Saturday, March 06, 2004


Gila-area rancher seeks help from cattlemen’s board

(Albuquerque-AP) -- Gila ranchers who have been ordered to remove their cattle from a Gila Forest allotment because the grazing is illegal turned to the New Mexico Livestock Board for help.

The board said Friday it probably can’t stop cattle belonging to Kit and Sherry Laney from being removed.

But the board will send a letter to the U.S. attorney asking what the board has to do to comply with the law.

The board’s only involvement is that it inspects cattle.

Board executive director Daniel Manzanares says the grazing allotment is federal land, in federal jurisdiction in a federal court.

The Laneys have been fighting the Forest Service since 1985.

Courts have ruled against their claim to private property rights to federal land where their cattle graze.

For Immediate Release 03/05/04

Contact: Paragon Foundation, Inc. (505) 434-8998

Ruby Ridge In New Mexico?

Are developments in Southwestern New Mexico tumbling out of control and setting up a situation like the one at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, where three innocent citizens were gunned down by federal law enforcement officials? If one looks at the preparations of the Forest Service and the size of the force they have brought into the area, it might appear so.

This question goes to the recent announcement by the Forest Service concerning the impounding and removal of the Diamond Bar cattle. With 16 law enforcement officers, roadblocks, attack dogs, and an apparent distrust of law-abiding citizens that would rival border guards in the old Soviet Union, one wonders why the gathering of alleged trespass cattle would require such warlike tactics? With no threat of violence by the Laneys, who, in fact, have declared they will not interfere with the seizure of their cattle, the Forest Service has bulled ahead closing the only road in the area, declaring the public forest off limits to law abiding citizens and intimidating anyone who comes near or opposes their tactics. Furthermore, they have caused a jurisdictional crisis between the Forest Service on one hand and the Catron County Commission and the Catron County Sheriff on the other. And, if that’s not enough, they have precipitated legal confusion on the New Mexico Livestock Board as they have attempted to circumvent, misuse and confuse what were once called the best livestock laws in the country. All this is being done with the apparent blessing of Governor Bill Richardson and Attorney General Patricia Madrid.

Clint Wellborn, District Attorney for Catron County, at a meeting of the Catron County Commission, said, “We can’t ask the Sheriff to go out there and confront these armed federal officers.” This was stated in an open meeting in an attempt to dissuade the Sheriff from going out to assert jurisdiction in Catron County as the legal chief law enforcement authority. Presumably, DA Wellborn believes it is better for defenseless citizens to confront armed federal officers. Mr. Wellborn also states in a letter that, “If you or your department should attempt to intervene you risk the possibility of being arrested by Federal Marshals and held in contempt of court and possibly jailed”. Mr. Wellborn says this even though the federal law enforcement contingent’s operation in New Mexico and Catron County is conditional on the consent of both the Sheriff and the Chief of the State Police.

Of course, this would be comical if it weren’t tearing at the fabric of New Mexican institutions and law. The Laneys, while moving horses along old State Highway 61 from one private land holding to another were accosted by the Forest Service. The Officers tried to pull the horses over, using emergency lights and sirens and shouting through loud speakers, “This is law enforcement. Stop your horse and get off.” Of course, this only caused the horses to speed up. At this point Dale and Albert Laney had no choice but to try and control the horses. In no way could they allow them to trod upon the forest. Picture two full-blown patrol units with sirens blaring, lights blazing, attack dog inside barking frantically, loudspeaker roaring commands to “pull over them runaway horses”.

Matt Schneberger, local rancher, says, “Barney fife is alive and well in the Gila. Only in this case he don’t just have a bullet in his pocket, he’s got a large capacity auto pistol and all the back-up in the world. We’ve got terrorists coming across the Mexican border to kill Americans and here we are guarding against a small family ranch trying to protect their private property.”

The Forest Service is not only callous about their treatment of the Laneys but they are completely oblivious to the harm they cause others. Doug Osborn, wrote, “I just got back from the Cattle Guard Restaurant up at the Fowlers. There were six folks from Minnesota in there eating. They had come down here to hunt lions, but the road is closed. There go their plans (and lots of money). I wonder how the Forest Service would feel about reimbursing those folks. Lots of luck!”

Ray Fowler, another local rancher, said, “I went to get a bull and when I got back there was a roadblock up and they wouldn’t let me in. There were guys running around demanding a permit. I didn’t have one. I still don’t have a permit. They finally let me through after they took down my license plate like I was going to rob a bank or something. They tell me nobody from the outside can come in to see me.”

To justify this ridiculous circus Steve Libby of the Forest Service intimated that Kit Laney had threatened a gentleman who was delivering feed to the Forest Service. But, when he was asked about it, the man delivering the feed said he had never met Kit Laney. Then Mr. Libby said there were threats that the greens might get involved if the cattle weren’t removed quickly enough. No evidence was ever presented for this assertion.

It is a sad day when Smokey the Bear goes on the rampage. The Forest Service by its actions in the Diamond Bar Ranch controversy is either exhibiting paranoia or an inclination to intimidate. Either way, the Forest Service no longer deserves the trust of the public and the state of New Mexico. They have no business employing a small army of quasi-military, trained to a fever pitch…Barney Fifes.


