Friday, April 09, 2004


Prospects looking up for logging Ten years after the supposed end of the spotted owl wars, environmentalists are charging that two recent moves by the Bush administration undercut the pact's environmental protections. The wrangling goes on as it has for a decade, with the timber industry firing back that environmentalists stymied a key goal of the Clinton administration's 1994 Northwest Forest Plan: cutting at least some timber to rescue beleaguered logging towns. Federal officials still struggle to get more wood out of taxpayer-owned woods. But here in this town hemmed in by national forest south of Mount Rainier, something quite different is happening. Environmentalists are, in effect, walking through the forest and saying: Let's cut that tree. And that one. And that one over there, too. What happened?.... A creeping controversy In an unmarked site on the edges of this community of berry farmers, Bob Harriman puts one foot on the world's most controversial grass. It's a blanket of brilliant green — as thin as a piece of paper and as uniform as cellophane. If it sounds unnatural, that's because it is. The turf is a genetically modified version of the creeping bentgrass popular on golf course greens and fairways, and it is being tested here by Scotts Co., which hopes its creation will be resistant to a common weed-killing chemical.... Lion captured by snare in Sabino Canyon near school State wildlife biologists captured a mountain lion Friday in Sabino Canyon using a snare set near a recently killed deer, an Arizona Game and Fish Department spokesman said. The animal was captured in a wash in the canyon about a half-mile northeast of a middle school and a quarter-mile from a home. Wildlife biologists are confident the animal is the same one seen March 18 in a parking lot outside Esperero Canyon Middle School, Miles said.... Forest Vision Extends Into Hearst Tract The U.S. Forest Service is considering creating a Big Sur National Forest that could include the Hearst Ranch and Ft. Hunter Liggett, if the enormous U.S. Army base is shuttered in the Pentagon's coming round of base closures. As envisioned, the new national forest could encompass an area yet to be acquired that alone would be nearly half the size of Orange County, plus northern portions of the Los Padres National Forest. If the Forest Service were to acquire about 80,000 acres of the Hearst Ranch, as is suggested in the paper, and take over the 165,000-acre Ft. Hunter Liggett, it would add about 382 square miles to California's inventory of protected public lands.... Column: 'U.S. backs U.N. plan to control land' Ironically, the same year this policy was announced, Jesse Hardy bought 160 acres near Naples, Fla., to build his American dream. He had served 12 years in the Navy and was disabled from an injury during a helicopter jump. He built a modest home, using a generator for electricity, and began developing his dream of a wildlife area around fish ponds, which he hoped would bring enough paying visitors to meet his meager money needs. The federal government now wants Jesse's land. The government has already driven out or bought out all the other landowners in the area to expand the wilderness area in an effort to "restore" the Everglades. Jesse's land will not be affected by the restoration plan, but he will be the only resident in the area, and as long as there is a human in the area, it will not be "wild.".... Group: Stop Harvests in Blackbird Habitats Harvesting and plowing should be prohibited or at least delayed in areas where the tricolored blackbird breeds, an environmental group said Friday in asking for immediate protection for the species. The blackbird population appears to be in fine shape because thousands of the birds often flock together, said the Center for Biological Diversity. The bird looks like the red-winged blackbird, but behaves differently. California has more than 99 percent of the population, which once numbered in the millions.... Daschle says he wants prairie dogs off protected list Sen. Tom Daschle has asked federal officials not to list the black-tailed prairie dog as an endangered species. Four years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the prairie dog deserved to be a candidate for the threatened species list. However, recent surveys have shown the prairie dog population is much larger than earlier estimates indicated, Daschle, D-S.D., said Friday in a conference call with South Dakota reporters. New surveys show prairie dogs cover about 400,000 acres in the state, he said. The numbers show the prairie dog is far from endangered, Daschle said.... EPA General Counsel Nominee has a Checkered Record Ann Klee, currently general counsel to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, has been nominated by the Bush Administration to become general counsel of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Klee is a Washington veteran with a long history representing conservative interests on environmental issues. After working as a lawyer in Washington for several years, Klee became environmental counsel to Senator Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID) in 1995. Now governor of Idaho, Kempthorne is an outspoken opponent of many federal environmental laws and programs.... A small bird that makes a big noise A small bird with a long tail threatens to wreak havoc with the plans of Colorado developers. An impending decision to list the "greater sage grouse" as an endangered species could affect millions of dollars of development plans, from ranching and farming to housing, mining and oil and gas production. The grouse population has been steadily declining over the past 20 years. Its habitat is spread over 110 millions acres in 11 states, including northwestern Colorado.... State Lands Commission Votes to Preserve Wetlands and Opposes Offshore Oil Drilling The California State Lands Commission voted today to grant the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a lease for the construction of the Bolsa Chica Wetlands Project. The project will restore 880 acres of oil fields to their natural wetlands habitat and will act as a haven to fish and wildlife. The restored wetlands will also serve as a recreation site for visitors and residents of Huntington Beach, California. The Commission also voted to send a letter to President George W. Bush reiterating its position of support for a moratorium on new oil and gas development off the coast of California.... Habitat protection price tag put at $1 billion The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that protecting the habitat of an endangered crustacean and a threatened songbird will cost public and private property owners nearly $1 billion over the next 23 years. The federal agency's economic analysis, which covers six Southern California counties, was released yesterday. It is part of the process of deciding which land will be protected as "critical habitat" for the San Diego fairy shrimp and the coastal California gnatcatcher.... Former employee says tribe neglected its bison A man who works for the Three Affiliated Tribes' bison project said neglect, bad management and laziness caused the tribes' bison to die this winter. Ted Siers, 33, a five-year employee of the bison project who is on leave while he waits to be transferred to a different department, says he'd rather face retaliation from tribal authorities than let the situation continue. Siers describes a bison operation that engaged in cruel and inhumane treatment of the animals and one in which the bison were routinely underfed while the project's six employees spent most of the work day watching DVD movies and lounging. He said bison project general manager Pete Hale was rarely around, and manager Paul White Owl Sr. ran the operation in ways that caused the bison to fatally injure each other and then left them to crawl off and die.... Editorial: Uncle Sam giving away land The federal government this week sold public property worth $15.5 million for a pitiful $875. The egregious giveaway spotlights a concern looming over many Colorado towns, not just Crested Butte: For a song, Uncle Sam sells mining claims that can be turned into developments that overwhelm nearby communities. Mount Emmons towers over Crested Butte, creating the town's dramatic backdrop. This week, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management granted a mining patent (tantamount to title) to Phelps Dodge Corp., putting the popular recreation area in private hands. Under the 1872 Mining Act, the company paid about $5 an acre - in an area where a tenth of an acre on the free market fetches $100,000.... Meatpacker considers suing USDA over mad cow A small meatpacking company warned Friday it may sue the Agriculture Department to obtain permission to test every animal at its slaughterhouse for mad cow disease. Agriculture officials have refused a license request from Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, which said Japanese customers would buy its products if the company tested every animal processed at its Arkansas City, Kan., plant for the brain-wasting disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy.... 10-Gallon Hats in Bavaria It's nowhere near high noon, but a tough-looking hombre in a black leather vest, black stovepipe pants and a black cowboy hat is sauntering down the dusty length of a frontier Main Street, a gun belt slung low on his hips. He strolls past the sheriff's office, the Palace Hotel and a saddled horse hitched loosely to a wooden railing, then pauses for a moment at the broad covered porch of the Black Bison Saloon. Entering, he strides up to the bar and places his order. "Ein bier, bitte." This is Pullman City, a theme park in southern Germany where more than a million visitors a year step out of 21st-century Europe into an American Wild West fantasyland of stagecoaches, gunfighters, mountain men and Indians.... Trade irritant may delay opening border to cattle There's growing concern on both sides of the border that an old trade irritant may scuttle plans to reopen the U.S. border to Canadian cattle that are over 30 months old. Cattle producers in the United States say they don't want the border open until Canada gets rid of its restrictions on American cattle. The problem is created by two livestock diseases called bluetongue and anaplasmosis. They've been wiped out in Canada, but not in the United States. They kill sheep and goats, but not cattle. However, they do cause cattle to lose weight.... Cowgirl's years of effort result in a birthday win Benjie Christian Neely is celebrating her 31st birthday today after winning $19,333 Thursday night at the National Cutting Horse Association Super Stakes. It was a moral victory for the Lyons, Ga., cowgirl who won her first title in Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum after attempting for more than a decade. The coliseum is the sport's most prominent venue, the cutting horse equivalent of Yankee Stadium. "I can't even tell you what it feels like" to win in Fort Worth, Neely said. "I almost had it in my head that I couldn't show in here. It's very intimidating to show here because it's the best competition that there is. Neely won the show's Classic non-professional division title atop a mare named Little Lacy. Another reason that Neely was ecstatic about winning was because Little Lacy was sired by her prize stallion, Little Trona.... Atop a beast, he chases treasure: a buckle To hear Michael Gaffney tell it, he's nothing special when it comes to riding 1-ton, snorting bulls hellbent for cowboy hide. "I'm a pretty common Joe who gets to do what I love to do," said Gaffney, a former world champion bull rider. Gaffney, a part-time Corrales resident, tends to understate his career achievements. Make no mistake, this is no average Joe....

Obesity resurrects CARA

Unbelievable. The old CARA bill is coming back under the pretense of concern about the nation’s obesity problem. The old idea has been given a new name -- the "Get Outdoors Act."

