Saturday, May 08, 2004


The April Fools Diet: How Government Pork Fights American Obesity

With the aim of addressing America’s growing obesity problem, Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and George Miller (D-CA) have proposed the Get Outdoors Act of 2004 (H.R.4100). But the Get Outdoors Act is not really about health or obesity; it is definitely, however, about fat. This legislation (proposed on April Fools’ Day, no less) is a pork-filled land grab just like its model, 1999’s Conservation and Reinvestment Act, and would significantly encroach upon many Americans’ private property rights and drive up federal spending.

As proposed in 1999, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) would have established an off-budget trust fund to purchase land for wildlife protection, urban recreation, and other “conservation” needs.[1] The Get Outdoors Act and its Senate companion, the American Outdoors Act from Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) are a reincarnation of CARA, cleverly packaged as a public health measure to fight obesity.

According to Rep. Miller this legislation would “shrink Americans’ waistlines by expanding the number of goal lines and foul lines in the suburbs and inner cities and by expanding the number of hiking trails, bike paths, and other public recreation opportunities throughout the country.”[2] The public health link, however, is tenuous at best, given current below-capacity use of “recreation opportunities” throughout the country. Furthermore, CARA was originally proposed without any mention of public health; the obesity claims about the Get Outdoors Act seem to be nothing more than an imaginative marketing campaign....

A blossoming resistance to government control

There is no doubt that for a generation the environmental movement has dominated domestic policy. The 1964 Wilderness Act launched a string of environmental laws and regulations that now give the federal government jurisdiction, if not total control, over every square inch of land in the United States.

This outcome is not the result of citizens rising up begging the government to take control of the use of their land. It is the result of a well-planned, well-funded campaign to empower government to manage land – and people – in ways that conform more to socialist ideals than to the principles of freedom set forth in the U.S. Constitution.

The campaign has been remarkably successful. Hiding behind the banner of "protecting the environment," hundreds of organizations have promoted laws and regulations at every level of government that have the effect of expanding the power of government while reducing or extinguishing the individual's freedom to control the use of his own property....

Leaving a Trail

....A study recently published in the Journal of Climate attributes to air traffic all of the warming observed in the United States over the past twenty-five years. The paper by Patrick Minnis (a senior research scientist at NASA Langley) and colleagues Kirk Ayers, Rabindra Palikonda, and Dung Phan (of Analytical Services & Materials) outlines an often overlooked, observational explanation for regional warming, one that is unrelated to increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide.

A high-altitude jet airplane’s condensation trail (contrail) is a climatologically important byproduct of air traffic because it can function as a man-made cirrus cloud (a thin, high-altitude ice cloud). A contrail forms when hot and humid air from a jet engine’s exhaust mixes with cold and drier air in the upper troposphere through which the airplane passes. If the relative humidity of the high-altitude air is very low, a contrail quickly dissipates. If the air is moist, the contrail spreads horizontally and forms a thin layer of cirrus cloud that persists for many hours.

Cirrus clouds (and by implication, contrails) are climatologically important because they function as net warmers of earth’s atmosphere. Because they are very thin and composed entirely of ice crystals, most incoming solar radiation readily passes through them. However, water vapor (whether frozen or liquid) is the most important and most abundant of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Water vapor, like other greenhouse gases, traps outgoing longwave radiation that is reflected into space by the earth’s surfaces — the essence of the greenhouse effect. As a consequence, cirrus clouds produce net positive radiative forcing, or a net warming effect, on the atmosphere and the surface....

Fires Provide Excuse for Land Grab

The wildfire menace has returned to Riverside County—and so have the environmental zealots who help fan these flames. The environmental zealots—some from out of state—came pouring into the area starting soon after last summer’s torrential firestorms that consumed more than 12,000 acres in Riverside County and also blackened much of San Diego County.

With entrepreneurial zeal that would make Donald Trump say, “You’re hired!,” environmental activists began plotting how to use the blazes as leverage for their ongoing attack on urban development.

These eco-carpetbaggers aim to control, not comfort, the affected communities. Their aggressive descent on Riverside and San Diego—with promises of lawsuits and regulatory meddling—threatens not only to derail construction of new homes and roads, but also to stall fire victims’ rebuilding efforts. Here’s why....

Clearing the Air

....What, then, can we conclude from all these, sometimes conflicting, lines of evidence?

It is that, contrary to strong public belief, the effects of increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are generally beneficial. Enhanced plant growth has many obvious benefits, amongst them increased natural vegetation growth in general, and increased agricultural production in particular. And to maintain or slightly increase planetary temperature is also very much a global good if -- as Ruddiman and other scientists assert -- the human production of greenhouse gases is helping to hold our planetary environment in its historic, benignly warm, interglacial mode.

