Saturday, February 28, 2004


Allotment to be closed before roundup, impoundment

Gila National Forest officials say they’re closing the Diamond Bar allotment to the public this weekend.

The closure will allow a contractor to prepare for a roundup and impoundment of all cattle on federal land used by the ranch.

A contractor who would round up more than 400 cattle from the Diamond Bar was found during the past week. The preparations will include bringing in equipment, corrals and other necessities.

The closure of the allotment includes shutting several roads and trails that lead in and out of the range lands.

Ranchers Kit and Sherry Laney have said they will not interfere with the contractors’ roundup, but they say they will monitor the event.

They contend the roundup is illegal because they own a vested fee interest in areas the federal government claims to control.


Contact: Paragon Foundation, Inc.

Press Release

For Immediate Release

The continuing conflict between ranchers Kit and Sherry Laney and the United States Forest Service (USFS) is taking on even broader implications. Already to some observers the Laney case overshadows a major constitutional showdown between state and federal government on jurisdictional issues as well as criminal liability.

The USFS has been attempting to remove the Laneys and their cattle from the Gila National Forest near Silver City, New Mexico for over ten years. The USFS cites federal regulatory authority over the national forest as the basis of their removal demand. Environmental groups, such as the Forrest Guardians of Silver City, support the removal of the trespassing ranchers on public lands.

In a court battle, which has spanned a decade, the Laneys have countered that they own vested stock water rights in the area under state law, which fore-dates the creation of the Gila National Forest in 1907. They argue that their stock water rights were granted for the express purpose of livestock grazing which gives them an inheritable right to use the land which the federal government cannot extinguish without payment of just compensation. The Laneys cite long-standing and recent court decisions to support their claim. The grazing rights, according to the Laneys were never part of the National Forest and therefore not subject to USFS regulation. The Laneys cite long standing US Supreme Court decisions which hold that “land to which rights or claims of another attach is not pubic land.

The USFS and environmentalists on the other hand, cite numerous court cases supporting the USFS authority to regulate grazing in the National Forest.

The question which appears to be emerging, is one of property tights under state law as opposed to regulatory authority under federal law. USFS regulations are under the jurisdiction of the federal government. In simple terms, can federal regulation extinguish property rights created under state law?

The controversy has led supporters of the Laneys to demand that the local sheriff, District Attorney and State Attorney general support the Laneys in the protection of their property. Environmental groups, on the other hand, have demanded that the USFS enforce the grazing regulations applicable to the National Forest and remove the Laneys even by force if necessary.

The United States Supreme Court decision in U.S. v New Mexico, 1978 would appear to support the Laney’s claim to stock water rights. The US Supreme court decision in Curtin v Benson, 1911 would appear to support the Laney’s claim of prior existing rights to graze. A recent US Court of Federal Claims decision would be persuasive in upholding Laney’s claim to prior existing grazing and water rights. The IRS has historically recognized the ownership of inheritable rights in forest grazing allotments for inheritance tax purposes.

One of the problems that appears to be emerging is the existence of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the USFS and the state agencies, such as the Brand Board, whereby the state agencies have agreed to allow federal regulation to go Unchallenged in property disputes involving ranchers. These MOUs also may involve Local sheriffs, District Attorneys and even the State Attorney General.

Constitutional scholars and jurists throughout the country have observed that a major constitutional conflict is emerging out of the Laney case. If federal rules and regulations can be used to extinguish grazing and water property rights created under state law without compensation, then no property would be safe from federal regulatory seizure.

A recent ruling out of the Federal District Court in Wyoming has held that where government agency employees have collaborated with environmental groups to destroy property rights, those employees can be tried as individuals under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

The issue is not a small one according to some observers. G.B. Oliver, Executive Director of the Paragon Foundation, a supporter of the Laneys, points out that currently throughout the west there are about 200 million dollars in actual or potential taking claims outstanding against the United States over the same issue. Former congresswoman and property rights advocate, Helen Chenoweth-Hage commented that the states and local governments who have signed MOUs with the federal government unilaterally abrogate ranchers property rights, are setting themselves up for joint liability for the taking of rancher’s property rights. The cost to local and state governments would be devastating, she said.

The USFS and environmentalists currently show no sign of relenting. The USFS is continuing to press forward with a Federal District Court action to remove the Laneys and their livestock. The Forest Guardians have served notice on the USFS that if the USFS fails to act, the environmentalists will take measures to evict the Laneys. It would appear that a major constitution crisis is emerging in the remote ranches of southwestern New Mexico, which could have a major impact on property owners throughout the country.

Friday, February 27, 2004



Silver City, NM – Effective, Saturday, February 28, 2004, at 8:00 a.m., a temporary public closure of the Diamond Bar allotment, Gila National Forest, will be re-implemented to allow the contractor to start preparations for the removal and impoundment of the unauthorized livestock. “After a couple of delays, we are now prepared for the removal and impoundment to start as soon as the contractor is set up,” says Wilderness District Ranger Annette Chavez.

To conduct the livestock removal in the most safe and efficient manner for everyone involved, Ranger Chavez says the area closure helps us to provide for public safety, protection of property, and minimizes public activities that may hinder the gathering and removal activities. “We will periodically review the area closure to determine its usefulness,” adds Ranger Chavez.

The area closure prohibits all entry along Forest Road 150 below the private lands at Wall Lake (township 11S, range 12 W, section 15), south to the south rim of Rocky Canyon (township 14S, range 11 W, section 8), and all the area within the 147,000-acre Diamond Bar allotment. Exceptions to the area closure include private property owners who will be allowed to travel to and from their properties; any federal, state or local Officer, or member of an organized rescue or firefighting force in the performance of an official duty; or persons with a permit specifically authorized by the Gila National Forest.

Trails that will be closed include:

---trail #40 in Diamond Creek including Middle Diamond Creek from the junction of Forest Road 150 to the junction of the Continental Divide trail #74
---Continental Divide Trail #74 from the junction of Trail #40 south to the junction of Trail # 74
---trail #74 to the junction of Forest Road 150 and encompassing trails #75, 76, 75A, 72, 481, 73, 707, 68, 69, 67, and 308
---to the west of Forest Road 150: trails include trail #803, 700, 95, 94, 716, 708, 713, East Fork of the Gila River from private property at Trails End Ranch to the private land at Lyons Lodge

Closure of the land area includes the area described as the Diamond Bar Allotment:

---on the northwest side from the confluence of Adobe Canyon and the East Fork Gila River to Forest Road 225 easterly to the junction of Forest Road 18 north along Forest Road 18 for approximately 1/2 mile, then continuing east to Forest Road 159
---from Forest Road 150, east to the southwest slope of Round Mountain
south along the Crest Trail to Diamond Peak and on to Reeds Peak
---the south border lays along trail #74 to Signboard Saddle to a cattle guard in Rocky Canyon and Forest Road 150
---continuing west to the north rim area of Apache Creek across the lower end of Black Canyon to the East Fork of the Gila River
---the west boundary is the East Fork of the Gila River north to Adobe Canyon

An area closure map is available for review at local Ranger District offices.

