Saturday, September 06, 2003

Book Review: A SEASON OF FIRE by Douglas Gantenbein, Tarcher/Putnam, $24.95, 292 pages

...Today, fire experts are questioning the notion that there might be a 'normal' fire year," Douglas Gantenbein writes in "A Season of Fire: Four Months on the Firelines of America's Forests." "Yet we have only a limited understanding of what actually constitutes a 'natural' forest, with its interplay of growth, fire, and destruction, an interplay that despite its ferocity is as delicate as cat feet on a hardwood floor."
Gantenbein, the Seattle correspondent for The Economist and a columnist for Outside magazine, spent the 2001 fire season crisscrossing the West, learning all he could about fire. He talked to the experts in the national fire centers in Boise and Missoula, Mont., and to the hotshots on the fire lines, went through firefighter basic training and got his "red card," discussed the economics of firefighting with officials of the National Forest Service and the private contractors who are transforming firefighting, and saw more fires than he can remember...

Sen. Clinton to Block Bush EPA Nominee

...Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Saturday she planned to block President Bush's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency over an internal report saying the EPA misled New Yorkers about health risks after the World Trade Center attack.
In a telephone interview, Clinton told The Associated Press she would place a hold on the nomination of Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, a procedural move that would prevent the full Senate from voting on his confirmation, though it does not stop committee hearings.
``This is an effort to get the administration that he wants to join to take responsibility,'' she said...

The article goes on to quote Hillary, "It not only has to do with the health and safety of the people I represent. It has to do with the credibility and trust of this entire government.''

"Credibility" and "Trust"? From a Clinton??
Interior Department to investigate White House-Klamath connections

...The Interior Department inspector general will look into possible political interference by the White House in developing water policy in the Northwest, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry announced Friday.
The inquiry follows the disclosure that President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, briefed dozens of political appointees at the Interior Department more than a year and a half ago about diverting water from the Klamath River in Oregon to irrigate farms.
Last September, 33,000 chinook salmon died in the Klamath River in Northern California. The California Department of Fish and Game laid much of the blame on low flows controlled by the federal government for creating conditions that allowed a fatal gill rot disease to spread through the fish.
A report on the fish kill by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has not been released.
Kerry asked for the IG investigation after a story about Rove's meeting with the political appointees appeared in The Wall Street Journal...

GAO says Forest Service credit cards misused

...A new billiard table, a $2,900 aquarium, costumes and caterers are among the many improper charges made on government credit cards by Forest Service workers, Congress' investigative agency says.
The General Accounting Office said Friday that an audit found instances of credit card abuse that demonstrate a lack of oversight by Forest Service officials.
Studying a sample of 230 purchases, the GAO said employees of the Agriculture Department agency made $1.6 million in improper purchases from Oct. 1, 2000, through Sept. 30, 2001. Based on that, it estimated that overall improper charges at the agency reached $2.7 million.
During the audit, 14,000 of 30,000 Forest Service workers held government credit cards...


Calif. Brush Fire Threatens 1,500 Homes ...About 400 of the 1,500 threatened homes along the edge of California's San Bernardino National Forest were evacuated, and firefighters were taking advantage of calmer weather Saturday morning to battle the blaze, said Melody Lardner, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service...Lawsuit brings up owl habitat...In a move loggers say could destroy their industry, eight environmental groups will likely sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for not listing the California spotted owl as an endangered species. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this spring announced it would not list the owl under the federal Endangered Species Act. After a 12-month study, Fish and Wildlife scientists said they found no evidence the raptor's population is declining and that it doesn't need the Act's protection... NASA Helping To Understand Water Flow In The West...To do their jobs, water resource managers in the Columbia River Basin have mostly relied on data from sparsely located ground stations among the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest. But now, NASA and partnering agencies are going to provide United States Bureau of Reclamation water resource managers with high resolution satellite data, allowing them to analyze up-to-date water-related information over large areas all at once. The pilot program is now underway with the Rio Grande and Columbia River basins where water is scarce while demands range from hydropower, to farming, fishing, boating and protecting endangered species. Water resource managers in these areas grapple with the big money stakes of distributing a finite amount of water to many groups. NASA satellite data offer to fill the data gaps in mountainous and drought-ridden terrain, and new computer models let users quickly process that data... Water wards may pay irrigators to forgo use ...In an effort to make precious supplies of water go farther, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District is exploring a new approach - paying irrigators not to use it. Subhas Shah, district chief engineer with the conservancy district, said the district has requested proposals to study the feasibility of an agriculture forbearance program. He said the goal of such a program is providing water for endangered species - such as the silvery minnow - without hurting middle Rio Grande valley farmers... Critics get ready to challenge president...Derek Volkart arrived in Washington on Friday with something peculiar in his truck: a six-foot wide, 440-year-old tree stump left behind after federally sanctioned clear-cut logging in Oregon. The "Shakespeare Tree" - so named because the tree dates back to the 1500s - will be displayed by environmental advocates on Capitol Hill this week to show what they believe will be happening often under President George W. Bush's proposed "Healthy Forests" plan... Conservationists, Forest Service battle in court over logging issue ...Lawyers for conservationists and the U.S. Forest Service argued before a federal judge Friday over how much work the agency needs to do to protect sensitive species living in old-growth timber slated for logging. The Oregon Natural Resources Council and American Lands Alliance want U.S. District Judge Garr King to order a new environmental analysis on a group of timber sales on the Willamette National Forest near Oakridge, where environmentalists found nests of red tree voles that the Forest Service had missed... Hybrid Cats: Part Lynx & Part Bobcat...Scientists have found two animals in Maine that are part lynx and part bobcat. The U.S. Forest Service's genetics laboratory in Missoula, Montana used DNA testing to prove the animals were the offspring of a female wild Canada lynx and a male bobcat. The lynx/bobcat mix was first identified in the wild earlier this year in northern Minnesota when officials found three hybrid cats. Hunters there refer to the animals as "lynxcats." ...Agencies announce deal for river water...Heads of four Southern California water agencies announced what they called a historic deal to share the water of the Colorado River, an agreement reached after years of fighting that led the state to lose some of the water it had been taking from the river. Top officials of four Southern California water agencies told an Assembly committee Friday that they’re committed to a 75-year agreement that helps farmers conserve water, provides more water to cities and launches an ambitious plan to restore the inland Salton Sea. For the six Western states that share the Colorado River with California, the deal would provide assurances that the nation’s most populous state would end its overdependence on the river and allow other states to draw their full shares... Veteran Deal Makers Hopeful on Energy Bill...Together, Senator Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico and Representative Billy Tauzin of Louisiana will write much of the proposed new energy policy as the two men, both dependable industry allies, try to ride the momentum from the recent blackout to enact a long-stalled energy bill that critics say is a step backwards. The pair wasted no time on Friday during the first meeting of the conference committee. They made it clear that they would do most of the heavy lifting in the negotiations, writing much of the bill and submitting it for committee review. That approach represents a stark change from last year's negotiations, when the full conference tried but ultimately failed to cut a deal in public negotiations...BLM moves on logging plan ...While disputes continue over proposed logging and travel management on National Forest land near Clancy and Unionville, the Bureau of Land Management is quietly performing similar activities on its adjacent land. This week, the BLM sent out letters notifying the public that it plans to log 1.6 million board feet enough timber to fill about 300 logging trucks on 675 acres of federal lands managed by the BLM near Clancy, about six miles south of Helena. The BLM also expects to remove underbrush and small trees on an additional 140 acres...
Bush streamlining or steamrolling NEPA?

