Thursday, November 20, 2003



I will leave this evening for Amarillo, to attend the Steer Roping National Finals, and will return late Sunday evening.

I"ll begin posting again Monday.

Have a great weekend,

Frank DuBois


Burn, Baby, Burn?

While the last couple of years' death toll is tragic, the death numbers in some previous conflagrations were astonishing. In 1871, for example, more than 1,200 people died in Wisconsin and Michigan from what was known as the Great Peshtigo Fire. More than 400 died in the Hinckley, Minn., fire in 1894 and another 450 in the Cloquet-Moose Lake, Minn., fire, in 1918.

Most fires, like those in California this year and in Colorado last year, were caused by people, not lightening or other acts of God. Charles S. Sargent, as part of the 1880 census, looked at U.S. woodland fires that year. He found 1,152 originated from clearing land, 628 from hunters, 508 from locomotives, 262 from malice, 197 from improving pasturages, 72 from campfires, 56 from Indians, 35 from smokers, 10 from prospectors, 9 from coal pits, three from woodcutters, 3 from carelessness and two from travelers, and only 32 from lighting and another 12 from prairie fires...

The effort at saving our forests has worked - indeed, it's worked beyond its needs. As Alan Caruba of the National Anxiety Center has noted, U.S. forestlands that covered 732 million acres in 1920 cover 747 million acres today, including 490 million acres that can produce 20 cubic feet of wood per acre annually. Large tree standing timber has increased 30 percent since 1950...

$80 Billion Pork-Barrel Power Bill

So what's in the 1,200-page energy bill that emerged this week from months of backroom negotiations? Hundreds of pages of corporate welfare, symbolic gestures, empty promises, and pork-barrel projects. In the name of mom-and-apple pie goals such as increasing energy supplies, reducing energy prices, and curtailing oil imports, the bill does little but transfer wealth from taxpayers to well-connected energy lobbies.

Here are the highlights. The proposed legislation will cost about $80 billion over 10 years and deficits be damned. Government-funded research and development and other subsidies make up about $60 billion of that total. Turning the corporate tax code into a better approximation of Swiss cheese with a new flood of incredibly prescriptive tax credits for every energy firm with a lobbyist will cost the Treasury $16 billion. Higher prices imposed by a doubling of federal ethanol subsidies will cost motorists about $7 billion...

The Energy Policy Act of 2003 -- A Missed Opportunity

Though the bill has some good provisions it fails to adequately enhance domestic energy supplies, a major missed opportunity to ensure reliable and affordable energy for American families and businesses.

The good news: the bill includes provisions that strengthen the nation’s electricity system and, at the margins, narrows the gap between supply and demand. The bad news: it is also loaded with costly and unnecessary new program authorizations, costly pork-barrel projects, and over $23 billion in special interest tax subsidies.

Despite numerous policy flaws, Congress will likely pass this bill and get President Bush's signature...
Jay Walley Recovery Fund

Received this email today. If you know Jay, or are appreciative of all the work he has done for the Paragon Foundation or other entities, you know he is deserving of our assistance. Please help if you can.

On Friday, November 14, Jay Walley had a stroke while working at his home office in Lincoln, New Mexico.

He is paralyzed on the right side, but is responsive and in good spirits under the circumstances. They have inserted a feeding tube in his side since he is only able to take limited quantities of liquids by mouth. Unfortunately, his MRI indicates that he has "quite a bit of damage." The plan is to move him to the VA hospital in Albuquerque as soon as a bed is available.

We know that the road to recovery will be a long, tough one. However, Jay, and his wife Sara, do not have health insurance or life insurance. As the costs of his medical care are rising, the Paragon Foundation is sponsoring a fund on Jay's behalf.

If you are able to help, please send your donations made payable to:

Paragon Foundation, Inc.
c/o Jay Walley Recovery Fund
1200 N. White Sands Blvd., Suite 110
Alamogordo, NM 88310

We can also take MasterCard or Visa by calling 877-847-3443 or fax 505-434-8992

Please make a note that the donation is for Jay Walley. If you would like to send cards, you can send them to the address above and we will see that he gets them.

He is currently in the hospital here in Alamogordo, but they will be transferring him as soon as possible.

Please keep Jay and his family in your prayers.

Nevada Live Stock Association
9732 State Route 445, #305
Sparks, NV 89436
For Immediate Release November 19, 2003


The County Clerk of Esmeralda County, Nevada, LaCinda Elgan, on November 17, 2003 said that enough signatures had been verified that a Grand Jury would be impaneled to investigate head Nevada brand inspector James Connelley. One hundred and eleven signatures were needed, 186 were turned in with the Petition, and 174 were verified as valid.

Connelley played a major role in allowing armed Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents to seize rancher Ben Colvin’s branded cattle from his ranch in Goldfield, Nevada in late July 2001. The act sparked public protests and outrage that have dogged Connelley and the Nevada Department of Agriculture since the actions. The 62 head of cattle were eventually sold from BLM’s Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro facility by silent auction to a California teenager named Cody Palmer. Palmer used his grandmother’s credit card to complete the purchase. He paid $13,000 for the cattle.

“My cattle were grazing on my own property and watering from water that I own and have owned. Yet, I never had my day in court because the Brand Department transferred ownership of my property to the BLM,” said Ben Colvin from his ranch in Esmeralda County.

The Grand Jury Petition alleges that brand inspector Connelley allowed a BLM agent to sign as the “owner or his authorized agent” on the line where only the owner must sign to authorize transport out of the brand inspection district or for a change ownership. All of the cattle were inspected as branded to Ben Colvin with his 40 Bar brand.

“I am very thankful that my county is fighting back with me against this kind of rustling by the very agency who is supposed to be protecting my interests and my county’s economic survival. I felt good collecting signatures to call a Grand Jury. The bottom line is that this is one way we have to try to protect our property rights. It is not just for myself but for everyone in Esmeralda County and the State,” said Ben Colvin from his 40 Bar Ranch.

“I believe Connelley and his bunch were in the wrong. At the very least Connelley should have required the BLM to produce a court order. Instead he and the brand department said to heck with me and my due process rights. I’m fighting back because someone has to. I’m glad my countrymen and the Nevada Live Stock Association (NLSA) are standing with me,” said Colvin. Colvin is the NLSA Director for Esmeralda County.

The Esmeralda County Clerk has delivered the Petition summoning a Grand Jury to Fifth Judicial District Court Judge, the Honorable John Davis for action.

In August of 2003 Ben Colvin also filed a $30 million dollar “takings” lawsuit against the BLM under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution in the United States Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C. That litigation is in progress.


For more information contact Ben Colvin 775.485.6366 or the Nevada Live Stock Association 775.424.0570.