Editorial: Wyoming Is Crying Wolf The federal government's program to reintroduce the gray wolf to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996 was cheered in most of the country for restoring a critical link in the balance of nature in the nation's first such park. Not, however, in Wyoming. Ranchers feared for their herds, despite explicit federal permission to shoot any wolf caught attacking cattle or sheep, plus a promise of full reimbursement for any losses. The losses have been far less than feared, and the affected ranchers have been compensated. But the fear and loathing linger.... Wolves strike Madison Valley ranch A federal official said Friday that whoever illegally killed a collared wolf in the Madison Valley scuttled trackers' efforts to find the wolves that had attacked a dog hours earlier. Ed Bangs, wolf recovery leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said a wolf that had been collared on Thursday was spotted from an airplane Friday afternoon bloodied and lying in a snowbank. Officials had been using that wolf to track down and kill members of the Sentinel pack, which is suspected of four attacks on livestock in the Madison Valley over the past week.... Feds OK killing of wolf pack A federal wildlife official ordered the Sentinel wolf pack destroyed Friday after it killed a Cameron family's dog near their house. The pack of six wolves has been hanging around Todd and Barbie Durham's home since mid-February. Earlier this week, the wolves killed a neighbor's yearling steer within 200 yards of three homes. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents darted one of the female wolves and fitted a radio collar on it after the pack killed the steer. FWS officials said then that three of the six wolves in the pack would be destroyed.... All fishing closed on Methow, Chewuch, Wenatchee rivers Fishing of all kinds will close March 5 on the Methow, Chewuch and Wenatchee rivers to protect upper Columbia River steelhead listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced recently. The closure includes the winter whitefish-fishing season, which typically runs from December 1 through March 31 in those three rivers.... Nationwide Easter Bunny Count Eight hundred volunteer wildlife watchers will be deployed throughout Germany in March in a giant rabbit count aimed at giving the clearest picture yet of the nation's endangered bunny population. Coordinated by leading scientific institutes, volunteers will count the rabbits one hour after nightfall when they come out to feed, said Armin Winter, animal conservation expert from the German Hunting Protection League. In contrast to countries like Australia, where rabbits have multiplied at an explosive rate and have long been viewed as pests, the fluffy creatures are on the list of endangered species in Germany. Industrialization and intensive farming has depleted their natural habitat.... Agency says it won't turn Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge over to state Federal officials on Friday backed off the idea of turning the Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge over to the state of Kansas, one day after saying the idea was under consideration. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a statement late Friday saying Kirwin will remain in the national refuge system, for now, and is not being considered for transfer to the state.... Groups push feds to protect bloodsucking lampreys slate of environmental groups is demanding the federal government act to protect four species of eel-like bloodsucking fish known as lamprey. The 12 groups in three West Coast states claim the government hasn't taken the necessary steps to list the lampreys as threatened or endangered. They had first asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider taking the action in January 2003.... Global Warming Could Be Affecting Wolf-Moose Balance Wolves are up and moose are down this spring at Isle Royale National Park, the home of a 46-year study of predators and their prey. Researchers suspect that a global warming trend may be behind the shift. The moose population has slid to 750 on this Lake Superior wilderness island park, down from 900 last year and 1,100 in 2002. In the meantime, the number of wolves has seesawed upward over the past decade and is now up to 29, as many as the park has seen since 1980 and 11 more than last year. What's bad for moose has been good for the wolves, and moose throughout North America have been hit hard by warmer temperatures that began in 1998 with El Nino and never let up, according to Professor Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technological University, who has lead the study of Isle Royale's wolves and moose for 34 years.... Wolves kill four cows on Hammett ranch A rancher near Hammett says wolves have killed four head of cattle, and he worries his family may be in danger. Federal Fish and Wildlife Services officials have agreed to step-in and remove three wolves, but the rancher says that will not be enough. The 50,000 acre farm sits about ten miles outside Hammett. The landowner worries other wolves will eventually roam his fields threatening his livelihood and his family's safety.... Fort Belknap bison breed tension After complaining for weeks that bison from the Fort Belknap Reservation herd were destroying his fences and forcing his cattle off their winter feed, a Cleveland-area rancher has reportedly shot five wandering bison. Dustin Hofeldt, whose family ranches 25 miles south of Chinook, won't comment on the accusation, but he said at least 200 bison have been on his land periodically since the first of January. "They just come over here because it's the only grass around," Hofeldt said.... Navy wants more BLM land set aside in Campo Special-operations forces who undertake dangerous combat missions have used this remote site of nearly 1,100 acres in the backcountry since 1986. But now Navy officials want to ensure that ever-increasing development does not encroach on training. The Navy is seeking to set aside an additional 4,486 acres of federal Bureau of Land Management property as a buffer between the training center and surrounding communities.... White House Race Pits Oil Drilling Vs Conserving U.S. voters hit with soaring gasoline prices can choose between two presidential candidates with contrary ways to escape the energy morass -- a Democrat pushing conservation and a Republican who wants to drill his way out. Painting the energy policies of Republican President Bush and his Democrat opponent John Kerry as supply-side versus demand-side risks oversimplification. But in large part, Bush's energy policy seeks to expand supplies of domestic oil and natural gas, while Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts, focuses on developing alternative fuels and renewable sources to reduce U.S. demand for oil.... Editorial: Dear feds, help! Where are our members in Congress (Reid, Ensign, Gibbons, Berkley, and Porter) when we need them? They won't hesitate to give you their views about such high profile issues as Yucca Mountain, yet remain strangely silent about assisting counties that are financially boxed in by the federal government. Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) are federal payments to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes due to nontaxable federal lands within their boundaries. Since the federal government claims dominion over 98 percent of Nye, the county is limited to collecting taxes on the remaining two percent.... Time bomb: Development explodes near sites where munitions didn't Untold thousands of aging, unexploded bombs are scattered across Colorado, hidden military leftovers that health experts call a growing hazard and a mess that will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up. State regulators have identified at least two dozen sites where old ordnance has been found. The one causing the greatest alarm: the former Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range southeast of Denver, where workers have discovered more than 3,000 live munitions - with 75 percent of the search-and-destroy work still to come.... State lands fail to serve schools The State Land Board could have brought in as much as $4.2 million for public schools in recent years through better use of state rangelands, state auditors say. Instead, between 1998 and 2002 the state lost a small amount of money managing the lands, the Audits Division reported this week. Auditors said the board would come closer to fulfilling its obligation either by selling all or part of the rangelands or by keeping the lands and charging the market rate for grazing.... How Industry Won the Battle of Pollution Control at E.P.A. ust six weeks into the Bush administration, Haley Barbour, a former Republican party chairman who was a lobbyist for electric power companies, sent a memorandum to Vice President Dick Cheney laying down a challenge. "The question is whether environmental policy still prevails over energy policy with Bush-Cheney, as it did with Clinton-Gore," Mr. Barbour wrote, and called for measures to show that environmental concerns would no longer "trump good energy policy." Mr. Barbour's memo was an opening shot in a two-year fight inside the Bush administration for dominance between environmental protection and energy production on clean air policy. One camp included officials, like Mr. Cheney, who came from the energy industry. In another were enforcers of environmental policy, led by Christie Whitman, a former Republican governor of New Jersey.... Column: The Fog of Warming On Wednesday and for the fourth time in the past two years, John McCain's Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation staged a platform to publicize global warming. Just the day before, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) preempted the committee to announce another yet another McCain hearing, scheduled for next week, to air a UCS report alleging misuse of science by the Bush administration. The senior senator from Arizona has of late been eager to prove the UCS thesis. He called a hearing in January 2003, prior to Congress even convening, to trot out Sen. "Kyoto Joe" Lieberman as an expert witness. Lieberman is McCain's climate Doppelganger who co-authored their legislation implementing the (unratified) global warming treaty. At that hearing, the Connecticut Yankee did not disappoint, helpfully informing the Senate that 2002 was the second-warmest year on record, and would've been warmer but that there was a manufacturing slowdown (we can't make this stuff up).... Snowpack to swell Rio Grande Snowpack runoff from mountains in southern Colorado and New Mexico is expected to be higher than last year, but area farmers such as Chanon Singh say that although the news is good, they still plan to be cautious with their water supplies. February storms, which have continued into the first few days of March, have increased the amount of snow, which melts and runs off into the Rio Grande Basin, but that situation doesn't signal an end to the drought in New Mexico, U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said Friday. "We're excited about the snowpack and the amount of moisture we've received lately," New Mexico State Engineer John D'Antonio said. "But we've got a big shortfall to make up in terms of our reservoirs.".... Rocky Ford water lease gets federal blessing The federal Bureau of Reclamation has given Aurora its blessing to temporarily store more than 12,600 acre-feet of water in Pueblo Reservoir, making the High Line Canal water transfer the largest short-term water lease in Colorado history. Aurora leased the water from 152 water holders on the canal for about $5.5 million, but needed federal approval to store the water for 12 months in the reservoir, which is part of the federally operated Arkansas-Frying Pan project.... Omaha, Neb., Western Clothing Retailer to Close Last Store Stockmen's Western Wear, an Omaha tradition in retail western apparel, has met the same fate as the Livestock Exchange Building and the Omaha Stockyards. Stockmen's will close its last store, at 4650 L St. in south Omaha, after almost 58 years of business. A close-out sale which began about four weeks ago ends Sunday. The store's growth and history have been intertwined with the Livestock Exchange Building, its first home when it opened in April 1946, and the Omaha Stockyards, from which it drew many of its customers....
Cowboys weaving words of lore With its 18th annual promise of roughhewn rhymes, folk singing, hearty campfire meals and kindred spirits, the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering is a working wordsmith's paradise. The event began Friday at Sul Ross State University. Most of this year's 40 participants have been cowboys and ranchers — and many still are, like J.B. Allen, who has lived 30 years on his West Texas ranch at Whiteface, 13 miles from Levelland.... U.S. animal tracking plan seen beginning by summer The first steps in a national animal identification program aimed at combating the spread of illnesses such as mad cow disease could begin this summer, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official said on Friday. The program, details of which are still being developed by USDA, would begin with voluntary participation, but may become mandatory if, for example, the livestock industry avoids it in large numbers, officials said at a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee. The hearing was held at the annual Houston Rodeo and Livestock Show before an audience of trade officials and ranchers.... Blaze happy trails with Roy and Dale at the Western Film Festival The King of the Cowboys and the Queen of the West ride again this weekend as the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Western Film Festival moseys into Victorville. The seventh annual festival commemorates the lives and careers of legendary and beloved singing stars Roy and Dale with daylong screenings, a collectors' swap meet, silent auction, celebrity autograph session and awards banquet (at 6:30 tonight).... Lucky for posterity, 'crazy' ranch owner held off developers Many people thought Muriel MacGregor crazy. She was never the same after that stroke. She couldn't run the family ranch properly but refused to sell it to developers swooping down on one of Colorado's most scenic and historic ranches. The 2,100-acre spread settled by her grandfather, Alexander Q. MacGregor, in 1873 snuggles up against Rocky Mountain National Park. Set in a ponderosa-fringed meadow, the ranch overlooks Longs Peak and is guarded by the famous Twin Owls rock formation.... On The Edge Of Common Sense: That crazy cow turned out to be a lifesaver Kevin bought the crazy cow at the Willcox sale. She was a big, black, hornless, part braymer with a red patch of hair on her poll like Woody Woodpecker. That spring they planned to move a few of the cows to a far pasture in the gooseneck trailer. All but the crazy cow loaded. She ran to the backside of the corral and paced the fence....

Friday, March 05, 2004


It has been reported to me the NM Livestock Board did not vote on the MOU, because it was not on the agenda. As a result, the MOU stands as signed by Mr. Manzanares.

The attorney for the Paragon Foundation was there, and it is my understanding a lawsuit will be filed against the Board.

Also at the meeting, board member Joe Delk asked that a letter be sent to the U.S. attorney, containing a series of questions. Mr. Delk was told that the letter would be sent, after review by the Attorney General. The following is the proposed text of the letter:

The New Mexico Livestock Board respectfully submits this letter to the attorneys for the Forest Service in the matter of Laney v. USA.

The Board’s purpose is to foster an atmosphere of cooperation and to increase understanding of the legal questions involved. It is the intention of the New Mexico Livestock Board to strictly adhere to its obligation under the law. The NMLB entreats all parties to refrain from action during this exchange of letters.

