Saturday, October 11, 2003


Bush Appointee Lied to Congress A Bush administration appointee misled Congress in 2002 on the negative impact of new power plant emissions rules on ongoing federal lawsuits against coal-burning utilities. The Environmental Protection Agency in August eased rules for utilities to make it easier for them to revamp facilities without triggering expensive pollution-reduction requirements. Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen says in a report released today that EPA Deputy Administrator Jeff Holmstead gave "false and misleading testimony" in July 2002 to a joint Senate committee by claiming the rules would not harm ongoing federal lawsuits. Holmstead calls Public Citizen's assertions "absolutely outrageous and completely untrue," and said the rule changes had not harmed the cases. Buit Holmstead, in defending the EPA's positions, told other lies about the issue, including a misrepresentation of positions of a former EPA official... Sen. Clinton still intends to place hold on EPA nominee Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday she still intends to block Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt's nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency, after her office received new details of how the White House and EPA fought over air quality concerns after Sept.11. Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee had requested more information about an August EPA inspector general's report which found the agency was pressured by White House officials to prematurely assure New Yorkers the air pollution from the World Trade Center rubble posed no health threat. Documents sent to committee members show there were screaming arguments between some White House and EPA staff, as members of the White House Council on Environmental Quality insisted on changes to EPA's public statements about the air around ground zero...Column: Leavitt Hold-Up The source of Leavitt's confirmation difficulty is not policy, but politics. Senate Democrats have decided that slowing Leavitt's confirmation is in their political interest. The margin by which voters trust Democrats more than Republicans is greater on environmental protection than on any other issue. Thus, Democratic strategists surmise, anything that keeps environmental issues in the public eye works to the Democrats' advantage. Some even hope to drag the confirmation to the end of the year, forcing President Bush to consider a recess appointment, thereby giving Democratic presidential candidates an issue throughout the spring. It's no wonder that every Democratic senator still running for president has placed a hold on Leavitt's nomination. At Leavitt's confirmation hearing, Democratic senators devoted most of their attention to current Bush administration policies, largely ignoring Leavitt's record in Utah...Cattle don't keep time, but Leonard Johnson does It's 5 a.m., an hour before dawn coaxes the chill from the high-country air, and 66-year-old Johnson is cooking bacon and eggs and brewing coffee in his cowboy cabin. Nearby, one of his employers, Ed Booth, begins to stir, and soon the two men are seated at a small table, eating and talking about what lies ahead. It's Sept. 29, and today Johnson, Booth and a dozen others will drive 1,300 head of cattle from their summer grazing grounds north of Creede down the mountain to the various ranches from which they hail. Booth is one of four ranchers who pay the Forest Service to let their cattle graze on 1,000 acres of the Rio Grande National Forest in the summer. He and other members of the Park Cattlemen Association have been taking their cattle to the national forest for 50 years. Come the end of summer, it's time to move those little dogies back home... Editorial: Let's leave the howling to the wolves If NWF's having trouble getting things right, it's in good company. When it comes to figuring out what comes next with wolf recovery, almost no one is getting it quite right. The path toward restoration of a species that had been nearly exterminated from the lower 48 states leads through uncharted territory, and the route best taken is debatable. What's more, restoring threatened and endangered species in recent decades has, in general, been a quixotic undertaking in this country. We have a lot more experience - and, for some, perhaps comfort - addressing failures than successes. Which is what we've got on our hands with wolves - a rousing success. Healthy, thriving populations of wolves have been restored to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. It's happened far faster and with fewer problems than many people dared hope in 1995, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began transplanting wolves from Canada to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho, leapfrogging migratory wolves that had already begun slowly recolonizing western Montana on their own...Greens intend lawsuit over mountain plover A coalition of conservation organizations notified the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Friday that they intend to sue over last month's withdrawal of Endangered Species Act protection for the mountain plover. The 60-day notice of intent to sue is required under the act and gives the Interior Department that much time to respond or settle out of court...Summer's Salmon Die-Off Worst In Recorded History Nine of every 10 threatened Butte Creek spring-run Chinook salmon may have died before they could spawn this summer, a federal agency said in asking that Pacific Gas & Electric Co. be ordered to do more to avert annual fish kills. A greater percentage of salmon died in Butte Creek, near Chico, than in the massive Klamath River kill in Northwest California a year ago that killed 33,000 fall-run fish. This summer's die-off in the state's largest spring run is the worst since the state began keeping track. Still, more fish survived than existed before PG&E began diverting water for hydroelectricity in the Sacramento River tributary, said California Department of Fish and Game fishery biologist Paul Ward on Friday... Provisions Benefiting Energy Industry Are Folded into Bill Now Republicans drafting broad energy legislation have decided not to wait for EPA to issue its final report. Instead, the House-Senate compromise on the energy bill exempts the technique, known as "hydraulic fracturing," from some of the controls of the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act. The little-noticed decision shows the extent to which the far-reaching energy legislation has become a catchall for environmental provisions long advocated by industry lobbyists. Some controversial initiatives, such as one allowing oil and gas exploration in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, could yet be removed from the bill to improve chances of passage in the politically divided Senate. But other less prominent environmental provisions, especially ones dealing with water issues, seem likely to survive, according to congressional aides in both parties. For example, language agreed to by House-Senate negotiators would, for the first time, end a requirement that construction activities related to oil and gas exploration operate with a permit under the Clean Water Act... Proposal keeps recreation on fringe of Headwaters reserve Visitors would be kept mostly to the edges of the 7,400-acre Headwaters Forest Reserve along California's northern coast, under a U.S. Bureau of Land Management plan sent to Congress this week. Millions of dollars would be spent over eight years to restore watersheds and the ancient redwood forest that was purchased in 1999 by the state and federal governments for $380 million to save it from logging by Pacific Lumber Co...BLM offers $1,000 reward to catch vandals at Lovelock Cave Federal officials frustrated by ongoing vandalism at a historic cave site in northern Nevada announced a $1,000 reward Saturday to help catch the crooks. The reward will go to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for the vandalism at the Lovelock Cave recreation site southwest of Lovelock, Bureau of Land Management officials said... Fishing is history at Skull Point reservoir A Lincoln County coal mine is seeking federal permission to use the small Skull Point Reservoir near Kemmerer as a sediment control pond, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials said the proposal marks the demise of a once-popular recreation area that offered good fishing experiences to local anglers for many years...Chirikof's wild cattle herd face expulsion from island home They are touted as some of the hardiest cattle in the world, robust members of a wild herd that's roamed this remote Alaska island for more than 100 years. The herd on Chirikof Island is a mix of Angus, Siberian and other breeds that survived long stretches without a human caretaker. Initially introduced in the late 1800s, the cattle supplied meat for early pioneers, including whaling crews and an Arctic blue fox industry established by Russian fur traders... BLM to restrict usage along West Walker River Bureau of Land Management plans to restrict motorized vehicles and prohibit camping along a one-mile stretch of the West Walker River east of Smith Valley have been finalized, officials said Friday. The emergency closure, prompted by environmental damage to the popular Wilson Canyon Recreation Area, is scheduled to take effect when the notice is published in the Federal Register...Udall urges Norton to keep wilderness policy Rep. Mark Udall, D-Boulder, has urged Interior Secretary Gale Norton to keep the current policies that allow for interim wilderness protection for Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in Colorado. Since 1997, the BLM's various state directors have developed the interim wilderness protection policy in Colorado. The policy was implemented with public input and received more than 3,000 comments from citizens across the state concerning it and lands examined under it for wilderness potential. Last month, as a result of a settlement in a case in Utah, the BLM rescinded similar policies related to lands proposed by citizen groups for wilderness designation in that state, and Norton applied the Utah settlement to BLM lands nationwide...Mustang trainer's love not mere horseplay Enter Phil West, 44, a Mono County sheriff's deputy who has honed his own brand of mustang training over the years. West tries to attend as many BLM adoptions as possible, he said, giving educational demonstrations on the gentling and trust process that needs to happen between a mustang and its trainer. West lives in Bishop, where his wife, daughter and son all ride mustangs he has gentled and trained. West uses one of the horses for the mounted patrol... Column: Squeezing multiple use Multiple use was once the guiding principle behind public lands management. The idea was that many uses could be balanced across many acres. America was a place for all walks of