Saturday, October 04, 2003


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

In a ruling with implications for redevelopment efforts in cities across Arizona, a state court yesterday sided with a family-owned brake shop slated for condemnation to make way for a new hardware store in a designated redevelopment area.
The Court of Appeals said Mesa failed to demonstrate that public benefits from the condemnation of Bailey's Brake Services would substantially outweigh the private nature of the planned use of the downtown site.
The Arizona Constitution says public property can be condemned for a use that is "really public" and that courts should decide whether that test has been met.
It's not enough for a local government, such as the Mesa City Council in the Bailey case, to find there's a public need for the project, according to a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals.
"The city does not propose to take the Baileys' property for a traditional public use such as a street, park or governmental building. Nor is this taking essential for the provision of public services or for reasons of public safety or health," Judge John C. Gemmill wrote.
"Instead, the completion of this redevelopment project will result in the property becoming part of a privately owned retail center with stores, restaurants and office space," Gemmill added...

Militants say they planted Shaklee bomb
Animal activists attacking clients of research firm

A militant animal rights group that claimed it bombed an Emeryville biotechnology firm in August is taking responsibility for Friday's explosion at Shaklee Inc.'s offices in Pleasanton -- warning that next time the bombs will be bigger and more damaging. In an anonymous e-mail sent to fellow activists across the country early Tuesday morning, Revolutionary Cells described the explosive used at Shaklee, a company that sells health, beauty and household products, as a 10-pound ammonium nitrate bomb "strapped with nails."
The same group has taken responsibility for attacking Chiron's office building on Aug. 28 with two pipe bombs filled "with ammonium nitrate slurry with redundant timers." Revolutionary Cells said it is trying to put Huntingdon Life Sciences, a New Jersey research firm that experiments on animals, out of business by harassing its clients. Chiron, and Shaklee's parent company, Yamanouchi Consumer Inc., have both subcontracted with Huntingdon to have medicines tested on animals.
"All customers and their families are considered legitimate targets," the group wrote...


Jack McFarland owns property, which he bought from his grandmother, in Glacier National Park. Like his grandmother and the man from whom she bought it, who staked his homestead prior to Glacier National Park’s creation and received his patent from President Wilson, Jack McFarland accesses his property in the only way possible: via Glacier Route 7. Jack McFarland’s property is just three miles north of the Polebridge Ranger Station...
Since 1910, the NPS acknowledged consistently that it could not deny people like Jack McFarland access to their property, putting it in writing as recently as 1985. That written statement came less than ten years after, in the court’s view, Jack McFarland should have known that the NPS claimed just the opposite. Plus, when Jack McFarland requested a special use permit, he was not claiming a property right but seeking a license, which the NPS could revoke unilaterally. Under the APA, he has a right, as do all citizens, to have that request decided in a manner that is neither “arbitrary nor capricious.” Thus, the court has deprived all who have property disputes with the government of their right, as granted by Congress in the APA, to fair and equitable treatment.
Finally, the court has opened the litigation floodgates. It has told property owners who access their property via federal lands that, any time the United States restricts the access rights of the general public to use those lands, it has acted in a manner adverse to the property owners and, to protect their rights under the Quiet Title Act, they must file suit.

The Environmentalists' Deadly War Against "Frankenfood"

The October 2003 issue of The Atlantic Monthly carries an outstanding article by Jonathan Rauch, "Will Frankenfood Save the Planet? It's required reading for anyone who believes "natural" and "organic" food is somehow superior to "artificial" and "genetically modified" food. More importantly, it's another case study of how environmentalist philosophy poses deadly risks for human beings and--ironically--for the environment itself.
"Frankenfood" is the pejorative environmentalists use to describe genetically modified or engineered crops. It conjures images of mad scientists (are there any other kind?) maniacally manipulating Nature, with apocalyptic results. This plotline is a staple of science fiction and horror stories, with roots that go back to Greek mythology. (See my manifesto on environmentalism for a discussion of this mythology, and its potent influence on our lives.) Rauch's investigation of genetically engineered food, however, presents a very different picture...

The Atlantic Monthly article mentioned in Mr. Bidinotto's commentary can be viewed here.
ALRA ALERT: Emergency Pilgrim Family Airlift

...Your help is needed to get supplies to the Pilgrim Family.
The Berlin Airlift in 1948 was America’s response to a totalitarian top down command and control regime that tried to starve out the citizens of Berlin after World War Two. The Soviets closed the roads, cut the rail road tracks and all other means of access. Heavily armed military guarded the access routes into Berlin. They could not shut down airplane flights. For many months America and other countries joined to keep a starving city alive and supplied with food, fuel and other materials.
Now it is time for the citizens of America and especially Alaska to rise up again against a top down command and control heavy handed bureaucracy, the National Park Service, and keep the Pilgrim Family from being starved out in the Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve. As in Berlin, heavily armed Park Service personnel dressed like a swat team are preventing access for the Pilgrims. Access on a designated RS 2477 Right of Way that is also protected under the terms of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).
The Pilgrim Family Airlift will take place Saturday and Sunday, October 11-12, weather permitting. Supplies including food, money, and materials must be gathered at three locations, Fairbanks, Anchorage and Glennallen-Copper Center by Thursday, October 9th. They will then be trucked to McCarthy. The Pilgrim Family Airlift will begin on Saturday, October 11th

For the rest of the ALRA alert, including collection points and a supplies list, go here. For additional background on the Pilgrim Family go here.
Nevada Live Stock Association
Contact: Ramona Morrison
October 3, 2003

Nevada Rancher Sues Federal Government for $30 Million in Takings Suit

GOLDFIELD, NV—Ben and Juanita Colvin, after years of government harassment and interference with their ranching operation, the confiscation of 62 head of their cattle at gunpoint, and the resulting shutting down of their ranching operation, recently sued the federal government for $30 million compensation under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. The Complaint, filed August 16 in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., alleges in part that the Federal government transferred the Colvin’s water and forage rights to the Bureau of Land Management and third parties; allowed 1,300 head of wild horses to trespass on Colvin’s grazing allotment; and threatened Mr. Colvin’s family and employees to prevent them from using their vested water rights and forage rights.
"The United States terminated Colvin's lease and preference grazing rights without justification, thus attempting to prevent him from accessing his water rights, forage rights and other range rights," commented Mr. Colvin’s attorney, Mike Van Zandt, from his San Francisco office.
Colvin commented from his home in Goldfield, Nevada, “My life’s work is tied up in this ranch. The federal government has been trying to wipe me out financially and now has left me with no choice but to seek damages. They have the power to confiscate my property under the Constitution, but that same Constitution guarantees me compensation for that property.”
Colvin is following the litigation strategy set forth in the similar and successful case of his neighbor, Wayne Hage. Hage filed suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in 1991 after years of attempts by the U.S. Forest Service and BLM to reclassify his rangelands as “public lands” and convert it to other uses. In the January 29, 2002 Final Decision and Finding of Fact, the Court ruled that Hage had “title to the fee lands”, an area of land identified as his grazing allotment. The Court will determine the compensation owed Hage for the government taking of his property in a trial set for May 2004. “The Hage decision is important to hundreds of western ranchers who have been subjected to years government harassment and interference with their ranching operations. Nothing has changed for many ranchers under the Bush Administration. Clinton bureaucrats are still largely in control. But we now have a victory in Hage that provides other ranchers with a road-map showing them how to keep the government honest when they take our property,” said Wayne Hage from his ranch in Monitor Valley, Nevada.
Retired Congressman, Helen Chenoweth-Hage said, “Unfortunately Ben Colvin’s case is not unique. We have been speaking to ranchers all over the West. They always tell me the same story—the government is taking the ability to use their property. The only thing that changes is the name of the environmental red herring. Sadly there are many ranchers who will have no choice but to seek compensation under the Fifth Amendment.”
The government argues Ben Colvin and other ranchers are grazing livestock by virtue of a grazing permit on “public land” and therefore the U.S. F. S. and BLM can manage the land for their own purposes regardless of the impact on the rancher’s business. However, the Supreme Court ruled in Bardon v. Northern Pacific Railroad that, “It is well settled that all land to which any claims or rights of others have attached does not fall within the designation of public land.” Grazing allotments by definition have rights and claims of others attached including vested water rights, forage rights and rights-of-ways, all of which predate the creation U.S. F. S. and BLM. Mr. Colvin will provide evidence to the Court through his chain-of-title that he owns the vested water rights, forage rights and rights-of-ways on his rangeland and that he is not grazing on the government’s “public land”.
Contacts: Ben Colvin (775) 485-6366
Michael Van Zandt (405) 905-0200
Wayne or Helen Chenoweth-Hage (775) 482-4187