Along with finger pointing at corn sweeteners, fast foods and mom’s homemade pies, now it is because the government doesn’t own enough land that is causing obesity. Where does personal accountability fit in?

Perhaps some thought should be given to reopening some of the trails that have been closed to the public in the National Forests and National Parks for fear the "obese" and others would destroy the ecosystem.

Before more open space and land is bought under the guise of "recreation for the obese," we need to request an accounting of the almost 50% of the nation’s land now owned by government and environmental land trusts and the untold percent under government control.

The federal bill HR 4100, called the "Get Outdoors Act," is sponsored by extreme green Congressman George Miller (D-CA) and ‘once’ friend of property rights, Congressman Don Young (R-AK). It appears Young is more concerned about the pork that will return to Alaska from this bill than the rights of the people he represents. These were the same legislators who promoted CARA.

The "Get Outdoors Act of 2004" will provide for $3 billion in guaranteed annual funding for outdoor and recreation purposes to address the obesity crisis using the same offshore drilling revenue funding as CARA....

Dear horse-loving friends,

Most of you have heard about the New Mexico rancher, Kit Laney, whose cattle has been impounded and sold by the United States Forest Service. During this process Kit was arrested and jailed. On March 26 his wife Sherry visited him in jail, many miles away from the ranch. When she returned, she discovered 14 of her horses gone. Ten older horses, some retired, and 4 freshly gelded colts. These horses were kept close to the ranch house in order to feed them and to exercise the colts. When Sherry Laney contacted the USFS she was told she could have her horses back for $650 a piece.

While it is not our intention to debate the legitimacy of the taking of horses off of private land by the USFS, what we would like to bring to your attention are the conditions the impounded horses are kept in.

A first hand account by Marie Lee, Sherry Laney's sister, reads like this:

..."With the understanding that the USFS had impounded some of my horses, I went to inspect them. When I arrived at the temporary corrals set-up by the USFS at the Me-own, Kathy Van Camp (USFS) armed with pepper spray and a frown, informed me that I could not view my horses until the brand inspectors arrived. The USFS personnel then proceeded to stand guard between me and the horses in the corrals. Catron County Sheriff Cliff Snyder and my sister Sherry Laney showed up and Kathy Van Camp (USFS) told Sherry that if she stepped between her and the corral, she would arrest her. Meanwhile, looking over Kathy's shoulder, I noticed my horse, Jasper, standing there with his head drooping. He looked very sick. Eventually, the inspectors arrived and entered the corral. By then Jasper was laying down in the mud. He wouldn't even get up when they inspected him. Finally, I was allowed to enter the corral. The mud and manure were ankle deep. The watering system for these 14 horses is a small trough (around 100 gal.) and at the time was about 3/4 empty. The USFS personnel had thrown hay in this muck for our 14 head of horses, consisting of 10 older horses and 4 freshly gelded colts. One of these colts was swollen in the belly. Jasper had finally stood back up. As I was taking pictures of him, I noticed his sheath was swollen and had a large scab on it. Russell Ward, USFS Ranger, informed me that the vet had been called out. When asked, Russell did not know what the vet had diagnosed on Jasper. Another horse had colic and Russell said was given Banamine. I noticed this particular horse was still having problems urinating. I was allowed to haul 4 horses off. When I unloaded my horses, they rushed to water and proceeded to drink as if they had not had any water in a while. I fully believe Jasper would have died under the care of the USFS rangers if he was left in there much longer..."

The Me-own in the Gila National Forest is a very remote area with no water and the current weather conditions (sleet and rain, night time temperatures around freezing) make it very difficult to haul feed and water over many miles of rough dirt roads.

As reported by the USFS, Laney's cattle (which the USFS does not own) was sold last week. The USFS has declined to name the contract cowboys rounding up cattle and horses, and the sales barn which accepted the cattle. They have also refused to answer FOIA requests. Word has it that the cattle was sold in Guyman, OK. Witnesses told of mother cows with tight bags, i.e. udders not sucked, standing bawling in the temporary corrals in the Gila National Forest. Evidently, the USFS in its infinite wisdom has agreed to pay the contractors only for mature animals rounded up, therefore calves unable to travel far were left behind in the rugged terrain. The USFS plans on selling the remaining cattle as well as the horses in question.

The reason why many of the impounded 14 horses are older (late teens and early twenties) is because Kit and Sherry Laney believe that horses who worked hard on their ranch deserve retirement.

Please help us do two things:

1. Demand better conditions for the horses held in the temporary corrals at Me-own in the Gila National Forest, and

2. Inform the people at your local livestock sales barns about this situation.

Please call or fax your message (you may use any portion of this text) to the following:

US Senator Pete Domenici
Tel. 202 224 6621 (D.C.)
Fax 202 228 3261 (D.C.)
Tel. 505 526 5475 (Las Cruces, NM)
Fax 505 523 6589 (Las Cruces, NM)

US Senator Jeff Bingaman
Tel. 202 224 5521 (D.C.)
Fax 202 224 2852 (D.C.)
Tel. 505 523 6561 (Las Cruces, NM)
Toll free in NM only 1 800 443 8658
Fax 505 523 6584 (Las Cruces, NM)

US Congressman Steve Pearce
Tel. 202 225 2365 (D.C.)
Fax 202 225 9599 (D.C.)
Tel. 505 522 2219 (Las Cruces, NM)
Fax 505 522 3099 (Las Cruces, NM)

USFS Silver City, NM Tel. 505 388 8201
Marcia Andre, Supervisor Fax 505 388 3204

Anyone wishing more information about this case can find it by typing "Kit Laney" into the search field of any search engine.

Please forward this information to all your friends. Thank you for your help.

Monika Helbling,

Thursday, April 08, 2004


Editorial: Peaceful protest under attack In 2002, members of the activist environmental group Greenpeace tried peacefully to board a freighter headed for Miami in order to unfurl a banner calling for an end to illegal logging. Greenpeace said the freighter was hauling illegally harvested mahogany, an endangered species. The activists were arrested and fined. Fifteen months later, the U.S. government went after Greenpeace with zeal that should be reserved for threats to national security. But this case isn't about security; it's about political retribution. Federal prosecutors charged Greenpeace with a misdemeanor under an obscure 19th century law that forbids pimps from intercepting ships bound for port. The law against "sailormongering" has been used only twice, the last time more than 100 years ago, and in one case the judge said the statute was vague.... Hunters, Conservationists Get Tour of Bush Ranch President Bush on Thursday opened his expansive central Texas ranch to sporting aficionados and conservation groups, including the National Rifle Association, Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. Bush showed off the scenic canyons, streams and trails of his 1,600-acre Prairie Chapel ranch property to 23 representatives of the organizations, a spokeswoman said.... Bush Administration Illegally Delays Protection of Pacific Fisher The Bush administration announced today that the Pacific fisher, a rare relative of the otter and mink and denizen of old-growth forests, warrants protection as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, but is precluded by other higher priority listing actions. The finding was issued in response to a petition filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign. The ESA allows the administration to delay listing a species by declaring it "warranted but precluded" if it can demonstrate other species are more in need of protection and hence a higher priority for listing, and that they are making expeditious progress towards listing these other species. Neither applies in the case of the fisher.... Corps acts to beef up wetlands protection Stricter conservation rules will apply to ditches, irrigation canals and nearby wetlands in the Northwest as a result of a new interpretation of a 2001 federal court decision. The corps will begin treating ditches, irrigation canals and nearby wetlands with a surface water connection to natural streams as "waters of the United States," qualifying them for protection under the Clean Water Act. Wetlands protected under the act may not be filled without a permit from the corps, which typically requires construction of artificial wetlands elsewhere. Corps attorney Ron Marsh said the new direction brings the corps into compliance with a 2001 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said irrigation ditches and canals qualify as tributaries to navigable rivers, also known as "waters of the United States." Corps regulations already protect wetlands adjacent to tributary streams.... Bush to decide endangered salmon status Geneticists can´t tell the difference between the wild and hatchery salmon swimming up the Snake River toward Idaho in their annual migration. Yet biologists agree that differences between salmon reared in hatcheries and those that emerge from the gravel of wild rivers are significant. Uniquely adapted to the streams where they live, wild salmon pass their robust survival traits to their progeny. Hatchery salmon are far less productive, biologists say, reduce the fitness of wild stocks through interbreeding, support larger predator populations, and allow increased harvests that inevitably include wild fish.... Freudenthal objects to Preble's mouse panel Gov. Dave Freudenthal says some members of a scientific panel that will review Wyoming's petition to remove the Preble's meadow jumping mouse from the threatened species list supported the decision to list the species in the first place. The Fish and Wildlife Service asked the Colorado Division of Wildlife to select the peer review panel. One of the members chosen has said that he believes the mouse should remain listed, according to Freudenthal. Another member co-authored a study that was called into question by a Denver Museum of Nature and Science study that was requested by Wyoming and concluded that the mouse is not a genetically distinct subspecies. A third panelist wrote an unpublished report saying the research relied upon when the mouse was listed was correct.... Report: Most grizzly deaths preventable Bird feeders and trash bins are proving more deadly to grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone area than conflicts with cattle ranchers, according to a new report. In the past 30 years, at least 79 grizzlies have been killed for rummaging in garbage, homes and camp sites compared to just 16 that were shot over livestock grazing problems, said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grizzly bear recovery coordinator Chris Servheen, who helped prepare the interagency report.... NM Game Commission endorses wolf program The state Game Commission has unanimously endorsed the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program. While considering an agreement formally boosting New Mexicos involvement in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife program Wednesday, the commission went a step further and expressed its full support for the program. The commission is pro-wolf, Commissioner Jennifer Montoya of Las Cruces said during the commissions meeting here. Commission Chairman Guy Riordan said Gov. Bill Richardson supports the program. The 6-0 vote is a 180-degree switch from the mid-1990s, when a prior Game Commission and then-Republican Gov. Gary Johnson opposed the reintroduction program.... BLM requests for stockwater permits expire In what was the first test of Nevada's new law concerning stockwater rights, a number of applications for permits submitted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management have been denied by the state engineer. Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, said he received a report during the March meeting of the Public Lands Committee, which he chairs, that State Engineer Hugh Ricci turned down 19 BLM applications for stockwater rights in White Pine County. Rhoads said the BLM did not file any appeals, the deadline for which expired last week.... Appeals court refuses to open 'roadless' wilderness area A federal appeals court has refused to allow off-road vehicle groups to sue the Bureau of Land Management. The Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the Southwest Four Wheel Drive Association and the Las Cruces Four Wheel Drive Club. The suit filed in 2000 challenged the closure of most of the trails in the Robledo Mountains. The recreation groups argued the trails were public roads, protected under an 1866 law that allows states to claim rights to roads built over federal land. The law was repealed in 1976, but Congress said states and counties could continue using roads built before then.... Ag department blocks mad-cow testing The Agriculture Department has rebuffed a meatpacker's plan to test every animal at its Kansas slaughterhouse for mad cow disease. The refusal quiets a firestorm in the cattle industry sparked by Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, a small Kentucky-based meatpacking company that was seeking to privately test each animal at its Arkansas City, Kan., plant.... Largest U.S. cattle group says border must open Representatives of the largest American beef industry group said last week that American ranchers trying to pressure their government to keep the U.S. border closed to Canadian cattle have it wrong. "There are producers out there wishing for the Canadian border to be closed for the next millennium. If you look at that in a sensible, economic, scientific and neighbourly way, how could we stand for that kind of activity?" said Chandler Keys, policy analyst with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. As well, he told reporters April 2 that if the United States wants to convince international buyers to resume beef trade with the U.S., then the U.S. must resume trade with Canada.... 58 countries still reject U.S. beef It has been nearly four months since one cow among 96 million head of cattle in the United States tested positive for mad cow disease, yet 58 countries still have some form of ban on U.S. beef. The economic toll is considerable. Of the total U.S. beef production in 2003 -- an estimated 26.30 billion pounds valued at $27 billion (2002 figure, the latest available) -- 2.58 billion pounds worth an estimated $3.266 billion was exported, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture....