...The administration currently is making a full-court press against the delays and bureaucratic obstacles it claims are caused by NEPA. The keystone of this effort is the Healthy Forests Initiative, the administration's effort to allow the clearing of timber in the national forests. Officials argue the effort is designed to reduce fire hazards, while environmentalists counter it is an effort to provide low-cost timber to the logging industry.

Under the "old" NEPA requirements, timber sales of the size the Bush administration wants to offer would have required public hearings and an environmental analysis of their impacts -- an EIS or EA.

On Thursday, the administration issued a regulation in the Federal Register allowing a "categorical exclusion" to NEPA for fuel mitigation efforts of less than 1,000 acres...

Grand Jury Probe Sought

Chenoweth-Hage seeks cattle seizure probe

By SCOTT SONNER Associated Press Writer Saturday, September 06, 2003

RENO, Nev. -- States' rights activists are trying to force a grand jury probe of the state's brand inspector they accuse of conspiring with the U.S. government to seize cattle trespassing on federal land in Nevada.
Ex-Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage of Idaho is helping lead a citizen petition drive in Esmeralda County for a grand jury investigation of James Connelley's role in the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's confiscation of a Nevada rancher's cattle in July 2001.
Chenoweth-Hage, chairman of the Nevada Live Stock Association, said BLM agents violated Ben Colvin's constitutional rights when they seized 62 of his cattle and auctioned them off after billing him for more than $73,000 in past-due grazing fees and fines.
"It is a sad day when nearly $40,000 of my property can be confiscated, trucked away and sold with complicity of the brand inspector," said Colvin, a Goldfield rancher.
The petition to the 5th Judicial District Court of Nevada for Esmeralda County said Connelley should have exercised his authority under Nevada law to block the BLM from taking the livestock and ensure Colvin's right to due process.
"Mr. Connelley has violated the public trust," said Chenoweth-Hage, who now lives in Nevada.
"He failed to enforce the law his position mandated, allowing the federal government to seize Mr. Colvin's property without his consent or his day in court," the former GOP congresswoman said.
BLM officials said they confiscated Colvin's cattle as a last resort after he repeatedly grazed them without a permit and in violation of regulations intended to stem overgrazing that damages the range, especially around streams.
Colvin had refused since 1995 to pay grazing fees, amounting to $1.35 a month per cow and calf pair, agency officials said.
Officials for the BLM, the Nevada Attorney General's Office and the Nevada Department of Agriculture repeated their belief Friday that both Connelley and the BLM acted appropriately.
"There haven't been any cases where the BLM has impounded livestock where a court has ruled that we were in violation of due process rights or that it was unconstitutional," BLM spokeswoman JoLynn Worley said.
Connelley said the group's arguments are "all old news."
"We've been down this road two or three times," Connelley said from his office in Elko. Nevertheless, he admitted some concern.
"Nobody likes to have a grand jury or any charges brought against them, especially when you are acting under the law and under the advice of the attorney general," Connelley said.
The ranchers and states' rights activists said they already have more than the 111 signatures necessary to force the state court in Esmeralda County to summon a grand jury and appoint a special prosecutor to investigate their claims.
"We are finally going to the people because our state is more in line with the BLM than they are with us," said Jackie Holmgren, an officer of the Nevada Live Stock Association.
"This is a way around all the bureaucratic protection. The people are willing to stand up on this," she said. She said the petition likely would be submitted to the court next week.
Several of the group's officials also are affiliated with the Nevada Committee for Full Statehood, including Mrs. Holmgren and her husband, David Holmgren -- who ran for governor in 2002 for the Independent American Party of Nevada.
They accuse the BLM of acting as prosecutor, judge and jury in finding Colvin guilty of trespassing.
"What they are trying to do is let the executive branch take over for the judicial branch and you cannot do that," Mrs. Holmgren said. "We want to bring forth the facts to substantiate our case and let the grand jury vote on whether to indict Jim Connelley."
The group urged the firing of Connelley earlier this year.
But Don Henderson, acting director of the Nevada Department of Agriculture, said he was "comfortable that the actions taken by Mr. Connelley were lawful, within the scope of his authority and were proper responses under the circumstances."
Esmeralda County District Attorney William Schaeffer said it was the first time he was aware of a citizen petition to launch such a probe there. He said he was reviewing the matter but did not believe he had any authority to prevent such action.
"I may give my opinion, but it's not up to me," he said Thursday from his private law practice in Battle Mountain.
Tom Sargent, a spokesman for the state attorney general, said the brand inspector's role is limited to establishing legal possession of livestock, not the legal ownership.
Worley said the BLM provided Connelley with the proper documentation of repeated trespass notices and notices of intent to impound Colvin's cattle before seizing the livestock.
"We have to show the state brand inspector we have the legal right to possess the animals," she said.
Once a rancher receives notice, he has an opportunity to end the trespass or show why the livestock were not in trespass, but Colvin did not do that, she said.
"So there is due process, but the responses Mr. Colvin provided were things like 'the federal government has no authority,' and 'there are no public lands,"' Worley said.
"We don't buy that."

Friday, September 05, 2003

PETA, WMD & The White House

Washington — U.S. Marine Cpl. Ravi Chand, who just returned from his tour of duty in Iraq, has rejoined his old "unit" at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), but he’s not through fighting the war on terror just yet. Cpl. Chand, who saw combat in Iraq and stuck to his pure vegetarian diet throughout the war, will lead a demonstration in front of the White House, highlighted by PETA members dressed as an oversized knife and fork and holding signs reading, "President Bush: Found Your WMD—Meat’s the Biggest Killer of All," to make the point that eating meat kills far more Americans each year than war or other weapons, in addition to terrorizing and killing billions of animals.
Date: Thursday, September 4
Time: 12 noon
Place: In front of the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Heart disease and cancer, the biggest killers of human beings in North America, are both inextricably linked to meat-eating. And more than 27 billion animals, including fish and other aquatic life, are killed to satisfy the U.S. meat habit each year: The 10 billion land animals who are raised on factory farms are crammed into cages and crates and forced to undergo excruciating procedures, such as debeaking, dehorning, tooth-clipping, branding, and castration—all without painkillers. According to United States Department of Agriculture inspection reports, cows and pigs are often skinned and dismembered while still conscious.
"Meat-eaters make every day a 9/11 for animals in slaughterhouses," says Cpl. Chand, whose deployment took him from Kuwait through Nasiriyah and on to Baghdad. "Nonvegetarians are the real terrorists—they need to lay down their weapons and pick up some healthy, humane eating habits."
PETA will launch a nationwide "Weapons of Mass Destruction" billboard campaign later this month.