Forest Service trades land with logging company The U.S. Forest Service and California's largest private landowner have agreed to a land swap they say will benefit both of them and the public. The Forest Service will give Anderson-based Sierra Pacific Industries 1,843 acres of the Eldorado National Forest, broken into 14 parcels, in exchange for 16 parcels totaling 3,394 acres, under an agreement posted this week. The lands were appraised at equal market value, the Forest Service said. The exchange will reduce the need for Sierra Pacific to build new roads to its parcels within what are supposed to be roadless areas, helping the company manage its property more efficiently and meet federal and state laws, the Forest Service said.... Lawmakers want Frank Church airstrips kept open Idaho's congressional delegation says pilots have used four backcountry airstrips for more than two decades. And the lawmakers want them kept open. The U-S Forest Service recently ruled that four airstrips in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness would be shut down except for emergency use. The ruling is part of the revised management plan for the wilderness.... Salvage logging is key issue for forest ecologists A group of forest ecologists wants the world to stop rushing to turn trees killed by wildfire into lumber, arguing that salvage logging undermines many of the ecological benefits of fire. In an opinion piece in the journal Science on Thursday, seven forest ecologists from universities in the United States, Canada and Australia suggested a better course would be for forest managers to develop policies that exempt areas such as natural parks, nature reserves and drinking water sources from salvage logging.... Column: Biscuit salvage sale: a lost opportunity for Oregon After a yearlong study, the U.S. Forest Service has concluded that the Siskiyou National Forest land burned by last year's Biscuit Fire needs a massive restoration effort including reforestation, road and stream rehabilitation and timber salvage. If implemented, this will be one of the largest timber sales in Oregon history, more timber than has been produced from all the public lands in the Northwest in some years. Unfortunately, the Forest Service's plan is misguided at its very foundation, and we will likely never see these benefits.... Mo. River plan allows barge operations The Army Corps of Engineers issued a new Missouri River plan Friday that would allow continued barge traffic between Sioux City, Iowa, and St. Louis, perpetuating a 15-year battle between environmentalists and businesses. Corps officials said the new plan anticipates steady levels for barge shipping, enough water for power generation and considerably more water in big reservoirs in Montana and the Dakotas. Conservationists have long argued that the Missouri should be returned to its natural state, before it was dammed and channeled beginning in the 1940s, with a spring rise and shallow summer flow to aid endangered species.... New act changes protection for endangered species (Canada) New federal legislation is about to dramatically change the way endangered plants and animals are protected in Canada. The Species at Risk Act goes into force June 1. It will add another layer of protection for endangered animals under federal legislation. The law will brings in incentives and penalties designed to protect threatened animals and plants on all federal land. It can also override the provinces in their own jurisdiction and on private land. Some Alberta landowners are concerned that the act could hurt them financially, if large chunks of their grazing land are declared off-limits. But the government says Ottawa can compensate landowners if they end up being hurt by the new legislation.... GRAY WOLF DE-LISTING PART I Since its introduction into the Idaho wilderness in 1995, the Gray Wolf has sparked debate between those looking to restore the wolf population and those wanting to keep the wolf out of Idaho. In the first part of his series, Mark Browning takes a look at the Gray Wolf's return to Idaho. Good morning everyone. Few things in Idaho and Wyoming have stirred the emotion, the passion, and the debate as have the efforts to restore a Gray Wolf population to this region, and now possibly remove federal protection by de-listing the wolf from the endangered species list. Tonight, in the first of a week long look at the issue, we look at events over the past decade that has brought us to this point of potential de-listing.... GRAY WOLF DELISTING PART II Part two of the debate over wolves in Idaho continues. Mark Browning looks at the toll the re-introduction of wolves has taken on local ranchers.... GRAY WOLF DELISTING PART III In part three of "The Gray Wolf: A Wild Cry of Success," Mark Browning looks at some of the myths involved of the sometimes emotional issue of wolf delisting.... Tight vote expected on 'basin of origin’ bill Rep. John Salazar expects to stump the House floor this morning in hopes of convincing his colleagues to approve the state’s first basin-of-origin protection in more than 80 years. “If this bill is passed, rural Colorado will no longer have to fear that water diversions will be shoved down their throats,” the San Luis Valley Democrat said.... Campus Wolfs Down Film on Price of Lupine Liberty A film showing tonight will bring a heated environmental debate from the wilderness of Idaho to the screen at Campbell Hall. "Cost of Freedom" follows wolves relocated from Canada to Idaho as part of an effort to restore endangered species in the United States. In 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service captured 66 wolves in Canada and released them in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Filmmaker Vanessa Schulz said that as part of the relocation, the wolves were given special "experimental-nonessential" status, which permits the killing of wolves if they attack livestock.... Ranchers support consolidated public lands management Ranchers gave their support Friday to a plan that would consolidate management of 1.3 million acres of national forest and rangeland in Twin Falls and Cassia counties. Consultants for the Idaho Department of Lands held a meeting Friday night at the Idaho Farm Bureau office in Twin Falls to gauge reactions to the proposal they plan to put forward in the form of federal legislation.... Redrock lands rank among most endangered 'BioGems' Utah lands targeted by activists for wilderness protection -- and by energy companies for oil and gas exploration -- are among the most endangered places in the Western Hemisphere, according to one of the nation's largest environmental groups. For the fourth year in a row, the redrock wilderness of southern and eastern Utah on Thursday landed on the list of "BioGems" designated by the Washington, D.C.-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The group hopes the listing will bring more national, even international, attention to portions of a 9.1 million-acre Utah wilderness proposal that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is opening up to oil and gas companies.... BLM begins dunes study A federal agency has launched a four-month program to monitor a threatened plant that has led to closures in the California desert's most popular off-roading area. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said Thursday that 33 interns will scour the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area until June looking for Pierson's milk-vetch and other imperiled wildlife to establish populations counts.... Column: Grazing permit buyout fair, will end range warThe national and Arizona voluntary grazing permit buyout bills, currently pending in Congress, offer a "win-win" solution for ranchers and the environment. A total of 180 Arizona ranchers and 190 environmental organizations are supporting the Arizona bill and a permanent buyout option, and the list of supporters is growing. Yet there are still uninformed naysayers who don't realize that the buyout will help ranchers, protect the environment, and save taxpayers money. Opponents to the legislation fear that once ranchers receive the buyout payment, they'll likely sell off private base properties, thus accelerating land fragmentation and development. To the contrary, with the money ranchers receive from the buyout, they'll not only have money to keep their private property, but they can also buy other private lands to ranch.... Park in Colorado stirs EPA concern Hike through Rocky Mountain National Park, enjoy the wildlife and take a deep breath of mountain air - as long as you're not asthmatic. The wind blows enough pollution from sprawling metropolitan Denver on some days that the park violates federal clean-air standards for ozone. The Environmental Protection Agency probably will include the park when it declares 11 counties along Colorado's Front Range in violation of the Clean Air Act.... Trust-land reform bill proposed A plan to change the way Arizona manages nearly 10 million acres of undeveloped state trust land was delivered Friday to the governor and the Legislature on its way to a possible spot on the Nov. 2 ballot. Outlined in more than 100 pages of revisions to state law and the state Constitution, the plan aims to create more open space around the edges of cities, raise more money for public schools and better protect millions of acres in rural Arizona. If voters approve the changes, about 287,000 acres would be set aside as open space immediately and an additional 387,000 acres would be eligible for preservation by cities and private organizations.... Court stops exhumation of fabled ranch scion An appellate court has halted exhumation of a rancher's body in a paternity lawsuit with claims to a 400,000-acre ranch now largely controlled by the Catholic Church. The 13th Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld its Feb. 9 order stopping the exhumation of fabled ranch scion John G. Kenedy. The court clarified its order Thursday after plaintiff attorneys questioned whether it applied to different cases alleging that John G. Kenedy, believed sterile due to childhood mumps, left an heir after all.... Column, Meet the Farm Bureau: Does it Speak for the Family Farmer—or for Large-Scale Agribusiness? The state of family farming in America can perhaps be gauged by one of AFBF’s own polls, which asked its 5.4 million members how they would rate the overall condition of their rural towns. Some 32 percent said they were “withering slowly,” and another 20 percent said they were “hanging by a thread.” AFBF is the nation’s largest trade organization for farmers, but an increasing number of farmers and farming groups say its corporate-friendly policies favor large agribusiness interests. And they ask if most of AFBF’s members really are farmers, since the U.S. Department of Agriculture says that only 2.1 million Americans meet that definition.... Cattlemen Push Beef with Bush A U.S. meat industry group on Friday accused the Bush administration of moving too slowly to normalize beef and cattle trade with Canada and called for an immediate end to all controls put in place last spring after mad cow disease was discovered in Alberta. "The time for incremental half-measures ... has long since passed," the American Meat Institute, which represents major meat packers, wrote in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. USDA spokeswoman Julie Quick said it was premature to comment on a request to fully open beef and cattle trade with Canada. She also rejected AMI's criticisms that the agency has been slow to normalize trade with Canada, saying it was a "top priority." ....HONED ON THE RANGE Byron Fort walks out his back door into a winter morning as gray-white as his mare, Dolly, and as cold and forbidding as a barbed-wire fence. Leaning into the stinging wind, he pushes his 88-year-old bones across a thin layer of snow toward some corrals and stalls off to the side of his house. The snow had come in the night. So had a calf from a young Angus cow. Anticipating both, Fort had put the cow in a stall the afternoon before so she wouldn't drop her offspring wet and frail into an exposed pasture where it'd likely freeze to death before it could draw its first breaths.... On The Edge Of Common Sense: Bad luck comes in threes on the ranch In the old days, I resigned myself that bad luck came in threes: three flat tires, three smashed fingers or three social faux pas. It's comforting to know that good ol' Dakota Mike is still proving my theory. And I'm not even counting the initial injury that resulted in a swollen right knee that put him down for a solid week....