For previous stories see Esmeralda County Voters Draw Their Pens; Grand Jury Investigation into Nevada Brand Inspector a Go and Chenoweth-Hage seeks cattle seizure probe. For background on the Hage vs. US case, go here.

Friday, October 03, 2003


USFWS to oppose motion filed by group A federal agency will oppose a motion filed by an environmental organization to stop logging projects that could affect the threatened Mexican spotted owl. The Center for Biological Diversity claimed that "fuel-reduction projects" by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service jeopardize the bird's habitat. The service on Wednesday filed a declaration in a U.S. district court in Arizona opposing the center's motion...Ski Industry Split Over Ads on Chairlifts The Forest Service has given the nation's ski resorts the OK to sell some advertising space on their chairlifts, drawing complaints that the messages will clutter up the great outdoors. The ads will be only a few inches in size and will consist of logos of companies that sponsor programs at resorts; they will not contain slogans or special offers... Court upholds decision tossing property rights case A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a lower court's decision that dismissed a case brought against the U.S. Forest Service over the use of a remote Upper Peninsula lake, a dispute that attracted the attention of the property rights movement. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found that a claim by Kathy Stupak-Thrall and other plaintiffs that Crooked Lake wasn't a part of the Sylvania Wilderness Area and should be out of reach of federal regulation was brought beyond a 6-year statute of limitations for such cases... Forest Service helps forest’s rebirth along In the month since the frenetic firefighting efforts ended here, new labors are under way that Helena National Forest officials and others hope will raise a healthy forest from the fires’ ashes. Hundreds of charred, dead trees lie on private lands near the mouth of the Copper Creek drainage, dropped and stacked by a “feller/buncher.” Here and on the national forest farther up the drainage, the plan is to cut everything greater than 6 inches in diameter, with the thought that the winter snows will fell anything smaller. The merchantable timber will be loaded onto trucks and hauled to mills in Montana; the rest will be chipped into small pieces and scattered... Study focuses on money lost in Tongass timber sales The U.S. Forest Service should focus its energy on creating jobs in the seafood and tourism industries instead of losing money on taxpayer-subsidized timber sales, says a new report by the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council... Editorial: Invest now in healthy forests It will take money to fix the four big problems facing our national forests: invasive species, wildfires, loss of open space and unmanaged recreation. For starters, the Forest Service must fix its finances. This year was the first time the agency got a clean audit from federal accounting experts. But even U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth - who identified the four top problems facing national forests - knows the agency needs to improve its financial practices...Picking up the pieces A war had been fought here. It was a classic battle of man against nature, flame against firefighter, and the scars of their war blanketed parts of the mountainous battlefield in black ash. Like an oasis of life in a desert of destruction, the waters of Cascade Springs rushed down a hillside, green growth still thriving though the landscape around it was charred...Predator conference begins Some conservationists believe that conserving the remaining wildlife and wildlife habitat in Wyoming and the West is not enough. An additional step of restoration is also needed. And the restoration of America's native wildlife population must include key predator species like the wolf and grizzly bear...Wolf lawsuit hurts conservation cause, says attorney The return of healthy wolf populations to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming is a success story unequaled in the history of endangered species management, and yet conservationists seem intent on snatching “defeat from the jaws of victory,” a conservationist-attorney said Thursday. Tom France, general counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, told the 27th Public Land and Resources Law Conference he was dismayed when a coalition of 17 environmental groups filed suit Wednesday, hoping to stop the removal of wolves from Endangered Species Act protection... Lawsuit threatened over Preble's mouse A conservative legal group is threatening to sue Interior Secretary Gale Norton unless Preble's jumping mouse is taken off the government's endangered species list. The mouse, found only in Colorado and Wyoming, was listed as threatened under the act in 1998. William Perry Pendley, president of the Colorado-based Mountain States Legal Foundation, said he will sue Norton unless the mouse is taken off the list. Federal law requires 60 days advance notice of intent to sue...Legal deluge over dam Residents of the Little Thompson River Valley vowed Thursday to defend their homes against a plan to flood the area. "We will oppose every effort to take away our homes and property rights," Susan Pierce, whose home would be inundated, told leaders of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District...Feds: Owl suit raises fire risk A Tucson environmental group's lawsuit to protect Mexican spotted owls threatens to boost wildfire risks on millions of acres in the Southwest, including parts of Southern Arizona, federal officials said. The lawsuit, quietly filed by the Center for Biological Diversity last month, seeks to hold Interior Secretary Gale Norton in contempt of court. If successful, the suit could block scores of tree-cutting projects meant to thin overgrown forests suspectible to devastating canopy fires, officials said. "We are very concerned, during the ongoing drought in the Southwest, that any delays in treating forest areas to reduce high fuel loads could put human life and property at risk of catastrophic wildfires," Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southwest region, said in a written statement... Investors seek environmentally sound gas drilling A group of U.S. investors managing about $14 billion in assets have warned energy companies to rethink how they drill in the Rocky Mountains to mitigate environmental damage and the risk of future lawsuits. "Drilling in an irresponsible way can have significant long-term liabilities. We're saying let's look at how we're doing this and let's minimize the impact," said Steve Lippman, a San Francisco-based analyst at Trillium Asset Management...Plan to expand Silverton ski area divides residents A businessman's plan to allow unrestricted skiing in terrain above this mountain town has divided area residents, with some hoping for an economic boost and others fearing it will put skiers in danger. Aaron Brill has asked the Bureau of Land Management for a 40-year permit to expand his Silverton Outdoor Learning and Recreation Center to handle up to 475 skiers daily, except in areas his snow-safety expert says are too dangerous...BLM seeks public comment on plan for wetlands The Bureau of Land Management has released a management plan for the Overflow Wetlands area. The BLM is seeking public comment on the plan to protect parts of the more than 7,000 acres of wetlands located about 16 miles east of Roswell and adjacent to Bottomless Lakes State Park...Water guru claims SRP wants all of state's water Pine water guru John Breninger believes Salt River Project has designs on all the water in Arizona. Breninger also questioned the wisdom of pursuing the Blue Ridge Reservoir as a new source of water for the Rim country, and was critical of Gila County District 1 Supervisor Ron Christensen's motives in dissolving the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District...Tribes, districts silent on A-LP costs Two water districts and both Ute tribes in Southwest Colorado have promised to keep silent publicly about what they know about cost overruns on the Animas-La Plata Project. At the request of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, lawyers for the water districts and tribes signed a nondisclosure agreement Aug. 21. They pledged to keep in confidence the information they share with the bureau as the federal agency prepares a report on the overruns for Interior Secretary Gale Norton... Rancher Wants To Sell Water Rights A rancher in south Routt County wants to sell water rights worth $5 million for use in the Vail Valley and Eagle County, the Steamboat Pilot & Today reports. The water would come from leftover irrigation water from the Yampa River used by the Flattops Water Company for irrigation on the Toponas Ranch. A water attorney for the proponents of the deal said it wasn’t likely to be controversial because the water is already lost to the Yampa Basin. "It allows a rancher to get some money off a second use of water that, right now, is just being wasted," attorney Glenn Porzak said. The sale could involve up to 1,250 acre-feet... Historic water deal approved In a surprise vote Thursday evening, the board of the Imperial Irrigation District approved a monumental water deal for Southern California that sets the stage for the largest sale of farm water to cities in the nation's history. Meeting in a packed room in El Centro, the Imperial board voted 3-2 to approve a pact that, in various forms, has been tensely negotiated for eight years. The pact, known as the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), allows California to keep receiving surplus water from the Colorado River for the next 13 years. In exchange, California must gradually reduce its pumping from the Colorado -- mainly through a sale of Imperial water to San Diego that could net farmers $2 billion over 75 years...Supes vote to oppose wilderness legislation Amador County joined a growing list of nearby counties opposed to the controversial California Wild Heritage Act, voting against the bill in its current form at its meeting Tuesday morning. The vote ran counter to the wishes of nearly 300 petitioners from Amador County. The bill, which was reintroduced in August by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), would protect 2.5 million acres of California wilderness and would designate 22 California river segments as National Wild and Scenic Rivers... McInnis defends grazing on public lands U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., urged Congress to reject a plan in which Arizona ranchers want to be paid not to graze on federal land. Several Arizona ranchers, meanwhile, said McInnis understated their plight and should give the pilot project a chance. McInnis circulated a "Dear Colleague" letter in Congress that called the pending legislation "the first step toward eliminating grazing on public lands." McInnis wrote his letter anticipating the introduction of a bill by Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz. The bill is expected to call for payments of $175 per animal-unit month to holders of existing grazing leases — bringing relief to drought-stung ranchers and, proponents say, a lighter burden on the national treasury. The bill was expected to be ready in the next week or so, officials from Grijalva's office said... Calling All Cows With growing international apprehension over health and bioterrorism threats—such as mad cow disease, foot-and-mouth disease, and anthrax—being able to quickly track the source of an infectious outbreak in livestock could make the difference between containment and epidemic. Hoping to improve ways of catching disease in time to stop outbreaks, Andresen's team has been developing an electronic device that each cow could wear throughout its life. The equipment could track its location via global-positioning-system (GPS) satellites and monitor the animal's vital signs—all in an electronic form that can be relayed to a farm-based, regional, or even national computer center. The collected data could be used in detailed medical histories of individual animals or as part of a disaster response during a livestock-disease outbreak... Storied South Texas ranch set for birthday celebration Bigger than Rhode Island and swaggering enough to teach Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor how to act Texan, the King Ranch is considered the birthplace of American cattle ranching. Saturday, ranchers from around the world will gather at the South Texas ranch for a 150th birthday celebration, which includes the first live auction since 1988...Texas Bootmaker to the Stars, Leddy, Dies at 66 James Leddy, the renowned Texas bootmaker to the stars of country music and ranchers in the state's flatlands, died earlier this week at the age of 66, his family said on Friday. Leddy, named one of the top makers of cowboy boots in the state by magazine Texas Monthly, was known for turning out custom-made boots in his Abilene shop that boasted delicate inlay patterns, sharp pointed toes and a sturdy construction...Wolf Kill Has Idaho Ranchers Demanding Re-introduced Wolves Be Removed The aftermath of a wolf pack attack that occurred last month north of McCall near Burgdorf has left 55 sheep dead and more than dozen maimed. The attack, which has been confirmed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, has also galvanized groups opposed to the federal government's efforts to re-establish grey wolves in the state... Near trail's end His voice has grown gruff with age, and a pair of hearing aids peek out now from beneath the cowboy hat. But even at 93, Frank Bogert still sits tall in the saddle. "I can still ride and do whatever I feel like," the real-life cowboy and two-time mayor of Palm Springs said in his plain-spoken style. On Saturday, Bogert will once again rise before dawn and set off for Mexico, where he will lead 40 or so friends on a 10-day horse ride through Sierra Madre mountain towns west of Mexico City. It's a 37-year tradition started by Bogert and his longtime friend Ray Corliss. Bogert doesn't plan to ride off into the sunset anytime soon, but he says the end of the trail is near for the annual ride...