The NMLB asks that the attorneys for the Forest Service answer the following questions in sufficient detail and in a manner that would facilitate understanding by a group of non-attorneys. Most of the questions that have caused concern to the Board will probably seem simplistic and off point to individuals engaged in the legal profession. But if you could help us understand the context and meaning of the Court’s opinion, perhaps our members could work our way around the margins to the core of the decision. We are possessed of the Court’s opinions and in our limited understanding the decisions raise more questions than they answer. In this vein, we ask that you resist simply citing the Court and instead address the concern behind the question. Also, we ask that legal terms be substituted with plain language wherever possible.

1. Please explain the extent of the jurisdiction of the Court in this case. What evidence did the Court permit? What were the limits of the evidence? Did the Court consider or allow anything beyond the Forest Service regulations?

2. Cite exactly the authority under which the Court orders the impoundment and removal of the Laney’s cattle.

3. In Fort Leavenworth Ry.Co. v. Lowe, Minnesota v. Bachelder and Woodruff v. Mining Co. and others the Supreme Court has consistently held that without a specific grant of jurisdiction from the State the United States is no more than a mere proprietor over lands within the State. Why would the Forest Service be more than a mere proprietor in this case? Is the Gila National Forest a federal enclave? (Note: As dealt with in Woodruff v. Mining Co. the “disclaimer clause” in the New Mexico Enabling Act would not qualify as a grant of jurisdiction.)

4. If, as we read, the Forest Service is no different than any other land owner in New Mexico, why wouldn’t Garland v. Wynn apply wherein the Supreme Court stated, “The Courts of a state must determine the validity of title to land within the state, even if the title emanates from the United States or if the controversy involves the construction of federal statutes.”

5. Why wouldn’t Printz v. United States apply in this situation? In Printz the Supreme Court stated, “We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the states officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the State’s officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer, or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policymaking is involved, and no case-by-case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty.”

6. In one document produced by the Court it stated, “The United States has authority, pursuant to 36 CFR § 262.10 and the common law of trespass, to remove and impound unauthorized livestock from National Forest Lands and need not seek or obtain a court order to do so.” We covered the CFR regs in questions 1, 2 and 5. This question involves “the common law of trespass”. In Coyle v. Oklahoma and Pollard v. Hagan the Supreme Court held that states hold “sovereignty and jurisdiction over all the territory within [their] limits, subject to the common law, to the extent that [they] possessed it before [they] ceded it to the United States.” Why wouldn’t the Court’s citation of the “common law of trespass” tend to support the Laney’s point that their vested rights need to go to a State Court?

7. In the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, The Public Rangelands Improvement Act, The Forest Management Act and the Wilderness Act all together contain over a dozen disclaimers making the legislation subject to “valid existing rights” that go right to the controversy in this issue. Why don’t these “valid existing rights” deserve a court hearing according to Garland v. Wynn?

8. The Laneys, in fact, have declared theirs is a “vested right” which is, (according to Stockley v. United States, Wyoming v. United States and Writh v. Branson) a superior right to a “valid existing right”. Did the Court consider the “vested right” claims of the Laneys that predated the establishment of the Gila National Forest?

9. What is the nature and extent of the servient estate over which the Forest Service is a proprietor?

10. Is there any order of any Court that directly orders or compels the New Mexico Livestock Board to do anything that does not conform to its statutory responsibility? If so, cite precisely.

11. Is there any order of any Court that directly orders or compels the New Mexico Livestock Board to do anything beyond its statutory jurisdiction? If so, cite precisely.

12. Is there any order of any Court that directly orders or compels the New Mexico Livestock Board to treat the Forest Service any differently than any other landowner in New Mexico? If so, cite precisely.


Ranchers Protest Court Order Allowing Cattle Seizures

About 100 ranchers appeared before the New Mexico Livestock Board Friday to protest a court order that allows the federal government to seize cattle that wander into the Gila National Forest.

A court order issued in December gave the federal government the right to impound cattle owned by New Mexico rancher Kit Laney, who owns property near the national forest.

Cattle from Laney's ranch, Diamond Bar, often graze in the Gila Forest, which is protected by the federal government.

The ranchers who crowded in front of the New Mexico Livestock Board said they were upset about the court order.

In addition, they said they are angry at the land board's chairman signed a memorandum of agreement saying the board understands the federal order and will abide by it.

"We feel like the attorney general's office steamrolled the chairman and he signed it, and their own bylaws don't allow it," one rancher complained.

The ranchers said the land board should be fighting for their rights, not for the federal government.

The board's lawyer said the agreement follows a federal judge's order and does not advocate for either party involved in the legal dispute.

A land board member drafted a letter to the attorney general Friday asking for more information about the memorandum of understanding before members approve it.

Laney's attorney said a contractor is on Diamond Bar now and is impounding cattle.

There is a problem, however. No survey has been completed to determine where Laney's land ends and the federal government's property begins, officials said.

Copyright 2004 by


March 4, 2004

Marcia Andre, Supervisor
Gila National Forest
U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service
3005 E. Camino del Bosque
Silver City, New Mexico 88061 FAX: (505) 388-3204

Dear Supervisor Andre:

I am writing on behalf of the membership of the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) to express concern and request extreme caution regarding the ongoing situation between the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Diamond Bar Allotment. We are well aware that there is legal action involved and that there are court orders in place guiding your actions, at least in part.

However, we are extremely concerned about the highly inflammatory manner in which the USFS appears to be approaching the situation. We understand that there are some 16 USFS law enforcement officers (LEOs) supplemented by search dogs patrolling the area. While some security might be necessary, forces of this size and nature are an invitation to conflict. This sort of attempt at fear and intimidation may only antagonize anyone who happens to be in the area.

Furthermore, given the recent moisture the area has received, we are seriously concerned about the impact of all of this activity on muddy roads and ultimately water quality.

Finally, we are hearing rumors that threats are being made by the livestock community against the USFS and/or its contractors. We have certainly counseled caution in this area. While we know that you have no more direct control over the rumor mill than we do, we believe that you can exert some control over the participation in it by employees under your direction. Not only are such statements counter-productive to a peaceful resolution to the current situation, but also they may be actionable under the law.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of our requests for restraint on behalf of the USFS. This situation can end without conflict, but only if all parties concerned act responsibly and with respect for the rights and feelings of others.