life - cowboys and fishermen, loggers and miners, family vacationers and wildlife... These high-profile use conflicts highlight the sort of controversy public lands are known for. Traveling through the Thompson Creek country you can see a few places where livelihoods are made. Yet I saw no huge clearcuts, no overgrazed range, and no gas wells discharging into surface water. The scale was modest, and you get the feeling that people can live there without the benefit of a trust fund or comfortable retirement account. You will also find a lot of remote and wild country, which is one reason why some environmentalists would like to see the creation of a new wilderness area there...Bush eases land rules for miners, angering environmentalists The Bush administration has announced that it will start allowing companies that mine gold, silver, and other precious metals as much public land as they need to help them develop their claims. The decision, a reinterpretation of the 1872 Mining Law, came in response to pressure from the mining industry and members of Congress in big mining states. They said that because of the requirements of modern mining, it takes more space to work a standard 20-acre claim than the five acres allowed for "mill sites" in the 130-year-old law. Concerned that government regulators were failing to restrict the size of mining sites, John Leshy, the Interior Department's solicitor in the Clinton administration, issued an opinion in 1997 stressing that only one five-acre "mill site" should be allowed for every 20-acre mineral claim. The Bush administration's action on Friday overturns that decision. A legal opinion, released in Nevada on Friday evening, said that the 1872 law does not limit how many five-acre mill sites could be granted along with a mining claim...Rangers ask help with pot gardens: Money still needed to stop drug problem, they tell lawmakers Police and park and forest rangers pleaded their case for more drug enforcement money and resources to a trio of congressmen Friday morning. The hearing at Sequoia National Park's Wuksachi Lodge offered some surprises for the lawmakers and shed light on bureaucratic obstacles facing local, state and federal narcotics officers as they combat a burgeoning problem of marijuana and methamphetamine being produced in national forests and parks and on other public lands...Klamath plan meets opposition: Conservation groups say a proposed land transfer threatens old growth and wilderness Fearing a potential decline in wilderness preservation and stepped-up logging operations, 17 Northwest conservation groups this week opposed the transfer of national forest lands the size of Rhode Island to the Klamath Tribes. Instead, the groups argued for the federal government to purchase 400,000 acres of private lands to compensate the tribes and bring an end to the region's water battles. But conservationists, led by the Oregon Natural Resources Council, found no support Friday among Klamath farmers and tribal leaders, who said any such plan would only bring more anger and division to the region. The proposal comes as farmers and tribes, with the Bush administration's support, try to forge an agreement to assure farmers in the Klamath Project a predictable, if reduced, water supply and to restore fish and wildlife promised to the tribes under their 1864 treaty with the government... Deal protects riverside land: 8,000 acres along Skykomish barred from development People worried about suburban sprawl along the scenic Skykomish River can rest a little easier after a local conservation group announced yesterday that a large piece of land along the river -- almost 8,000 acres -- will be permanently protected from development. Under the deal, the land's owner, Hancock Timber Resource Group, sold the land to private individuals. They then sold a conservation easement -- a bundle of property rights that forbids development -- to the state Department of Natural Resources for $2.4 million. The Cascade Land Conservancy, a local, non-profit land trust, brokered the deal. The Forest Legacy Program paid for it. The program, part of the U.S. Forest Service, helps states protect forests... Book Review: Visit Yellowstone with first tourists In "A Ride to the Infernal Regions: Yellowstone's First Tourists," Eugene Lee Silliman lets you read a firsthand account of what National Park Service historian Lee Whittlesey describes as "the first documented commercial tourist party" to visit the area. Silliman has edited the 1871 and 1872 articles written by Calvin C. Clawson, a Deer Lodge newspaper editor who made that first tourist trek. Clawson wrote about the three-week journey in 17 installments printed in the New North-West, a territorial newspaper. The stories of Clawson's trip with four other men and guide Gilman Sawtell are brought together in the new book... Cave in Missouri veritable 'Ice Age time capsule' The dynamite that blasted into limestone for a new road in Greene County uncovered proof that 1,400-pound short-faced bears roamed the Ozarks during the Ice Age, and they struggled with arthritis and gout. Mr. Forir and other researchers are also investigating the possibility that herds of peccary — piglike animals — sought shelter in caves thousands of years ago, as opposed to being dragged in by predators for food. "Everywhere you look in here, you find something significant," said Mr. Forir, president of Missouri Speleological Survey... Mauled filmmaker was warned about his behavior For a dozen years, park rangers and bear biologists warned Timothy Treadwell that his up-close encounters with Alaskan brown bears were inexcusably dangerous. For all of those years, Treadwell ignored the warnings, insisting that he had a special gift - that bears accepted, even welcomed, his presence in Katmai National Park. Summer after summer, he returned to remote Kaflia Bay, making camp in dense brush on a trail thick with grizzlies, pressing in close as the bears grazed in deep meadows or fished the coastal salmon runs, breaking every rule the rangers imposed. "I love you," he chanted, as he set up a video camera inches from a bear. "I love you, I love you, I love you."...Crapo's closed water talks continue In an attempt to convince the conservation groups to stay out of the courts, Crapo has brought people from every related interest he could think of to a series of talks that, most recently, took up most of Thursday and Friday morning. And the farmers, irrigators, ranchers, city leaders, environmentalists, conservationists and politicians at least agreed on one thing: To keep talking. And here's what they're talking about: 3.5 million acres of farmland, bringing in about $2.9 billion a year. And they're talking about the fish that led Lewis and Clark from what would become Idaho, along the Snake and Columbia rivers, to the Pacific Ocean. But they're talking behind closed doors - like the other major water debate going on between water users and the Nez Perce Tribe. The tribe claimed the rights, by seniority, to virtually the entire Snake River, and if the three-year mediation effort leads to an agreement, it could radically effect anything Crapo's group decides as well... Cowboy church attracts worshippers A life-size cardboard cutout of a smiling Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger stands in the background of the stage. The curtains are made of red handkerchiefs hung over horseshoe-shaped fixtures. It's not a normal setting for a worship service, but the Cowboy Church in a theater room on the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper rounds in Benton drew 27 people last Sunday. It's part of a growing trend to cater to "country folk" who might not be comfortable with the trappings of organized religion. "We don't need all the "thees and thous,'" said church founder Dan Boyd, whose white beard and suspenders have some confusing him with country singer Charlie Daniels. "People don't say those King James prayers when they're hurting." The nondenominational church is similar to hundreds popping up nationwide that create a setting for worship that reflects a cowboy way of life...On The Edge Of Common Sense: My cow is sick - can you write a poem? I have a friend who is a well-known actor. We see him in the movies and on television often. However, he started out shoein' horses. I've always appreciated that in him. He has a useful skill. Sure, he can act, but can he do anything? You bet, when the chips are down, he can shoe your horse. I went to veterinary school so when I graduated and went lookin' for a job and the prospective employer asked me, "What can you do?" I could say, "I kin fix yer cow!"...Government considers testing cattle for mad cow infection While no case of mad cow infection has ever been found in the United States, the Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration are looking at new ways to combat the disease. One proposal being discussed is to test all cows that get sick and die on the farm, even if mad cow is not suspected. Discovery of a sick cow in Canada has led the United States to re-examine ways to protect U.S. herds. Veterinarians and food safety regulators test for mad cow because it is linked to a similar incurable illness that affects humans, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The Agriculture Department wants to test for mad cow disease in cattle that get sick or die on the farm. The idea is to head off any problem early, prevent the brain-wasting illness from infecting animals and, ultimately, to protect consumers. The agency also is proposing that farmers end the practice of sending the carcasses to rendering plants to process them for pet food and animal feed, in an effort to lower the risk for the disease... No foot-and-mouth found at border Preliminary tests indicate cattle quarantined because they had blisters in their mouths are not sick with foot-and-mouth disease, the Agriculture Department says. Peter Fernandez, associate administrator for the department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, made the announcement Friday, a day after U.S. officials quarantined the herd of 40 cows because of the blisters. Fernandez said scientists at the department's laboratory in Plum Island, N.Y., were still checking for other diseases, but the cattle "are not sick with any foreign animal disease that would stop trade." ...Mexico closes border as USDA tests cattle Mexico has shut down its borders to livestock trade with the United States after U.S. officials quarantined a herd of cattle that may have symptoms of disease, Agriculture Department officials said Friday. The 40 U.S. cattle that were stopped Thursday before crossing the border into Mexico at Nogales, Ariz., do not have a fever, which is a key symptom of disease, said Peter Fernandez, associate administrator for the department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Mexico's decision to shut down trade Friday morning may have been premature, he said...