PETA's Latest Excuse For Funding Terrorists

In 2002 the Center for Consumer Freedom first revealed that PETA had donated $1,500 of tax-exempt funds to the FBI-labeled terrorist Earth Liberation Front (ELF). Now, in a story about recent ELF arsons, the Associated Press has published the eighth in a series of different explanations PETA has offered for this misguided (and possibly illegal) cash grant.
Yesterday's AP story notes: "PETA said the money was used to send two people to Washington to testify at a congressional hearing on behalf of an ELF spokesman." Funny -- PETA officials never mentioned this in 2002, when they offered the following explanations:

1) "PETA President Ingrid Newkirk says ... that the ELF donation was for a publication (and not its illegal activities)." [The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2002]
2) "[Newkirk] said she did not remember the check to ELF, which was reported on the organization's 2000 tax return." [ABC News, February 26, 2002]
3) "[Newkirk] also said the money PETA gave to the North American Earth Liberation Front was in response to a request for funds for educational materials." [The Associated Press, March 4, 2002]
4) "Newkirk also confirms that [PETA] donated money to the ELF for 'habitat protection.'" [KOMO-TV Seattle, March 5, 2002]
5) "PETA [said they] contributed $1,500 during the 2000 fiscal year to ELF for education and habitat protection." [The Denver Post, March 6, 2002]
6) "The only reason we did it is because it was a program that we supported. And it was about vegetarianism." [PETA communications director Lisa Lange on "The O'Reilly Factor," Fox News Channel, March 7, 2002]
7) "In April 2001, PETA sent a check in the amount of $1,500.00 to the North American Earth Liberation Front Press Office to assist Craig Rosebraugh with legal expenses related to free speech issues regarding animal protection issues." [PETA general counsel Jeff Kerr, letter to U.S. Congressman Scott McInnis, March 14, 2002]

Just to clear up a few points from PETA's many contradictory explanations: PETA's tax return for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2001 (FY2000) lists a disbursement to the "North American Earth Liberation Front." No mention was made of any "press office." And while PETA may claim to have earmarked the grant in question for any number of lawful purposes (depending on what day you ask them), the Earth Liberation Front has no "lawful, charitable, animal protection program activities." Period. In testimony before the House of Representatives last year, even long-time ELF "spokesperson" Craig Rosebraugh was unable to articulate any.

Study Reports Good News on U.S. Air Quality

Air quality in the United States is good and will continue to improve in coming years, according to a newly published report by Competitive Enterprise Institute adjunct scholar Joel Schwartz. The findings of the report, Particulate Air Pollution: Weighing the Risks, challenge the assumption of many activists and politicians that current low levels of particulate matter pose a significant health risk and require increased federal regulation.
The levels of pollutants such as particulate matter have declined dramatically in recent decades and will sink even lower as manufacturers produce new, even more fuel-efficient vehicles and planned reductions in emissions from power plants and industrial facilities go into effect. Despite these improvements, both the Bush administration (the Clear Skies Initiative) and Democrats in Congress have proposed stringent new limits that would be expensive to attain but are unlikely to have any positive public health effects...