This news has yet to percolate up to the policy level within western governments, most of whom are still preoccupied with the politics of the now obsolete Kyoto protocol, including in many cases advanced plans for carbon trading taxes on energy consumption. Even worse, however, major government science agencies, or senior scientists such as the U.K.'s Sir David King, are continuing to propagate the view that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are, of themselves, environmentally harmful....

Sierra Club Misunderstands the Lessons of Earth Day 2004

Earth Day has long been reserved for political stump speeches, environmental policy pushing and a good dose of rallies, protests and meetings. While it’s commonly understood that little of what is proposed on Earth Day stays around long enough to truly matter, it is still frighteningly funny to see what environmental activist organizations do to celebrate what for many is the environmental equivalent to Christmas.

Take the Sierra Club, an organization that manages to find culprits for every environmental ill that America may (or may not) suffer. This year the Sierra Club’s Earth Day message begins with a call for a national conversation on "how the Bush administration policies are harming the health of our families and communities." Because "many Americans are unaware of this assault on the environment," the Sierra Club announced a new campaign this Earth Day to "Build Environmental Community."

According to the Sierra Club experts Americans are too "busy raising families, looking for jobs, and worrying about the war" to focus on the supposed decline in air and water quality. As a result, the Sierra Club continues, Americans have become victims of the current administration's war on our air and water. The solution: enlist more environmental recruits to become foot soldiers in the Sierra Club army....

Compared to Lawn Mowers, Cars are Environmentally Friendly

Due to technological improvements, newer automobiles are less polluting than they have ever been. In fact, compared to the much smaller engines in lawnmowers, they are pristine:

---In one year, a gas-powered lawnmower pollutes the equivalent of 43 new cars, each driven over 12,000 miles.
---Retiring just 4,000 gas-powered mowers would reduce air pollution by 20 tons per year -- equivalent to the amount generated by oil refineries over a two-day period in Los Angeles.

Gas-powered emit their fair share of pollutants, and many states are enacting programs to do something about it, according to the New York Times.

---In Phoenix, a buy-back program which began in 1996 has eliminated 15,504 gas-powered mowers.
---Recently, clean air authorities in the Los Angeles basin announced a lawnmower "buy-back" program, where those who turn in their old gas-powered lawn mowers receive a $300 credit toward purchasing an electric mower.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hopes to expand the Los Angeles program to the whole state and include rebate credits for older-model vehicles as well.

Source: Ben Bergman, "To Cut Smog, Los Angeles Places a Bounty on Mowers." New York Times, May 5, 2004.

For NYT text (registration required)
For 28 Cows and Precious Water, a Man's Got to Sit in Jail