Rancher no longer behind bars

The Catron County rancher jailed since March 14 for assaulting federal officers was released Thursday from custody.

Kit Laney, 43, walked out of the federal building in Las Cruces shortly after 10 a.m. with his court-appointed custodian Bob Jones Sr.

“It feels real good to be out (of jail),” Laney said. “This is unquestionably the longest I’ve ever been indoors.”

Laney had been held without bond based on a federal magistrate’s concern he might return to his 121-year-old Diamond Bar ranch, where U.S. Forest Service officials alleged he assaulted them during the roundup and impoundment of Laney’s herd. Forest Service officers said the cattle were grazing illegally.

The conditions of Laney’s release confine him to a 10-mile radius of Jones’ Otero County ranch. He will wear an electronic monitoring device and must be in regular contact with his court-appointed public defender, Jane Greek.

“We weren’t even sure we’d get him out this morning,” said Jones’ son, Bob Jones Jr. “There were some last-minute things — paperwork — that needed to be looked at, but there is nothing that deprives him of his rights.”

Laney is to remain on the Jones ranch until his scheduled May 3 federal trial in Albuquerque.

“If Kit leaves we’re supposed to call the U.S. Marshal,” Jones Jr. said. “We didn’t put up any money, we just gave our word.”

Jones Jr. said he was unaware of any liability his family might face if Laney leaves.
The Jones family has operated their Otero County ranch for five generations.
“We’ll have some fine, experienced help on our place for a while,” Jones joked of Laney’s stay. “I know he won’t mind throwing some hay.”

Laney faces five counts of assault on a peace officer and resisting or obstructing officers executing a federal order.

Forest Service personnel and hired help were following a federal order to seize Laney’s cattle and sell them. He had been found in contempt of court for allowing his cattle to graze on the federal allotment without a permit.

The cattle have been sold at auction in Oklahoma.

Laney refused a permit after the Forest Service said he had to reduce the size of his herd. Laney said he couldn’t make a living with fewer cattle. He went to the grazing site March 14 after hearing his cattle were being mistreated by the Forest Service.
Officers said Laney used his horse to charge them, dismounted and began trying to tear down holding pens.

Federal Magistrate Karen B. Molzen initially refused to release Laney to Jones’ custody fearing he would return to his Diamond Bar Ranch in the Gila National Forest.
Greek appealed Molzen’s ruling to Senior U.S. District Judge John E. Conway, who ruled Laney could be released.

Laney has his share of supporters who fear the Forest Service is hurting ranchers.
The Catron County Commission has backed Laney, citing the loss of more than 25,000 head of cattle in the county in the past 10 years, costing the county more than $1 million in lost revenues. The commission said the Forest Service reneged on written promises and agreements, which induced the Laneys to put up their life savings to buy the Diamond Bar.

The case has also drawn the attention of U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., who asked for a government investigation of the actions of Forest Service personnel.

“We’re glad to help giving Kit a place to stay until his trial,” Jones Jr. said. “Anytime you buck the federal government it goes like this. They want Kit in jail.”

There is no set agenda for Laney when he gets to the Jones ranch.

“We were thinking about stopping at a truck stop and getting Kit a steak,” Jones said. “But I don’t know. He may just want to get the heck out of Dodge.”

T.S. Hopkins can be reached at
Gila Forest rancher released from custody

A rancher whose cattle in the Gila National Forest have been impounded by the federal government has been released from custody.

Kit Laney was arrested March 14th after a confrontation with federal officers and was taken to the Dona Ana County Detention Center.

He was released Thursday to Otero Mesa rancher Bob Jones.

Laney has been ordered to remain within a ten-mile radius of the Jones ranch in Otero County.

Laney also will be electronically monitored, and he must speak regularly with his attorney.

Laney has been indicted on charges of obstruction of justice, assaulting and interfering with federal officers and employees and interfering with a court order.

Laney and his former wife have contended in lawsuits that they have grazing rights in the Gila, but courts have ruled against them.....

April 7, 2004

The Honorable Ann Veneman
United States Department of Agriculture
14th Street & Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Madam Secretary:

We write on an issue of great importance to both cattle producers and U.S. consumers alike. Today, we comment upon and request that you withdraw the proposed United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule that would lift the ban on imports of live cattle from Canada as well as extend and expand existing imports of beef products. We believe it is premature to lift the ban on imports of live cattle from a country with two documented cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow Disease, diagnosed within a seven-month period and urge you not to do so.

We believe that the May 29, 2003 action to ban the importation of live Canadian ruminants and ruminant products was necessary to prevent the introduction of BSE into the United States, and we are hopeful that you will continue to keep this ban in place. However, we are deeply concerned that subsequent actions by USDA/APHIS are placing U.S. consumers and cattle producers at risk.

It is apparent from developments over the past month that USDA policy regarding control of BSE is in a state of flux. In just the past several weeks, USDA has dramatically increased the level of BSE testing in U.S. cattle. It is our understanding that the number of cattle targeted for testing has gone from about 20,000 head of cattle to 40,000, then to more than 200,000, and to possibly more than 400,000 head. While USDA appears determined to significantly increase its BSE testing, we are concerned that you are not requiring Canada to meet the same high standards and have, in fact, placed a much greater burden on U.S. cattle producers than on those who are the source of the contamination. We are further concerned that Canadian BSE control measures are far less rigorous than those required by USDA, particularly given that BSE was discovered in Canadian cattle herds. We understand that Canada intends to test only 8,000 cattle this year, less than 5 percent of the number we will test.

While no native case of BSE has been discovered in the United States, USDA actions have increased the cost burden on our producers for BSE prevention. Such actions have not only made the U.S. less competitive in the global market from a cost standpoint, but have unduly increased the concerns of our trading partners over the safety of U.S. beef, even though there is no scientific evidence that BSE exists in our native cattle herds.

The proposed USDA/APHIS rules creating a "BSE minimal-risk region" do not conform with international standards for "minimal BSE risk" set by the world organization for animal health, the Office International des Epizooties (OIE). Under OIE criteria, Canada is a "moderate BSE risk" country. We are deeply concerned that the proposed regulations, which would permanently weaken the health and safety standard for importation of live cattle and beef into the U.S., could result in imports from other countries with cattle herds that conclusive scientific evidence shows are infected with BSE. We do not believe USDA should lower U.S. standards that are currently in place for detection and prevention of animal diseases. We urge you not to abandon the USDA/APHIS mission of protecting and safeguarding America’s borders and ensuring that the health of America’s agriculture is not threatened.

The proposed rule weakens APHIS regulations that currently restrict imports of cattle and beef from countries, such as Canada, that have BSE. We urge you to withdraw it.


