Saturday, September 20, 2003

Three New Ones From Jim Beers

An excerpt from Wildlife "Management"

Several years ago I was asked for some advice about what the US Fish & Wildlife Service was doing on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, also located in the "western Arizona desert". It seems President Franklin Roosevelt set aside a big chunk of western Arizona desert during the Depression specifically for the desert bighorn sheep, a very desirable big game animal. The area was called the Kofa Game Range and was managed for years by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM.)...In the environmental craze of the 60's and 70's BLM was used as an example of government "rape and ruin" by environmental fundraisers. Accordingly, the Kofa Game Range was "saved" by transferring it to the emerging darling of the radicals, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS.) Cheers were heard as it was renamed the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. FWS and the environmentalists immediately set to work to stop grazing, shooting, rabbit hunting, driving, etc. on the Kofa under the banner of "protecting the desert bighorns" which the state of Arizona managed just fine thanks to guzzlers and a profitable permit system that provided management money for the secretive game animal and other desert creatures. Arizonans and big game hunters kept the FWS and their "partners" in check. Along came the Wilderness Act and Senator Mc Cain...

And from Ownership

As the government controls more land, more human activities, more animals, and more plants; the model for and the acceptance of more government control of more things from where you live and what you can "own" to who "owns" a business or who controls your family grows. Look at how the Marine Mammal Protection Act has evolved from "saving" baby seals and tuna to destroying all marine mammal uses while growing US and UN bureaucracies and radical coffers. Look at how the Animal Welfare Act has evolved from assuring animal "welfare" to setting impossible standards and registering and destroying animal breeders and farmers. Look at how the Endangered Species Act has evolved from "saving species" to listing flocks of animals and stands of plants while taking property without compensation (as required by the Constitution) to exempting government agencies and bureaucrats from the very activities and actions that citizens are imprisoned for. I ask you to look even beyond these matters and consider how the entire structure of government and the guaranteed rights of citizens are being eroded...

And finally, from A Current Fairy Tale

Once upon a time a sinister group of men talked in a tavern near the King's castle. They agreed to use their influence with the King and the nobility to seize control of the rural valley known as Darbia. Each man had his own private reason for taking the land of the farmers and tradesmen but the reason they spoke of between themselves was for the good of Darbia. The farmers were ignorant and the tradesmen were poor and Darbia was not well treated by them, according to the men.
So they convinced the King to give Lord Faws a sack of money and offer it to the farmers and tradesmen for their land. But the Darbians said this was their home and where they grew things to feed their families and where their villages were located. Lord Faws countered with the fact that the Darbians were pitied by people throughout the realm because they cared for their valley in the old ways. Lord Faws said he would tell everyone of the animals that lived there, which the smart people of the realm wished to hear about. He said he would clear the land and put in animals that were long gone...

All of Mr. Beers' articles can be viewed here.

September 19, 2003
For Immediate Release
CALIFORNIA - Through media reports, the ELF Press Office has been made aware of an Earth Liberation Front action against urban sprawl in the early morning hours of September 19, 2003. Although the ELF Press Office has received no communications about this actions from the persons responsible, a banner found at the site of the fires reading "Development destruction. Stop raping nature. The ELFs are angry," indicates a claim of responsibility by ELF activists. The fires broke out at approximately 4 a.m. in the upscale Carmel Valley neighbourhood of San Diego, California.
The fires took out four houses under construction in two parts of the neighbourhood and caused an estimated $1 million in damages. This is the fifth action in 2003 against urban sprawl known to have been the work of the Earth Liberation Front. Other occurences of ELF actions in response to the encroachment of luxury housing on wild space since January 1st include fires in San Diego, California (August); Chico, California (June); Macomb County, Michigan (June), and Superior Township, Michigan (April).
Although there has been no statement by ELF activists about the most recent actions in San Diego, a communique sent after the fires in Macomb County read in part, "For too long, we, the people... have allowed our magnificent forests to be levelled and shipped off, our water to be poisoned and now, greed driven developers are trying to marginalize off the last green spaces and habitat of our unknown Edens." It is clear from past statements and recent actions of the ELF that urban sprawl has become a central issue in the struggle to protect the earth.
The Earth Liberation Front is an international underground organization that uses direct action in the form of economic sabotage to stop the destruction of the natural environment. Since 1997, the ELF in North America has caused over $100 million in damages to entities who profit from the destruction of life and the planet.
Any communications received by the ELF Press Office will be forwarded on to interested members of the press.
The Earth Liberation Front Press Office is an autonomous entity that serves to publicize news and actions of the ELF, as reported through news media or by anonymous communications from the individuals involved in activities.
Rough (West) Nile Waters

The four-year-old U.S. outbreak of West Nile virus is a significant threat to public health. Midway through the West Nile season, the mosquito-borne virus has been found in animal hosts (primarily birds and horses) in 44 states, and in humans has caused more than 4,000 serious illnesses and almost 100 deaths in 37 states...
Federal public-health officials have recognized the seriousness of the problem, but their response has been tepid and politically correct...
Conspicuously absent from its list of suggestions-and also from CDC director Julie Gerberding's remarks at her frequent public appearances-is any mention of insecticides or widespread spraying...
In the absence of a vaccine (the development of which, as discussed below, has public-policy problems of its own), elimination of the vehicle that spreads the disease in this case, the mosquito ought to be the key to preventing epidemics, but fundamental shortcomings in public policy limit the weapons that are available...