Apparently, the event was not well attended. The folks over at The Center For Consumer Freedom say the WMD should stand for "Where's My Demonstrators?"
Partnership for the West Builds Grassroots Army

James M. Taylor
The Heartland Institute 09/01/2003

People in the West cherish simple values, says Jim Sims. They cherish economic freedom, local self-determination, sweat equity, and a deep commitment to the land. They are conservationists at heart. They feel a moral responsibility to protect and preserve the environment for their children and for future generations.
Today, those Western values are under attack. According to Sims, “A small but very vocal minority of radical environmentalists are attacking the Western way of life. They want to stop virtually all economic growth and development. They want to restrict business and industry at every turn. They want to put Western lands as off-limits as possible. They want to restrict camping, hunting, fishing, and recreational access that many of us have grown up enjoying. They want to change the Western way of life.”
That is why Sims is leading a grassroots coalition to preserve traditional Western values and the Western way of life. He says Partnership for the West is up to the task.
According to Sims, Partnership for the West will work to enact public policies that support the following principles:
+The West needs and deserves good-paying jobs created by sustainable and environmentally sound development. We support public policies that encourage job-creating development and prosperity for all. +Public lands in the West belong to all Americans. We believe these lands should be accessible for sustainable uses and environmentally sound development for the benefit of all Americans. +Consumers in the West and throughout America deserve access to affordable and reliable supplies of the goods, materials, and services that help sustain our quality of life. +We support environmentally sound development of the West’s abundant natural resources in order to sustain and improve America’s quality of life. +We agree to work with citizens across the West in a partnership to support public policies that boost economic growth, create jobs, and encourage environmentally sound development in the West.
“While they are small in number, these [radical environmentalist] fringe groups are well-funded, operate in sophisticated networks, and are solely dedicated to producing conflict and delay. As Western news media investigations have uncovered, many receive the bulk of their funding from outside the West,” notes Sims.
“Radical environmentalism should not be allowed to rule the West. Instead, we need a common sense, balanced approach to promoting access to public lands and preserving our environment for future generations.”
The Partnership for the West aims to build a grassroots army of tens of thousands of Westerners and arm them with the means to make their views known to elected officials at the state and federal levels.
James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News. His email address is

For more information ...
People and organizations wishing to join the Partnership for the West should visit its Web site at No membership dues are charged, but financial or in-kind contributions are encouraged.

EPA Refuses to Label CO2 a Pollutant

Attempts by environmental groups to circumvent congressional authority and achieve their goals through the back door were set back on August 28, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) turned down requests to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The environmentalists hoped that EPA would use the Clean Air Act, which allows it to regulate substances if they are could be reasonably expected to harm human welfare. The Act lists “climate” as an area of human welfare.
Jeffrey R. Holmstead, the assistant administrator who oversees air programs, said that the act “does give us authority to do research on climate change, not to issue regulation … Where there is a major public policy issue, Congress needs to decide.” The general counsel, Robert E. Fabricant, issued a memorandum that said, “E.P.A. cannot assert jurisdiction to regulate in this area.”
The EPA had been asked to declare the life-sustaining gas detrimental to human welfare by a coalition of environmental groups and two north-eastern states that filed petitions under the Act. Fabricant based his reasoning on the 2000 Supreme Court decision, Food and Drug Administration v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco, which said the F.D.A. could not try to regulate tobacco as a “drug” and cigarettes as a “device.”
Holmstead clarified, “The Supreme Court said where there is a major public policy decision to be made, an agency can't just go out and use a broadly worded statute to deal with that.” Fabricant added, “It is clear that an administrative agency properly awaits congressional direction on a fundamental policy issue such as global climate change, instead of searching for an existing statute that was not designed or enacted to deal with that issue.” (New York Times, Aug. 28)

From Vol. VII, No. 18 of the Cooler Heads Project
Study Notes Spread of Wasting Disease

...Chronic wasting disease is transmitted more easily than previously thought, a finding that complicates efforts to curb the relative of mad cow disease as it spreads in populations of deer and elk, according to a new study.
Researchers who previously believed transmission from doe to fawn played an important role in its spread now say that's not the case. Instead, the contagious brain disease is "remarkably efficient" at spreading from animal to animal, new research shows...

U.S. Appeals Court Backs Water Transfer From Farms To Wildlife Refuge

...A federal appeals court Thursday upheld the state engineer's approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's transfer of water from a century-old irrigation project to wetlands and marshes in the Lahontan Valley.
The ruling by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a lower court ruling by U.S. District Judge Lloyd George in Nevada allowing the transfers of water rights from willing sellers to parts of the Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge.
The decision rejects claims by the city of Fallon and Churchill County that the water transfers threaten the public interest and interfere with existing water rights.
"We hold that the state engineer has broad discretion under Nevada law to determine whether a change in place of use of existing water rights will have a detrimental impact on the public interest or whether a hydrological or other study is necessary before approving such a transfer," the court said...

The decision, US v. ALPINE LAND & RESERVOIR CO., No. 01-16694/16789 (9th Cir.September 04, 2003), can be viewed here in PDF format.
EPA Report Opposes Easing of Water Rules

...The EPA document recommends that the agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reconsider a plan unveiled in January to stop applying Clean Water Act protections to most intrastate, nonnavigable wetlands and headwater streams.
Doing so, the EPA report contends, would have "profound and far reaching impacts" and "have serious effects on the progress made during the last 30 years to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation's water."
The report, which was released to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation under a Freedom of Information Act request, is not part of the public record the EPA is compiling on the proposed policy change, officials said...

Environmentalists Jeer While Builders Cheer

...The tiny cactus ferruginous pygmy owl didn't fare well in federal court last week.
In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel from the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service erred when it listed the pygmy owl as endangered in 1997. The judges kicked the case back down to federal district court in Phoenix for further review.
Sherry Barrett, an assistant field supervisor with Fish and Wildlife who has specialized in pygmy owl recovery efforts, says she doesn't know what happens next.
"The lawyers are still reviewing the court ruling," says Barrett...