Caren Cowan
Executive Director

Pitch canker found in Sierras, normally attacks coastal trees U.S. Forest Service officials have confirmed the first known case of pitch canker disease in the Sierra Nevada, shocking scientists who doubted the tree-killer could survive in the region's harsh climate and causing concern that it could take hold there. Two Douglas fir trees in an El Dorado National Forest seed orchard were infected with the disease, the Forest Service announced. Both trees were destroyed earlier this week, and now scientists are preparing to tackle the huge task of searching the rest of the Sierra Nevada to find out how widespread the canker is -- if it's still there at all.... Course Is 'Forensic Files' of Wildlife Investigation When 15 students in a brand-new Mississippi State University academic course shoulder their backpacks and head to class, textbooks aren’t their major concern. In addition to their normal note-taking tools, they’re packing fingerprint powder, evidence markers and cotton swabs. The students are a new breed of forensic scientists—those learning to investigate crimes against wildlife and the great outdoors. In a class being taught at MSU for the first time this semester by the husband-wife team of Richard Minnis and Clare Chesnavage, the future forensic scientists are getting hands-on training in tracking crimes ranging from hunting out of season to importing restricted animals.... Islands' Foxes Are Now Protected Minutes after federal officials announced Thursday that the animal would be protected under the Endangered Species Act, a baby Channel Islands fox scampered across its pen, flopped onto a small hammock and dozed off. The much-anticipated announcement was no big deal for the grayish, housecat-sized fox, but it marked a major step for scientists, conservationists and park officials desperately trying to save a creature that is nearly extinct. About 75 foxes roam Santa Cruz Island — down from about 1,500 a decade ago. After years of campaigning by conservationists, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials have added to the federal endangered list four subspecies of wild foxes native to Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel and Santa Catalina islands off the Ventura and Los Angeles county coasts. A little more than 300 wild foxes remain on the four islands.... Scientists to reconsider sturgeon protection A judge has ordered federal fisheries scientists to reconsider their finding that green sturgeon do not merit Endangered Species Act protection, saying the failure to take into account the large loss of spawning habitat made no sense. The ruling by U.S. Magistrate Elizabeth Laporte in San Francisco was a step forward for environmentalists battling the Bush administration over the loss of fish and wildlife habitat on the West Coast to irrigation, particularly in the Klamath Basin and California's Central Valley. "The message is the ecosystem is collapsing and the economic value of protecting these areas is far greater than diverting water to grow subsidized crops," said Wendell Wood of the Oregon Natural Resources Council, one of the conservation groups that brought the lawsuit. Brent Plater, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, said the ruling was significant because it declared the failure to analyze the loss of spawning habitat was "arbitrary and capricious.".... Enviro groups cry foul Tribes, fishermen groups and environmentalists are claiming a betrayal of trust because they say PacifiCorp's application to renew operations of Klamath River dams overlooks salmon restoration options. "Although the relicensing process provided stakeholders with a form to voice their concerns as the proposed license was developed, many charge that the final product ignored their input, the input of the scientific community, and most importantly, the needs of Klamath River salmon," said Craig Tucker with Friends of the River in a March 1 press release.... One for the books: Hounds tree Michigan wolverine When Thumb-area coyote hunters turned their hounds loose in Huron County on the morning of Feb. 24, they had little idea that it would become a historical day. A coyote or fox was the intended quarry, and a primary purpose of the hunt was to listen to the chorus of hounds on a hot scent. In no time, the hounds hit a hot scent trail meandering through the freshly fallen snow. But the tracks of the animal being pursued puzzled the hunters. None of them could identify the tracks. “We actually thought that maybe it was a mountain lion that had come across from Canada on the ice,” said Cass City’s John Boland, who was in on the chase. “It was a track none of us had ever seen before and we wanted to see what it was.” Soon, the object of the chase was sighted and the hunters surmised that it was a wolverine.... USFWS Chief: Wyoming must bend Wyoming lawmakers are going to have to compromise in order for wolves to be taken off the endangered species list, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams said Thursday. "The stumbling block is unregulated take," Williams said. "Call them what you want. The predator class in Wyoming is unregulated take. The Endangered Species Act says you have to have adequate regulatory mechanisms. To approve a plan that does not conform with the law doesn't make any sense.".... Group sues fisheries service over steelhead listing A group representing farmers in Eastern Washington and Oregon sued the National Marine Fisheries Service on Thursday, saying the agency is illegally listing Columbia River and upper Willamette River steelhead as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Pacific Legal Foundation argued that when counting the fish, the fisheries service must include wild and hatchery-raised steelhead, as dictated by a federal court ruling concerning coho salmon in Oregon in 2001. In addition, the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Yakima, says the fisheries service must count rainbow trout, which it says are scientifically indistinct from steelhead, though rainbows remain in fresh water while steelhead migrate to the ocean.... Administration Negotiating Transfer of Kirwin National Wildlife Refuge to State of Kansas The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is in discussions to surrender management of a national wildlife refuge and turn it over to a state agency, according to an agency email released today by the Blue Goose Alliance and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The groups are expressing concern about both the legality and wisdom of dismantling the National Wildlife Refuge System in a letter they also released today.... DCI investigates wolf incident The state Division of Criminal Investigation is looking into the incident of tranquilized wolves left on private land near Meeteetse on Feb. 14. Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric said he requested the DCI investigation into possible criminal trespass charges Tuesday afternoon. The DCI could spend up to two weeks talking with "witnesses and potential suspects" and reviewing paperwork including maps and Global Positioning System coordinates, Skoric said Wednesday. "I want to gather all the facts," Skoric said. He said criminal trespass is a misdemeanor under Wyoming law.... Park Service official quits in protest The National Park Service's Number Two man in charge of wilderness programs has quit in protest. Jim Walters, who'd worked for the Park Service for 37 years, says the agency has shirked its legal responsibilities to protect the wild back country.... New federal drilling plan benefits a Republican donor The federal government has eased oil and gas drilling restrictions on a large tract of desert grassland in New Mexico in a decision that benefits a large Republican donor in the state. The donor, George Yates, said his contributions and fund-raising assistance to Vice President Dick Cheney had nothing to do with the decision. The Interior Department says its drilling plan, while opening up more land in Otero Mesa, will be the most restrictive ever. The Bush administration "would allow 141 oil and gas wells over about 7 million acres; Interior is committed to protecting our public lands," department spokesman Mark Pfeifle said. However, environmentalists are crying foul.... Stretch of Colo. land becomes battleground It's a deceptively peaceful scene. The Roan is a battleground, much as it was in 1894 when cattlemen vying for grazing rights against sheep ranchers drove 4,000 sheep off the cliffs in a clash known as the Peach Day Massacre. More than a century later, the latest fight over the Roan — owned by the American public and managed by the Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management — focuses on natural gas. Deep beneath the plateau rests 5.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to heat 2.5 million homes for 20 years. Drilling on the plateau for natural gas, which the Bush administration has signaled it favors, would bring jobs and more than $100 million for the local county. So it is supported by some local chambers of commerce and regional government associations.... Monument probe ends: U.S. reviews complaints, backs Grand Staircase-Escalante managers The embattled managers of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument have been exonerated of allegations of wrongdoing, according to a federal investigation initiated at the request of Sen. Orrin Hatch. The probe looked into allegations that monument management engaged in illegal hiring practices, intimidated staff and sought to eliminate livestock grazing within the 1.9-million-acre federal reserve in southern Utah. "No evidence was found to indicate that any illegal activities or violations of regulations occurred related to the grazing program. The investigation also found no evidence of illegal personnel practices," according to a U.S. Department of Interior memorandum obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune through the Freedom of Information Act.... Court Decision Gives GE Chance to Sue EPA A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 1980 Superfund law that allows the government to assess polluters for cleaning up toxic waste sites. The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals directs a lower court judge to reopen General Electric Co.'s suit against the Environmental Protection Agency arising out of a planned $500 million cleanup of the upper Hudson River. U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates wrongly dismissed the suit a year ago when he ruled GE didn't have standing to bring it until after EPA issued a cleanup order requiring the company to pay the entire cost of removing carcinogenic PCBs it had dumped into the river since the mid-1940s, the panel said. The lawsuit claimed the Superfund statute violates due process rights by giving regulators unchecked authority to order costly, intrusive cleanups with no chance at a timely review by the courts.... Interior proposes Trinity deal The federal government wants to end the years of litigation about flows on the Klamath water issue's other stem, the Trinity River. First, though, it would have to get the sides of the water debate to support a new proposal. Bennett Raley, an assistant Interior secretary, was in Northern California earlier this week meeting with the parties to a court fight over flows on the Trinity. He came with a proposal for "adaptive management," or flexible flow schedules for the river.... COLORADO RIVER: Plan to boost water share returns The federal government is evaluating a controversial plan that would allow Southern Nevada to draw more water from the Colorado River to meet the demands of a growing population in a drought-stricken desert. Federal lawyers are reviewing a decade-old proposal that would let the Southern Nevada Water Authority increase its allocations by adding water that flows into Lake Mead from the Virgin and Muddy rivers, said Bennett Raley, Interior Department assistant secretary for water and science, on Wednesday.... Reactions to Cloud Seeding Are Mixed at West Texas Meeting Like two thunderclouds clashing in a storm, opposite sides of the cloud-seeding issue collided Wednesday at a Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation public hearing. What started out as a gentle rain of opposition from speakers turned into a hailstorm of questions being fired at C.E. Williams, general manager of Panhandle Groundwater Conservation District.... Lawsuit heats up gold mining battle Colorado has become a battleground for the surging gold mining industry and its opponents - a group that includes environmentalists, ranchers, farmers and activists. The latest salvo was fired by the industry last week when the Colorado Mining Association sued Summit County for imposing a ban in late January on cyanide heap leach, a mining technique used to extract gold from low- grade ore.... The Most Expensive Ranches Michael Jackson's public image may be many things to different people, but one identity that doesn't immediately leap to mind is rancher. However, the name for his California home, Neverland Ranch, isn't just a matter of whimsy. By leasing out some of his land to a cattle rancher and agreeing not to develop the rest of it, like many landowners the King of Pop for years has received tax credits saving him tens of thousands of dollars in property taxes....

Thursday, March 04, 2004


For Immediate Release


Contact: Erik L. Ness - Director of Communications (505) 532-4705/

(505) 644-1416

(Las Cruces, N.M.) The New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau today urged the state agency involved with the ownership of livestock to use extreme caution regarding the disposition of cattle in the case involving ranchers Kit and Sherry Laney and the U.S. Forest Service.

The Forest Service is in the process of rounding up several hundred head of cattle belonging to the Diamond Bar Ranch in a dispute over grazing and property rights in the Gila National Forest in western New Mexico.

N.M. Farm Bureau President, Michael White of Dexter, said the Livestock Board must take action consistent with state law regarding the impoundment, movement and any potential sale of the Laney cattle.

"The New Mexico Livestock Board is facing monumental decisions in this case and our statewide organization will be watching very carefully any possible precedent setting actions of this panel as these cattle are gathered by a private contractor hired by the Forest Service," White said.

The Farm Bureau leader also said it is not up to the Livestock Board to further litigate the Laney case but to follow its statutory duty in regard to how these, or any other cattle, are impounded, inspected, transported or sold.

"We have been watching this case for more than a decade and are very concerned about the protection of property rights for our ranchers, farmers and all citizens." White said.

White stated that the N.M. Livestock Board is bound by statute to follow the state livestock code and associated laws and should not bow to political pressure from governmental officials or other groups.

"We fully realize the Livestock Board is acting in accordance with counsel from the N.M. Attorney General’s office and we urge the members of the brand board to carefully consider all aspects of such legal advice," White said.