Dr. Miller is a physician and a fellow at the Hoover Institution. Click on the link above and read the whole article.

Friday, September 19, 2003


Forest Service is allowing two fires to burn in the Gila Clear and sunny skies have made smoke and flames from two wildfires visible from Silver City and surrounding communities. As fire crews introduce a burn line on one of the blazes this afternoon, residents will see smoky conditions intensify, according to the Forest Service...Group wants to add 'peace flag' to Colorado mountain As authorities try to find out who burned an American flag left in tribute to the Sept. 11 victims, a dispute has erupted over replacing the memorial on a Colorado mountain...People for Otero County hold property rights session in Weed Are property rights an endangered species? In Otero County, environmentalist organizations have repeatedly sued the U.S. Forest Service in recent years to restrict and even eliminate public lands grazing. Cattle operators' livelihoods have been threatened...King Range fire blows up A tenacious wind-driven fire in coastal Southern Humboldt County has blown up to 10 times the size it was two days ago...McInnis backs off stance on rec fees Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., is backing off his strong support for charging user fees for some recreation areas on public lands, according to his statements to a congressional committee...Plan to protect salamander fought by officials, farmers Local officials and farmers, who feel they were blindsided by a federal designation to protect fairy shrimp, are trying to keep the same thing from happening with the tiger salamander...World Parks Congress urges plant, animal protections World conservationists called for new protection of the world's water ecosystems, including the international high seas, and urged that efforts to bring about free trade and poverty alleviation not be allowed to take precedence over preserving species, as the 10-day World Parks Congress wrapped up Wednesday in South Africa...Ranch conservation funds sought The land trust needs to raise $1.3 million to add to federal and state money to purchase a $5-million conservation easement on the 4,300-acre working ranch that straddles the border of Eagle and Garfield counties. The easement prohibits the land from ever being further developed...Grizzlies to benefit from bumper pine nuts crop A bumper crop of pine nuts in northwestern Wyoming this fall could reduce grizzly bear-human conflicts by keeping the bears at higher elevations, wildlife officials say...US Could Become Net Ag Importer For more than 40 years the United States has exported more agricultural products than it has imported. That could change within a few years, according to two Purdue University agricultural economists. The gap between American export and import values is narrowing, said economists Phil Paarlberg and Phil Abbott. They predict imports could overtake exports by 2007, if current trends continue... Environmentalists sue to get rare bush on endangered list, fight new TEP line Environmentalists sued the federal government Wednesday to get the Gentry indigo bush -a rare type of shrub - listed as an endangered species. Activists said they want to use the listing to fight Tucson Electric Power's plan to build a 66-mile power line between Sahuarita and Nogales... Remains of Cities Found in Amazon Basin Researchers working in the Amazon River basin have discovered clusters of settlements linked by wide roads and surrounded by agricultural developments. The researchers, including some descendants of pre-Columbia tribes that lived along the Amazon, have unearthed evidence of densely settled, well-organized communities with roads, moats and bridges in the Upper Xingu part of the vast tropical region. The findings show the Amazon was not, as was once thought, all an untouched wilderness before Columbus came to the Americas...Calif. Construction Fires Blamed on Arson Fires that destroyed four homes under construction and damaged two others Friday in an upscale section of the city were set in a coordinated arson attack, authorities said. One of several banners found at the sites in north San Diego read: "Development destruction. Stop raping nature. The ELFs are angry." ...Farm Bureau Testifies to Senate Subcommittee Re. Water Issues Expressing strong support for "voluntary, incentive-based" approaches to improving and protecting the environment, Farm Bureau today told Congress that the Environmental Protection Agency is overstepping its authority regarding water issues in several areas important to agriculture...Cowboy dreamers: Rare cattle drive across Gypsum Hills draws raves The idea for the drive came from Nancy and Joe Moore, who own the Moore Ranch near Bucklin. Their ranch is providing Texas longhorn cattle to be used in the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty Pageant next week.
The Moores said instead of trucking their 100-head of cattle to the pageant, they elected to drive the cattle horseback across the rugged Gypsum Hills with some of their ranching neighbors and a few guests...
Oregon Equine Herpesvirus-1 Outbreak In the last month, 16 of the 19 horses at Brookhill Stables in Goble, Ore., and two horses from a nearby private farm, have showed respiratory and/or neurologic signs consistent with equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1), although not all have been tested for the disease. To date, three older victims have been euthanized--one from Brookhill Stables and the two horses from the private farm, which visited Brookhill for 4-H lessons in early July... 17th Horse Slashing on Arizona Dude Ranch Seventeen horses have been found slashed in the throat on a guest ranch in Tucson, Ariz., since early July. The latest attack happened between midnight and 4 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 9, on the Tanque Verde Guest Ranch, according to Pima County Sheriff’s Detective John Mawhinney. All of the horses have been slashed in the same location on the throat, resulting in jagged wounds from one inch to four inches long...