Buyout plan divides ranchers across West Now, however, there could be another option for Mr. Shull. Federal legislation aimed at retiring grazing permits on federal rangelands might just give some ranchers the incentive to sell out and retire in style. Under the Voluntary Grazing Permit Buyout Act, introduced in Congress last month, ranchers who agree to retire their federal grazing leases would receive $175 per "animal unit month" - equivalent to the amount of forage that one cow-calf pair consumes monthly. For a rancher who grazes 300 pairs on federal land for six months, that amounts to a payout of $262,000. Shull, who holds permits to graze his cattle on the grasslands five months a year, sees merit in the proposal, and wouldn't mind having the option to cash in his federal rights. "I might look at that at some point in the future," he muses...Political Lobbyists Use E-Mail as Another Tool of Influence In addition to messages from people who've taken the time to sit down at their computer and type out their own thoughts, Representative Baldwin receives hundreds of identical e-mails sent by special interest groups. Like most of her colleagues, Ms. Baldwin has redesigned her Congressional web site to reduce the volume of electronic mass mailings. All e-mails to her office must now originate on her web page, so people have to type in their address before they can send her a message. Baldwin aide Adam Young calls it 'embedded e-mail.' He says it's part an effort to serve constituents better and reduce the volume of e-mail by screening messages that come from outside her district. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is working now to prevent federal agencies like the National Forest Service from creating electronic filters that will not just sort but actually reject mass e-mails. The Forest Service says the filters are needed to limit public comment to those who are directly affected by its policies. But Cindy Cohn says natural resources like forests belong to everyone and it's unfair to prevent average citizens from having input on how they're managed...Column: Restoring Klamath Heartlands In Oregon's Klamath Basin -- renowned for its water disputes -- a remarkable and little-noted story about land is unfolding. The current story begins 50 years ago, with a since-repudiated federal policy toward Indian tribes called "termination." It involves the chance to right a profound injustice, and an opportunity to achieve forest restoration on an unprecedented scale. However the story ends, it marks a profound moment in the history of Oregon and the West...Where it stinks, there are coal fires Kirk Wambach smelled sulfur out in the pasture and figured he'd better investigate. The smell means one thing -- coal's on fire. Trouble is, there are so many coal seam fires in western McKenzie County, Wambach didn't know if his nose was following a new fire downwind or one already located. The grasslands rancher hiked the open range where his cattle graze and found a granddaddy of a coal seam fire up on a ridge...Profits, religion battle over peaks After years of controversy, the Coconino National Forest Service will release its Environmental Impact Statement on snowmaking as early as December. According to the Arizona Snowbowl's Web site ( the public will have 45 days to review the statement and comment before the U.S. National Forest Service. The Forest Service, which issues Snowbowl's operation permit, will then decide if predicted environmental impacts outweigh snowmaking benefits...Idaho water users suing over salmon Idaho water users are taking the offensive in the operation of the vast upper Snake River reservoirs, announcing their intention to sue the federal government over flows for migrating salmon. The Coalition for Idaho Water filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the secretaries of Interior and Commerce, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "We did not make the decision to fight over Idaho water in the federal courts - the environmentalists did. Now that we have been forced onto that path, we must fight and we must fight aggressively," said Norm Semanko, water coalition president...Column: Biscuit - No Gravy. "Let it Burn" Philosophy Reigns Supreme The 2002 Biscuit Fire in Southern Oregon could have been stopped in its tracks. And, it should have been stopped in its tracks long before 500,000 acres of designated wilderness lands were engulfed in flames. Now that it's over, and now that over $100-million was spent fighting this fire, it's time to let the timber rot on the stump. There's no winning the war for timber harvest on public lands...Column: Give rivers room to heal The agreement announced last month to tear down two dams and bypass another to give wild Atlantic salmon a comeback chance in Maine's Penobscot River heralds a new approach to river management that this country - and the world - urgently needs. Negotiations among a private hydroelectric power producer, conservation organizations, and government officials have produced a decision that is good for fish, anglers, local economies, and the river itself with minimal impact on energy production. Such a sensible rebalancing of priorities on a larger scale could go a long way to restoring health to the planet's ailing rivers...Defenders of Wildlife President to Host NPC 'Morning Newsmaker' News Conference Dec. 3 Rodger Schlickeisen, president of the Defenders of Wildlife, will host a "Morning Newsmaker" news conference at the National Press Club on Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 10 a.m. The National Press Club is on the 13th floor of the National Press Building, located at the corner of 14th and F streets, N.W., Washington, D.C. In advance of the 30th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, Schlickeisen will release a new report on the Bush administration's efforts to undermine the law through the judicial system. Schlickeisen will highlight the report's findings and provide an overview of the law's history, current status, and future challenges to the Act as background for reporters covering the anniversary later in December. Alaskan Wild Cattle Herd Face Expulsion 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 has survived long stretches without a human caretaker on Chirikof Island, in the turbulent Gulf of Alaska. Initially introduced in the late 1800s, the animals supplied meat for early pioneers, including whaling crews and an Arctic blue fox industry established by Russian fur traders...Man Treated For Rabies After Fox Attack A warning from the National Park Service: Beware of rabid foxes. A Tucson man is being treated for rabies after he was attacked by a fox over the weekend at Saguaro National Park East. With more than 150 miles of hiking trails, the park is one of southern Arizona's great escapes. But on Sunday, the park's tranquility took a terrifying turn for a jogger. "He was running down the trail, he didn't see the fox, it lept up and bit him in the thigh," says B ob Love, the chief ranger for Saguaro National Park. He says the fox didn't stop after that first bite -- it went on the attack until the jogger hit it with a rock and it ran away...Survey of Yosemite wildlife draws telling comparisons with naturalist's early 20-century journals Naturalist Joseph Grinnell's penciled field notes may be almost 90 years old, but they're a cutting-edge research tool in current Yosemite wildlife studies. Teams of mammal, bird and reptile experts packed photocopies of some of Grinnell's 2,000 handwritten pages on mule back with them during a new round of faunal survey expeditions in Yosemite last summer, searching out everything that crawls, skitters, glides or stalks through the 1,169 square miles of glaciated grandeur. Grinnell's Yosemite journals, compiled from 1914 to 1920 with colleagues from UC Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ), provide a unique baseline picture of wildlife in the park. His work there helped establish his legacy as a forefather of the conservation movement...BLM survey throws ownership of Fort Hall family's land into question Jan Denlinger's family has owned land in the Pingree area located on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation since 1917. Recently, however, Denlinger learned that the federal government believes a portion of the land, a 130-acre island in the Snake River, might not be his. Bureau of Land Management officials completed a survey of the land Thursday, leaving markers across an island on the land. A tentative map will be completed later this spring, showing the property boundaries. Denlinger has letters from both the Tribes and the BLM that he believes show the Tribes intend to claim the land. "It's a land-grab and it's against our family. I'm going to fight it. We paid taxes on that piece of property for at least 40 years, on that piece of property we supposedly don't own," Denlinger said...Utahn wants $15M for desert-tortoise land A southern Utah landowner's long-standing plea to be paid millions of dollars for approximately 1,300 acres of his property that the federal government has declared desert tortoise habitat and protected from development was heard Tuesday by a Senate subcommittee. Under a bill sponsored by Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, James Doyle would get an initial payment of $15 million from the Bureau of Land Management for land he owns near St. George in Washington County. Doyle, who now lives in Idaho, started acquiring options to purchase the acreage from the state of Utah in 1981 to develop into bedroom communities of St. George, but in 1990 the desert tortoise was listed as an endangered species and a habitat conservation plan adopted in 1996 essentially prohibited any development on the lands in the so-called Red Cliffs preserve...Fremont County approves grazing permit resolution The Fremont County Commission has unanimously endorsed a resolution against allowing anyone except ''legitimate ranchers'' to hold federal grazing permits. The resolution defines ''legitimate ranchers'' as people ''whose livelihood depends on their ability to graze domestic livestock on lands administered by federal agencies. ''We've got two things going on,'' Thompson said. ''Anti-grazing people want the federal government to buy out grazing permits, and non-ranchers and others want to hold permits.''...Grizzly study's funding mauled Funding for a massive grizzly bear population study on the northern Continental Divide has been whittled down to a level that could risk the statistical credibility of the study's results. The study, headed by U.S. Geological Survey researcher Kate Kendall, got about $2.1 million from Congress. That amount forced her to pare back the scope of the ambitious project. The study will rely largely on collecting bear hair samples for genetic analysis to produce the first-ever population estimate of grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem...Judge Rules Against Interior Department The Interior Department is not requiring companies to pay fair market value for the use of public lands and resources, according to a federal judge who ordered the Bush administration to revisit its mining rules. Regulating the mining of minerals such as gold, silver and copper, the department operated "under the erroneous assumption that it did not need to attempt to obtain fair market value for operations on unclaimed land," U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. said in an opinion Tuesday...Coyote hunter fined $2,000 A Buffalo man convicted of illegally killing a coyote was fined $2,000 Wednesday at a sentencing hearing. Jerry Janvrin, 50, was found guilty in September of one count of illegal airborne hunting and acquitted of another count. The federal case ignited resentment among ranchers who support Janvrin and the coyote control he has provided to a four-county predator control district. It also flamed simmering resentment among landowners about the policy of state Game, Fish & Parks Department officers entering private land without landowner permission. At least 50 ranchers in northwest South Dakota closed their land to hunting after Janvrin's Sept. 18 conviction...Shivwits get water in U.S. deal The federal government is finally settling a 112-year battle by Utah's Shivwits Band of the Paiute Tribe for water on its parched reservation near St. George. "With the water-rights settlement, the future provides more opportunities for jobs, agriculture and economic development," Shivwits Chairman Glenn Rogers told the Deseret Morning News. Interior Secretary Gale Norton explains that Congress approved a plan for that settlement in 2000 - but it required a $24 million appropriation and numerous agreements to be signed by the band, various water agencies, the state engineer, courts and the federal government...State panel slams door on environmentalists' plan to guard water flow The state on Wednesday threw out requests by environmental groups seeking to purchase rights to keep water flowing into the state's bays and estuaries. The 3-0 decision by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality commissioners opens the doors to more industrial, municipal and agricultural water users to get permits, a move environmentalists said would guarantee that no fresh water reaches the coast...Column: Strengthening property and water rights Underlying the whole problem is still another, more basic challenge. Alaska's Constitution and the Statehood Act grants most subsurface rights to the state in a giant sweep, fomenting All the almost unsolvable problems we now face. If the "people of Alaska" own the subsurface, then individual property owners cannot. Thus we have an ongoing, constant struggle over who and how the subsurface will be used. With government ownership, this problem will always remain. Changing the Constitution and Statehood Act should be examined because private property owners ought to benefit from what's found under their land, but that's another fight for another day. We have to deal with present laws as they stand. That's why the "Property Rights and Water Protection Acts" have been proposed to clarify and strengthen in statute private property owners' rights as much as the Constitution and Statehood Act permit...EPA Releases Producers' Compliance Guide The Environmental Protection Agency has released its Producers' Compliance Guide for CAFOs, describing EPA's regulations for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. The guide includes sections that describe the CAFO regulations, who they affect, what they require and what assistance is available. If you own or operate a CAFO, you can use this guide to figure out what you need to do to comply with the regulations. You can download the Producers' Guide at Green Governor? The Hummer has not yet been converted, and people from all parties in the country's most populous state are waiting -- waiting to see if Schwarzenegger's fuel-hungry Hummer will run on hydrogen and, more importantly, waiting to see what the famous governor can get done as a Republican who purports to support both business and environmental issues. How well he walks that line could have reverberations across the country...Findings lend weight to sheep feed sabotage Authorities have found material they think is animal product in sheep feed, which would seem to lend weight to animal liberationists' claims that they put pig meat into the feed and water at a Victorian feedlot in an attempt to sabotage a live sheep shipment. Around 70,000 sheep were bound for the Middle East, but the shipment has been delayed pending an investigation. The activists say that they put pig meat into the feed and water in order to stop them from meeting the criteria for Muslim markets...OIE Will Not Change Mad Cow Guidelines Until May The World Organization for Animal Health, known as OIE, will not be changing its bovine spongiform encephalopathy guidelines until May 2004, despite a request by the U.S., Canada and Mexico for it to do so by the end of this year, an OIE official said. David Wilson, head of the OIE's international trade department, said it would be "impossible" to meet the request for new guidelines on mad-cow disease until May at the earliest. In September, the U.S. Canada and Mexico requested in a joint letter to OIE Director General Bernard Vallat that the international organization develop new "practical guidelines for risk mitigation measures supported by science before the end of this year."...America's agriculture system said to be vulnerable to attack by terrorists A simple handkerchief wielded by a resourceful terrorist could cause billions of dollars of damage to America's food system and untold terror in the nation's kitchens, senators were told Wednesday. Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, government officials have secured cities, airports, harbors, government buildings and tourist sites, but food experts say more attention should be focused on the country's food supply. "We have become a nation concerned about receiving anthrax in our mailboxes," said Dr. Tom McGinn of North Carolina Department of Agriculture. "Imagine what it would be like to be a nation concerned about opening our refrigerators and anthrax being in our refrigerators as well."...Tom Horn hanging still debated It was a surreal scene when the day finally came. Indeed, it was a day that many thought would never come. Having awoke to a chilly, gray morning in Cheyenne on Nov. 20, 1903, Tom Horn appeared nonchalant on the last day of his life. Just before 11 a.m., Sheriff Ed Smalley, Deputy Sheriff Dick Procter and a young county clerk named Joe Cahill escorted him to the gallows...Horses, snakes and other wild tales The Native Americans have their legends kept down through the generations by story tellers. It’s the job of a gifted tribe member to be the keeper of the stories and to pass them on to the next generation from the many generations that came before. Cowboys do much the same thing. Where the Native American storyteller will have a name like Grandmother Two Bears or Old Father Story Teller, the cowboy will simply be named Ben, Joe or Charlie. But if they were to be in a tribe somewhere, they might be named something like Cowboy Who Walks like Penguin. Old cowboys tend to be shorter than they were in their youth, a bit bowlegged and they waddle when they walk .The days of that long legged strolling stride left when arthritis set in every bone they ever bunged up in their lives. What they don’t have left in athletic ability, they have maintained in humor and the passing of the legends...