Misinformed missteps on warming

There are few things more dangerous than a misinformed politician seeking to enact a politically correct regulation or legislation.
And there is nothing quite like presumed global warming to provoke politicians and journalists (and even some scientists) into expressing incoherent hysteria and alarm. A perfect example of both is the recent action by the mayors of Newton and Worcester, Mass., to curb global warming.
Whoever is advising these mayors on climate change policy has grossly misinformed them. For example, in an effort to show how important reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is, the mayors claim a scientific consensus exists that a 75 percent to 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gases is necessary. Such a reduction in CO2 , however, would end life as we know it, since most (if not all) plants would not survive at such low levels...

Friday, October 10, 2003


$15,000 tab likely for USFS helicopter to empty Nev outhouse The Forest Service hired a helicopter Friday to haul sewage from a remote outhouse in northeast Nevada at the end of a national forest road, saying an offer by a group of anti-federal activists to do the job for free posed a health hazard. The aerial hauling of an estimated 1,000 gallons of sewage from the outhouse near Jarbidge along the Idaho-Nevada line, combined with a contract with a septic pumping service, is expected to end up costing as much as $15,000, Forest Service officials said. A local citizens group that disputes the government's right to close the washed-out South Canyon Road to the outhouse had planned a volunteer work project on Oct. 18. The so-called "Shovel Brigade" said it could do the job, at no cost to taxpayers, using either four-wheel drive trucks or possibly a horse-drawn wagon... Judge rules against Forest Service on six timber sales A federal judge Thursday extended the halt on logging six old growth timber sales in Oregon, ruling that the U.S. Forest Service violated environmental laws in evaluating the projects. U.S. District Judge Garr M. King found that the Forest Service failed to survey for rare plants and animals that depend on old growth forests to survive, as required by the Northwest Forest Plan. The judge also found that the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to include the public in its decisions... Landmark Fire Report Offers Solutions to Wildland Fire Management Dilemma; Phone Media Briefing Set for Oct. 14 The recent fire legislation deal made in the Senate fails to sufficiently prioritize community protection as the first tenet of wildland fire policy. With language fraught with room for abusive interpretation, the bill does not go far enough to safeguard the lives of those most in need. Like the House bill, it is not environmentally sound public policy focused on protecting the homes and communities of Americans. In its new report, "The Wildland Fire Challenge," The Wilderness Society offers a plan to prioritize these communities at risk, examine the data inconsistencies of Forest Service science, and offers a plan to restore healthy forest damaged by fire suppression efforts over the past half-century...Regional forester rejects appeals of Arizona forest thinning plan An 8,000-acre forest thinning project in Kaibab National Forest should be allowed to continue, a regional Forest Service official said in rejecting an environmental appeal. The thinning project, which is expected to cover 267,000 trees including 7,000 trees larger than 18 inches in diameter, followed all environmental laws and guidelines, said Abel Camarena, the southwestern deputy regional forester in Albuquerque, N.M...Forest Service cancels plan to poison creek The U.S. Forest Service has suspended a California plan to poison a stretch of wilderness creek, triggering a national review of the competing environmental responsibilities between the state and federal governments. Hundreds of joint federal-state partnerships trigger environmental reviews under state or federal law. In many instances, however, they have proceeded after just a state environmental review, a practice challenged by a federal lawsuit and the Forest Service's decision. The state Department of Fish and Game had been set to kill nonnative fish in 11 miles of Silver King Creek, an Eastern Sierra tributary of the Carson River south of Lake Tahoe. The poisoning was part of a high-priority plan to reintroduce native Paiute cutthroat trout, which are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act... Forest Service investigates destruction of trees JAMESTOWN, Colo. The Forest Service is investigating the destruction of more than 100 trees near this mountain town. Many trees, some of which were 2 feet diameter and hundreds of years old, were pushed or pulled over, while others were snapped violently. Forest Service officials believe heavy machinery was used to carry out the mayhem around Labor Day...U.S. May Expand Access To Endangered Species The Bush administration is proposing far-reaching changes to conservation policies that would allow hunters, circuses and the pet industry to kill, capture and import animals on the brink of extinction in other countries. Giving Americans access to endangered animals, officials said, would feed the gigantic U.S. demand for live animals, skins, parts and trophies, and generate profits that would allow poor nations to pay for conservation of the remaining animals and their habitat. This and other proposals that pursue conservation through trade would, for example, open the door for American trophy hunters to kill the endangered straight-horned markhor in Pakistan; license the pet industry to import the blue fronted Amazon parrot from Argentina; permit the capture of endangered Asian elephants for U.S. circuses and zoos; and partially resume the trade in African ivory. No U.S. endangered species would be affected... Toxic Air Pollution from Copper Smelters Challenged The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is failing to protect communities and the environment from toxic air pollution emitted by copper smelters, environmental groups argued today. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard oral arguments in a case (Docket # 02-1253) challenging EPA's inadequate regulations for controlling toxic air emissions from primary copper smelters. Earthjustice is representing the Sierra Club in the case... FWP delays vote on range easement HELENA - The state Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission on Thursday delayed action on purchasing a nearly $1 million conservation easement after one member chastised fellow commissioners for not looking over the land first. The proposal would give the Gordon Cattle Co. $945,000 to establish a perpetual conservation easement on two areas of its vast ranch north of Zurich along Montana's Hi-Line. In the works for about five years, the plan would result in maintaining native prairie grassland and about 400 acres of wetlands, while still allowing the ranch operations to continue. The easement would limit residential development to one site; prohibit draining or filling of wetlands; protect the prairie from weed spraying, plowing and burning; forbid fee hunting; and ensure public hunting will continue... Interior Department Corrects Erroneous Mill Site Interpretation Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Rebecca Watson announced today that the Department of the Interior is issuing a final rule to improve regulations on locating, recording and maintaining mining claims or sites. The final rule includes a provision, based upon a new Solicitor's opinion, that will restore the department's traditional interpretation of the mining law's mill site provisions. "The Solicitor's opinion and the final rule remove unnecessary and burdensome requirements for mine operations while fully protecting the environment," Watson said. "This action will also encourage a reliable supply of the critical strategic minerals that we need to support our way of life, the economy and our national security."... Gas drilling companies ready to dig in: Permit applications at all-time high for BLM Energy companies have applied for 261 natural gas drilling permits at 34 locations over the next two years on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property in western Garfield County. That's on top of 71 proposed directional gas wells to be drilled from BLM land onto private lands at Hunter Mesa and Grass Mesa, for the same time period, said BLM associate field manager Steve Bennett...Proposal on water issue draws 'fire' According to a confidential memo obtained by the Tri-County Courier, a Department of Interior official told irrigators Oct. 2 that, in return for an 80,000 acre-foot reduction in water deliveries from Upper Klamath Lake, the Klamath Project could have "reliable" water deliveries. In addition, the official went on to say the proposal includes a return of 672,000 acres to the Klamath tribes...Judge denies challenges to Animas-La Plata pact A 6th Judicial District Court judge has dismissed three claims challenging a 1976 agreement on Ute Indian water rights. Judge Gregory Lyman last week said the claims of the Citizens Progressive Alliance have no merit... Yellowstone conference addresses ecosystem challenges Natural threats to ecosystems are impacting the world's species at a greater rate than ever before, and humans are making those threats more likely, a leading scientist and conservationist told attendees of a conservation conference in Yellowstone National Park. Though most of the world's extinct species died out long before humans began to dominate earth, that pace appears to be picking up, Richard Leakey said Tuesday. "The problem is, we're making them more likely," Leakey said in a keynote address to more than 200 scientists, environmentalists and land managers from the United States and Africa. His address opened a conference, "Beyond the Arch: Community and Conservation in Greater Yellowstone and East Africa," sponsored by the National Park Service and several academic and research organizations... Airlift to supply family in feud with park service Volunteer pilots have begun flying winter supplies to a family in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve that is embroiled in a fight with the National Park Service. Papa Pilgrim and his wife and 15 children have been unsuccessful in getting a Park Service permit to use the road leading to their back country cabin. Friends and a group called the American Land Rights Association now have begun to assemble donations and willing pilots to make the trip. Pilgrim gushed about the assistance he had received, estimating he's managed to get about 20 percent of the stores the family needs for winter. Pilgrim changed his name from Bobby Hale. "It's just beautiful," Pilgrim said by telephone from his remote cabin. "I cannot tell you the unity ... They just poured out their hearts."... Biologist believes errors led to bear attack Human remains and clothing found in the stomach of a 28-year-old brown bear killed by National Park Service rangers Monday have confirmed that the animal fed on the bodies of California animal activist Timothy Treadwell and girlfriend Amie Huguenard, authorities reported Thursday. Fresh details about the attack near Kaflia Bay in Katmai National Park on Alaska's southwest coast also began to emerge. According to a memo from Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Larry Van Daele, Treadwell set up his bear-viewing camp "in such a way that bears wishing to traverse the area would have had to either wade in the lake or walk right next to the tent. A person could not have designed a more dangerous location to set up a camp.'' In videos found at the scene, Van Daele said, Treadwell described "his campsite as (in) a potentially dangerous location, but he expresses his confidence that he understands these bears and they will not harm him.''...Tape reveals sounds of bear attack The graphic sounds of a deadly bear attack in the Alaska wilderness were captured on tape, revealing a wildlife author's final, frantic screams as he tried to fend off the beast, authorities say. Trooper Chris Hill said the tape suggests a video camera was turned on just before Timothy Treadwell was attacked at his campsite. His girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, was later mauled to death by a bear. The recording is audio only, and the screen is blank for all six minutes. "They're both screaming, she's telling him to play dead, then it changes to fighting back. He asks her to hit the bear," Hill said. "There's so much noise going on. I don't know what's him and what might be an animal... Tradition alive and well at saddlery On the showroom wall sits a gallery of photos, at least one autographed, of loyal customer John Wayne. As the story goes: Wayne's saddles were late showing up on the set of the 1969 film True Grit, so he borrowed one made for his stuntman by the Denver company. Wayne liked it so much that he stopped production on the film until Colorado Saddlery could make one for him, and he never again saddled up with products from any other manufacturer, Van Scoyk said. Van Scoyk's father, P.R. Van Scoyk, started the company with three partners in 1945. At its peak, Colorado Saddlery did all of its manufacturing in- house, employing 75 workers in the 72,000-square-foot, five-story building...Mule Jump popularity prompts organizers to make big changesMules will take flight in Pea Ridge again Saturday at the 15 th annual Pea Ridge Mule Jump. Come to the City Park at 9 a.m. for a day of stubbornness and skill as trainers take their mules through their paces... The horse that walked home to die In the middle of a deep autumn fog early yesterday, a woman pulled out to pass a vehicle near the village of Sydenham and struck Serenade the horse at 70 kilometres an hour. Serenade would die from his injuries, but not before making a valiant trip home to see the only family he had known for nearly his entire 19-year life...Teens learn skills of life through working with horses Desperado, an aging sorrel gelding, placidly plods toward a low jump at a walk. His hoof thuds against it, sending the pole into the dirt as he heads for a bucket of grain. To the teens holding lead ropes and standing on opposite sides of the horse, the low hurdle is supposed to symbolize life's obstacles. The grain buckets represent life's temptations. To succeed, the teens must maneuver the horse through one of two narrow lanes blocked by plastic cones representing life's minor obstacles. The course setup, known as Temptation Alley, is one exercise used in Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, a new experiential therapy that uses the horse as a tool in mental-health counseling sessions...Indians like to buckle up That's because the residents are all in Phoenix for the Arizona State Fair's All Indian Rodeo. The purse is big at this rodeo. Winning and money are important. But there's something more significant, more symbolic. Each cowboy and cowgirl has one shining at his or her waist...