Kyoto, Nyet!
...In a subsequent intervention, Putin's economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov, elaborated on the Russian position. According to the Moscow Times, Illarionov voiced doubts about global warming being a stable trend, echoing Russian scientists who told the conference that the Kyoto Protocol's advocates had failed to prove that emissions trigger global warming. They pointed at other factors which require more thorough analysis.
Moreover, Illarionov explained that Kyoto would put constraints on Russia's economic growth. He pointed out that the United States and Australia opted out of the protocol after finding out that compliance would be too costly, and that it would be even less affordable for Russia, which has a much smaller economy. He furthermore underlined that Russia could benefit from global warming: warmer temperatures would help increase harvests, cut energy consumption and open ice-encrusted seas to navigation. "Public opinion was artificially focused on negative consequences of climate change, but there are also positive consequences for both our country and the planet as a whole," Illarionov said...

Bush Hating Claims an Innocent Victim
Several Democrats on Wednesday boycotted a Senate committee vote that would have sent the nomination of Utah Governor Michael O. Leavitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency to the full Senate floor for consideration. The unusual step means further delays in filling the top position at the agency.
While unprecedented in Senate history, the boycott of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing (click on link to see members of the committee) comes as little surprise in an increasingly partisan Washington. Democratic efforts to keep Gov. Leavitt in political limbo aren't about Mike Leavitt -- they're about scoring political points against President Bush.
...The only question that remains is whether or not there will be a political price to pay for such brazen partisanship. For example, Sen. Lieberman has introduced a bill (co-sponsored with Arizona Senator John McCain) he hopes to pass this month to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. It's basically a significant tax on energy use. Sen. Lieberman's decision to forgo a respected public servant's nomination hearing in order to attend a fundraiser -- only then to maneuver to keep his confirmation on hold -- was callous even by Washington standards. Will the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill return the favor and show the Senator from Connecticut the same respect he showed Gov. Mike Leavitt?


Hearing set to discuss curbing drugs in parks A joint field hearing will be held in Sequoia National Park to discuss the growing problem of illegal drug production on public land. The hearing was announced by Doug Ose, R-Sacramento, chairman of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs. The hearing will be held jointly with the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, chaired by Rep. Mark Souder, R-Indiana...House committee approves Berners Bay land swap A House committee has approved a bill for a complicated land trade proposal that opponents fear will spoil the aesthetic and recreational value of Berners Bay, north of Juneau. The House Resources Committee approved the bill Wednesday...Rock Creek Mine appeal denied The regional office of the U.S. Forest Service in Missoula has denied an appeal from a coalition of seven environmental groups and a separate appeal by a Libby woman challenging the Kootenai National Forest's approval last June of an operating plan for the vast silver and copper mine near Noxon. "I find the Forest Supervisor has made a reasoned decision and has complied with all laws, regulations, and policy," McAllister informed the appellants. But she still got it wrong, the environmentalists said. The mine should never be built and the coalition will sue in federal court to stop the mining project and protect the public, representatives of the groups said Tuesday... Senate Republicans Act to Stabilize Public Lands Ranching U.S. ranchers grazing cattle on public lands may be seeing some relief from the current administrative backlog disrupting the cycle of grazing permits. Efforts by Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), with help from Senators Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.) resulted in a provision for grazing permit protection included in the Senate fiscal 2004 Interior Appropriations bill. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) were critical in the success of the effort. The Bush Administration also provided key support for the ranchers. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) are now working with members of the House to reiterate the importance of having this provision included in the final Interior Appropriations Act...Utah Weighs Penalties for Forest Service The state is considering citing the U.S. Forest Service for air-quality violations after its prescribed burn near Heber City last week became an unruly wildfire that blanketed the Salt Lake and Utah valleys with unhealthy soot... Editorial: Forest fires misunderstood As huge wildfires raged across the West in recent years, their smoke signaled that something is drastically out of whack with our national forests. Unfortunately, the flames' true message may have been misunderstood by the public and political leaders. Most North American native forests evolved with fire and are thus well adapted to survive periodic blazes. How often wildfire should occur depends on the ecosystem. The ponderosa pines in Colorado's Front Range, for instance, should burn at least every couple of decades...Potential for bias raised on spotted-owl review The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has asked a Portland-based institute with financial ties to the timber industry to lead a scientific review of the threatened northern spotted owl - a high-stakes effort that could have far-reaching implications for the Northwest and its forests. The nonprofit group Sustainable Ecosystems Institute last year received 44 percent of its revenue - more than $270,000 - from Pacific Lumber, a California-based timber firm, according to federal tax returns. The money paid for a major study of marbled murrelets in Northern California... Conservation and animal groups want better protection for lynx Conservationists and animal protection groups contend a federal agency is failing to protect lynx in parts of Colorado and New Mexico. The groups, in a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Santa Fe, claim lynx are dying because the Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services is using poisons and other lethal means to kill carnivores such as bobcats, mountain lions, bears, coyotes and foxes...Wolf plans scrutinized Wolf management proposals by the three northern Rockies states grappling with growing wolf populations are in the hands of a panel of wolf experts which will determine if the plans will maintain the current wolf population. Wyoming, Montana and Idaho must have plans in place for managing gray wolves before a petition to take the animals off the endangered species list can be submitted to federal officials...Editorial: Adding fuel to the fire If the U.S. Senate needs a push to complete negotiations on a compromise forest management bill, here is a good one: the "Poplar" fire, now in the process of devastating nearly 8,000 acres of forest on the Grand Canyon's North Rim. Add those once-handsome acres to the 22 million scorched since the great drought-inspired woodland holocausts began in earnest in 2000. Nothing will improve in America's western forests until the rains return and Congress acts. Which form of relief arrives first remains an open question...Rio Grande Water for Sale Lion's Gate Water, a Canadian company operating in New Mexico, announced today that it has offered to sell up to 392,000 acre feet of water to the Mexican Government, specifically, the City of Juarez. "Juarez is in dire straights," said Dr. William Turner, of Lion's Gate Water. "The negotiation of international treaties for the supply of water is a never-ending process. Not only are international treaty negotiations implacable, in the post 9/11 world, there is no public funding to build the necessary infrastructure." In June 2003, Lion's Gate Water applied for all of the un-appropriated water that evaporates from the surface of Elephant Butte, Caballo, and Cochiti reservoirs in New Mexico. "This water is wasted and under the water law of the American West, this kind of waste is illegal," said Dr. Turner. In 1979, the U.S. Court of Appeals prohibited the City of Albuquerque from storing San Juan-Chama transmountain project water in Elephant Butte reservoir because the extreme waste of water in a desert environment could not be tolerated. It is locally said, 'Elephant Butte is where we spread our water to dry.' "No longer," said Dr. Turner...Endangered predators thrive in West Eight years after federal biologist Ed Bangs began reintroducing gray wolves into the northern Rockies, the wolf may be taken off the federal endangered species list within a year. Within two years, if all goes according to plan, the grizzly bear population that lives in and near Yellowstone National Park also will be taken off the list. And far to the south, National Park Service biologists Elaine Leslie and Chad Olson are eagerly awaiting a critical step in the effort to bring California condors back to the Grand Canyon area. Sometime in October, the first chick hatched in the wild in northern Arizona since the condors were reintroduced in 1996 is expected to take to the air...Audubon Bighorn sheep's existence disputed For years, it was widely accepted that the Audubon bighorn sheep was a distinct subspecies that had inhabited the river breaks and badlands of Eastern Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska. But with development along the Missouri River corridor in the late 1800s, in addition to the introduction of cattle and sheep to the plains, the Audubon slowly disappeared. The last-known Audubon sheep died in the late 1800s and early 1900s, according to written records. One hundred years later, however, researchers published their findings that concluded there never was a distinct Audubon subspecies. What's more, they also ruled out another recognized subspecies in California and added a new subspecies in the Sierra Nevada mountain range... Nature Conservancy digging to regain wetland from reclaimed farmland An excavator this week was chewing a big hole in dikes constructed decades ago to create farmland on the marshy edges of Upper Klamath Lake. Soon the lake's water will spill across fields that for years served as pastureland on Goose Bay Farms. With the regained wetland, The Nature Conservancy is trying to establish new habitat for young, endangered suckers, said Leslie Bach, a hydrologist with the conservancy...Federal agency to redo habitat plan for threatened Arkansas River shiner Agricultural groups declared victory in a yearlong court battle with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agency's plan to protect the Arkansas River shiner. U.S. District Judge LeRoy Hansen this week dismissed the group's lawsuit against the service after the agency agreed to jettison its policy outlining a habitat area for the pinky-sized minnow and draft a new one. The coalition of 17 agricultural and ranching groups from Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and New Mexico sued last year over the agency's plans to protect the fish. The shiner has been listed as a threatened species since 1998... 4th endangered wolf found dead in 2 weeks The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the deaths of four endangered Mexican gray wolves over a two-week period. The fourth wolf, the dominant male of the Gapiwi pack, was found Sunday on a road near the northern edge of the Gila Wilderness...EPA vote blocked by Democrats Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., and his Democratic allies blocked a committee vote Wednesday on President Bush's nomination of Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency in a bit of partisan theater designed to dramatize their pique with the administration's environmental policies...