Interior Dept. IG Reports Security Lapses in Parks . In report to be publicly released today, Inspector General Earl E. Devaney criticizes the National Park Service for "lackadaisical" security procedures, ineffective patrols and staffing, and a "nonchalance" among some officials who do not accept the potential threat... Wildfires Grow, Force Evacuations. CAMP SHERMAN, Ore. - Two big wildfires jumped containment lines Thursday in central Oregon, again forcing the evacuation of about 300 residents of this mountain community, officials said...Judge Throws Out Obesity Suit Against McDonalds . A federal judge on Thursday threw out a revised lawsuit against McDonald's Corp . that accused the fast food restaurant of using misleading advertising to lure children into eating unhealthy foods that make them fat...2003 U.S. Apple Harvest Officially Gets Underway. The 2003 U.S. apple harvest is now officially underway, the industry's national trade group announced today. And there is plenty of new skinny about this old food favorite this year: more flavors, new pre-cut products and health research news suggesting apples may help us get skinny, among other health benefits...Soaring Cattle Prices . The U.S. cattle industry is enjoying one of its best years ever -- even if it's largely at the expense of its huge trading partner and neighbor, Canada. U.S. cash cattle prices traded this week near the record highs last seen a decade ago, and feedlots are now raking in unheard-of profits of $150 to $200 for each fattened steer and heifer they sell to beef plants...And read about the Fainting Goats. The stranger arrived in Caney Spring, Tenn., in the early months of 1880, gave his name as John Tinsley. His accent marked him as foreign; from Nova Scotia, some said. Hard to say. He seems not to have been a very outgoing man. He didn't stay long and might, after a time, have faded from the local lore. Except he brought four goats with him, three does and a buck that would have grabbed the attention of anybody who saw them. A local doctor wrote in the early 1930s: "On being suddenly startled in any manner they fall to the ground with their entire bodies becoming perfectly rigid and stiff, giving the appearance of an epileptic fit this condition lasts for about 10 or 15 seconds after which the animal arises and walks off."

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Fiddling While Montana Burns is the latest Summary Judgement column by Perry Pendley of the Mountain States Legal Foundation.
The ALRA has put out another alert on tomorrow's vote in the House Ways & Means Committee.

Here is the Tax Favoritism that they are DEMANDING:
The Land Trusts are demanding a loophole that will discount 50% off of capital gains taxes for a seller of land - BUT - only if the land is sold to a Land Trust or government agency! If the land is sold to anyone else, forget it - no tax break.
This places churches, private schools and private parties at a comparative disadvantage when attempting to purchase land - because this Tax Favoritism only applies if land is sold to a Land Trust or the government!
And here is the rest of the story - the only ones who will benefit from this special deal are Land Trusts, NOT the seller of the land. Here is why:
This proposal will severely devalue private property. It allows Land Trusts and government agencies to cut their offering price for land by nearly the amount of the tax cut, so effectively the only beneficiary is the land trust!
This Tax Favoritism for the Land Trusts is even worse than it seems.
Consider the following additional impacts:
a) it will damage the property tax base of communities since more and more land will become tax-exempt. This increases the tax burden on remaining private land - while the Land Trusts sit back, not paying any taxes, and lick their chops deciding who to go after next.
b) it will hand over more land to government agencies, since this Tax Favoritism proposal permits the tax break for sales of land ONLY to Land Trusts or government agencies.
c) it will cost, according the House-Senate Joint Taxation Committee, $948 million - nearly a BILLION dollars added to America's national debt, just to feed the Land Trusts hunger for more power.
d) Land Trusts, since they are "non-profits," already have huge business advantages over private individuals, since they don't pay taxes and contributions to them are tax deductible. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!
e) this Tax Favoritism proposal will discourage private parties from even bidding on land, so many times the only offers for land will be made by the twin buzzards of Land Trusts and government agencies. Do you think you will get a fair price from them???
f) HR 7, the Faith Based Initiative that the Land Trusts are attempting to amend, is intended to encourage churches, orphanages and private schools to promote social services. The Land Trusts desire to place themselves at an advantage over private schools and churches in this very bill!!!
g) WATER RIGHTS. The Land Trusts are demanding that this Tax Favoritism include sales of water rights, damaging future agriculture use.

You can view the entire alert here.
In A Bad Environment, Ed Feulner, President of the Heritage Foundation, defends Mike Leavitt's nomination to EPA:

...One important way to achieve those goals is to give states more control over their environment. After all, state governments are on the front lines of the battle against pollution. It’s in their best interest to protect air, water and land within their borders. As Leavitt has shown, it makes sense for EPA to work with the states, rather than simply issue top-down directives and expect states to follow them.
Pragmatists like Michael Leavitt are crafting ways for all of us to work together for a better planet. Let’s give him a chance to succeed...

Leavitt Will Count On Collaberation for success at EPA, says Fox News...Federal Court Sides With BPA. A federal court Tuesday rejected claims that the Bonneville Power Administration illegally harmed salmon during the 2001 drought.
Several conservation groups and tribes challenged the BPA after the federal power marketing agency declared an emergency and halted the spilling of water over Columbia and Snake River dams, a practice that helps salmon migrate to sea. Instead, the BPA and fishery authorities stepped up the use of barges to transport young fish downstream
... Conservation Groups Take Legal Action to protect CA Spotted Owl. The Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign, and six other organizations, represented by Earthjustice, filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today. The notice to sue challenges the Fish and Wildlife Service's February 12, 2003, decision denying protection for the owl... Wolf Plans Nearly Ready for Study in Montana. Select scientists and wildlife managers could get their first official look, possibly this month, at state plans for managing gray wolves in the region once the animals are removed from federal protection, a federal wildlife official said Tuesday... Fish Could Get Part of Marine Base. A newly approved legal settlement could result in additional protection for stream-side habitats in San Diego County, including parts of Camp Pendleton, essential to the survival of endangered steelhead trout... Senators Crapo and Craig Moderate A Grazing Summit in Boise. Good info in this long article; the Senators appear to be going all out to help their grazing permittees in Idaho.
Interior Scrutinizes Arrangement With Rancher

...The Department of the Interior's inspector general is looking into whether a rancher is being allowed to commit more grazing violations under cover of an unusual settlement agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The investigation follows questions raised by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a Washington, D.C., watchdog group.

"We're asking the inspector general to investigate irregularities in rangeland regulatory enforcement," PEER Director Jeff Ruch said...

Groups Lock Horns Over Bison Range

...Thousands of conservationists and others have written or called the Interior Department to protest negotiations to transfer management of the National Bison Range to a tribal government.

Geographically, the dispute centers on 18,000 acres at Moiese, Mont., home not only to hundreds of bison but also to elk, black bears, coyotes, ground squirrels and more than 200 species of birds. Politically, it focuses on the Bush administration's environmental record and the rights and independence of Native Americans. And that cross section of interests has created strange bedfellows...

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

In The Erosion That Isn't, Jonathan Adler, assistant professor of law at Case Western Reserve University takes on the groups screaming about an "endless assault on basic environmental protections".