Thursday, October 09, 2003


Blackfoot land deal announced Hoping to maintain their traditional way of life, upper Blackfoot Valley landowners on Thursday announced an agreement to buy 40,780 acres of Plum Creek Timber Co. land, with an option on 47,933 acres more. If both sales eventually close, the Blackfoot Challenge will buy all of Plum Creek's midelevation timberland between Clearwater Junction and Rogers Pass, north and south of Highway 200. Purchase of the land, residents said, is the only way they know to preserve the upper Blackfoot's heritage of ranching, forestry, public access and wildlife habitat...ONRC announces its ideas for tribal lands The federal government should use private lands - instead of Forest Service lands - to re-establish a reservation for the Klamath Indian Tribes, according to a proposal put forward Wednesday by the Oregon Natural Resources Council. The proposal calls for the government to purchase lands or, when necessary, use eminent domain to acquire private lands within the boundary of the reservation as it existed in 1954, when the Klamath Tribes were terminated. Homes and up to 40 acres of adjoining would be exempt from government acquisition...Species Exemption 'Bad Precedent' Pending federal legislation to exempt water imported into New Mexico from being used to satisfy the federal Endangered Species Act would set a bad precedent, environmentalists in Washington, D.C., and New Mexico say. Both the U.S. Senate and House have passed language that would exempt water from the federal San Juan-Chama diversion project from the Endangered Species Act. In addition, the language proposed by New Mexico's congressional delegation would specify that a study issued this spring by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is legally sufficient and can't be challenged in court. The study concluded that portions of the designated habitat of the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow could run dry. All members of New Mexico's congressional delegation except Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., have endorsed the proposals. Rather than being free-standing legislation that would be subject to independent vote and debate in Congress, the ESA language is included as a rider in both the House and Senate versions of the energy bills. Differences between the two versions of the legislation is scheduled to be resolved in conference in coming weeks...Fire destroys Hells Canyon recreation field office An early morning fire destroyed the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area field office at Riggins Wednesday. Manager Earl Baumgarten says the building -- a doublewide trailer -- is a total loss. But he says there's still hope that many of the agency's records and documents could be saved... Energy project celebrated It might fit in the back of a pickup. But don't be fooled by its size. The BioMax 50 may have applications as big as its appetite. If properly fed - it'll devour about a ton of wood chips per day - the biomass generator will help reduce built-up forest fuels while producing energy. When finished, the machine will be connected to the power grid and will become the first such generator to be tested in the United States...Private firms won't get jobs in federal forests The U.S. Forest Service will not tap the private sector for some basic maintenance jobs at forests throughout California. Those who oppose the "competitive outsourcing" by the Bush administration call this week's announcement a partial victory, though many other jobs are still up for consideration...Truce maintained in federal 'war in the woods' Controversy continues to stir around the Northwest Forest Plan, developed in the early days of the Clinton administration. The plan has evolved since it was approved 11 years ago, but the purpose remains the same: to protect all forest species while getting logging operations moving again. Protections have been put in place, but logging remains in a holding pattern. Until the plan was adopted, courts had blocked dozens of timber sales because of procedural and legal failures by the U.S. Forest Service...Saving fish may endanger farmers' control of water The politicians, farmers and businessmen who control Idaho's water have avoided a legal confrontation with the Endangered Species Act over the fate of Pacific salmon for more than a decade. Those water barons compromised, cajoled and bullied to keep Idaho in control of water stored behind federal dams in reservoirs on the Snake, Boise and Payette rivers. Now Republican U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo is shuttling between water users and environmentalists to stave off a lawsuit that recent court decisions suggest would wrest control from Idaho and divert water away from farms, cities and industry to increase flows to help salmon. He has until Sunday, the deadline set by salmon advocates, to convince them to withdraw or alter their proposed lawsuit. Complicating his effort are secret court-ordered talks between water users, the Nez Perce Tribe and state and federal officials that address many of the same water issues... Renzi's father said he didn't push son to introduce rider regarding fort The father of U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., said he never asked his son to introduce an amendment to a House Defense Authorization bill to remove this Southern Arizona Army post from any responsibility for water use off the installation. The Renzi rider, as the amendment is called, has stirred up some environmentalists who say the amendment will mean the San Pedro River will be harmed, if not killed, if the rider is adopted...GAO report faults endangered species program The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program for designating critical habitat for endangered species is in disarray because of tangled litigation that is devouring the agency's funding, the General Accounting Office reports. As a consequence, Fish and Wildlife priorities, such as listing new endangered species, are being delayed, says the GAO, Congress' investigative arm. "The GAO report states basically what we have been saying for years," said Mitch Snow, the Fish and Wildlife chief of media services. "We would like to have funds available for doing other things besides critical habitat."... Fish and Wildlife study shows economic benefits of wildlife refuges People living near the nation's 542 wildlife refuges also gain from the protected wildlife habitat, according to a government study that touts the economic benefits of the refuge system. The study by the Fish and Wildlife Service finds 35.5 million people visited the nation's 542 refuges in 2002, up 42 percent from 24.9 million visitors in 1995, bringing a huge boost in spending and jobs to communities located just outside the refuges...Judge lets convicted pilot keep plane used in hunt The Harding County pilot convicted last month of illegal aerial hunting will not have to forfeit the airplane and shotgun he used in the hunt, U.S. Magistrate Judge Marshall P. Young decided Thursday. Young rejected arguments by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carolyn Royce that pilot Jerry Janvrin should forfeit his 1946 Piper airplane valued at $15,000 to $20,000, as well as a Benelli shotgun valued at about $900. Jurors found Janvrin guilty Sept. 18 of one count of illegal aerial hunting and acquitted him on another charge. The prosecution said he was trespassing on private land in September of 2002 when he killed a coyote from his airplane...Talks continue over land, water swap A high-level Interior Department official spent three days in the Klamath Basin last week, meeting with various parties to discuss water supplies for the Klamath Basin and restoration of reservation lands for the Klamath Tribes. But his visit isn't a sign that any deals are being made, officials said. Bill Bettenberg, director of the Interior Department's office of policy analysis, said he was in the Basin to give updates on negotiations with the Klamath Tribes and run through scenarios of different water management options for the Klamath Reclamation Project. "I didn't come with any proposals," he said...Nature Conservancy, Plum Creek strike deal LINCOLN and Plum Creek Timber Co. announced plans on Thursday to sell almost 41,000 acres scattered throughout the Blackfoot River Valley for $30 million to The Nature Conservancy. In addition, the conservation organization has an option to purchase an additional 47,900 acres in the area within the next few years for approximately $38 million, bringing the total land deal to 88,700 acres for $68 million an and average of $766 per acre. The non-profit Nature Conservancy plans to resell the large parcels to public and private entities, with the promise that the vast majority of the land would not be subdivided and turned into million dollar ranchettes...Secretary Norton Appoints Chad Calvert Deputy Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management Calvert will assist Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management Rebecca Watson in management oversight and policy direction for the Bureau of Land Management, Minerals Management Service and the Office of Surface Mining. "Chad Calvert has rapidly earned a reputation as an individual who immerses himself in a myriad of projects and with positive results," Secretary Norton said. "His experience in dealing with Congress, coupled with his positive outreach experience, increases his value to our team." Calvert was a member of the Bush-Cheney transition team, where he worked on Interior policy and coordinated outreach with external groups. He also assisted in preparing the Secretary for her Senate confirmation hearings and has worked with each of the presidential appointees at Interior to get them through their confirmations...Possible changes to NPR-A stir debate A swath of land in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska sought by oil and gas developers is called critical to wildlife by conservationists. Speakers addressed both issues Wednesday at a public meeting designed to aid the Bureau of Land Management as it rethinks 1998 regulations of the 4.6 million acre northeast NPR-A. About 600,000 northernmost acres--with reportedly high potential for oil and gas deposits--is off-limits to leasing, though that could change if BLM changes its 5-year-old regulations... Fish plan would cause big county expense Santa Barbara County would have to pay $12 million in reconstruction costs if it is required to make habitat improvements at Lake Cachuma for the benefit of endangered steelhead trout in the Santa Ynez River. A recent biological opinion has resulted in a proposal to raise the maximum level of Lake Cachuma by 3 feet to provide more water that can be released into the river for the fish, as well as for South County water users. Raising the lake level would also flood county facilities -- including picnic and camping sites, Mohawk Road, a water intake facility, a water treatment plant, a marina, a launch ramp, trails, two sewer lift stations, and the UCSB crew area. Rebuilding these facilities would cost $12 million. The proposal to raise the lake comes from the Federal Bureau of Reclamation and the Lake Cachuma Operation and Maintenance Board -- consisting of five South County water agencies -- which are responsible for maintenance and operations of Lake Cachuma's water supply facilities...Trinity settlement pitch: End of fight or bogus science? Northern Californians working to get back some Trinity River water are unconvinced that a proposal by Central Valley irrigators would be best for salmon and river communities. On Tuesday, the Westlands Water District, which has sued to block restoration of the river, pitched the settlement proposal to Trinity County supervisors and this newspaper. It aims to pare down water allowed down the river under the restoration plan, in order to boost supplies to the Central Valley Project where Westlands and other districts get their water. The suit is now in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals after a Fresno U.S. District Court judge ordered the federal restoration plan reworked. The Hoopa Valley Tribe -- which has intervened on the part of the U.S. Interior Department -- is the key player that would have to agree to the proposal. Westlands will not meet with the tribe until next week...New definition of waste sets precedent in Western water policy For most of the year, several of the nation's biggest, richest, and most politically influential water agencies have been squabbling over the best way to divide California's share of the Colorado River - the lifeblood of the Southwest. A conclusion of sorts came last month when the state approved legislation needed to carry out key components of a tortuously negotiated deal, which involves a transfer of water from inland farmers to coastal cities, although litigation and last-minute disagreements still could derail the pact. The loud and divisive rhetoric of conflict overshadowed a subtle but important development that occurred during the summer, at the height of the confrontation. Although it would appear superficially to be a matter of mere semantics, it is potentially the most far-reaching aspect of the entire debate...Trust turns to rust: Western Slope's ties to the Front Range corroding over water When it comes to water, western Colorado hasn't trusted blossoming Front Range cities since the 1930s. So when Gov. Bill Owens asks voters from Meeker to Cortez to "trust" that there's something good in Referendum A for western Colorado, he's paddling upstream against decades of doubt. Referendum A would create $2 billion in state-backed bonds for large, undisclosed water projects. For many folks on the west side of the Continental Divide - the source of most of Colorado's water - Referendum A translates as another water grab... Eleven cities' water allocations reduced Eleven cities that depend on shrinking Lake Meredith for their water are having their allotments cut by millions of gallons, but most say they will still have enough to meet their demands. The Canadian River Municipal Water Authority voted Wednesday to reduce the amounts by 5 percent...Supreme Court urged to protect states environmental authority The Supreme Court was urged Wednesday to keep the federal government from second-guessing state environmental decisions. The justices are considering whether the Environmental Protection Agency went too far by overruling Alaska regulators' decision to let the operators of a zinc and lead mine use less costly anti-pollution technology for power generation. The Clean Air Act allows state officials to make some decisions involving their own facilities...Activists worry over eco-terror A time bomb planted near a controversial water bottling plant last month has the state's environmental community racing to distance itself from the sabotage. The bomb was found Sept. 22 at an unmanned pumping station of Nestle Waters' Ice Mountain water bottling plant near Big Rapids. Police disarmed it, and the FBI is investigating. It is the latest in a string of attacks nationwide this year claimed by the radical Earth Liberation Front... Area Water District Management Adapts to Drought Conditions The current drought has taught the Elephant Butte Irrigation District management a great deal, especially in water conservation and how to adapt to drought conditions. But EBID Board of Directors chairman Gary Arnold also said that he is impressed how well the farmers and district managed its limited water allotment this year. "We pretty much hit it on the nose as far as using our allocation," Arnold said. "We used it all except couple hundred acre-feet. That showed that our hydrologists knew how to figure out how to use the water so that we could spread out what little water we had over several months." During the past irrigation season, the United Stages Bureau of Reclamation allotted only 354,000 acre-feet of water to EBID, or 34 percent of the normal quota. The EBID board decided that it could only supply eight inches of irrigation water, far below the two to three acre-feet it allows when it has a good snow pack runoff...Lake Powell: Half empty or half full? Much reduced from its historic high-water level, the question can be posed: Is Lake Powell half empty or half full? And the answer depends upon whom you ask. Those who live and work near the huge reservoir straddling the Utah/Arizona border worry that the outside world's perception, at least, is that the half-empty desert lake — a tourist magnet — is drying up, like many much-shallower reservoirs in the drought-stricken West. "Some people think we're just a mud puddle," says Bob Seney, vice president of operations for Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas, a concessionaire. The low-water stigma and the stagnant economy are both to blame for business that's down 15 percent to 20 percent for his company, he said... Groups try ecologically sound ranching model Can the tiny leopard frog live alongside a 1,500-pound bull? Will the western tiger swallowtail butterfly prosper sharing the same habitat as a cow? A partnership between Bently Agrowdynamics of Minden and The Nature Conservancy at the 788-acre River Fork Ranch on Carson Valley's west side hopes to demonstrate that a viable cattle operation can coexist with environmental protection and restoration of the property's fish, bird and wildlife habitat...High beef prices no comfort to ranchers with small herds Recent rising beef prices are bitter-sweet for the Valley's ranchers, who survived the drought by selling off the bulk of their herds last year. "Everyone sold when the prices were low," said Randy Rusk, past president of the Custer County Stockgrowers. "There was not enough feed so they sold the weaners, then the calves, then the cows."...Rodeo doctor wins medical society award Dr. Charles Rush Jr.'s birthday is not until Saturday, but he celebrated a little early Thursday night with more than 260 friends at a ceremony where he received the Tarrant County Medical Society's most prestigious award. Rush, a Hurst allergist and longtime doctor to rodeo cowboys, was recognized with the 2003 Gold-Headed Cane award for his years of service. As Rush donned his black cowboy hat, the crowd gave him an ovation, one of many during the night...Have bull; can't travel Rodeo bulls are left pawing the ground in Canada this year, at a time when they would usually be headed south for the bright lights of the American rodeo circuit. Ever since the US border has been closed to cattle because of the BSE scare, absolutely no live cattle have been moving into the States. Rodeo bull breeders are losing money, and are uncertain about the future...