Michael B. Enzi
United States Senator

Pete Domenici
United States Senator

Craig Thomas
United States Senator
Judge Grants Greens Ranch Loan Info, But They Must Pay For It

SANTA FE — A federal judge says the U.S. Bureau of Land Management must release the names of banks and the consolidated amount of loans those banks have made to ranchers who are using BLM grazing permits as collateral.
The late-March ruling is a response to a lawsuit filed by the Forest Guardians, a radical environmental activist group opposed to grazing on public lands. The New Mexico Public Lands Council and New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association are interveners in the case filed last summer.
Forest Guardians earlier had tried to get the same information from the U.S. Forest Service.
Judge James O. Browning ruled this month that the information is part of the public record under the Freedom of Information Act and ordered the BLM to release redacted copies of the agency's lienholder agreement records to the Forest Guardians. The records disclose the identity of financial institutions involved in lending to BLM grazing
permittees using grazing privileges as collateral and the total amount of each individual loan.
Names, addresses and specific details of each loan are not to be released.
The judge says the BLM is to organize the agreements by field office and disclose the records to the Forest Guardians.
The BLM can compile aggregate loan totals for each field office as an alternative to releasing individual lienholder agreements.
The judge, however, denied a fee waiver allowed under the Freedom of Information Act, saying the action would not contribute to public understanding of government operations. The BLM may, the judge says, assess fees for searches and copying of the information. Such costs could effectively nullify the ruling, officials with the
Forest Guardians claim, because of the prohibitive expense involved. They say they will appeal the fee-waiver denial. (These activists can afford to pursue scores of nuisance lawsuits but can’t afford copying expenses? Or would they just prefer that
taxpayers foot the tab for their fishing expeditions? Our sympathy is reserved for the honest people at whom these extremists thumb their noses and whose livelihoods they are bent on destroying. — Ed.)
To find ranchers with grazing-permit loans, according to court records, the Forest Guardians used the federal Freedom of Information Act to get the names of participants in what's known as the escrow waiver loan program.
"We want to put the squeeze on ranchers to get off the land," says John Horning, the coordinator of the Forest Guardians' antigrazing campaign. "If some ranchers go out of business along the way, so be it."
Under the program, the U.S. government provides banks with verification of ranchers' grazing permits, so banks can accept the numbers of livestock allowed to graze under the permits as collateral for business loans. In the past 20 years, banks have issued more than $450 million in grazing-permit loans to about 300 ranching operations, according to the Forest Guardians.
Critics of the environmental extremist group say the group's tactics can be effective in putting ranchers out of business. "It doesn't take a mathematician to figure out how many head of cattle it takes for the rancher to make his bank note," says G.B. Oliver III, an executive at the Western Bank of Alamogordo, in Alamogordo, N.M.
The Forest Guardians submitted FOIA requests to each of the 10 BLM state offices in the western United States on July 31, 2000. According to court records, the Forest Guardians submitted a substantially identical FOIA request to the Arizona, California,
Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming BLM state offices.
In the requests, the activists sought copies of all documents, which are collateral assignments of all grazing permits for all grazing allotments in the state. This includes, but is not limited to, any and all notices of lienholders' interest, promissory notes, or any and all other documents that refer to the use of a federal grazing permit as a lien or collateral security for a loan.
According to court records, the Forest Guardians were interested in the names of alotments, permit holders, names of lending institutions and amount of money involved in each individual agreement.
The Taylor Grazing Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, through the BLM, to issue grazing permits. Permittees may use their permits, under the act, as collateral to secure loans. The act does not give the federal agency a role in the lending.
Judge Browning says the FOIA is intended to promote disclosure of information that sheds light on the activities of the government, not disclosure of information involving private citizens that happens to be stored in government files. In this case, the judge says, the lienholder agreements document legal financial relationships between
private individuals and private corporations. The extent of the government's involvement in these otherwise entirely private transactions is to receive and maintain voluntarily filed documents and notify lienholders when any action may affect the value of the collateral.
Browning's decision applies to all BLM lands in the Western United States.
The Forest Guardians claim the use of grazing permits as collateral encumbers public lands.

Environmentalists appeal Arizona logging plan Environmentalists say taxpayers will be bilked and fire danger and soil loss will increase if the Forest Service goes through with a plan to salvage dead trees on land charred by the Rodeo-Chediski fire. The logging on 41,059 acres burned in the blaze would cut big, blackened trees while their cores are still valuable as timber.... Private Investment Protects Environment Where Government Fails The Institute for Humane Studies, an essential educational foundation in Arlington, Va., just launched a new Web site entitled A Better Earth. The site aims to educate college students, graduate students and others on alternative methods of environmental preservation — methods less hostile to free markets and free enterprise. The new Web site is important, because the environment seems to be the one area where even avowed free marketeers can't quite bring themselves to trust private enterprise over government intervention. Profit-seekers and corporations are too greedy and self-interested, the thinking goes, to give much thought to preserving wildlife, forests and wilderness. But is that really so? Are governments really better at preserving the environment than private enterprise? The biggest polluters on the planet are governments, not corporations. The U.S. government immunizes itself from most all of the environmental laws it demands of private corporations. And it is by far the bigger polluter.... A fish's role in the ecology debate Salmon have been the leading cultural icon in the Pacific Northwest since well before Meriwether Lewis and William Clark explored the territory 200 years ago. But now these oceangoing travelers are facing new challenges as steep as the Columbia River dams that precipitated their decline into near-extinction. A recent series of legal actions and political decisions aimed at protecting fish would limit use of pesticides, curtail river dredging, reduce water available for irrigation, and change the operation of power-generating dams. All this adds up to the likelihood of economic conflict across a region the size of Western Europe. Meanwhile, the National Academy of Sciences and another federally appointed panel of scientists have weighed in with controversial warnings. Federal judges have gotten into the act as well.... Mexican Spotted Owl designation could have big impact on state The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently released economic and environmental impact reports stating that a proposed critical habitat designation for the Mexican Spotted Owl would have a multi-million dollar impact on businesses that rely on national forests in Arizona. The final draft of the economic analysis for the owls is a 190-page document clearly detailing potential financial impacts to tribal activities, the timber industry, livestock grazing, fire management, small businesses, mining, oil and gas development and mining activities. Economic impact estimates measured in dollars are often put into two categories--high and low--and are frequently charted and well-documented in the document.... Arizona Hopes to Return Rare Fish to Wild State and federal officials are hoping a return to the wild will be possible by year's end for dozens of rare fish that were evacuated because of a wildfire. The roughly 1,000 Gila chub have been held at three different locations since they were removed from Sabino Creek in July to protect them from ash-laden runoff from the Aspen fire, which destroyed the vacation hamlet of Summerhaven on Mount Lemmon.... Column: Raising A Howl On the sixth anniversary of the first release of endangered Mexican gray wolves into the wild on March 29, 1998, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal petition for rule-making with Interior Secretary Gale Norton and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Steve Williams to save the Mexican wolf population from federal mismanagement. The 14-page petition was filed pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act, which gives the federal government 90 days for an initial response and one year to promulgate new regulations. Should these deadlines be missed, the center will sue to compel compliance. The petition requests reforms in the reintroduction program in accordance with recommendations of four independent scientists who examined the program at the behest of the Fish and Wildlife Service.... Key senator: 9th Circuit will be split Republican senators say they have gone from asking whether the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals should be split up to deciding how to split it up. "I think it is inevitable that (the court) will be split up," said. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. On Wednesday, six judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Montana, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee panel that presides over the nation's court system. Sessions, other Republican senators, and several judges who testified said the court is geographically too large and too populous to be effectively administered. They noted that the about a fifth of the United States' population lives in the 9th Circuit, and the circuit includes nearly 40 percent of the nation's land mass.... Editorial: PETA Goes Too Far No stranger to controversy, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is at it again with an offensive new anti-meat billboard. The outdoor advertisement, which went up this week in Toronto and Edmonton, shows a young female model on one side, a close-up of a pig on the other, and the slogan "Neither of us is meat." It's a grotesquely insensitive reference to the case of accused serial killer and pig farmer Robert Pickton, who currently faces 15 charges of first-degree murder. Investigators have spent months sifting through his Port Coquitlam, B.C., property and have linked the DNA of 31 missing women to the site. Exploiting this tragedy to promote an anti-meat, pro-vegetarian message shows appalling disregard for the feelings of the victims' survivors.... Mexican Gray Wolves Debate Rages in N.M. Mexican gray wolves were called everything from treasures to killers during a hearing before the state Game Commission here. Six years after wolves were first brought back to the Southwest, it was clear Tuesday that opinions about them are still extreme. "I feel very fortunate — I have heard the howls of wolves," Grant County resident Sharon Morgan told the three state game commissioners heading the meeting at Western New Mexico University. But Gila Wilderness outfitter Jack Diamond disagreed. "Everyone thinks this wolf is such a great animal. He's a killer," Diamond said. "Does anybody care about our deer or elk? They're the ones that are going to suffer.".... New EPA smog standard to put 8 national parks in violation The Environmental Protection Agency plans to announce next week that the air quality in areas that include at least eight of the United States' most popular national parks is in violation of a new and more protective federal smog standard, National Park Service officials said Wednesday. Yosemite Park would join three national parks in California-- Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Joshua Tree -- listed as having unhealthy air. The air quality in those three parks already violates the EPA's old and less stringent smog standard, which was based on a one-hour measurement of air quality. That is being phased out in favor of an eight-hour measurement.... Park Service Faces Questions on Statue Even as it turned to a nonprofit group for a handout to reopen the Statue of Liberty, the National Park Service had access to millions of dollars for needed safety upgrades to the monument. The Park Service, the steward of Lady Liberty, has accumulated $15 million over the past five years from a franchise fee paid by tour operators and concession stands at Ellis Island and Liberty Island, according to Park Service officials. Under federal rules, the Park Service must spend 85 percent of the money at the site where it was earned.... Column: Commonsense Management of Resources Where do meat and vegetables come from? How about two-by-fours? Did you say farms and forests, or did you choose grocery and hardware stores? Modern conveniences tend to sever our cultural ties to the land that feeds and shelters us. They distance us from how natural resources become comfortable homes, dinner tables and more. That disconnect can do great harm. The decline of California's public forests and forestry industry is a prime example. California's foresters ultimately provide everything from paper towels to pool tables. They replant far more trees than they harvest, and a recent Cal Poly San Luis Obispo study found they meet the highest standards for protecting fish and wildlife as well as soil, air and water quality. Yet foresters have been vilified -- so effectively that in the past 10 years, more than half of California's mills have closed and 4,000 jobs have been lost.... New strain of sheep brain disease found A strain of scrapie - the fatal brain disease in sheep - not previously seen before in the UK has been discovered, it was announced yesterday. Scientists have identified the case after performing a series of diagnostic tests on tissue from a four-year-old sheep in an unnamed area of the UK. Some of the methods used showed the case had some characteristics similar to experimental BSE in sheep. But a microscopic analysis of brain material showed that the case did not resemble experimental BSE in sheep.... Baucus calls for probe before Canadian imports resume The United States should not reopen its border to live Canadian cattle imports until the investigative arm of Congress conducts its own investigation into Canada's handling of mad cow cases there, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said Tuesday. Baucus' call for an independent investigation by the General Accounting Office comes one day before the U.S. Department of Agriculture closes its comment period on a proposal to reopen the border to cattle older than 30 months of age.... USDA expects BSE rules to cost up to $149 million The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that recent regulations designed to keep bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) infectivity out of the food supply will cost the beef industry from $110 million to $149 million a year. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today released a preliminary impact analysis on the regulations, which include a ban on the use of "downer" cattle for human food. The rules were announced in December, a week after the discovery of the nation's first BSE case in Washington state, and took effect in mid-January.... Equitrol Lawsuit A jury has returned a verdict of $1,007,500 to plaintiffs alleging in a lawsuit that Farnam's product Equitrol, a feed-through fly control product, was defectively designed and caused harm to their horses; Farnam has countered with a press release stating that it is appealing the decision and believes that the court decision is incorrect on legal and factual grounds. Equitrol's active ingredient tetrachlorvinphos (a cholinesterase inhibitor) is widely used for feed-through larvacides (manufactured by other companies) for cattle and in fly control products for several other species. Other companies manufacture and sell tetrachlorvinphos as a feed-through larvacide for horses.... Cutting star Rice takes another coveted crown Tag Rice further solidified his position as one of the brightest stars in the National Cutting Horse Association on Wednesday by riding Mr. Beamon to the championship of the Super Stakes Classic Open. The 28-year-old Buffalo trainer marked a solid 224.5 score on the gray gelding, working third in the last bunch of cattle at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum. The title put an even $50,000 in the pockets of Rice and owner Charlie Seiz of Cedartown, Ga. Cats Red Feather, ridden by Phil Rapp of Weatherford, finished second with a 223.5 for a payoff of $41,145. John Wold of Argyle rode Cats Mereda to third place and $34,449....