PETA Drops Its Lawsuit Against KFC, after the fried chicken chain said it will change information provided about the treatment of chickens served in its restaurants... Boise Cascade Corporation a leader in the forest products industry, today released a new environmental statement marking significant progress in helping to protect endangered forest areas throughout the world and old growth forests in the United States. With this announcement, Boise becomes the first major U.S. forest products company to adopt a comprehensive environmental statement for its operations and the first distributor of wood and paper products to extend an environmental policy to its suppliers...The Rainforest Action Network Challenges the "Dirty Dozen"U.S. Loggers to either get out of the old growth or go out of business...The Farm Bureau has released their Quarterly Market Basket Survey, showing an increase of 42 cents from the second quarter and an increase of $1.48 from the same period last year...A U.S. Agriculture official has been ejected from Brazil after he was discovered collecting data on Asiatic soy rust.
Prof. McKillup Responds to Prof. Wilson

Editor, Washington Post
Please accept this as a guest commentary or op-ed piece.
William McKillop
Professor Emeritus of Forest Economics
University of California
Berkeley CA 94720-3114
Phone 925-938-6720

National Forest Planning : the proper perspective

The guest commentary "Selling out our forests" (08/28/03) by Edward O. Wilson shows a misunderstanding of the issues. Here is the proper perspective:
Prior to European settlement, much of the forest of the Western U.S. was burned periodically by light fires set by Native Americans or started by lightning. These fires created a shifting mosaic of all types of tree cover, including patches of seedlings, groups of young trees and open stands of mature trees.
Because of the suppression of wildfires in the last 100 years or so, our National Forests in California and the West are highly vulnerable to destruction by fire, insects and disease due to very dense tree cover and a heavy accumulation of fuel on the ground. A 1997 report to Congress by the Forest Health Science Panel, chaired by Professor Chad Oliver of University of Washington, provided a detailed analysis of the forest health problem.
The pre-European-settlement forest ecosystem was robust against catastrophic wildfire and provided a diversity of habitats for wildlife species that have been, or might be, listed, under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service are now beginning to realize that, because of the high probability
of extremely destructive wildfire and the dynamic nature of forest ecosystems, a "no-touch" forest management policy is not beneficial to species of concern.
A proper management goal for our National Forests is to restore existing forest stands to the pre-European-settlement condition as quickly as feasible. As the disastrous Los Alamos fire demonstrated, use of only prescribed burning is environmentally, technically and financially infeasible. A 1998 report to the U.S. Congress by Professors Oliver, Tom Bonnicksen of Texas A & M University, Gene Wood of Clemson University and myself said: "The difficulties of using (prescribed fire) should not be downplayed. For example air quality restrictions and budgetary constraints are major barriers to its large-scale implementation. In addition, there are very limited periods and opportunities when all of the factors such as fuel loadings, fuel moisture, existence of defensible perimeters, and
weather conditions, especially wind velocity, are at levels appropriate to burn. Furthermore, it must be realized that the dangers of fire escapement require fire crews to be on stand-by and have good access by road to the area being subject to prescribed burning".
The only economically feasible way to restore forest ecosystems is to use a timber-harvesting program to reduce fuel loadings before using prescribed burning. Silvicultural techniques, such as group selection, which make small openings in the forest, will recreate the mosaic of all age classes of trees without significant aesthetic or environmental effects.
Protection and restoration of forest ecosystems cannot be accomplished without a well-maintained road system. Furthermore, recent proposals to ban road construction on the National Forests ignore the welfare of the great majority of the population. For example, an adequate road system is necessary for recreation on the National Forests (99 percent of it is road-based).
Revision of current procedures as proposed by President Bush is much needed. The old planning rule is infeasible. It is ridiculous that it usually takes about seven years to prepare plans that only last for fifteen years and that planning absorbs thirty percent of the U.S. Forest Service budget. A former Chief of the Forest Service, a Clinton appointee, has said that there is not enough gold in Fort Knox to implement the old rule.
The proposed planning rule does not nullify the National Environmental Policy Act or the Endangered Species Act. In fact, it will enhance environmental and wildlife protection by making it possible to improve forest health and resistance to wildfire. It is designed to speed up only those projects whose purpose is to restore or protect the forest.
The National Forests are an important source of wood products for home-construction and other every-day needs. In 1990, they produced about 24 percent of the nation's softwood lumber consumption. Wilson, in trying to diminish the importance of National Forest timber, refers to a draft U.S Forest Service report [1995 Draft RPA Program document] that was withdrawn after Dr.Con Schallau, Professor Wilbur Maki and I revealed its gross defects in a 1998 refereed paper in the Forest Products Journal.
We already have almost 250 million acres of forest in the U.S. which are in parks or wilderness areas or not suitable for growing timber. Our National Forests have 85 million acres of forest that are capable of producing timber, but timber harvesting is prohibited on much of that. For example, National Forests in the California Sierra Nevada have a total forest area of 7.6 million acres. Timber harvesting is permissible on less than half of that, and may be conducted only if it uses silvicultural methods, such as group selection, that are environmentally and aesthetically preferable.
Timber growth and mortality on our National Forests far exceed timber removals. A timber harvesting program should be initiated to remove an annual volume that is, at least, equal to mortality. Such a program will move us towards the pre-European-settlement ecosystem that was resistant to catastrophic fire and also provided the mix of habitats necessary for
endangered species. At no cost to the taxpayer, it will provide jobs and revenue to local governments and ensure an adequate supply of wood products to meet the needs of consumers. It is a win-win proposition.

William McKillop is Professor Emeritus of Forest Economics at the University of California, Berkeley
Reddy, the grrrl squirrel, may replace Smokey Bear. A squirrely idea, in a squirrely story.
Chopper Incident Has Rancher In Hot Water

...Fred Conway was taking a nap at his ranch high above Punkin Center in late June when he heard the helicopter. He grabbed his shotgun and drove a four-wheeler across his pastures to the stock pond.
He'd been feuding with the U.S. Forest Service over water it had dipped the year before to fight fires in the area. Because the agency never paid for that water, Conway told it not to come back.

Yet, here was a Bell 212 toting a 240-gallon rubber bucket from a 100-foot-long cable, making a beeline for his pond. Conway tried to wave away the pilot, but he dropped the bucket nonetheless. Conway fired at the bucket...

Somebody should tell the FS to pay their water bills.

An editorial concerning Rising Violence Against Public Land Cops. BLM up 24%, FS up 19%, FWS up 9%, NPS down by 6 incidents. Based on a report by PEER... The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking to purchase water to protect the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow... The FS spends $700,000 on a study to determine if their previous expenditure of $102 million to purchase lots around Lake Tahoe has actually helped or hindered the lake and wildlife...and, higher flows in the Klamath and Trinity Rivers should help the chinook salmon.

Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Association
PO Box 400 – Battle Ground, WA 98604
Phone: 360-687-3087 – Fax: 360-687-2973 – E-mail: Web Address: Legislative Office: 507 Seward Square SE – Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-210-2357 – Fax: 202-543-7126 – E-mail:

CRISIS ALERT: Land Trust Land Grab!

THIS IS AN ALL-OUT ALERT ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !


THIS Thursday afternoon, September 4, the House of Representatives committee which writes tax laws, the Ways and Means Committee, will vote on amendments that would hand over a $948 million tax break to already gigantic and powerful Land Trusts!!!
The bill is HR 7, called the "Faith Based Initiative." It is supposed to place advantages into the federal government's tax code to benefit charities such as private schools, churches and orphanages, to encourage social service work.
INCREDIBLY, the environmentalist community, always hungry for more federal dollars, have jammed their sticky fingers into this honey pot!!! This time it is the Land Trusts who are seeking Tax Favoritism for themselves, at the expense of the rest of the country.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC), with assets of $3 Billion and annual revenue of $700 million, is leading the way. TNC and over 1,000 other Land Trusts are proposing amendments to HR 7 which would hand themselves a huge tax break - at the expense of both private property rights and the very social service organizations that the bill was designed to help!!! Also, at a cost of $948 million, it would also create an even bigger budget deficit!
Here is the deal. The Land Trusts are demanding a loophole that will discount 50% off of capital gains taxes for a seller of land -BUT only if land is sold to a Land Trust or government agency! This places churches, private schools and private parties at a comparative disadvantage when attempting to purchase land - because this Tax Favoritism only applies if land is sold to a Land Trust or the government!
This will severely devalue private property. This allows Land Trusts and government agencies to cut their offering price by nearly the amount of the tax cut, so effectively the only beneficiary is the land trust.
ALSO - this $948 million handout will increase the budget deficit.
ALSO - Land Trusts, since they are "non-profits," already have huge advantages over private parties, since they don't pay taxes and contributions to them are tax deductible. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!
ALSO - this Tax Favoritism proposal will discourage private parties from even bidding on land, so the only offers for land will be made by the twin buzzards of Land Trusts and government agencies. Do you think you will get a fair price from them???
The Nature Conservancy and the other land trusts DO NOT need yet another tax break! There is already a huge budget deficit!
NO special tax loopholes, NO Tax Favoritism for mulitbillion dollar corporations like The Nature Conservancy (TNC).
TNC calls itself a "non-profit" - but profited over $700 million last year alone from grant money from taxpayers, selling land to government agencies paid by taxpayers, and insider trading deals underwritten by tax breaks financed by taxpayers. NOW THEY WANT MORE !!!
Contact BOTH your House member and ALL of the key House Ways and Means
Committee members listed below. This issue has changed up the usual "conservatives" and "liberals" into an unpredictable mix, so ANY House member is fair game. Tell them that the gigantic Land Trusts should not gain yet another advantage over private property written into the tax code. Enough is enough!!
FAX is your most powerful tool at this late date. Phone calls too. E-mails may not be read in time.
-----You can call every Representative at (202) 224-3121. A TEMPORARY TOLL FREE NUMBER is (800) 648-3516.
Contact Congressmen Roy Blunt and Richard Pombo, who are leading the fight for PROPERTY RIGHTS. Blunt and Pombo believe that multi-billion dollar land trusts already have plenty of advantages built into the tax code. They are fighting for YOUR community's future and your property rights. TELL THEM to keep up the great work, and THANK THEM. Here are their key staffers:
For Rep. Roy Blunt, please contact:
April Ponnuru -
Rep. Richard Pombo, please contact:
Laura Hylden -
INCREDIBLY, the Washington, DC offices of the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association have CAVED IN to the Land Trusts! They are afraid to fight, and have meekly lined up in the shadow of the Land Trust lobbyists in support of this massive handout - this sellout of private property, water rights, and tax funds. This cave-in has NOT been approved by state affiliates of either organization!
IF you are a member of the Farm Bureau or the Cattlemen's Association, then contact your state chapter and the lobbyists below and ask them what the heck is going on!!! Was this massive handout of land and water rights ever voted on by the membership??? WHY are your lobbyists in Washington, DC failing to fight for the membership???
WHY are they caving in, AFRAID to do battle with the massive land trusts who seek to convert agricultural land out of private hands and hand it over to government control??? Was this ever approved by the membership, why was this decision to cave in done in secret, in Washington, DC???
#*#*#*# Has your state organization approved this, do they even know about it??? #*#*#*#*
HERE are the Farm Bureau lobbyists who caved in:
Patricia Wolff -
Richard Newpher -
Phone 202-484-3600
Fax 202-484-3604
HERE are the Cattlemen's lobbyists who caved in:
Jeff Eisenberg -
Myra Hyde -
Phone 202-347-0228
Fax 202-638-0607
TELL THEM, and your state affiliates - the multibillion dollar Land Trusts have ENOUGH advantages already!!! Enough is enough!
Potomac Horse Fever In Oklahoma

...The recent confirmation of Potomac horse fever (PHF) in an Oklahoma horse was possible because of relatively new--and inexpensive--testing techniques that aide in quickly diagnosing the disease. This allows horse owners to be alerted to the active presence of the disease's causative agent in their area. Recognition of the disease in areas unused to seeing PHF is important. This burden falls to treating veterinarians, horse owners, and diagnostic laboratory officials, who take or request blood or tissue samples from horses with clinical signs of PHF...

See the original story of finding PHF here.
What's in the recall vote for California agriculture?

...Jones' invitation to sit on Arnold's economic recovery council is a clear sign a Schwarzenegger win could take Jones back to Sacramento where he is sorely missed. Jones is a consensus builder with unquestionable integrity and tons of experience. California needs the likes of Bill Jones in state government. A Schwarzenegger win may be agriculture's biggest recall windfall...
Missing Saddles/Please Help

From: Linda Burdick []
Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2003 8:44 PM
To: Friends of Rodeo Contacts
Cc: Rayanne Engel
Subject: Please help w/ our stolen saddles

Any help you all could give would be greatly appreciated. The top three are very important to us. Please forward this on to everyone you can... the more eyes looking, the better!

Saddles Stolen
Clements, California

8 Saddles were stolen between Friday, August 29th and Monday, September 1st:

1. Early 1970 era Earl Nanniga rope saddle - fully tooled acorn stamp - horn cap silver with overlay gold longhorn steer head & silver nameplate on cantle "Jack" (gold overlay).
2. Early 1950 era Earl Nanniga rope saddle - smooth - nutmeg colored quilted seat - no silver. Cheyenne roll.
3. Late 1940's era Hamley roughout rope saddle - seat is faded turquoise quilted. Swell fork - straight bound cantle.
4. American Rope saddle w/ rawhide cutouts on swells - slight tooling.
5. 1950's kids' saddle - tooled no silver.
6. Clements Stampede Queen trophy saddle (2002) Big Horn - all-around w/ lettering and some silver.
7. Big Horn barrel saddle.
8. Non-descript all around saddle w/ name plate on back "Patricia"
*** Also stolen: one-ear headstall and curb bit w/ roping reins.
ANY information on any of these items PLEASE call 209-759-3517.