A Mountain of Money

...Yet that mountain of money is but a molehill compared to the fortune that will be up for grabs if the government ever imposes carbon rationing. The Kyoto protocol and its progeny -- including the McCain-Lieberman bill (S.139) and various "micro-Kyoto" bills circulating in state legislatures -- would cap, or ration, not only gasoline, but most other carbon-based fuels as well, including diesel fuel, jet fuel, natural gas, and coal. While none of the proposed programs use paper coupons, the cost of the carbon allowances, or "C-rations," would be built into the price of fuels and into the price of electricity and all the other products and services that use them. With a cap for U.S. carbon emissions of about 1.5 billion tons (carbon-equivalent) per year, and a market price anywhere from $20 to $200 per ton (depending on how binding the cap is), the value of C-rations distributed by the government would be in the range of $30 to $300 billion dollars per year.
The cost of all those C-rations will be passed on to U.S. consumers -- a fact that advocates of carbon rationing typically neglect to mention. Most "Cost of Kyoto" estimates look only at the real-resource cost (reduced GNP) of carbon rationing, yet this represents only about 10 percent of the total cost to consumers. The other 90 percent is the price consumers pay to holders of the coveted C-rations. In that sense carbon rationing is like a tax -- it produces revenue -- but the revenues from carbon rationing will not go to reduce the budget deficit. Instead, the C-rations will be allocated to industries and organizations that find favor with the government...

NAACP To PETA: We Have No Problem With KFC

Last month we told you that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had apparently endorsed People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' (PETA's) campaign against KFC. But now the Louisville Courier-Journal is reporting that the NAACP has come to its senses.
According to the Courier-Journal:

A spokesman for NAACP president Kweisi Mfume said the group's leader was only curious about charges leveled against KFC by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals when he wrote Yum! Brands Inc. chairman David Novak last month ... [Mfume] also said he was glad to hear "of your commitment to adopt comprehensive industry-leading guidelines and audits" of the handling and raising of poultry.

The NAACP has asked PETA, the Courier-Journal reports, to remove Mfume's picture and signature from its website. But to no one's surprise, PETA is still trumpeting "NAACP Head Speaks Up for Chickens!" on its anti-KFC page.
As the NAACP leaves animal rights to the PETAphiles and returns to its regularly scheduled programming, PETA is only intensifying its opposition to the horror of the two-piece dinner, both in the U.S. and overseas. In late September PETA tried to intimidate a KFC executive by protesting outside his home and church. And PETA recently announced that it would also initiate shareholder resolutions in an attempt to sway KFC's chicken suppliers.

Bye-Bye Kyoto

Gray Davis's political career isn't the only thing circling the drain this week. Remember the Kyoto protocol on global warming? Russia is about to flush it.
Ever since President Bush decided to withdraw the U.S. from the unratified (and unratifiable) treaty, environmentalists have been scheming to drag the U.S. into Kyoto through the back door. If one more "Annex 1" nation ratifies the treaty, it will go into effect among the nations that have already signed on. The requirements of the treaty would then begin having an effect on American companies doing business in Europe and other Kyoto-conforming countries. This, the greens hoped and expected, would increase pressure on business here in the U.S. to get with the program...

Global Warming Shakeup in Moscow

Events at a recent scientific conference in Moscow represent an important and dramatic change in the worldwide debate over global warming. Several distinguished scientists who spoke at the World Climate Change Conference in Moscow last week shattered claims that the science is settled and any consensus that the Kyoto Protocol would serve any useful purpose.
“This is the most important development in the public debate over global warming since President Bush’s decision that the United States wouldn’t ratify the Kyoto treaty,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute president Fred L. Smith, Jr. “Major scientific voices from both Russia and the U.S. emphasized the uncertainties underlying the theory that man is causing catastrophic global warming. The challenge now is to address these scientific uncertainties while continuing to improve global economic and environmental conditions.” ...

Air Pollution is Declining Under Bush

Nothing you hear about worsening air pollution is true. Air pollution is declining under President Bush, just as it declined under Bill Clinton. With the exception of greenhouse gases, trends in air pollution have been favorable for years or decades, says author Gregg Easterbrook.
According to the author:

"Aggregate emissions," the sum of air-pollution categories, have fallen 48 percent since 1970, although the U.S. population has grown 39 percent.
Local newscasts have recently begun to emphasize code red and code orange ozone-warning days, making smog seem more prevalent, yet the overall number of bad-air days has actually been falling steadily.
In 2001, there were fewer than half as many air-quality warning days across the country as in 1988; Los Angeles, for example, has experienced just one Stage 1 ozone warning in the past five years, whereas in the 1970s it averaged about 100 Stage-1-alert days per year.

