Saturday, January 31, 2004


Logging, grazing restrictions lifted to cut wildfire risk Hoping to lower wildfire danger, the U.S. Forest Service broadened its plan Friday to ease logging and grazing restrictions in parts of the Rockies set aside as habitat for the Canada lynx. The agency said it was amending its lynx management plan for seven national forests in Wyoming and Colorado to allow fire suppression work.... Lynx plan may fall short, agency admits The U.S. Forest Service released a blueprint Friday for managing lynx in most of Colorado's national forests that the agency acknowledges may damage lynx habitat and might not significantly improve the cat's chances for survival in the Southern Rockies. The draft environmental impact statement announced by the agency Friday proposes to establish rules and guidelines for conserving lynx populations while allowing other activities to continue on 12 million across of national forest land in Colorado, but the new proposal is significantly weaker than the original recommendation by a group of lynx biologists and scientists that was the basis for the environmental study. The new plan carves out blanket exemptions from the rules for oil and gas exploration, energy transmission facilities and forest-thinning work....Grazing proposal contested Three environmental groups have taken the Forest Service to task over its proposed update of grazing allotments in the southern portion of the Gravelly Range, in southwest Montana. But a local rancher says the groups are just looking for a way to push cows off public lands. The Gallatin Wildlife Association, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the Native Ecosystems Council filed lengthy appeals on the environmental assessment to update the Antelope Basin-Elk Lake allotment management plans. The assessment will direct management of domestic livestock on 11 allotments in the southern Gravelly Range over the next decade.... Rancher: Environmentalists aren’t seeing big picture Bob Sitz, a Harrison rancher and Antelope Basin permittee, said the groups appealing the grazing allotment decision aren’t seeing the big picture. “These appeals are just agenda-driven to harm the permittees or drive them off the range,” said Sitz. Cattle and sheep have been grazing in Antelope Basin since the 1880s and since 1959 the land has been managed intensively, he said. “Over that time, we’ve sprayed sagebrush, there’s been a lot of burning and quite a number of water developments have been built – all to create a diverse environment,” he said. “I’m not saying everything is perfect, but hopefully when we need to we can make corrections with the cooperation of the Forest Service.” The agency recognized the importance of the grazing allotment back in the early 1960s, when it implemented a pasture rotation system. That grazing system was one of the first in the country. Since then, Sitz said the Forest Service has collected a wealth of data on how the vegetation has reacted to different management scenarios....Column, The War in the Woods: Resistance is Fertile Grassroots forest activists certainly aren't taking the latest assault on our public forests lying down. That is unless they're laying there locked to something, blocking chainsaws from carrying out the terms of the Wyden/Feinstein/Bush Stealthy Timber Initiative. These folks, many seasoned veteran activists and many newer fired-up folks with new energy and ideas, know it's up to the citizenry to voice their displeasure, bring attention to the issue and try and still the saws in any way they can creatively think up. Between Greenpeace, the National Forest Protection Alliance (NFPA), Forest Guardians, the various Centers for Biological Diversity, Cascadia Forest Alliance, Heartwood and others 100% of proposed timber sales are being monitored. These groups are ready to launch whatever is necessary to defend our forests -- from education, letter writing campaigns, lawsuits, to market campaigns (especially in Alaska's case) to Civil Disobedience. Here's a sampler of what's about to break loose: .... Water quality watchdogs In early October, forest activists in Oregon and Washington won a major victory in that argument. Hoping to halt aerial pesticide spraying designed to kill the native tussock moth, which attacks evergreens (including Christmas trees), activists pointed out that the U.S. Forest Service plan crossed several waterways. If the pesticide — toxic by definition — got into the stream, didn't the spray nozzle on the helicopter count as a point source of pollution, just like a factory pipe? The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals agreed in 2002, and the Supreme Court in 2003 let that decision stand. So for the West, at least, aerial spraying near streams requires a water-pollution permit. That includes spraying anything that harms water quality on any land — public or private — where there's water quality to protect.... Editorial: Forest Plan Losing Its Way If the Bush administration is serious about staving off catastrophic fires in the Sierra Nevada's old-growth forests, it will allocate the full $760 million authorized in the Healthy Forests Restoration Act for clearing undergrowth and dead trees. Unfortunately, the current plan aims to save money by financing the job with private logging in the Sierra. Companies that clear a certain amount of brush and saplings would earn the right to take a set number of larger, sometimes much larger, trees. The Forest Service would also shift tree-thinning funds deeper into the forests and away from the towns endangered by potential fires. The plan makes too many radical departures from the Sierra Nevada Framework, a carefully balanced plan of forest management and preservation developed over 10 years by the federal government and Western states.... China announces cloning of endangered Siberian ibex China announced Friday that its scientists have cloned a Siberian ibex, a threatened mammal that dwells in the crags of central Asia, in a feat sure to heighten debate over whether cloning can help reconstitute endangered species. The week-old Siberian ibex is ``full of pep'' and ``exhibiting a strong will to survive,'' a state television newscast reported. The mountain goat-like Siberian ibex, which state television described as ``one of the most endangered animals in China,'' was born after cloned cells were placed in a common goat in western China.... Column: How Industry Hijacked 'Sound Science' Gov. Kathleen Blanco seized the opportunity to buttonhole President Bush on his visit to New Orleans recently and pitch the long-awaited coastal restoration plan. The president reportedly replied that he'd support it, provided it was based on "sound science." To which our governor, in good faith, replied that she agreed. How could she not? Who could be against sound science? But chances are that the president and the governor meant very different things by the term. And that difference is a major factor in the holdup. Time was, science took the lead in America's environmental policy. Rachael Carson, Barry Commoner and other researchers sounded the alarm, and others went on to point out exactly what needed fixing and how.... Editorial: Don’t take sportsmen for granted Hunters and fishermen from Montana and elsewhere descended on Washington, D.C., this week to lobby against the president’s energy bill and his push to develop important wildlife habitat like the Rocky Mountain Front. And nearly 500 gun clubs nationwide recently came out in opposition to some of the Bush administration’s logging policies. Still more outdoorsmen are joining forces with “The Green Elephant,” the nickname for the organization Republicans for Environmental Protection, to oppose the administration on such matters as snowmobiles in Yellowstone and relaxed pollution standards for factories. Well-accustomed to deflecting attacks from tree-hugging liberals, Republicans suddenly find themselves under fire from an unexpected direction – from the hook-and-bullet crowd.... Study: Wind farms more lethal to birds than first thought A new study of bird deaths in the wind farms of the Altamont Pass suggests the problem is more serious than previously thought, and raises questions about a 1998 plan to address the problem by replacing aging wind turbines with a smaller number of modern machines. The study, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, estimates that about 500 birds of prey are killed by wind farms in the Altamont each year, including red-tailed hawks, burrowing owls and golden eagles. Previous estimates, based in part on studies paid for by wind farm operators, put the number at between 160 and 400 raptors a year.... County renews more permits for wind farms Alameda County officials renewed the operating permits Thursday for 2,106 wind turbines in the Altamont Pass, over the objections of an environmental group that claims wind farm operators have been slow to address the problem of bird deaths. Meeting in Dublin, the East County Board of Zoning Adjustments voted unanimously to renew 20-year permits governing 15 wind farms. The three-member board noted that wind farm operators are working with county, state and federal regulators to find ways to reduce the number of bird deaths.... Bill would ban lights shining on ocean Declaring "light pollution" harmful to birds and sea life, environmentalists and fishing enthusiasts joined forces yesterday to support a bill that bans residents along the shoreline from aiming light fixtures into the ocean. Despite reservations raised by the Department of Land and Natural Resources about enforcement, House Bill 1743 got initial approval from the joint house committees on Energy and Environmental Protection and Water, Land Use and Hawaiian Affairs. It now goes the Judiciary Committee. Katie Swift, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said outdoor lighting that shines into the ocean can disorient the endangered hawksbill sea turtle, which may deter it from nesting on a beach.... Sound of silence Getting a table at Jackie LaFever's sports bar and restaurant is easy this winter. So is finding a room at Vernetta Steele's motel - or most that are still open in town. This town just outside Yellowstone National Park is much quieter than normal, and for many residents, the mood is bleaker. While snowmobiles still cruise the powdery streets of the self-proclaimed "snowmobile capital of the world," the numbers are far below those in previous years. Residents blame it on a federal judge's ruling that reversed Yellowstone's snowmobile rules just hours before the start of the season in December and on the confusion and uncertainty that have surrounded the issue for months.... Wranglers round up wild horses Nevada wranglers conducted the last wild horse roundup in Nevada for at least six months Friday, removing animals south of Lahontan Reservoir, where they have wandered from federal to state land to find food and water. U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials want to reduce the 261-horse herd to no more than 15. They could complete their work near Silver Springs by this weekend. The helicopter-guided roundup began Thursday. By midday Friday, 145 horses had been captured.... More than 130 businesses back Boulder-White Cloud resolution More than 130 Idaho businesses have signed a letter supporting efforts to designate the Boulder-White Cloud and Pioneer mountains as wilderness, and Custer County economic development efforts could get a boost in the deal. The plan, championed by Rep. Michael Simpson, R-Idaho, could also lay to rest the wilderness issue which has been debated for more than 30 years. Preservation of those two adjacent mountain ranges has been a point of contention for decades. Simpson claims he also has support from all-terrain-vehicle and snowmobile retailers whose machines would be banned from the federal wilderness area. Off-road enthusiasts would be assured of other undesignated areas of central Idaho they could visit. Simpson is trying to strike a bargain with Custer County officials to get the deal off the ground. He is calling for the government to give 16,000 acres of isolated tracts of federal land to Custer County, which would sell the land. The proceeds would be earmarked for economic development and a community education center in Challis.... Counties agree on foothills preservation plan A plan to preserve 600,000 acres of corporate and privately owned timberland has been agreed upon by top officials in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties. The Cascade Foothills Initiative is expected to be signed Monday afternoon at a Seattle ceremony by county executives John Ladenburg of Pierce County, Ron Sims of King County and Aaron Reardon of Snohomish County as, well as state Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland. It will combine conservation easements and land acquisitions to discourage housing development along the edges of the forests in the three counties. The plan is to use grants, donations and perhaps taxpayer dollars to limit land-use changes in areas that have traditionally sustained wildlife and the timber industry.... Ex-Rancher Blasts U.S. Mad Cow Measures It's been eight years since former rancher Howard Lyman outraged many in the beef industry by predicting on national television that sloppy meat processing practices would bring mad cow disease to the United States. Safe to say that Lyman, the central figure in Oprah Winfrey's ballyhooed legal fight with cattle ranchers, is feeling validated since the disease was discovered last month in a cow in Washington state. And Lyman says the federal government's decision this week to ban cattle blood in livestock feed isn't enough to protect against more mad cow cases. Every cow should be tested for the disease, he said.... Will Bovine Serum Be Next On The List For Drug Regulators? Aside from steaks and stews, where do you find cow blood? In drug production. It turns out that cow serum — a purified derivative of cow blood — is commonly used to produce many of the new biologic drugs on the market. These drugs can do everything from fight cancer to help rheumatoid arthritis patients walk again. Many are proteins or other cell-based products that can't be otherwise mass-produced.... U.S. beef exports may resume to Mexico U.S. beef exports may soon resume to Mexico following a mad cow scare and officials say if Japan can be persuaded to resume imports, other countries may follow. "I think Mexico looks more imminent than some of the Asian markets," said Phil Seng, chief executive officer of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).... 205 cows killed show no infection Testing has shown that 20 cows killed Saturday at a Boardman dairy were not infected with mad cow disease, agriculture officials said Thursday. Tests of another 185 cattle killed at three Washington dairies have also been negative, they said....USDA offers incentives for sheep producers Lower farm income and extreme drought in sheep-producing areas have taken a toll on the nation's sheep flocks, prompting the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer $18.8 million in incentives to encourage producers to keep their ewe lambs for breeding stock. The program, announced this week by Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, comes as the nation's sheep numbers dwindle. The most recent July inventory numbers peg the nation's lamb crop at 4.13 million, down 5 percent from the previous year....New California Law on Agricultural Trespassing Goes Into Effect On January 1, California's new tougher standards for those convicted of trespassing on farms and ranches went into effect. Gov. Grey Davis signed SB 993 in October after it passed the California Assembly 63-5 and the state Senate 37-0.... Ranch life inspires artist When JW Brooks set out to capture his interpretation of the American cowboy in a picture, he didn't look any farther than his own childhood on the ranches of Wyoming and Colorado. The 31-year-old artist and custom hat designer said his experience on the ranches taught him that modern rodeo began with ranch-hand jobs and said he tries to depict that connection in his art.... Gold Buckle Media Preparing to Launch New Western Sports and Lifestyle Television Channel Gold Buckle Media announced today that it plans to launch a new national television channel dedicated to Western sports, music, and lifestyle programming. The company plans to begin broadcasting via cable and satellite in June of this year.... On The Edge Of Common Sense: There's a story behind those pink, fuzzy slippers Some blamed the incident on her fuzzy slippers. Brenda is a top hand, and like many ranch women, is especially good at calving heifers. Because of her skill and stamina, she and her husband, Perry, had synchronized 110 first-calf heifers to calve within a two-week period. Of course, when they bred them they didn't anticipate those two weeks would fall in a period of clear skies and 40 degrees below zero. She kept two horses saddled in the barn, each on a 12-hour shift. She checked the heifer lot night and day, almost hourly, nipping back in the warm house for a bite or a nap. She would slip off her cap, Carhartt coveralls and boots, then dive under the electric blanket....