Thursday, September 18, 2003


DISMISSAL OF ETHICS COMPLAINT The United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit dismissed an ethics complaint filed against a judge whose ruling opened up nearly a third of national forests to timber cutting and other development. Two watchdog groups had complained that the judge, Clarence A. Brimmer of Federal District Court in Wyoming, owns stock or royalty interests in 15 oil and gas companies that could be affected by his July 14 decision that invalidated a rule limiting timber harvesting and other development on 58 million acres of remote forest controlled by the Forest Service. Chief Judge Deanell R. Tacha of the appeals court said she could find no basis for the accusations... Nevada's'Shovel Brigade'in outhouse feud with Forest Service Call them the"Outhouse Brigade." A group of northeast Nevadans feuding with the U.S. Forest Service over control of a remote national forest road near a trout stream is vowing to defy the agency and drive up the road to clean out a public outhouse...McInnis offers replacement for burned Sept. 11 memorial flag U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis has promised to provide a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol to replace a mountaintop Sept. 11 memorial flag that was burned. The giant flag planted on Peak 1 in Summit County to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks was discovered destroyed last weekend. Notes left at the site said the flag was burned to protest U.S. foreign policy...Company fined for cutting trees in national forest Officials of Plum Creek Timber Co. have agreed to pay nearly $66,000 in restitution and a $1,000 fine for allegedly illegally cutting millions of board feet of timber on the Clearwater National Forest... Forest Service upholds pricey perk for public lands access Jim Horkovich was skiing at Copper Mountain Ski Resort last year when he was turned away from a short lift line marked by a yellow flag. The line, it turned out, was reserved for skiers who paid extra or had a lodging package with the resort...USFS nixes ATV filming near Red River A little over 2 weeks after receiving an application to film ATV (all-terrain vehicle) riding in the Red River area for the cable Outdoor Life Network (OLN), Ron Thibedeau, District Ranger for the Questa Ranger District of the Carson National Forest decided against issuing a Special Use Permit...Senator moves to bar new job competitions at Interior, Forest Service During a Wednesday debate over the Interior appropriations bill, the Senate minority whip proposed language that would prevent the Interior Department and Forest Service from putting more federal jobs up for competition. The amendment, offered by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., would block Interior and the Forest Service (which is part of the Agriculture Department but which receives funds from the Interior bill), from initiating new competitive sourcing studies in fiscal 2004. These agencies could complete studies already underway... Officials say drought has increased beetle infestations Drought is being blamed for increasing bark beetle infestations in the Northern Rockies, sometimes to epidemic proportions in aging and overgrown forests, experts say... Thinning forests will take time, Forest Service chief says The U.S. Forest Service will thin trees especially around Arizona homes, but it will take more than a decade to significantly lower wildfire risks, a top official said. "It's going to take some aggressive work for 10 or 15 years on some of these forests before we make a big difference in how fire reacts," U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth told the Arizona Daily Star editorial board on Tuesday... Critics give lawmakers an earful What was supposed to be a temporary recreation fee to park, hike and use picnic areas in national forests is turning some taxpayers into trespassers, critics of the 7-year-old fee said Wednesday... Forest Service OKs Tongass sales Two timber sales in the Tongass National Forest have been approved by the Forest Service, and one sale is likely to be incorporated into a 10-year timber contract...Leavitt for Head of EPA? Much Worse Than You Thought As a rule, secretaries of the Interior Department come from the West and directors of the Environmental Protection Agency hail from the East. Ronald Reagan breached this cardinal political tenet by picking Anne Gorsuch Burford of Colorado to head his EPA department, with disastrous results... Inland sites cited in butterfly recovery A plan released Wednesday by federal wildlife officials aimed at preventing a tiny butterfly from becoming extinct suggested that four areas in western Riverside County should be the focus of recovery efforts. The plan by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which also designates two areas in San Diego County, is aimed at improving the endangered Quino checkerspot butterfly to threatened status by 2018... Conservation groups: Water legislation is anti-environmental The Senate’s passage of an amendment to the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill is anti-environmental, a coalition of conservation groups said Wednesday...Algae bloom on Klamath prompts tests A big algae bloom on the Klamath River turned it green earlier this week, initially troubling fisheries experts concerned about salmon migrating upstream...Group: Powder Rim area endangered Wyoming's Powder Rim in the Southern Red Desert is designated as an endangered linkage in a conservation program that if completed would eventually provide a continuous wildlife corridor between Mexico and Canada, the Wildlands Project announced Tuesday in a flyover of the area...State engineer under fire for suggesting changes to groundwater appropriation State Engineer Jerry Olds accepts that he could be committing political suicide by telling this truth: Utah's groundwater is so over-allocated that if water rights aren't reallocated, some aquifers could be destroyed...A New Life for Wildlife Federation Head The chief executive of the National Wildlife Federation, one of the major enviro groups, has resigned, leaving some folks there wondering what's up. Mark Van Putten, who has been with the NWF for more than 20 years, including seven as president, told colleagues in an e-mail Sept. 3 that "it is time for me to pursue other ways in which I can serve the cause of conservation and it is time to give others the privilege of service that NWF has given me...
Energy Bill/Eminent Domain

