Saturday, December 20, 2003


Habitat protection plan suddenly in question After battling for years over how to balance demand for new houses against needs of endangered species, builders and environmental groups are in danger of losing a proven tool for resolving conflicts: the habitat conservation plan. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has thrown out a key rule that provided powerful incentive for warring parties to come to the table and craft deals. That's key for San Diego County, which has more endangered species than any other county in the nation, in large part because of its diverse ocean-to-desert wildlife zones and enormous development pressures...Condors rebuff effort to release them to wild Four endangered California condors were set to be released into the wild Friday at Pinnacles National Monument, 30 miles south of Hollister, but weren't quite sure if freedom was their thing. By noon, more than 300 people with binoculars stared at a ridgetop pen overlooking rural San Benito County where the majestic birds were held. The door opened -- the culmination of two years of planning, a new milestone in the painstaking effort to bring back one of North America's most high-profile endangered species from the precipice of extinction. But the birds did not fly away. They sat. And sat. They hopped around a bit...Pilgrim family member fined $1,000 for horseback trip A federal magistrate has fined a member of the Pilgrim family $1,000 for taking an undercover ranger on a paid horseback trip in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park without a permit. Joshua Hale, whose family is embroiled in a dispute with the government over park access, had asked magistrate Harry Branson to fine him only the $200 charged for the horseback excursion. Branson, who handed down the fine Friday, convicted Hale on Monday of conducting business in the park in August without a permit. Hale said he made "innocent mistakes" when he took the ranger to the Bonanza Mine above Kennicott without the permit required to operate a business in a national park. But Branson said he believes the 23-year-old Hale is an intelligent, resourceful young man who would be able to pay the $1,000. He gave Hale a year and a day to pay the fine...Land-Trust Boom A Boon for Habitat The use of easements to protect open space has a long history. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service bought easements in Minnesota and the Dakotas in the 1930s to preserve bird habitat. The National Park Service bought easements to preserve vistas along the Blue Ridge Parkway. But conservation easements came to prominence only after 1976, when Congress approved tax deductions for land and easements given to environmental charities for conservation purposes. Since then, easements have been widely heralded for helping safeguard the environment, protecting wildlife and making many regions more attractive places in which to live and play...Editorial: Quieting the roar in Yellowstone With postcard views of bison, elk, swans and steaming geysers around every corner, riding a snowmobile into Yellowstone National Park is an unforgettable experience. It is also a noisy and damaging intrusion on Yellowstone's land, air and wildlife. Last week a federal judge overturned the Bush administration's plan to expand snowmobile use of Yellowstone, and reinstated a phase-out of the machines ordered by former President Clinton. The judge was right to nix the Bush plan, which allowed 1,000 snowmobiles a day to buzz past wildlife in Yellowstone. Yet a complete ban on the machines seems unnecessary...Editorial: A culture of judges A decision this week by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan junking the Bush administration's plan to permit snowmobiling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks is a good example why the nation should return to a culture of legislative politics. The compromise the National Park Service worked out, reversing a Clinton-era ban, was reasonable and should have been implemented. It certainly didn't ignore the valid concerns of critics, namely the noise and pollution, since it capped the number of daily visits and required snowmobiles to have quieter, less-polluting four-stroke engines. The machines were required to stick to roads at low speed limits. The environmental groups of course fought the plan tooth and nail in the courts because these days, in our broken system, judges can almost always be counted upon to usurp the policy-making functions of representative government. Unfortunately, when that happens, citizens lose their status as voters, or electors, and become mere courtroom spectators. Nevada might sue over lack of wild horse roundups The state might sue unless the federal government removes thousands of more wild horses from public lands in Nevada, a state legislator warned. State Sen. Dean Rhoads, chairman of the Legislative Committee on Public Lands, said a lack of federal funding is threatening planned roundups of the animals. "There's far too many horses on the range,"said Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, a rancher."With damage from fires and the continuing drought, there isn't enough forage. Wildlife and livestock are being negatively impacted."...Task force to identify wild lands Utah Gov. Olene Walker appointed 16 people Friday to a task force created to identify wild lands in Utah that deserve protection, a step toward developing the state's outdoor recreation industry and keeping Outdoor Retailer conventions in Salt Lake City. The task force will be made up of five people from state government, five from county governments and six representatives of the outdoor recreation industry. It had been created by former Gov. Mike Leavitt, who left Utah to head the Environmental Protection Agency before its members were named...Location of wolf pack stumps wildlife managers A wolf pack that frequents the North Fork of the Sun River drainage is expanding its home range in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Wildlife managers believe the pack has about eight wolves. Last December, it was believed the pack had grown to 14, said Ed Bangs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's wolf recovery coordinator. Some wolves traveling with the pack, however, apparently have left...Battle brewing over rivers Grand County wants the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to leave its waterways alone. The BLM has identified 44 river segments -- creeks, washes, and other tributaries totaling about 387 miles in the southeast Utah county -- that it says could meet eligibility requirements for federal protection under the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The BLM asked the Grand County Council to submit comments. This week, the agency got its answer...Environmentalists fear rule's shift of water cleanup control A rule that some environmental groups say would gut the Clean Water Act is under review at the Environmental Protection Agency, but fear is growing among clean water activists that the Bush administration will launch it soon, perhaps over the holidays. A leaked draft copy of the 200-page Watershed Rule has Young and others worried because it shifts much of the control over the cleanup of polluted waters from EPA to the states. And it's an issue, they say, in which many states have weak if not poor track records. Though the EPA wouldn't comment on the specifics of the proposed Watershed Rule, officials there said Friday that it is still undergoing internal agency review and discussion...Wood stoves that pollute are banned in Truckee Truckee will be free of air-polluting wood stoves and fireplace inserts by July 15, 2006, if enforcement of an ordinance adopted by the town council goes according to plan. The new law gives town staff maximum time to educate the public on the policy - a key to enacting it smoothly - and work out the details of enforcement, which would likely include inspections or registration. Homeowners who do not remove noncomplying stoves and fireplaces (devices without Environmental Protection Agency certification or town approval) by the deadline would face a first-offense fine of up to $1,000. Town Planner Duane Hall projected that it would cost a household $300 to remove a stove and from $1,500 to $3,000 to replace it with an approved appliance...Animas-La Plata costs explained at meeting Top Bureau of Reclamation officials took messages of old errors and new beginnings regarding the Animas-La Plata Project to skeptical audiences Friday in Durango and Aztec. "We don't feel good about this," said Bill Rinne, deputy to Bureau Commissioner John Keys in Washington. "There's no way to sugarcoat it." The mission of the Rinne-led team was to explain to the public the contents of a report already shared with project partners three American Indian tribes and three water districts...Scramble for energy pits drillers, ranchers Up to 3,000 new oil and natural-gas wells will sprout from the Powder River Basin each year as the Bush administration's push for increased energy production sweeps across the sparse stretch of rangeland. That push will also bring 29,000 miles of new roads, more than 20,000 miles of pipeline and 30,000 miles of utility lines to a 12,500- square-mile area straddling the Wyoming-Montana border. For the most part, it's hard- worked ranchland, homesteaded generations ago by hardy pioneers. But some ranchers and others with ties to the land now worry the basin is booming at the expense of their property rights. They say drillers are running roughshod over their land, draining water wells and flooding farm fields with water so salty it makes soil harden like concrete...Unlikely Allies Resist Drilling Plan The boom, however, is running into criticism from an unlikely alliance of hunters, ranchers, environmentalists and others who say energy companies are running amok, building roads and drilling wells without permission. Fights are breaking out over mineral rights involving ranchers who until now had been more familiar with cattle prices and winter wheat. Some have gone to court to keep the energy companies off their land. Some of those who live in the West's far-flung reaches believe that public land should be available for energy development. But they are calling for the government to put on the brakes, worried that the new boom is threatening both the environment and the outdoors-based economy that has replaced the oil-and-gas days of the 1970s and '80s...Government buys more bison meat as Indian tribes turn to it for protein Bison sustained American Indians on the Great Plains for centuries, but members of Nebraska's Winnebago tribe needed some nudging before they were ready to eat government-supplied ground and stew meat from the huge mammals. The supplements came through an Agriculture Department program that has sent bison meat to tribes over the past three years. LaRose and others say the meat offers Indians a choice protein source that also has ties to their cultural history. But just as important for ranchers, government contracts for bison meat totaling $25 million since 1998 have kept the industry afloat. About one-third of the government's bison purchases were specifically for reservations. The other two-thirds were aimed at stabilizing prices. Congress is poised to set aside an additional $4 million in bison meat contracts for tribes in 2004 as part of spending bill the Senate is expected to send to President Bush in January...Apaches praise 'Missing' for accuracy, language Tommy Lee Jones speaking Apache? Word swept through the Mescalero reservation like an early winter wind. Not only Jones but most characters in the Ron Howard film The Missing speak the Chiricahua dialect of Apache, and most adult Apaches in the audiences have said they could understand every word...West Texas couple is sweet on herd of Oreo cattle Visit Don and Jan Clower and you'll encounter a rare breed. Not the Clowers. They're down-to-earth West Texas folks. But their herd of cattle is, as they say, "a conversation piece." The Clowers keep a herd of about 50 head of Belted Galloways on their 80-acre place about 4 1/2 miles northwest of Anson. The belt is a hair strip that loops all the way around an otherwise black animal's midsection. The dominant color of the Clowers' animals is black, prompting the nickname "Oreo cattle" because they are black on the ends and white in the middle...On The Edge Of Common Sense: Tell the boss you'd like to try out for the team I worked for a man several years ago whose education came from experience. He harbored a suspicion of new college graduates who overestimated their own value. He received many resumes from new graduates seeking employment at our large livestock operation. He would invariably bring the resumes in, deposit them on my desk and say, "This is another one of those guys who wants a position. Tell him all we've got are jobs!"...Kaenu Reeves Home Raided For Animal Endangerment Early Tuesday morning the Los Angeles County sheriffs department raided actor Kaenu Reeves' Hollywood estate. The raid took place after an anonymous tip made the week before. Kaenu was taken out in hand cuffs and animal control officers carted off dozens of boxes. Deputy Alex Rodriquez was one of the officers who took part in the raid, "It was terrible, and there were animal carcasses everywhere. I've been on drug busts with less death."...