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Deal Struck On Healthy Forests, Senate to Appoint Conferees

Washington , DC – House Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-CA) announced today that a compromise has been reached in bi-cameral negotiations on the most contentious provisions of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act. As a result, the Senate will appoint conferees and meet the House in an official conference to finish work on the bill.
“We have light at the end of the tunnel,” Chairman Pombo said. “This bipartisan agreement puts the Healthy Forests legislation within reach of the White House. In fact, when the Senate appoints its conferees, I am confident that we can move this bill from the conference-committee table to the President’s desk very quickly.”
“I want the thinning and fuels reduction projects authorized in the Healthy Forests bill to start as soon as humanly possible,” Pombo continued. “The sooner those start, the more we can do to protect our communities, our environment, and our firefighters from the threat of catastrophic fires.”
“I also want to thank the authors of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, Representatives Scott McInnis of Colorado and Greg Walden of Oregon , for their perseverance and dedication to achieving forest management reform. Without their hard work over the last several years, I can honestly say, we would not be so close to seeing this bill become law.”
Specifically, the House-Senate agreement:

ü Revamps the Forest Service’s conflict-ridden administrative appeals process, requiring would-be appellants to participate early in the development stages of a forest restoration project in order to reserve the right to file an appeal. This provision is virtually identical to the House-passed language.

ü Creates an historic paradigm shift in the way Court’s consider legal challenges to hazardous fuels reduction projects, mandating that the Courts weigh the environmental consequences of management inaction when the specter of catastrophic wildfire looms. It would also require that federal judges reconsider any injunctions to projects every 60 days.

ü Expedites analysis and review requirements for priority wildfire mitigation projects, applying House-passed environmental analysis requirements to projects focused on protecting communities, and Senate passed analysis procedures to projects focused on protecting watersheds and endangered wildlife. Finally, Senate-passed old growth language was restructured to eliminate significant litigation loopholes. Also, requirements related to the retention of certain large trees were clarified ensuring that the bill’s wildfire mitigation purposes were not trumped by these new standards.

ü Ensures that the public has a full and thorough opportunity to participate in the decision making process. It embraces the House-passed, bipartisan Western Governor Association 10-Year Strategy’s robust public input and participation requirements, ensuring that interested persons will have numerous opportunities to engage decision makers during all phases of a project’s development and implementation.
Healthy Forests Alert (ALRA)

Call Today – Pass Healthy Forests

The fires are barely out in California.
1700 homes lost.
20 people dead.
And Congress is still fiddling
Out of sight, out of mind.
Your must help get the Healthy Forests Legislation over the goal line and passed into law!
The Senate and House have each passed HR 1904, the Healthy Forests Restoration Act.
Informal conference negotiations are continuing between the House and Senate to reconcile the different versions of the bill.
It is critical that they move very quickly in order for a bill to pass before Congress adjourns for the year – most likely this week.
While not perfect, HR 1904 represents years of debate and input and is a significant step in the right direction.
Your support for moving the bill now is vital.
Faxes, e-mails and calls are needed to let your Senators and Representatives know you want to see HR 1904 enacted in to law this week.
All Senators and Representatives must be called now and each day this week since they must all vote again when the conference committee is done.
Tell them that:
-----A. The Healthy Forests Restoration Act will help reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires, reduce the spreading damage from insects and disease, encourage energy uses for biomass, help private forestland owners with conservation efforts, and more.
-----B. The country cannot wait another year for a bill to help us address the catastrophic forest health crisis.
-----C. Congress must finish negotiating and move to final passage this week, before the Congress recesses.
The fiddling must stop.
You, and every person you know, must call your Senators and Representatives Now! Urge them to do their job. Urge them to do it now.
This is an all out call to action.
Action Items:
-----1. Call both your Senators to urge them to support the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HR 1904). You can call every Senator at (202) 224-3121. Or, just for fun, use the GREENS own 800 FREE NUMBER, 800-839-5276. Another FREE NUMBER is (800) 648-3516. The Capitol Switchboard will answer. Ask for your Senators office. Then ask for the person who handles the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HR 1904). Put your Senator on the spot. Ask if he or she is going to allow a straight up or down vote. Urge them not to filibuster to prevent a vote. More talking points are listed below.
Tell them: "I'm asking Senator _____________ to support the Healthy Forests Restoration Act legislation now before Congress. We must act now to stop these catastrophic fires that devastate our water, our wildlife habitat, our air quality and our communities.
It's time to act now before Congress goes home for the year. The bill, the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HR-1904) must be finalized.
-----2. Call your Congressman at the same numbers above. Follow the same procedure.
-----3. Send your Senators and Representatives a fax AND an e-mail. It is possible to access your Senators' web pages to find fax numbers, email addresses and snail mail addresses at:
The Congress is running out of time.
Congress could easily adjourn for the year still fiddling over Healthy Forests.
Help bring an end to this crazy debate. They are debating while your home is threatened.
Insist that they pass HR 1904 now.
Please forward this message as widely as possible.

Terrorists with tofu breath

They are bomb-throwing Birkenstock brats. Wolves in hemp clothing. Enemies of scientific progress. Inveterate haters of humanity.