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Protected Areas Don't Protect Many Endangered Species, Study Finds

The good news is that more than a tenth of the Earth's land surface is now a designated safe haven for wildlife, exceeding international targets. But the bad news, according to a new study, is that many of the world's most threatened species don't actually live in those areas.

Now scientists behind the study are calling for an urgent review of global conservation strategies. They say national parks and wildlife reserves, no matter how large, won't prevent wide-scale extinctions in coming decades if they aren't created in the right places.

The study involved 21 scientists from nine countries—Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, Italy, Kenya, South Africa, the U.K., and the United States. They looked at how effectively species diversity is represented in protected areas.

Having assessed 11,633 species of amphibians, birds, mammals, and turtles, the scientists identified more than 300 critically endangered animals living wholly outside protected areas. Left unprotected, these species face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

In addition, 237 endangered and 267 vulnerable animals were also found to be completely unprotected in any part of their ranges. The findings appear in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature....

Tuesday, April 06, 2004


Column: USDA's Mark Rey drags feet on releasing info about forest policymaking Rey and his department have been dragging their feet in response to requests for public release of documents regarding the Bush administration's proposed overhaul of forest-management practices. Critics suspect the documents might confirm that logging-industry executives wielded undue influence over the process. The current tussle began in October 2002, when Defenders of Wildlife and the Endangered Species Coalition slapped the USDA with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. They wanted documentation of the Bush administration's motivation for suspending Clinton-era rule updates under the National Forest Management Act, which governs America's nearly 200 million acres of national forest -- parcels of land that make up 8 percent of the country. NFMA was passed in 1976 and implemented under the Reagan administration to better manage national forests and protect wildlife.... Thomas introduces bill to stop 'venue shopping' Wyoming is being steamrolled on federal land issues by judges thousands of miles away who ignore expert findings and are unfamiliar with Western issues, Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., said Tuesday. To stem that trend, Thomas has drafted legislation meant to stop a practice known as "venue shopping," in which lawsuits are filed in jurisdictions viewed to be more friendly to a group's interests. "I don't think someone from Washington, D.C., would want a judge in Wyoming to tell them what to do in the nation's capitol," he said. "Why should a judge in Washington be able to tell us what to do in our backyard?" Under the bill, lawsuits against the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service would be heard in district courts affected by the litigation.... Editorial: Nibble on the Biscuit If nothing changes by summer's end, thousands of dead trees in the Biscuit fire zone will have lost much of their economic value and provide little but political fodder for the November presidential election. It would be a terrible waste if all these trees go from pulp to political fiction while environmentalists, loggers and the U.S. Forest Service slug it out in the courts. The Southern Oregon towns that surround the Biscuit are struggling with Oregon's highest jobless rates. They badly need the work, and the wood, that would come from salvage.... Aerial gunning of coyotes to resume The controversial killing of coyotes on Anderson Mesa will again become one prong of the pronghorn antelope recovery plan. Arizona Game and Fish officials announced Monday that the agency plans to have more coyotes removed from two sections of the mesa -- located southeast of Flagstaff -- after two years of successes with the pronghorn recovery program.... Military renews drive to reshape environmental laws The Defense Department wants the government to ease environmental laws to avoid costly cleanups of military ranges and give states more time to handle air pollution from training exercises. The proposed changes were submitted to Congress on Tuesday, part of the Pentagon's renewed drive to ease several environmental laws in the name of military readiness. Since 2002, the Bush administration has sought more flexibility in complying with the laws, claiming that environmental restrictions are compromising training and readiness.... Go here for a transcript of the DOD press briefing....Hold all land users accountable, ranchers tell BLM official All users of public lands should be held to the same high standards that ranchers with grazing permits must follow, cattle industry representatives told a federal official Tuesday. Kathleen Clarke, director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, met with the ranchers and area leaders at the BLM’s Carlsbad field office. Describing the tone of the meeting as “robust,” Clarke said the ranchers made it clear to her that everyone who uses multiple-use lands — such as those administered by her agency— should be accountable in protecting the land for future generations. A major grievance among ranchers is that while they are required to follow strict regulations in how their BLM-leased land is used, the oil and gas industry is held to a lesser standard.... Nevada congressman seeks to cut red tape in mining permit process One of mining's staunchest congressional allies is trying to win relief for what he calls an over-regulated industry with a plan to speed up federal action on backlogged mining claims and permits. At the urging of the Nevada mining industry, Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., is pressing House leaders for an extra $2.3 million for the Bureau of Land Management's 2005 budget. Gibbons wants most of the money to go toward 11 new BLM positions to speed the review of mining claims and of permits for new mines and exploration in Nevada, the nation's top gold-producing state.... OHV: Don't pay for plant count out of our pockets Off-highway vehicle groups are petitioning Congress and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, furious that user fees from the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area are the sole funding source for a mandated plant survey of the Peirson's milk-vetch. "We're not opposed to monitoring. We realize that has to be done and we support good science," said Roy Denner, president of the Santee-based Off Road Business Association. Denner claims the four-month monitoring program, being conducted by BLM staff and contract workers in the dunes, is being paid for by the user fees of off-road enthusiasts who flock to the outdoor attraction during major holidays.... Group fails to sway Burns on drilling ban Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., sat down Tuesday with several Montana ranchers, but he was not convinced by their request that he support a moratorium on drilling along the Rocky Mountain Front. Hugo Johnson, Karl Rappold, Chuck Blixrud and Montana Wilderness Association community organizer Candi Zion were only expecting to meet with a couple of Burns' aides; but a few minutes into their conversation with the aides, Burns joined them. After listening to them, Burns did not change his mind.... Column: The Senate's Stockholm Syndrome The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs treaty) will soon become binding international law. The stage is now set for potential U.S. Senate ratification of a document that will allow U.N. and other international bureaucrats to implement future global bans on various chemicals and give the Environmental Protection Agency sole authority to accept those bans for the United States. This alone should generate rancorous debate over sovereignty and constitutional law issues. However, other elements will raise the stakes even higher.... White House Minimized the Risks of Mercury in Proposed Rules, Scientists Say While working with Environmental Protection Agency officials to write regulations for coal-fired power plants over several recent months, White House staff members played down the toxic effects of mercury, hundreds of pages of documents and e-mail messages show. The staff members deleted or modified information on mercury that employees of the environmental agency say was drawn largely from a 2000 report by the National Academy of Sciences that Congress had commissioned to settle the scientific debate about the risks of mercury. In interviews, 6 of 10 members of the academy's panel on mercury said the changes did not introduce inaccuracies. They said that many of the revisions sharpened the scientific points being made and that justification could be made for or against other changes. Most changes were made by the White House's Office of Management and Budget, which employs economists and scientists to review regulations.... Yellowstone bison: To shoot or not to shoot? Mike Mease calls himself a "bison shepherd." And on the sagebrush-covered flats of Horse Butte, he and others from the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) are bracing for their biggest confrontation of the year. Armed with video cameras and walky-talkies to coordinate strategy across hundreds of square miles, this ragtag group of environmentalists is on a mission: Usher Yellowstone bison out of harm's way when the rangy animals leave the national park and cross into Montana.... To Save Salton Sea, Engineers Consider Dividing It in Two With Causeway Farmers, environmentalists and water experts have tussled for decades over what to do with the Salton Sea, the malodorous saltwater lake fed by agricultural runoff that is also an oasis for millions of birds and fish. The latest challenge is how to preserve the wildlife habitat while reducing the amount of water that supports it, which is required by a recent pact involving nearby Imperial Valley farmers, the city of San Diego and the federal government. Now, some engineers may have a solution: slicing the huge lake in two.... Study: Canada takes too much water; 1921 pact apportioning water from rivers in dispute Canadian irrigators have been wrongfully taking 90,000 acre-feet of Montana water a year for more than 80 years, a state study shows, and Gov. Judy Martz is pushing to renegotiate the international agreement that created the problem. "I know that water users experience shortages almost every year in the Milk River basin," Martz said. The issue dates to 1921, when U.S. and Canadian officials signed an agreement to share the waters of the St. Mary and Milk rivers. Both rivers have their headwaters in Montana's Glacier National Park and flow north into Canada. The Milk River later flows back into Montana north of Havre.... Comments on border due today Today marks the last day the U.S. Department of Agriculture will accept public comments on plans to reopen American borders to Canadian cattle. Last month, Alberta Premier Ralph Klein predicted trade barriers would be lifted as soon as this June. The head of the USDA debunked that idea Tuesday. "I will not project when we will publish a final rule," Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said.... Small meatpacker seeks mad cow testing While government regulators try to reassure Americans and international customers the U.S. meat supply is safe from mad cow disease, a fledgling Kansas meatpacker is willing to prove it. Its survival might depend on it. Creekstone Farms Premium Beef is one of the nation's smallest meatpacking companies. But it has set off a firestorm at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and within the cattle industry by seeking permission from regulators to privately test all the animals processed at its Arkansas City slaughterhouse for mad cow disease.... Bull Riding: Extreme-ly Profitable Men who ride 1,800-pound bucking bulls for a living do not as a rule say "yee-ha," although they tend to speak with cowboy drawls thick as braided rope. They keep fit with hundreds of push-ups and sit-ups a day, developing granite physiques and extra allure for rodeo groupies, known as "buckle bunnies." At just about any rodeo, the bull riders are relatively easy to spot: They're the ones whose faces are creased and splotched by scars; they're the ones who limp. Bull riding is so dangerous, and the bulls are bred for such reliable ferocity, that the pros wear flak jackets, mouth guards and, increasingly, helmets. Nonetheless, a bull rider is injured every 13 or so rides -- stomped by hooves, head-butted in midair, dragged by his own rope, bludgeoned by horns the dimensions of warped baseball bats -- and every year or so someone is killed. Increasingly, and largely because of the sport's dependable violence, Americans beyond the traditional country rodeo audience are embracing bull riding. Capitalizing on its notoriety as the most dangerous eight seconds in sports, the event has hit the big time, attracting television deals, huge crowds, serious money and major corporate sponsors.... Doc Charlie, the cats, and politics My daughter, Sunni, her daughter, Kailee, and grandpa (me), took a horse to ole Doc Charlie to have his teeth floated. He’s been droppin’ more grain on the ground than he’s been a’swallerin’. (The horse, not Doc Charlie, is needin’ the dental work!) However, after we got the ole pony calmed down with a little shot to the neck, Doc Charlie’s aide started in tellin’ me about how Doc got calmed down recently. Seems an ole cow freight-trained him and knocked him, according to his aide, just about 60 feet on initial contact. She, of course, like all snotty ole cows, followed through and did a little tap dance all over him. Ole Doc was knocked completely out and after the cow was distracted and Doc was revived, he raised up and asked, “Is it November?” The first thing that he saw was a pen full of heifers and some with calves....