Omitted pieces put back in fire report U.S. Forest Service officials have reinserted much of the information previously blacked out of their report investigating the deaths of Idaho wildland firefighters Jeff Allen and Shane Heath, with one major exception — the names of everyone involved. The only people identified in the Cramer Fire accident report are Allen and Heath. Forest Service officials once again edited out the names of fire managers in the modified report, but reinserted their titles in some places. So while a reader can now determine which fire officials made which decisions that led to the deaths of Allen and Heath on July 22, they won´t be able to identify them — a key omission for critics of the Forest Service.... What’s next The Forest Service is conducting a misconduct investigation into the Cramer Creek Fire and will issue proposed disciplinary actions before fire season begins this year. Fire officials did not identify which employees are being investigated, what the possible penalties could be, or whether the penalties will be made public.... No fishing: U.S. Forest Service rejects request from local angling-conservation club for a catch-and-release season at Spirit Lake The U.S. Forest Service has rejected a request to allow limited catch-and-release trout fishing at Spirit Lake on the north side of Mount St. Helens. The Clark-Skamania Flyfishers, a Vancouver-based angling and conservation club, made the request in early January to Cliff Ligons, manager of the the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. The lake has been closed to fishing since the massive eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980.... Turkeys fly into a controversy With the release of 82 more turkeys in the Ochoco Mountains earlier this month, spring turkey hunters will have more opportunity for success. But not everyone is excited about the releases. The Central Oregon Audubon Society has expressed concern over the continued transplanting of the non-native game bird and would like to see the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife discontinue any further releases of turkeys in Central Oregon and other areas of the state until a review of turkey management plans can occur.... America's new coal rush After 25 years on the blacklist of America's energy sources, coal is poised to make a comeback, stoked by the demand for affordable electricity and the rising price of other fuels. At least 94 coal-fired electric power plants - with the capacity to power 62 million American homes - are now planned across 36 states. The plants, slated to start coming on line as early as next year, would add significantly to the United States' generating power, help keep electricity prices low, and boost energy security by offering an alternative to foreign oil and gas. But they would also pump more airborne mercury and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide into the air.... Senators Should Consider Environmental Impacts of Judicial Nominations For the first time ever, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has included in its National Environmental Scorecard a vote on a nominee to the federal courts. William H. Pryor was nominated by President Bush in April 2003 to fill a lifetime seat on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears appeals of federal environmental cases in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. On July 31, 2003, Pryor’s supporters fell seven votes short of the 60 needed to end debate on Pryor’s nomination and force a vote on the Senate floor. However, Mr. Pryor was recently given a recess appointment to that same seat, which will expire at the end of the next Senate session.... Column: Cry of the wolf The new census of northwest Montana’s wolves shows declining numbers, and that casts doubt on the government’s contention that the population is robust enough to remove from federal protection as an endangered species. In the annual count by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the region’s gray wolves numbered only 92 in 2003, down from 108 the year before. More importantly, only four pairs of wolves produced at least two pups that survived the year. The year before, 11 breeding pairs were counted.... Editorial: Wolf change shouldn't wait for Wyoming Wolves have been restored to self-sustaining numbers in the Northern Rockies. It's time to release them from the extraordinary protective custody of the federal government and for the states to assume responsibility for managing wolves in conjunction with other wildlife. Montana and Idaho are ready, willing and able to assume control of wolf management, but Wyoming is not. Our neighbor to the south is playing games with the issue, and the result has been to stall progress toward scratching wolves off the endangered species list. The Department of Interior will not - and legally cannot - take wolves off the endangered species list until the states adopt plans for managing the animals in ways that will ensure their perpetuation. Montana and Idaho have done just that. Wyoming came up with a plan, but it included a provision allowing wolves to be shot on sight in certain areas. Federal officials rejected Wyoming's plan, largely for that reason. Right now, Wyoming officials are debating whether to revise their plan or to go to court in an attempt to force the feds to approve their plan.... Wyoming House ready for wolf battle After retreating a day earlier from a possible lawsuit against the federal government for its rejection of the state's wolf-management plan, the Wyoming House reversed itself again Wednesday and voted to bolster the case for a court battle. With little debate, representatives voted 44-14 for a bill that aligns state law with the now-rejected Game and Fish Commission's management plan for gray wolves. Conforming statutes to the plan is seen as a way to strengthen the state's hand in a possible suit.... Column: Is chronic wasting disease the new mad cow? The good news about CWD is that—at least so far—there is no established link between eating or handling venison and vCJD, the devastating human disease linked to beef consumption in England. And, though research at this moment is not yet complete, CWD has not seemed to infect the unlucky cows, goats, and sheep that have been kept in close quarters with infected deer and elk. Still, TSE diseases develop slowly, over a minimum of 15 months to 17 months after exposure, and there is not yet enough evidence to rule out cross-species transmission altogether. Having learned from the British government's mistakes in the BSE crisis, no national or state government agencies have made out-and-out exhortations to continue eating venison from the infected areas (e.g., à la John Gummer, the British secretary of agriculture who famously endeavored to demonstrate the safety of British beef by feeding a hamburger to his 4-year-old daughter). But the issue is complicated by the fact that those who consume venison and elk meat are often the hunters who slaughter the animals—they thus must decide for themselves whether their quarry is safe for consumption.... Artist forced to surrender art because he used eagle feathers What Juneau artist Mark Horn considered a spiritual expression, federal authorities considered a possible crime. Three pieces displayed at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council came under scrutiny of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement officers because they contained eagle feathers. Agent Sam Friberg said Friday that he couldn't comment about the ongoing investigation, except to say that it was limited to exhibits involving eagle feathers.... More park bison sent to slaughter The National Park Service has sent another 27 bison to a slaughterhouse after they tested positive for exposure to the disease brucellosis. That brings this winter's total slaughter of animals captured inside Yellowstone National Park to 53 animals. Another 36 captured animals that tested negative for exposure to the disease are being held in a beefed-up corral until spring, when enough green grass emerges inside the park to keep the shaggy giants from wandering out of the park.... Saddle up One of the oldest traditions of the West — mule rides into the Grand Canyon — will resume on March 23. The National Park Service suspended the trips last September for the first time in a century so it could do trail maintenance. The move worried some longtime fans who thought the rides might never return. But the Park Service says the closure was never meant to be permanent.... More drilling on tap for Padre The National Park Service announced Thursday that it will allow a Corpus Christi company to start drilling what will become the eighth natural gas well on the otherwise undeveloped barrier island. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates 80 billion cubic feet of natural gas lies beneath the 130,454-acre seashore — the longest remaining undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world. That's enough gas to satisfy the nation's entire demand for about two days, according to the American Gas Association, an industry group.... Fearing 'Unprecedented Land Grab' During Election Year, Group Urges 60,000 Interior Department Employees to Use Tipline The nonprofit Campaign to Protect America's Lands (CPAL) announced that it is sending an email today to 59,684 Department of Interior employees urging them to use a confidential tipline (1- 866-LANDTIP or to report any new anti-environment rules or other steps related to America's public lands, parks or wilderness areas that may crop up in the coming months. CPAL's goal is to thwart a whole new round of special-interest proposals that are expected to clog Interior if panicked industry executives come to believe that President Bush is unlikely to serve a second term.... Unexplained elk deaths in Wyo. leave wildlife officials puzzled In the last three weeks, about 275 elk, mostly breeding-age cows in prime condition, have been found either dead or paralyzed in a 3-square-mile area just north of the Colorado border. "They go to lie down, and then they can't get up," Wyoming Game and Fish Department spokesman Tom Reed said Thursday. "Their heads are up and they bark at you when you approach. But they can't move." State biologists are euthanizing the stricken animals and have examined about a dozen carcasses in an attempt to find the cause of the deaths. Whatever is killing the elk has yet to affect the horses, cows, calves and antelope observed in the area. Scavengers like coyotes, ravens or magpies that are feeding on the carcasses also appear to be immune.... Tyson Asks Judge to Reverse $1.28 Billion Verdict The nation's largest beef packer, Tyson Foods Inc., said Thursday it has asked a federal judge to throw out a jury's $1.28 billion verdict that the company illegally manipulated cattle prices. Tyson asked visiting U.S. Senior District Judge Lyle Strom to enter a substitute ruling or order a new trial. A jury last week sided with a group of cattlemen who accused the Arkansas-based company of using contracts with a select few ranchers to drive cattle prices down for other producers. "Given the complexity of the issues presented and the consequences of this court's decision to an entire industry ... it is important that judgment be entered on the evidence actually presented and the applicable law rather than on the jury's instincts regarding the 'spirit of the law,'" Tyson lawyers said in court papers filed Wednesday.... USDA resists increased mad cow testing The United States Department of Agriculture is blocking small beef packing companies and ranchers from testing their cattle for mad cow disease. The beef packing companies and ranchers see the increased testing as a way to restore consumer confidence and enable their products to be exported to Japan and other countries that shut their borders to U.S. beef in December after the detection of a mad cow-infected animal in Washington state.... North Texas woman recalls rodeo life, wins in the '50s Many little girls dream of riding horses and barrel racing; and for a Decatur lady, that dream was a reality in her early years, when she competed in the Girls Rodeo Association (GRA), now the Womens Professional Rodeo Association (WPRA). The success of those rides, earned LaTonne (rhymes with baton) Sewalt Enright a place in the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame (TRCHF). Following the hall-of-fame legacy of both her dad Royce, a 1946 world champion calf roper, and her younger brother Ronnye, a reserve world champion calf roper, LaTonne was among the 16 others who were inducted in the hall on Feb. 14....