In addition to cautioning the Livestock Board, White pointed out that the Forest Service should be completely transparent in all of its actions and dealings because of the controversial nature of this case.

The N.M. Farm and Livestock Bureau is urging its members statewide to express their concern to the state livestock agency and the state’s congressional delegation.


Media advisory: For clarification the N.M. Farm and Livestock Bureau is a private, general agricultural organization with 17,000 family-members in all New Mexico counties.

The New Mexico Livestock Board is a state agency charged with the inspection of the sale and movement of cattle in the state. It also is known as the "Brand Board."


March 2, 2004

To: Bill King, Chairman
New Mexico Livestock Board
PO Box 564
Stanley, New Mexico 87056

From: Joe Delk, Tweeti Blancett, David Kincaid
New Mexico Livestock Board Members

Subject: Memorandum of Understanding between New Mexico Livestock Board and United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service concerning impoundment and movement of cattle from the Diamond Bar and Laney Grazing Allotments in the Gila National Forest.

As members of the New Mexico Livestock Board, we were caught completely by surprise to find this Memorandum of Understanding had been signed by our Executive Director without allowing each member of the Livestock Board to read, provide input and vote on this most important document. Where in the policy and procedures of the Livestock Board has this authority been delegated to the Executive Director?

It is not a stretch to say that this may be one of the most important decisions ever made by the Board. Is the precedent being established one that respects our oath to uphold the laws of New Mexico? Is the whole Board now required to accept liability for documents we have never discussed or voted on—or for that matter even seen? Will the precedents established concerning property rights, state law, Supreme Court decisions, and the jurisdiction of federal courts and agencies damage New Mexico and its’ citizens? Are we, as Board members, being lulled, or worse, intimidated into committing misfeasance? What is the harm in having our questions addressed in the open? Let’s take our time and deliberate on behalf of the great state and citizens we’ve sworn to serve..

We request this Memorandum of Understanding be set aside and the Forest Service be immediately advised of this action. We further request that you then place this memorandum on our agenda for discussion and action in open session at the board meeting on March 5, 2004.

If our appointments to this board mean anything, we expect to be included in the decision-making process especially concerning issues as critical as the one that this MOU addresses.

___________________________ ___________________________
Joe Delk Tweeti Blancett

David Kincaid


Bill King, Chairman
New Mexico Livestock Board

Dear Mr. King:

The New Mexico Public Lands Council represents ranchers grazing livestock on land administered by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the New Mexico State Land Office. Our organization is an advocate for the ranching industry and grazing on federal and state trust land. According to our bylaws, one of our primary purposes is “To improve the Federal and State policies governing the management of federal and trust lands for grazing utilization by livestock by appropriate revisions in legislation, policies and regulations.” Therefore the situation that has developed between Kit and Sherry Laney and the Diamond Bar Cattle Company and the US Forest Service is of particular interest to our association’s members.

We believe the Laney’s have a valid claim to their property rights to graze and water their cattle and conduct related activities on the Diamond Bar allotment. The court rulings regarding removal of their cattle have not settled the property rights claims involved in this case.

We understand that the US Forest Service intends to gather and impound the Laney’s cattle pursuant to their regulations and court decisions. If that does occur, it is of extreme importance to New Mexico’s livestock industry that such actions are taken in full accordance with New Mexico state law regarding livestock identification, transportation and change of ownership. We believe New Mexico state laws on these issues were written to assure that commerce in livestock in the state is conducted in a businesslike manner that is fair to all parties involved.

Due to the deteriorating relationship between the US Forest Service and the ranching community in the state and actions by both the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management in other states it appears more conflicts such as this are likely. The actions in this case could set important precedents as to how these issues are handled in the future. There could be long-lasting implications for our members and New Mexico’s livestock industry as a result of the Livestock Board’s action in this case.

It is our understanding that the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office has furnished the Livestock Board with an opinion on this case. With all due respect to the Attorney General’s Office, we request that the New Mexico Livestock Board seek additional legal opinions on the Livestock Board’s statutory obligations and authority in this matter. There may be factors the Board should consider in determining a course of action that were not readily apparent to the Attorney General.

The New Mexico Livestock Board was established to serve the New Mexico livestock industry. Our livestock identification and inspection system has been of great benefit to the industry during its history and is the envy of many other states. The manner in which this case is handled could have long-term impacts on the Livestock Board’s future authority and effectiveness. We do not want to see the past record compromised or potential liability incurred by actions in this case that are not in accordance with New Mexico law. We hope you will consider this request seriously.


Mike G. Casabonne, President
New Mexico Public Lands Council
Cc: New Mexico Livestock Board Members


February 26, 2004

Mr. Bill King, Chairman
New Mexico Livestock Board
P.O. Box 564
Stanley, New Mexico 87056 FAX: 505.832.6262

Dear Mr. King:

The New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) understands that the US Forest Service (USFS) intends to gather and impound cattle belonging to Kit and Sherry Laney on the Diamond Bar Allotment located in the Gila National Forest pursuant to their regulations and court decisions. If that does occur, it is of extreme importance to New Mexico’s livestock industry that such actions are taken in full accordance with New Mexico state law regarding livestock identification, transportation and change of ownership. We believe New Mexico state laws on these issues were written to assure that commerce in livestock in the state is conducted in a businesslike manner that is fair to all parties involved.

Please find enclosed a resolution that was passed at the NMCGA Board of Winter Directors Meeting held in Santa Fe earlier this month.

We believe the Laney’s have a valid claim to their property rights to graze and water their cattle and conduct related activities on the Diamond Bar allotment. The court rulings regarding removal of their cattle have not settled the property rights claims involved in this case.

Due to the deteriorating relationship between the USFS and the ranching community in the state and actions by both the USFS and the Bureau of Land Management in other states it appears more conflicts such as this are likely. The actions in this case could set important precedents as to how these issues are handled in the future. There could be long-lasting implications for our members and New Mexico’s livestock industry as a result of the New Mexico Livestock Board’s (NMLB) action in this case.

It is our understanding that the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office has furnished the NMLB with advice on this case. With all due respect to the Attorney General’s Office, we request that the NMLB seek additional legal opinions on the Board’s statutory obligations and authority in this matter. There may be factors the Board should consider in determining a course of action that were not readily apparent to the Attorney General.

The NMLB was established to serve the New Mexico livestock industry. Our livestock identification and inspection system has been of great benefit to the industry during its history and is the envy of many other states. The manner in which this case is handled could have long-term impacts on the Board’s future authority and effectiveness. We do not want to see the past record compromised or potential liability incurred by actions in this case that are not in accordance with New Mexico law. We hope you will consider this request seriously.


Don L. “Bebo” Lee

Cc: NMLB Members
NMLB Director


Becky Campbell
HC 68 Box 80
Silver City, NM 88061-9351


Welcome to the Gila Wilderness Naziland and the King's forest that no one can enter. State road 61 is blocked by the Gestapo in green USFS shirts packing pistols and tearing up and down the road attempting to intimidate local property owners. It takes this multitude of USFS Gestapo, trucks, support troops, plus closing the King's forest, trails and roads just to gather cattle that two or three real cowboys handle easily. All this frantic activity and secrecy is at great cost to us tax payers. The actual cost of all this is another secret. What is really going on behind closed doors or closed roads? Why is the media only allowed in under escort? Are they abusing the cattle that are just innocent animals? Are the cows getting enough hay and fresh water? Is there excessive harassment occurring to the area property owners? Particularly Kit and Sherry Laney? I am one of the property owners in this locked up land. This closure impacts my livelihood which is tourism. What this really boils down to is State Rights vs. Federal regulations. This forest is supposed to belong to us the people, NOT TO U.S. the Federal Government! More and more often our forests are
closed to us. No camping, no hiking, no fishing, no picnicking, and no horseback riding. How soon no hunting?

Why all the hullabaloo over gathering a medium herd of cattle? Why can't they calmly do what they are determined to do without disrupting community businesses and community lives? How many of our State's laws are the USFS breaking? Where do they get the authority to close a State Road to the public? How ashamed the cattle contractor must be of his part, for he doesn't even want his name to be known --- another secret. I am ashamed of my government. But I am proud of the courage that is shown by many of my fellow citizens.

Becky Campbell
Gila Hot Springs


Kit & Sherry Laney HC 30 Box 470 • Winston, NM 87943
Black Canyon: (505) 772-5535
Link: (505) 772-5536


February 28, 2004

TO: Contractor

We, Kit and Sherry Laney, hereby give you CONSTRUCTIVE NOTICE and DEMAND THAT YOU CEASE AND DESIST your involvement in the unlawful removal of our cattle. The Forest Service has left the mistaken impression that you will not be held accountable for violating the New Mexico statutes or civil damages arising from your unlawful actions. They have based their actions on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the Forest Service Regional Forester and the Executive Director of the New Mexico Livestock Board, Mr. Daniel Manzanares.