More cattle being shipped from Diamond Bar Ranch

Another 162 head of Diamond Bar cattle are to be shipped today from corrals at Beaverhead to undisclosed auction facilities.

That will bring to 414 the number of cattle impounded and trucked away from the allotment on the Gila National Forest, where courts determined that ranchers Kit Laney and Sherry Farr were grazing livestock illegally.

Forest Service officials estimate another 20 to 40 head still need to be captured. Regular employees will do the job during weekend patrols, or when hunters or others report seeing cattle on the allotment, according to Wilderness District Ranger Annette Chavez.

She said contract cowboys the government hired to do the roundup will leave today or Wednesday.

Last week, 252 head of Diamond Bar cattle were sold at auction, according to the Forest Service. The sale, at an undisclosed location, netted $121,000, the agency reported.

The livestock being shipped today includes 55 cows, 31 heifers, 25 steers, 12 heifer calves, eight bulls, five steer calves and two bull calves owned by the Diamond Bar Cattle Co.; 11 cows and one bull owned by Farr; and 12 unbranded cattle.

Fourteen horses reportedly captured while grazing on federal land without a permit remain in a corral at the Forest Service's Me Own fire base, adjacent to the Diamond Bar.

All but four of the horses belong to the ranch, according to Chavez. Three are owned by Farr's sister, and one belongs to Catron County Sheriff Cliff Snyder, the ranger reported.

Chavez said officials are "in the process of evaluating (Farr's) request to release the horses."

Farr has said the horses escaped deeded land by passing through a gate that had been left open.

"This is not willful trespass; this is incidental trespass," she recently told the Daily Press. "I have acted in good faith."

"These people (with whom the Forest Service contracted to remove the livestock) have left every gate open on this ranch since they've been here," Farr added.

Forest Service spokeswoman Andrea Martinez responded that roundup personnel "have been very conscientious ... and are very familiar with livestock operations. ... We have been leaving some forest gates open, but they were within the national forest."....
Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Association
PO Box 400 – Battle Ground, WA 98604
Phone: 360-687-3087 – Fax: 360-687-2973 – E-mail: or Web Address:
Legislative Office: 507 Seward Square SE – Washington, DC 20003

Land Grab Bill (CARA) Is Back

From the Keep Private Lands In Private Hands Coalition:

It’s hard to believe but Don Young (R-AK) and George Miller (D-CA) just introduced on Friday HR 4100 which is virtually the same as CARA, the giant 3.1 billion dollar per year guaranteed trust fund that failed to pass in 2001.
This is a permanent Trust Fund that will guarantee huge amounts of money for land acquisition and condemnation. It will undermine local communities, destroy local economies, severely damage small business, cost thousands of jobs, force rural families into the cities and generally destroy rural America.
They are calling it the Get Outdoors (GO) Act, HR 4100. They say it is different From CARA. But most of the money is available to buy land and take it off the tax rolls. We call it the “Get Out (GO) of Rural America Act.”
Young called CARA the Conservation and Reinvestment Act. We called it the Condemnation and Relocation Act. HR 4100 is no different. It’s the money. That gives the Federal land agencies huge power. Even when the money goes to the states, the Feds largely control the agenda.
From where we sit when someone calls a chicken a duck, and we see that it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck, no matter what Young and Miller say. The Get Out (GO) of Rural America Act walks and looks like CARA.
To get caught up on the evils of CARA and now the Get Out (GO) of Rural America Act, go to < > Click on the Starburst.
Everything that applied to CARA now applies to the Get Out (Go) of Rural America Act.
The Get Out (GO) of Rural America Act will destroy more private property than any legislation in history. No inholder will be safe anywhere near a National Park, National Forest, Wildlife Refuge, National Trail, National Seashore, National Recreation Area, National Scenic Area and many more.
It will force thousands of farmers and ranchers off their range. It will wipe out the mining industry and do great damage to the oil industry. It will undermine private forestry. It will destroy local tax bases, which will force taxes up for those that remain and ultimately turn rural American into a playground for the rich.
Young and Miller say, “The $3.125 billion annual spending resulting from the GO Act is about 3% of the annual healthcare costs associated with obesity related illness. While it is likely that over time GO related programs will reduce obesity and obesity related heath-care costs, revenues from off-shore energy production will be used as a permanent source of funding.”
“Addressing the obesity crisis in this country takes more than the strong will of individuals. It requires the political will of Congress to invest in recreation opportunities for people to Get Outdoors!”
They want to fight obesity by condemning your land. They want to increase your taxes by over $3 billion a year to do it. Over 15 years that would be over $45 billion.
They could buy 15 million really good treadmills for that kind of money and really help folks fighting obesity.
Organizations presently supporting the “Get Out (GO) Act include:
The Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, the Izaak Walton League of America, the National Parks and Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association , United States Soccer Foundation, the Outdoor Industry Association, the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Americans for Our Heritage and Recreation, the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, the American Hiking Society, and many other local and regional groups
The race is on. The greens and their allies will seek to enlist as many Congressmen and Senators as co-sponsors. They will seek to get organizations like the Farm Bureau, NRA and National Association of Counties to support the bill like they did with CARA.
You need to act fast.
Here’s what you must do quickly.
1. Call your Representative to let him or her know you oppose the Get Out (GO) Act, HR 4100. You may call any Congressman at (202) 225 3121. Tell him no trust fund period. No new entitlements. Insist that all funding go through the traditional appropriations process.
2. Call your Senators at (202) 224-3121 with the same message.
3. Send him or her an e-mail AND a fax if you have that capability even if you have called.
4. Call any organizations you are a member of to urge them to not sign on to HR 4100. The Farm Bureau, National Association of Counties and NRA should be first on your list.
5. Send us the Names, addresses, Zip, Phone, Fax and e-mail of anyone you think should be kept informed about the Get Out (GO) of Rural America Act. Send us directories of allied organizations. Help us build a team that can defeat the giant international green industrial complex.