Friday, January 30, 2004


Turmoil at the Sierra Club?

The Sierra Club is one of America's wealthiest tax-exempt organizations. In fiscal 2002, the Club reported $23,619,830 in revenues, and disclosed $107,733,974 worth of assets to the IRS. It claims a national membership of 700,000 people. As Sierra's website proclaims, "the Club is America's oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization."

An old Chinese curse goes, "may you live in interesting times.” Well, these happen to be interesting times for the Sierra Club. A small chunk of its membership is worried about what it calls "impact of mass immigration on the environment and quality of life for future generations" of Americans. These dissidents want the Club to promote public policy that will restrict America's future population growth. In particular, they would like the Club to endorse a reduction in the number of immigrants the U.S. accepts each year. These dissidents have formed their own pressure group. They call it Sierrans for US Population Stabilization (SUSPS).

SUSPS may look small, but it is becoming a force to be reckoned with within the Club. It now controls 20 percent of the 15 seats on Sierra's board of directors. It hopes to expand that control after this spring's board elections. To get a feel for the tension raging inside the Club, it may help to read an email purportedly sent by Paul Watson, a pro-SUSPS Sierra Club board member, to Carl Pope, the Sierra Club's executive director, last March. The email documents SUSPS' central arguments about why the Sierra Club's position on immigration (currently neutral) must change....

Battle for Biotech Progress

Not all my former colleagues saw things that way, however. Many environmentalists rejected consensus politics and sustainable development in favor of continued confrontation, ever-increasing extremism, and left-wing politics. At the beginning of the modern environmental movement, Ayn Rand published Return of the Primitive, which contained an essay by Peter Schwartz titled "The Anti- Industrial Revolution." In it, he warned that the new movement's agenda was anti-science, anti-technology, and anti-human. At the time, he didn't get a lot of attention from the mainstream media or the public. Environmentalists were often able to produce arguments that sounded reasonable, while doing good deeds like saving whales and making the air and water cleaner.

But now the chickens have come home to roost. The environmentalists' campaign against biotechnology in general, and genetic engineering in particular, has clearly exposed their intellectual and moral bankruptcy. By adopting a zero tolerance policy toward a technology with so many potential benefits for humankind and the environment, they have lived up to Schwartz's predictions. They have alienated themselves from scientists, intellectuals, and internationalists. It seems inevitable that the media and the public will, in time, see the insanity of their position. As my friend Klaus Ammann likes to hope, "maybe biotech will be the Waterloo for Greenpeace and their allies." Then again, maybe that's just wishful thinking....

PETA And Terrorism: The Real Deal

The Center for Consumer Freedom butted heads with a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) spokesman yesterday on the Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto." Combining obfuscation, denial, and half-truths, PETA desperately tried to defend its record of supporting terrorism and terrorists. Read on for some of the highlights -- and once you're through, sign our petition to yank PETA's tax exempt status....

Kerry: Gorier than Gore on Global Warming

When it comes to disinformation about climate change, Al's got competition in the principal beneficiary of Howard Dean's rhetorical largesse, John Kerry, who looks to me like a cinch for the Democratic nomination. On May 17, 2000, Kerry said:

"In Massachusetts, we always looked forward to fall because the ponds froze over and we could play hockey. Today, you are lucky if the ponds freeze in northern New Hampshire. Up there ... I do not wear a coat until after November now."

So should Kerry beware. There's lots of data on the Internet, including a study by the U.S. Geological Survey of "ice-out" dates on lakes in northern New Hampshire. That's the day of the year when you can no longer play hockey.

John Kerry is 60 years old, so it's safe to say he was playing hockey in northern New Hampshire, his home, from the ages of 7 to 17, or 1950 through 1959, near First Connecticut Lake. The average date of ice-out for that period was May 1. From 1991-2000, when, according to Kerry, "you are lucky if the ponds freeze," the average ice-out date is later, on May 5.

A year later, on May 1, 2001, Kerry said, "This summer the North Pole was water for the first time in recorded history," a story that was originally carried by the New York Times in September 2000. It was retracted three weeks later as a barrage of scientists protested that open water is common at or near the pole at the end of summer. Further, it's common knowledge in the scientific community that there has been no net change in Arctic temperatures in the last 70 years....

Tuning Out Environmental Gore

Washington is besieged with snow and ice again this week, which means it is time for another meditation on—wait for it—global warming! Of course, I have a tough act to follow, given the perfect comic timing of former Vice President Al Gore, who recently chose the coldest day in the northeast in the last 15 years to make a speech about global warming. Big Al was funnier still: he made the speech to If ever there was one subject about which the left won’t ever “move on,” it is global warming.

Earth to Gore: No one is listening.