Working Together

And two hunting groups can't get along. So they quibble about nits while the environmentalists and animal rights folks sharpen the politicians, bureaucrats, and University professors to eliminate all hunting like the British parliament attempted recently. Double barrel shotguns and pointers will become academic matters to our children because we were denied ownership of either while Ducks Unlimited ran banquets and the state Fish and Game agencies hired anti-hunters. Hunting dog breeders and trainers will be too busy to support commercial dog breeders and pet owners while new Federal authorities are proclaimed and eventual registration and inspections (just like with guns) are utilized by zealous bureaucrats and vote-searching politicians to implement the hidden agendas of yet another animal rights group. All of these things will then be erased from history books and schools just like the Europeans and long-respected scholars and explorers...

Ecosystem Management

Ecosystem does not appear in an old 1970 American College Dictionary in my library. It does appear in a 1974 Merriam-Webster Dictionary sitting under my computer. Hmmm, 30 years ago it pops up in the common lexicon. Try as I might, I cannot come up with anything but trouble popping up in those days. Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Animal Welfare Act, and the meteoric rise of Federal powers fed by animal rights and environmental religious fervor all came out of the closet then and the "ecosystem" has been a cause celebre ever since.

We are told by government "experts" and animal rights gurus that wolves "must" be reintroduced everywhere because they are "important" to the "ecosystem." We are told by University professors with otherwise insignificant interests that their study of bats or turtles or darters reveals that their interest is vital to the "ecosystem" and nothing short of a Patriot-Like Act and immediate millions of dollars for those interests will save the "ecosystem." US Park Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service land managers ask Congress for billions of tax dollars and new Federal authorities to "fight" Invasive Species that are threatening the "ecosystem" of "their" lands. We are told by UN bureaucrats, Federal bureaucrats, and their environmental/animal rights chums that all animal or plant use, all land development, and all animal and plant management in the oceans, Africa, Asia, South America, and rural areas everywhere must be stopped to "save the ecosystem." It is all nonsense, but it has been swallowed hook, line, and lead sinker by millions and it is being taught to children today as though it was written in a holy book...

December 12, 2003 - For Immediate Release
Contact: William Perry Pendley

DENVER, CO. A Montana ranching family denied access to its private property by the U.S. Forest Service today won complete vindication of its water rights when a Montana federal district court quieted title to the property in its favor. Stephen and Jean Roth of Ravalli County, Montana, prevailed in their arguments that, because of two acts of Congress, they own property rights in the Tamarack Lake Dam and Reservoir and related ditches and the Forest Service may not deny them access to or use of those properties and the water they provide to their ranch. The ruling came after the Roths filed a lawsuit on March 11, 2002, and after discovery and the filing of briefs. Oral arguments occurred December 10, 2003.

“This is a great victory for the Roths and for ranchers across the West victimized by the refusal of the Forest Service to obey the law,” said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation, which represents the Roths. “Land records, including documents generated by the Forest Service, confirm that the Roths have valid existing rights that may not be denied. Yet the Forest Service demanded that they sign away their rights.”

The Tamarack Lake Dam, which lies within the Bitterroot National Forest and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area in west central Montana along the Idaho border, was constructed in the late 1800’s. The water impounded by the Dam was applied to beneficial use by Roth’s predecessor and has been applied to beneficial use ever since. Although the Bitterroot National Forest was created in 1897, an 1866 Act of Congress protected any water-related facilities constructed prior to that date. In addition, in 1891, Congress adopted the Irrigation or General Right of Way Act, which provides for rights-of-way through public or reserved lands for the purpose of building irrigation and reservoir systems. The federal Wilderness Act of 1964 contains a provision that protects “valid existing rights,” like those held by the Roths.

For years, the Roths held a Forest Service special use permit, which gave them access to their irrigation facilities. Recently, the Forest Service refused to renew the permit. Instead, the Forest Service gave the Roths an ultimatum demanding that they relinquish their rights under federal law.

The district court held that “a right of way for the Tamarack Lake [D]am and [R]eservoir vested upon [its] construction” and that the Roths "established that construction of the[ir] ditches occurred before 1897, and that their predecessors possessed valid water rights under Montana law by that date as well... [Thus the Roths] possess an 1866 Act easement for those ditches. The [Roths] are accordingly entitled to a judgment quieting title to rights of way under the Act of 1866 for [their four] Ditches."

Mountain States Legal Foundation is a nonprofit, public interest legal center dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system. Its offices are in the Denver, Colorado, metropolitan area.
NAHB Calls On Supreme Court To Define Federal Jurisdiction Under Clean Water Act...Decision in U.S. v. Needham Affirms that Feds Cannot Regulate Puddles and Roadside Ditches

December 17, 2003 - The federal government may not impose regulations over non-navigable waters, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decided yesterday, in a decision that directly contradicts previous circuit court decisions. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), which filed an amicus brief in support of the Fifth Circuit’s finding, has called on the Supreme Court to resolve the debate as other branches of government have refused to issue policy language, guidance or rules on Clean Water Act jurisdiction.

"Landowners, home builders, developers and regulatory field officials have no coherent guideposts from the Bush Administration on the limits of federal regulation under the Clean Water Act," said Kent Conine, president of NAHB and a home and apartment builder from Dallas. "It’s time for the Supreme Court to step in and confirm that puddles and ditches are not navigable waters so that we are not needlessly increasing the area we have to regulate with finite budgetary resources."

In U.S. v. Needham, the Fifth Circuit ruled that "the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act are not so broad as to permit the federal government to impose regulations over ‘tributaries’ that are neither themselves navigable nor truly adjacent to navigable waters. Consequently, in this circuit the United States may not simply impose regulations over puddles, sewers, roadside ditches and the like."

The Fifth Circuit relied heavily on the 2001 decision, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (SWANCC), in which the Supreme Court ruled that Clean Water Act regulation does not extend to isolated wetlands. But the Needham ruling is in direct contradiction to other circuit court decisions, notably U.S. v. Deaton, where the Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of virtually limitless jurisdiction, putting a remote, shallow drainage ditch eight miles from the closest navigable water under federal regulation.

Landowners will see no clarification from regulatory agencies, according to a joint statement issued by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Dec. 15. The agencies said there will be no rulemaking on activities in isolated wetlands, leaving the courts to decide individually whether the federal government has jurisdiction and what activities may be allowed in wetlands. This makes for inconsistent and unpredictable decision-making by judicial bodies with little expertise in environmental policy.

"What we learned from the Needham decision is that if the Deatons’ land were in Texas, their ditch would not have been regulated by the federal government," said Conine. "Without action from the EPA, the Supreme Court is the only realistic forum that can resolve the question of jurisdiction and take landowners like the Deatons out of regulatory limbo, and we urge the justices to take the case."

NAHB Blasts EPA & Army Corps Decision On Wetlands Jurisdiction

December 17, 2003 - The National Association of Home Builders today announced its significant disappointment over yesterday’s joint decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) not to issue a new rule that would help redefine its jurisdiction over "waters of the U.S."

"EPA and the Corps have shirked their rulemaking responsibility by relegating this critical environmental decision regarding isolated wetlands to the courts. This is bad for business and bad for wetlands," said, Kent Conine, NAHB president and a home and apartment builder from Dallas. "This decision completely ignores the issues raised by the U.S. Supreme Court’s SWANCC ruling and leaves builders, developers and landowners in limbo."

In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that Clean Water Act (CWA) regulations do not extend to isolated wetlands. Further, jurisdictional decisions should be made based on the traditional concepts of navigability or the presence of a significant nexus to navigable waterways. Since the SWANCC decision, the agencies have failed to provide a comprehensive, natural approach to jurisdictional decisions - choosing instead to instruct field staff within each district to interpret local court decisions. Despite this ruling, EPA and the Corps have continued to assert jurisdiction over isolated wetlands without any clear definition of an isolated wetland or clarification of its jurisdiction.

"A rulemaking would simply ensure consistency and predictability over which isolated wetlands can be regulated by the federal government. However, many environmentalists argued that rulemaking is synonymous with a rollback of Clean Water Act. This is absolutely untrue and a blatant misstatement of the facts," said Conine.

Absent a rulemaking decision by EPA and the Corps, builders and land developers will continue to face widely varying approaches to wetlands regulation and problems that have persisted since the SWANCC decision.