Here is the article from Environment and Energy Daily,

Environment and Energy Daily, 2nd April 2004
Young, Miller look to resurrect CARA under public health umbrella
Dan Berman, Environment & Energy Daily reporter

Reps. Don Young (R-Alaska) and George Miller (D-Calif.) yesterday unveiled a bill that would dedicate over $3 billion annually from outer continental shelf (OCS) oil and gas receipts to land conservation and federal land acquisition programs under the guise of promoting public health and fighting obesity.
The bill, which would divert $3.125 billion a year over 20 years from OCS receipts, is similar to Young and Miller's Conservation and Reinvestment Act, which faced stiff opposition from property rights advocates in the 107th Congress and eventually failed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks changed funding priorities.
But there was little mention of CARA at yesterday's press conference. Instead, armed with statistics on public health and obesity, the House members and representatives from conservation groups promoted the new "Get Outdoors Act," or "GO" Act, essentially promoting land conservation as a way to fight rising healthcare costs.
"Obesity is a public health crisis of the first order," Miller said. "And the Get Outdoors Act is a sensible way to help mitigate that public health crisis."
Obesity-related health problems cost nearly $100 billion annually, according to Miller's office, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently declared obesity on track to overtake tobacco as the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
Nevertheless, the new GO Act faces an uphill fight in Congress. House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) was an outspoken critic of CARA in the 107th Congress and has consistently questioned the need for additional federal land acquisition.
"There are 101 studies that show the quality of the land, the conservation of the land and the environmental sanctity of the land increases when it's in the hands of private property owners and not Uncle Sam in Washington," said committee spokesman Brian Kennedy, who called the talk about obesity "more of a marketing gimmick than anything else."
"It would cost the American taxpayer less to get a membership at Gold's Gym and actually work out than acquire millions of acres of land in the name of health," Kennedy said.
During a full-day CARA markup in July 2001, Pombo failed on two amendments that would have limited land acquisition under the bill. One amendment would have taken the $450 million allotted for federal land acquisition under the Land and Water Conservation Fund and put it toward urban parks and endangered species recovery, while another would have retained private land rights adjacent to federally acquired tracts (E&E Daily, Jan. 13, 2003).
Other pockets of opposition to CARA came from appropriators who were averse to losing control of more purse strings and property rights proponents concerned about the effects of permanently funding a federal land acquisition account under the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
As with CARA, the Go Act would earmark $3.125 billion annually for the following programs:
-----a. $1 billion for coastal states;
-----b. $900 million for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation fund and stateside matching grants;
-----c. $350 million for wildlife conservation and restoration;
-----d. $350 million for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes and Refuge Revenue

Sharing programs;
-----e. $200 million for federal and American Indian lands restoration;
-----f. $150 million for the Historic Preservation Fund;
-----g. $125 million for the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery program;
-----h. $50 million for endangered and threatened species recovery;
-----i. $10 million for the National Maritime Heritage Act.

(Editors note: Most of this money is available to land acquisition and condemnation. Your land.)
Regardless of what the bill is called, Alan Front, senior vice president of the Trust for Public Land, said creating a permanent source of funding for conservation is no less important now than it was in 2001. "The underlying logic of making these funds truly permanent for the benefit of people and wildlife is unimpeachable," Front said.
"Our open space is shrinking and our waist lines are growing," Front said, noting that 2 million acres of open space disappear daily. "Taking those funds that were supposed to go to conservation and putting them into conservation will certainly reverse the first trend and very likely reverse the second."
Please make your calls, and send your faxes and e-mails as quickly as you can. The more of an uprising that occurs quickly, the better chance you have of stopping the bill. When a Congressman commits to support a bill, he hates to remove his name later. Better get to your Congressman early.
And forward this message as widely as possible.

Sources report all the cattle are gone. The Forest Service officials have packed up and apparently the contractor, Neddie J. Archuleta, is also leaving. There are still cattle on the allotment and supposedly Forest Service personnel will gather the rest.

The last shipment of cattle went to Guymon, Oklahoma, but we don't know if this shipment will go to the same auction barn.

Sources also report Sherry Laney may get her horses back. A document has been faxed to her attorney, and if Sherry signs the document, she apparently will get them back. The horses have been inspected (Cliff Mascarenas, Sam Wilson and three others were there at the inspection).

Property Dispute At Black Canyon

The USFS, Annett Chavez has just told Sherry Laney that if there are cattle or horses in her pens at Black Canyon, The USFS can come in and get them. There is a longstanding dispute over the fenceline defining the property boundaries. The USFS map was apparently drawn in a bar somewhere since it looks nothing like the actual terrain and the dispute is over several acres right at the house where the barn and pens sit.

In justifying the removal if the horses, The USFS reminded Sherry of the fenceline dispute. The USFS was supposed to bring in a BLM surveyor years ago to resolve this dispute but they chose never to do so.

Sherry is now being told her milk cow is fair game. So much for expecting the agency to behave fairly