On Tuesday I posted Provision in Energy Bill Brings Unease in G.O.P. The language in H.R.6 referred to in the article is as follows:

`(a) TRANSMISSION STUDIES- Within one year after the enactment of this section, and every 3 years thereafter, the Secretary of Energy shall conduct a study of electric transmission congestion. After considering alternatives and recommendations from interested parties the Secretary shall issue a report, based on such study, which may designate one or more geographic areas experiencing electric energy transmission congestion as `interstate congestion areas'.
`(b) CONSTRUCTION PERMIT- The Commission is authorized, after notice and an opportunity for hearing, to issue permits for the construction or modification of electric transmission facilities in interstate congestion areas designated by the Secretary under subsection (a) if the Commission makes each of the following findings:
`(1) A finding that--
`(A) the State in which the transmission facilities are to be constructed or modified is without authority to approve the siting of the facilities, or
`(B) a State commission or body in the State in which the transmission facilities are to be constructed or modified that has authority to approve the siting of the facilities has withheld approval, conditioned its approval in such a manner that the proposed construction or modification will not significantly reduce transmission congestion in interstate commerce and is otherwise not economically feasible, or delayed final approval for more than one year after the filing of an application seeking approval or one year after the designation of the relevant interstate congestion area, whichever is later.
`(2) A finding that the facilities to be authorized by the permit will be used for the transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce.
`(3) A finding that the proposed construction or modification is consistent with the public interest.
`(4) A finding that the proposed construction or modification will significantly reduce transmission congestion in interstate commerce.
The Commission may include in a permit issued under this section conditions consistent with the public interest.
`(c) PERMIT APPLICATIONS- Permit applications under subsection (b) shall be made in writing to the Commission and verified under oath. The Commission shall issue rules setting forth the form of the application, the information it is to contain, and the manner of service of notice of the permit application upon interested persons.
`(d) COMMENTS- In any proceeding before the Commission under subsection (b), the Commission shall afford each State in which a transmission facility covered by the permit is or will be located, each affected Federal agency and Indian tribe, private property owners, and other interested persons, a reasonable opportunity to present their views and recommendations with respect to the need for and impact of a facility covered by the permit.
`(e) RIGHTS-OF-WAY- In the case of a permit under subsection (b) for electric transmission facilities to be located on property other than property owned by the United States or a State, if the permit holder cannot acquire by contract, or is unable to agree with the owner of the property to the compensation to be paid for, the necessary right-of-way to construct or modify such transmission facilities, the permit holder may acquire the right-of-way by the exercise of the right of eminent domain in the district court of the United States for the district in which the property concerned is located, or in the appropriate court of the State in which the property is located. The practice and procedure in any action or proceeding for that purpose in the district court of the United States shall conform as nearly as may be with the practice and procedure in similar action or proceeding in the courts of the State where the property is situated.
`(f) STATE LAW- Nothing in this section shall preclude any person from constructing any transmission facilities pursuant to State law.
`(g) COMPLIANCE WITH OTHER LAWS- Commission action under this section shall be subject to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and all other applicable Federal laws.
`(h) COMPENSATION- Any exercise of eminent domain authority pursuant to this section shall be considered a taking of private property for which just compensation is due. Just compensation shall be an amount equal to the full fair market value of the property taken on the date of the exercise of eminent domain authority, except that the compensation shall exceed fair market value if necessary to make the landowner whole for decreases in the value of any portion of the land not subject to eminent domain. Any parcel of land acquired by eminent domain under this subsection shall be transferred back to the owner from whom it was acquired (or his heirs or assigns) if the land is not used for power line construction or modification within a reasonable period of time after the acquisition. Property acquired under this subsection may not be used for any heritage area, recreational trail, or park, or for any other purpose (other than power line construction or modification, and for power line operation and maintenance) without the consent of the owner of the parcel from whom the property was acquired (or his heirs or assigns).
`(i) ERCOT- Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize any interconnection with any facility owned or operated by an entity referred to in section 212(k)(2)(B).

This language is in the House version, but not in the Senate version, meaning it will be worked out in conference. The conferees are in the process of resolving the differnces between the two legislative bodies as I write this.

Bush Administration Launches Climate Research Plan
The Bush administration on July 24 announced an unprecedented 10-year research plan to better understand how, and to what extent, human activity may be affecting the Earth’s climate.
The new initiative brings together the resources and expertise of 13 federal agencies and is the result of months of consultations with scientists, policy experts, and nongovernmental organizations who make up the federal government’s Climate Change Science Program (CCSP). It reflects an outreach to some 1,200 scientists and representatives of more than 35 countries.
As part of the initiative, Secretary of Commerce Don Evans announced a $103 million two-year federal initiative to accelerate the deployment of new global observation technologies. The initiative will provide data to improve scientists’ understanding of global climate change and their ability to apply that knowledge toward effective solu