They are environmental extremists and animal-rights zealots. They are running loose. And they are endangering us all...

"Vegan marshmallows." What an apt metaphor for domestic terrorists who take cover under the guise of "mainstream" environmental activism with its mushy and harmless facade. PETA, the pet charity of famous vegans such as Alicia Silverstone and Paul McCartney, may seem as pale and innocuous as a marshmallow. But it doesn't just dole out money for celebrity anti-meat ads. The group has provided financial support for the Earth Liberation Front, which along with its sister organization, the Animal Liberation Front, is responsible for committing more than 600 criminal acts between 1996 and 2002, according to the FBI. In Washington, mainstream green lobbyists are silent about anti-biotech mayhem that has resulted in the destruction of experimental crops in the Pacific Northwest, Louisiana, France and India...

The environmentalists finally go potty

In their never-ending quest to dam the flow of human achievement, and to sink modern civilization back into the cesspools of primitivism, environmentalists have identified a new enemy.

The flush toilet.

Everyone is aware of the exasperating "low-flow" toilets of recent years, saddled on us by the National Energy Policy Act of 1995 in the name of water conservation. Ironically, their parsimony in dispensing water (1.6 gallons instead of the 3.5 gallons in earlier models) often requires two or more flushes to do what older toilets achieved with just one. How multiple flushes save water is not entirely clear.

But for environmentalists, making existing toilets less effective was just the initial goal of their campaign. A new goal has emerged from the bowels of the environmental movement, and is now in the policy pipeline. That goal is to rid the world of flush toilets, period...

13 million acres proposed for Mexican spotted owl habitat More than 13 million acres in four Western states would be designated as critical habitat for the endangered Mexican spotted owl under a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal released Tuesday. The proposal includes 4.9 million acres in Arizona, 4.6 million acres in New Mexico, 3.3 million acres in Utah and 569,125 acres in Colorado. Public and tribal lands are included. A final decision is expected in August. Public comment will be taken through Dec. 18...Forest Service chief wants regulations eased Federal land managers could reduce the risk of wildfire and prove to the public their desire to create healthy forests if some environmental regulations were eased, the chief of the U.S. Forest Service said Monday. Critics have said proposals like President Bush's Healthy Forest Initiative are a thinly veiled effort to log more large trees from federal lands. But Bosworth said the president's proposal to speed up the environmental review process and to reduce the amount of time spent on project appeals will create opportunities for the Forest Service to accomplish effective thinning and prescribed burning, thus reducing the undergrowth that turns smaller fires into major ones...Republicans reject Baucus' efforts to halt Front drilling Republicans late Monday rebuffed an attempt by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to keep gas drillers out of a small area of Montana's Rocky Mountain Front while the Interior Department studies options for buying them out. The Front's 200-square-mile Badger-Two Medicine area is considered sacred by the Blackfeet Tribe, and drilling there would be controversial, Baucus told a House-Senate committee that negotiated a final energy bill. Baucus offered an amendment that would have put a three-year moratorium on drilling there while the Interior Department explores options for buying or trading out leases in the area bounded by Glacier National Park, the Blackfeet reservation and the Great Bear Wilderness Area. "No leaseholder worth his salt will pursue these," Baucus said shortly before the committee rejected his amendment 7-6 along party lines. "It will not happen."...Forest plan curbs snowmobile access Snowmobilers will find some areas of the White River National Forest closed this winter, now that the newly adopted forest plan is in effect. The forest plan means new winter-travel restrictions in some areas of the White River, including some areas that were formerly popular with snowmobilers, such as the Thomas Lakes area near Mount Sopris. All designated wilderness areas were already closed to motorized uses, but the forest plan identifies recommended wilderness areas that will carry the same management regulations, according to Kenealy. "We have significant pieces of ground that are now managed as wilderness," he said...Deaths of three Yellowstone wolves investigated Federal officials are investigating the deaths of three wolves including one that was apparently shot. The wolves include the alpha males of the Greybull River and Sunlight Basin packs, according to Mike Jimenez, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf coordinator in Wyoming. The wolves were found at different times this fall and in different places, so there is no direct evidence the deaths might be linked...Rare wildflower threatened by oil and gas exploration, lawsuit says Environmental groups trying to protect a rare wildflower that grows only on oil shale barrens in Utah and Colorado filed a lawsuit Tuesday against federal wildlife officials. The groups say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act by not responding to a petition by environmentalists to protect the Graham's penstemon, a small lavender flower found only in northwestern Colorado and in the Uinta Basin of northeastern Utah. The wildflower has been listed as an endangered species candidate for 27 years but has never been granted full protection status, the suit says. The primary threat to the flower is oil and gas exploration and drilling in its habitat...Norton says good relations with landowners help environment Interior Secretary Gail Norton told a group of conservationists Tuesday that the Bush Administration has helped protect open spaces and endangered species by cooperating with land owners rather than focusing on criminal penalties. Norton said focusing merely on punishments caused people to do just the minimum to avoid penalties, and that they should be encouraged to do more to protect the environment...Environmentalists argue Puget Sound whales should be added to endangered species list Killer whales swimming in the Puget Sound and nearby waters, whose numbers have declined almost 20 percent from 1996 to 2001, should be placed on the endangered species list, environmentalists say. The Puget Sound orcas are genetically distinct and don't mingle or reproduce with any other groups of whales, according to a coalition of environmentalists suing the government...Humans blamed for extent of endangered-species list Conservationists believe the extinction rate for species is 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than it should be under natural conditions, meaning many creatures may disappear during the next few decades. The primary reason: humans. The planet's biodiversity is significantly threatened by everything from expanding cities to deforestation, agriculture and fishing, the union said...Feds Report on Large Salmon Kill in Ore. A federal report on what caused the deaths of 33,000 salmon in the Klamath River in September 2002 points to a large return of fish and low water levels as two primary factors. The report is likely to become evidence in the trial of the Yurok and Hoopa tribes' lawsuit against the federal government claiming its decision to restore irrigation to farmers violated responsibilities to sustain salmon harvests...Judge denies immediate road access for Pilgrim family federal judge on Tuesday rejected a backwoods family's request to use an old mining road so they can haul winter supplies to their remote cabin in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline denied the Pilgrim family's motion for a temporary restraining order, saying the National Park Service was justified in wanting to assess the environmental impact of reopening the road inside the southeastern Alaska park. "Vehicular travel over the roadway in question has not occurred for more than 65 years. This was not a secret at the time plaintiffs purchased the property, as many living within the park boundaries lack vehicular access to their property," Beistline wrote in his 18-page ruling. "Therefore, it is reasonable to allow the Park Service time to investigate the issue before making a decision."...Pilot considers it his "civic duty' to kill wolves Bob Magnuson considers it his "civic duty" to kill a wolf every now and then. That's why he's planning to apply for a permit to hunt wolves with his airplane this winter after the Alaska Board of Game approved the state's first aerial wolf-control program in more than 15 years...Survey: Park Service employees fear outsourcing Most National Park Service employees are afraid of losing their jobs to private companies, and morale within the agency is declining, according to a recent survey by a conservation group. Roughly two-thirds, or 66 percent, of 1,361 Park Service employees who responded to the survey designed by the Campaign to Protect America's Lands, a nonprofit group based in Washington, indicated that agency competitive sourcing efforts concerned them a "great deal." Nearly a quarter said they were somewhat worried by such efforts, and only 3 percent said they were not at all bothered...Editorial: Don't privatize park jobs The Bush administration should not push ahead with an ill-advised plan to turn federal jobs in the national parks and forests over to private contractors. While the theory sounds appealing - that private companies can do the same tasks for less money - the reality has proven to be far different...Beware of National Aviation Heritage Area, Group Says The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a bill that would create a National Aviation Heritage Area encompassing several counties in Ohio and Indiana. But a conservative public policy group says creating a new national heritage area is not a good way to celebrate the Wright Brothers' first flight...Drought prompts grazing reductions in Nevada Federal land managers are reducing grazing on public lands across Nevada to deal with what they call the driest rangeland conditions in 15 years. Bureau of Land Management officials said a lingering drought in what is already the nation's driest state prompted them to close portions of 10 grazing allotments and reduce the number of livestock allowed on others...Walden proposes volunteer firefighter program In a phone call Monday to Bureau of Land Management Director Kathleen Clarke, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) urged the creation of a volunteer citizens' wildland fire response program to combat wildfires that break out on federal lands in Oregon. During his call to Clarke, Walden stressed the damage done to Oregon's cattle ranching community by wildfires that destroy grazing land, as well as critical species habitat. The volunteer program is necessary to remove prohibitions that prevent local citizens and volunteer firefighters from using readily available equipment to quickly attack fires on federal lands before they become major conflagrations. A similar volunteer firefighting cooperative program is operating in Nevada... Subsistence hunters oppose NPR-A plan Subsistence hunters on the North Slope say expanding exploration in the northeastern corner of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska could hurt their way of life. The Bureau of Land Management wants to revisit environmental protections approved in 1998 that officials now say are keeping nearly two-thirds of the oil in the NPR-A's northeastern section off-limits...Daschle says deal near on forests bill Backers of a Healthy Forests bill now before Congress have broken an impasse, and Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., said he expects a deal by week's end. The bill, introduced by President Bush and passed by the House last spring, remains one of a handful of pieces of legislation being negotiated as lawmakers prepare to wrap up the year's business before Thanksgiving. "In the not-too-distant future, I think we'll be able to announce an agreement," Daschle said. "We're much closer to getting something passed than we were just last week."...Judge Decries Pro-Industry Mining Rules A federal judge yesterday upheld Interior Department regulations that allow more mining on public lands but criticized the rules, redrafted just weeks after President Bush took office, for putting industry wishes above environmental protections...High Plains discloses plans for Ft. Lyon water transfer High Plains A&M, a Nevada-based LLC which has been buying land and water rights under the Ft. Lyon Canal Company, has disclosed at least some of the details of proposed transfer of irrigating water from agricultural to municipal use. The disclosure came during negotiations with the Ft. Lyon Canal Company which began Wednesday and are continuing through today...Water plant director is sentenced in fish kill A Warsaw, Ind., man who oversaw the dumping of tons of sludge and diesel fuel by the city's wastewater treatment plant, killing thousands of fish in a river, will spend nearly four years in prison. A federal judge sentenced David Van Dyke, 53, to 46 months in prison on Tuesday for sewage discharges and a subsequent cover-up last year while he was the Warsaw plant's director. Van Dyke, who must pay a $39,370 fine, will begin his prison term on Dec. 30...We have evidence, say sheep saboteurs ANIMAL rights activists who claim to have sabotaged the feed of a shipment of sheep bound for the Middle East say they will distribute video evidence of the action. Patty Mark, a spokeswoman for Animal Liberation, told Sky News this afternoon proof would be distributed to the media after police and others said they doubted the activists had managed to contaminate the food. Police say they have no evidence to back up the protesters' claims, made this morning, that pig meat was dumped into the food and water supply of the sheep, due to be loaded for transport tomorrow. The contamination was intended to stop the shipment being acceptable in its destination market, as Muslims do not eat pig meat...PETA Delays Ad Poking Fun at Clay Aiken People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has delayed a new ad campaign with the slogan "Get Neutered, It Didn't Hurt Clay Aiken," while it waits to see if Aiken will apologize for negative comments he made about cats, PETA officials said Tuesday. "If Clay Aiken intends on staying famous, he has to learn to take a joke," said Dan Mathews, vice president of the Norfolk, Va.-based animal rights group. The ad features the crass puppet Triumph the Insult Comic dog from "Late Night" with Conan O'Brien urging pet owners to spay or neuter their animals. The barb came from Triumph, but PETA allowed the ad because of an interview Aiken gave to Rolling Stone Magazine in June where he said he didn't like cats...Rancher ordered to demolish unauthorized dams A Salmon-area rancher has been ordered to remove three unauthorized dams and could pay $10,000 in civil penalties for violating state law. The Idaho Department of Water Resources says Roger Ball excavated one-thousand feet of stream-bed in Little Sawmill Creek near the community of Lemhi. Rancher gets camel for easy riding Despite years of prolonged drought, a camel in cow country seems mighty incongruous. But there Samson is, two humps swaying like Jell-O as he parades beside a homestead-era, chinked barn at the far northern edge of Yellowstone County. "Camels don't spit," cattle rancher Don Golder says in a chatty, reassuring way as he feeds pellets to his young, halter-broke camel. "They belch and regurgitate at you."...Twins advance with top roping wins Little hands can throw big loops, and the big loops thrown by Hopkins County ropers Bryan and Bradley Caudle have caught a lot of wins. The Caudles, 5-year-old twin brothers, have been invited to demonstrate their roping talents at the World Championship dummy roping competition in Las Vegas in early December, when the National Finals Rodeo will be under way...