To the amazement of environmentalists and the media, President Bush’s approval ratings on his handling of the environment have stayed near or even above 50 percent throughout his presidency, despite the mountain of adverse headlines in the media, the nonstop fury of the political environmental groups, and the huge generic party advantage Democrats have over Republicans as the party best able to protect the environment. At no point in Bush’s presidency have his “disapprove” ratings on his handling of the environment trailed his approval ratings....

Driving Away Pollution

Your next new car or truck will be the cleanest-burning one you've ever owned. And it means the end to the already-diminishing problem of air pollution.

This week Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Mike Leavitt unveiled seventeen model year 2004 vehicles meeting tough new emissions requirements. These provisions, which begin now and will be fully phased in by the end of the decade, demand 77-95 percent reductions in exhaust emissions for cars, SUVs, minivans, pickups, and all sizes of trucks. EPA is also requiring sharp reductions in sulfur content in both gasoline and diesel fuel, thereby allowing a new generation of pollution control devices to be used.

"It's a simple formula," said Leavitt. "Cleaner vehicles plus cleaner fuel equals cleaner air....

U.S. Rebuffs Europe at Climate Conference

Early last month, several Republican senators, House members and aides traveled to Milan, Italy, for the ninth round of international global climate negotiations.

Despite heavy criticism from European officials and radical environmentalists, the Republican delegation declared Kyoto, and similar energy suppression policies being advanced in the Senate, absolutely dead in the United States, while staunchly defending American prosperity and growth.

Sen. James Inhofe (R.-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, led the congressional delegation, and was the principal target of green extremists and bureaucrats from the European Union. During the conference, staffers from the National Environmental Trust (NET) displayed what amounted to "wanted" posters of the senator throughout the conference center....