Consistency and predictability are the two goals that NAHB has sought since the SWANCC decision was made.
Nevada Live Stock Association
9732 State Route 445, #305
Sparks, NV 89436

For Immediate Release
December 20, 2003

Judge to Hear Case Monday on State Allowing BLM to Confiscate Nevada Cattle Without Due Process of Law

The Washoe County Second Judicial District Court is set to a hear several motions in the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s Petition for Judicial Confirmation Monday, December 22, 2003 at 9:30 a.m. The controversy before the Court stems from the Nevada Department of Agriculture Brand Department’s failure to ensure due process of law to property owners before the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) confiscated and sold privately owned livestock off Nevada ranges.

“The policies of the Nevada Department of Agriculture provided for the transfer of ownership of livestock to the Federal government on the mere signature of a brand inspector denying the property owners a day in court before their property was confiscated. Protection from unlawful seizures is one of the most basic tenets of the Constitution. Just because the federal government is the entity conducting the seizure doesn’t make the action lawful and the State needs to recognize this,” said Ramon Morrison, Secretary/Treasurer of the Nevada Live Stock Association.

The BLM has threatened to confiscate 3,000 head and millions of dollars worth of livestock from Nevada ranchers. To date, they have rounded up several hundred head of cattle in five para-military raids on Nevada ranches. The most notorious and disturbing raid involved 50 federal law enforcement agents invading the ranch of two elderly sisters, Carrie and Mary Dann.

“The federal government spent an untold amount of tax payer money to jam cell phones, operate helicopters, and import command and control centers so they could gather the livestock of two elderly ladies who are well known peace activists. This action was so over the top it defies understanding. How the State could aid and abet the federal government in this action by refusing to enforce its laws I’ll never know,” said Jeannie Voigts, a NLSA Board Member who witnessed the Dann cattle confiscation.

“The practice of the BLM has apparently been to use coercion when it cannot accomplish its objectives lawfully. Many of the District Attorneys and Sheriffs in the counties in which the government raids took place have stated that they were threatened by the BLM, through the U.S. Attorney’s office, not to interfere in the BLM actions. One sheriff stated that he was told he would loose his retirement if he interfered or tried to stop the government raid on Ben Colvin,” noted Ms. Morrison.

“Interestingly, the Nevada Department of Agriculture had previously stated in writing that it would not allow any federally impounded livestock to be removed unless the Department was provided with a court order. A few months later, apparently under pressure from the federal government, the Department of Agriculture changed its position to require a court order. The problem with the Nevada Department of Agriculture and their brand inspector, James Connelley, is that they are not paid to do what the federal government tells them to do. They are paid to enforce Nevada’s brand laws,” Morrison continued.

Esmeralda County rancher Ben Colvin, whose cattle were confiscated by the BLM and who recently filed a $30 million takings suit against the federal government for shutting down his ranching operation, commented on the State’s involvement in his case. “Because the State transferred ownership of my cattle on the mere signature of a brand inspector I never got my day in court before the federal government showed up with armed agents, cannons and helicopters to take my cattle. If rapists and murderers are guaranteed due process of law and their day in court, I think I, as a law abiding citizen and tax payer should at the very least be afforded the same Constitutional protections before my property is stolen,” he continued.

By refusing to enforce Nevada’s brand laws against the federal government, the Nevada Department of Agriculture allowed the federal government to avoid the necessary interim step of obtaining a court order prior to transfer of ownership of Nevada livestock. By allowing the agents of the federal government to transport, and to sell property (livestock), of which the ownership was disputed, the Department erased the primary remedy available to the rightful owner of the property, namely a Court resolution of the ownership issue--called due process of law. By lending itself to the BLM actions the State has become complicit with the federal government in the confiscation of cattle without due process of law.

“Unfortunately we find that when state officials deal with the federal government they often forget state law exits and that the federal government is not immune from being governed by state law. Now we, the State’s citizens are suffering the burden of hiring an attorney and going to court to force the State to do its job,” said George Parmen, NLSA Board Member.

Contacts: Ramona Morrison 775.424.0570
Ben Colvin 775.485.6366
Jeannie Voigts 775.267-3757

New lynx lawsuit threatened It's probably a good thing that lynx don't have to pay the legal fees for the lawsuits filed on their behalf in recent years because it would take an awful lot of snowshoe hare pelts to cover those bills. In the latest maneuver, a slew of conservation groups recently filed a formal Notice of Intent (NOI) to sue the Forest Service for the agency's delay in adopting a set of regional forest plan revisions intended to protect and recover the threatened species. That would only be the latest in a series of ongoing legal skirmishes that may outlast the cats themselves, given the glacial pace at which these issues seem to move through the courts...Timber harvest plan under attack U.S. Forest Service officials reporting on a controversial forest management plan Thursday were bombarded with criticism from local officials, loggers and the Quincy Library Group, which designed the plan. Even Rep. Wally Herger, R-Marysville, called the timber harvest levels projected for the next six years "incredibly discouraging." Turning to Forest Service Regional Forester Jack Blackwell, he said, "You're our new general ... but I'm not encouraged by these numbers."...Column: Oil ire on public lands In quiet corners of public land across the West, an angry fight roils over energy development. A few weeks ago, the Senate killed an energy bill that would have erased important protections for wildlife and pristine lands. But next month, voters can expect another push for environmental rollbacks when Congress reconvenes. Of course, the nation should develop its energy resources - but most federal land already is open to mineral development, according to the Bush administration's own studies. The few federal holdings that are off-limits include national parks and wilderness areas...Environmentalists seeking data on state road claims Environmentalists want to force state and federal officials to reveal to the public which roads Utah hopes to acquire under a settlement agreement. "We're fighting on two fronts," said Heidi McIntosh, conservation director for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. On one hand, SUWA and The Wilderness Society lodged a formal appeal with the Interior Department against the Bureau of Land Management's Utah office for refusing to disclose which roads crisscrossing federal land the state is claiming ownership of under a Civil War law known as R.S. 2477. On the other hand, the conservation group Save Our Canyons has filed a records request under the state's Government Records Access and Management Act, which compels local agencies to release certain public records. In this case, environmentalists want to know which roads the state and Salt Lake County are claiming ownership of because they are part of the state's highway system...Caribou herd in U.S. remains endangered Despite 20 years of recovery efforts, the last wild herd of woodland caribou in the contiguous 48 states continues to struggle for survival. Only 41 of the caribou, a close relative of the reindeer, were counted in the 2003 census within the greater Selkirk Mountains north of Spokane...Vegas to extend water intake deeper in drought-struck Lake Mead With drought drying Lake Mead, water officials are hurrying plans to build a longer straw to draw water from deeper in the reservoir that supplies almost all of southern Nevada's drinking water. The Southern Nevada Water Authority has approved spending up to $2.5 million to buy materials to attach a downward pipe to the water intake at the Hoover Dam complex on the Colorado River...Davis: Trouble with Chambers Before There's word that embattled U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa Chambers may have been on thin ice for some time. Chambers was suspended December fifth after telling reporters her department is short-handed. But Northern Virginia Congressman Tom Davis tells WTOP Radio there have been issues with the chief before that. Davis says those issues involve insubordination and unspecified improper actions. The congressman also says there have been moves to replace Chambers even before this latest incident...A life ends; questions don't After all the surgeries and sickness, the infections and the tears, one of the things Justin Frasure had hoped to receive from the federal government was an apology. But he never got the acknowledgment he sought in a lawsuit against officials he said failed to warn him and others about the toxins that littered the hillside where he played as a boy. The federal government has tried unsuccessfully to dismiss his suit and its lawyers have declined to talk about the case while it remains unresolved...Checkerboard Shuffle: Nevada's largest landowner plans sale to BLM A proposed format for selling hundreds of thousands of acres of land in Pershing County could prove to be the model for consolidating "checkerboard lands" throughout northern Nevada, including Elko County. But, it's far from certain whether the checkerboard land consolidation plan being put forward by Nevada Land and Resource Co. - the largest single landowner in the state of Nevada - and Pershing County will succeed... Private vs. public lands With nearly 90 percent of the land in Nevada managed by the federal government, many have argued that taking any more property out of the hands of the private sector is contrary to the long-term interests of the state. But, just having privately owned land available doesn't necessarily lead to economic development. That's especially the case in northern Nevada, where "checkerboard lands" dominate much of the landscape, according to Don Pattalock, chief geologist for Nevada Land and Resource Co...Abbey: BLM lacks funds for roundups U.S. Bureau of Land Management's state director, Bob Abbey, said Wednesday he is upset over lack of funding for gathering wild horses. And Doug Hunt of the Nevada Department of Wildlife said NDOW is considering suing the federal government to force the roundup of wild horses...Officials want BLM probe Four Oregon Congressional representatives have asked the U.S. Interior Department for a review of the Bureau of Land Management's contracting procedures. The request comes after a report in The Oregonian newspaper that the federal lands agency hired a private contractor with ties to the mining industry to help draft a management plan for Steens Mountain and the surrounding federal land...Ranchers, state, federal officials clash over grazing in Nevada Nevada's attorney general is sparking unexpected controversy by asking a judge to clarify the state's role in the federal seizure of cattle from ranchers accused of trespassing on U.S. land. Seeking legal direction in an ongoing dispute over property rights on Western rangeland, Attorney General Brian Sandoval joined the Nevada Agriculture Department in asking a state court to conduct a "judicial confirmation hearing." Sandoval wants a legal opinion on whether the state acted appropriately when it cooperated with federal land managers who during the past two years impounded and auctioned cattle that had been seized from ranchers accused of illegally grazing livestock on public land...Interior appointee to focus on renewables Mindful of the power generated by the sun, electricity derived from underground steam and turbines turned by the wind, the Interior Department has carved a new job to promote renewable energy development on public land. Interior Secretary Gale Norton has appointed Brenda Aird as the department's ombudsman for renewables...Salmon advocates say they'll head to court over dams A coalition of salmon advocates said Friday they will go to court over the effects federal dams on the upper Snake River have on migrating salmon downstream. The filing of a formal notice to sue followed U.S. District Judge James Redden's rejection earlier in the week of a petition to include in the new salmon recovery plan the effect of those dams on migration...2nd state restricts shipments of Wyo. cattle California became the second state to impose restrictions on Wyoming cattle amid the finding of brucellosis in a herd near Pinedale, an aide to Gov. Dave Freudenthal announced Friday. "California has imposed restrictions, which would have been in effect (Thursday)," said Lara Azar, the governor's press secretary. Colorado had earlier restricted imports of cattle from a wide area of western Wyoming...USDA: Commercial Beef Production Down 18 Percent From Last November Beef production, at 1.78 billion pounds, was 18 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.43 million head, down 15 percent from November 2002. The average live weight was down 24 pounds from the previous year, at 1,236 pounds...Mortensen heads from Vegas to Metra for Chase Hawks Dan Mortensen, you've just matched one of professional rodeo's oldest and most prestigious records, what are you going to do this weekend? "I'm going to ride at Chase Hawks," replied Mortensen. Less than a week after winning his sixth PRCA world saddle bronc title, Mortensen will climb aboard another bucking horse tonight at the 9th Annual Chase Hawks Memorial Roughstock Rodeo...Montanan's tale of record-breaking flake a white lie? This story might sound a little flaky. You know, like we're trying to snow you. It is, after all, about a snowflake and a world record one at that. They say the father of all flakes fell near what is now Miles City in eastern Montana Jan. 28, 1887. According to the record books, it measured 15 inches (38 cm) by 8 inches (20 cm). And it apparently wasn't alone. One witness said the same storm dumped giant snowflakes over an area of several miles. Rancher Matt Coleman gets the credit for measuring the flakes, which he said were "as large as milk pans."...