Thursday, October 02, 2003


New Source Review Revue

If some Democrats have their way, the environment will emerge as an important political issue in 2004. Democratic partisans and environmental activists seek to brand the Bush administration "anti-environmental" and exploit the Republican party's traditional political weakness on environmental matters. Their reports and press releases make exaggerated claims about the Bush environmental record. The administration has launched an "endless assault" on the nation's basic environmental protections, according to Bradley Campbell, a former Clinton-administration official now heading up New Jersey's environmental agency. For the past two-and-one-half years, most such attacks went largely unanswered by the administration, but there are signs this is starting to change.
A primary target of environmental activist ire is the Bush administration's reform of New Source Review (NSR) regulations under the Clean Air Act. Under NSR, new power plants and industrial facilities must meet stringent pollution-control requirements. Plants built prior to NSR's adoption in 1977, however, are "grandfathered," and only required to install such controls when they are expanded or substantially upgraded. Plants may undertake routine repair and maintenance without triggering NSR's requirements.
For years independent environmental analysts counseled that NSR was in need of reform. As Robert Stavins of Harvard University and Howard Gruenspecht of Resources for the Future noted in January 2002, NSR "retards environmental progress and wastes resources." By requiring facilities that enhance or upgrade facilities to undertake a lengthy permitting process and install costly additional pollution controls, NSR discourages companies from making cost-effective plant modifications that can improve efficiency and thereby reduce air pollution from energy production. According to Stavins and Gruenspecht, "Not only does the New Source Review deter investment in newer, cleaner technologies, it also discourages companies from keeping power plants maintained." This is bad for the environment, not to mention worker safety and plant reliability...

Melting Matters

The largest ice shelf in the Arctic is breaking up and most of Europe just experienced a very warm summer. As expected, those professors, lobbyists and green protestors who make their living promoting the coming apocalypse due to global warming made a fuss about it. Canadian polar scientists are blaming accelerated regional warming for the ice shelf collapse and their European counterparts continue to make the most of the now dwindling European heat to further their agenda to promote the notion that climate change is dangerously sending us towards oblivion.
The latest concern is that melting glaciers and collapsing ice shelves will lead to a massive water crisis. The left-wing British newspaper The Guardian claims that 'climate change is causing increasingly rapid melting of the ice' and that this will damage 'communities that rely on meltwater for irrigation, hydroelectric schemes and drinking'. The loss of ice will 'increase sea levels worldwide'. Even where glaciers are expanding in Scandinavia (and Alaska) this is apparently due to increased snowfall 'also caused by climate change'. So whether it is an expanding or a receding glacier, human-induced climate change is to blame...

Earth First! Revealed
An in-depth profile of the militant environmental group Earth First! (EF!) has just been added to our award-winning and ever-growing ActivistCash website. EF! is largely responsible for introducing illegal acts of sabotage to the environmental lunatic fringe. The PETA-supported Earth Liberation Front, infamous today for burning SUVs and torching construction sites, originally sprung from Earth First! in 1992. Here are a few selections from our new profile:
--Before he quit in the late 1980s, the driving force behind EF! was a man named Dave Foreman. His book Ecodefense: A Field Guide To Monkeywrenching is a how-to for environmental saboteurs. It includes nine chapters of instructions on subjects ranging from tree spiking to destroying roads, from disabling equipment to making smoke bombs. Rodney Coronado, an Earth First! zealot who was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison following a string of arsons, calls the book "our bible."
--"We thought it would have been useful to have a group to take a tougher position than the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society," Foreman remembers. "It could be sort of secretly controlled by the mainstream and trotted out at hearings to make the Sierra Club or Wilderness Society look moderate."
--In 2002, the Earth First! Journal published a two-page spread called "Most-Wanted Eco-terrorists: the Biotechnology Industry." Claiming that "everyone at Monsanto is an eco-terrorist," it opened with a line that has become emblematic of green radicals everywhere: "The Earth is not dying, it is being killed by corporations such as the biotechnology industries, and the people who are killing it have names and addresses." The article then went on to list names and addresses.
--Theodore "the Unabomber" Kaczynski is the radical environmental movement's biggest black eye. Conventional wisdom dictates that Kaczynski was merely an intellectual serial-killer, but his connection to Earth First! and the broader eco-terror movement is undeniable ... Ted Kaczynski did little more than follow what Earth First! openly advocates. The September 1989 Journal included an article instructing:

While Eco defenders are quick to point out that life is sacred and is not a target of Eco-Defense, many doubt that multinational takeover artists who liquidate old growth forests to pay off junk bonds qualify as Life-forms. Such Robotoids, they aver, should be classed with damns, dozers and drillers. A "Hit List" is available upon discreet inquiry.

For Earth First!, this kind of advice is (sadly) not a one-time thing. A cartoon in the 20th Anniversary issue of the Journal noted: "Trees are for hanging. Kill a developer." And the Unabomber could easily have read Dave Foreman's words: "The blood of timber executives is my natural drink, and the wail of dying forest supervisors is music to my ears."

Setting the Record Straight: The White House, 9/11, and Air Quality

Those seeking a rational, fact-based treatment of the EPA response to the World Trade Center collapse surely won't get it by reading Susan Moeller's op-ed in the September 25 edition of Newsday. Moeller, who teaches media and international affairs at the University of Maryland, writes of a "scandal" and "deliberate manipulation" on the part of the White House.
Nonsense. A reasonable examination of the available evidence wholly undermines Moeller's assertions. Moreover, contrast Moeller's views with, of all sources, the New York Times editorial page, which dismissed the entire issue as "retrospective nitpicking." The Times, no friend of the Bush Administration, also agrees with the most recent scientific findings about air quality since September 11: "The broader public faced little or no risk from breathing the outdoor air once the initial cloud settled."...