Thursday, January 29, 2004


Environmental group wary of Bush forest-thinning plan A Wyoming-based environmental group is wary of the Bush administration's $760 million plan to remove more small trees and brush from national forests. Proponents of the plan say it would help reduce the risk of wildfires on as many as 4 million acres. News of the administration's request came as good news to local U.S. Forest Service officials, as well as a spokesman for the Black Hills National Forest timber industry.... Insect Attacks May Benefit Colo. Forests The unprecedented insect outbreak ravaging Colorado forests may eventually result in thriving hillsides of aspen, improved stream flows and attractive habitat for the lynx and showshoe hare, a new report says. A dozen species of native beetles, preying on aging, drought-stressed forests, are attacking trees from the pinon-juniper woodlands of southern Colorado to high-elevation spruce and firs, Colorado lawmakers were told on Wednesday in the state's annual forest report. "In some areas, it's a jaw-dropper," said Tom Eager, a U.S. Forest Service entomologist in Montrose. He said this level of insect activity hasn't been seen in Colorado's forests since the state was settled.... It's the Water: Where to go with river low-flow? To go with the low flow, or not to go with the low flow? That was the question posed at a town-hall meeting in Guerneville last week concerning a controversial Sonoma County Water Agency proposal to cut summertime flows in the lower reaches of the Russian River by up to 70 percent in order to help restore endangered fish populations. And for most, if not all, of the estimated 500 local business owners and residents who crowded the Veterans Memorial Building for the meeting, there was only one right answer to that question: Cutting the flow during the height of the busy summer tourist season would spell financial disaster for an area that only recently recovered from the last economic downturn. To a person, they were decidedly against going with the low-flow proposal.... Green groups lose Belize dam battle approval A coalition of environmental groups yesterday lost the latest round in their legal battle to halt the building of a dam in one of the most fragile habitats in Central America. The Privy Council, sitting in London, ruled by a majority of three to two against the Belize Alliance of Conservation Non-Governmental Organisations (Bacongo), which raised concerns about the potential dangers posed by the structure.... Column: John Ehrlichman, Environmentalist When I was young, I never imagined I would one day stand in front of 250 people and say something nice about John Ehrlichman. And yet, as a PowerPoint image of him appeared behind me on a stage last November, there I was saying, "In the Nixon White House, the most consistent advocate of environmental causes was John Ehrlichman." It was Ehrlichman's idea to create the White House post of environmental coordinator and to put Whitaker in that influential job. Ehrlichman helped Nixon see the political value in signing the National Environmental Protection Act. On other occasions, Ehrlichman exhorted the president to take actions that would "keep you out in front on the environmental issue.".... Owl halts launch pad work A grouchy momma owl is getting plenty of respect at a shuttle launch pad, where work stopped to give her babies time to hatch. The great horned owl is nesting on Pad 39A, and during a relatively quiet time, with the shuttles grounded, NASA halted painting and other refurbishment while she nurtures her three eggs. On one side of the mobile launch platform, ropes block off a stairway leading down to a landing surrounded by fuel valves. There, the owl has nestled into what is essentially a painter's dropcloth.... Wyoming natural gas growth could end Natural gas production is not expected to increase in Wyoming this year, which would end 18 years of continuous growth. "We're hoping that our forecast is going to prove to be wrong, and that we'll have an increase this year," said State Geologist Lance Cook, who serves on the state Consensus Revenue Generating Group. The group comprises state officials who make periodic predictions of state revenues based in part on trends in mineral production and prices. The group's figures are relied upon by both the executive and legislative branches for budget planning.... Dry wells blamed on CBM Last spring, the water at Richard and Allison Cole's house near Sheridan, Wyo., began to change colors. On April 10, their well sputtered and went dry. The same happened to a neighbor in July and another neighbor in September. Soon, well water for four more properties in the area could also dry up. Coalbed methane development northeast of Sheridan has lowered the water in the coal seams that feeds the wells in the Beatty Spur area. The loss of well water, along with the noise of compressors and other activity, has cast a sour note on the rural neighborhood near the Montana border where coalbed methane has become a constant presence in recent years.... Public can learn about Otero Mesa But he, his wife and their 10-year-old daughter will join other El Pasoans early Saturday morning for a free bus ride to Albuquerque to learn more about a brewing conflict over the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's plans to open the area to oil and gas exploration. Opposition to the bureau's plans for 1,875 square miles of Otero Mesa grasslands and desert mountains is coming from an odd alliance of environmentalists, ranchers and outdoor and hunting interests, said Greta Miller, an organizer with the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.... Fort Belknap Indian tribe sues over gold mine pollution Tribal leaders on Fort Belknap Indian Reservation filed suit in federal court Thursday in an effort to force the cleanup of two abandoned gold mines near Malta. The tribes sued the state Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, along with the mine site's current owner, Luke Ployhar. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Helena, claims the open-pit gold mines have violated the federal Clean Water Act and that polluted water continues to flow from the mines and onto the reservation.... $5.6 million lawsuit filed in dunes case Attorneys for a 19-year-old Encinitas man filed a claim Wednesday seeking $5.6 million in damages from two U.S. Bureau of Land Management rangers, Sheriff Harold Carter and Imperial County. Brian Boyd alleges BLM rangers Ray Leloup and R.C. Magill abused their power and used excessive force on him, resulting in spinal cord injuries, during an encounter in Glamis on Nov. 2. Boyd alleges he received a beating from Leloup and Magill in what began as a misunderstanding over a recreational-use permit that Boyd possessed but the rangers thought he did not. The injuries suffered by Boyd (which included a bruised spinal cord in his neck) required him to be air-lifted to San Diego because of concerns his back was broken.... Committee questions if mountain bikes allowed in National Monument Will mountain bikes, all-terrain vehicles and other "off-roaders" eventually lose some of their privileges to recreate in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument? That was a question raised by the monument's advisory committee Tuesday during its first attempt to identify management issues in its recommendation for the monument's resource management plan. The interim guidelines state "established roads and trails will remain open to use as presently authorized." Whereas the proclamation suggests "the Secretary of the Interior shall prohibit all motorized and mechanized vehicle use off road, except for emergency or authorized administrative purposes" in the monument.... Hiring a lawyer may require hiring lawyer The decision by Kane County to hire a prominent criminal defense attorney to represent officials who uprooted road signs in a national monument was made behind closed doors, in apparent contravention of state law. The three members of the Kane County Commission approved an attorney-client agreement in October with criminal defense attorney Ron Yengich. But a review of county documents obtained through the state open records law shows the decision was not made during an open meeting. Utah's Open and Public Meetings Act prohibits elected bodies from approving contracts outside of public view, said Michael O'Brien, a media-law attorney for The Salt Lake Tribune.... Outdoor group to make pitch for protecting Utah's wilds Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) officials tried vigorously last year to convince state leaders that protecting wilderness for recreationists was important to Utah's family-oriented philosophy as well as its tax base. The OIA will present consumer-research data to support its position at Friday's opening breakfast session of the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show. Running through Monday, the show is expected to attract 14,000 retailers and manufacturers of recreational gear. "Our goal is to educate the American public about the physical and emotional benefits of outdoor recreation and to remind policy-makers of their responsibility to protect and increase public lands," said OIA marketing director Dana Donley of the most extensive research ever conducted on the outdoor consumer. Utah policy-makers, in particular, are targets of the educational campaign.... 'Gun rackers' oppose energy bill Move over, soccer moms. A new political constituency of swing voters has landed on the national political radar, hoping to get the attention of a Republican administration they say is in danger of losing their loyalty. Call them the gun rack pack. A handful of outdoor enthusiasts descended on the National Press Club on Wednesday to decry the threat accelerated gas and oil development on public lands poses to the hunting and fishing culture of the rural West. In the sea of dark suits that is Beltway couture, the seven Westerners stood apart in their Roper boots, Wrangler jeans, quilted down vests, dark felt cowboy hats and Western shirts with a circular bulge of a can of smokeless tobacco in the chest pocket, secured with a pearlescent snap button. "It's time I stood up and was counted," said Wyoming outfitter Courtney Skinner of Pinedale, whose family runs one of the largest elk hunting guide businesses in Wyoming. "We have to protect the things that keep our heritage going."