Thank you,

Rayanne Engel
Western Horseman
Equestrian Retailer
Pacific Account Executive
PO Box 699
Clements, CA 95227
209-759-3196 Fax

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

California Farm Groups Shocked

"Unbelievable, dumbfounded, disappointed and shocked" are three of the reactions from farmers and other agricultural leaders who learned that Dan Sumner, director of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center in Davis testified in Geneva in late July that U.S. cotton farm programs have distorted world cotton prices to the detriment of Brazilian cotton farmers.
Sumner acknowledged that he was hired by an international law firm representing Brazil in its complaint against U.S. cotton. He said he was acting as a private, consulting economist, not as a representative of the university.


In Pollution At The World Resources Institute, Neil Hrab of Green Watch, takes on the WRI. Also see Bonner R. Cohen's critique of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Invasive Species & Wolves.

In the last two days, Jim Speers has posted three articles on the above subjects. An excerpt from The Purpose of Invasive Species:

Here on the East coast the date most often given as the “native ecosystem” ideal is 1492 AD. In the southwest and on the west coast, the arrival of Spanish explorers and Franciscan missionaries is the date when some sort of mystical mix of plants and animals is fixed as the “natives” of that region. Plants and animals brought from other parts of North America or from other continents after those dates are now being touted as “non-native” and somehow, mysteriously out-of-place. Based on this native worship philosophy disguised as environmental quackery, Americans are being told that thousands of plants and animals should be eradicated because they are “out of place” (i.e. “non-native”.)

And this from Endangered Wolves:

Every American citizen needs to consider what is happening with wolves. Congress passes a law (Endangered Species Act) and voila! Wolves are declared endangered and instantly a large, destructive, and dangerous carnivore that was purposely extirpated from all but one state (Minnesota) is given the status of a cow in a Hindu village. No longer does the state have ANY say in whether there will or will not be wolves within their borders. No longer can a dog owner kill a wolf attacking his pet or hunting dog. No longer can a sheep or cattle rancher protect his stock when they are ravaged by wolves. No longer can hunters expect to see big game or small game in the abundance or sizes common before wolves were reintroduced. No longer can pets or hunting dogs be allowed to roam unseen by owners. No longer can a rural grandmother let her grandchildren play outside unattended after wolves have been observed near rural residences. No longer can scouts or families camp safely in certain areas. No longer can foals be allowed to range unseen when wolves are about. Rural life, property rights, and citizen rights to make their government “insure domestic Tranquility” (per the 19th, 20th, and 21st words of the US Constitution) are all drastically reduced or eliminated.

All of Mr. Speers articles can be viewed here.
The Agriculture Ocean Transportation Coalition has circulated the following document on Carrier Collusion:

DATE: August 4, 2003
TO: AgOTC Members
FROM: Peter Friedmann
Tel: 202-783-3333 Fax: 202-783-4422
SUBJECT: Carrier Collusion
We now have an opportunity to do something about the continued ocean carrier collusion which has resulted recently in dramatic increases of rates, imposition of surcharges, inflexibility of the carriers in negotiations, manipulation of capacity, generally undermining the carrier-shipper relationship. Please take the time to read this message.
The Problem & Solution:
Only because the ocean carriers were granted a unique immunity from US antitrust laws back in 1916 are they allowed to share proprietary information, to jointly fix rates, and agree on all other terms of service. In other words, what the carriers are doing is perfectly legal under the Shipping Act, even though it greatly injures US export competitiveness, and increases cost for US consumers. The solution therefore is to change the law, to revoke the carriers’ antitrust immunity.
Fortunately, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee with jurisdiction over US antitrust laws is Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, who agrees with us. He is prepared to introduce legislation to revoke carrier antitrust immunity.
Revoking antitrust immunity would mean that the carriers could no longer discuss pricing, no longer agree on surcharges, GRI, etc., cannot agree to reduce to capacity, cannot agree among themselves on the contract terms they will propose to their customers. Two years ago Chairman Sensenbrenner introduced such legislation, but, frankly, carrier opposition was vigorous and shipper support was tepid, largely, I believe, because rates were quite low. The environment has definitely changed.
Action Plan:
It is now up to us, as shippers, to show Congressman Sensenbrenner and the rest of Congress that the time has come to force ocean carriers to compete for shipper business, to treat shippers as their customers, and to quit jointly fixing rates and take other steps detrimental to US commerce. Chairman Sensenbrenner’s staff has specifically told us that they will move such legislation forward as soon as we can show that he has the votes to move it through his Judiciary Committee.
Specific Steps:
First, you will find attached a letter to Chairman Sensenbrenner. We are seeking 500 (or even more) companies and associations to add their names to the letter, to show the Judiciary Committee the widespread support for his effort to repeal the antitrust immunity would enjoy. Please reply if you will add your company/association name, and please pass this letter on and encourage others to sign on as well.
Second, there are 37 Members of that Committee; we need to deliver 19 votes in favor. Congressman Sensenbrenner and the former Chairman Henry Hyde are already strongly in favor, meaning we need to convince 18 other Members of the Committee that this legislation is important. We have compiled a list of all the Members of the House Judiciary Committee (attached). Please look at the list to determine if you have a presence as a constituent in any of their Districts. Then, we will want to generate as many letters as possible to those Congressmen, encouraging support for the legislation.
We have drafted a letter which you can use as is, or even better, can revise to reflect your company’s interests. It is important to describe your company, location, the products you export and the type of business and specific reasons why you would like carriers to have to compete for your business.
There is no question that agriculture interests are going to have to take the lead on this. I do believe we will have active support from the Teamsters Union (who feel that their drivers are being disadvantaged by collective carrier agreements as to how much they will pay for trucking services), some other associations, who have frankly told me that they are looking for agriculture to take the lead. A significant challenge for us is to get the American Association of Port Authorities to at least take a neutral position. Previously, the ocean carriers which are the major tenants of the ports, operating the marine terminals, have claimed that without antitrust immunity, they will have difficulty surviving and continuing to operate and pay rent for the marine terminals. Thus, the ports have opposed efforts to revoke carrier antitrust immunity. The agriculture shippers need to educate port authorities.
So we have plenty of work ahead of us, as it is ambitious to revoke an almost 100 year old privilege that the carriers have enjoyed. But antitrust immunity has not worked. It has not protected the US flag ocean carriers, who have all disappeared. It has not provided stability in this provision of services, as carriers go in and out of business and rates fluctuate wildly. Antitrust immunity has failed to achieve its stated objectives. Now it only serves the interest of companies based overseas who control ships built overseas and manned with non-US labor. Meanwhile it hurts US interests, including US farmers, growers, and packers.
We look forward to working with you on this ambitious campaign.
House Working on Faith Based Charities Bill

One of the first items on the House agenda this month is a scaled-down version of President Bush's faith-based plan, consisting largely of tax incentives to encourage donations to religious charities.....The Senate bill also has an environmental provision some Republicans dislike. It would provide a discount in capital-gains tax when land is sold for conservation purposes. Some Republicans, including Sen. Don Nickles of Oklahoma, say that this is unfair, and that the tax should be reduced for everyone, not just some.
Whitman Denies White House Told Her To Lie

Associated Press
Tuesday, September 2, 2003; Page A19

Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Todd Whitman denies that she was told to lie about health risks in Manhattan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
An EPA inspector general's report said Whitman assured the public that the air was safe to breathe before tests were conclusive.
Whitman told Newsweek that she did not object to the White House editing out cautionary notes from EPA scientists and said the public was not harmed by the White House decision to use reassurances about air quality right after the attack.
Emergency workers have said the EPA failed to warn them of the hazards. But Whitman said the agency advised them to wear protective gear, although many refused.