Fixing the Game
Foreign countries are all too ready to accuse the U.S. of not playing its part in the global community when it objects to the Kyoto protocols. Yet "playing its part" might be better thought of as "playing the game," and when the rules of that game are looked at closer, it becomes apparent that the game is as fixed as any "reality" TV show. Most of the other players have written the rules to ensure they win, and America loses. If the grand prize were a holiday or a record contract, this might not be an issue. But in this game, the grand prize is the future prosperity and well-being of both the United States and the world as a whole...
Environmental Scientists Must Stop Crying Wolf
There is a crisis emerging in the scientific community. The ideals of science are being sacrificed to the god of political expediency. Environmental scientists are becoming so obsessed with the righteousness of their cause that they are damning those who wish to use science as an objective tool in public policy decisions. The latest example comes in a Science article* that advocates nothing less than promoting alarmism over environmental hazards, on the basis that the end justifies the means. The article uses economic analysis to argue that the benefits of environmental alarmism outweigh the costs. Yet, as well as endorsing the political reasoning of Niccolo Machiavelli, this paper offends against the ethics of science itself...

Mexico-to-Yukon conservation proposal unveiled A conservation group unveiled a strategy Wednesday for protecting a contiguous area from Mexico to the Canadian Yukon with the goal of preserving wildlife migration routes. Of particular concern to The Wildlands Project are five areas it considers especially threatening to wildlife, like Interstate 70 through central Colorado and I-40 east of Albuquerque, N.M...Plan to log Durango fire area sparks battle Environmentalists and Forest Service officials are at odds over a proposal to salvage logs in the area burned by last summer's Missionary Ridge fire...Lawmakers accuse Bush of shifting funds President Bush defended his healthy-forests plan on Tuesday while congressmen from both parties fumed that his administration is diverting money from healthy-forests projects to fight fires... Freudenthal worries about fed view of wolf plan After a recent talk with a federal official, Gov. Dave Freudenthal didn't exactly get the impression that Wyoming's wolf plan will satisfy the federal government's requirements to move the gray wolf off the endangered species list...Environmentalists sue government to safeguard salmon In a move that could have far-reaching effects on development in the Puget Sound region, environmentalists sued the federal government yesterday to force it to restrict construction that harms salmon protected under the Endangered Species Act...Agency reports forest thinning numbers are misleading "The current method of reporting annual performance under the fuels reduction program is resulting in misleading data on what is actually being accomplished," the GAO says... Prescott mulls selling water from ranch Water will likely become a marketable commodity if the City of Prescott decides to go ahead with a plan to buy the Paulden-area CV Ranch...Questions on fish, air, wetlands likely to face Leavitt in confirmation Throughout his run for re-election in 2000, Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt was stalked by a 6-foot fish. "Whirley," a woman in a trout costume, heckled the governor, deriding his ties to the Leavitt family fish farm that some people claimed had helped spread whirling disease. That disease warps trouts' spines, causing them to swim in tail-chasing circles...

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Kiss your house goodbye

A few weeks ago, I wrote about private-property rights. I wrote about the clash between the rights of individual Americans to their property, and the never-ending quest by politicians for more money to spend on their various vote-buying schemes. That previous column didn't generate enough of an outrage, so I'm back to try again. How about listening up this time?
Maybe it would help if I could be more concise. This time, maybe I can make you understand that the very foundation of liberty is under attack...

Add eco-terrorism to list of threats faced by Americans

In August, radical environmentalists apparently burned down an apartment complex under construction in San Diego, California.
A couple weeks later, eco-terrorists attacked four SUV dealerships in West Covina, another Southern California suburb. Federal agents have arrested a 25-year-old member of a co-op supposedly dedicated to peace and environmentalism for the latter crime.
These attacks were likely perpetrated by the Environmental Liberation Front, which has boasted of committing arson and bombings. Early last year ELF issued "an open call for direct action." It later took responsibility for torching a Forest Service lab in Pennsylvania...