Air pollution can decline as the population rises because antipollution technology keeps getting better and because the Clean Air Act controls on cars, power plants and factories have been growing stricter for two decades. Most Clean Air Act enforcement continues to become more strict under Bush, says Easterbrook.

Source: Gregg Easterbrook, "Why Bush Gets A Bad Rap On Dirty Air; But he still needs to tackle the real problem: greenhouse gases," Time Magazine, September 29, 2003.

Energy Exploration in Wildlife Refuges

Environmentalists say drilling in wildlife refuges causes devastating damage while the energy industry says wildlife and drilling can thrive together. However, a new General Accounting Office's analysis of drilling in the lower 48 states concludes that environmental damage can be avoided.
Oil and gas exploration and drilling has or is taking place in hundreds of refuges, says the GAO:
--One-fourth of the nation's more than 500 refuges have a history of oil and gas activity, in some cases dating back to the 1920s.
--Wells on refuges are pumping nearly 24 million barrels of oil annually, more than 1 percent of the nation's total production.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is charged with protecting refuges, has not managed the process well. Among the federal shortcomings cited by the report:
--The Service didn't even know how many oil and gas wells are operating on its refuges.
--It does not keep records on oil spills and other damage, and has never assessed the cumulative effects of oil and gas operations on refuges.
--Refuge managers often lack the knowledge, resources, training and commitment to regulate oil-drilling operations effectively.
However, the records at some refuges is better than others. At Hopper Mountain Wildlife Refuge in California, for example, 15 active wells have caused only two oil spills in the past 30 years; each was cleaned up quickly with no detectable effects on wildlife. In Louisiana, where two refuges are strictly monitored, oil and gas operators pay fees to finance the costs of monitoring compliance.
But at Anahuac Wildlife Refuge in Texas, 50 active wells have caused at least seven spills just since 1991, and one killed more than 180,000 fish.
Source: Editorial, "Alaskan drilling debate ignores failures in lower 48," USA Today, October 9, 2003; National Wildlife Refuges: Opportunities to Improve the Management and Oversight of Oil and Gas Activities on Federal Lands GAO-03-517, September 23, 2003, General Accounting Office, Washington, D.C.
For text For GAO report

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


Forest Service proposed dramatic grazing cuts in Sawtooth The Forest Service wants to reduce grazing by more than a third on two allotments east of the White Cloud Mountains in the Sawtooth National Forest. The management change is for the Upper East Fork and Lower East Fork allotments along the East Fork of the Salmon River. It would ban grazing on 33,500 acres until vegetation improves. It also would require fences to keep cattle out of some areas used by people for recreation... Grand jury indicts two in theft of petroglyphs near Reno A federal grand jury indicted two men on felony charges Wednesday for allegedly damaging and stealing rocks with American Indian petroglyphs from a national forest bordering Reno... Construction Equipment Vandalized, Possibly By Radical Environmental Group Construction equipment used for a rehabilitation project in the Jemez Mountains has been vandalized. U.S. Forest Service officials say someone cut electrical wires and broke a window on a backhoe and slashed tires on a water trailer. Officials say both vehicles had the initials ELF scratched onto them...Guest opinion: Election cycle at odds with forest cycle This year, the Bush administration's so-called "Healthy Forest Initiative" (H.R.1904, known in the Senate as the "Senate Logging Bill"), was a document born of the times, one which only aggravates a credibility gap that it would seem this administration would be attempting to close. The Healthy Forest Initiative is most dangerous and untruthful on two major points: First, it focuses on increasing logging of the national forests in the remote backcountry, far from the human communities supposedly at risk. The Forest Service's own studies show that fire prevention is most effective within 200 feet of a dwelling; beyond that, proposing to stop a fire by logging a certain grove carries the same odds as finding a needle in a haystack... Forest Service struggles to battle beetles The Dillon Ranger District is desperately hoping it will receive the funds necessary to halt the explosion of the mountain pine beetle population. The pest has killed hundreds of trees in and around the Dillon Reservoir-area campgrounds, and rangers expect the problem to multiply if they don't take significant action quickly...Yellowstone wolf expert honored by Park Service The head of the park's wolf project was honored Wednesday night for his work with wolves since they were reintroduced here in 1995. Doug Smith has received awards from both the regional and national directors of the National Park Service...35 greatest threats to fishing Like those of us born in the baby boom generation, fishing has aged. We can see its vulnerabilities, even as we assess our own. But unlike us, fishing can endure. If we protect that which we profess to love so much, and if we pass that stewardship on to our children and our children's children, fishing will enrich lives for centuries to come...Migratory Bird Loses Some Protection The double-crested cormorant is losing some federal protection. The Fish and Wildlife Service issued a rule Wednesday allowing state wildlife agencies in 24 states, mostly in the Midwest and South, to control cormorant populations without first getting a federal permit, as is required now. Population control measures could include killing the birds or taking steps to prevent their eggs from hatching, said Nicholas Throckmorton, a spokesman for the federal agency...BLM's plan to open dunes delayed for another season The Bureau of Land Management's plan to open parts of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation area to off-road vehicles has been delayed for another season, according to environmental groups fighting to keep the area closed. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston in San Francisco ruled this week that nothing can change at the dunes until the court has had a chance to review a new biological opinion being prepared about the potential impacts to the Pierson's milk-vetch, a rare plant found in the dunes...Column: Off-road, off-limits Off-road vehicle and SUV manufacturers understand this phenomenon, and their advertising reflects it. The typical commercial shows the vehicle-owner as conqueror. Powerful machines plow through muddy streams and race up steep hillsides to subdue the highest point in the wilderness. Advertisers are selling the ability to get to places that people with lesser vehicles can't. An implicit (but not so subtle) message is that if you buy their vehicle, then you are the one who gets to deflower the last bit of virgin landscape, away from the unwashed masses...Wranglers, researchers conduct annual Bison Range roundup "Prairie music," Bill West said. The bison snorted, grunted and groaned a few feet away, unnerved by the arrival of the wranglers. Calves crowded close to their mothers. The biggest, oldest bulls turned to face the riders. The cowboys smiled. "These are the best days of the year," said West, assistant manager of the National Bison Range and a cowboy for the range's annual roundup...Tribal control of National Bison Range unlikely The U.S. government will not turn over management of the National Bison Range to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the government's lead negotiator said Tuesday. Rick Coleman, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's regional refuge chief, said the service has identified "functions and activities" that could be performed by the tribe "in cooperation with the refuge system." But management of the 18,799-acre refuge will remain with the Fish and Wildlife Service, Coleman said during the Bison Range's annual roundup - where he was a first-time visitor... Animal Protection Groups Question Federal Plan to Kill Millions of Canada Geese The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) joined today with the Fund for Animals on behalf of more than eight million members and constituents nationwide to question plans recently announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) that call for killing between 400,000 and 800,000 "resident" Canada geese and their goslings each year for the next ten years...Domenici Wants Water-Law Changes Just a few more court decisions like the one this summer that said New Mexico's imported water supply might be tapped for the silvery minnow, and Congress could scrap the Endangered Species Act as we know it, New Mexico's senior U.S. senator says. Republican Pete Domenici is spearheading legislation to block a federal appeals-court ruling this summer that said water from the federal San Juan/Chama diversion project could be taken to sustain the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. The project carries water from Colorado into New Mexico, and cities including Santa Fe and Albuquerque are counting on the water for present needs and future growth. "A few more rotten decisions, and the Endangered Species Act won't be fixed the way I'm fixing it," Domenici said. "It will finally get modified. It is hanging on by its teeth. It will get modified just to flat be practical, so that you don't do things like this."