Laura Schneberger

Group fighting bison management alleges rights violations A group opposed to government efforts to manage bison wandering from Yellowstone National Park has accused federal, state and county officials of a concerted effort to undermine its work by repeatedly violating members' constitutional rights. In a federal lawsuit filed in Missoula, the Buffalo Field Campaign claimed authorities engaged in "an escalating and systematic pattern and practice of assaults, harassment, spying, intimidation, slander, false arrest and detentions.".... Stealth society: Mountain lions see us more than we see them Mountain lions travel lengthy distances, cross highways and come very close to homes during nocturnal searches for prey, according to a University of California at Davis study now in its fourth year. The results have surprised researchers. Mountain lions - also known as cougars or pumas - were crossing interstate highways and skirting clusters of homes without being seen. People were sometimes unaware that their goats and other livestock were silently dragged off and devoured by lions in the middle of the night. In November, Linda Anderson of Rough and Ready had a lion drag her 44-pound dog out of its 8-foot tall kennel right behind her home, devouring all but a portion of the dog's head and a foot.... Big-game tag brings wolves closer to state management in Idaho The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has officially designated the gray wolf as a big game animal in the state, but a commissioner said Monday it will be a long time before anyone actually hunts wolves for sport. The commission unanimously voted late last month to change the official status of gray wolves from "endangered species" to "big game animal," bringing any killing of the species under commission regulation. Commissioner Cameron Wheeler, whose eastern Idaho district encompasses part of the wolf recovery area in Idaho, said any wolf season in Idaho would be tightly restricted, perhaps even as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It would likely attract trophy hunters, he said.... Protecting bull trout to cost up to $300 million over decade It will cost between $230 million and $300 million to protect bull trout under the Endangered Species Act in the Columbia and Klamath river basins, according to an analysis released Monday by the federal government. The critical habitat proposals by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cover parts of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.... Birthplace Is Crucial Issue for Scientists Counting Salmon Ever since the advent of hatcheries, not all salmon have been created equal, at least in the eyes of conservation biologists. But federal officials, under pressure from property rights advocates, are planning a classification change that could result in the loss of protection under the Endangered Species Act for many types of Pacific salmon.... Upheaval in the National Park Service has turned the genial ranks of America's rangers into outposts of fear and frustration Forner has been a National Park Service ranger for 29 years. He loves his work, considers it a privilege to serve both the public and the land. But he is fed up. And he's not alone. Millions of visitors a year hear friendly rangers banter about prehistory at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Nebraska or geology at Utah's Zion National Park. The crisp green and gray uniforms declare that all is right in this nationwide realm of 387 taxpayer-financed battlefields, cemeteries, ruins, seashores, parkways, preserves, scenic rivers, trails and parks. Out of earshot, however, many employees complain about slashed budgets and staffs, and say they fear recrimination if they don't toe the line.... Senate Committee Seeks Statue of Liberty Foundation's Records A Senate committee that oversees charities' compliance with the nation's tax laws requested records yesterday of contracts, staff salaries and other financial information from the nonprofit foundation managing the reopening of the Statue of Liberty. The Finance Committee, prompted by reports that the statue's opening had been stalled because of governmental delays and fund-raising by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, wants the foundation to justify staff salaries that exceed $100,000 and explain any contracts that were awarded without competitive bidding.... Sale of mining patents roils Crested Butte residents For $875, the Bush administration last week sold 155 acres of federal land near Crested Butte to a multinational mining company, renewing one of the nation's longest-running legal battles over a mine proposal. The purchase, revealed late Friday, outraged local officials and environmentalists who have been fighting efforts to open a mine on Mount Emmons for more than 30 years. The federal Bureau of Land Management dismissed three formal protests and immediately turned over the patents to nine claims on U.S. Forest Service land to the Phelps Dodge Corp.... Nevada says DOE isn't telling those affected of Yucca rail plan Nevada is accusing the federal government of neglecting to inform ranchers, miners and rural Nevada residents about plans to withdraw 319 miles of federal land from public use while studying a rail corridor to a national nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain. The Bureau of Land Management has a "proactive responsibility" to ensure the Energy Department tells affected parties about its plans, the Nuclear Projects Agency Nevada said in written comments submitted last week on the proposed Caliente corridor. "In this regard, both the BLM and the DOE have been derelict in their duties and responsibilities," the document said.... Column: Shoot, Shovel & Shut Up In their study of red-cockaded woodpeckers in North Carolina, "Pre-emptive Habitat Destruction Under the Endangered Species Act," economists Dean Lueck, at Montana State University, and Jeffrey A. Michael, at North Carolina University, show that landowners have "pre-emptively destroyed" the habitats of endangered species in order to avoid potential land-use regulations prescribed under the Endangered Species Act. "Under the ESA it is not only illegal to kill an endangered species, but it is also illegal to damage their habitat," explain Lueck and Michael. "By preventing the establishment of an old-growth pine stand, landowners can ensure that red-cockaded woodpeckers do not inhabit their land and avoid ESA regulations that limit or prohibit timber harvest activity.".... Backroom Deal Exposed, Illegal Wilderness Settlement Contested Conservation groups today contested a precedent-setting anti-wilderness settlement reached last year between the State of Utah and the Department of the Interior by filing a brief with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and releasing documents that show the settlement was rife with irregularities. This comes one year after Interior Secretary Gale Norton entered into the backroom agreement with the State of Utah that prohibited the BLM from ever again looking for or protecting wild lands as Wilderness Study Areas on over 150 million acres of public lands throughout the West. The Wilderness Society, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, and other conservation groups today asked the court to toss out the settlement, arguing it violates federal land management laws and is the product of organized complicity, rather than a fair, arms-length negotiation.... Editorial: Land swap deal needs more talk Sen. Gordon Smith has emerged during his seven years in Washington, D.C., as a soft-spoken, independent effective leader, so it's worth taking a second look at his proposal to give a huge swath of federal forestland away. Smith has proposed giving a tenth of the 630,000-acre Siuslaw National Forest to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to hold in trust for the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians. It would be the largest such land swap, ever. However, the tribal members who would benefit are poor, and certainly returning a huge chunk of valuable timberland to them for administration through the Bureau of Indian Affairs sounds like a good alternative to poverty — or casinos.... Sierra Club, Greater Yellowstone Coalition Back Grazing Buyout Bills Two more national conservation groups, the Sierra Club and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, have endorsed federal legislation that would compensate public lands ranchers who voluntarily relinquish their federal grazing permits. The Voluntary Grazing Permit Buyout Act (H.R. 3324, "Shays-Grijalva"), a bill introduced by Reps. Christopher Shays (R-Connecticut) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona), would allow federal public lands ranchers to waive their interest in grazing permits in exchange for compensation in the amount of $175 per animal unit month (or AUM, the amount of forage to sustain one cow and calf for one month). "We are pleased to join nearly 200 ranchers [in Arizona alone] and numerous other conservation organizations in supporting this legislation," said Don Steuter, conservation chair of the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon chapter. "These bills will help restore public lands that have been impacted heavily by drought and livestock grazing.".... Why are environmentalists trying to get snowmobiles banned from national parks? According to the San Francisco, California–based Bluewater Network, which wants to ban snowmobile use in national parks, 250,000 snowmobiles are operated in America's park system each year, with some 60,000 snowmobiles zooming through Yellowstone National Park alone. Counting all snowmobile usage nationally, in and out of national parks, about 2.3 million take to the powder every year. The main issue is the vehicleís two-stroke engine, which is a major polluter. According to Bluewater, the air pollution from these dirty machines is so bad that some Yellowstone Park Rangers now wear respirators to protect themselves. Further, these engines dump 25 percent to 30 percent of their fuel unburned out the tailpipe onto vegetation and soil and into the water and air.... Column: Another side of being green Environmentalists' actions and influences with the county provided fuel for the fire. Brad Boswell, a Kiwanis Club member who took off a week from work at his insurance agency to help fire victims, still gets outraged when he tells the story of a Ramona woman who had three government and environmental representatives approach her for having cleared brush too far away from her house ---- a house that was spared from the fire, thanks to her actions. "Can you image her outrage?" said Boswell. "She saved her house and the environmental enforcement personnel wanted to penalize her. ... This is just one example of environmental enforcement personnel pushing their governmental mandate too far, against all common sense and common decency.".... U.S. plans study on environment and kids Does a pregnant woman's exposure to certain chemicals put her child at risk of learning disabilities? Do genetics and pollution interact to cause asthma? What's the real impact of TV on toddlers? The government is preparing the largest study of U.S. children ever performed - it will track 100,000 from mothers' wombs to age 21 - to increase understanding of how the environment affects youngsters' health. It's called the National Children's Study, and pediatric specialists say it is coming at a crucial time. Rates of autism, asthma, certain birth defects and other disorders are on the rise, as is concern about which environmental factors play a role. And technology has finally advanced enough to allow study of multichemical and gene-environment interactions that might explain why some children seem at greater risk.... Ranchers offer plan for water With a plan they say is a better alternative than water mining proposals in the Big Bend region and Panhandle, a group of Permian Basin businessmen and ranchers wants to pipe excess rainwater that flows off the Davis, Barrilla and Glass Mountains to water-starved West Texas cities. The Texas Mountain Canyon Water Association eyes water from the Hovey Trough, a 30 mile long, 10 mile wide area along Highway 67 from Brewster County into Pecos County to within 15 miles of Fort Stockton. Depending on how much rain falls in a year and more detailed engineering, they say, the trough could supply between 44,000 and 110,000 acre feet of water annually to Odessa, Big Spring, Snyder, Midland, Abilene, San Angelo and numerous smaller cities in those areas.... Column: Japan shouldn't have a cow over safety of U.S. beef Ranchers here in western Nebraska still talk about "the cow who stole Christmas." By that they mean the Holstein in Washington State reported on Dec. 23 to have mad-cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). Based on that single case, about 50 countries slammed the door on U.S. beef imports. And shut it largely remains, though for no good reason. By coincidence, this year is the 150th anniversary of the treaty that marked the opening of relations between Japan and the United States. Groups that nurture Japanese-U.S. ties have been seeking ways to observe this milestone. The ranchers of America have a suggestion: In the spirit of "openings," Japan should reopen its markets to U.S. beef.... Japan OKs more beef talks Japan doesn't expect to lift its 3-month-old mad-cow-related embargo on U.S. beef anytime soon but will continue discussions with Washington to find a solution, an official said Monday. Mamoru Ishihara, Japan's vice minister of agriculture, said the two sides still differ over the best way to end the ban. Tokyo says it won't allow U.S. beef back into the country until Washington starts testing every slaughtered cow - an estimated 35 million head of cattle - for the brain-wasting illness. Japan introduced blanket testing after finding its own domestic mad cow case in 2001.... Survey Shows American Consumers Trust Agriculture And Support Food Choices The general U.S. public has deep trust and confidence in American school teachers, veterinarians, physicians and farmers and ranchers, according to a national consumer opinion survey conducted by Market Directions Inc., and jointly underwritten by the Animal Agriculture Alliance and National Corn Growers Association. In contrast, the public indicates distrust for activists and well-known Hollywood actors or actresses, especially when they attack animal agriculture, the groups said in a press release about the survey results. Bruce Andrews, president of the Animal Agriculture Alliance said: "More than 40 percent of respondents over the age of 25 considered farmers and ranchers to be one of their two most favorably viewed groups. At the same time, animal rights activists show themselves to be consistently out of touch with the public at large." Eighty-six percent of respondents think consumers should have the right to choose what they eat and not be dictated to by a small minority of activists, according to the poll, which was conducted in February.... Dwindling rural towns are offering free land The frenzy surrounding this community of 600 stems from its decision to borrow an economic-development idea instituted by Abraham Lincoln: Give land away. The lots of less than an acre, next to the rodeo arena, are not big compared with the 160 acres that more than a century ago lured former slaves and waves of immigrants to settle the Great Plains. But the deal — improve the land and it's yours — remains the same. And a handful of central Kansas towns, including Marquette, have embraced modern-day homesteading as an elixir for their ills. Over the past two decades, hundreds of rural communities across the country have watched their schools and churches die out as residents, particularly the young, made a beeline for jobs and opportunity in larger cities.... Albino zebra born in Nairobi The baby zebra was first discovered when a group of Masaai cattle herders living on the edge of the game reserve reported that a little calf was on the loose in the park, senior warden Paul Gathitu said on Monday. "The Masaai thought it was a calf because of its white colour", he said. The albino zebra was born in the beginning of March but has so far been left in peace by park wardens.... It's All Trew: Everyone has a story to tell Jack Dodson, longtime resident of Ochiltree County, owned and drove a cattle truck. Jack recalled a time when traveling down a residential side street in Perryton he encountered a cardboard box in his lane of traffic. For some unknown reason, he pulled into the oncoming traffic lane to miss the box. After passing the box and returning back to his lane he glanced into his side mirror to see a small child crawl from the box and up the curb back into a nearby yard. The incident left Jack so weak he had to pull aside and rest a bit before continuing on his way....