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


Cattle Battle Continues in New Mexico Kit Laney's family has been ranching in the Gila National Forest in southwestern New Mexico since 1883, but the Laney family lifestyle could all come to an end with the U.S. Forest Service threatening to impound and move Laney's cattle. Eighty-five percent of Laney’s range is considered federal land, and he has so far refused to remove his 300 head of cattle, which the Forest Service says are trespassing. However, based on the fact that his family was ranching on these grounds before the Forest Service even existed, Laney is fighting the 1997 court order that ordered him off his Diamond Bar Ranch, now sitting inside the national forest and protected from use under federal law.... Senators urged to fight energy bill The mayor of Great Falls joined outfitters, ranchers, housewives and about 50 others Wednesday, calling on Montana's senators to reject a proposed federal energy bill. The group, primarily from communities along the Rocky Mountain Front, fired off a letter to the senators, saying the proposed energy bill would sacrifice Montana's wild heritage of ranching, hunting and fishing in the name of corporate profits. "As property owners, hunters, anglers, and conservationists, we respect the Front's working, agricultural heritage and its world-class wildlife populations," they wrote. "The Front is a showcase for how Montanans are working together to care for the land and create a robust economy.".... Governors pass Guinn resolution Gov. Kenny Guinn applauded the decision Tuesday by the Western Governors Association to unanimously pass a resolution to support the sage grouse conservation plan developed by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service.... Save the Peaks effort draws 200 A crowd of approximately 200 gathered to listen to tribal representatives assert a message that they’ve repeated again and again ever since the first ski lodge was erected on the San Francisco Peaks approximately five decades ago. The message to the Forest Service is clear—the Peaks are sacred and economic interests of a handful of investors cannot outweigh the spiritual and cultural interests of 13 Arizona tribes.... Grand Teton turns 75, still leaving tourists and locals in awe As early as 1897, Col. S.B.M. Young, Yellowstone's acting superintendent, proposed expanding Yellowstone's boundaries south to encompass portions of northern Jackson Hole. The proposal drew little interest from Congress or the Interior Department. Mather and Albright began working with Wyoming's congressional delegation to make that happen. Congressman Frank Mondell offered a bill in 1918, and a year later the House unanimously approved a revised version. However, the bill died in the Senate after Idaho Sen. John Nugent worried that expanding Yellowstone would trump sheep grazing. Sheep ranchers weren't alone in their opposition. Ranchers worried about losing grazing privileges. Forest Service employees feared losing management authority. Dude ranchers opposed improved roads, new hotels and competition from concessioners.... Public Lands meet in Washington D.C. Members of Nevada's Legislative Committee on Public Lands will travel to Washington, D.C., today and Thursday for an information tour. Committee members, led by Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, will discuss public lands issues of importance to Nevada. On the packed agenda are issues like the proposed listing of the sage grouse as an endangered species; fire suppression policies of the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service; mining and grazing regulations; efforts to combat noxious weeds and invasive species; policies on wild horses and burros; and the impacts of proposed federal legislation and rulemaking on Nevada's public lands.... San Carlos considers signing memorandum The San Carlos Apache Reservation is considering joining the new management program for the Blue Range Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Program. Arizona Game and Fish Department Nongame Chief Terry Johnson said during a Thursday interview that the reservation is considering joining the Adaptive Management Work Group. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Field Coordinator John Oakleaf attended the Jan. 28 meeting and gave a confirmed depredation count of 63 since the reintroduction project began. This number was challenged by Laura Schneberger of the New Mexico Cattle Grower's Association who listed 240 depredations. Her count is much larger than Oakleaf's because the numbers are unconfirmed by the field team. The field team must be notified immediately after a potential wolf attack to confirm the death. Ranchers such as Schneberger and Greenlee County's Daisy Mae Cannon said that more time needs to be given to contact the team after a potential depredation.... Editorial: Denver potential loser in South Platte plan But that's not all. The board would kick in $1 million toward an "endowment" to fund improvements along the river; guarantee minimum and maximum stream flows for the protection of trout fishing; accept a permanent ban on new projects in Eleven Mile and Cheesman canyons, and create two organizations to monitor streamflow management and any proposed water projects. Considering Colorado's recent water woes, that's quite a sacrifice. What might the water board be getting in return? A promise from the U.S. Forest Service and certain environmental groups not to ask for "wild and scenic" designation along 72 miles of the river between Eleven Mile Reservoir and Waterton Canyon. Such designation would stop all development there and prevent the water board from creating any more storage. What kind of deal is that, you might reasonably ask.... Rare frog to spawn a lawsuit Conservationists have put the federal government on notice that they plan to sue for not protecting a rare Southwestern frog on the brink of extinction. Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) on Monday joined with the Arizona-based conservation group, the Center for Biological Diversity, to file a 60-day notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for not including the relict leopard frog on the threatened and endangered species list.... Real Michigan wolverine spotted for first time in about two centuries A biologist has confirmed the sighting of a real Michigan wolverine, about 200 years after the species was last seen in the state that uses the small but ferocious animal as its unofficial nickname. Coyote hunters spotted a wolverine near Ubly, about 90 miles north of Detroit. Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Arnie Karr saw the forest predator Tuesday and snapped pictures of the animal as it ran out of the woods and across a field.... Farmers and ranchers feel heat for fish kill A Northern California fish kill that went unpunished three years ago has come back to bite the farmers and ranchers who caused it. The listing of coho salmon as an endangered species this month by the Fish and Game Commission means that the same ranchers must now obtain an Incidental Take Permit or be subject to a $10,000 fine for each fish killed. In return for that permit, the Department of Fish and Game can then require any conditions it desires regarding future river diversions and operations on private land to restore the species.... Creeks designated for Santa Ana sucker The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday it has designated more than 21,000 acres of streams in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties as critical environment for a bottom-feeding fish called the Santa Ana sucker. The designation complied with a judge's order last year in a lawsuit brought by environmental groups that say the freshwater sucker's habitat has decreased because of water diversions and development. They say the species is now found in less than a quarter of its historic range.... Rancher: Wolf Agent 'trespassed' A Meeteetse rancher says the federal official in charge of wolves in Wyoming illegally handled four wolves in his calving pasture recently. Mike Jimenez of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not have permission to be on private land when he was discovered with four tranquilized wolves south of Meeteetse on Feb. 14, rancher Randy Kruger said. Larsen Ranch Co. owners say they may ask Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric to file criminal trespass charges against the Fish and Wildlife Service. A ranch stockholder and employee, Kruger said Wednesday he was driving across a pasture off Gooseberry Creek at 3 p.m. Feb. 14 when he "caught two men hiding in the bushes." They were under a high bank by the road, out of sight. "It seemed quite alarming to me," he added. "I stopped to see what they were up to." They had four wolves laid out, tranquilized. Kruger identified the men as Jimenez and Wes Livingston of Cody.... Plan seeks more park visitors The National Park Service and tourism industry officials yesterday announced a campaign to reverse a decline in visitors to America's 388 designated national sites. Born from a new partnership signed by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIAA), the U.S. Department of Interior's National Park Service (NPS) and the National Park Foundation, the "See America's National Parks" campaign is scheduled to begin this spring.... Wild horse advocates protest BLM thinning Wild horse advocates, convinced too many animals are being removed from Nevada ranges, took their message Wednesday to the state Capitol. Despite persistent rain and cold temperatures, 15 placard-carrying demonstrators rallied along Carson Street for two hours. Their key point: Major herd reductions throughout the state threaten the long-term viability of the state’s wild horses.... Green groups back suit by SUWA A virtual Who's Who of environmental groups — plus 14 state governments — are arguing in briefs that federal environmental law would be completely undermined if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns a Utah case now before it. For example, 14 state attorneys general wrote that would mean the Interior Department's "stewardship responsibility over federal lands, including wilderness study areas, are largely immune from federal (court) scrutiny" — no matter how bad a job it might be doing. At issue is a lawsuit by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance against Interior Secretary Gale Norton contending the Bureau of Land Management is not doing as much as required by law to protect wildernesslike areas in Utah from damage by off-road vehicles. It also says the BLM is not following its own land-use plans.... Northern Cheyenne sue BLM over coalbed methane study The Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribe is suing the federal Bureau of Land Management alleging the agency failed consult with it on cultural resources that may be affected by an expansion of a coalbed methane project near Decker. The tribe said BLM violated consulting requirements in the National Historic Preservation Act and failed to give the tribe a chance to comment on the BLM's review prior to the agency.... Bush wants to drill in Otero Mesa; Gov. Richardson thinks not An unusual coalition of New Mexicans has formed over the oil and grass drilling on Otero Mesa in southern New Mexico. The southern New Mexico mesa was until recently known only to hikers, outdoor enthusiasts and ranchers. Ranchers, hunters and environmentalists are trying to stave off the oil and gas companies eager to gain access to pristine lands such as Otero Mesa. Gov. Bill Richardson attended the forum and received a standing ovation from the 700-plus, statewide crowd when he signed executive order 2004-005. The former Department of Energy secretary had strong reasons for believing Otero Mesa should be protected.... BLM, greens win round in route dispute Three rural Utah counties have lost another court battle in their ongoing campaign to control dirt roads on public lands. U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell on Tuesday denied all substantive motions by the counties while granting those filed by federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) and the Sierra Club. Campbell ruled that Garfield, Kane and San Juan counties do not have so-called RS 2477 rights to 15 of 16 disputed routes on lands administered by the BLM. The judge also found that the counties violated federal law by grading and re-aligning the routes in 1996 without the BLM's consent.... U.S. House OKs local control of Oregon Dunes land A bill transferring about 69 acres of federal land near the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area to local control won final Congressional approval Tuesday. The House unanimously approved the measure, which is intended to improve access to the dunes and boost public safety. The bill would transfer land along the Oregon coast south of the Umpqua River, near Winchester Bay, from the federal Bureau of Land Management to Douglas County.... Interior Department won't negotiate over trails The Department of Interior has declined to negotiate with Alaska over recognizing historic trails due to disputes over the legality of an earlier agreement with Utah, but Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski says he doesn't want to wait. Asked if that meant a lawsuit is brewing, Murkowski said "anything's possible." Last year, Murkowski had asked the Interior Department to start negotiating an agreement similar to one the agency had reached with Utah in 2003 concerning historic trails under the federal Revised Statute 2477.... Utah loses a round in battle on N-waste The state lost yet another round in its legal battle to keep high-level nuclear waste out of Utah when a Washington, D.C., federal appeals court ruled Tuesday the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has jurisdiction to license private nuclear waste facilities. Furthermore, the court ruled that even though the Department of Energy would not take over private nuclear storage facilities, nothing in the law or the congressional debates "suggests that Congress intended to prohibit private use of private away-from-reactor facilities." The ruling is one of a litany of setbacks for the state, which has lost on almost every issue it has raised. In this case, the state argued the NRC did not have jurisdiction to license private waste facilities under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act — an argument rejected by the D.C. court.... Residents will be asked to conserve water The city of Casper will begin asking residents next month to voluntarily conserve water and may impose mandatory water restrictions in April. The voluntary restrictions and the possible mandatory limits on water usage result from the ongoing drought and a call likely to be made on the North Platte River to fill the Inland Lakes Reservoir in western Nebraska, Casper Public Utilities Manager David Hill said. The Inland Lakes water rights on the North Platte date back to 1904 and are older than any rights held by the Central Wyoming Regional Water System, Hill said.... Farmers sue state over new fees The California Farm Bureau Federation filed suit Wednesday to block the state from collecting $50 million a year in new fees the Legislature imposed on rural landowners as part of last summer's budget agreement. The suit, filed in Sacramento Superior Court, argues that the fees constitute a tax increase and therefore require a two-thirds vote approval by the Legislature. Officials at the Farm Bureau also argue there is no connection between the cost of the services provided to the landowners and the fees they are being asked to pay -- as required by state law before a fee can be imposed.... Beef recall secrecy fought State health officials said Tuesday they will continue efforts to change a controversial agreement with the federal government so that the California public could be notified immediately of beef recall details. A memorandum of understanding between the state Department of Health Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture prevents public access to the details of the voluntary beef recall made after the nation's first known case of mad cow disease. "We believe that to do our jobs as effectively as possible we need to be able to tell consumers who may have been exposed to the product where the product went," said Jim Waddell, chief of the DHS food and drug branch.... Facing the Bull: The Most Dangerous Eight Seconds in Sports On May 29, 2003, Mike Lee sat atop Chili, a nearly 1,700-pound (772-kilogram) bull at the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association's rodeo in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Lee, just 20 years old, was tense, shaking his neck, and taking deep breaths. His left hand clutched the "bull rope" bound behind the beast's front legs. Chili heaved and snorted and tried to maneuver his body in the tight-fitted, gated steel chute. Surrounding Lee in the arena, the crowd roared, awaiting what some sports commentators consider the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.... Winning rodeos job one for Fords It was more than 30 years ago that two brothers from Colorado first appeared on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association tour, featuring a hard-spurring, go-for-broke style of bareback riding that got the attention of rodeo fans everywhere. Bruce and Glen Ford, from Greeley, Colo., set a standard in the event that many bareback riders have copied over the years. Bruce went on to win five world titles and earned 19 trips to the National Finals Rodeo. He was later inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame. Glen qualified for the 1976 NFR, but failed to win a world championship. Now make way for the next generation of Fords. Royce, Bruce's son, and Heath, Glen's son, are starting to make an impact on the rodeo scene....
Forest Service Responds to Cattlemen Request for NEPA Reform