"Sometimes a man has to die for what he believes in before anyone knowed he truly believed it," said Wally Klump, a 70-year-old rancher who sits in jail because he refuses to remove some cows from federal land.
Mr. Klump has spent the last year behind bars for repeatedly thumbing his nose at a judge's order to remove 28 cows from the Dos Cabezas mountain range here in southwest Arizona, land owned by the Bureau of Land Management but ranched by the Klump clan for 100 years.
Last week, Judge John Roll of Federal District Court summoned Mr. Klump from solitary confinement and asked him again if he had had a change of heart. Mr. Klump said he had not and was returned to jail. Now Mr. Klump promises to spend the rest of his natural days behind bars in canvas shoes instead of on the open range in cowboy boots.
"It's a land grab and a water grab," Mr. Klump said. "The government's trying to steal my land."
Mr. Klump acknowledges, however, that he and his family do not own most of the land, but have the common-law claim to the use of nearly 500 square miles of it. He said he believed he would lose his claims to the coveted groundwater if he did not have cattle drinking it.
At the heart of the dispute, Mr. Klump says, are liberty, water and preservation of the Western life that he will not idly watch evaporate.
"I want to show the American people how to live," he said in the visitors' room of a private jail in Florence, a two-hour drive northwest of his ranch near Willcox. The Klumps own about 50 square miles of land.
Government agents have decided not to round up Mr. Klump's livestock as they have done in the past, since he has threatened to shoot them dead. While this is impossible from behind bars, his family remains on the land and the government prefers not to provoke them.
Mr. Klump said he had never been in jail before. He has never been to New York or Los Angeles or even Amarillo, Tex., for that matter. He is tall, his body without a trace of excess. His face is severe, his hands soft from disuse, and he walked about the jail with a defeated shuffle.
"Ownership by the government is tyranny," he said. "Ownership by the rich is feudalism. The people become slaves. I'm talking about land and liberty. I'm doing this for the people. Not for me."
And here he wept, drew a laborious breath, wiped his nose in disgust at himself and said, "Shoot."
Without enough private land to raise a profitable amount of livestock, ranchers have long leased adjacent land owned by the government. The arrangement for decades was friendly, even when the government rearranged the process in 1934 to stop desperate cattlemen of the Dust Bowl from killing each other.
Mr. Klump said the government even helped his father put a barbed wire fence around his allotment. Ranchers used the allotted land pretty much as they saw fit until the mid-70's when environmental regulations severely curtailed agricultural operations and grazing rights. It is these grazing rights Mr. Klump is charged with violating.
At the same time, agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service staked claims to water that had been claimed by ranchers decades ago, in case the ranchers should ever abandon their properties or forfeit them.
The West is growing at a pace that has it tapping every water source. The population of Arizona, for instance, is expected to grow by 40 percent in the next 20 years.
Despite spending $5 billion on an aqueduct to deliver Colorado River water 2,400 feet up and 335 miles across the state, Arizona still draws about 45 percent of its water from the ground. Every year the subterranean water is depleted by 2.5 million acre feet and officials wonder where the future's water will come from. Recycled toilet water is one idea. The retirement of ranchers is another.
"Anyone whose livelihood depends on the water is feeling the pinch," said John Lavelle, a spokesman with the Arizona Department of Water Resources. "You can't blame a man like that for feeling threatened."
About 20,000 ranchers have their cattle grazing on federal land in the West, and how the land and water regulations are being enforced is the key to their survival or death.
Wayne Hage, a Nevada rancher, lost his grazing and water rights for what the government said was mismanagement of public property. His case has been wending its way through the federal courts for more than a decade. He argues that under the Fifth Amendment the government cannot take property without paying for it and that grazing permits and water rights are property.
"The essence on Western lands is water," Mr. Hage said. "And water has reached the status of oil. The easy way for the government to get it is take away your grazing rights. We won't let that happen without a fight."
And in this spirit, Wally Klump refuses to remove the cows from the land.
"If I take the cows off, they'll take the root of my water away," he said. "My family withers on the vine."
The dispute with the Klumps has nothing to do with water rights, said Mike Taylor, deputy director for resources for the Bureau of Land Management in Arizona, though he confirmed that the government has staked claims on top of Mr. Klump's.
"We do not covet his water, O.K," Mr. Taylor said. "There is no desire for that. All we want from Wally is compliance with grazing regulations. That means removing the cows."
One of the original settler families in Arizona, the Klumps have battled the bureau since the late 1980's. The Klumps lost lawsuits and countersuits and appeals. The government confiscated cattle and sold them at auction. It canceled easements and claims to smaller springs. It placed liens on private parcels of property. It seized bank accounts. All were humiliating losses for the Klumps. This time, Mr. Klump said, he got fed up with losing.
Citing the constitutional right to own firearms, Mr. Klump has threatened to take "Second Amendment action." He has threatened to do so in a paid advertisement in a local paper. He has personally threatened to do so in the sheriff's office. He said it again to a visitor in jail.
"The Second Amendment is my ace, and they know it's my ace," he said. "The founding fathers gave the individual a gun to fight the tyranny of the government. What's that mean? The bearer can kill someone in government if the reason is justified. But it's never been tested. I told them, you take those cows, I'll kill you as mandated by the Second Amendment."
Believing him, the government has refused to remove the wayward cows, instead letting Mr. Klump corrode in prison, passing the time with the Bible and the music videos on Black Entertainment Television.
The prisoners support Mr. Klump, clap him on the back and call him old-timer. The townsfolk of Willcox supported him until he started talking about killing people. Now they say he should take down the barbed wire, let the government on the public's land and take the cows off.
"He lost a whole lot of support in town with talk like that," his brother Wayne said. "It's a fine line between a nut case and a man with principle, but you got to understand that even if you whip a lamb so many times, he'll come after you."
Wayne Klump is a tall, erect, real-deal cowboy struggling with an icy sense of guilt.
"I wonder if I took those cows off myself, would that get Wally out of jail?" he asked. "I don't think Wally would like that though."