....Editorial: Federal land sale money Nevada's governor and both its U.S. senators oppose a Bush administration proposal to divert money from Southern Nevada federal land sales into the government's wild horse and burro program. A spokeswoman for Sen. Harry Reid points out this would mean shifting funds from "one of the most successfully managed federal government programs" into "one of the most poorly managed and ineffective programs." That's true. More important, however, is the point correctly made by Sen. John Ensign, that although a $2.3 million diversion would be "a small amount of money, we're afraid of the precedent this sets." Indeed. Once one set of federal bureaucrats are allowed to tap into the BLM land sale proceeds (which have already generated a hefty $700 million) the funds will unquestionably become an attractive target for other bureaucratic raiders.... Oil-Dri lawsuit back in court Washoe County officials violated federal law when they denied a special-use permit for a company that wanted to operate a clay mine and cat litter plant in Hungry Valley, a lawyer argued Wednesday. Oil-Dri Corp. should be awarded damages for the county commissioners’ blanket rejection of the project planned for federal and private land, lawyer Stephen Mollath told Washoe District Judge James W. Hardesty. “The county just made a colossal mistake,” Mollath said. “They listened to all the public clamor out there. That’s the problem they created for themselves.” But Roger Flynn, a lawyer for the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony that opposed the project, told the judge the commission’s 2002 rejection of the permit was legal because officials believed the project was detrimental to the health and safety of the community. “If the county’s actions are reasonably based on accepted environmental protections, they pass muster” under a U.S. Supreme Court decision that established federal law on such issues, he said. Nevada’s elected officials, including county commissioners, have a say about what happens on federal land if it impacts the region, he said.... Senator seeks review on lobbying The top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Ethics Committee has requested a formal review of lobbying practices in the chamber to determine whether tighter restrictions are needed. Reid has repeatedly sponsored legislation and taken other action to help real estate developers, mining companies and other large economic interests in Nevada. At the same time, three of his four sons, as well as his son-in-law were paid as lobbyists, lawyers or consultants by those interest groups.... Panel of Experts Finds That Anti-Pollution Laws Are Outdated espite three decades of progress, existing air-quality laws are inadequate to prevent pollution from threatening the environment and human health, the nation's top scientific advisory group concluded yesterday. The panel, the National Research Council of the National Academies, said it was particularly concerned about ozone, an ingredient of smog that has proved difficult to curtail, and fine soot, which has been shown to be especially harmful. State and local authorities in many polluted regions are increasingly finding that even if they control local emissions, they can end up violating federal standards because of additional pollution drifting from sources outside their jurisdiction. And even though individual smokestacks and tailpipes are generally getting cleaner as a result of clean-air laws, their numbers are growing rapidly because of economic and population growth.... New World Wildlife Fund Report Finds Wildlife and Humans at Risk from Commonly Used Chemicals Seals, whales, falcons, and polar bears are among a range of wildlife at risk from chemicals used in common consumer products, according to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) analysis of recent scientific evidence on contamination of wildlife and people. "Products we use every day contain chemicals that can have serious wildlife and human health effects," said Clifton Curtis, director of WWF's Global Toxics Program. "Mounting scientific research is documenting the extent of our exposure to these chemicals." The WWF report "Causes for Concern: Chemicals and Wildlife," highlights perfluorinated compounds, phthalates, phenolic compounds and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) as the most prominent new toxic hazards. Perfluorinated compounds are used in the production of textiles, food packaging and non-stick coatings such as Teflon, while phthalates can be found in plastics (including PVC), phenolic compounds in food cans, plastic bottles and computer shells, and BFRs in furniture and TVs. While contamination of animals and humans by harmful chemicals such as DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) has been widely documented, the dangers of many chemicals still on the market -- and recently studied -- are increasingly clear....Click here to see or download the report.... Environmentalists seeking specific rules for farms Federal regulators gave tentative approval Wednesday to a new cleanup plan for dust, soot and other small particles in the San Joaquin Valley's air. But an environmental law group quickly threatened to sue -- again -- if the approval is made final. An EarthJustice representative said her group is not convinced of that. "If they finalize it, definitely we will be in court again," said Anne Harper, one of the group's lawyers. She said the plan is flawed for not specifying what control measures farmers will be required to adopt to reduce dust generated by their plowing and other field operations.... Mesa Water Launches Website Mesa Water has launched an official website ( ) containing detailed information about its ability to supply groundwater from the Ogallala Aquifer in the northeast Texas Panhandle to the Dallas-Fort Worth or San Antonio regions. "We've reached the stage where people are coming to us on a regular basis with requests for information," said Boone Pickens, president of Mesa Water. "Since our formation four-and-a-half years ago, we've come a long, long way. We have everything required to get a project underway to supply 150,000 acre-feet of water per year to any municipality in the State of Texas, except a buyer. "It can be done at or below the cost of other options in the state regional water plans, and we can be up and running within five years of signing a contract. No other project I'm aware of can match that capability," he added. The website provides Mesa Water history and discusses present and future use of the Ogallala Aquifer and its hydrology. It also includes an illustrated description of possible modes of groundwater transportation to major Texas metropolitan centers, including routes for a high-pressure pipeline and use of the bed and banks of the Brazos River through agreements with the Brazos River Authority....Landowners consider registry for hunters If Elm Springs rancher Pat Trask has his way, hunters who oppose the interests of farmers and ranchers could end up blacklisted from much of the state's private hunting ground. Trask, who organized a meeting in Rapid City on Thursday night to promote landowner rights, wants to create a registry of outdoor organizations — and possibly even individual members — considered to be adversaries of landowners. The Landowners' Association, a dormant farm-ranch group that Trask is working to revive, would compile the registry, make it available to farmers and ranchers and possibly publish it in newspapers, Trask said.... USDA seeks $33M for cattle ID plan President Bush will ask Congress for $60 million to fund a national cattle identification system and other mad cow-related programs in his new budget proposal, the U.S. agriculture secretary said Thursday. The 2005 fiscal year appropriation request will be $47 million more than the current year, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's convention here. More than half the money, $33 million, would be directed toward developing a national identification system for the nation's 96 million cattle - a program Democrats on Capitol Hill were pushing for faster action on this week.... Adventure reads from the West Let me introduce you to the books of C. J. Box, a relatively new author who writes a good adventure story with the kind of crimes and solutions unique to our part of the world. We're talking about good, bad and sometimes suddenly dead woodsmen, ranchers, outfitters and guides, vicious poachers, dishonest developers (Are there any other kind? At least, in popular fiction?), endangered animal species, eco-terrorists and their equally radical adversaries, political hacks and half-wits in charge of government agencies, radical cults of squatters and survivalists - all stuff that obviously is imaginary, but that we Westerners know all too well exist out here in real life. Box has written three books in the series so far: "Open Season," "Savage Run" and "Winter Kill." That is the chronological sequence, and it makes sense to read them in that order for character development and the logic of Joe's family life.... Acupuncture brings relief on rodeo trail The 38-year-old cowboy, who won the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association title in bull riding last year, credits the ancient art of acupuncture with helping him shake nagging injuries and topple the world's toughest bucking bulls. West and Joe Beaver, a 38-year-old roper who has battled leg and back injuries in recent years, each employ a Tulsa, Okla., acupuncture specialist. Bucking Tradition But some remember. How could they forget? "It's safe to say," Hunt declared, "I been on more bulls backwards in a rockin' chair than anyone else in the world." He would climb into the chair again, too, he said -- if the money were right. From age 19 until he turned 53, old enough to know better, Hunt took his turn on bucking bulls while seated in a rocker, or lawn chair, facing the huge animal's tail....Emu rounded up near Whitewright The lariat end of a cowboy's rope in Texas isn't always beef. It could be bird. At least, that's what happened Thursday afternoon in Whitewright. Eric Prindle got a call from a friend who said an emu was out on State Highway 11. He asked Prindle to go down and throw a rope on the big bird to get her out of the road before something tragic happened. Prindle previously worked near Dallas catching emus. He said he's learned quite a lot about the birds, and one thing to know is to "be careful of their feet.".... Youngsters get a taste of cowboy culture The Cowboy Poetry Gathering isn't always about adults sharing ideas and techniques, it's also about sharing traditions and horse cultures with a younger generation. About 150 rural and home-schooled children experienced several aspects of the Gathering Wednesday in the Elko Junior High Auxiliary building....

USDA says high court to get beef checkoff appeal

The Bush administration will petition the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that a government-run beef marketing program is unconstitutional, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said on Thursday.