Friday, December 19, 2003

United States: Supreme Court Docket Report, October Term, 2003 – Number 3
18 December 2003

On November 3, 2003, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in three cases of potential interest to the business community, two of which were consolidated. Amicus briefs in support of the petitioners were due on Thursday, December 18, 2003, and amicus briefs in support of the respondents are due on Thursday, January 22, 2004.

2. Administrative Procedure Act . Federal Court Authority to Compel Agency Action . Public Lands. Section 706(1) of the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA") authorizes judicial review "to compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed." 5 U.S.C. § 706(1). The Supreme Court granted certiorari in Norton v. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, No. 03-101, to determine whether this provision allows courts to review the adequacy of an agency’s day-to-day management of public lands under statutory standards and the agency’s own land use plans.

The plaintiffs, a group of environmental organizations, sued the Bureau of Land Management under Section 706(1), alleging that the Bureau had violated the Federal Land Policy and Management Act ("FLPMA"), 43 U.S.C. § 1701 et seq., and the National Environmental Policy Act ("NEPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq., by failing properly to regulate the use of off-road vehicles in "Wilderness Study Areas." Under the FLPMA, the Bureau may classify public lands as Wilderness Study Areas, which Congress later may designate for wilderness preservation; until Congress affirmatively declares or rejects a Study Area as protected wilderness, the Bureau must manage the area "so as not to impair [its] suitability * * * for preservation." 43 U.S.C. § 1782(c). The environmental groups sought an injunction compelling the Bureau to implement provisions of its land use plans relating to the use of off-road vehicles in Wilderness Study Areas and to take a "hard look" under the NEPA at whether the agency should prepare supplemental environmental impact statements for areas affected by increased use of such vehicles.

The district court granted the Bureau’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, reasoning that, as long as an agency is taking some steps toward fulfilling its mandatory, nondiscretionary duties, its actions are not subject to judicial review under Section 706(1). Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance v. Babbitt, No. 99-CV-852, 2000 WL 33914094 (D. Utah Dec. 22, 2000). The court also held that Section 706(1) does not provide a basis for challenging the Bureau’s alleged failure to implement provisions of its land use plans, and that the Bureau does not have a clear duty under the NEPA to consider whether to supplement its prior environmental impact statements.

A divided panel of the Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded the case for consideration on the merits, holding that the environmental groups could challenge the Bureau’s management of the Wilderness Study Areas under Section 706(1). Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance v. Norton, 301 F.3d 1217 (10th Cir. 2002). In the court’s view, the Bureau has a mandatory, nondiscretionary duty under the FLPMA not to impair the suitability of those regions for designation as protected wilderness . a duty that is therefore enforceable under Section 706(1). Id. at 1229, 1233. The Tenth Circuit also concluded that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction to consider claims that the Bureau had violated its own land-use plans (id. at 1235) and that the district court had erred in holding that the environmental groups had failed to state a valid claim under the NEPA (id. at 1236-40). Judge McKay dissented in part, opining that Section 706(1) should not become a jurisdictional vehicle for programmatic attacks on day-to-day agency operations. Id. at 1242-43. In the dissent’s view, that section authorizes challenges to true administrative inaction, but does not allow judicial review of agency efforts that allegedly do not satisfy completely the agency’s statutory obligations. Id. at 1243.

This case most concretely affects businesses having interests relating to the government’s management of public lands. Because the Supreme Court may clarify the circumstances under which any agency may be judicially compelled to comply with statutory obligations in the conduct of its day-to-day operations, however, this case also may affect many other businesses subject to ongoing regulatory oversight.

United States: Supreme Court Docket Report, October Term, 2003 – Number 1

3. Mineral Rights . Pittman Act . Reservation to United States of Rights to Sand and Gravel. The Pittman Underground Water Act of 1919 (the "Pittman Act"), 43 U.S.C. §§ 351-359 (repealed 1964), authorized grants, or "patents," of up to 640 acres of federal public land in Nevada to applicants who successfully developed underground water sources, but required that such patents reserve to the United States "all the coal and other valuable minerals" on the patented land. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in BedRoc Ltd., LLC v. United States, No. 02-1593, to decide whether the statutory reservation of "valuable minerals" includes common materials such as sand and gravel that had no market value when the patent was issued.

In 1940, Newton and Mabel Butler secured a patent under the Pittman Act for 560 acres in Lincoln County, Nevada. At that time, there was no local market for the abundant sand and gravel on the property. In the early 1990s, after the growth of the city of Las Vegas created demand for the material, the lessee of a successor owner began to extract and sell sand and gravel from the property. Petitoner BedRoc Limited, LLC, acquired the property in 1995 and has continued the sand and gravel operation.

On March 26, 1993, the Bureau of Land Management ("BLM") issued a trespass notice to then-owner Earl Williams, claiming that the sand and gravel on the property were reserved to the United States. Shortly thereafter, the BLM issued a decision finding Williams in trespass, and in 1997 the Interior Board of Land Appeals ("IBLA") affirmed. Earl Williams, 140 I.B.L.A. 295 (1997). BedRoc and Williams brought an action to quiet title in federal district court. The district court granted summary judgment to the United States, ruling that sand and gravel are "valuable materials" reserved to the United States under the Pittman Act. 50 F. Supp. 2d 1001 (D. Nev. 1999).

The Ninth Circuit affirmed. 314 F.3d 1080 (2002). Concluding that the statutory text is ambiguous, the court turned to legislative history and other sources to determine whether Congress intended to include sand and gravel within the reservation of "valuable minerals." As evidence that it did, the court cited congressional debate indicating that all minerals were reserved (id. at 1087-1088), and pointed to contemporaneous federal publications describing sand and gravel as among the country’s "mineral resources" (id. at 1088-1089). The court also relied on Watt v. Western Nuclear, Inc., 462 U.S. 36, 103 (1983), in which the Supreme Court determined that gravel was reserved to the United States in grants made under the Stock-Raising Homestead Act, which was enacted three years before the Pittman Act. The court rejected BedRoc’s argument that the question whether sand and gravel were "valuable minerals" was factual and site-specific, deciding instead that "the question is a straightforward legal one regarding congressional intent as to the scope of the mineral reservation contained in the statute." 314 F.3d at 1090.

This case is of obvious interest to businesses holding interests in land patented under the Pittman Act. Because the Ninth Circuit’s ruling that sand and gravel are "valuable minerals" may be applied to other grants of federal land, the Supreme Court’s decision also may affect other businesses across the western United States that extract sand and gravel or rely on their abundant supply for construction projects.