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


How Far is Far Enough to Satisfy Enviros?

How far must we reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avert catastrophic global warming? Proponents of the (much watered down) Lieberman-McCain bill (S. 139), requiring greenhouse gas reductions to 2000 levels in 2010, called their proposal "a modest first step," implying more action is needed. Which is why S. 139 supporters vowed that, at some undetermined point in the future (2004? 2005?), they will push for the original bill's Phase II reductions to 1990 levels in 2016.

But is this enough? According to global warming alarmists, the answer is clearly "no."

So is Kyoto, which requires the U.S. to reduce emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012, and calls for a 2 percent reduction in global emissions, sufficient to solve the problem? No again...

The National Aviation Heritage Act: No Way to Celebrate the Wright Brothers

DATE: November 18, 2003

BACKGROUND: The U. S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote Nov. 18 on the "National Aviation Heritage Act," H.R. 280. Sponsored by Rep. David Hobson (R-OH), the bill would create a National Aviation Heritage Area encompassing several counties in Ohio and Indiana to commemorate the nation's aviation history. Inspired by the rapidly approaching one-hundredth anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (which took place on December 17, 1903), the bill would also create an Aviation Heritage Foundation to manage the Heritage Area. The cost to the taxpayers is set at $10 million.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: The creation of a new National Heritage Area will lead to more federal zoning and land-use restrictions.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: Experience shows that the rights of residential and commercial property owners are often undermined in National Heritage Areas. In the name of preserving the historic "landscape" of the area in question, federal officials often develop management plans that are little more than zoning imposed by Washington bureaucrats.

DISCUSSION: There are 23 National Heritage Areas in the United States, most of them located east of the Mississippi River. Under the guise of promoting environmental protection, preserving open space, and fostering historic preservation, the National Park Service, which oversees the program, and an assortment of interest groups have used the law to infringe upon the property rights of those living within the boundaries of Heritage Areas.

As J. Peyton Knight of the American Policy Center told the House Resources Committee's Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands earlier this year, "If the Heritage Areas program is allowed to proliferate, experience shows that it will become not only a funding albatross, as more and more interest groups gather around the federal trough, but also a program that quashes property rights and local economies through restrictive federal zoning practices. The real beneficiaries of a National Heritage Area program are conservation groups, preservation societies, land trusts, and the National Park Service -- essentially, organizations that are in constant pursuit of federal dollars, land acquisition, and restrictions to development."

Furthermore, the National Park Service is already facing a multi-billion maintenance backlog. Under the best of circumstances, it will take the Park Service years to repair the crumbling infrastructure of the national parks and other areas under its jurisdiction. Adding another Heritage Area to a system that is already overburdened is simply irresponsible.

As the National Park Service itself noted in testimony before Congress earlier this year, "some national heritage areas have been designated without a clear indication of the ability of the management entity to assume responsibility for management of the area. The management entity subsequently has operated the area without a clear financial plan for achieving self-sufficiency without federal support. Consequently, it is time to step back, evaluate existing areas, and develop legislative guidelines that will shape future national heritage area designations."

Americans should be proud of the Wright Brothers' splendid historical achievement of 100 years ago. Creating a new National Heritage Area is no way to celebrate man's first flight...

The International Green Agenda

Environmental groups were stunned when the cash-strapped Turner Foundation—which gave about $28 million to green causes in 2002—announced recently that it would temporarily suspend all funding for at least a year. The prospect of losing a major donor was a setback for radical activist groups like the Ruckus Society, Friends of the Earth, and Greenpeace. (The Turner Foundation, however, will fulfill multi-year grant commitments totaling $6 million for 2003 and $6 million for 2004; and Turner’s United Nations Foundation plans to fulfill his pledge of donating $1 billion to U.N. programs. To date, the United Nations Foundation has donated at least $400 million.) They and other so-called “nongovernmental organizations”—or NGOs—are ubiquitous at gatherings of the U.N., the World Trade Organization and other international organizations. These activist and advocacy groups are use to financial backing from a network of foundation donors. It’s what keeps their large and diffuse network in constant motion around the world.

The July 2003 issue of Foundation Watch outlined the NGO phenomenon on the world stage. Authors David Riggs and Robert Huberty recommended that international organizations adopt transparency rules similar to those governing U.S. nonprofits. They would require NGOs to make public reports on the amount and sources of their revenue—including government funding—and their expenses before receiving U.N. “consultative” status or other forms of official recognition. Riggs and Huberty noted that as things stand now, international NGOs face little or no public scrutiny despite their officially sanctioned presence at major inter-governmental meetings...