...BLM head says she wants Congress to designate N.M. wilderness The head of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management says Congress should act on an aging report that could decide the fate of proposed New Mexico wilderness. Kathleen Clarke says the BLM has identified nearly 10 million acres across the West that should be protected as wilderness. She says chunks of wilderness from that report have been approved, but the entire list has not been addressed. She says the land that has not been approved by Congress is being managed as wilderness pending a decision...Ag Groups Rally Congress to Prevent Buyout of Grazing Leases Members of the House of Representatives are being asked to oppose efforts to introduce legislation which would authorize a "buyout" of grazing permits on federal lands. A letter signed by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), the Public Lands Council (PLC) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) was sent to every house member late yesterday urging support for "continued multiple use of public lands and opposition to federal grazing permit buy-out legislation." The buyout program would allow a federal grazing permittee to "sell" their permit back to the federal government. The associated grazing allotment would then be permanently retired from domestic livestock grazing use. Costs for the buyout program have been estimated at $3.3 billion, and the measure is reportedly being proposed by Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Christopher Shays (R-Conn.)... Proposal to open 30,000 acres of public land awaits state OK Hunters could have access to 30,000 acres of public land in southeast Montana by next fall, much to the displeasure of some area ranchers. The Bureau of Land Management, in cooperation with the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, has proposed an easement across state land to allow vehicle access to BLM holdings. Currently, the only way for the public to reach the BLM land is by foot...Japan quarantines cattle after 8th mad cow disease discovery Japan has quarantined 604 cows to prevent the spread of mad cow disease after authorities confirmed that a 23-month-old bull had a new strain of the bovine illness, an official said Wednesday. The bull, which tested positive for the disease on Sept. 29, was the youngest animal to be found here with the fatal brain-wasting disease, known formally as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. The other infected cattle, the most recent case in January, were five years old. Agriculture Minister Yoshiyuki Kamei said Tuesday that follow-up tests by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases revealed a possible new strain of the disease. Within hours, officials in northern Ibaraki prefecture, where the cow had been screened before it was to be slaughtered, incinerated the animal. The case showed heightened resistance to certain enzymes, the Health Ministry said in a statement. Officials were considering giving more vaccinations to cattle and possibly adjusting them to fight the new strain, it said... Latest BSE case no cause for panic (Japan) The experts say they found abnormal prions--the protein molecules believed to cause the disease--in the infected bull. The prions differed not only from the previous seven Japanese cases, but also from those found overseas. One difference was discovered in a test used to determine the existence of substances from the size of their molecules. Morikazu Shinagawa, head of the expert group, pointed out, "The structure of a sugar chain that makes up a part of the protein is different." Also, previously identified prions are highly resistant to splitting by enzymes. But the newly discovered abnormal prions can be readily dissolved by enzymes. The new prions also failed to conform with the results expected in the government's standard tests for BSE. A test on the cow's brain did not find spongelike holes or an accumulation of abnormal prions. The cow did not show signs of a loss of balance while walking, unlike all previous BSE cows... Tests confirm Saskatchewan cow sparked crisis A diseased cow that sparked a national mad cow crisis costing the cattle industry billions of dollars was born in Saskatchewan, a federal veterinarian has confirmed. "We went back and did further DNA extraction so we got a better quality of DNA," Dr. George Luterbach of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said today. "We were able to confirm an offspring of the positive cow and through records we cross-referenced that calf to its mother. About 2,700 animals which might have been associated with the infected cow were slaughtered in herds across Alberta and Saskatchewan last spring. Agriculture officials believed the animal was born on a farm owned by Mel and Betty Ann McCrae near Baldwinton, Sask., but could not prove it even after the tests... Mad cow leads 25 RMs to declare economic disaster About 25 Saskatchewan rural municipalities have declared an economic disaster due to the fallout from mad cow disease, grasshoppers and a summer heat wave. And some 125 other rural municipalities Canadawide have made the same announcement, deepening concern that piles of property tax notices will go unpaid and services will suffer, rural leaders said Tuesday...USDA Sends Rules for Live Canadian Cattle Imports to OMB The U.S. Department of Agriculture has finished writing up a proposal that seeks to eventually allow some Canadian live cattle into the U.S. and it is now being reviewed by the White House's Office of Management and Budget, according to U.S. government and industry sources. "I know it's out of (USDA) and its over (at OMB)," said a U.S. government official, who asked not to be named. "I know that as soon as it comes back, we'll publish it, but it's not back yet." OMB, which lists the USDA proposed regulation on its Web site as docket No. 03-080-1, says it was submitted for review on Oct. 1. An OMB official said traditionally it has 90 days to review proposed new regulations, but stressed the agency "likes to review rules as quickly as we can."... USDA Seeks Info On Japan BSE Case The USDA said on Monday that it was seeking more details about a new case of mad cow disease (BSE) in Japan that could impact plans to reopen U.S. borders to shipments of live Canadian cattle under 30 months of age. Japanese officials earlier confirmed the case of mad cow disease, the eighth in that country since the illness was first discovered there in September 2001. The twist is that this case is apparently a new strain of the disease and was found in a 23-month-old cow, raising new questions about what cattle may be considered safe... Montana Ag director urges trade changes Canada must remove trade barriers before the United States reopens its borders to live cattle exports, Montana's agriculture chief said Tuesday. Peck, who co-chairs a U.S.-Canada Working Group focusing on such issues, believes that federal officials must insist on equal treatment of U.S. producers to gain access to cattle, sheep and hog markets in Canada before the border is reopened to live cattle shipments... Royalty owners may receive millions A 6th Judicial District Court judge has ruled that BP can't deduct the cost of bringing natural gas to marketable condition from the royalties it pays some 4,000 lessors in La Plata and Archuleta counties. An attorney for the royalty owners estimated the ruling could mean hundreds of millions of dollars owed to lessors, but actual damages will be determined at a later hearing. Monday's ruling by Judge David Dickinson would affect the payments on the production of 600 gas wells since June 1, 1991... County cattle branding in the spotlight A new exhibit called "Cattle Branding: A Rancher's Signature" will open Thursday at the Merced County Courthouse Museum. The theme of the exhibit is that each brand tells its own story. When they come together, they present a pictorial history of cattle ranching in Merced County from the Miller & Lux cattle enterprise on the Westside to Crocker-Huffman's cattle operation in Eastern Merced County... Scottsdale ranch offers boot camp for cowboys Arizona Cowboy College was founded in 1989 by New Mexico native Lloyd Bridwell. He and his wife, Lori, had opened the equestrian center 20 years earlier. For almost a dozen years, the easygoing Lloyd served as head instructor, turning greenhorns into wranglers with two days instruction in town and four days on the trail... Western Drought (PBR Transcript) TED ROBBINS: For John Whitney, the current drought has been devastating. It helped force him out of the ranching business. JOHN WHITNEY: In 2000, we had to remove all because of the drought. TED ROBBINS: Whitney is in a former pasture, one of the few green areas on his 150,000-acre grazing lot. JOHN WHITNEY: The first year we took the cattle off, it was tough. But now... I still get emotional about it. TED ROBBINS: Much of the West is in the sixth consecutive year of drought. This map shows how bad it was this year. Snow pack and stream runoff in the red areas were 30-70 percent below normal. The drought has contributed to devastating forest fires, increased ground water consumption, and agricultural failure. Water levels in large storage reservoirs along the Colorado River, Lake Powell, and Lake Mead are down record levels... A two-lamb wagon With the lambs in tow, Gertrude and Mildred walked some distance away, then turned about so they were facing the barn at the end of the lane. Millie sat in the wagon, holding the lambs’ lead-ropes while Gertrude put her homemade harness on the pair. To get them going, Gertie whooped. The lambs took off hell-bent for election. Gertrude had planned to leap aboard the wagon behind Millie, but she missed, so she grabbed the tailgate and, like the stunt guy in an old Western movie, she ate dirt while being dragged...