From the August 29th issue of the Weekly Newsletter of the Western States Water Council:

Okanogan County v. NMFS/Rights-of-Way

In an unpublished August 14 decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court decision that instream flow conditions imposed under a special use permit for ditch rights-of-way across U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands did not deny the users their state-vested water rights. In March 2002, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Whaley rejected claims that USFS lacked authority to restrict the use of the Early Winters Ditch and the Skyline Irrigation Ditch in Okanogan County in Washington’s Methow Valley. The USFS conditions to protect minimum streamflows require that diversions stop when river water levels drop below what they were 100 years ago, before irrigation started. In 2001, USFS stopped water diverted to 400 irrigated acres. In June 2001, Okanogan County and several farmers brought suit, claiming that the USFS conditions, based on National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) requirements to protect salmon, were arbitrary and capricious and had “taken” their water (WSW #1454 and #1414). The lawsuit was filed after more than two years of negotiations over how much water must be left instream.

While acknowledging that the ESA does not grant powers to federal agencies they do not otherwise have, the Ninth Circuit cited the National Forest Management Act, Organic Administration Act, Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), and the Multiple Use Sustained-Yield Act to establish that USFS has “authority to maintain certain levels of flow in the rivers and streams within the boundaries of the Okanogan National Forest to protect endangered fish.” The court further declared, “The permits themselves, from their inception provided the government with unqualified discretion to restrict or terminate the rights of way.”

FLPMA has a savings clause which states, “Nothing in this Act...shall be construed as terminating any valid lease, permit, patent, right-of-way, or other land use right or authorization existing on the date of approval of this Act.” It adds, “All actions by the Secretary concerned under this Act shall be subject to valid existing rights.” (90 Stat. 2743, 2786-87) The court noted that despite the savings clause, the case dealt with a right-of-way and not the water rights themselves, citing Utah Power & Light Co. v. United States. The conditions of the contract controlling the right-of-way enabled the USFS to impose the conditions in question.

Moreover, while the appellants relied on United States v. New Mexico, 438 U.S. 696 (1978), to argue that the Congress did not intend to reserve water rights for wildlife preservation purposes when it set aside lands for national forests, the court held: “US v. NM did not address the power of the Forest Service to restrict the use of rights of way over federal land.” The court added, “...FLPMA specifically authorizes the Forest Service to restrict such rights of way to protect fish and wildlife and maintain water quality standards under federal law, without any requirement that the Forest Service defer to state water law.”


The Reintroduction of Wolves Stirs Debate reports on the program to reintroduce the Mexican gray wolf. Old-Growth Forest Battle Fought Acre by Acre is about the conflict over the Straw Devil timber sale in Oregon. A Seattle columnist endorses Mike Leavitt to head the EPA. The Washington Times reports the Fur Commission has offered a $100,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of those who released 10,000 mink from a farm near Seattle.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Rancher In Jail. 70 year old rancher Luther "Wally" Klump was jailed by Federal Judge John M. Roll on April 21st of this year. His crime? Tresspassing cows on federal property. Read J. Zane Walley's story about this here, and Paula Devlin's article here.
eco-logic/Powerhouse, the September 1 edition, is now online. Michael Hardiman's Washington Watch highlights S.476, The Faith Based Initiatives bill, which grants tax favoritism to land trusts and environmental groups. See H.R.7, Rep. Roy Blunt's bill, which provides assistance to faith based organizations without the tax breaks for the land trusts. S.476 has already passed the Senate.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

"Markets Reward Eco-Terror. So Let's Fix Them" is an interesting article by James D. Miller, an Assistant Professor of Economics at Smith College. Says Miller:

Giving in to terrorists encourages them. Unfortunately, markets automatically respond to eco-terrorism by doing exactly what the terrorists want. If, for example, SUV dealerships were subject to a significant risk of arson, their insurance rates would rise, which would in turn raise the price of SUVs and therefore result in Americans driving fewer big cars.

We need to change economic cause and effect to stop the market from rewarding environmental terrorism.

Read the article to see his proposals.
Kane County, Utah is having a big battle with the BLM. At issue are President Clinton's designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and control of county roads. On August 13, Kane County Commissioner Mark Habbeshaw and County Sheriff Lamont Smith removed 31 BLM signs from 19 county roads. Reportedly, BLM first initiated a "criminal investigation" of the two county officials, but according to State Rep. Mike Noel, now "BLM's going to put together an independent group to review and investigate the events that led up to the county's actions. Marty Ott, formerly from Tropic and the current State Director for Montana BLM, is coming down to mediate the issue and look into it." Check out articles on this issue here and here.
Charlie Daniels new book, "Ain't No Rag: Freedom, Family and the Flag" is reviewed here. An exerpt from the review by La Shawn Barber:

Daniels's book is a straightforward account of his life and outspoken opinions on the hottest political topics. Politically correct he is not. He is a plain and simple man who worked hard to achieve success in the music business - and he loves his country. How refreshing!

The title of the book is taken from his controversial song, "This Ain't No Rag, It's a Flag", and is a collection of columns that have appeared on his band's web site. With plainspoken "cowboy logic", Daniels reminds the reader what it means to be an American: love of country, freedom and God. Divided into three themes: "Cowboy Logic", "Why I Love America" and "Faith and Family," the 241-page book is good reading. Daniels makes no apologies for his simple prose and candid views. Having traveled all over the world performing for fans, including U.S. troops, he's done a whole lot of living. He discusses issues like abortion, welfare, illegal immigration, hyphenated Americans, patriotism and his love for Jesus Christ. Daniels warns, chastises, praises, advises and evangelizes.

Land Rights Advocates Allege Bush Administration Betrayal

Land rights advocates (search) are scratching their heads as to why the White House has asked the Supreme Court not to hear two cases challenging seven controversial national monuments named by President Clinton in the waning days of his administration.

During his race for president in 2000, then-Gov. George W. Bush campaigned against the monuments, giving hope to many western landowners who found their private property subject to strict federal protections.

Three years later, the monuments remain, encompassing millions of acres of land in places like Montana, Oregon, Nevada and Idaho, where the government already owns huge chunks of untamed wilderness. And some property owners are becoming disillusioned.

It appears the Bush Justice Department is sticking with tradition and defending the actions of the previous President. They are doing the same with abortion clinics.