Thursday, December 18, 2003


Arizona town for sale on eBay for $5.5M Tortilla Flat, a little spot of land with a few wood buildings near the Salt River Lakes, is for sale on the Internet for $5.5 million. Advertised as one of the "last remnants of the Old West", the town's listing on eBay has received more than 6,500 hits. Nestled in the Superstition Mountains about 18 miles northeast of Apache Junction on winding state Route 88, the restaurant offers prickly pear cactus ice cream, half-pound cowboy burgers and saddle seating at the bar...Regional forester to take job with elk foundation Regional Forester Brad Powell will leave the U.S. Forest Service after 32 years to accept a position next month with the Missoula-based Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, he said Thursday. Since 2001, Powell has been the Northern Region forester in charge of 13 national forests and grasslands covering 25 million acres in Montana, North Idaho and the Dakotas. Powell said he will retire from the Forest Service Jan. 23 and join the elk foundation, an international non-profit group whose mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife and their habitat, as senior vice president for conservation and lands...Forest Service Won't Block E-Mail The Forest Service is dropping a plan to ignore public comments from certain e-mail servers or on printed post cards. The agency had said last spring that it intended to bar "duplicative materials" such as mass e-mails, form letters and printed post cards, on grounds that they added little to debate over forest decisions...Study finds $70 billion in possible outsourcing The government's push to open federal jobs to competition could open as much as $70 billion outsourcing opportunities to private firms, but lingering uncertainties on the final version of the rules make it more difficult to predict, according to a new report from research firm Input. Researchers considered the number of jobs that could be outsourced -- officials have estimated that almost 900,000 federal jobs could be suitable for outsourcing -- and Bush administration officials have said they want agencies to open half of those to competition by September 2004. Based on those figures, Input calculates that competitive sourcing could bring up to $70 billion to vendors, including up to $5 billion for information technology companies, if all the potential jobs are outsourced...Economists Criticize Forest Service Over $10 Billion Road Backlog Investing in current roads instead of building new ones would help reduce the growing road maintenance crisis in the national forests, according to new letter that was sent today from 25 prominent economists to President Bush. The letter notes that, "Prioritizing road system expenditures toward existing infrastructure, rather than commissioning the construction of new roads would help to reduce this taxpayer burden and make better use of existing roads to increase access to the National Forests." The letter calls for, " 'a few good roads' not more miles of poorly maintained roads that add sediment to our streams, fragment wildlife habitat and displace non-motorized recreation such as hiking and mountain biking." The economists also call for the President and the administration to support the current Roadless Area Conservation Rule as a tool to support bring the road maintenance crisis under control. According to the letter supporting such an effort would, "increase the likelihood that the U.S. Forest Service can maintain existing roads in good working order at a reasonable cost to U.S. Taxpayers."...Click here(pdf) to see the letter...Oregon leading research into deadly ailment affecting deer Oregon is taking the lead on learning more about a mysterious ailment that is killing blacktailed deer from the crest of the Cascades to the coast. Deer hair-loss syndrome, a vexing condition that appears to irritate deer literally to death, has spread the past several years since it was discovered in Southwest Washington. Afflicted deer are commonly mangy, thin and weak. It's common throughout wet regions of Western Washington in both blacktail and whitetailed deer and in blacktails in Western Oregon. It might be infecting blacktails in Northern California...Snowmobile use, restrictions spur appeals in Logan district The Utah Snowmobile Association and a loosely organized group of nonmotorized recreation users have appealed a new winter recreation plan for the Logan Ranger District. Snowmobilers are upset because a popular area near Tony Grove Lake has been closed to motorized use to provide more opportunity for snowshoers and backcountry skiers. The nonmotorized group appealed because it thinks too much U.S. Forest Service land has been left open to snowmobiles...Feds propose ban on West Coast swordfish fishing to save turtles The federal government is proposing to shut down commercial swordfish fishing on the West Coast because too many endangered turtles are getting caught on hooks and dying. The proposed regulations by the National Marine Fisheries Services would affect about two dozen remaining long-line fishing boats that operate off the coast of California after restrictions to protect sea turtles forced the vessels from the waters of Hawaii...Fish and Wildlife Service again calls for flow changes in Missouri River A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruling Thursday affirmed the need for flow changes in the Missouri River starting next summer, shifting a 14-year battle into an election year and probably beyond. In a surprise ruling that sparked strong criticism in Missouri, government biologists concluded that the Army Corps of Engineers must provide shallower water in the lower river next summer to help the endangered pallid sturgeon - or violate the Endangered Species Act...Agency Rejects Bid To Take Mouse Off Endangered List The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refused Thursday to remove the Preble's meadow jumping mouse from the Endangered Species List, even as new research was announced that will keep the dispute alive. The agency said available science doesn't justify yanking federal protections for the mouse found along the Rockies' eastern front in Colorado and southeastern Wyoming, said Ralph Morgenweck, director of the service's regional office in Lakewood. Also Thursday, Denver-based scientists said new research shows the mouse isn't a distinct subspecies -- a designation that was the basis for placing it on the Endangered Species List...NWF Takes Legal Action to Ensure Wolf Recovery in the Northeast Charging that the Bush administration's decision to abandon wolf recovery efforts in the Northeast violates the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and four coalition partners filed a lawsuit today in federal district court in Vermont. In the complaint, NWF and the other groups explain that the final Wolf Reclassification Rule that was issued in April effectively terminates federal wolf recovery efforts in the Northeast, where suitable wolf habitat exists and wolves are apparently beginning to return. The rule changes the status of wolves from endangered to threatened in the Northern Rockies and the Great Lakes where wolves have begun to thrive, but terminates recovery planning for wolves in states like Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, where no wolf recovery efforts have taken place to date...Wolf watching: A big bad business Since their reintroduction into the Lamar Valley around Soda Butte Creek in 1995, wolves have created a cottage industry. There are now wolf guides, wolf-watching outfitters and motels in nearby Cooke City that cater to the crowd. Wolf enthusiasts buy powerful spotting scopes, tripods and long-lens cameras to fill their quest. The Lamar Valley wolf packs can be seen anytime -- high noon on an August day -- but sightings are most likely from early-May to mid-June, soon after the elk and bison herds drop their young. The baby wolves rest snug as a bug in their den with a "babysitter" on guard while mom or pop journeys out of the hills, across the highway and down into the lush river valley to grab a calf. Grizzly bears and coyotes emerge as well. The kill is quick, merciful and generally clean. The adults gorge themselves, then return across the road and up into the cliffs to regurgitate for the young ones...Wolves: The Sierra Club's view Now here in Wyoming, we are engaged in a debate about how to best manage these animals. The state legislature, ignoring the economic and biological benefits of wolves, passed legislation in the 2003 session that classifies wolves as "trophy game animals" in a few areas in Western Wyoming and classifies them as "predators" in the rest of the state. The significance of these classifications is that in the majority of the state where they are classified as "predators," wolves will be subject to the same persecutions visited upon them during the 1800s and first half of the 1900s. They may be killed by any means for any reason, or for no reason except the sake of killing them...Wolves: An outfitter's view Most Wyoming hunters opposed the introduction of the Canadian Gray Wolf and continue to oppose its protection. The primary reason for this opposition is very simple; wolves compete for the huntable surplus of game. Historically, more animals are born than are needed to replace natural mortality. This recruitment enables the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to issue permits to hunters, producing revenue to pay for game management. Game populations are kept in balance through regulated hunting and Wyoming hunters are able to get meat for the freezer to help feed their families. This system has worked for several decades. Many outfitters don't believe wolves only kill the weak, sick and old of a herd. Enter the Canadian Gray Wolf, courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and those who push the anti-hunting, pro-predator agenda. They introduced this non-native wolf under the guise of "restoring historical balance to the Yellowstone ecosystem", even though strong evidence shows that wolves rarely entered Yellowstone in the 77 years prior to 1913 (National Park Service Documents, The Wolves of Yellowstone" Weaver 1978)...Snowcoach operators stage protest People who used to run snowcoaches in Yellowstone National Park held a "friendly demonstration" at the park's west gate Thursday, protesting the loss of their permits to do business there. "We're just trying to keep a few jobs that shouldn't have been lost," said Jim Holstein, a partner in Yellowstone Tour Guides, based in Big Sky. He said he had to turn away $1,500 worth of reservations Thursday and is canceling $15,000 worth of reservations that had been made for this season. In the wake of this week's court decision, the focus has been on snowmobiles. But there is considerable anger and confusion among snowcoach operators as well...Park Service Moves to Fire Police Chief Over Comments U.S. Park Police Chief Teresa C. Chambers, who was placed on leave after stating publicly that her department was understaffed, was formally notified yesterday that the National Park Service intends to fire her. The notification, which was faxed to an attorney for Chambers yesterday morning, caps two weeks of suspense and intrigue at the Park Police, a 620-member department whose chief responsibility is safeguarding the Mall and its monuments. Called a "proposal for removal," the notification for the first time stipulates the charges against Chambers, according to people familiar with the document. Chambers is accused, among other allegations, of improperly lobbying Congress and disclosing secret budget details through her public comments...Snowmobile ban brings quiet - and lot of noise When Jerry Schmier says it's all quiet on the western front of America's first national park, he has a different interpretation from most. Mr. Schmier worries the silence may presage economic calamity for his town of West Yellowstone, the self-proclaimed "snowmobile capital of the world." This week, on the eve of Yellowstone National Park opening its gates to winter visitors, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., issued a controversial order that has left many in the park gateway community stunned. "The whole thing is a political nightmare, and we're caught in the middle of it," says Schmier, standing next to a fleet of cleaner and quieter snow machines he bought to keep his 30-year-old tourist business afloat, a fleet the federal government encouraged him to buy. "If this ban holds up, it's going to be devastating."