No Backroom Deals on CO2

...Part of the bargain for passing the Senate version of the energy bill was to allow Sens. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) to introduce a stand-alone bill to establish caps for global warming emissions. Global warming remains an issue of scientific examination, with a number of uncertainties and controversies over the contribution of man-made greenhouse gas emissions to worldwide climate change. To put things in perspective, man-made emissions have been rising, mainly due to the use of fossil fuels, which generates carbon dioxide. However, this is only one of many contributors to the greenhouse effect, with water vapor being the most dominant and least understood greenhouse gas - responsible for 95 percent of the greenhouse effect. Examining carbon dioxide alone, man-made emissions account for less than 3 percent of total emissions... In essence, efforts to cap greenhouse gas emissions are an attempt to comply with the Kyoto Protocol, an international agreement to cap emissions in the industrialized world. Economists have identified the significant costs of this treaty, with estimates ranging from $128 billion to $300 billion a year. As a reference point, President Bush's recent tax cut was only a total of $350 billion with only a $109 billion reduction in 2003, meaning that higher energy costs would virtually offset any boost to economic growth provided by a tax cut. Scientists continue to debate the uncertainties surrounding global climate change and it appears Congress wisely refrained from addressing the issue in the energy bill currently in conference. Until the debate is resolved, the Senate should continue to show restraint, rejecting any legislation that attempts to cap emissions of greenhouse gases.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003


Pistol-packin' citizens patrol Western parks The gray Jeep Cherokee with the large gold star on the door is just about ready to roll. Two men check the gear stowed in the back: tools, medical equipment, radios, GPS device, rappelling ropes, camera, gas mask, body armor, canisters of CS gas and pepper spray, thermos of coffee, and sandwiches. They're both wearing badges, and they both have semiautomatic pistols in black leather holsters tucked into their waistbands. A 12-gauge shotgun stands upright, clamped to the dashboard. But Paul Ehrhardt and Eric (who asks that his last name not be used) are not law-enforcement officers. They're members of the "Oregon Rangers Association," a group of civilians who've taken it upon themselves to patrol the national forests where they respond to emergencies, look for illegal activity, and make citizens' arrests if necessary...Column: Recreation fees are working A trial program allowing four federal agencies to charge for the use of certain public lands remains controversial. The program is working, though, and unless critics can come up with a better idea, there is no reason to abandon it. Supporters say the program is generating money to better maintain popular recreation areas. Critics say the program is unfair to the taxpaying public that already owns the lands and facilities affected... Groups sue Forest Service over Big Hole fire proposal The Forest Service and two environmental groups evidently don't see eye to eye on a proposal to work on portions of the Mussigbrod and Middle Fork fires that burned in 2000. And now it's going to be up to a federal judge to sort it out... Burns tries to restart timber sales A rider quietly attached to the Interior Appropriations Bill passed by the U.S. Senate last week would allow logging to resume on five timber sales stopped by an environmentalist lawsuit against the Kootenai National Forest. And salvage logging proposed by the Flathead National Forest in the wake of this summer's Robert and Wedge Canyon fires would not be subject to the normal environmental reviews under the rider shepherded by Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont... St. Joe River Lands Protected under Easement Agreement for Potlatch Timberlands Potlatch Corporation (NYSE:PCH) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) today announced completion of the first phase of a conservation easement agreement that will forever secure public access, wildlife habitat and sustainable forest management on 2,710 acres of northern Idaho's scenic St. Joe River Valley. The agreement finalized this week permanently transfers Potlatch's development rights to the land and assigns access opportunities to the public. The combined value of rights transferred to the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) is about $600,000. Potlatch will continue to own and manage the land for timber, using third-party certified sustainable practices that meet the nation's highest stewardship standards... Senators hammer out deal on wildfire legislation Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on Wednesday announced the details of a balanced, bipartisan compromise on healthy forests legislation that he said would streamline "restorative forestry" in at-risk and unhealthy forests, yet preserve public input, protect old growth and "rein in" provisions of a bill approved earlier by the House. "This agreement provides for the first-ever statutory protection of old growth, preserves the public's right to participate, and streamlines the appeals process to eliminate some of its worst abuses," Wyden said... Burn zone trespassers risk fines, jail People cannot enter the burned areas "whether by foot, horseback or vehicle" without violating the law. Roland Giller, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, said many individuals are simply violating the order, risking a $5,000 fine, six months in jail, or both. All roads and trails leading into closed areas are posted and law enforcement officers are on patrol... Editorial: New ATV rules necessary Humans can affect wildlife habitat and ecosystems just by traveling through them. Usually, though, the damage done by hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers is minimal, or at least repairable. The good news is that most of the 214 million people who visit our national forests every year are proper stewards of their public lands, leaving behind footprints that disappear and taking with them only memories that last a lifetime. That's not always the case with motorized vehicles, though. The problem is especially pernicious with all-terrain vehicles...Streamlining natural gas drilling A congressional task force Tuesday recommended the creation of a single federal agency to process the permits for natural gas drilling on federal lands. The recommendation will be incorporated in the conference draft of an energy bill that sailed through both houses of Congress earlier this year... Oregon Chosen As Setting for Wolf Lawsuit Environmental groups filed suit Wednesday challenging the federal government's decision to downgrade protection for the gray wolf, a predator being restored in parts of the United States. The federal lawsuit claims the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act in April, when it changed the gray wolf from an endangered to a threatened species, loosening restrictions on killing the animal to protect livestock. Environmentalists said they sued in Oregon in part because wolves introduced in Idaho have migrated into that state, though there have been no confirmed sightings since 2001...(I'm sure it had nothing to do with the judges there, ha!!) ...Sierra shrub not unique after all; removed from danger list A small shrub once thought to be so rare it only grew on a 280-yard stretch of flood plain along the Truckee River isn't unique after all, the government said Wednesday in removing it from the federal endangered species list...Ruling could force changes in grazing practices on Gila A federal judge's ruling on Tuesday could force changes in grazing practices on some Gila National Forest allotments. Delbert Griego, a staff officer for the Gila National Forest, said "a bunch" of allotments could be affected by the ruling. "What it's going to do is force us to reconsult with the Fish and Widlife Service on grazing allotments," said forest staffer Debby Hyde-Sato. "It could cause us to graze differently on those allotments; maybe move the cows out." Allotments affected by the ruling are "either occupied (flycatcher) habitat or areas suitable for habitat if they are restored," she explained...Fish is latest in long line of species spats Getting tired, really tired, of all the debate and legal wrangling swirling around the Rio Grande silvery minnow? You're not alone. The minnow is just the latest of dozens of endangered species throughout America that have frustrated major construction projects, anti-erosion programs for private beachfront property, huge lumbering operations and, in Albuquerque's case, unimpeded access to water during a drought...Irrigators sue over salmon recovery Two irrigators associations sued the federal government as expected Tuesday over its already legally flawed salmon recovery plan. "The simple message here is 'Judge, the hydro system is not broken. ... and try not to trip over all the fish when you're crossing the river,' " said Darryll Olsen, a consultant for both irrigator associations...Cedar River's chinook get big breakthrough For the first time in more than a century, chinook salmon are getting access to prime spawning areas on the Cedar River. Since construction of Landsburg Dam, designed to divert municipal drinking water, chinook have been barred from 17 miles of the river and its tributaries southeast of Seattle...Bears bite at musk oxen population Musk ox kills by grizzly bears in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have dramatically increased over the past decade, according to studies by federal and state biologists. A number of individual Arctic grizzlies have learned how to stalk and take down the shaggy animals, said ANWR ecologist Patricia Reynolds, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service...Bill aims to keep public trails open to pack animals Jennifer Roeser was far from her Sierra Nevada pack operation Tuesday, instead venturing onto Capitol Hill to lobby against what she considers to be unnecessary regulatory hassles. Roeser, 40, and her husband run McGee Creek Pack Station in Mammoth Lakes, one of about two dozen pack operations serving the Sierra Nevada range. Unhappy with some restrictive federal planning, the pack operators helped craft legislation introduced by Mariposa Republican George Radanovich that would make it harder to restrict the pack operations...Go here to view Radanovich's press release on this hearing and his Right To Ride bill (H.R. 2966). FWP euthanizes grizzly for killing area livestock Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks recently euthanized a grizzly bear that killed 17 sheep in the Lincoln area. The 522-pound male had a history of livestock conflicts... Conservation easement largest in state history Conservationists, Plum Creek Timber Co. and state fish and wildlife officials on Tuesday announced completion of a $34 million, seven-year effort to protect from development 142,000 acres in the Thompson and Fisher river valleys of northwestern Montana. The set-aside is the largest conservation easement in Montana history. Brokered by the Trust for Public Lands, the easement protects a wide swath of Plum Creek's commercial timberland from subdivision, but allows continued timber management and logging...Tribe acquires Mustang Ranch water rights Water rights once controlled by Nevada's notorious brothel boss Joe Conforte will go to help threatened fish, a parched river and a shrinking lake. The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe has acquired 461 acre-feet of water rights that were once owned by the kingpin of the Mustang Ranch bordello and will use the water to increase flows in the lower Truckee River and to Pyramid Lake, officials said Wednesday... Critics say Bush plan puts 600,000 Colorado acres at risk Critics of a new Bush administration policy say it will put 600,000 acres of Colorado wilderness at risk of damage from energy development, grazing and all-terrain vehicles. Earlier this week, the administration ordered the Bureau of Land Management to give equal consideration to the commercial value of land before setting it aside as wilderness...Off-roaders get reprieve from fees Fees scheduled to take effect today for off-roaders on 300,000 acres of public land have been put on hold indefinitely while the Bureau of Land Management weighs the need and impacts of fee-for-use programs. The more than 430,000 visitors each year to Dumont Dunes, Johnson Valley, Stoddard Valley, El Mirage and Rasor Off Highway Vehicle areas could pay as much as $20 weekly, or $60 for an annual pass... Interior Department's top lawyer resigning The Interior Department's top lawyer is resigning next month, after having been nominated to serve as a federal appeals judge and initiating an agency investigation into his own conduct over cattle grazing dealings. Williams Myers III, who as solicitor for the department provides legal opinions for Interior Secretary Gale Norton, plans to step down in mid-October to return to his home in Boise, Idaho, where his wife and children are living, department officials said... Settlement reached in Campbell County rancher lawsuit A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought by a Campbell County rancher who charged the state illegally allowed coal-bed methane water to damage his private property. "I certainly hope that other ranchers will have gained because of what has gone on in my particular case," rancher Edward Swarth said Wednesday...Ranchers look to set their land aside FROM HIS SHEEP PASTURE, Terry Rooney looks down on the growing city below and muses about the time his family might have sold its 40-acre ranch for development along the swathe of land that is now Livermore's greenbelt. With local zoning laws preventing much building in North Livermore these days, though, and a City Council bent on protecting open space, he decided to take what he could get this summer, and apply for a new federal offer that would pay him to keep grazing his land. But he was turned down. So were 25 other Alameda County ranchers. Their applications alone offered to sell 12,000 acres into easements held by the federal Department of Agriculture. That equates to more than 13 times the $1.8 million the department set aside this year to protect land in the first year of the Grassland Reserve Program...Minnow dispute simmers as Congress eyes spending The fight over Rio Grande water rights and the endangered silvery minnow will come to a head next week as House and Senate negotiators resolve differences in a spending bill for federal energy and water projects. Both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill expect Sen. Pete Domenici will succeed in his bid to insert language into one of the annual federal appropriation bills mandating that legal requirements to protect the minnow "have been met" and that water deals made by the City of Albuquerque and other governments are exempt federal court action to protect the fish's habitat...Decades-Old Water Dispute Nears Settlement An end to a decades-old water dispute among pueblos and other Pojoaque Valley water users may be in sight. Attorneys for both sides have told a federal magistrate that a final rewrite of a settlement will be done January First. The case dates all the way back to 1966. The state Engineer Office sued to determine water rights of users in the Rio Pojoaque, Rio Tesuque and Rio Nambe watersheds...Vegetarian cowboy risks Canada mad cow showdown The vegetarian cowboy, best known for spurring Oprah Winfrey to spurn burgers, rode into Canadian cattle country Wednesday to warn about the dangers of meat, despite fears of a hostile reception from cattle farmers hard hit by the mad cow scare...5 selected for Cowgirls honors The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame has selected its newest members for the Hall of Fame. The four will be inducted during the 28th annual Induction Luncheon Nov. 14 at the Round Up Inn at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. Inducted this year will be Glenna Goodacre, award-winning sculptor; Ann Secrest Hanson, all-around cowgirl and one of the first female rodeo pick-up riders; Sheila Varian, premiere Arabian horse breeder; and Velda Tindall Smith (deceased), rodeo competitor and one of the founders of the Texas Barrel Racing Association...
Environmentalist Attacks Hit Suburbs