Tuesday, October 07, 2003


Grazing to be curtailed in East Fork drainage The Sawtooth National Recreation Area is scheduled today to release a long-awaited environmental study and related management decisions on cattle grazing in the East Fork of the Salmon River valley on the eastern slope of the White Cloud mountains. The decision appears to reach a compromise position between proposed curtailment of grazing in the area and the status quo, which was deemed to be damaging to natural resources and recreation opportunities. In March, the U.S. Forest Service released a draft of the Upper and Lower East Fork Cattle and Horse Allotment Management Plans that proposed to reduce in half the size and scope of two grazing allotments used by seven Custer County ranchers...Bear Expert and Companion Killed in Bear Attack at Alaska Park A self-taught bear expert who once called Alaska's brown bears harmless was one of two people fatally mauled in a bear attack in the Katmai National Park and Preserve. The bodies of Timothy Treadwell, 46, and Amie Huguenard, 37, both of Malibu, Calif., were found Monday at their campsite when a pilot arrived who was supposed to take them to Kodiak, state troopers said Tuesday. Treadwell, co-author of "Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska," spent more than a dozen summers living alone with and videotaping Katmai bears. Information on Huguenard was not immediately Available. The Andrew Airways pilot contacted troopers in Kodiak and the National Park Service after he saw a brown bear, possibly on top of a body, at the camp near Kaflia Bay... Official: Burned timber no longer salvageable "Little to no" merchantable timber likely remains in several fire-salvage sales stopped by an environmental lawsuit earlier this year, a Kootenai National Forest official said. Another summer of heat and drought probably dealt the final blow to thousands of board feet of timber damaged by wildfires during the summer of 2000, said Tom Maffei, timber sale contracting officer for the Kootenai forest. Twelve of 16 active timber sales and six of 26 planned sales stopped by a court order last July were intended to salvage burned trees. Still, Maffei said language attached to the Interior Appropriations Bill by U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., "would be helpful" in renewing work on the green timber sales and in completing restoration work in the burned areas... Editorial: Forest health may rely on fire prevention effort In a June study by the Northern Arizona University Forestry Department, "Analysis of Costs and Benefits of Restoration-Based Hazardous Fuel Reduction Treatments vs. No Treatment," G.B. Snider, D.B. Wood and P.J. Daugherty studied the conditions of forests in the early 1900s and compared them to current conditions. They compared the effects of wildfires then and now and determined that recent forest management practices have been a contributing cause to the out-of-control fires such as Rodeo-Chedeski in Arizona last year, which conservatively cost $300 million to suppress. This study says it would be more cost effective to spend $500 per acre to prevent forest fires rather than millions to suppress them once they've started. The authors summarize their findings by saying "each year that no action is taken to restore acres that are at highest risk for unnatural fire, the problem becomes worse. Fuels resulting from beetle outbreaks are contributing to the hazardous fuels build up." The actions that the authors recommend include drastic thinning of small-diameter timber and removal of dead and dying beetle- and drought-damaged trees... Mapping the Forest Disaster ESRI, the recognized world leader in geographic information system (GIS) technology, is providing extraordinary support to our public safety officials who are striving to manage the effects of the drought and beetle infestation disaster in the San Bernardino Mountains. The company is also now providing free, detailed information to the public through a new Web portal...Forest officials forging ahead with marginal timber sale The Forest Service is moving ahead with a controversial timber sale south of here, even though it probably will lose money and irritate the neighbors while sawmills might not even want the logs. Since it was first proposed four years ago, its "purpose and need" was to provide cash so the Gallatin could buy land in the Taylor Fork drainage south of Big Sky from Big Sky Lumber Co. The "timber for land" provision in the BSL swaps was approved by Congress in 1998 and was a provision that Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., insisted upon. It called upon the Gallatin to sell $4.5 million worth of logs in several separate timber sales by the end of this year, or BSL would get land in the Bangtail Mountains northeast of Bozeman in exchange for its Taylor Fork land...Forest Service to use fire to improve game range A $7,000 grant from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will help the U.S. Forest Service get moving on a project designed to keep trees from taking over some important grasslands. The project calls for chopping down some small trees and lighting some controlled burns in meadows that elk and other wildlife rely on for winter forage. "We're trying to restore fire back into those areas," said Rachel Feigley, a biologist on the Gallatin National Forest's Livingston District... Saving a forest by cutting it The U.S. Forest Service is proposing cutting trees north of Vail to save a forest. This counter-intuitive approach is sure to become a controversial proposal for managing up to 10,000 acres of lodgepole pines north of Vail. The Forest Service contends that cutting a majority of the trees can actually improve lynx habitat and make the forest healthier and less prone to major wildfires. The approach is also being recommended by wildlife biologists and forest managers who are charged with making sure there is adequate habitat for the shy, tuft-eared feline and other animals... Native California plant taken off federal protection list A native California plant that has been federally protected for 13 years has recovered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday in removing it from the endangered species list. The decision to remove Hoover's woolly-star from a list of threatened species comes after the discovery of new populations in three counties, the service said...Summit unveils land-use proposal Summit County planning officials unveiled a revised land-use plan Monday night that includes a toolbox full of smart growth measures. The proposal includes a development cap and a transfer-of-rights program aimed at steering development away from the backcountry and toward areas with existing infrastructure. While limiting growth, the goal also is to preserve the rural character of certain areas: for example the upper Snake River Basin, around Montezuma, and the Lower Blue Valley, north of Silverthorne...In the Northwest: Gas drillers poised along Rocky Mountain Front R.L. "Stoney" Burk is a country lawyer who has practiced for 21 years in Choteau. A decorated former fighter pilot, Burk is conservative to the core in his suspicions of federal power and the exercise thereof from Ruby Ridge, Idaho, to Waco, Texas. When it comes to oil and gas leasing on "the Front," he sounds like John Muir. "They'll road it, contaminate it, leave it and step on our faces on their way out," Burk said. "They've done it again and again in Montana." Fighting words, but there is much to fight for...Methane company fined $20,000 The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has fined a coal-bed methane company $20,000 for unauthorized construction on federal land near the Powder River...BLM Sweetens Deal for Online Auction of Mustang Ranch It's not as easy to get rid of a brothel as you might think. The Bureau of Land Management has listed the Mustang Ranch on eBay for a second time. This time the agency is sweetening the deal. After the brothel failed to sell the first time around, officials add the naming rights and trademark "World Famous Mustang Ranch" to the package...Federal agency considers changes to NPR-A regulations The Bureau of Land Management is gathering public comment about proposed land-use plan changes that could allow more oil and gas development on a 4.6-million-acre portion of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The proposed changes for the northeast section of the reserve could make the requirements for development more flexible and better accommodate new production technology as it emerges, said Susan Childs, a BLM environmental program analyst...BLM separates roads from planning process for public lands As Utah's six Bureau of Land Management field offices develop plans for 9.9 million acres of public lands, the simple definition of what constitutes a road or trail promises to cause grief. That is why the agency's national office issued planning guidelines Monday that give field offices like those in Utah more time to complete route designations while they finish their resource management plans. Essentially, BLM will be able to produce the overall management plans before, and separate from, the road plans... Zuni Salt Lake threatened again The sanctity of the Zuni Salt Lake is again in jeopardy. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced earlier this month plans to possibly lease a part of a recently abandoned mine site to oil and gas development. The area, sacred to Zuni and other native people, had been under consideration as a coal mine by Salt River Project, an Arizona utility company...Bond referendum ignites water wars in Colorado It has pitted farmers against city folks, environmentalists against Front Range governments and conservative Republicans against the Republican governor. Although lawmakers intended a $2 billion bond referendum on Colorado's Nov. 4 ballot to find solutions for a record drought, it instead has ignited divisive water wars over how best to use and conserve the state's limited resource. Influential western Colorado politicians, lobbying groups and residents are concerned Referendum A will enable thirsty, populated areas in eastern Colorado to take their water with little regard for the region's future... Law of the lands Some people think Robert J. Miller, an Indian law scholar, specializes in an obscure area of legal academia. But the associate professor at Lewis & Clark Law School disagrees. Tribal sovereignty is quickly becoming one of the fundamental legal, economic and environmental questions of our time, said Miller, who is a member of the Eastern Shawnee tribe of Oklahoma... Legal battle centers on basin As 180 gallons of water gush from his well every minute, George Adam wonders how anyone can believe the Santa Maria Valley groundwater basin isn't full. Last year, Adam's family spent $48,000 for a tiling system to divert the water - which was flooding his 18-acre cauliflower field off Simas Road - to the nearby Solomon Slough and then to the ocean. Grower George Adam stands along a channel that cuts through a field leading water to the ocean. Adam says groundwater in the Santa Maria basin is plentiful and state water is not needed. Below, water pours out of an irrigation pipe into a channel that will eventually take the water to the ocean. He says rising water levels are a problem faced by many area farmers - and an indication that there is plenty of groundwater in the basin. Adam can cite charts and studies that bolster his claim. But then again, so can others who believe that groundwater demand has outstripped supply. Wednesday is the opening day of a trial in San Jose to determine just how much water is flowing in the valley's basin - and whether there is enough to go around... Another Bush Administration 'Leak' Says Group; Snowmobiles Leak Pollution into Yellowstone; Court to Decide Issue Before Winter Snowmobiles may be barred from nearly all of Yellowstone National Park this winter as a federal judge has announced that he will issue a ruling in the lawsuit filed by animal protection and environmental groups before the winter snowmobile season. The groups, suing to stop the White House's latest attack on the environment, have filed a legal brief illustrating how the Bush Administration has sold out Yellowstone to the snowmobile industry by allowing the use of polluting, noisy, and wildlife-harming machines despite its own studies that show exactly how harmful they are...Editorial: Congress, Bush must challenge Antiquities Act The problem is that the Antiquities Act consists of vague language. For example, there is no definition of what "historic" or "scientific" means in the act. It is left to each president to decide how he or she will define the term. To say that Clinton's use of the Antiquities Act caused some unrest would be a big understatement. We still feel the effects of his declaration today. While changing what already has been done might be difficult -- if not impossible -- there is room for improving the process to ensure such decisions aren't made by one person in the heat of a campaign, as it could be argued Clinton did to enhance presidential and congressional campaigns in the past. It's time for the president and Congress to pass another act that supersedes the Antiquities Act. The goal would not be to remove any chance of protecting public lands from development, but the process should have to be put through Congress... Some things technology won't helpGoing, going, gone. Our calves sold a week ago today on an Internet cattle auction. It's the latest technology to hit the cattle industry that once was as simple as a horse, a saddle and a man. None of it is so simple today. As I write, six semi-trucks sit ready to load as soon as the pasture is gathered and the calves are sorted and weighed. It's shipping day. It is part of the normal process of the cattle business. It is the once a year pay day for the rancher. This is where you very likely in today's economics of ranching, find out you worked all year for nothing... Balancing Cattle, Land and Ledgers Mr. Kahrle practices what is called sustainable ranching. By avoiding pesticides and relying more on range grass than feed grown with fertilizers, he says, he is helping to sustain the environment. By avoiding antibiotics and hormones, he is sustaining the quality of his beef. And by reducing his costs and becoming part of a network of distributors, retailers and chefs who care about what they are doing and are willing to pay for it, he is sustaining what is often an economically precarious way of life. "We use more of what nature gives us," Mr. Kahrle said. "It makes sense on every level." Mr. Kahrle is part of a small, growing group of ranchers and business owners who say the meat industry has cut so many corners for the sake of profit that the environment and the quality of beef have been compromised and small ranchers have been driven out of business. With recent outbreaks of disease, like mad cow in Canada, and a larger trend toward organic and humane treatment of animals, those out West in big hat country feel the time is ripe to market beef with a known history...Idaho cattle may open export market for Northwest An Idaho rancher who recently delivered nearly 800 cattle to a ship in The Dalles bound for South Korea may have helped open a national export market for ranchers in the Pacific Northwest. If the ship docks in the South Korean cities of Inchon and Busanin with healthy steers, the cattle fatten up to provide nicely marbled meat, and the export costs prove to be reasonable, the success could launch a $40 million annual market of exports from Oregon to South Korea...FISHING FOR HORSES But Jason Mercurio is the scion of a Monterey Bay commercial fishing family, grew up in Monterey and literally won his spurs as a cowboy and wrangler, competing against longtime ranching families at the Carmel Valley Ranchers Days held each year at the end of September. Mercurio, 23, took the Old Style Roping championship this year on the last day of Ranchers Days at the Carmel Valley Trail and Saddle Club, throwing a flawless figure-eight loop -- a California vaquero technique that allows a riata to catch a cow by both neck and forelegs -- while riding with partner Mollie Dorrance of Salinas...Last look at Happy Trails before move After forging happy trails in the High Desert for 35 years, family members of Western film icons Roy Rogers and Dale Evans are packin' up and movin' out. The Roy Rogers & Dale Evans Museum, which has fallen on hard times since the deaths of its namesake stars, is relocating to Branson, Mo., where country-western reigns supreme...