Tuesday, September 16, 2003


Forest Service chief: 'Roadless' ruling won't be appealedThe head of the U.S. Forest Service expects no immediate impact from a government decision upholding a court ruling that lifted a ban on road building in a third of America's national forests. The Justice Department's decision not to appeal U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer's ruling on the so-called roadless policy was welcomed yesterday by industry groups and left environmentalists grumbling...It's not easy being green For years, the rigs used by the U.S. Forest Service have been a familiar green, an agency tradition almost as old as the Smoky Bear image. But that, said Willie Boyer, is changing over time...Forest Service says old Colorado ski lodge has to go Berthoud ski area has offered to sell its 30,000-square-foot base lodge to the Forest Service for $1, but the agency doesn't want it. Instead the Forest Service wants the building removed...Study: Forest Service, Interior lack fire prevention priorities Areas at risk for major wildfire may not be getting the attention they deserve because government agencies have not provided a comprehensive, uniform risk assessment that would enable projects to be prioritized, said a congressional study released Monday. The Forest Service and the Interior Department are not sure how much land is at risk for a major wildfire, what areas are in the most immediate danger or how much it will cost to reduce the risks by thinning, said the report by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress... Governors want more money for endangered species The nation’s list of endangered species is often a dead end for the animals and plants placed on that list, the country’s Western governors said, and Monday these dignitaries called for stronger population recovery programs in the federal Endangered Species Act. The members of the Western Governors’ Association passed two resolutions, asking the federal government to provide more funding for endangered species and to work with states in developing specific strategies needed to move species off the list. The governors also want the Endangered Species Act to be amended to reflect a more comprehensive, recovery-based philosophy... Governors, feds pledge wildlife cooperation When it comes to the federal Endangered Species Act, state and federal governments both can benefit from working together, western governors and two of the nation's top wildlife officials agreed Monday. "We're actively reaching out to state fish and wildlife agencies" for their experience and expertise, said Steve Williams, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency in charge of most endangered species issues...Secretary Norton Announces $12.9 Million in Grants To Support Conservation in 40 States and Puerto Rico Interior Secretary Gale Norton today announced that the department has awarded $12.9 million in cost-share grants under President Bush's Cooperative Conservation Initiative to complete 256 conservation projects in conjunction with states, local communities, businesses, landowners, and other partners...Lawmakers slam Endangered Species Act In a field hearing here to discuss the effects of a recent 10th Circuit Court decision decreeing that under the Endangered Species Act the Rio Grande endangered silvery minnow has a higher priority for water than any other user – including farmers, ranchers and municipalities – members of the U.S. House Committee on Resources pulled no punches in declaring the law was harming the American way of life in the West and had to be "fixed."... Ash readers comb forest A different kind of fire team hit the charred slopes around Highway 330 last week, even as crews continued to search for smoldering stumps and tendrils of smoke still drifted into the air. This team carried narrow shovels, not chain saws, dispensed water in droplets, not deluges, and found yellow-legged frogs far more interesting than orange flames...Forest official surveys bark beetle damage When Regional Forester Harv Forsgren surveyed the bark beetle damage in the Pine area on his first visit to the Rim country recently, he was taken aback. "It was pretty eye-opening to just look at the amount of fuels in and around that community," Forsgren said. "Pretty frightening."...Napolitano says Congress not focused on forest money Gov. Janet Napolitano said Tuesday she fears that Congress won't provide adequate funding to thin national forests, leaving the state in jeopardy at the start of next year's fire season...Conservationists hitch ride with Lewis, Clark Nobody is saying that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark would have sided with salmon advocates calling for the removal of four Snake River dams. But as the nation commemorates the bicentennial of the Corps of Discovery, conservationists are linking the 19th-century heroes to presentmodern-day campaigns aimed at protecting wildlife, wild rivers and wild lands... Did Someone Burn 9/11 Memorial Flag At Top Of Thirteener? An American flag placed atop a 13,589-foot mountain as a memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks was torched, and sheriff's deputies are investigating...BLM moves land auction to Las Vegas casino arena The Bureau of Land Management has moved its next Southern Nevada land auction to a Las Vegas casino arena, citing demand from developers who overflowed a similar auction earlier this year...Leavitt's land record to be eyed Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt's dealings on Utah's vast public lands are expected to come under close scrutiny as the Senate begins debate on whether to confirm him as President Bush's point man on the environment... Helicopter pilot herds mustangs The days of the aerial barnstormer traveling from town to town and amazing the locals are a romantic part of the history books. Likewise, the mustanger has been relegated to the movie screen. Allen Carter of Minersville, Utah, is a throwback. Last week he flew his Bell 47 turbine-powered helicopter to Cedarville. His job: a modern-day barnstorming mustanger...Flathead Reservation water talks to restart After a lengthy delay, negotiations for an interim water rights agreement between tribal, state and federal governments on the Flathead Reservation will resume soon, Clayton Matt, a tribal spokesman, said Monday...
Pearce Introduces Bill to Preserve, Protect and Restore Rangeland Grazing Rights

Congressman Steve Pearce (R-NM) today introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives designed to restore and preserve grazing rights for New Mexico's ranchers.
Currently, many ranchers are prohibited from grazing their cattle on forest lands in the Southwest Region because required studies on the health of the rangeland have not been completed. Pearce's bill would restore rangeland grazing in the Southwest Region once studies indicate conditions are conducive to grazing.
Pearce's bill would require the Secretary of Agriculture to enter into cooperative agreements with New Mexico State University to conduct all studies required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) on National Forest System Lands in New Mexico.
"Agriculture is a large contributor to New Mexico's economy. If our ranchers' right to graze their cattle on our national forests is hindered by a Federal Agency's inability to perform the required rangeland studies, our agriculture economy will take a hit," Pearce said...

Provision in Energy Bill Brings Unease in G.O.P.

To conservative Republicans, especially those from the West, few things are more sacred than property rights. Their attitude is usually that the government, especially the federal government, should keep its hands off private land.
But as they negotiate a new national energy policy, House Republicans and the Bush administration want to grant the federal government substantial new power to allow the seizure of property — even if it means overruling state and local authorities — to establish corridors for high-capacity interstate power lines.
Supporters of the proposal say new transmission lines are needed to head off blackouts like the one that crippled the Northeast and parts of the Midwest last month, and that the new federal powers are needed to ensure that property owners do not stand in the way...

Private Property Rights and Local Control: Can We Have Both?