A sabotage campaign by the nation's most radical environmental group has moved from the countryside to the doorstep of the nation's biggest cities.
The Earth Liberation Front, a movement that originated in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, has claimed responsibility for a string of arsons in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Detroit, San Diego and Philadelphia in the past 12 months. No one has been charged in any of the attacks.
The attacks, which included the costliest act of environmental sabotage in U.S. history, have targeted luxury homes and SUVs, the suburban status symbols that some environmentalists regard as despoilers of the Earth.
"Their actions used to be aimed at `out in the country' industries," said Ron Arnold of the Bellevue, Wash.-based Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise (news - web sites), who has written several books criticizing the environmental movement's radical wing. "Now they're are moving from a save-the-wilderness focus to an anti-capitalist focus." ...
Is it the Hamburger or your House?

In a sustained effort to undermine America’s preference for suburban living and promote land use regulations that force families into higher density housing, anti-suburban activists have attempted to link the suburbs with whatever social or health concerns are in the news.
Several years ago writer Neal Peirce blamed the Columbine murders on sprawl, while others have attempted to link sprawl to the rising incidence of asthma, teen alienation, serial killers, air pollution, high taxes, and, more recently, obesity.
Unlike the other unsupportable allegations, the obesity link has sustained a longer shelf life than the others, and recent reports have received widespread media attention. On October 2, 2003, several of these anti-sprawl advocates will attempt to make their case to Congress in a panel discussion in the Dirksen Senate Office Building...
McCain-Lieberman Will Be Costly, Energy Department Warns

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released an analysis of the Climate Stewardship Act of 2003, sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut).
According to the EIA, the proposed legislation to curtail greenhouse gas emissions would have far-reaching negative effects on the American economy.
By 2025, the average American family can expect to pay $444 more per year for energy as a result of McCain-Lieberman, according to the EIA analysis. The average American will have paid nearly $2,500 to comply with the law, and the nation as a whole will have lost more than $500 billion in gross domestic product, measured in 1996 dollars...