Insurers likely to pay $2.04 billion for California fires U.S. insurers are likely to pay $2.04 billion in property losses for two massive wildfires that destroyed homes and businesses in California, according to a company that tracks claims data. Insurance Services Office Inc. Monday said the Cedar Fire near San Diego caused insured losses of $1.06 billion. The blaze destroyed more than 2,200 buildings and burned more than 280,000 acres. The Old Fire near San Bernardino caused $975 million in insured losses, according to ISO. It destroyed more than 1,100 buildings and burned more than 150,000 acres...Biscuit Fire salvage tests legal standing of roadless rule The U.S. Forest Service proposal to salvage burned timber from the massive Biscuit fire released Monday represents a major effort to log within so-called roadless areas once off-limits to logging but now in a state of legal flux. Scott Conroy, supervisor of the Siskiyou and Rogue River national forests, said he anticipated the salvage logging plan could be appealed and perhaps challenged in court if plans to log 200 million board feet of timber on 12,000 acres of inventoried roadless areas remain...Court hearing set Dec. 22 on cattle impoundments A hearing date has been set for Dec. 22 in 2nd District Judicial Court in Reno on livestock impoundments, according to the Nevada Cattlemen's Association. Nevada Department of Agriculture petitioned the court for judicial review of the department's actions on impoundments in response to the association's request, NCA Executive Director Rachel Buzzetti said Friday. The questions for the court are over whether the department acted lawfully in issuing brand inspection clearance certificates for cattle confiscated by BLM and the U.S. Forest Service...Ranchers, rangers air their concerns Ranchers and the U.S. Forest Service aren't as far apart on grazing issues as ranchers thought, based on what was said during a four-hour forum Friday, but there are still fires to put out. One of the biggest issues is over how the Forest Service monitors grazing allotments, including what some call "postage-stamp" monitoring, according to those speaking in the packed room at the Elko County Library. Another hot issue is fire danger from high graze, where grazing is locked out...Fremont County may sue about storage regulations A possible lawsuit by the Fremont County Commissioners against the Shoshone Forest concerning a food storage order is "still on the table." He said the commission, with input from area outfitters, is concerned both about the manner in which the Forest Service pressed its order on the South Zone, where he maintains there are no grizzlies and few bear-human conflicts, and about the vagueness of the order itself. Doug Thompson, chairman of the Fremont County Commission, said the order is "hurting tourism" because "people believe there are 700 grizzlies walking around above Dubois waiting to eat them."...Forest Chief Bosworth urges better study of forest ecosystems U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth said Monday that if the West's runaway wildfire problems are ever to be curbed, officials, environmentalists and the timber industry need to begin by leaving some things exactly as they are. In Portland to deliver the keynote speech at a three-day wildfire risk assessment conference, Bosworth said the goal is to restore ecosystems across the West that have been depleted by out-of-contol fires. That begins, he said, with looking at the components of a healthy ecosystem - the number of trees, their age, how they are spaced, the diversity of wildlife habitat - and committing to leaving them in place...EPA turns attention to haze in the West Environmental Protection Agency officials have given Oregon officials the option of joining other Western states in an effort to meet air quality standards to reduce regional haze in the "Colorado Plateau." The plateau sprawls across southeastern Utah, northern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and western Colorado and covers an area of about 130,000 square miles. Although state and federal agencies already have clean air standards, there have been no regulations or standards set yet to manage haze, that nebulous environmental cloak that muddies the air and hampers a person's ability to see...Climbers to sue for right to scale Cave Rock A rock climbing association indicated late last week it is prepared to file a lawsuit to prevent a ban on climbing at Cave Rock, a volcano core north of Zephyr Cove that the Washoe tribe holds as a spiritual place. The Access Fund says the ban, to go into effect Thursday, is unconstitutional because it denies access only to rock climbers. The organization has asked the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit to suspend the ban indefinitely...Feasting on the forest America's trees are under attack. Species by species, they're being invaded by insects and fungi, native and foreign. Scientists fear their loss will devastate suburban streets and upset the delicate ecological balance of many woodlands. "Invasive species are a real threat to the nation's forests," said Dale Bosworth, chief of the U.S. Forest Service, at a recent conference in New Orleans. "There are so many things, it just seems too big to talk about. ... Like a slow-moving fire, they're going everywhere."...Missouri River review released The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would keep more water in upper Missouri River reservoirs during extreme drought under a plan proposed on Monday. The corps, which manages dams and reservoirs along the 2,341-mile river, does not plan to make seasonal changes to the river's depth - the spring rises and summer lows that conservationists contend are needed to protect endangered fish and bird species...California rancher charged with poisoning prairie dogs in 2000 A Californian who owns the Three Bar Ranch in southeastern Montana was charged in federal court here Monday with poisoning prairie dogs on a federal grazing lease more than three years ago. Prairie dogs are a candidate species for federal protection. Stanford M. Clinton Jr., of San Jose, did not appear in court. His attorney, Anthony Wendtland, of Sheridan, Wyo., entered a not-guilty plea for Clinton...Big Bend's big problems But tourism is not all that's hurt here in one of the nation's largest and most remote national parks. Plants and animals, which depend on the river, are also threatened. There are days when air pollutants from coal-fired power plants on both sides of the border create the highest concentration of sulfates and the worst visibility of any Western national park. Operating with a budget shortfall of more than $6 million a year, Big Bend is routinely considered one of the top 10 most endangered parks in the US. Now, to help preserve it, park enthusiasts are trying to revive an idea nearly seven decades old: the creation of an international park...BLM chief breaks vow to avoid Utah issues As director of the Bureau of Land Management, Kathleen Clarke made repeated commitments not to take part in matters affecting her previous employer - the State of Utah. Despite those assurances, Clarke's official calendars show that she was involved in nearly three dozen meetings on Utah matters, including a Utah land swap that fell apart after BLM whistleblowers complained it amounted to a potential $117 million rip-off of federal taxpayers. The substance of the meetings - if she actually attended the meetings - is impossible to discern, but many appear to have involved natural resources issues that she had specifically said were off-limits. Her role in the Utah land exchange in apparent violation of her recusal is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Interior Department's inspector general...BLM may close shooting range A Bureau of Land Management report released last week presents a new vision for management of the land, which is known in government talk as an "Area of Critical Environmental Concern." The most controversial aspect may be closing an informal target-shooting range that marksmen have used for decades. Those marksmen guard their few ranges fiercely...Conferees OK energy bill with $23 billion in tax breaks, mostly for companies House and Senate conferees approved late Monday a massive energy bill that includes $23 billion in tax incentives, clearing the way for the legislation's final congressional approval, probably this week. The House could take up the measure, a top priority for President Bush, as early as Tuesday. The conferees rejected dozens of amendments, most of them brought by Democrats, as they left the Republican-crafted bill - the product of weeks of closed-door negotiations - largely intact...Necropsy reveals wolf was shot At least one of five Mexican gray wolves recently found dead was a shooting victim, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The body of the 6-year-old wolf, alpha female of the Saddle Pack, was found Sept. 15 in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. She had been in the wild in eastern Arizona since January 2001...State plans for bear change Management of grizzlies in the Yellowstone Park area could move from the federal to the state government in 2005, a Game and Fish official says. "The one unknown is litigation," added Reg Rothwell, G&F's supervisor of biological services. "It's not a matter of if, but when it'll go to court." The hoops that remain to be cleared are amending the plans of the six national forests and Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks along with reclassifying the region's bears as a "distinct population segment," he said...Judge considers road access for family inside national park The federal government wrongly denied a family of 17 living within the boundaries of a national park access to their property by preventing their use of on an old mining road to haul winter supplies, a lawyer contended Monday. "The only reasonable and adequate access for the Pilgrims has been denied," said plaintiffs' lawyer Russell C. Brooks, at a hearing in U.S. District Court. "The Pilgrims are seeking to use a road." Four members of the Pilgrim family, with the help of the Pacific Legal Foundation, filed the lawsuit to get use of the road to their cabin inside the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, which begins about 170 miles east of Anchorage and stretches to the Canadian border...Explosive Concerns at Park Far below the blue waters of Yellowstone Lake, a mysterious dome 2,100 feet across and 100 feet high is causing concern among scientists and citizens who don't know whether it's a harmless curiosity or a hazard on the verge of exploding. The dome, also called a bulge or an elevated plain, is less than a mile from shore and was recently explored by researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey, using unmanned submarines and sonar. "It could be the precursor to a hydrothermal explosion," said Lisa Morgan, a geologist leading the team. "It's a pretty significant feature."...Study calls 'Big Straw' feasible, costly A new study of the hotly debated "Big Straw" project to transport Western Slope water across the mountains affixes a price tag of up to $15 billion, lays out five possible routes and names three places to tap the Colorado River for millions of gallons daily...Labeling splits cattlemen Idaho cattlemen are split over the idea of country-of-origin labeling of their product, pitting the desire to remain free of government entanglement against a new program that might make them more money and lessen the packers´ grip on beef prices. The Idaho Cattle Association has been firm that labeling should be market-driven and voluntary, rather than federally mandated, Director Lloyd Knight said. The Idaho ranchers have steered clear of government involvement over the years and want to keep it that way, he said...Movies' rein men are dying breed Billy Burton remembers when horses were the daily business of Hollywood. In the predawn light on a then-dusty Burbank plain, a dozen trailer trucks would pull up to the movie barns every day, loading hundreds of animals for movie and TV productions on the back lots of Universal and Warner Bros. That era passed decades ago, and the heyday of the Hollywood cowboys - Burton's crowd - passed along with it. Stunt riding - "it's a lost art," said Burton, a trim, sinewy man who moved away from horse work 15 years ago to become a second-unit director specializing in action scenes for movies such as "Mission: Impossible 2." "Nobody rides falling horses anymore. Nobody rides rearing horses. You go out with people riding those horses, working with them, it's frankly embarrassing. They haven't been taught. They haven't been schooled. They wear a big hat and a pair of boots and think they're a cowboy and can do anything." In directing the action scenes on "The Scorpion King," Burton - who still competes in rodeo contests - said he found himself showing the stuntmen how to make the horses fall, and retraining the horses. "There's not enough people that do what I do," he said. Jack Lilley, a stable owner whose family has worked with stunt horses for three generations, agrees. "I see horse wranglers who don't know how to put on a harness properly," he said. "You've got a lot of jerks who couldn't read a horse's mouth and tell you if he has blemishes on it. He'll call himself a horseman when he don't know how to be one."...Barrels, buckets once part of everyday life I can still see my mother standing over a new floor furnace grill, print dress billowing out as heat from the furnace arose into the room. No more kerosene jugs to fill or ashes to carry. No more coal, kindling and firewood to fetch. Like magic, the newfangled thermostat turned the furnace off and on as needed. The future was truly at hand...