Anti-logging protests mark Bush administration visit Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey canceled an impromptu meeting with environmentalists to discuss salvage logging on the Biscuit fire Friday after he was confronted by angry protesters. The roughly 50 shouting protesters who assembled outside Rey's speech to the Oregon and Washington chapters of the Society of American Foresters foreshadowed future confrontations in the woods if the Siskiyou National Forest goes ahead with plans to log 518 million board feet from the area burned in the Biscuit fire, environmentalists said.... Grassland appeal denial under review A U.S. Forest Service decision earlier this year rejecting several administrative appeals of the Northern Great Plains Management Plans Revision won't be the last word on the matter. David Tenny, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's deputy undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment, is conducting a "discretionary review" of the Forest Service's rejection. Tenny is expected to issue his decision "very soon," according to officials. The Forest Service revised its Resource Management Plan for the Thunder Basin National Grassland in Wyoming and several other grasslands located in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska. After the plans were completed, various groups filed a total of 16 appeals.... Forest users ask judge to forbid all road and trail closures Montanans for Multiple Use has asked a federal court in Washington, D.C., to ban the U.S. Forest Service from implementing road and trail closures. The group said its requested preliminary injunction is necessary because of an approaching fire season which will expose the public to a substantial health and safety risk. It also said the Forest Service continues to implement a "continuous stream" of forest plan amendments across the country aimed at closing forest roads and trails.... I-80 reopens near Reno after closed 4 hours due to Sierra wildfire More than 130 firefighters battled a fast-moving wildfire that forced the closure of U.S. Interstate 80 in the Sierra for four hours Friday near the California-Nevada state line. The Nevada and California highway patrols shut down a 30-mile stretch of the interstate in both directions just west of Reno about 3 p.m. and reopened it shortly after 7 p.m. Firefighting efforts were hampered intially by winds gusting to 20 mph as the fire burned sage brush and timber on steep, rocky hillsides on both sides of the interstate along about a 2-mile stretch near Farad, Calif., about 10 miles southwest of Verdi, Nev.... Letter: Forest Service made a fiasco out of the Kit Laney situation Cows were injured. Why? Were there any representatives of the Laneys there at all times to see to the welfare of the cattle and make sure that the cattle that were confiscated were actually on forest land? Why were gates left open so the horses could get out if these men that were rounding up the cattle knew what they were doing? Did they have any knowledge of rounding up cattle? Why ship them to an undisclosed place if the Laneys had the option to buy the cattle back before auction? And, why is the price of the cattle more than the value? Is this typical government price gouging?.... Trout Canyon possible home for desert tortoises The desert tortoise sanctuary near Jean is getting more crowded, leading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to begin looking for alternative sites, including Trout Canyon near Pahrump. Forest Service biologist Michael Burroughs said since the Jean location was established in 1996, over 4,000 endangered desert tortoises have been transported to that 34 square-mile site. All of them were collected under the Clark County habitat conservation plan, he said. Burroughs confirmed Trout Canyon was being eyed up as a possible site for desert tortoises, as well as northern El Dorado Valley near Boulder City, the Desert National Wildlife Refuge north of Las Vegas and U.S. Highway 95 near Mercury.... Poacher Sentenced for Illegal Bear Trapping Clifton Lee McCarter of Tellico Plains, TN was sentenced in United States Federal Court on May 3, 2004, for his involvement in an illegal bear trap site in the Cherokee National Forest in Monroe County. McCarter was sentenced to: Thirty days incarceration in Federal prison, and two years supervised probation. During the two years of probation McCarter is prohibited from possessing firearms, prohibited from hunting by any means anywhere, and prohibited from entering any National Park or National Forest.... Bear attacks rafter in Desolation Canyon on Green River A black bear attacked and injured a recreational rafter on the Green River in eastern Utah's Desolation Canyon -- the second bear attack there in 10 months. Details were lacking Thursday, but the victim, whose age wasn't known, received a puncture wound on the calf of one leg and superficial scratches on his abdomen. The attack happened around 10:45 p.m. Wednesday, when two bears entered the camp set up by a commercial rafting company after being chased out of another campsite nearby.... Michigan wolf population firmly established, authorities say The surging gray wolf population in Michigan's Upper Peninsula has exceeded 200 for the fifth consecutive year, a milestone that likely will bump the animal from the endangered species list. Once virtually extinct in Michigan, the wolf is continuing a remarkable comeback that began in 1989 when three of the animals established a territory in the western Upper Peninsula, the Department of Natural Resources said Thursday. The estimated population rose during the last year from 321 to more than 360, the agency said. Department biologists produce a yearly census using techniques such as tracking, aerial observations and monitoring wolves fitted with radio collars.... Plan would cement public land user fees The Bush administration wants to make permanent a fee charged for access to public lands, arguing Thursday that it would help build and maintain the restrooms and visitors centers that tourists demand. Barry Hill of the General