Private property rights and local land use control have been linchpins of American society for many years but it seems these ideals, sometimes viewed as complementary, have become unlikely adversaries. At least part of the reason is that these concepts have changed over time. Property rights groups seem to be well aware of their own rights, but sometimes lose sight of others’ property rights and oppose development project they don’t like. Local land use control, in principle a process that allows local residents to be involved in planning their cities’ future, has become a forum for outside activists to block new development. The dilemma is that local control can certainly infringe upon property rights, but pure property rights leaves few options for local land use control...

As environmental certification in the United States has grown, standards such as "dolphin-safe tuna" and the LEED rating system for "green" buildings have become commonplace.1 Such certification helps consumers select products that experts have deemed "eco-conscious."
Some people consider certification a free-market way of ensuring environmental protection, while others think it smacks of bureaucratic regulation. The experience of the forest products industry-companies engaged in timber management and the production of pulp, paper, and wood products-suggests that competing certification can be both a free-market and an environmental success...

Edwards Agrees to Oppose EPA Nominee

President Bush's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (search) ran into more problems Monday in the Senate as a third Democrat, presidential aspirant John Edwards, said he would join efforts to block the nomination.
Democrats Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who also is seeking the presidential nomination, previously had said they would put a hold on the nomination of Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (search) as EPA administrator.
Edwards of North Carolina said Monday the nomination should not go forward until the Bush administration provides detailed information on how human health will be affected by changes the administration wants in the way the EPA regulates air pollution, especially from power plants...

Bush Trying to Keep 'Clear Skies' Alive

President Bush is standing firmly behind his air pollution policy, urging Congress to pass his initiative over the arguments of environmentalists who say it would weaken the Clean Air Act.
For the second time in two days, Bush will ask lawmakers on Tuesday to embrace his "Clear Skies" Initiative, a plan for reducing mercury, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide pollution from coal-burning power plants.
"I expect Congress to act," Bush said Monday at a power plant in Michigan as he tried to strengthen his environmental image during a trip that also included a visit to Pennsylvania. The two states are crucial to his re-election strategy...

Owens seeks Species Act changes

Gov. Bill Owens is pushing for major changes to the Endangered Species Act.
Owens said he plans to seek reform of the landmark 1973 legislation based on principles adopted by the Western Governors' Association Monday and on programs developed in Colorado.
Those principles include trying to prevent species from making the endangered list, and working as soon as they are designated to develop plans for their recovery.
Owens will seek the changes as chairman of the natural-resources committee of the National Governors Association, a post he assumed earlier this summer...

Monday, September 15, 2003

Analysis: CEQueuing up to change NEPA

The President's Council on Environmental Quality is overdue to publish recommendations on the way the Bush administration should handle the National Environmental Policy Act, an effort that is eagerly awaited by the regulated community but viewed by conservationists with some justified concern.
In May 2002, CEQ established a task force "to review the current NEPA implementing practices and procedures" in a number of areas, including information management, level of detail of analysis, interagency cooperation and others.
The council's recommendations were supposed to be completed this summer, but the deadline has slipped. CEQ declined to comment either on when the recommendations will be released, or on what they will contain, saying only the agency supports NEPA, one of the cornerstones of U.S. environmental protection, which was enacted in 1970 and signed by President Richard Nixon...

Mother Jones Attacks Bush Environmental Policy

For this magazines report, "The Ungreening of America: How The Bush Administration Is Rolling Back 30 Years of Environmental Progress", go here.

...The Bush administration has been remarkably adept at keeping its environmental assault out of the public eye -- in large part because that campaign has been built around seemingly small, behind-the-scenes changes to obscure environmental rules and regulations...