Monday, November 17, 2003

Yucca Mountain/Nevada

From the Newsletter of the Western States Water Council

On November 7, Nevada State Engineer Hugh Ricci denied applications for the use of water in operating the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. Mr. Ricci ruled that the proposed use was not deemed a beneficial use of water, and that it is also contrary to the public interest. An application to appropriate 430 acre-feet of ground water annually as a permanent water right was filed by the Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain Site Characterization Project Office (DOE) in 1997. In 2000, the State Engineer denied the application on the grounds that it would violate Nevada Revised Statute (NRS)459.910, which states, "It is unlawful for any person or governmental entity to store high level radioactive waste in Nevada." Approving water rights for such a facility would therefore prove detrimental to the public interest. Of note, the State Engineer did approve temporary water right permits for site characterization studies at Yucca Mountain. Those permits expired in April 2002, and a request for an extension was denied (WSW #1456). The facility is now using stored water.

DOE appealed the State Engineer's denial to the U.S. District Court of Nevada, which refused to interpret the state statutes at issue. DOE appealed to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court, which in October 2001 directed the federal district court to rule on the merits of the case. On remand, in March 2003, the federal district court held that the State Engineer incorrectly relied on NRS 459.910 as a legislative determination and declaration of the public interest. Moreover, a review of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA), under which the site was selected, and a Congressional override of Governor Kenny Guinn's veto of that siting decision are presently pending before the U.S. District of Columbia Circuit Court. NRS 459.910 as applied by the State Engineer amounted to a premature veto of the NWPA and "may not be invoked as what amounts to a 'veto' of the water application process" under NRS 533.370. The federal district court did not address the issue of the preemption of state law or the public interest -- nor cite any national interest -- but remanded the case for the State Engineer's review only under NRS 533.370 which outlines water right application considerations.

Besides finding the proposed use of water was not a beneficial use of publicly-owned water, NRS 533.370(3) prohibits the State Engineer from approving a permit where "the proposed use or change threatens to prove detrimental to the public interest." Given the strong opposition to the waste repository as evidenced by the Governor's veto (WSW #1459), and state legislative acts, Mr. Ricci reasons the proposed water use would clearly threaten to prove detrimental to the public interest. The full text can be found at

Sunday, November 16, 2003


NOTE: Click on the highlighted areas in orange to go to the article, study, report, etc.

