and News...Congress hears testimony on Indian water rights bill Senate and House committees heard testimony last week in Washington on an unprecedented Indian water rights agreement that would give several tribes the rights to much of the water remaining for future growth in Arizona...State working on water purchases The New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission has finalized deals with landowners in the Pecos Valley Artesian Conservancy District for the purchase of land and attached water rights, and it's close to doing the same in the Carlsbad Irrigation District, water officials said last week. "The deals have been made with landowners within the CID, and we are working to get them closed," said ISC Commissioner Jim Wilcox of Carlsbad... A Takeover Artist's New Target Is Land For T. Boone Pickens, the onetime Texas oilman and corporate investor of the 1980's, it is a new venture. He is combing the lands of West Texas, buying working cattle ranches and selling them to executives who are looking for grand places to play. Unlike the classic American ranch, with vast spaces populated by cattle and by men in cowboy hats, modern recreational ranches may be bereft of livestock. Mr. Pickens's own Mesa Vista Ranch, in the Texas Panhandle, an hour's flight from Dallas in his private jet, is a prototype of the recreational ranch. It has no cattle at all - just deer and quail for hunting and amenities like a gym, a basketball court and a small golf course... Editorial: A rational response to Western wildfires I'm naive enough to believe there's consensus around the high-priority things we should be doing to protect people, communities and property. That consensus, however, begins to dissolve when special interest groups try to piggy-back their private interests onto our wildfire response. Ignoring that perverse effort to exploit other people's hard times, let me outline the responses I think almost everyone supports... Column: Kiss Your Property Rights Goodbye! I have warned many times of the dangers of homeowner's associations (HOA's). As I speak around the nation on the subject of "Sustainable Development," an environmental term intended to disguise the elimination of property rights, inevitably someone from the audience questions my opposition to them. The common defense seems to be that they are voluntary and, if you don't like them, don't move into a community that has one. While it would be nice to let all of the control freaks and frustrated Property Nazis live together in their walled compounds, unfortunately, that's not reality. The problem is, as land use controls under Sustainable Development policies become more widely imposed, HOA's are growing at rapid rates. In Fairfax County, VA, more than 90% of all town homes, condos and single family homes are now in HOA's. Freedom of choice is not an option. For those of you not yet facing the tyranny of having your neighbors empowered with the ability to control, place liens and even take your property if they dislike the color of your paint job, here are a few examples of what you have to look forward to...Texas-size legacy The King Ranch returned to its roots Saturday with a good old-fashioned livestock auction to celebrate its 150th anniversary. Starched blue jeans, brush-popper shirts and cowboy hats and boots were the uniform of the day for many in the crowd of 1,500 who jammed into a show arena on the grounds of the historic ranch near Kingsville. "If you gave me one phrase that comes to mind when you think about Texas, that phrase would be 'King Ranch,'" said Gov. Rick Perry, who walked in bareheaded before someone handed him a King Ranch anniversary baseball cap... Also see Horses, history at King Ranch's first cattle and horse sale.... Ranch families hope to preserve school building on Red Lodge Creek For nearly 100 years, Jackson School was the center of activity for ranch families living along Red Lodge Creek. Christmas pageants, graduation parties and wedding receptions competed with square dancing, book clubs and 4-H meetings in the one-room schoolhouse. But classes ended in 1999... Chinook cowboy entertainer finds blessings at home, abroad First they took the cows, then the machinery. Finally, the debt collector kicked Ken and Dawn Overcast out of their brick ranch house in Chinook. As the couple left that October day they wrote a blessing and hung it on a kitchen wall, in the spot where their clock once ticked, expecting never to return... When newcomers ruin a way of life "Entering Powell Butte: Home of Good Crops, Good Stock & Good Neighbors." That'd be the sign next door to the Post Office, on Tom Burke's place. The letters are fading, but the words are true. At least for now. Despite Oregon 126's seductively fast asphalt, locals in this central Oregon town drive conservatively. There's the school, the church and the store, and farm rigs have to cross the road. Powell Butte's heart is paced by the rhythms of cows, sheep, potatoes, garlic and mint. Seven hundred people live here, love here and die here by the seasons...On The Edge Of Common Sense: PETA ad campaign funny, but we can do better Big news in Helena during rodeo week. The animal rights group PETA was prevented from putting anti-rodeo billboards up in the city. It turns out the owner of the billboard company thought the poster was too risque. Actually, I thought part of the poster was funny. It had a seductive model laying on a bed of straw with the caption: "Nobody likes an eight second ride." But PETA had also added a crude play on words that justifies its rejection. PETA is known for its vulgarity and insensitive ads, activities and pronouncements such as comparing slaughtered chickens to the holocaust, butchering hogs to Jeffrey Dahmer the child killer cannibal, and stating it would be a good thing if American animals contracted foot and mouth disease...5,000 wild hogs are tearing up Ozarks On a ridge overlooking Hiram Henson's 320-acre cattle farm in Taney County, a snorting wild hog continually slams its 300 pounds against the sides of a pen set up to trap her and her kin. This female is the eighth and biggest feral pig Henson has caught in a week. Henson doesn't know how many are on his land, but any is too many. Giant jigsaw-puzzle pieces of pasture have been scarred as if by a backhoe, evidence of wild hogs rooting for grubs or worms. But that's not Henson's biggest concern. "I'm worried about 'em eating the calves, the ones that just get born," he said...

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