Accounting Office said a pilot fee program has generated more than $1 billion since it was put in place in 1996, with another $184 million in revenue expected this year. The program is slated to expire at the end of 2005, but Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Ohio, and representatives of the Interior Department and Forest Service are backing efforts to make the fee program permanent.... Checkpoints target Rampart Range area Frustrated by perennial problems in the Rampart Range District of the Pike National Forest, uniformed law enforcement officers have set up vehicle checkpoints along routes into the popular playground southwest of Denver this weekend. Forest Service officials said the checkpoints are intended to help officials enforce off-road vehicle regulations and provide visitors with information on fireworks and firearms restrictions throughout the summer.... Groups fight drilling plan recent analysis by The Wilderness Society says oil and gas development along Montana's Rocky Mountain Front would produce less natural gas than the nation uses in a week and less oil than it uses in 20 minutes. The study was based on data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey. But in determining the "economically recoverable" amount of oil and gas, The Wilderness Society said, the USGS did not include nonmarket costs - such as the loss of local economic benefits from such activities as hunting, fishing and camping - and infrastructure costs of gas transport and environmental mitigation.... You can go here to view the study.... Nevada governor says politics won't affect sage grouse decision Gov. Kenny Guinn is confident Nevada's response to declining sage grouse numbers will be driven by science regardless of attempts by outside groups to politicize the issue, his spokesman said. Officials for the Bureau of Land Management and the Nevada Farm Bureau echoed that sentiment Friday, saying political interference is doomed in such a high-profile dispute that affects more than 100 million acres of federal land in the West.... New Orleans institute unveils pair of cloned wildcats Two cloned wildcats were born at the Audubon Nature Institute, the fourth and fifth cloned carnivores the institute has produced, officials said Friday. The kittens, both females, were born April 16. A team of LSU and Audubon Institute scientists also produced the first cloned wild carnivore, an African wildcat, last August, and two male cloned wildcats were born at the institute several months later.... Grouse closer to protection Drought, development and other threats have pushed the imperiled Gunnison sage grouse, found only in western Colorado, closer to extinction, a federal agency said. This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would reconsider granting the bird protection under the Endangered Species Act....Wildfire threatens 5 homes 50-acre wildfire in Rio Blanco County threatened five homes Friday night. The Lower South Fork Fire started on private land about 25 miles east of Meeker, said Larry Helmerick, a spokesman with the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center.... Group Sues Emery County Commissioners to Reopen Roads A group has taken Emery County to court, trying to force commissioners to reopen roads closed by a federal agency. The Shared Access Alliance, an off-road vehicle advocacy group, filed a lawsuit in 7th District Court in Castle Dale over 468 miles of county and state roads closed by the Bureau of Land Management in the San Rafael Swell area of Emery County, in east-central Utah, the Deseret Morning News reported Friday. The roads, known by their original Civil War-era designation R.S. 2477, were closed by the BLM in 2003.... Ranchers digging and laying pipe to reach water Ranchers in western South Dakota are digging new wells and laying more pipe to existing water supplies as dry weather continues to grip the area. Craig Coller, owner of West River Excavation, said his crews have laid more pipe in the last four years than the previous 16 years he has been in business.... Restoration of old windmill gives a glimpse of history The windmill, Dalley said, was buried under sand and dirt on the Joe Lewis Powell-David Stone Ranch. “We broke it down and brought it here (to Portales),” Dalley said. “Some pieces were cast to put it together, because some of the pieces had been lost.” Dalley restored the old windmill’s wheel, which he said may have been created as early as the 1870s. The wheel — 14 feet in diameter — rests in Dalley’s yard among more than 80 other restored windmill wheels that are part of Dalley’s collection. Built with the blades in a slanted position, the wheel is made of oak at the cross pieces and pine for the blades. It was painted green in its original state, with red tips on the blades. So, Dalley repainted it the same colors. The wheel of the windmill will eventually be mounted on a tower,” he said. When restoring the 14-foot windmill wheel, Dalley referred to patterns of a 14-foot windmill wheel he had restored several years ago and taken to Santa Fe Springs, Calif..... What’s value of a good story? You can find clues to them in stories like the following dialog between a West River rancher and his grandson as they take a horseback ride to look over the ranch. GS: Grandpa, why does this horse keep jerking his head? GP: You are holding the reins too tight. It hurts his mouth. Just give him a free rein. He’s old and will just follow along. GS: What’s free rein mean? GP: Move up here and I’ll show you. (Grandpa leaned over and tied a knot in the reins and hooked them over the saddle horn.) There. Now the reins are hanging loose and not pulling on the bit. Just leave them there but keep your hand on them in case something unexpected happens. When you are old enough you will get a free rein too, but someone will always have their hand on the reins just in case you need a little direction. (They rode to the highest hill on the ranch and stopped to view the green landscape dotted with cattle.)....
Health Officials' Inquiry Finds No Evidence of Mad Cow Disease at New Jersey Track