The MOU is an unlawful and illegal document, and therefore should be revoked for the following reasons:

1. The parties to the MOU are not named.
2. The MOU alludes to an agreement made between the un-named parties, but the agreement is not made a part of the MOU.
3. The Executive Director signed the MOU without the knowledge and consent of the members of the New Mexico Livestock Board.
4. An MOU carries no legal weight. It cannot be used to circumvent state law.

The Forest Service is not operating under a Court Order as it has implied, but under its regulations that apply to national forest system lands. The Court Order on which they base their actions does not order the Forest Service to remove the cattle. It merely states that the Forest Service is authorized to remove the cattle from national forest system lands.

We have an undisputed deeded private property right to use the lands within the boundaries of the Diamond Bar and Laney ranches for raising livestock. Our cattle are ranging on our vested private property right in land—not on national forest system lands. Therefore, you will be trespassing on our private property and illegally taking our cattle. We will file complaints against your for violation of the New Mexico Livestock Code.

We own all stockwatering rights within the boundaries of our ranches. We do not give you permission to use any of our stock water. If you do, we will file a complaint against you under NMSA 19-3-14, 19-3-15, and 19-3-16. If convicted, you will be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 and/or imprisonment of not more than six months. Each day’s violation will be a separate offense.

Also, we would like to give you some personal advice. After almost 19 years of attempting to work with the FS, we learned that the U. S. Supreme Court was right when it said “Persons dealing with the government are charged with knowing government statutes and regulations, and they assume the risk that government agents may exceed their authority and provide misinformation…” Lavin v. March, 644 F.2nd 1378 (9th Cir., 1981) [emphasis added]. When government agents exceed their authority their decisions and actions are invalid, and they no longer have immunity from being sued as individuals. Not only will we hold you accountable under State law, but we will also hold all the Forest Service personnel accountable as individuals who are involved in the decisions and actions to remove our cattle.

The MOU states that all proceeds of the sale of the cattle will go to the Gila National Forest. This is an untrue statement. Our cattle are secured under an UCC Security Agreement in an amount that is far more than the cattle will bring. There will be no funds left over for the Forest Service to use to pay you. Therefore, your payment will have to come out of the Forest Service’s normal budget or from a special allocation of funds. Keep in mind that the Forest Service in this area has a long standing reputation for very late payments on its obligations.

Please be advised that this Notice and Demand is not a threat. It is a statement of fact. The necessary documents to serve on you are already being prepared not only for unlawful removal of our cattle, but also for civil damages arising from your unlawful actions.

Respectfully submitted:

/s/ Kit Laney /s/ Sherry Laney
Kit Laney Sherry Laney

Cc: press

Bush orders quicker forest thinning The Bush administration gave federal land managers their formal marching orders Wednesday to speed up forest-thinning projects this year on 3.7 million fire-prone acres across the country. Two-thirds of the money will be focused on logging and prescribed burning near at-risk communities in and around national forests and public rangelands, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management officials said at a wildfire conference. The 56 pages of guidelines issued Wednesday explain how local agency field managers should proceed to quickly carry out the Healthy Forests Restoration Act that President Bush signed into law late last year over the objections of environmentalists.... Fire study says region was unprepared for catastrophe Last fall's Cedar, Paradise and Otay wildfires struck a region unprepared in key ways for the catastrophic but predictable conflagrations, according to a study released today. The U.S. Forest Service's "2003 San Diego County Fire Siege Fire Safety Review" calls on government bodies and private citizens to rethink their approaches to readying for such fiery disasters.... JUDGE: NO RESTRICTIONS ON ROGUE U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken has ruled against restricting commercial motorboats in the ‘wild' section of the Rogue River, as was requested in a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service. The lawsuit was filed by the Riverhawks, Northwest Rafters Association and Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands center, who contend the forest service was violating three federal acts by authorizing motorboat use within the 12-mile wild section of the Rogue Wild and Scenic River (WSR).... Parties wonder about money for wolf management Supporters and opponents of a proposal under which ranchers would be allowed to kill wolves are united in questioning where the money to pay for the state management of the wolves would come from. Both Idaho and Montana have tight state budgets. "We still need to work on the funding to manage this," Montana Republican Gov. Judy Martz said. "Our hunters and our ranchers are already suffering, so I would hope this does not fall on their backs." The Interior Department's proposed budget for fiscal year 2005 would reduce funding for endangered species by $7.6 million from $136.9 million this year to $129.4 million. It also specifically says Idaho, Montana and Wyoming wolf recovery programs would be reduced by $1.5 million.... Montana, Idaho edge toward wolf management Ranchers in Montana and Idaho would be able to kill wolves caught harassing their livestock under a proposed rule announced by Interior Department Secretary Gale Norton Wednesday. Norton said the rule is a temporary alternative to removing wolves from the endangered species list. She said it would give them the "maximum amount of authority under the Endangered Species Act." The increased latitude for ranchers is part of a larger rule that aims to give officials in the two states more authority to manage wolves within their state borders. Under current law, ranchers can only kill a wolf that is actually attacking livestock. The rule also would allow states to kill wolves if deer, elk and moose populations are declining. Under current law wolves may be relocated, but not killed, to protect game populations.... Court upholds permit to build golf course near Snake River A federal appeals court refused to stop a proposed golf course and upscale subdivision near Jackson, Wyo., rejecting arguments from environmental groups that the project could hurt bald eagles. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver said the Army Corps of Engineers acted properly when it issued a permit allowing builders to dredge and fill wetlands on the property along the Snake River 17 miles south of Jackson. The Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition of Bozeman, Mont., had argued the corps violated the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. The 10th Circuit ruling, dated Tuesday and made available Wednesday, said the corps had not violated either law.... Wolf expert says trespassing unintentional A federal wildlife biologist found on private land with four tranquilized wolves said he was not physically relocating the animals to the spot. Jimenez explained that he and other wildlife managers had been trying to collar wolves in one particular pack in the area for some time in order to keep better track of them. "This pack was difficult to trap," he said. On Feb. 14, a pilot on a routine surveillance flight of wolves located the pack between Thermopolis and Meeteetse and called Jimenez. "We jumped at the opportunity," Jimenez said. He quickly arranged for a helicopter with a pilot and another person to help Jimenez shoot the wolves with tranquilizer darts. The chase began on Bureau of Land Management land.... Editorial: A River Shortchanged, Again The Army Corps of Engineers is still refusing to do right by the once-majestic Missouri River. Three years ago, the Fish and Wildlife Service ordered the corps to alter seasonal flows on the heavily dammed river — raising water levels during the spring, lowering them during the summer — to save an endangered fish called the pallid sturgeon as well as two endangered bird species. Last Friday, defying not only the service but also the courts, the corps essentially refused. The only winners here are a few Missouri politicians. The environment and the larger economic interests of the region all lose.... County stands to lose claim on roads A decision by a Utah judge could act as "a stop sign" for Moffat County right-of-way claims, environmentalists say. Last week, U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell rejected three Utah counties' ownership claims to dirt tracks across Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and wildlands near Canyonlands National Park. Campbell upheld an earlier 2001 decision that stated RS 2477 claims only apply to highways that show evidence of construction and do not apply to trails formed by "haphazard, unintentional or incomplete action. For example, the mere passage of vehicles across land, in the absence of any other evidence, is not sufficient to meet the construction criteria of RS 2477." The Utah Attorney General intends to appeal the ruling in the 10th Circuit Court, said Paul Murphy, head of media relations at the attorney general office. When appealed, the case will be in the same judicial circuit as Moffat County, and any decision made there could act as a precedent for Moffat County's RS 2477 claims, said Ted Zukoski, a lawyer with Earthjustice, a non-profit law firm dedicated to protecting the environment. The decision is the only modern case to delve into the standards for claiming an RS 2477 right, he said.... Guide, helicopter service face suit The San Benito County District Attorney filed a lawsuit Tuesday against a Salinas hunting guide and a local helicopter company for depositing hunters onto private property. The lawsuit, which seeks more than $100,000 in civil penalties, is in response to complaints by ranchers and property owners in remote areas of San Benito County, according to District Attorney John Sarsfield.... Court Decision Upsets Day County Land Owners South Dakota's lakes, rivers and streams can be used by anyone across the state, but what about if that body of water is found on private property caused by floods. The state says they control those waters, but two years ago, a group of Day County land owners brought that question to court and won the right to determine who could use those waters. Now the South Dakota Supreme Court overturned that decision. It's a complicated question with no answer, that's because no where in state law does it mention who owns the rights of floodwaters. While the state owns the water rights, property owners control the land under the water, so who has the rights to that body of water. That's yet to be determined. Ordean Park's family have owned this land since South Dakota became a state in 1889. His grandfather and father have farmed the area since then, but when flooding filled up the farmland in 1997, the state took over. Park: "We've enjoyed exclusive rights to there and all of a sudden now the state says they are public property, we feel violated.".... Elk could have been run to death Wildlife experts are starting to think a herd of elk south of Rawlins was literally run to death. The cause of the massive elk die-off 15 miles south of Rawlins remains undetermined, but state wildlife experts are focusing on toxins or the possibility that excessive running and stress led to the paralysis that has affected 280 animals, which either died or were killed by wildlife managers. Dr. Walt Cook of the Wyoming State Veterinary Lab in Laramie said two elk thought to be suffering early symptoms of the paralysis that affected those that died were killed by game officials on Monday and necropsies have been performed. Results of the necropsy are not expected until later this week.... Bear baiting initiative may go to voters Maine's secretary of state says an initiative to ban bear baiting had almost twice the number of signatures it needed to force a referendum. Dan Gwadosky says the petition from Maine Citizens for Fair Bear Hunting had more than 97,000 valid signatures, 50,000 more than it needed to send the initiative to the State House. Advocates want to keep bear hunters from using bait, traps or dogs. The Baldacci administration and a coalition hunters' and guides' associations oppose the initiative.... Wolf-control boundaries expanded Two days after hunters killed the first wolves in a controversial aerial wolf-control program near the Interior village of McGrath, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game doubled the size of the area hunters can shoot wolves in. The department expanded the boundaries for aerial hunters in Game Management Unit 19D East near McGrath from about 1,750 square miles to 3,600 square miles.... Campbell leaves the stage Ben Nighthorse Campbell's announcement Wednesday that he won't seek a third U.S. Senate term signaled the end of a fruitful, 22-year record of public service. It also kicked open Colorado's political anthill and sent politicians in both parties scurrying to reassess their own career options. Campbell's retirement comes after an unbroken string of electoral victories in his races for the state legislature, U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. His down-to-earth manner resonated with Colorado voters, and he became a leader on issues including Indian rights and environmental causes as well as traditional Western concerns such as water and land management.... 'The Jackson Hole Story' looks at politics behind preservation Rich tourists might have come to Jackson Hole in the early 20th century looking for a taste of the mythological Old West, but the locals proved remarkably forward-thinking despite the unpaved roads and movie-set architecture. As early as 1923, groups of Jackson Hole residents were meeting in their cabins, discussing ways to preserve the beautiful environs of the Teton Range they called home. Those discussions would ultimately lead to the formation of the Grand Teton National Park in 1929 and the Jackson Hole National Monument in 1943, but not without considerable controversy, political gamesmanship and a major showdown between the state of Wyoming and the federal government.... Inherited Quarter Horse Disease Traces To Poco Bueno Poco Bueno has been identified as the sireline associated with the brutal affliction known as hyperelastosis cutis (HC) or hereditary equine regional dermal asthenia (HERDA). He was a giant among horses. Built like a rock, he possessed power and speed. He made his mark in the show ring as a champion, then retired to the breeding shed. His greatness was carried on through his get, grandget, and on down the line through succeeding generations of Quarter Horses. It is primarily down through Poco Bueno’s bloodline, say researchers at Mississippi State University and Cornell University, that the recessive gene that causes hyperelastosis cutis (HC) has passed. HC is a brutal affliction that basically carries with it a death sentence. Although affected horses can be made more comfortable and their lives prolonged, there is no cure....