...Snowmobile Industry Fights Back The snowmobile industry and snowmobile enthusiasts said they will appeal this week's federal court decision cutting by half the number of snowmobiles allowed in Yellowstone National Park this winter. The State of Wyoming and the National Park Service are expected to join the appeal, the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association said in a press release. The appeal seeks an emergency stay of Judge Emmet Sullivan's ruling, which blocked a Bush administration policy in favor of an earlier, Clinton-era rule. An emergency stay would allow more snowmobiles into Yellowstone while the case is being appealed. The snowmobile industry argues that blocking the Bush administration plan at the last minute is causing serious harm in communities surrounding the park, which depend on wintertime tourists...Snowcoach builder miffed at park Ron Gatheridge braked his snowcoach-like Chevrolet Suburban to an abrupt halt in front of Yellowstone National Park's west entrance Wednesday morning, jumped out and propped a "For Sale" sign in the driver's side window. Then he stomped off. "The U.S. government can have the f--er!" Gatheridge yelled over his shoulder when asked why he left the vehicle at the park gate...Column: State officials ignore "death fences" Those concerned about the present and future protection and management of our valuable big game resource and the problem with high fences with low bottom wires cannot be taken lightly. High tensile fences on state and Bureau of Land Management public lands are for containment of domestic bison, a largely public- subsidized industry. High, 60-inch fences with low, 11-inch bottom wires, are devastating to the survival of elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, bighorn sheep, moose and pronghorn antelope. The high fences on the Robb-Ledford area, Willow Creek and the north fork of the Greenhorn were reported in Range Magazine, May 21, 2002, "Ted Turner's Death Fences" and in the Washington Times "Greens Give Turner a Break." A bighorn sheep was found entrapped in the same fence this spring and a moose calf last summer. The Montana Standard also reported August 2001, "Death Trap?" These fences go on for miles and miles in the Robb-Ledford area with more miles constructed this summer in the Dark Hollow-Cream Creek area...U.S. Court to Review Nev. Fight Over Dump Nevada's legal team will tell a federal appeals court that the government is trying to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain even though the site does not meet the original legal requirements for a dump, lawyers said yesterday. The hearing Jan. 14 before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit will cover six lawsuits, now consolidated, that the state filed against the federal government between 2000 and 2002. For Nevada, which has failed in the political arena for more than two decades to stop the dump, the courts might represent its best chance of keeping out 77,000 tons of the nation's most radioactive waste, lawyers said at a media briefing. The waste would be buried for 10,000 years at a desert site 90 miles from Las Vegas...Editorial: Wetlands support worth cheering After reports surfaced that the Environmental Protection Agency wanted to open millions of acres of fragile wetlands to potential development for the first time since the signing of the 1972 Clean Water Act, many agency-watchers were disappointed but few were surprised. But then a strange thing happened: Roused to action, conservationists, anglers and hunters besieged the EPA and the White House with more than 133,000 letters and e-mails mostly protesting the proposal. Adding their voices to the fray were 218 members of Congress and 26 senators. This time, it worked...Column: Patchwork wetlands rules leave too much to chance Memo from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to landowners, home builders, developers and regulatory field officials: "You're out of luck." That, in essence, is what the two agencies said when they announced that they would not issue a new rule on federal regulatory jurisdiction over isolated wetlands at a hastily arranged joint news conference on Tuesday. Instead, the agencies will continue to direct field staff to rely on a patchwork of contradictory circuit court rulings to make critical environmental decisions. If you own land or you ever intend to buy any, you should be deeply concerned by this turn of events...Western EPA managers report increased political pressure More than 80 percent of managers at an Environmental Protection Agency regional offices believe they are under increased pressure to base decisions on politics, rather than science, according to a recent survey by an environmental advocacy group. Roughly 83 percent of managers responding to the questionnaire, distributed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a nonprofit organization based in Washington, to employees at the EPA's Region 8 office, agreed that "political interests affect key decisions made by the EPA more than they did five years ago." About three-quarters of managers said they think the EPA regional office is a weaker "environmental protection organization" than five years ago. Non-management employees at the regional office were not quite as Voter Fund, Environment2004 to Fight Bush Administration's Dirty Air Agenda Two weeks after announcing its campaign to educate Floridians about the dismal environmental record of President Bush and his allies, Environment2004, a new Democratic section 527 group, is teaming up with Voter Fund to urge Floridians to oppose weakening the Clean Air Act. Section 527 groups are allowed to collect soft money to fund direct voter contact and issue messaging. The organizations will use Internet ads and emails from former Clinton administration EPA chief Carol Browner to Floridians to urge that they petition Gov. Jeb Bush and Attorney General Charlie Crist to oppose changes in the "New Source Review" program. This program requires aging power plants and industrial facilities to reduce their emissions when they expand or refurbish. Weakening this program is a centerpiece of the Bush Administration's environmental agenda...Climate Change Leading to Diseases: WHO A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) says climate change is adversely affecting the health of millions of people across the world, leading to the death of thousands, and fueling diseases like diarrhea and malaria. According to the study -- authored by WHO in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Meteorological Organization and the United States Environmental Protection Agency -- even small temperature changes can increase the prevalence of malaria...Lightning strike zaps 13 cows An Australian farmer lost 13 of his Friesian cows when lightning hit a tree they were sheltering under during a storm this week. "There was two big claps of thunder and when I went to get the cows, there were 13 of them dead under the tree," David Potter of Fernvale told the Brisbane Courier. "You could see where the lightning had hit the tree. I've never heard of anything like this. It's ... just unlucky -- unlucky 13."...Worldwide transfusion fear after UK mad cow death British blood recipient may have become the world's first case of human-to-human transmission of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), the lethal human form of "mad cow" disease linked to eating British beef products. If the case is not an isolated one, it may have ramifications for blood transfusion services worldwide...Italy Has BSE Case An Italian cow from a breeding farm in central Italy has tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, bringing the nation's total to 115 cases, the Health Ministry said Thursday. The disease was confirmed by testing done at a Turin zoological institute that serves as the national control center for the disease. Italy found its first case in cattle in 2001, after the European Union ordered mandatory tests on cattle older than 30 months destined for slaughter. Fifty positive cases were reported in 2001, 36 in 2002, and 29 so far this year...100 years ago, The Great Train Robbery launched feature film industry A fierce-looking outlaw aims his six-shooter at a cluster of law-abiding citizens sitting in the darkness. He pulls the trigger and smoke pours out of the gun barrel. Men shriek. Women faint. The gun fired but no sound was heard, except for the pounding of an upright piano. The outlaw was actor George Barnes, and the scene came at the end of an 11-minute silent movie, The Great Train Robbery. It was a week before Christmas 1903 - the night the motion picture industry was born. The Great Train Robbery and other westerns that followed "created the whole studio system eventually," observed Randy Haberkamp, film programmer for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences...Youngsters ages nine, five, travel cross-country Their father, Jack Abernathy, was a well-known U.S. Marshal who could fight wolves with his bare hands and did so to great fanfare in the presence of President Theodore Roosevelt. Abernathy taught his boys to ride, care for their horses, and to be independent from the time they could physically stay on a horse. The boys' trips turned into publicity events with newspaper reporters, townspeople, and, yes, even former president Teddy Roosevelt watching from afar. It all started in the summer of 1909 when the nine-year-old Bud (real name Louis) began studying his dad's maps. His five-year-old brother, named Temple after Sam Houston's son, knew his older brother could do no wrong...Rocking horse restriction overruled The future of the rocking horse is no longer under threat, after the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) admitted that its ruling that rocking horses must be below 600mm (less than 2ft) was a mistake. Last week, the British Toymakers' Guild announced that advice had gone out from the Department of Trade and Industry to local trading standards authorities not to act on the new standards - due to become effective from 1 January. The height restriction ruling was made to apply to rocking toys, such as those on springs commonly seen in children's playgrounds, and never intended for the British rocking horse...