ejecting the contentions of a dogged amateur researcher, health officials from New Jersey and the federal government said yesterday that there was no evidence that mad cow disease had killed 17 patrons and employees of a South Jersey racetrack in the late 1980's and early 90's.

Dr. Clifton R. Lacy, the state health commissioner, said an investigation into the deaths had found no cases of the human form of mad cow, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

While at least some of the 17 died from another form of the disease not associated with eating infected beef, the death rate was normal for the age group involved and the state's population of 8 million people, he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which cooperated with the state investigation, issued a statement yesterday agreeing that "no evidence supports the conclusion that the racetrack-associated deaths were causally linked" with contaminated meat....

Families Skeptical Of Garden State Racetrack Disease Findings

The New Jersey State Health Department announced its conclusion: There is no cluster of people who have died from eating mad cow tainted beef.

And that infuriated the families of local people who used to go to the now closed track..

People who later died of Creutzfeldt Jacob disease (CJD), a brain-wasting illness sometimes linked to mad cow disease.

"I'm just really shocked with this whole thing and I really can't say anything else," said Nicole Senter, whose father died from CJD.

Senter's father died at age 47. He and 15 other confirmed CJD victims had one thing in common. They frequented the racetrack.

"It looks like all of the CJD victims had eaten at the Phoenix restaurant between the years of 1988 and 1992," said Janet Skarbek, a CJD activist. "This is especially significant since only 10 to 15 percent of track attendees ever went to the Phoenix restaurant."

But state health officials say they've found no evidence to suggest that mad cow tainted meat caused their CJD....

Thursday, May 06, 2004


Six Forest Service Workers Face Discipline The U.S. Forest Service has proposed disciplining six employees over their actions during a wildfire that killed two firefighters last year. The proposed actions range from suspension to firing, Regional Forester Jack Troyer said. He would not release the names of the Salmon-Challis National Forest employees or say how many of the workers the agency had proposed be fired. Jeff Allen, 24, and Shane Heath, 22, died in the forest July 22 after they rappelled onto a ridge to clear a helicopter landing pad. They radioed for a helicopter at least twice when the fire advanced in their direction, but when one was finally sent, the area was too smoky to find the men.... Cricket overload Natives of western Utah: Shut your windows and lock your doors. Hordes of unwanted visitors are on their way. Those pesky Mormon crickets and grasshoppers are back. Mormon crickets and grasshoppers infested 3.5 million acres of western Utah rangeland, farms and desert last year. This year the outlook is even worse. Larry Lewis, spokesman for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, said he estimates grasshoppers and crickets will take over nearly 4 million acres of land this summer.... Hollywood elite lampoon President Bush at environmental fund-raiser Hollywood glitterati assembled at a benefit gala Thursday night to raise $2.6 million for environmental causes and skewer President Bush's environmental record. The Natural Resources Defense Council fund-raiser had the atmosphere of Oscar night, as stars strolled down a green carpet passed throngs of cameramen and admirers and into the Wadsworth Theater in the upscale Brentwood area. Those in attendance included Tom Hanks, Leonardo Dicaprio, Meg Ryan, Jack Black, Martin Short and Sheryl Crow, among others. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did not appear. Keynote speaker Robert Kennedy Jr., who has advised the governor and is his cousin-in-law, said he thought Schwarzenegger was coming.... Pollsters Doubt Fish Rules Will Move Votes The Pacific Northwest woke up last week to what Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) called a "bombshell." The Bush administration had abruptly changed the rules on protecting wild salmon, the semi-sacred indicators of regional identity. Had Bush tripped over a fish? Might an environmental issue make a significant difference in the presidential race? The realpolitik answer, from two longtime independent pollsters in Oregon and Washington, is an emphatic no. "There are only so many issues people can be fretful about, and right now salmon is not one of them," said Tim Hibbits, a pollster in Portland, Ore., the state with the country's highest unemployment rate. "There are these monster issues out on the table: the economy and the war," he said. "The environment is not an issue in any major way. If people don't have a job, they are not going to worry as much about salmon.".... Industry coalition's internal sage grouse memo causes flap An industry group opposed to federal protection for the sage grouse threatened legal action against environmentalists who publicized the group's internal memo that outlines lobbying tactics and political strategies to keep the bird off the list of endangered species. The conservation group RangeNet removed the six-page memo from its Web site Thursday after the Partnership for the West - a coalition of ranchers, miners, oil and gas interests and other commercial users of public lands - made the demand late Wednesday. Industry coalition leaders said the document outlined nothing illegal or improper, but said publicizing an internal memo was inappropriate.... Federal Bill Would Allow Indiscriminate Killing of 94 Migratory Bird Species Three of the nation's oldest and largest animal protection organizations today called on the House of Representatives to reject H.R. 4114, a bill that would weaken the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and remove federal protection for at least 94 species of "non-native" birds, including certain species of storks, pelicans, cranes, swans, cardinals, and orioles. The bill, introduced by Congressman Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), passed the House Resources Committee yesterday and is being rushed through Congress.... Bear bites camper in eastern Utah A pair of black bears raided two separate camps of rafting parties, biting one camper late Wednesday in remote Desolation Canyon on the Green River, the site of a similar attack last July. The unidentified male victim, a member of an organized rafting trip, suffered only minor injuries, authorities said.... Runoff surging on Snake Runoff from melting mountain snow has surged in recent days and may peak earlier than normal because of unusually warm weather for this time of year, a water manager says. The runoff is "a whole month earlier than the averages," said Mike Beus, Bureau of Reclamation water operations manager for the Snake River.... Canada beef exports to Mexico caught in US action Canada's beef exports to Mexico, which hit record levels in the first quarter, have been slowed by a U.S. court order obtained by a cattle ranchers' group, exporters said Thursday. The court order, obtained late last month by R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America, stopped a number of Canadian beef products from moving into the United States -- including those destined for Mexico, the Canada Beef Export Federation said in a statement.... FDA Links Condemned Texas Cow, Pre-Ban Type Feed Acting FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford was asked by reporters whether his agency had found any problems with feed currently on the San Angelo, Texas, farm where the condemned cow lived its entire life. He responded that the farm has never been found in violation of animal feed rules, but added that the cow was so old that it would have consumed feed a long time ago that was not covered by newer regulations. "The feed that was fed to this animal would have been probably eight years ago," said Acting FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford, an expert on veterinary medicine.... Coyote hunting on the 7-Cross In the mid-1890s, my grandfather, O.A. Collins, left his native Georgia and came to Colorado seeking work. One look down the black hole of a Cripple Creek mine sent him looking for labor outdoors. He found it on the 7-Cross Ranch north of Briggsdale, Colo. At the time the ranch was owned by the prominent Eaton family and grandad landed work as a general hand. As one of the younger employees and a greenhorn to boot, he was often given some rather “un-cowboy” tasks. One was to gather guinea eggs....