Forest Service Handbook Contains New Guidance

A new guidance document released today by the U.S. Forest Service contains a number of significant reforms relating to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Cattlemen have historically requested reforming the NEPA process and urged the agency to dedicate more resources to resource management rather than compliance with process requirements.

“This is great news for public lands ranchers who have struggled with the traditional NEPA process,” says Jeff Eisenberg, Public Lands Council (PLC) executive director and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) director of federal lands.

In a letter sent to USDA Director of Forest and Rangelands Jeanette Kaiser, cattlemen expressed their support for the NEPA reform measures released today as part of Chapter 90 of the Forest Service handbook for the range program.

Some of the key reforms include:

---NEPA compliance is dependent on resource status on allotments rather than to artificial deadlines imposed through regulatory requirements. NEPA for allotments will be renewed when new resource information requires new analysis.

---Allotment management will be dependent on meeting resource goals rather than artificial regulatory requirements. Within limits, permittee/agency disputes about on-and-off dates and cattle numbers will be minimized. Substantive rangeland health will be prioritized.

---NEPA analysis may be performed on more than one allotment when multiple allotments, such as those in a watershed, make a coherent ecological unit.

---The handbook guidance requires Forest Service staff to work with permittees in developing the proposed action for grazing activities. Greater cooperation between permittees and agency staff will strengthen stewardship of the resources.

“Management of the resources at the ground level, rather than compliance with unproductive paperwork procedures will yield better results for the land, and our members who graze cattle on the land,” says Eisenberg. ”For these reasons, we congratulate the agency on issuance of the new handbook guidance and look forward to its adoption by the Forest Service throughout the West.”