Wednesday, December 17, 2003


Proposal to expand management of wolves opposed A proposed "memorandum of understanding" drafted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes involving other agencies in the management of Mexican gray wolves. Such a move would "lower the service's leadership in wolf recovery, and give more life-and-death power over the wolves to interests more directly responsive to the livestock industry," according to Michael Robinson, a Silver City staffer with the Center for Biological Diversity...Utah, Feds Continue To Stonewall Public On Phantom Highways Controversy The state of Utah and the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continue to withhold documents from the public concerning their supposedly "open process" for resolving claims to disputed dirt tracks across Utah, conservationist groups charged today. The charge came as two of the groups, the Southern Utah Wilderness Society (SUWA) and The Wilderness Society, lodged a formal appeal last week with the Interior Department over a decision by BLM's Utah office to withhold information concerning jeep tracks and cattle paths claimed as constructed highways by Utah under the repealed, Civil War-era law known as R.S. 2477...11 dams on Emigrant fix-up list Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Tom Quinn, taking his turn in one of his forest's longest-running controversies, has decided to permit maintenance of 11 Emigrant Wilderness check dams while letting seven others deteriorate over time. Letting those seven go "moves the Emigrant Wilderness, as a whole, towards a more pristine condition," Quinn wrote in his Record of Decision, which the Forest Service published Tuesday...'Healthy Forests Act' needs careful watch, enviros say The Healthy Forest Restoration Act ought to be given a chance to work "under careful scrutiny" Western Colorado Congress and Colorado photographer John Fielder said. President Bush this month signed the measure that significantly changes the way some of the nation's most fire- threatened forests will be managed. The new law, which was carried by U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, whose 3rd Congressional District is among the most forested in the nation, isn't what environmental organizations most wanted...Susanville timber mill closing This city is losing a major employer and its last timber mill. Sierra Pacific Industries announced Tuesday that it will close its 39-year-old sawmill by the end of the first quarter of 2004. The company cited the loss of government timber supplies and competition from foreign imports as reasons for the closure. The move will affect about 150 workers, SPI spokesman Ed Bond said. Workers at the mill make an average hourly wage of $18.30...Beetles threaten thousands of acres of pinyon trees Colorado's Roaring Fork Valley is vulnerable to a beetle infestation that could wipe out pinyon trees covering thousands of acres, according to a forestry expert. John Denison, district forester for the Colorado State Forest Service, said that conditions in the scenic valley make the pinyon susceptible to the Ips beetle. He estimated that 80 percent of the trees could die...Judge rules for listing orcas as endangered A federal judge yesterday struck down the Bush administration's decision not to protect Puget Sound orcas under the Endangered Species Act, chastising federal officials for failing to consider the "best available science." The U.S. District Court ruling was a major victory for environmentalists. The National Marine Fisheries Service had justified its June 2002 decision by saying that even if orcas that reside in the Sound and nearby waters disappeared, their place could be taken by far-ranging transient orcas that sometimes visit...Column: The Cartoonist Who Fought Dams Hard In George Fisher's world, the dam-building, river-straightening, concrete-addicted nature destroyers of the Army Corps of Engineers wore dark sunglasses, knee boots, impossibly tight pants and dorky pith helmets emblazoned with his unofficial motto for the agency: "Keep Busy." They carried rolled-up blueprints, drove menacing dredges with ferociously pointy teeth and drooled over free-flowing streams like dirty old men ogling young virgins. When they died, they arrived at the Pearly Gates armed with channelization plans for the Kingdom of Heaven and recoiled at the picturesque river valleys God had let fester there...Column: Global Warming is Likely to Cause Huge Climatic Changes -- and Possibly a New Ice Age What killed the saber-toothed tiger, the mastodon and the mammoth, formidable animals that were on top of the food chain in North America 20,000 years ago? Was it fierce Stone Age hunters as has commonly been assumed, or the little-studied but very real phenomenon of abrupt climate change? This question is not just of academic interest, to be debated by pipe-smoking professors at conferences. The rapid natural climate changes at the end of the Ice Age could be mirrored by man-made global warming in the 21st century, leading to devastating consequences for the planet's biodiversity and the human race itself...Baby condor makes historic flight in Grand Canyon Arizona's first baby condor in recorded history made its first flight November 5 when it glided 500 feet to the ground from its nest on a cliff located in a remote area of the Grand Canyon. "The significance of the first wild-hatched California condor in Arizona is tremendous. While captive-bred condors have exceeded our expectations, it is this chick and others like it in the future that will ensure condor recovery in Arizona," Arizona Game and Fish director Duane Shroufe said...City Officials Angry Over Fire Prevention Delays City officials in San Bernardino, Calif., say the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agency's concerns about endangered species delayed a federally funded fire prevention program for seven years and led directly to the disastrous fires there in October. According to city officials, philosophical problems among some biologists, environmentalists and other agencies delayed approved measures to prevent fires from being enacted. City officials also claim that they set aside $500,000 for a program meant to thin a number of trees in problem areas identified in a 1995 survey, but not one square foot of forestry was thinned. According to a congressional investigation, more than half of all federal projects proposed to reduce the literal fuel to the fires never get implemented, including several projects that may have limited the scope of this fall's California wildfires. Those fires burnt 750,000 acres, destroyed 3,640 homes, killed 22 people and countless wildlife and are estimated to have cost $10 billion in damage...Lawmaker calls for investigation of Wildlife Service over fires Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, wants Congress to investigate why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Carlsbad office reportedly delayed prescribed burns in San Bernardino County forest areas scorched in the October wildfires. California Department of Forestry Chief Tom O'Keefe told the Riverside Press-Enterprise for a story published Tuesday that the Fish and Wildlife Service opposed prescribed fires that might have helped save plant and animal habitats. "The U.S Fish and Wildlife policy of obstructionism contributed to the most devastating wildfires the state of California has ever seen," Calvert said in a statement Wednesday. "I have every intention of investigating their role in delaying and preventing prescribed fires that could have saved businesses, homes and lives."...Duck slaughter found Federal wildlife officials want to know who killed 35 wild ducks and dumped them, without cleaning them or saving any of the meat, beside Deer Creek Road near East Missoula. Rick Branzell, a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, discovered the ducks tossed in a snowbank beside the road Wednesday afternoon after receiving a tip from a Missoula County snowplow driver. The discarded ducks could represent several possible violations of state and federal wildlife laws, according to Branzell...Bald eagle closures begin in December Recreational activities are being temporarily limited at 13 locations near Arizona waterways beginning in December in an effort to protect nesting bald eagles. Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists say bald eagles start rebuilding nests in December in preparation for laying eggs. Land and wildlife management agencies enact the seasonal breeding area closures from December through June at locations on Tonto Creek, the Salt and Verde rivers, as well as Alamo, Pleasant, Becker, Lynx and Luna lakes...Crowing, howling greet return of wolves to West The sound of success pierces the cold, still air. Howling gray wolves announce their dominance over the food chain stretching from Yellowstone National Park's Lamar Valley to Montana less than a decade after wildlife biologists returned them to their traditional habitat. Bringing wolves back from the brink of extinction is being hailed as an ecological triumph, so much so that the federal government reclassified the animal this year from "endangered" to "threatened." The next step toward removal from the protected species list is for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to transfer responsibility for wolf management to game officials in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, possibly late next year. The livestock industry and hunters, who have simmered as the wolf population soared from 31 in the mid-1990s to 750, say they can't wait for return of local control. On the other side, environmental groups fear that a lack of federal oversight will mean a return to the "shoot, shovel and shut up" mindset that nearly caused the wolf's demise...Park Service board concludes probe of fatal bear attack on California couple A panel that investigated the deadly bear attack on a California couple in Katmai National Park and Preserve last October is recommending a review of the park's camping and bear management policies, federal officials said Wednesday. The Technical Board of Investigation has completed its inquiry in the deaths of Malibu, Calif., bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard and plans to submit its final report to National Park Service officials within a week. The four-page report also sums up likely contributing factors in the deaths of Treadwell, 46, a wildlife author who spent the past 13 summers tracking brown bears at the Alaska Peninsula park, and Huguenard, 37, who joined him in recent years. Treadwell was known and sometimes criticized for getting too chummy with brown bears - as coastal grizzlies are called in Alaska - without any kind of protection such as bear spray...Last-minute ruling prompts scramble on Yellowstone's opening day Carol Steinhauer was sputtering mad Wednesday morning. The Indiana woman's long-awaited two-week vacation in Yellowstone National Park had been disrupted, and she wanted somebody to pay. "This is a $5,000 vacation," she said as she pulled off her snowmobile helmet and began looking for a way to enter the park, a place that had been closed to unescorted snowmobilers like herself and her husband, Paul, just 12 hours earlier. "I'd like to send the bill to the senator who came up with this," she said. "Or the judge. Or the tree huggers."...Park ruling sparks dismay Norm Brunel of Manitoba, Canada, waited patiently in the cold morning darkness for the park to officially open. When it did, he presented a permit and fee receipt he'd purchased a month earlier, which were to have gained him admittance. Instead, he was told they were no longer valid. "No matter what I have," he said in frustration, "I can't go into the park, not without going out and hiring a guide. I drove 1,200 miles for this."