No choice but to cut wildfire risk Surrounded by the densely wooded hills of the Lincoln National Forest, residents of the village of Ruidoso have long been aware of the dangers of forest fires. It was just north of here in 1950 that a black bear cub rescued after a fire was named Smokey Bear and became an enduring symbol of fire prevention. But the risks of living in the woods have come into sharper focus in the past few years. Three large fires have struck here since 2001, including one that destroyed more than two dozen homes...Column: Government secrecy about road claims has to stop Six months ago a bombshell exploded in Utah. It was revealed that Gov. Mike Leavitt and Interior Secretary Gale Norton had secretly agreed on a process whereby the federal government would acquiesce to the state's pursuit of so-called RS 2477 claims to a vast number of "highway rights of way" throughout Utah. The Utah Attorney General's Office sent maps of many thousands of potential claims to the Department of the Interior in June 2000, but only a handful of claims have been made public since the Leavitt-Interior deal in April...Author: Fighting some fires a waste The federal government wastes billions of dollars a year fighting some forest fires, Douglas Gantenbein writes in "A Season of Fire: Four Months on the Firelines of America's Forests." Gantenbein, a journalist who teaches nonfiction writing at the University of Washington, left Seattle for the summer of 2001 to chase wildfires across the West. And there were plenty, including the Thirtymile fire in Washington that killed four firefighters...Column: Do We Need A $15 Million "Illegal Logging Initiative"?...So my interest was aroused when I learned that, in July, the Bush administration had launched an "Initiative Against Illegal Logging" and the cost of that Initiative would be $15 million in taxpayers' money. It's no secret the US is deep into the red ink these days and one would think it would be looking for ways to cut spending, but this Initiative was deemed important enough for Secretary of State, Colin L. Powell, to announce it on July 28. He noted that the World Bank estimates illegal logging costs developing nations an estimated $10-15 billion every year in lost resources and revenues. It is money he said, "stolen from legitimate forest products businesses." As I read through Secretary Powell's address, I noticed that he expressed his appreciation to Conservation International, a major Green organization, and the American Forest and Paper Association for their work "in demonstrating the critical importance of preserving protected forest areas." Reading further, I learned that the US had "already entered into agreements with six countries to generate over $60 million for forest preservation." So the total is now up to $75 million for this policy designed to "save" forests from proper management and use...Feds may review salmon spending Bush administration officials extolled recent surges in Columbia River basin salmon runs during a regional conference here, saying the time is ripe to re-examine the $600 million the government dedicates to salmon recovery every year. Bonneville Power Administration administrator Steve Wright and White House environmental adviser David Anderson added that favorable ocean conditions played a key role in boosting salmon returns -- a welcome development, but one in which the government has zero control...Reservations, habitats often at odds Rapid growth in California and slow development of tribal land mean that many reservations are the last refuge for some threatened and endangered species. That makes it difficult for some tribes to build homes and businesses on their land. "Tribes in this state are bearing a disproportionate burden for endangered species," said Richard Fielitz, regional forester for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Sacramento. "They were poorer tribes and did not develop their lands. They became refuges for endangered species."...Editorial: Innovation in conservation There is a growing consensus among scientists that conventional approaches to species conservation may not be sufficient to save much. Fortunately, several innovative approaches are beginning to bubble among scientists and policy-makers...Statewide plan in the works to manage the gray wolf Residents will have the opportunity next spring to weigh in with what they think should be included in a statewide plan to manage the gray wolf. Wildlife biologists have been working on a management plan for some time now. Their efforts received added priority when a gray wolf was captured last fall near Morgan, the first official confirmation of a wolf in Utah in more than 50 years...Attacks reflect increase in cougars When cougars attack livestock or threaten humans in Central Oregon, federal government wildlife specialists, or trappers, may be called upon to track and kill them. Two weeks ago, a federal trapper, Jon Belozer, killed two adult male cougars in Crook County. One was believed to have attacked a horse near McKay Creek in the north area of the county. The other was prowling among people in Post, a community in southeast Crook County, and had killed an elk, said Brian Ferry, a wildlife biologist for the Ochoco district of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife...Border crossings harming wildlife, experts say The thousands of undocumented immigrants who cross the border from Mexico into the United States daily could eventually take a toll on wildlife habitats and animals in southern Arizona, experts say. While studies haven't been done to show the effects of border crossings on wildlife, biologists say that trails used by illegal immigrants would be most detrimental to animals...Column: SUWA, A Part of the Entangled International Enviro Web The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), an environmental group based out of Salt Lake City that's been involved in southern Utah issues for years, is a prime example of a tiny segment in the overall management scheme for the world's resources. They're part of the environmental web. A web is "an intricate structure suggestive of something woven," so says Webster's dictionary. It's a deceptively attractive trap, luring the victims in, until finally, they're entangled in the web's unbreakable noose...Alaska changes NPR-A road design, moves route to the east State planners say the new proposed route for a year-round gravel road linking the untapped National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska with the existing North Slope road system is a little longer than the original plan but much better for several reasons. "The trade-off was easy for us," says Mike McKinnon of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. The administration sees all-season road access as key to promoting more oil and gas exploration and production on the slope...Abandoned mine provision stripped from energy bill A provision that would reauthorize the Abandoned Mine Reclamation program and direct more than $400 million to Wyoming is not included in an energy bill that could be sent to President Bush to be signed into law before the end of the week. Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., and Rep. Barbara Cubin, R-Wyo., could force a vote on the issue Monday. Either could offer an amendment adding the provision to the bill...Resource development freeze not included in energy bill A provision that would freeze oil and gas development along much of Montana's Rocky Mountain Front is not included in an energy bill that could be sent to President Bush to be signed into law before the end of the week. The bill includes a provision that would require the Interior Secretary to study a plan to give companies that own leases along the front leases in other parts of the state and in the Gulf of Mexico. Baucus would also like to include a provision that would continue a freeze on development of leases in the Badger-Two Medicine Area for three more years. The area contains between 75 and 80 percent of the leases along the front...Environmental rules spark concern over Sierra fire danger With fresh snow on the ground and fresh memories of deadly blazes in Southern California, fire crews renewed work to reduce danger at home. But even as piles of wood were burned to lessen wildfire risk to upscale homes on Lake Tahoe’s north shore, devastation from epic California fires heightened concern that environmental rules are hampering efforts to prevent fire...Cycling mecca at center of conflict Since the mid-1990s, riders like these from across Colorado and around the world have turned this one-time dumping ground for old couches and burned-out cars into a mecca for mountain bikers. Now, these 72,656 acres are a battleground as the U.S. Bureau of Land Management attempts to divvy up the desert between the mountain bikers and those who have used this stark expanse as a sort of anything-goes backyard for decades...DA mulling charges against BLM accuser The Imperial County District Attorney's Office announced Friday further investigation is needed before a decision on whether to file a criminal complaint against an Encinitas man who has made allegations of abuse of power against two U.S. Bureau of Land Management rangers can be made. Brian Boyd, 19, alleges BLM Rangers Ray Leloup and R.C. Magill abused their power and used excessive force on him resulting in bruising of his spinal cord in the neck area as well as having vertebrae in his neck and lower back wrenched out of place. Boyd was allegedly injured in an encounter with Leloup and Magill on Nov. 2 in Glamis near Highway 78 that reportedly began over a misunderstanding over a recreational use permit. The BLM office in El Centro filed a report Monday with the District Attorney's Office alleging Boyd assaulted one of the rangers...Green thumbs-up for Schwarzenegger The prospect of a gun-toting action hero running loose over the California terrain brought chills to environmentalists when Arnold Schwarzenegger was running for governor of California. His gas-gulping, smog-belching Humvee certainly didn't help. But as Schwarzenegger, the movie star and former bodybuilder, prepares to take over as governor today, his early critics concede surprise at the depth and reach of his environmental action plan, which promises to protect forests and watersheds, cut pollution of the air and water, and reduce reliance on oil and gas...State to ponder flows of recreational water With as many as seven Colorado communities planning to claim water rights for kayak parks or boat chutes, state officials say they want to establish a formula for determining how much water is enough for a "reasonable" recreation experience. While the workshop won't draw as much attention as the recent Colorado Supreme Court decision that legitimized recreational in- stream flows, it will help determine the shape of future applications for those rights. Most important, it could set limits on how much water is enough for a whitewater park...Rancher Gives Water Back to Rio Grande While everybody else wants to use water from the Rio Grande, rancher Kit Bramblett is giving some back. Bramblett is the first person to donate water to the Texas Water Trust, established in 1997 to protect water quality and fish and wildlife habitat in rivers around the state. The Hudspeth County attorney gave up his right to use 1,236 acre feet of water on his ranch, contributing it instead to the trust managed by the Texas Water Development Board. An acre-foot equals about 326,000 gallons, enough to serve one or two families for a year...Well-water testing recommended at citizens gas forum Mike Smith, a landowner south of Silt, seemed to sum up the concerns of much of the crowd attending a citizens forum on water issues in Garfield County's gas fields. "How can we protect our wells from gas-industry activities?" he asked Jaime Adkins, the northwest area engineer of the State of Colorado's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission...Dam's start a watershed for legendary water lawyer Sam Maynes has made history here the way most people make their beds - not always neatly but almost all the time. Routinely. The infamous Animas-La Plata water project, Maynes' project, is underway on the edge of town after 35 years of false starts and stops, and political warfare waged with the fervor of jihad...Mass deaths persist in Australia's livestock trade The death of 5,000 sheep on the MV Cormo Express, rejected by Middle East ports for three months, was just the latest chapter in a black history of mass burnings and drownings in Australia's 160-year-old live animal trade. It is a business which animal rights groups say inevitably leads to widespread suffering. Spokesmen for the A$1 billion (US$720 million) a year trade say it is today rigorously controlled to ensure the safety and well-being of the cargo...Rulings on laws against corporate farming raise questions for other states Supporters of laws that restrict corporate farming are anxiously awaiting a decision from an appellate court that could overturn such a law in Iowa. The same appellate court last month let stand a ruling that South Dakota's law, one of the nation's toughest, was unconstitutional. Legal experts say the precedents ultimately set in the two cases could threaten corporate farming laws in seven other Midwestern states...Thousands of wild hogs rampage through Texas wildlife, crops They roam the Texas countryside by the hundreds of thousands. They can grow to be 400 pounds and have been known to flip a vehicle in a collision on a dark country road. And one bullet usually isn't enough to drop the biggest ones. Wild hogs, which once were a problem only in east and south Texas, are now moving into areas of the state where many thought they couldn't survive. They damage crops and play havoc with wildlife, and experts worry that they carry diseases that could create an epidemic for farmers and ranchers...More cash in on land, tax deal As much as $15 million in state tax credits may be brokered this year under a program that preserves open spaces by swapping development rights for lesser tax liabilities. The 4-year-old Colorado Conservation Tax Exchange Program gives state income tax credits to property owners for donating development rights to a land trust. In cases where the landowner can't use the entire credit, it may be transferred to a brokerage or sold directly to individuals or corporations with heavy tax liabilities...

Below is the condemnation language in H.R.6, based on the Chairman's mark of the conference report.

"(e) RIGHTS-OF-WAY."In the case of a permit under subsection (b) for electric transmission facilities to be located on property other than property owned by the united States or a State, if the permit holder cannot acquire by contract, or is unable to agree with the owner of the property to the compensation to be paid for, the necessary right-of-way to construct or modify such transmission facilities, the permit holder may acquire the right-of-way by the exercise of the right of eminent domain in the district court of the United States for the district in which the property concerned is located, or in the appropriate court of the State in which the property is located. The practice and procedure in any action or proceeding for that purpose in the district court of the United States shall conform as nearly as may be with the practice and procedure in similar action or proceeding in the courts of the State where the property is situated.
"(f) STATE LAW."Nothing in this section shall preclude any person from constructing or modifying any transmission facility pursuant to State law.
"(g) COMPENSATION."Any exercise of eminent domain authority pursuant to this section shall be considered a taking of private property for which just compensation is due. Just compensation shall be an amount equal to the full fair market value of the property taken on the date of the exercise of eminent domain authority, except that the compensation shall exceed fair market value if necessary to make the landowner whole for decreases in the value of any portion of the land not subject to eminent domain. Any parcel of land acquired by eminent domain under this subsection shall be transferred back to the owner from whom it was acquired (or his heirs or assigns) if the land is not used for the construction or modification of electric transmission facilities within a reasonable period of time after the acquisition. Other than construction, modification, operation, or maintenance of electric transmission facilities and related facilities, property acquired under subsection (e) may not be used for any purpose (including use for any heritage area, recreational trail, or park) without the consent of the owner of the parcel from whom the property was acquired (or the owner's heirs or assigns).

There is also a large section concerning oil and gas leasing on federal lands, which can be viewed here (pdf). The federal lands language begins on page 66.