Ranchers, BLM fight over grazing rights The end of open range grazing on the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is likely drawing near, rancher Bob Miller says. "There has been so much adverse publicity and so many people who don't understand the situation that we will not be able to survive this battle, physically or economically," he concluded... Instant maps? Not a problem for UNM In the world of environmental science speed rules, and the University of New Mexico is building one of the fastest toys on the block - a $1.8 million satellite dish and computer system that can scan the landscape of New Mexico and the entire western United States in real time, instead of the three weeks it now takes to get data. The system, called the Center for Rapid Environmental Assessment and Terrain Evaluation, or CREATE, is the first of its kind to be placed in an academic institution, said Lou Scuderi, an associate professor in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department...Trail in the works for unique volcanic caldera in Arizona About three years after conservationists successfully preserved a wildlife-rich volcanic crater in northern Arizona, plans are being made to allow people to visit this prized land. The U.S. Forest Service, which manages the 247-acre Dry Lake, is proposing a 1 1/2-mile pedestrian trail along the slopes of the crater, or caldera, once earmarked for a golf course and residential community...Lumber company to cut workers, close up shop Last year he was California's agriculturalist of the year. This year he's out of a job, along with his 120 employees...Trees in trouble Drought conditions, storm damage, disease and bark bugs have combined to take down an estimated 350 large, shady trees in Fort Collins in the past two years, costing residents thousands of dollars...Wildfires burn through cash Fighting wildfires is hot, dirty and dangerous. It’s also expensive. As of Sunday morning, the twin fires burning near Sisters known as the B&B Complex had racked up an estimated $30.6 million in firefighting costs. That is an average of more than $1 million per day since the fires began Aug. 19...Remaining crews try to erase footprints of firefighting effort>"After the fire's out, the real work begins," said Amber Kamps, who heads the Lincoln Ranger District. "We've done a lot of damage fighting this fire," she said. "A dozer line is not light use of the land. Now we need to put it all back together again before it gets worse."... Bugs threaten forests Each smaller than a grain of rice, mountain pine and spruce beetles look less menacing than a raging wall of flames, but these pests and their kin could soon become as big an enemy to Colorado's forests as wildfires... ’You play and pay’: Recreation fees raise revenue, controversy It´s part of the federal government´s 8-year-old Recreation Fee Demonstration Program, a pilot program created to raise funds for improvements for facilities like outhouses and boat ramps in about 300 areas across the country. It was started because of the increased popularity of outdoor activities and shrinking federal funds... Fire investigators find the story beneath the soot A firecracker hidden in 30 acres of ash near Carnation. A discarded cigarette in four charred city blocks of Shoreline. A phony story of heroism buried in 137,000 acres of Colorado. As crews throughout the West battle wildfires and pray for more rain, investigators are searching the scorched landscape, finding precisely where fires sparked, what sparked them and even occasionally the culprit — be it perfectly natural, horribly negligent or just plain criminal... RULING PREVENTS HORSE TRAIL PLANNING A regional U.S. Forest Service office has challenged plans for some Shawnee National Forest horse trails in environmentally sensitive areas. Thursday, Eastern regional forester Randy Moore issued a reversal to a previous Forest Service decision to allow the Shawnee National Forest to designate horse trails in natural areas... Governors talk energy and drilling Western states need to develop new sources of energy to offset the United States’ looming natural gas shortage, Robert Card, undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, told Western governors and Canadian premiers Sunday at the 18th annual Western Governors’ Conference in Big Sky. Ten governors from the Western United States and four premiers from western Canada, along with some 400 other assorted attendees, have descended on Big Sky Resort to discuss energy, forest health, health care, endangered species and other topics... Rising Pronghorn Population Fires Debate Sightings of the pronghorn antelope have become commonplace at the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, reviving a high-stakes debate between environmentalists who want to kick cattle off all federal land and ranchers desperate to stop them...Picken's Mesa Water buys water rights in Texas Panhandle county Mesa Water Inc. said Monday it has bought the water rights to 65,000 acres in Roberts County, Texas, from Amarillo-based Quixx Corp... Parks in peril I write on behalf of a group of senior retired National Park Service employees who are very worried about what is happening to the magnificent places in America they have had the privilege to manage in public trust for many decades...Utahns May Soon be Facing a War over Water Rights In the Old West, they used to fight over water. Sometimes they even killed over it. Now a new water war may be shaping up in Utah that could be politically explosive... Valley rancher cares for the land Maintaining the green view Carson Valley residents enjoy is the result of hardworking ranchers, such as Arnold Settelmeyer, whose family has maintained the land for many generations...

Environmental and animal rights groups who commit acts of terror are now targets themselves of a new model bill offered by the bipartisan American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act (AETA) creates penalties for persons encouraging, financing, assisting or engaged in acts of animal and ecological terrorism.
“Most states make no legal distinction between a disgruntled youth vandalizing a public park and an organized eco-terrorist torching a family’s home,” said Sandy Liddy Bourne, advisor to ALEC’s Homeland Security Working Group. “The legislation specifically addresses actions that are designed to intimidate, coerce, invoke fear, or other forms of terror that are committed in the name of environmental or animal rights activism.”
The Act, itself, is detailed in a new publication, Animal & Ecological Terrorism in America, published by ALEC’s Homeland Security Working Group...

For the full report in PDF format, including the draft legislation, go here.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Federal government won't appeal roadless ruling

The federal government will not appeal a court ruling that struck down a Clinton-era ban on building roads in a third of the country's national forests, state Attorney General Pat Crank said.
According to Crank, the U.S. Department of Justice has decided not to appeal the ruling this summer by U.S. District Court Judge Clarence A. Brimmer in Cheyenne.
The roadless rule, issued in the final days of the Clinton administration, limits timber harvesting and other development on 58 million acres of remote forest land controlled by the Forest Service.
The ruling by Brimmer would open the land to oil, gas and mineral exploration. He issued a decision in July concluding the rule illegally created wilderness areas and should be overturned.
Now that the federal government has decided it won't appeal, the only parties in the case who might try to keep the lawsuit alive are eight conservation groups that intervened in the litigation.
The environmentalists, however, might not be able to appeal the ruling because they were not original parties to the lawsuit, Crank said.
''We will argue vociferously that they don't have standing,'' he said...

Arizona forests at risk of vanishing by 2023, researcher says

Every acre of Arizona's forests could be damaged or destroyed by 2023 unless fire prevention and restoration issues are addressed, a researcher said.
The number of trees burned has been steadily increasing since the 1960s due to wildfires, bark beetle infestation, lack of tree thinning, continuous drought and the introduction of foreign weed species, said Wally Covington, director of the Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University.
"If these traits continue, we have 20 years before virtually every acre is affected or degraded," Covington said Wednesday during a Joint Legislative Healthy Forest Task Force hearing...