Hage v. United States
Takings and Liability Trial

May 3, 2004

Reported by Margaret Byfield, Executive Director

Day One

The Hage family is finally seeing their day in court. But more importantly, the pattern and practice of the federal land management agencies to drive western landowners off the range is on trial. The stories of harassment, taking of cattle, government interference in the daily operations of Pine Creek Ranch are being told in the modest Nevada courtroom under the jurisdiction of the United States Court of Federal Claims with Judge Loren Smith presiding.

Today was the beginning of trial in the takings and valuation phase of the landmark takings case, Hage v. United States, the case filed in 1991 by Wayne and Jean Hage for the taking of their ranch by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. With the property rights phase completed, where the court ruled Hage owned the water on his grazing allotments, ditch rights of ways, and several other key property rights in the federal lands, the court has now turned its attention to determining whether the government’s action took these critical property rights and whether the Hages should be compensated.

It is the first case of its kind. It is the first time these agencies have had to defend their regulatory actions in the Claims Court on western grazing issues. It is the first time the environmental organizations have had to sit on the sidelines and watch the court weigh the evidence of how the environmental agenda is stealing the property rights and livelihoods of America’s landowners.

There wasn’t one seat left open today as trial began. The room was filled with supporters of the Hages and advocates of property rights. The government witnesses were the crowded minority as supporters of the Hages filled the 50 available seats.

The Judge, clerk and court reporter preside at the front. The government’s table was filled with three Department of Justice attorneys, Dorothy Burakreis, David Spore, and Tim Raciacot. Representing the Department of Interior is Al Brant. Dave Grider, the District Ranger who carried out the confiscation of Hage’s cattle and who was responsible for the final actions that drove the plaintiffs out of business, was sitting directly behind the government attorneys, nervously supplying notes throughout the day.

For the plaintiffs, attorneys Ladd Bedford and Mike Van Zandt sit on the right side of the room, along with plaintiff Wayne Hage. Ramona Morrison is temporarily filling in for their legal assistant who was in an accident prior to trial.

Off to the side is Tom Lustig, attorney for the National Wildlife Federation, Toyiabe chapter of the Sierra Club, Nevada Department of Wildlife, Natural Resource Defense Council and several other environmental groups. Sitting next to him is the State of Nevada representative, Michael Whales. These two represent the Amicus Curie parties.