Jeff .Eisenberg
Dir. Federal Lands, Executive Dir. PLC, Corp Council CATL Fund

Stacey .Katseanes
Manager, Public Lands Council

Tuesday, February 24, 2004


Rally protests elimination of forest surveys People lined the sidewalk in front of the Bureau of Land Management offices in Roseburg Monday to protest the elimination of a rule that requires land management agencies survey for rare species before logging. "All species are sacred" read one sign. "300 species lost Protection today. Environmental Laws -- Bushwhacked again" read another carried by a few Roseburg High School students.... Activists in Medford, Ore., Stage Mock Funeral to Plea for Biodiversity Monday's funeral procession in downtown Medford featured a small black coffin carried by solemn people dressed in black mourning clothes. But there was no cadaver in the casket carried at the head of a line of nearly 40 environmental activists parading in front of the Rogue River National Forest headquarters. Monday marked the last day of the 30-day comment period for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management's final supplemental environmental impact statement to remove or modify the survey-and-manage requirements for sensitive plant and animal species contained in the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan.... Forest Service captures eleven horses after several tries Eleven wild horses have been captured on the Jarita Mesa Wildhorse Territory. That’s after Carson National Forest officials last month issued a new contract to Mount Taylor Mustangs—giving it 60 days to capture 30 horses. The first roundup in April captured nine horses, and a second in December found none. Officials say the captured mustangs have been moved to a holding pen at the El Rito District Ranger office pending adoption.... Column: Oregon's Coho Salmon Are Partying Tonight - They're Not Going Extinct After All The Ninth District Court of Appeals announced today that it is throwing out the Endangered Species Act "threatened" listing of Oregon coastal coho salmon. There's going to be a lot of crow to eat by State and Federal agency operatives, Oregon editorialists and environmentalists who foisted this ESA travesty on the people of Oregon and on the resource based industries of this state. Right at the top of my crow-eating list is former Governor John Kitzhaber. This governor spent eight years in office pushing the radical environmental salmon agenda. What did he gain for the state? Economic disaster.... Oregon Coast Salmon Listing Invalidated: Ninth Circuit Dismisses Appeal of Landmark Alsea Case---Bogus ESA Protections for “Wild” Salmon Must Go Claiming victory for “good science and common sense,” Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Russ Brooks today hailed a decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that effectively invalidates, once again, the listing of the Oregon Coast coho salmon as a “threatened species” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The case is Alsea Valley Alliance v. Evans, the most ground-breaking environmental decision of the last decade. “We are elated with this decision,” said Brooks. “The court dismissed an improper and needless appeal of a good, commonsense decision. By lifting the stay of the district court’s decision, people along the Oregon coast can now resume normal lives as productive citizens, no longer hampered by unnecessary restrictive regulations imposed to protect fish that didn’t need protecting to start with.”.... New Seascape initiative stretches from Costa Rica to Ecuador and protects key marine habitats In one of the most ambitious marine conservation initiatives in the western hemisphere, four Latin American nations, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, the United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation), Conservation International (CI) and others are consolidating a marine protected area that stretches from Costa Rica to Ecuador and helps safeguard some of the world's richest marine habitats and dozens of endangered species. The project, known as the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape, covers 211 million hectares (521 million acres) and extends from Costa Rica's Cocos Island National Park to Ecuador's Galapagos Island National Park and Marine Reserve. Along the way, the Seascape helps link marine protected areas in Panama and Colombia, safeguards an important migratory route for the Endangered blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) and protects one of the last remaining nesting grounds in the Eastern Pacific of the Critically Endangered leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea).... Western Governors Agree to Work on Western Presidential Caucus for 2008 Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, chairman of the Western Governors' Association, and his colleagues agreed today to work toward establishing a single date for interested Western states to hold caucuses early in the 2008 Presidential primary season. He said a key purpose would be to focus national attention on Western issues, including: water, environment, energy, agriculture, wildland fire and border Mexican states and Canadian provinces.... Officials evaluate economic impacts of federal decisions What's the economic impact of opening up areas in Moffat County for oil and gas development or the value of tourists visiting the area to spot endangered species? These are some of the questions residents asked of an economic study offered through Colorado State University. At a County Commission workshop Monday, about 15 participants, including local government officials, citizens and business owners agreed to pursue five scenarios on how policy changes could potentially alter local economics.... Wyoming House backs away from wolf lawsuit, for now Wyoming lawmakers tentatively backed away from a possible lawsuit against the federal government over the state's wolf-management plan. But a proposed change adopted Tuesday by the state House could further delay efforts to remove the predators from the Endangered Species List. The quandary is: Should lawmakers hold fast to a management plan that was rejected and take its case to the courts - or should they fix the weaknesses in the state plan and begin the review process all over again? "We're faced with almost having to start over again one year later or having to file a lawsuit to enforce something we don't like," said Rep. Colin Simpson, R-Cody. Simpson successfully offered an amendment to a bill that would allow regulated hunting if 15 packs are established statewide, regardless of whether they are inside or outside Yellowstone and Grand Teton parks.... Groups seeks protection for prairie dogs A New Mexico group has asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to place the Gunnison's prairie dog on the Endangered Species Act list. Although the species, which is native to northern New Mexico, numbers as many as 2 million, that's down 90 percent, a spokeswoman for the group, Forest Guardians, said Monday. All four of the other species of prairie dog -- including the black-tail prairie dog found in other parts of New Mexico and many other states -- have either already been granted protection or organizations are in the process of petitioning for it, the spokeswoman said.... Valley elderberry longhorn beetle slows down project Although a big majority of Americans say they value the protection given wildlife by the federal Endangered Species Act, and don't want it weakened, Porterville could serve as a poster child for the minority view. Porterville and Porterville Unified School District are in a joint community-center and library project set for Orange Avenue. Porterville is home to elderberry shrubs. Elderberry shrubs are the sole habitat for the threatened valley elderberry longhorn beetle. In getting permission to pull out a handful of elderberry shrubs to make way for a community-center project, the city saw staff members put in hours over a period of years, spent thousands of dollars and committed to spending thousands more.... Scuttled ship in Lake Tahoe listed as historic site The century-old SS Tahoe has joined the ranks of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor and the USS Monitor in North Carolina. They're all underwater national historic sites. The SS Tahoe is Nevada's first. The steamer lying 400 feet below the surface of Lake Tahoe won the designation from the National Park Service last week. Launched in 1896, the SS Tahoe steamed thousands of circles around Lake Tahoe, carrying freight, mail and sightseers. The 169-foot "Queen of the Lake" carried up to 100 passengers. It was tied to a dock after losing its mail contract in 1934, and in 1940 was deliberately scuttled off the Glenbrook shoreline.... Column: What kind of "Heritage" are we leaving our heritage? The Mississippi River Delta Heritage Project is a project operating in the states of Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana taking in 240 counties. Most of these counties don’t even know they are included....yet. Rarely do we read the small print of a government program. The grant money is offered and we act as though we have won the lottery and go wild spending on our excessive pet projects with our "free money." Once again I have to say there is no such thing as a free lunch - or grant.... Column: Park snowmobiles, Bring ‘em on Bring ‘em on. Bring on the snowmobiles, because without them in Yellowstone National Park in the winter, you’ve sealed the place off. You’ve largely kept the American public outside this wonderland, and you’ve done something else, as well: You’ve done heavy damage to the economy of a community named West Yellowstone. Hardly any of the commentators I’ve encountered on the issue seem to care about West Yellowstone. After all, it’s not the commentators’ livelihoods being wrecked.... Editorial: Conflict whipsaws Yellowstone Yellowstone National Park just can't catch a break. Seems if it wasn't for bad news, there'd be no news at all from the home of Old Faithful. First we've got the dueling federal judges and dizzying back-and-forth of lawsuits surrounding the use of snowmobiles in the park. They'd be almost laughable, if they weren't damaging the economy of West Yellowstone in the process. On top of that, we've now got brucellosis-carrying bison ignoring park borders and heading to the slaughterhouse. It's just the kind of news Easterners need to drive home the notion that Westerners are borderline barbaric.... Environmentalists decry Nader's 'spoiler' candidacy To the Bush campaign, newly announced independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader is a slow, dark horse in the race for the White House. But to environmentalists, who generally back Democrats for president, Nader is unsafe at any speed. Regarded by Democrats as a spoiler in the 2000 race, Nader's candidacy is considered more troubling this time around because environmentalists consider President Bush a greater threat to the nation's air, land and water than they imagined possible four years ago.... Bush touts $26 million in private conservation grants President Bush is touting a $26 million grant program aimed at helping private landowners protect habitat for at-risk species, although some wildlife groups fear it comes at the expense of endangered species recovery. Interior Secretary Gale Norton briefed the president on the Landowner Incentive Program on Tuesday, a day before she is scheduled to announce the $25.8 million in grants to wildlife programs in 40 states and one territory. Norton said it is a "critically important" part of the administration's effort on threatened species.... Lewis and Clark site to become national park The site where the Lewis and Clark reached the end of their journey West and first spied the Pacific Ocean would become part of the National Park system under legislation the Bush administration proposed Monday. The site near the mouth of the Columbia River, known as Station Camp, along with two other spots along the Columbia in Washington state would become part of a new Lewis and Clark National Historic Park.... Lewis & Clark Trail project grows to 20 state ranches Shortly after Philadelphia native Tom Daubert began writing historical panels for the Montana Livestock Association and its program Undaunted Stewardship, he became something of an expert on early Montana history. Since its creation a little more than two years ago, Undaunted Stewardship has grown to include 20 Montana ranches, eight of which contain historic landmarks along the Lewis and Clark Trail. The program strives to protect the environment, preserve historic sites, and keep Montana ranchland in production.... Big wildfire season predicted for drought-plagued states Drought, warm temperatures and damaged vegetation have fire experts predicting a long and destructive fire season throughout much of the interior West this year. But the national outlook is better, with the National Interagency Fire Center expecting near or below average fire seasons in Eastern states, the South and Alaska. The amount of vegetation damaged by drought and insects has been rising in the West, increasing the risk of wildfires. Nationally, more than 63,000 fires burned 3.9 million acres of land in 2003, compared to 4.45 million acres burned in an average year.... White House slows spending on energy Senior Republican Interior Department officials tried unsuccessfully to stop the White House from slowing spending for development of oil and gas on federal lands in the West. The White House moved to tighten a spigot that has poured more than $30 million into energy development - most of it in the West - during the last three years. The Bush administration offered a fiscal year 2005 budget at the beginning of February that includes a proposal to reduce the oil and gas portion of the Bureau of Land Management's budget from $88.2 million in fiscal year 2004 to $85.6 million in fiscal year 2005. It also includes a proposal to impose $3 million in user fees on energy companies that drill on BLM lands. Although Interior Department Secretary Gale Norton has defended the budget proposal since its release, Bureau of Land Management Director Kathleen Clarke sharply criticized a White House plan to cut her agency's budget in a memorandum Dec. 1. Rebecca W. Watson, the department's assistant secretary for land and minerals management, also signed the memorandum.... Loggers head to Eugene for annual convention Loggers gathering for their 66th annual convention in Eugene this week said things are finally looking up for their industry after a prolonged downturn. "It has become painfully obvious that timber harvest is a necessary component of Oregon's economic health," wrote Oregon Logging Conference president Ed Hanscom, in a welcome message to conference attendees. "And with the passage of President Bush's Healthy Forest Initiative, there is a light at the end of the tunnel." Bush's initiative would allowing thinning projects on 20 million acres of federal land. Conservationists have countered that it poses threats to wildlife habitat and old growth forests.... Environmental group wants Scalia's recusal An environmental group suing Vice President Dick Cheney in U.S. Supreme Court case has asked Justice Antonin Scalia to recuse himself, citing reports that the two recently dined and hunted together. The Sierra Club filed the request two months before oral arguments are scheduled on whether executive privilege applies in a case where the vice president wants to keep information from a task force confidential. Scalia denies doing anything improper in socializing with Cheney. It is unclear whether Chief Justice William Rehnquist or the other justices have the power to force Scalia from the case.... Editorial: Again, an Assault on Alaska If at first you don't succeed in despoiling an environmental treasure, try, try again. That's apparently the White House motto for drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Senate should stop President Bush again, as it has for two years now. The Bush administration has been no friend to the Alaskan environment in recent months. In December, the Forest Service announced it would strip protections from the Tongass National Forest, allowing loggers to build roads to choice stands of old-growth trees. In January, the president's budget brought back his twice-defeated proposal to sell oil leases in the wildlife refuge, and Interior Secretary Gale Norton approved a plan to open millions of acres of the North Slope to drilling and loosen requirements for environmental safeguards.... EPA to Rework Rules On Incinerator Emissions The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington rejected federal rules governing incinerator emissions as inadequate yesterday, forcing the Environmental Protection Agency to rewrite the regulations. A troika of environmental groups had challenged the rules, established in 2000, arguing that they were not preventing dangerous toxins from being released into the air across the country. An industry organization had also sued, arguing that the rules treated similar companies inconsistently.... Pueblo going with flow For the first time in decades, Pueblo will cooperate with, rather than fight, Colorado Springs - to develop a $900 million pipeline from the Arkansas River up to El Paso County. In exchange, Colorado Springs will give up some of its water rights and provide other incentives to help Pueblo maintain river flows through the city - flows that will help keep its historic river walk vital and its proposed kayak course afloat.... Lander may have to pay for water The city of Lander will have to start paying for water it uses from the Worthen Meadows Reservoir, a U.S. Forest Service official said. Lander gets much of its water supply from the reservoir, which is located in the Shoshone National Forest southwest of the city. Forest Supervisor Rebecca Aus informed the city in a letter that Lander will have to start paying a $10,000 a year fee for use of the water, beginning in July.... Wyo cattle require tests For Wyoming ranchers, the other shoe has fallen. Wyoming is a Class A state for brucellosis, with all of the increased testing requirements that that implies. Long anticipated, the loss of the state's Class Free brucellosis status was made official Friday when the change was published in the Federal Register. It was made retroactive to Feb. 13. Loss of Class Free status could cost Wyoming's 6,200 rancher operations $1.5 million in new testing costs, Jim Magagna, executive director of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, estimated recently.... Farmers Win Challenge of 'Got Milk' Campaign The "Got Milk?" dairy promotion program known for putting milk mustaches on celebrities violates the First Amendment by forcing all farmers to pay for the ads, even if they disagree with them, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. The unanimous 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturns a lower court's ruling that Tioga County dairy farmers Joseph and Brenda Cochran could be forced to contribute money to the campaign, even though they felt its catchy slogans did little to support sustainable agriculture products.... Budget woes threatening to squash handy bugs Colorado's budget crunch is even hitting bugs where it hurts. The Joint Budget Committee of the Colorado legislature is considering a recommendation that funding be cut for the Palisade Insectary, a unique Colorado Department of Agriculture facility that has been raising good bugs to thwart insect and weed infestations for 59 years. The impending cut does not sit well with the farmers, ranchers and landowners who have been using the insectary's bugs in lieu of costlier spraying with pesticides that, in some cases, yield inferior results.... Home on the Rangeview Or How Green Was My Valley University of Arizona researchers have created a Web site that allow users to compare greenness from one year to the next, between years, against a 14-year average and at two-week intervals. The information is invaluable for making long-term land management decisions. Ranchers, forest rangers and other natural resource managers work directly on the land nearly every day to observe changes and decide how to handle them, whether grazing cattle, monitoring wildlife or assessing fire danger. In combination with this site-specific approach, a University of Arizona satellite image database called RangeView offers these managers a bird's-eye view of broader terrain.... Skidboot & Co. Skidboot, billed as "the amazing dog," amazed members of the Collin County Bar Association's Alternative Dispute Section Friday afternoon at the Holiday Inn in McKinney. About 25 McKinney area attorneys attended the seminar, which had the theme, "Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks." However, David Hartwig says he did not train Skidboot and that Skidboot does not do tricks. Skidboot obeys full-sentence commands. Hartwig said trainers have told him that dogs can only obey one-word commands, but Skidboot has proved them wrong. Hartwig, 48, was an obscure Quinlan cowboy until Skidboot came into his life.... Champions win all in 80 seconds In a sport dominated by time, the seven champions at the 2004 Stock Show & Rodeo wasted little of it Sunday afternoon. Combined, the short-go winners used just 80 seconds to ride away with more than $35,000 in prize money.... LUCKY SOUTH DAKOTA COUPLE FINDS THEMSELVES ARRESTED AND IN HANDCUFFS The "old" west may be long gone, but vigilantes still roam on I-10. Deanne Donnelly reports. Imagine being from out of state, minding your own business on interstate-10 only to get pulled over by Pima County Sheriff's Deputies not for breaking the law, but for something special. That's exactly what happened to retired couple Nadine and Dale Larson from South Dakota.
Its part of a Tucson tradition called Welcome Travelers. It goes back 45 years. The Tucson Junior Chamber of Commerce Vigilantes started it. Now they help the Western Music Association Home Ranch Hands to keep it going. Every year during Rodeo week, a couple is "arrested" and handcuffed. It took Deputy Nicole Feldt a minute to convince the lucky Larsons to say "yes". The Larsons are in for a week of old western Rodeo fun, Tucson style. But first, they head over to the Triple "T" truck stop in the back of a deputy's car....