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Mexico Partially Lifts Ban on U.S. Beef

Mexico partially lifted its ban on imports of U.S. beef, announcing Wednesday that boneless cuts from animals less than 30 months old and veal from animals less than 9 months old could be imported.

The government had imposed a ban on Dec. 24, the day after a single case of mad-cow disease was reported in Washington state.

Mexico is traditionally the second-largest foreign market for U.S. beef. The United States exported 346,520 tons of beef to Mexico from January through November last year, worth $818 million, according to USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation.

In Wednesday's announcement, Mexico's agriculture department said the ban still applies to live animals.

The agency's chief of sanitation, Javier Trujillo, said the government took the measure after analyzing risks and measures adopted by the United States following discovery of the diseased animal.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman welcomed Mexico's announcement. She said her department provided Mexican officials with extensive information they requested and "hosted their technical teams to illustrate that our beef is indeed safe."

Baucus, Demos balk at forest bill funding levels Montana Sen. Max Baucus and other Democrats on Tuesday said the Bush administration's proposed budget for 2005 does not provide enough money for clearing dead trees and other debris from forests. Last year, Baucus, Sen. Ron Wyden, R-Ore., and a handful of other Democrats joined forces with Republican lawmakers and Bush administration officials to draft the plan, known as the Healthy Forest Initiative, to overhaul management of the nation's forests. At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Forest Service's budget, Wyden lashed out at Mark Rey, the Agriculture Department's under-secretary for natural resources and environment.... Wyoming to sue over wolf impasse Unable to resolve differences at the negotiating table, Wyoming soon will take its fight over wolf management to federal court, a state official said Tuesday. Michael O'Donnell, Wyoming's chief deputy attorney general, said the state would challenge the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's rejection in January of the state management plan for wolves. The lawsuit, which will be filed in a federal court in Wyoming, will claim that the federal agency wrongly opposed Wyoming's wolf plan despite a review by a scientific panel in which a majority agreed that the plan would be adequate. "We think we've got a pretty good argument," O'Donnell said. "They acted arbitrarily in rejecting the Wyoming plan." The suit will ask a federal judge to order the Fish and Wildlife Service to accept Wyoming's plan and begin the process of removing the wolves from the endangered species list.... Wolves kill cow, calf near Glenns Ferry Federal Wildlife Service officials have confirmed wolves killed one cow and a calf on a ranch north of Hammet. Rancher John McCallum says he spotted fresh tracks Monday morning. McCallum says it's the first year he's seen traces of wolves on the ranch, which runs 500 head of cattle. George Graves of the agency's office says more than two wolves were involved in the predation.... Column: Merle Haggard & the Politics of Salmon During the battle to save the pristine salmon and steelhead habitat of Headwaters Forest in 1998, I got a phone call one morning from Mike Sherwood, then the California Director of the Sierra Club. He told me that country legend Merle Haggard and actor Woody Harrelson would be appearing at the State Capitol for a noon time rally. "Please to meet you, Merle," I said as I held out my hand and got a hard, firm shake from the country bard, known for the outspoken lyrics of "Okie from Muskogee," the "Fightin' Side of Me,"and many, many other songs. Haggard explained to me that he was there to stop the logging of redwood and Douglas-fir forests on the North Coast by Pacific Lumber Company. Haggard, a long time angler and hunter who lives on Lake Shasta, was there to urge the Legislature to not fund the Headwaters Forest deal between the federal government and Pacific Lumber unless measures protecting forest watersheds were adopted. He also recommended the removal of state and federal officials responsible for the destruction of forest habitat.... Prop. A loses big Proposition A, the sweeping growth-control initiative, was rejected overwhelmingly by San Diego County voters Tuesday. The measure was trailing by a 64 percent to 36 percent margin, with 62 percent of precincts reporting. "It looks like those numbers are holding up," said Eric Larson, executive director for the San Diego County Farm Bureau, which led the fight to defeat the measure. "We feel very good about that. I have to admit, the numbers are better than we expected." Also celebrating Tuesday night was Matt Adams, spokesman for the Building Industry Association of San Diego County.... Federal agencies talk about protecting minnow, flycatcher Representatives from three federal agencies met with state and local officials for the first of a series of meetings on the fate of the endangered silvery minnow and the Southwestern willow flycatcher. About 50 people, including tribal representatives, city officials and environmentalists, rekindled talks with the representatives Monday about the species and long-term management of the Rio Grande River. "It was a good meeting. I think we got a clear direction on where we needed to go," said Jack Garner, area manager for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Albuquerque office. The meeting also drew representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.... Option on wolves considered Too many wolf-related questions and too few satisfactory answers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had the Park County Board of Commissioners exploring their legal options Tuesday. The federal government isn't living up to its side of the 1994 wolf reintroduction plan, said Commissioner Marie Fontaine. "The number of wolves has totally exceeded the number in the plan," Fontaine said. "We need to hold their feet to the fire." Calling for a congressional inquiry into an incident on Feb. 14 - four tranquilized wolves, a Fish and Wildlife Service biologist and his assistant found on a private ranch in Meeteetse - might be a good place to start, said Commission Chairman Tim Morrison.... County backs rancher County commissioners Tuesday will consider seeking a congressional investigation into the handling of four wolves on a Meeteetse area ranch Feb. 14. Commission chairman Tim Morrison, who is from Meeteetse, said rancher Randy Kreuger called him with information about the incident and asked him to pass documentation of it to the county attorney. "This is a terrible thing for a landowner to have to deal with," Morrison said. He said he has known Kruger for some time, and finds him to be "responsible, calm and reasonable." But coming upon Mike Jimenez and another person on his property near four tranquilized wolves in the same area where his cattle were about to calve deeply upset Kruger, Morrison said. "Nothwithstanding any local charges (the Larsen Ranch Co. may file trespass charges against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Congress needs to look into it," Morrison told fellow commissioners during a special meeting Friday.... Agent: Low fuel forced landing Wolves near Dubois, the Washakie Pack, had mostly evaded attempts to collar them until mid-February, when they were spotted between Thermopolis and Meeteetse. A federal agent boarded a helicopter, darted and retrieved four wolves, processed them and landed with the tranquilized animals while the pilot went off to refuel. The landing site was on a road; the processing site allegedly on adjacent private ranchland. "We do our best not to go on other people's property," said Mike Jimenez, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's wolf project leader for Wyoming. "We sincerely apologize if we do. "Our intention was to focus on collaring wolves.".... Wolves attack cattle in Madison Valley Two wolf packs attacked cattle in four incidents in four days in the Madison Valley and now a federal gunner has orders to kill half of one pack and try to put radio collars on the other pack. It they attack livestock again, they'll all be shot, said Ed Bangs, wolf recovery leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Helena. "They killed a yearling for us this morning about daylight," rancher Gary Clark said Tuesday afternoon. The attacks started on Friday. Clark said the wolves brought down the steer, which weighed several hundred pounds, about 250 yards from three ranch houses.... Feds may make it easier to kill wolves Federal authorities will propose relaxing rules to allow Idaho officials to kill wolves that threaten big game populations and let pet owners kill wolves threatening their animals. The new rule, which will be announced today, also would make it easier for Idaho and Montana ranchers to kill wolves harassing or killing their livestock on private land. Hunting of wolves will not be allowed. Wyoming´s wolf management will continue unchanged until it rewrites its wolf plan to meet federal requirements.... U.S. Offers California Tribe Water Plan to End Dispute Federal officials presented leaders of the