"The solicitor general has authorized a petition asking the Supreme Court to review and decide this case," Veneman said during remarks at a National Cattlemen's Beef Association annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona.

A U.S. appeals court has ruled that the $80 million beef "checkoff" program violated farmers' First Amendment rights and should be terminated. But the court allowed the program, which funds advertising campaigns and other marketing tactics, to continue pending any further appeal.

Veneman said the Justice Department would file its petition to the Supreme Court by Feb. 13.

The program requires a contribution from U.S. farmers and ranchers of $1.00 for each head of cattle sold. Government checkoff programs, which have become a popular marketing tool for several agricultural commodities, have been challenged by small farmers who complain it is an unfair tax that favors large corporate producers.

The cornerstone of the beef checkoff program is an advertising campaign touting "Beef, It's What's For Dinner."


Bush asks Congress for $760 million for 'healthy forests' The Bush administration is asking Congress for $760 million next year to remove more small trees and brush from national forests as part of a plan officials say would reduce the risk of wildfires. The amount is at least $80 million more than current spending and would allow forest managers to treat up to 4 million acres at risk of fire - an increase of about 300,000 acres over current efforts. The acreage is quadruple the amount treated in 2000, when a record 8 million acres of forest land burned. The proposal, announced Wednesday, would fully fund a law passed by Congress last fall. Most of the thinning projects - which include prescribed burns and removal of underbrush that serves as fuel for wildfires - would be focused on areas near homes and communities.... Conservative sportsmen turn against Bush But a powerful rumble of discontent is growing from what seems, at first glance, an unlikely source. Just weeks before the exemption was declared, Dale Bosworth, chief of the Forest Service, received a petition from the Northern Sportsmen Network of Juneau, Alaska. It was signed by 470 gun clubs from across the USA, 40 of them based in President Bush's home state of Texas. In places, their letter sounds like classic ''greenie'' rhetoric, calling the Tongass ''an unparalleled part of the American landscape,'' the management of which should ''err on the side of caution.'' The message, which failed to sway the Forest Service, is clear and to the point: ''We urge the Department (of Agriculture) to leave the Tongass protections intact.'' But while their agenda is similar to traditional environmentalist groups' agendas, their focus is quite different. The drive's organizer, Greg Petrich, explains, ''This isn't about the trees. What gets these clubs' attention is that the best hunting and fishing in America is threatened on land that belongs to them.''.... Montana Voters Favor Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Recovery A majority of Montana voters favor increased production of oil and natural gas in the Rocky Mountains, according to a December poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. The poll results may suggest a growing consensus among Western voters that energy production is not necessarily at odds with environmental concerns. “Montanans appear to recognize that higher incomes are key to preserving the willingness and ability to pay for higher environmental quality,” commented Richard Stroup, a senior associate of PERC, the Property and Environment Research Center in Bozeman, Montana. “In addition,” he noted, “many pollution control devices require the use of additional energy, so keeping energy prices reasonable will help keep the cost of pollution control down. To keep prices down, you must produce more energy.” “Ironically,” commented PERC’s Stroup, “the increase in demand has been due in part to pressure from environmental groups. They want to reduce carbon dioxide, and natural gas produces less carbon dioxide per unit of energy production than do coal and oil.”.... Rule may ban off-trail ATV riding Officials are proposing to end off-road and off-trail travel for ATVs, motorcycles and four-wheel-drives on 524,000 acres of land in the Boise National Forest in an effort to stop new “user-created” trails from being formed. The proposed rule addresses one of the four threats to national forests — unmanaged outdoor recreation — outlined recently by Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth. Unofficial trail systems created by off-road vehicles in national forests have caused damage, especially to sensitive areas like wetlands, meadows and riparian areas. ATVs also spread noxious weeds when seeds get stuck to their tires. Most ATV riders wouldn´t be affected by the proposed rule because they are “very trail oriented,” said Mountain Home District Ranger Larry Tripp. “I would attribute 90 percent of this issue to occurrences during big game seasons,” he said.... Environmentalists Launch Battle for Orcas Puget Sound killer whales are among the most studied and protected animals in the world. Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (search), the whales living in the Pacific Northwest inland sea can't be killed, fed or even viewed within 100 yards. But environmentalists want more, recently suing the federal government to get the whales listed under the Endangered Species Act (search) — which would allow them to file lawsuits against anyone who might impact the orcas' habitat.... National Wilderness Institute: Proposed EPA Rule Would Make Pesticide Reviews More Consistent, Help Endangered Species The National Wilderness Institute today announced support for a proposed federal rule that would make pesticide reviews more consistent, help endangered species and clear the court system of unnecessary lawsuits. The federal government is proposing to allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve pesticides without requiring duplication of scientific reviews by consulting with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. This is good news for endangered species because it removes bureaucratic red tape that holds up approval of newer, better and safer pesticides. "Few people realize that habitat destruction is the No. 1 cause of species being listed on the endangered list," said Jim Streeter, the policy director at the National Wilderness Institute, an organization dedicated to using science to guide the wise management of natural resources. "Pesticides help farmers grow more food and fiber on less land, freeing up millions of acres for other uses such as wildlife habitat.".... Column, Wild About Roads: Michael Leavitt and Gale Norton Try to End Wilderness as We Know It Wilderness is not just the stuff of scenery-slick calendars or articles in outdoor adventure magazines like Outside and Men's Journal. Wilderness and roadless landscapes are the source of 80% of our nation's freshwater, our lifeblood. They are also storehouses of precious biodiversity, key to the viability and integrity of whole ecosystems. They provide critical habitat for endangered species and are the last places where we can experience the disappearing landscape that shaped our national character. And yes, they can provide spiritual solace. Unfortunately, the Bush administration dealt the system of federally protected wilderness a crippling blow in a pair of out-of-court settlements with Utah Governor Michael Leavitt, now head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The deals brokered between Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Leavitt while he was still governor were a one-two punch delivered to conservationists in a dark alley behind a federal courthouse.... Bush Declines to Issue Wetlands Regulations Responding to pressure from environmental activists and many congressional Democrats, President George W. Bush instructed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers not to issue new regulations interpreting the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2001 Clean Water Act decision in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (commonly referred to as SWANCC). The Clean Water Act applies to navigable interstate waterways. The federal government has in the past loosely interpreted the definition of navigable interstate waterways to include most any location subject to periodic standing water. However, the SWANCC decision held that “navigable waters” subject to the Clean Water Act do not include isolated ponds and mudflats unconnected to navigable waterways except by their potential use by migratory birds. While the decision itself was limited in scope, the Supreme Court hinted in the decision it might nullify other isolated wetlands from Clean Water Act protection if their connection to navigable interstate waters was similarly tenuous.... Parasite Infects Yukon River King Salmon A parasite that is infecting Yukon River king salmon is on the increase, leaving the fish virtually inedible with a fruity odor and ruined meat. The illness, caused by a common microorganism that targets ocean fish, was detected in about 35 percent of king salmon sampled in 2002 and 2003, said Richard Kocan, a fish pathologist overseeing a study for the federal Office of Subsistence Management. He said that's a significant increase over the number of infected fish found in 1999, 2000 and 2001.... Bison on the move: Annual migration to park borders taking shape Bison have begun moving out of Yellowstone National Park and hazing efforts have started on both the north and west sides of the park. The Montana Department of Livestock, assisted by several other agencies, hazed 18 bison Wednesday from the Madison River area back inside the park, DOL spokeswoman Karen Cooper said. "That's the first activity of any size for this season," she said, adding there were "no problems and no arrests.".... Bush reputation on environment mixed To environmentalists, George W. Bush is the archenemy. After three years in office, the president has few saving graces, as far as environmentalists are concerned. He seems bent, they say, on rolling back the nation's most important environmental rules, reversing years of progress against dirty air and water. But legions of others in business, government and everyday life say Bush deserves an "A." He has brought common sense back into environmental decision-making, and the nation's economy is better for it, they say. "The president's approach to environmental progress is predicated on the notion that economic growth is the solution, not the problem," says James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.... Mountain Lions: Tracking and Being Tracked Still, since 1890, there have been only six fatal attacks by mountain lions in California, including the most recent, out of a total of 18 in the United States and Canada. Paul Beier, professor and director of the Beier Lab of Conservation Biology and Wildlife Ecology at Northern Arizona University, has studied mountain lions for more than twenty years. He said, “To put it in perspective, more than 20 Americans are killed every year in dog attacks.”.... Top US Park Service Official Resigns over Wilderness Act Charging that the National Park Service has "accomplished relatively little in implementing either the letter or the spirit of the Wilderness Act," one of its top officials responsible for wilderness policy has resigned, according to a letter released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Enacted forty years ago this upcoming September 3, the Wilderness Act is one of the nation's premier environmental laws. As a result of the act, the National Park Service (NPS) administers some 44 million acres of wilderness spread across some 45 parks, the largest wilderness inventory on the planet. Jim Walters, a 37-year employee, retired as Wilderness program coordinator for the eight state Intermountain Region, with a stinging letter to NPS Director Fran Mainella. Even though designated and potential wilderness represent more than four-fifths (86%) of national park lands, NPS today — with Walters' departure — has only one full-time wilderness manager.... Hunters, anglers protest energy plan in Washington, D.C. “Look,” he said, “I voted for President Bush and Mr. Burns. I’m a lifelong Republican. I’m on the team. But our quarterback’s heading us the wrong way down the field. At some point, we have to change the play calling, or we have to change the quarterback.” Busse is vice president for sales at Kimber Manufacturing Inc., one of the nations leading gun manufacturers. He’s also a member of the National Rifle Association, and a lifelong card-carrying member of the GOP.... Fight looms on using land sale money for horse program in Nevada Four of Nevada's federal lawmakers said they oppose a federal plan to funnel $2.3 million from southern Nevada land sales into a financially struggling program to reduce wild horse and burro herds in Nevada and the West. But Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., the vice chairman of the House Resources Committee, said he would study the Bush administration proposal with an open mind. President Bush is set to propose in his budget next week that some profits from Bureau of Land Management land sales around Las Vegas be used to pay for rounding up and caring for some of about 38,000 free-roaming wild horses, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., and an Interior Department official said Tuesday.... Duo call for study of water issues After a failed attempt to study water funding issues last year, lawmakers want to dive back in and study everything else about it. Reps. David Ure, R-Kamas, and Jim Gowans, D-Tooele, have filed HB247, a bill that would create a two-year task force to study the sticky issues of water rights and groundwater management. Rep. Mike Styler, R-Delta, has filed identical legislation under HB243. The legislation, which Ure expects to be debated before a House committee next week, seeks a $197,000 General Fund appropriation to pay for studies that would ultimately lead to a final report by 2005. Utah is facing a surfeit of water woes, explained Ure.... Study: Huge water needs loom for state by 2030 Administrators of a state-funded study said Wednesday that Colorado will need enough additional water to supply the equivalent of a new city with roughly the current population of metro Denver by 2030. The study predicted the South Platte River basin, which supplies Denver and much of northeast Colorado, will need 60 percent more water in 26 years than it has today, if growth trends hold. Residents and water experts in each of Colorado's eight river basins say coping with the shortfall could require more conservation, cooperative efforts between water interests, reuse of existing water, transferring water rights, improving or enlarging existing dams, pipelines and reservoirs, or building new ones.... Fees for water rights Colorado will soon begin collecting a new fee from farmers, utilities, cities and others with water rights to help cover operating costs for the state Division of Water Resources. Bills will be mailed out next week for the fees, which are expected to raise $1.8 million a year for the state. Agricultural water rights holders will pay $10 to $25 per right, while cities and others will pay $100 to $250.... DNA Evidence Helps Solve Cattle Rustling Cattle rustling has been around ever since there have been cows and unscrupulous cowboys, but cutting-edge DNA technology promises to change some of the old patterns. DNA testing helped convict John Baker, a Tulare County rancher accused of altering brands and documents to keep cows that he claimed had wandered into his property from neighbors' lots. "Having DNA evidence was conclusive," said William Yoshimoto, an attorney with the Tulare County District Attorney's Office and project director for the Agricultural Crime Technology Information and Operations Network. "We could try to show how the brands had been altered, but you really can't alter a cow's DNA." Baker's crime was old-fashioned, but what investigators did to prove it was unprecedented in California.... Column: COOL needs to remain a hot topic "Where's the beef" was one of the most clever TV advertising campaign lines of the past quarter-century. Today American consumers are asking, "Where's the beef from?" You could ask Congress. Unfortunately, some members are too busy producing congressional pork.... Total US cattle numbers seen at eight-year low A government report due on Friday should show the U.S. cattle herd in 2003 was the smallest in eight years and the calf crop was the smallest in 50 years as drought and prices too high to pass discouraged producers from expanding herds, livestock analysts said. "The report is expected to show that the U.S. cattle herd continued to shrink for the eighth straight year," said Bob Price, president of North America Risk Management Services. The U.S. Agriculture Department will release its semiannual cattle inventory report at 2 p.m. CST (1800 GMT) Friday. A Reuters survey of analysts produced an average estimate for U.S. cattle and calves on Jan. 1 of 95.25 million head, 99.1 percent of last year's 96.1 million head. Estimates ranged from 94.7 million to 95.8 million head, 98.5 to 99.7 percent of last year, possibly the lowest in eight years.... I've been ready for 'Dress Western Fridays' for decades -- you? Boot up. The next two Fridays are officially "Dress Western Fridays" in Fort Worth. And I have a question. When did folks in this part of Texas ever need a reminder to wear a cowboy hat? Under power of law -- or at least mayoral proclamation -- Fort Worth has been ordered to turn casual Fridays into cow-sual Fridays, turning the Stock Show into a citywide celebration for the first time, oh, probably since I posed for that photo.... Book Review: On cowboys and poetry Did you ever wonder where country music songs came from? Somebody had to write them. Somebody - maybe the writer - had to put them to music. There's plenty of poetry in a song, and chances are that a cowboy poet had a hand in your favorite country tunes. This week is the 20th anniversary of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, and to celebrate, you can read "Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion", edited and with an introduction written by Virginia Bennett (c. 2004, Gibbs Smith). Back in 1985, a group of western folklorists gathered together to share their poetry. Even the time of year was significant: the last week of January was chosen because there was a lull in ranching work. Since then, lasting friendships have been made and countless words have been shaped into poems from the heart. Author and editor Virginia Bennett writes about how the poets sent their works to her for this book. Some poems came in the mail, with hopes of the end to a draught. Others came with news of friends. Some arrived on lined notebook paper, this one with shaky handwriting, that one safety-pinned together, each poem, a piece of the person who wrote it....

Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Mad Cow Disease Raises Safety Issues Beyond the Kitchen Cows are everywhere, and they are not just for dinner anymore. Their carcasses provide the glues that hold the human universe together, like the gelatin in Gummy Bears, the lipids in lipsticks, the foam in fire extinguishers and the rubber in tires. With a few exceptions, public health experts say, there is little chance that these products will cause harm as a result of mad cow disease. Nonetheless, the rare exceptions are startling, like diet supplements containing raw cow brain. Calculating the risk in rendered products is far more complicated than assessing it in meat. A steak is simply grilled and eaten, while animal gelatin (it can be made from vegetables, too) involves treating bones, hides and hooves with acid, lime and heat, after which it may be dried, powdered, then become part of things like Jell-o shots and ibuprofen capsules. Cosmetics and shampoos can contain fatty oils or rendered placentas. Collagens are injected to fill wrinkles. Prions can theoretically survive all processing steps, experts say, just as they can survive boiling, radiation or the high-pressure steam used on surgical instruments....Bison burgers attracting fans A bison mini-boom is under way as Americans look for an Atkins diet-friendly and mad cow-proof alternative to beef. Although the bison industry is just a baby when it comes to U.S. meat production, there are signs of heightened interest as producers recover from a mid-1990s slump brought on by overproduction....Column: A Friendly Stab in the Back (Germany) In order to make sure that he is re-elected, Bush has engaged in a policy of economic terrorism against his friends and allies. The mindset of the Bush administration is quite clear: it's America first, even if this means tearing up old agreements, riding roughshod over international law, and even the occasional friendly stab in the back. All this has been quite apparent on the political stage. But in order to cover the weakness of his economic policy, it has also been put into force on the business stage as well. The latest moves in this economic "first strike" policy has been in the meat industry. After suffering its first case of mad cow disease late last year, many countries had closed their borders to American beef, much in the same way that had been done against both Canada and the EU previously. Yet through tough diplomatic talk, not as many countries banned American beef as in other cases of BSE. This was mostly due to the strong-arm diplomacy attacks of the Bush administration....Oddly, Japan keeps tariffs intact as it gropes for beef Japan's suspension of U.S. beef imports has created a strange contradiction: As the government searches for alternate sources of beef, it imposes tariffs that help keep overseas beef out. The government sent two agriculture officials to Australia and New Zealand this month to see if the countries could cover a gap in beef supply and keep prices down. Officials meanwhile said emergency tariffs, which raise the price of beef 5 percent to 8 percent, would remain in place at least until the end of March....Mad cow threatens baby reindeer Canadian zoos may have to curb breeding programs for some rare animals, because a U.S. ban on imports of giraffe, deer and other ruminants means there is no market south of the border for the babies. The ban on imports of ruminants -- animals with hooves and multiple stomachs -- was imposed last May after a single case of mad cow disease was found on a Canadian farm. Canada responded with similar curbs after a case of the brain-wasting disease showed up on a farm in Washington state in December. But while Canada allows exceptions to its import ban for rare animals, the United States is keeping its border closed....Japan Looks To Australia To Boost Beef Supply Australia is trying to fill the void left by a Japanese ban on U.S. beef imports amid fears of mad cow disease. Australia courted Japanese meat-eaters at a beef-tasting party in Tokyo Wednesday and offered to hike exports to Japan by 80 percent to replace the American supply. Australia's ambassador told assembled television cameras that Australian beef is suited to Japanese palates, displaying a long table lined with sukiyaki, beef stew, and lightly grilled meat with citrus and soy-based dipping sauce.... Transfusion case led to ban on blood feed A Food and Drug Administration policy banning the feeding of cattle blood to calves was based partly on a new human case of mad cow disease in which a British resident may have been infected through a blood transfusion, an agency official has said. At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, asked why the Food and Drug Administration had instituted the ban when, he said, scientific evidence indicated that the infectious particles that are believed to cause mad cow disease, misfolded proteins called prions, had never been found in blood. The agency official, Lester Crawford, told the committee that a new case of the human form of the disease, called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, came to light in late December in Britain. The ill person had received a blood transfusion from an infected donor, prompting concern among the authorities who were trying to determine whether the disease had been transmitted through the blood, said Crawford, a deputy commissioner with the agency....USDA narrows focus of BSE investigation to 25 cattle USDA is turning the focus of its inquiry to 25 cattle, out of 81 initially being tracked, in the ongoing investigation of a single case of mad cow disease found in Washington state just over one month ago. After examining USDA's investigation of the case, an international review team said enough resources have been expended on tracking the cattle in question and the current effort should move toward precautions to protect the public health, according to Ron DeHaven, Chief Veterinary Officer with USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). DeHaven says he hopes the team will present USDA with a report of its findings within the next two weeks....Democrats Seeks Animal ID Plan For Mad Cow Democrats unhappy with the time it took to trace America's one known case of mad cow disease are pressing Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to hurry and produce a plan to identify individually each of America's 96 million cattle. "After five weeks of intensive investigation, we have located only 28 of the 81 cows that entered the United States from Canada with the infected cow," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "If we had an animal ID system, USDA could have located those cattle in a matter of hours, or, at the longest, days." Veneman said the Agriculture Department is trying to develop "a verifiable system of national animal identification." An international committee of experts reviewing the government's handling of the case is looking at animal identification among other issues and is to start preparing a report in a couple of weeks, she said....Cattle auction resurrected as mad-cow scare fades "Let’s sell some (cattle). This is going to be fun," said Jim Warren just before tuning his voice to the fast trill that is the familiar call of the auctioneer. After a six-week hiatus, the 101 Livestock Market off Highway 101 near Aromas was up and running again Tuesday. And neither ranchers nor buyers shied away from the sales barn as prices for most cattle rallied to near where they had been before the mad-cow scare.... Mexico exports beef to South Korea Mexico has exported its first shipment of beef to South Korea, following the Asian country’s ban on imports of US beef. Mexico’s export bank said a firm in south-eastern Mexico exported a shipment of beef to South Korea in what it hoped would be the start of a long-term business deal, reported Agence France Presse....Mad cow, some diet aids linked When congressmen were wondering what windows and doors to close to keep mad cow disease out of the country three years ago, Peter Lurie of Public Citizen had a warning for them: Crack down on dietary supplements. "There's just no regulation," Lurie, deputy director for health research for the government-watchdog group, said yesterday. "It really is the Wild West out there." Several supplements contain bovine products that could pass along the disease - Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - from an infected cow, and no one was screening them. If people who are worried about mad cow think it's enough to order chicken instead of steak, they need to think again. Professional athletes and weekend warriors who use certain supplements might not know it, but they've been swallowing beef brains, pituitary glands and testes for years as they try to get an edge.... U.S. working to keep beef imports flowing The United States is working with other countries to avoid shutting down trade when a single cow is found with mad cow disease, Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said Tuesday. Veneman testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee. ''Trade regulations, actions one country would take against another in the event of a single find, should be relooked at,'' Veneman said. ''We are working with a number of other countries through the international organizations . . . to make sure this doesn't become a major trade problem'' when only one cow is diagnosed with the disease, she said....