Cowhands balk at rounding up cattle for Forest Service Several cowhands have balked at rounding up a beleaguered rancher’s cattle from areas of the Gila National Forest, and the U.S. Forest Service is trying to line up a new group to move the herd. The unidentified drovers were approached by Forest Service officials who told them the roundup from Diamond Bar Ranch allotments is legal. However, Diamond Bar ranchers Kit and Sherry Laney say the legality remains in dispute. Courts have ruled against the Laneys, ordering the removal of their cattle. The Forest Service, which has estimated more than 400 cattle are grazing without permits, expects to begin the roundup as soon as it can line up a new contractor to remove the herd. That’s according to Gila Forest range management officer Steve Libby. Laney, reached last night, says nobody from his side will interfere with the roundup—but they’ll document with video and film—and plan to initiate charges against those responsible.... 10 Yellowstone bison sent to slaughter The Park Service corralled 33 bison inside Yellowstone National Park on Saturday, readying them for possible slaughter less than a week after 10 bison were trapped outside the west boundary and killed. The operations are part of an ongoing battle to protect cattle outside the park from brucellosis, a disease to which bison have been exposed. Bison migrating out of the park are rounded up and shipped to slaughterhouses, operations contested by activists with Buffalo Field Campaign.... Column: Invasion of the Kennewick Men After almost eight years of labyrinthine litigation the case of Kennewick Man has ended with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and archaeological science is the winner -- for now. In a February 4 decision, the Ninth upheld the district court ruling stating that since no relationship could be established between modern American Indians and Kennewick Man -- physically, contextually, or otherwise -- he is not a Native American as defined under NAGPRA, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, thus NAGPRA isn't applicable. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) therefore applies and the bones can once again be studied by anthropologists. The tribes, who argue that any and all pre-Columbian remains are Native American regardless if the individual's tribe or culture still exists in modern times, are sure to appeal. Kennewick Man is the mostly complete skeleton found in 1996 in Kennewick, Washington, by two college students wading up the Columbia River to watch a series of hydroplane races. Analysis of his size -- he stood about 5 ft. 10 in. in life -- build, skull shape, and other characteristics differentiated him from known Native American populations.... Eureka opposes land sales Eureka County Commissioners are sending a letter to U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., opposing federal land acquisitions in rural northern Nevada under the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act. The commissioners voted Friday to send the letter stating that the board "feels strongly that federal land acquisitions in northern Nevada counties, specifically Eureka County, will have a profoundly negative affect on our rural communities.... Property Rights Scorecard Released The League of Private Property Voters (LPPV) today released it's Fifteenth Annual Congressional Vote Index, rating all members based on votes cast in 2003 and naming Champions and Enemies. 35 Champions of Property Rights and 35 Enemies of Property Rights were named in the Senate, and 192 Champions and 165 Enemies were cited in the House. The entire Vote Index can be downloaded at Plan would put forest land under BLM rules A state-sponsored proposal suggests consolidated management of 1.3 million acres of federal forest and range lands in Cassia and Twin Falls counties under the Bureau of Land Management. A public meeting will be held Friday night at the Farm Bureau office in Twin Falls to discuss the plan. Approval would require consent from the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service and Congress. Federal legislation would be needed to shift Sawtooth National Forest lands in the two counties under the BLM's land and resource management rules -- to the extent possible. "You've got intermingled lands administered by the Forest Service and BLM. It seems clear there are ways to be more efficient," said Bob Maynard, an attorney with the law firm Perkins Coie working as a state consultant.... BLM resumes wild horse roundup The Bureau of Land Management has resumed a roundup of wild horses in a remote area 75 miles east of Fallon. Agency officials plan to remove about 100 more of the animals from the Desatoya Herd Management Area, saying current numbers are more than the land can support. The roundup netted about 200 wild horses before it was suspended last July. The BLM sought to wait until cooler weather would force the animals to lower elevations. The agency says the Desatoya area's food and water can only support 127 of the horses.... Yukon Flats proposal has some wary Some public land watchdogs say a federal proposal to hire a tribal group for work on the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge sits on shaky legal ground and sets a poor precedent by giving tribes a stronger hand in refuge operations. The chairman of the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments, though, says other refuge users have little to fear from his organization's participation in the daily tasks on the 8.5-million-acre refuge.... Federal agencies launch biotech Web site The site, found at, includes a searchable database of biotech-enhanced crops intended for food or feed that have passed US governmental reviews for food, feed or planting use in the United States. Users can search products by trade name, scientific name, applicant name, and engineered traits such as pest resistance, events or keywords. The site also features information on US laws and regulations applying to biotech-enhanced crops, the respective roles of the several federal agencies in reviewing and approving biotech-enhanced commodities, frequently asked questions, key government contacts, and capacity-building efforts undertaken by the US State Department and other agencies.... Report: Water savings less than hoped in payment effort The federal government says a $1 million project that paid irrigators above Upper Klamath Lake not to water their pastures in 2002 cut water use by only half as much as the project's sponsors estimated. The problem? The estimate didn't take into account how much water that native grasses and other vegetation would take up and allow to evaporate into the atmosphere. The project began in the spring of 2002 and was one of the Bush administration's first efforts to find solutions to the struggle that had resulted in a water cutoff and national publicity in the Klamath Basin the year before.... Ranch's virulent bird flu puts Gonzales on guard One chicken ranch has been devastated and others may be in jeopardy from a contagious strain of bird flu that chose Gonzales County to make its first U.S. appearance in 20 years, officials said Monday. Blood samples were being taken from chickens within a 10-mile radius of an unidentified ranch where more than 6,600 chickens were destroyed last week due to contamination from the H5N2 virus that causes the disease. Also under quarantine are two live-bird markets in Houston that handled poultry from the now-padlocked ranch.... Engineered DNA Found in Crop Seeds Much of the U.S. supply of ordinary crop seeds has become contaminated with strands of engineered DNA, suggesting that current methods for segregating gene-altered seed plants from traditional varieties are failing, according to a pilot study released yesterday. More than two-thirds of 36 conventional corn, soy and canola seed batches contained traces of DNA from genetically engineered crop varieties in lab tests commissioned by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Washington-based advocacy group. The actual amount of foreign DNA present in U.S. seeds appears to be small, and most engineered genes getting into the seed supply are among those that regulators have deemed safe for consumption, the report acknowledges.... United States to reopen comment period on beef ban: B.C. agriculture minister The United States will likely announce soon it plans receive public submissions on reopening the border to live cattle shipments from Canada, B.C.'s agriculture minister said Monday. John van Dongen, who joined officials from Ottawa and six other provinces for meetings with U.S. officials and industry groups, said the period for public comment will probably last 15 to 30 days....Glacier County sheriff, deputy arrested A county sheriff in Montana and one of his deputies were charged Monday with defrauding a federal emergency feed program for ranchers on American Indian reservations. A grand jury indicted both men on charges of conspiracy and fraud, accusing them of forging or altering receipts that were submitted to the American Indian Livestock Feed Program. The program, administered by the federal Farm Service Agency, provides financial assistance to ranchers on reservations who are affected by natural disasters that cut into their livestock feed. If they have to buy feed, they can submit claims through the tribe to be reimbursed for the purchases.... It's All Trew: Giveaways always a powerful gimmick Every facet of living today had a start somewhere in the past. Some of the greatest changes are shown in modern-day advertising. Gimmicks, gimmies and freebies are still the best way to attract customers to your business. How about in the old days? The earliest advertising gimmick I know of here in the West came in the form of hard-rock candy contained in a wooden case of Arbuckles Coffee. Ranch and chuck wagon cooks held sway over other employees using the candy as favors in exchange for a little help during meal or gathering fire wood. Since toilet paper was considered too expensive for use on roundups and trail drives, the empty paper sacks holding two pounds of coffee were also passed out by the cook as gifts....