...NYT Editorial: Banishing Snowmobiles n a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Judge Emmet Sullivan declared a halt to the Bush administration's plan to continue and indeed expand snowmobiling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. His ruling, which reinstates a Clinton-administration plan to phase out the snowmobiles, is a victory for the parks, their wildlife and the visitors who come to enjoy both. Beyond that, it is a resounding rebuke to the Bush administration, whose eagerness to satisfy a narrow political constituency caused it to violate its statutory obligation to protect the parks from degradation and to leave them, as the law commands, "unimpaired" for future generations. That snowmobiles impaired the parks was never much in doubt -- not to the Park Service employees who hated President Bush's plan; not to the public, whose comments reflected overwhelming disapproval for the plan; and not to the government's own scientists, who concluded that even the newer, quieter snowmobiles the administration had promoted as the ultimate compromise would foul the air and disrupt animal life...Snowmobile Community Appeals District of Columbia Court Opinion on Yellowstone The Snowmobile Community will immediately appeal an opinion issued by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Judge Emmet Sullivan, blocking the 2003 Yellowstone National Park Winter Use Plan. The State of Wyoming and the National Park Service (NPS) are expected to join the appeal. The Snowmobile Community, including individuals and small business owners in the Yellowstone gateway communities, snowmobile enthusiast organizations, and snowmobile manufacturers through the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA), will seek an emergency stay of the Judge's ruling. The stay requests that the opinion not be implemented while the case is being appealed...Sled ruling hits home to outfitters Early Wednesday morning Jackson Hole Snowmobile Tours office manager Stacey Chapman called two people and told them that because of a judge's ruling Tuesday night they would not be able to rent snowmobiles. "They were irate," said Chapman, who is the office manager. "They did not understand. That's how it's going to be. We are going to have a lot of angry people." Wyoming officials and snowmobile industry attorneys are trying to keep Chapman from having to speak with more angry customers. Both are working to overturn U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan's ruling that cuts in half the number of snowmobiles allowed in Yellowstone and Grand Teton this winter and would eliminate snowmobiles from the park next winter...Waiting List For Grand Canyon Raft Trips Frozen The National Park Service has imposed a freeze on adding new names to the waiting list for permits to raft through the Grand Canyon. There are now more than 8,000 people on the list for self-guided rafting trips through the park. Those at the end of the list will have to wait 20 years to make the trip down the Colorado River...Report stresses animal safety: Vehicles must be prevented from running over imperiled species during a desert race The U.S. Defense Department will have to take steps to prevent robotic vehicles from running over desert tortoises and other imperiled species when it hosts a race from Barstow to Las Vegas, a report issued Wednesday said. While it is anticipated that few, if any, desert tortoises would be killed or injured, tortoise monitors will be required to sweep the route before the race and move any reptiles 100 feet off the course, the Bureau of Land Management report said...Lawns and life could get ugly if lake keeps falling Daily life in the Las Vegas Valley could become increasingly challenging if Lake Mead continues its decline, dipping below 1,125 feet above sea level in 2005 and pushing the region into a drought emergency, the most severe of the region's three drought categories. Lawn watering could be banned. Water rates could increase for the second time in 18 months. Golf courses might have to operate with less water...Regulators say protecting Tahoe Basin a priority Preventing a major wildfire from devastating the Lake Tahoe Basin and fouling its sensitive environment for years must be the areaĆ¢€™s top priority, land-use regulators decided Wednesday. Governors of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency reviewed a $26.5 million plan to begin thinning trees and taking other precautions in fire-prone forests along the dangerous ribbon of landscape where forests abut populated communities...Editorial: Federal land sales While water officials throughout the West continue to grapple with the implications of our record-setting drought, at least there's some good news from Washington. The Bush administration has said it will neither halt nor slow the pace of public land sales in Southern Nevada. At a meeting Friday in Las Vegas of the agencies that receive water from the Colorado River, Assistant Interior Secretary Bennett Raley said, "The federal government is not going to play a role in where (people) can and should live. That's a local issue, not a federal issue." And that's the appropriate response. Washington bureaucrats have no business meddling in local planning and zoning decisions -- notwithstanding the "Livable Communities Initiative," a scheme hatched by former Vice President Al Gore in 1999 to have the federal government buy up undeveloped land and make it off-limits for future homes or businesses...The Killing Hills Martin didn't find a sympathetic ear in Mike Roach, conservation officer for the Division of Wildlife Resources. Roach investigated the incident, ruled it a legal kill and said Martin had no recourse against the offending hunter. The problem, said Roach, is that landowners made no attempt to distinguish their property lines from the public land that backs up against the Olympus Cove neighborhood. And he can't enforce a trespassing complaint unless fences were erected or signs posted...Bush hears Ducks Unlimited concerns With one third of the waterfowl hunters answering a Ducks Unlimited survey saying success is below average so far this season, DU president John Tomke and others met last week with President Bush. Tomke's concern comes from a 2001 Supreme Court decision that, if broadly interpreted, could eliminate long-standing protection of wetlands and small bodies of water under the Clean Water Act. During the meeting, Tomke also remarked that in recent months more than 20,000 letters have been sent to the White House and other key decision makers in Washington by DU members and supporters on this issue...Cheney-Cornyn pheasant hunt drawing slings and arrows When Dick Cheney and a hunting party that included Sen. John Cornyn and several other Texas Republicans bagged hundreds of pheasants at a private game reserve in Pennsylvania last week, animal-rights activists denounced it as a slaughter. They were especially outraged that the vice president shot more than 70. But Mr. Cornyn said Wednesday that the birds had a sporting chance, even if they were farm-raised and released from nets for the hunters. "It was a good shoot," said Mr. Cornyn, who figures he shot dozens of pheasants himself...Water feud stirs Texas water policy review A heated debate in Texas over a proposal to pump groundwater from state lands for commercial sale is spurring state officials to take another look at a sacred 100-year-old water policy often called "the biggest straw wins." The so-called rule of capture gives a landowner the right to pump an unlimited amount of groundwater by tapping into an underlying aquifer. The owner is not liable for injury to his neighbor because of excessive pumping unless it's intentional. The Texas Supreme Court as recently as four years ago upheld the rule based on an English law that has been modified in most other states because the pumping can exhaust the groundwater supply if it's not naturally recharged...Editorial: Where tradition, law collide On Dec. 8, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a Colorado court's decision upholding traditional rights of land-grant heirs to use southern Colorado's Taylor Ranch for grazing and other uses. That may be the end of the legal road - but unless cool heads prevail, the rancor generated by the long-running dispute may continue to simmer. The four-decade battle highlighted a clash between two very different legal systems: absolutist concepts of property rights rooted in Anglo-Saxon law and communal rights as practiced under Spanish and Mexican colonial land grants that were used to lure settlers to the Southwest...Tempers flare in property dispute It was shaping up as the Upshur County Land War and no one knew what to expect. Seven police, sheriff and highway patrol cars were lined up out front and folks inside were furious at what could happen to them. "You can bet there are guns in there," said Sylvia Mobley, who drove over from Shreveport, La., to see if there was any substance to the threat of the state of Texas confiscating property that had been in her family for 153 years...State Assaults Private Property In his new book, Mugged By The State: Outrageous Government Assaults on Ordinary People and Their Property, published by Regnery, a sister company of HUMAN EVENTS, Randall Fitzgerald describes how common, ordinary American citizens have been subjected to government abuse. Fitzgerald, a veteran journalist, provides many riveting examples of ranchers, homeowners and small businessmen who have encountered the wrath of bureaucrats and regulators, who, in the zeal of enforcing cumbersome government regulations, have seized homes, private property, cars, bank accounts, and closed down businesses in the interest of "public safety" and the "public good." U.S. gets trade-pact deal with four nations The Bush administration reached a free-trade agreement yesterday with four Central American countries. The accord — reached just weeks before the 10th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement — would allow more than 80 percent of U.S. consumer and industrial products into Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras duty-free as soon as it went into force. That figure would rise to 85 percent within five years and 100 percent in a decade. U.S. agricultural products would take considerably longer — up to 18 years — to reach duty-free status, largely because U.S. trade negotiators insisted on protecting the American sugar market from Central American exports...Lawsuit could affect cattle producers A trial in federal court scheduled for Jan. 12 in Montgomery, Ala., could have a huge impact on Nebraska cattle producers, said Steve Cady, executive director of Organization for Competitive Markets, which is based in Lincoln. According to Cady, the trial, know as "Pickett vs. IBP," is the first class action case ever brought by producers against beef packers over the issue of captive supply...Sheriff: Roaming horses causing a problem Open range areas along U.S. Highway 87 south of Havre have been problematic for motorists using the highway, Hill County Sheriff Greg Szudera said. The Sheriff's Office has received numerous complaints about livestock on or near the highway, and two women were hospitalized Saturday after their car collided with a horse. The horse was killed. The accident has prompted local law enforcement and the State Department of Livestock to search for ways to better enforce animal grazing laws. Szudera and state livestock detective Dan Campbell have been meeting to figure out what recourse the Sheriff's Office has under somewhat confusing state laws...Mad cow variant kills blood donor and a recipient The British government announced Wednesday the first reported case of a person dying from the human form of mad cow disease after a blood transfusion from an infected donor. Health Secretary John Reid told Parliament it was not possible to determine whether the transfusion recipient contracted the fatal brain-wasting illness from the donor or whether the two were independently infected. But it was the first report supporting the idea the disease might be transmitted by blood transfusions...Kids’ video gets good response An educational children’s video on the cowboy way of life, which was partially filmed in the Laramie area, has received an overwhelming response nationwide, one of its producers said. “All About Cowboys” was filmed entirely in Wyoming and is designed to educate children on Western history by portraying and comparing the 1800s cowboy culture with today’s ranching techniques and rodeo showmanship. The video touches on the history of cowboy culture, tells what it’s like to be a cowboy today, and features Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo action, trick riders, a world-class trick roper and a 7-year-old cowboy with his pony...The West Under Cover: Haycox wrote off into the sunset Ernest Hemingway once said he bought a copy of the Saturday Evening Post whenever it had a story by Ernest Haycox. For years the Spur award, given annually by the Western Writers of America, was known as the "Erny," in honor of Haycox. His short story, "Stage to Lordsburg," was made into "Stagecoach," the John Ford movie that made John Wayne famous. Some critics (including this one) will tell you his 1943 novel, Bugles in the Afternoon, with its avoidance of mythology and its insistence on psychological correctness, is among the best Western books ever written...