Lawsuit: More heli-skiing, snowmobiles will scare Methow critters The U.S. Forest Service failed to take increasing winter recreation impacts into account when it approved expanded backcountry snowmobiling and helicopter skiing in the Methow Valley, conservation groups alleged Tuesday. Five groups sued the agency in U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., on Friday, taking the Forest Service to task for approving special use permits in July 2002 that expanded areas where heli-skiing and snowmobiles are allowed in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests. The permits nearly double the number of helicopter trips allowed, and nearly triple the number of clients snowmobilers can take into the backcountry....Recovery Plan Out for Rarest U.S. Trout The government is proposing a recovery plan for ``the rarest trout in America'' that might include poisoning a stretch of Sierra Nevada creek in an attempt to rid the threatened fish of nonnative competitors. The Paiute cutthroat trout is native only to part of upper Silver King Creek, which flows into the Carson River south of Lake Tahoe in California's remote Alpine County. In cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Game, the federal service wants to rid an 11-mile lower section of the creek of other fish so the Paiute cutthroat can return there as well. That would help not only the native trout, but the rare mountain yellow-legged frog, which can be wiped out by nonnative fish, the service said in the half-million dollar recovery plan released Monday. It said habitat improvements also would benefit the rare Yosemite toad.... Feds to Impound Cattle on Federal Land The U.S. government says it will remove a herd of up to 450 cattle illegally grazing on federal land, setting up a showdown with the ranching couple who own the livestock. In December, Diamond Bar Ranch owners Kit and Sherry Laney were found in contempt for grazing cattle in the Gila National Forest in violation of earlier court orders. Most of the 146,000-acre ranch, which dates to 1883, is on the Gila land. The Laneys argued that they had grazing rights based on historical use of the land predating the forest's creation in 1964. But a federal appeals court rejected that argument in 1999. In a public notice in the Silver City Daily Press last week, Laney asserted: ``Anyone who moves, drives or in any other way takes any of the livestock ranging on the Diamond Bar ... will be guilty of stealing ... and will be subject to arrest and prosecution by the county sheriff and-or brand inspector.''.... APS says it will cost $34 million to cut trees along its lines in Arizona Arizona Public Service Co. estimates it will cost nearly $34 million to cut down all the dead pine trees along its electrical lines in Arizona. APS has 2,100 miles of power lines running through ponderosa pine forests in Arizona. Experts hired by APS estimated that 748,586 dead trees will be within 150 feet of APS power corridors by 2006, and it will cost an average $45 per tree to remove them.... Old growth forest expert questions Biscuit fire salvage logging U.S. Forest Service plans to aggressively harvest trees burned in the 2002 Biscuit fire would harm old growth forest reserves for the next century and are not needed to reduce fire danger, says Jerry Franklin, a leading expert on old growth forest ecology. The only thing worse for the spotted owl habitat burned in the fire than removing large dead trees would be logging large green trees, Franklin wrote in formal comments on the draft environmental impact statement on the Biscuit Fire Recovery Project. "The consensus in the ecological community at this point is salvage logging rarely contributes anything positive to the recovery processes," Franklin said Monday from his office in Seattle.... Smokey Bear Statue Stolen During Wildfires A Smokey Bear statue was stolen from a federal fire station just outside Jamul as firefighters battled the wildfires in October. The statue was in front of the fire station housed at the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex and was discovered missing on Nov. 3, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released information about the theft Monday....Ghost roads haunt owners of private land Fighting broke out shortly after A.J. Chamberlin moved onto her 28 acres in the mountains west of Boulder two years ago. Her neighbor, Walter Plywaski, believed he had a right to walk across the Chamberlin property to access federal land on the other side. His claim was based on old roads laid down years ago, maybe as long ago as gold rush days. "People were insulted; people were chased," Plywaski said of an incident in which his daughter was driven from the Chamberlin land. "Is this the way to be neighbors?" "I told her to get off my property," Chamberlin said. "We believe it's our property. They believe it's public land." Their comments came during and immediately after a recent meeting where U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., explained his proposal to resolve hundreds of similar disputes raging throughout the West - everywhere ancient roadways cross privately held land.... Claws of life Before Eugene Kumm vanished Jan. 18 on Mt. San Gorgonio, a forest official warned him about the treacherous ice on rugged Vivian Creek Trail and the need to carry a crucial piece of gear: crampons, metal spikes that hikers attach to their boots to provide traction in perilous winter conditions. The 25-year-old Seal Beach man assured the official that he had crampons in his backpack along with a sleeping bag, tent and heavy clothes for an overnight stay along the trail about a thousand feet below the 11,502-foot summit.... Bush's 2005 budget includes $105 million for Klamath water The president's budget for 2005 includes $105 million for balancing fish against farms in the Klamath Basin, an increase of 21 percent, the Bush administration announced Tuesday. Interior Secretary Gale Norton, speaking from Washington, said the Klamath Basin was serving as a model colaboratively to meet the needs of agriculture, Indian tribes, the Endangered Species Act and others. Projects include $4.6 million toward buying the Barnes Ranch to increase water storage and restore wetlands on Upper Klamath Lake, which doubles as the primary irrigation storage reservoir in the basin and the main habitat for endangered suckers. Rich MacIntyre of American Lands Conservancy, which is brokering the deal, said talks continue on a final price. There is also $2.1 million to complete removal of the Chiloquin irrigation dam on the Sprague River to restore 70 miles of sucker spawning habitat, $12 million for helping farmers use less irrigation water and protect fish and wildlife habitat, $5.9 million to develop partnerships for restoring fish habitat, and $2.5 million for new studies on restoring populations of endangered suckers.... White House seeks to ease pesticide reviews Officials admit they pretty much ignore an Endangered Species Act requirement that they consult with one another before licensing new pesticides. Now they want regulations to say they don't always have to do what they're already not doing. The Bush administration proposes allowing the Environmental Protection Agency to approve new pesticides without a formal sign-off in every case from the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. "There haven't been any effective consultations in the last decade, and few before that," said Clint Riley, special assistant to the Fish and Wildlife Service director. "This has been sitting around under the cover for a lot of years.".... Counties get wolf predator request Commissioners Tuesday morning briefly discussed an e-mail sent by the Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd, Inc.'s chairman Robert T. Fanning Jr. to Montana counties, in anticipation of a Feb. 20 meeting of county commissioners in Helena. In the letter, Fanning called on officials to adopt resolutions under the Endangered Species Act that, among other things, would ask the "Secretary of Agriculture for immediate and meaningful predator control." He also cited a recent resolution adopted by Carbon County commissioners, declaring wolves under federal management as "problem predators" to establish controls to protect livestock there. Fanning asked that Montana counties adopt resolutions in anticipation of protracted legal battles over removing wolves from the federal Endangered Species Act. He also wants them to intervene on behalf of the federal government in an environmental group's lawsuit, which Fanning contended is "blocking wolf delisting," and to have all Montana county commissions write to Gov. Martz asking her to request in writing to Interior Department Secretary Gale Norton that wolves be immediately taken off the endangered species list.... U.S. to Rule on Beluga Caviar HE federal Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to rule this week on whether to protect beluga sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act, a move that would ban sales of beluga caviar in the United States. The species has been threatened by a loss of habitat in the Caspian and Black Seas, overharvesting, pollution and illegal trade. A final ruling, drawn up by the service's Scientific Authority, is due by Saturday. Robert R. Gabel, the chief of that division, said he could not disclose the ruling. But Greg Jackson, a special agent in charge of the service's investigative branch, said he thought that the department would list the beluga as endangered.... Now all us poor ol' cowboys and cowgirls will go hungry. What will I do without my caviar!! Those damn Ruskies are still causin' problems. .... Smith seeks species act changes Sen. Gordon Smith has introduced legislation that would change the Endangered Species Act to require more scrutiny of science used in implementation of the law. Smith's bill, introduced on the day Congress convened last week, is nearly identical to a companion measure submitted to the House last April by fellow Republican Rep. Greg Walden. Both lawmakers say changes are necessary to bring fairness to the process of protecting endangered species. Smith's bill would require greater weight be given to field-tested and scientifically reviewed data when decisions are made under the ESA. "Decisions based on bad science can take a tremendous toll on people who make their living from the land," Smith said in a press release. "Just as importantly, the environment doesn't benefit from flawed policies.".... Groups want risks to Barton Springs assessed A lawsuit by Central Texas environmentalists and others seeks to force the federal government to determine whether six pesticides detected in a popular swimming hole are harming endangered salamanders. The Save Our Springs Alliance on Monday sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday in Washington, contending that it has repeatedly failed to consider the extent to which common pesticides may might be harming endangered species. The Center for Biological Diversity, a Tucson, Ariz.-based group, joined in the lawsuit. It urges a federal court to force the EPA to assess the risks and determine appropriate safeguards in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.... Column: The case of the endangered jumping mouse On December 18, 2003, Governor Freudenthal released information that Wyoming had paid $61,430 to fund the study and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife kicked in an additional $20,000 and according to DNA results, these mice were not in short supply but were actually abundant. "The DNA work shows that the mouse they called Preble’s is actually part of a healthy population of mice throughout the northern plains," said state Department of Agriculture John Etchepare. "Even better is that the habitat is in great shape from Montana to Colorado." The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the Endangered Species Act, refused to remove the mouse from the Endangered Species list in spite of the research Wyoming Governor Freudenthal released that would prove the mouse not to be endangered. "It is unfortunate that the mouse could be originally listed using such poor and unsubstantiated information," said Vern Stelter, a habitat protection biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. "The fact that this mouse was listed at all is a clear call for revised federal policy to ensure that endangered species actions are more supportable and science-based in the future.".... Bush officials laud salmon 'successes' on Northwest trip With salmon runs at their highest numbers in decades -- and a presidential campaign looming -- the Bush administration has begun calling attention to salmon recovery in the Northwest as a sign of its environmental stewardship. Monday at Bonneville Dam, senior administration officials announced a proposed $10 million increase for salmon habitat restoration and called the Northwest's endangered species efforts a model for the nation. The funding increase is relatively small in comparison with the $700 million spent annually on Columbia Basin salmon, and far less than Native American tribes and conservation groups say is necessary. But administration officials emphasize the stunning salmon returns -- a simple and direct measure of results.... 3 wolf packs frequent the Foothills Three packs of wolves are living within 30 miles of Boise so it´s no surprise to federal wolf managers that people are reporting the predators in the Boise Foothills. Officials are getting scattered reports of wolves above Lucky Peak and around the Foothills as deer and elk migrate from the mountains to the Boise area, said Carter Niemeyer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Idaho wolf recovery coordinator. There have not been complaints about the wolves and officials have not attempted to confirm their presence. “We couldn´t begin to have the man hours to follow up every report,” he said. Wolves have been seasonal visitors to the Foothills, following their prey to their winter range at least since 1999, federal officials believe. They have been confirmed south and west of the city for the last five years as the wolf population has rapidly grown since 1995.... Restoration project back on track With time-consuming and costly litigation out of the way, officials said Tuesday a planned $90 million restoration of San Dieguito Lagoon could begin in the summer of 2005. The restoration will create 115 acres of tidal basins on either side of Interstate 5 south of Via de la Valle, east of the Del Mar Fairgrounds in a low-lying area now closed to the sea most of the year. Altogether up to 500 acres of wetlands will be rejuvenated by the project, which Southern California Edison is financing to compensate for marine life killed by the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station's cooling system. The power plant's cooling system draws in millions of gallons of seawater hourly to help cool its reactors, killing small fish and other creatures.... Another Mexican gray wolf found dead near Beaverhead Another Mexican gray wolf has been found dead in the Gila National Forest. The body of a female from the Francisco Pack was discovered Thursday west of Beaverhead (east of Snow Lake), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported. Another wolf, an alpha female from the Bonito Creek Pack, was found dead Jan. 16 on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona. Officials are awaiting necropsy results to determine what killed the animals. The incidents bring to 13 the number of wolf deaths in southwest New Mexico and eastern Arizona since March.... To Reopen Monument, Cash Is Order of the Day The Statue of Liberty, a worldwide symbol of this nation's freedom, remains shuttered and closed to visitors more than two years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. National Park Service officials say they cannot afford the estimated $5 million needed to build emergency exits and reopen the statue. So although tourists can ride a ferry across the harbor to Liberty Island, they cannot walk into the bronze monument, which has yellow police tape stretched around its perimeter.... Grand Canyon bookstore reorders 300-plus copies of book Officials at the Grand Canyon National Park have ordered additional copies of "Grand Canyon: A Different View" -- a hardcover book of photos and essays advocating creation science and being sold in the park's bookstores. Elaine Sevy, a spokesperson with the National Park Service (NPS), confirmed additional copies have been ordered, indicating a quantity of perhaps hundreds before stating she did not know the precise number. However, the book's compiler -- Tom Vail of Phoenix -- told Baptist Press the park had ordered more than 300 additional copies.... Wild horses scheduled to be rounded up As many as 251 wild horses adjacent to the western edge of Lahontan Reservoir, nearly the entire herd in the area, are scheduled to be rounded up over the next week to help remove excess animals throughout the state. Bureau of Land Management officials said the roundup is set to begin around Thursday in the Lahontan Herd Management Area in Lyon County. The horses are about 45 miles east of Carson City. Based on range conditions and available forage in the herd area, BLM officials have set the appropriate management level at seven to 10 wild horses. Officials estimate there are approximately 261 wild horses in the herd area.... Feds roll out conflict fix Financial incentives and planning assistance are parts of the Bureau of Land Management's new policy and guidance rules aimed at avoiding and resolving conflicts in Wyoming that arise where coalbed methane gas production threatens to slow coal production in the Powder River Basin. BLM staff is ready to finalize the new rules and recently held an open house meeting to discuss the plan in Gillette. The federal agency is offering a 50 percent royalty rate reduction to entice coalbed methane developers to quickly harvest the gas before their operations interrupt coal production, according to BLM officials. Potential conflict areas have been mapped so both industries can coordinate plans, and the BLM will give priority to permitting coalbed methane gas wells in the identified conflict zones.... An exclusive showing of private Western art His private collection will be among those displayed at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg starting Feb. 7. What some call the West's most Western museum will present "Arizona Collects: Western Art From the State's Great Private Collections." More than 100 works will be on exhibit. The event showcases paintings, sculpture and drawings from the state's most important private collections. These works have never been seen in public before. Artwork from early pioneering artists, such as Frederic Remington and Charles Russell, will be a focal point. The artists of the famous Taos Society are featured, including Victor Higgins, who created the dramatic painting San Geronimo Day. Leading contemporary artists, including iconic Native American artists Allan Houser and Fritz Scholder, are also represented. Paintings by Cowboy Artist of America co-founder Joe Beeler and Bill Owen (who ranches in the Wickenburg area) are also showcased....