Tuesday, September 30, 2003


Editorial: Hope for healthy forests While wildfires have been consuming large swaths of the West, a bipartisan group of senators have been consumed with finding a way to reduce the risk of such fires through an agreement on the president's Healthy Forests Initiative. The deal has not been set because a few details still need to be settled. However, the senators appear to have done so, following a long series of negotiations that began after the Senate Agriculture Committee passed the bill in July...The basic agreement is apparently based on trading greater protection for some forest acres in return for expediting the thinning of others. It provides the first-ever statutory protection for old growth trees, rather than the protections they have had by regulatory interpretation and presidential directive... Studies favor keeping Forest Service jobs in-house A first round of "competitive sourcing" studies has concluded that several types of maintenance jobs in the Forest Service should continue to be done by federal employees, the agency announced Tuesday...Column: Burn the Forest for the Trees The war in the woods has become the fight over the fire line. Before, timber interests, federal officials, and environmental advocates fought over which trees to cut. Now they fight over which fires to suppress, which forests to try to make "fire safe," and - it all comes around - which trees to cut, ostensibly to make sure they don't burn. That fight has become the latest flashpoint environmental issue as the Bush administration strives, under the rubric of "healthy forest" preservation, to undo a Clinton forest plan that drastically reduced cutting on federal land, where most of the remaining old growth is, and to undo three decades of environmental rules...Acting district ranger no stranger to Glenwood Jacque Buchanan is the current acting Glenwood District Ranger, replacing Larry Raley, who recently transferred to the Santa Catalina ranger district in Arizona. Buchanan is in her first days of a 120-day detail that started Sept. 21, but she is not new to the Glenwood Ranger District... Environmentalists sue over logging near Northern California wilderness An environmental group sued the U.S. Forest Service Tuesday over logging plans in a remote area of the Mendocino National Forest, saying the planned timber cut illustrates problems with the Bush administration's Healthy Forests initiative...Agreements give protection to rare frog in Nevada State, federal and local governments joined conservation groups on Tuesday in pledging to work together to save a rare, spotted frog from extinction in Nevada. The unlikely coalition agreed to a 10-year plan to monitor the Great Basin and Toiyabe subpopulations of the Columbia spotted frog and develop plans to ensure its survival...Group looking to protect springs in Burro Mountains Protection of springs and wetlands in the Burro Mountains, and limits on off-road-vehicle use, are the goals of a project sponsored by the Upper Gila Watershed Alliance...Quicksand found in recreation spot Forest officials put out about a dozen signs at Sabino Canyon warning visitors about quicksand accumulating on the side of the bridges along a creek. The quicksand can be traced to this summer's Aspen fire, which charred 85,000 acres on Mount Lemmon and destroyed more than 300 homes, cabins, and businesses...Group: Old-growth forest neglected An environmental group here says the U.S. Forest Service is intentionally neglecting old-growth forests and the wildlife that lives in those areas. The Ecology Center, which has been embroiled in a lawsuit with the federal agency over logging in northwestern Montana, said it has compiled a report on forest management in Montana and northern Idaho... Environmentalists call for protection of Black Hills snail A species of snail in the Black Hills National Forest of southwest South Dakota and northeast Wyoming should be protected under the Endangered Species Act, environmental groups said...Forest service leads Agenda 2020 western forestry research A partnership among industry, government, and the forest products industry is working to help the United States reduce its dependency on fossil fuels, increase carbon sequestration, and help promote sustainable development of global economic competitiveness in rural communities. In 1994, forest products industry leaders created a vision of the industry in 2020 and called it Agenda 2020. A collaborative research partnership also was formed by the Department of Energy and the American Forest and Paper Association to make the vision a reality. The Forest Service joined the partnership in 1999...Mother Nature messing with spawning ritual It's probably the warm temperatures keeping the kokanee salmon from making their yearly exodus from Lake Tahoe to Taylor Creek to spawn. Or it could be a bum year in the salmon cycle, said Jeff Reiner, an aquatic biologist at the U.S. Forest Service. But the 14th Annual Kokanee Salmon Festival will happen this weekend whether or not fish show up...Wasatch officials slam Forest Service When Forest Service officials attempted to calm Heber Valley residents last week by apologizing for the "inconvenience" of an intentional burn that exploded into a wildfire, some citizens felt it was exactly the wrong tack. The Cascade II fire that spread from a planned 600 acres to 8,000 acres before it was fully contained Monday night blanketed three counties in smoke and resurrected Heber Valley residents' memories of a 1990 conflagration when a Wasatch Mountain wildfire overran two volunteer firemen and destroyed homes... BLM standoff divides Kanab This town's fight over management of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is creating tension between those who say the issue has made Kanab a laughingstock and those who say the federal government is meddling. Kane and Garfield counties and monument officials have been at odds over grazing and road issues in the nearly 2 million-acre southern Utah monument since it was created by former President Clinton in 1996...Editorial: Forest invasion A silent but deadly invasion is underway, creating one of the gravest threats our national forests and other public lands have ever faced. Humans have introduced, deliberately or accidentally, new species against which natural ecosystems have no defense. Invaders include noxious weeds, foreign insects, contagious tree diseases, predators from other countries and even domestic animals gone wild...Endangered Species Act anniversary brings focus to conference In recognition of its 30th anniversary, the Endangered Species Act will take center stage at this year's Public Land and Resources Law Conference. Presentations Thursday and Friday at the University of Montana will examine the ecological, economic, legal, political and social consequences of the act over three decades of implementation in the West...Hunter mistakenly kills griz in Flathead A bowhunter shot a grizzly bear south of Kalispell last week, mistaking the animal for a black bear...Judge rejects dismissal of environmentalists' lawsuit A federal judge ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday to propose critical habitat for the endangered willow flycatcher within a year. U.S. District Judge C. LeRoy Hansen rejected the government's motion to dismiss the case, filed by the Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity in March 2002...Hillary Clinton Says Bush Is Reversing Essential Regulations Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) accused the Bush administration of attempting to "undo the 20th century" by rolling back federal environmental regulations that she believes are essential for a healthy planet. Speaking at the League of Conservation Voters dinner in Washington, D.C., on Monday night, Sen. Clinton told a crowd of about 550 environmental activists that the Bush administration is determined to reverse more than just environmental regulations...Report finds strengths, weaknesses in Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered species program Congressional investigators generally approve of the way the Fish and Wildlife Service is putting science into its endangered species program but say improvement is needed in decisions to protect habitats needed for species to recover...Some areas losing wilderness status New guidelines issued Monday by the Bush administration could allow oil and gas companies and off-road vehicles on federal lands that had been off-limits to protect their natural qualities. The policy directives implement an agreement Interior Secretary Gale Norton struck with Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt in April to resolve a lawsuit the state filed against the department...New natural gas reports urge more access Environmentalists Tuesday challenged the validity of new reports urging greater access for the energy industry to public lands in the Rocky Mountains. The Wilderness Society and other green organizations told reporters they had objections to the methodology used to come up with the amount of natural gas the National Petroleum Council and other "industry representative" groups say is locked up by environmental restrictions...Rehberg pursues Breaks bill Montana Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg on Tuesday renewed his effort to pass legislation removing private property from the Missouri River Breaks National Monument. "The federal government's decision to include more than 80,000 acres of private land in the Monument's boundary sends one clear and unmistakable message to the families involved: Washington wants your land,'' Rehberg said...Ranchers forced to shoot hundreds of cattle Some Canadian ranchers are finding it cheaper to shoot their animals, or send them to slaughter at cut rates, than having to feed them during the winter while hoping for a rebound on prices ravaged by mad-cow disease...Disease destroys elk ranch Judith Harrington is giving up on her dream of raising elk in Colorado and moving back East. The reason is chronic wasting disease. She can't sell her animals because several states ban elk from Colorado. She is looking for people to shoot the animals for meat: $500 for a cow and $1,000 and up for a bull...