Monday, February 23, 2004



Kit & Sherry Laney
Diamond Bar Ranch
Winston, New Mexico
February 21, 2004

The Gila National Forest has sent an Amendment to its Solicitation to the parties who bid on the removal of our cattle from the Diamond Bar and Laney ranches. The Amendment provides an advisory statement that reads “This solicitation in part satisfies the Federal Court Order mandating the Forest Service to remove and impound livestock from the Diamond Bar and Laney Allotments. We do have concurrence on the legality of this court order from the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, as well as the District Attorney for Catron and Grant County. The Forest Service has been notified the Catron County Sheriff will not interfere, nor will the permittee. This amendment also serves as notice to all who will submit a proposal the possibility does exist that the permittee may attempt to prosecute individuals who remove livestock from the allotments.” [emphasis added]

The Court Order only applies to national forest system lands. We have given Notice to the Court, the Forest Service, and N.M. public officials that our cattle are not ranging on national forest system lands. We have a lawfully and legally recorded deed to a fee interest for raising cattle on the lands within the boundaries of our ranches. Since our livestock operations are not part of the national forest system lands, we are not “permittees.” We therefore, do not know whom the Forest Service is referring to by the use of this term.

Our fee interest is a separate freehold estate. This estate (fee interest) is a property right in land, the underlying title to which is held by the U.S. Government. It is privately owned real estate. Our ownership of this fee interest is not based on a frivolous claim, but on an exhaustive chain of title. Our predecessors appropriated and severed this vested fee interest from the public domain of the United States under the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation in accordance with the local laws, customs, and decisions of the courts prior to the forest reserve. Our title is as valid as any other proprietor in the State of New Mexico that holds a deed to real estate.

Our title has not been disputed, either by the Federal District Court or the U.S. Justice Department. The cornerstone of our private property rights for raising livestock is the livestock water. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Diamond Bar v. U.S., assumed without deciding that we owned the stock watering rights within our ranches. The U.S. Supreme Court went farther and ruled that not only did the ranches own the stockwater, but also cattle grazing was not a purpose for which the Gila River Forest Reserve was withdrawn from the unappropriated public lands. Also, no quiet title action has been taken against our title. Therefore, our title stands valid under New Mexico Statutes.

Regardless of any concurrences to the contrary, the fact is that neither the Forest Service, the New Mexico Attorney General, the District Attorney, the Livestock Board, nor a County Sheriff has the authority to authorize anyone to violate New Mexico State law with respect to our cattle. In the absence of a legal and lawful transfer of ownership from us to a new owner, our livestock cannot be rounded up, impounded, transported, and/or sold without the action being in violation of the New Mexico Livestock Code.

Please be advised that no Forest Service personnel or State or County public officials, including N.M. Livestock Board members or their inspectors, have the authority to transfer ownership of our cattle to any other person(s) without our consent.

Please be assured that neither we, nor anyone associated with us, will take any physical action against, or interfere with, anyone who attempts to remove our cattle. We will, however, take steps to film and/or document all actions involved in the attempted removal of our cattle and damage to our private property rights.

We will file charges in a state court of proper jurisdiction against all persons individually (not collectively as an agency) who are involved in the decisions and actions to remove our livestock and who illegally use our stockwater without our consent. We will also file civil charges against all such persons, as individuals without immunity, for any and all damages to our livestock and the productivity of our livestock herd. This is not a threat. It is merely a statement of fact.

We want the non-ranching public to understand that our ownership of a fee interest to raise livestock in our ranches does not in anyway keep them from enjoying these lands as they always have.