Hoopa Valley Indian tribe with a proposal on Tuesday for resolving a decades-old dispute over the Trinity River, which has been a symbol of the often irreconcilable water demands of farmers and fishing communities in the West. The proposal would set rules on the amount of water diverted for irrigation and create an "emergency water bank" so levels in the river could be adjusted when fish suffer disease or face other problems associated with low water flows. But early reaction from tribal leaders was not favorable. After meeting for more than two hours with federal officials in Sacramento, the Hoopa tribe's director of fisheries, Mike Orcutt, said the government proposal favored the farmers, who are represented by the Westlands irrigation district.... Groups seek to add West Nile virus concerns to coalbed methane suit Conservation groups challenging the Bureau of Land Management's plan to manage coalbed methane development in the Powder River Basin are seeking to add concerns about the West Nile virus to their lawsuit. The groups say ponds that store groundwater discharged by drilling for the gas provide prime breeding habitat for mosquitoes, which are the primary carriers of West Nile virus. In the arid and semi-arid basin, they provide one of the only sources of standing water during the summer, they said.... BLM expands virtual firearms training The Bureau of Land Management last week tapped Advanced Interactive Systems Inc. to train land management enforcement officers using the Seattle company’s firearms training simulators. Under the five-year contract, the Seattle company will train more than 300 officers on its Prisim systems. Training is scheduled to begin this month. The indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract has a ceiling of $500,000, according to the bureau. The simulators can present video scenarios to trainees where they must make quick decisions about which actions to take, said Melissa Milburn, vice president of corporate communications for Advanced Interactive Systems. The systems can train individuals in basic marksmanship, use-of-force options and critical decision-making.... Editorial: Bogus roads U. S. District Judge Tena Campbell began shining some needed light on the murky issue of road claims in Utah with her ruling last week. The judge held that three rural Utah counties do not have legitimate claims on 15 of 16 disputed routes the counties illegally carved on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The 16 roads at issue in Judge Campbell's court were bladed by Kane, Garfield and San Juan counties within the boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This was in 1996, not long after President Clinton created the monument and during the BLM's reinventory of Utah land for possible wilderness designation. In addition to denying the counties' road claims, Campbell found that they had violated federal law by grading and realigning the routes without the BLM's consent. Her decisions should make rural county officials stop and think before asserting their "rights" by ignoring the law.... Governor backs Petrified Forest N.P. expansion Gov. Janet Napolitano is urging federal lawmakers to pass legislation that would more than double the size of Petrified Forest National Park by authorizing the sale of about 97,000 acres of private and public land. If approved, the expansion would cost about $15 million for the land. Recently, Napolitano sent a letter to U.S. Rep. George Radanovich, R-Calif., who is the chairman of the House subcommittee for National Parks. She also sent the letter to U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Flagstaff, and Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl, asking for the push on legislation that has been stalled in both the House and Senate for about a year.... Column: THE MAD GAS RUSH In an effort to convert the gas and oil industry's wish list to law, the administration seems to have temporarily shelved its unpopular plan to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. So distracted are the media by this move that they're paying scant attention to the administration's plans for the Rocky Mountain West. And that rankles Tweeti Blancett, a rancher who calls herself a “cowgirl” and sits on New Mexico's Livestock Board and whose husband, Linn, is a director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association. Linn's great-grandfather, a scout for the U.S. Army, came into the San Juan Basin with Kit Carson in the 1870s, and the family has run cattle here ever since. “If you want to see what the West will look like, take a good look at this valley,” Tweeti Blancett told me on the morning of December 8, 2003, as she loaded a PowerPoint program at her Aztec, New Mexico, office. Five days earlier she had given the same “preview” to the Sierra Club, the very outfit that has called her profession “welfare ranching” and tried to get cows off public range.... Keeping it open: Family commits ranchland to preservation The DeHaan ranch at the base of the Horseshoe Hills north of Belgrade is a sharp contrast from other parts of the Gallatin Valley, where houses are gradually dotting the landscape. Fields of wheat, barley and alfalfa thrive on the DeHaan's land. Cattle graze in pastures. Wildlife pours out of the hills in winter. And that's the way Frank DeHaan and his family want to keep it. As such, the DeHaans have agreed to sell a 10,456-acre conservation easement to Gallatin County.... State has new water standards to protect fish State and federal environmental-quality experts issued new water-quality standards for every fish-bearing waterway in Oregon Tuesday. The new standards map out optimal water temperatures depending on time of year and waterway and are intended to protect endangered salmon and trout species. “We have essentially redesigned 30 years of water-quality standards,” said Mark Charles of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The standards are the result of a successful lawsuit filed by Northwest Environmental Advocates of Portland that claimed that the old standards did not meet requirements of the federal Endangered Species Act or the federal Clean Water Act. The standards will affect all discharges from pipes and nonpoint pollution sources, such as runoff from agriculture, because those pollution sources affect temperature in rivers.... Ag groups give notice on buffers A national pesticide organization Feb. 18 put the 9th U.S. Circuit Court on alert that it plans to appeal a U.S. district judge’s decision to establish no-spray buffers for 38 pesticides along salmon bearing waterways in Oregon, Washington and Northern California. CropLife America, which includes Monsanto, Bayer and Dow among its members, filed the notice to appeal on behalf of more than 30 agricultural organizations.... Oceans in crisis, will Bush step up? President Bush's oceans advisory panel is about to issue a report calling for a completely new approach to protecting marine life, but already the feeling among some experts is that the president won't have much of an appetite for heeding the advice. What makes this report so special is that it's the biggest government review of oceans policy in 35 years. The last report saw oceans as farmland waiting to be harvested and fish stocks were pretty much managed like cattle.... Cattle tracking faces a maze Soon after the discovery of a mad cow late last year in central Washington, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced meat supply reforms that included a cattle identification system capable of tracking a sick cow and its herd mates nationwide within hours. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture now says it could be several years before a tracking system is in place and operational, despite pressure to act quickly from members of Congress, U.S. trading partners and even the chief executive of McDonald's. Political and logistical hurdles stand in the way:.... Column: How are the fireguards in your township? Did you ever wonder if all those little township roads go anywhere? Well, many don’t. Their purpose was to create fireguards, or as we call them today fuel breaks. The laws from 1939 are still on our books. If a majority present at the annual township meeting, vote for “fireguards” the supervisors are required to plow an area of the section line not more than four rods wide, remove the sod with a “road grader”, and thereafter inspect it and drag it with a “harrow” from July 1 to September 1 to keep the vegetation down. Property within the area surrounded by the fireguards is taxed by a special assessment for the costs.... Rattler roundup draws a crowd There's something about serpents, especially the ones with venom and rattles. Most folks just don't like them. But they're still fascinated with the deadly critters. That's why some 30,000 people swoop down on Sweetwater (pop. 11,000) every year for the World's Largest Rattlesnake Roundup. That title is not just West Texas brag, either. The roundup has bagged more than a quarter-million pounds of writhing rattlers in 45 years. The contest is open to anyone. "For the true number of rattlesnakes, no other roundup comes close," said Ken Becker, executive vice president of the Chamber of Commerce, which puts on the roundup with the Sweetwater Jaycees, raising upward of $85,000 and drawing the likes of "National Geographic Explorer" and ESPN....