The Judge began trail by welcoming all the parties and asking if there were any new motions before the court. None were offered, so he then asked if either party had opening remarks. Lead attorney for Hage, Ladd Bedford, declined, stating that their position has been made clear in their briefs.

Second chair for the government, David Spore, did give brief opening remarks where he laid out the arguments we could look forward to hearing over the next three weeks. He began by stating this case is about responsible and irresponsible grazing, not about property rights. The government was forced to get involved because, “to use a colloquial, plaintiffs acted like they owned the place.” In the end they got what they deserved, but if the agency did act illegally it is an issue for the District Court and not the Claims Court.

In regards to the value of the ranch in the event the court found there was a taking, which the government was confident they would not, plaintiffs had significantly overstated the value of their ranch, only making a profit 2 of the 14 years they were in business. The court has already ruled the government has a right to reasonably regulate. The reason Hage went out of business was because of poor management.

And so the day began, with no new arguments from the government, but a clear indication they were uncomfortable defending this property rights case in the United States Court of Federal Claims. Rather, they would prefer to be discussing the rules and regulations Hage presumptively broke in District Court.

Wayne Hage was called to the stand as the plaintiff’s first witness. He was questioned by Ladd Bedford. They began by describing how the Pine Creek Ranching operation was run. Hage explained that in the spring, the 2000 mother head of cattle were on the southern end of the ranch, comprising of the Ralston, Silver King and McKinney grazing allotments. The crew would begin moving the cattle up the valley making sure no more than 200-300 cows were at a water source so as not to run out of water at any of the locations.

The cattle would migrate through a narrow pass at the top of the Ralston allotment, through Belmont, and drop into Monitor Valley, which would be home base for the summer. Once the cattle were collected, classified and branded, they would be distributed on the two mountain ranges that bordered the valley, Table Mountain and the Jefferson Range. Then the crew would begin putting up the hay. After labor day, they would begin to gather the cattle out of the mountains to Pine Creek facilities, sorting out the yearlings, old cows and any bulls that needed to be sold. These animals would be shipped out. In November and December, the cattle would
migrate back down the valley to the winter range.

Bedford asked what Hage understood he purchased when he bought the ranch in 1978. Hage said, “the entire ranch,” which included numerous holdings of private property and the neighboring grazing lands which were adjudicated by the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, range improvements, ditch rights of way, water rights, wells, road system, trails, fencing and other necessary components of the ranch. He described the range improvements as serviceable and functioning as long as normal maintenance was done.

He then described the many water sites he developed after purchasing the ranch, the pipelines he installed, drift fences he constructed and other new improvements made to increase the productivity of the ranch.

With this foundation laid, Bedford’s questions, and Hage’s responses, turned to the actions of the government over the 13 year history which led to the closure of Pine Creek Ranch. Throughout the day and into the next, they painted a picture of how the Forest Service changed its policies in a manner that made it increasingly hard for Hage to operate an efficient livestock operation, and pointed to the many property rights the government blocked Hage’s access to, or confiscated out right.

He described how the Forest Service took over the ranch’s cow camp on Table Mountain in the first years he purchased the ranch. The site had holding pens and facilities to temporarily house the crew for the work necessary on the 12,000 foot mountain with over 125 miles of Hage’s grazing lands. The Forest Service had begun using the facility but within a few years of Hage’s purchase of the ranch, they posted a sign at the site designating it a Forest Service Administrative site.

As a part of their new policy, the Forest Service wanted Hage to keep a man on the mountain as long as the cattle were there. Hage testified that the first time he sent a man up there, he had to fire him because he got a hold of some drugs he presumed from the Forest Service. The second man he sent up there he also had to fire because he became so liquored up he couldn’t do the work.

He discontinued using the site and recommended another location, 4 mile, where they could build some holding pens out of the quaking aspens and sleep in tents. The Forest Service agreed but wouldn’t allow the use of the natural materials. The told Hage he would have to haul all the posts and other necessary items to build the facility by pack horse. The mountain was made roadless some years before, and the cost to haul in all the materials would be prohibitive, so Hage didn’t establish a new cow camp on the mountain.

Then they turned to the issue of the Elk introduction on Table Mountain. Bedford asked when did Wayne first learned about the Elk introduction. Hage testified that in 1979 he heard the Forest Service had unloaded 49 Elk on the mountain but didn’t notice the Elk until 1982-83 when their fences were severely torn up. By the mid 80’s you would see 20-30 head at a time.

When asked if this impacted his cattle grazing operation, he said it sure did. It was extremely difficult to keep the fences maintained. One day they were repairing fences on the mountain and watched a bull Elk jump through an area they had just fixed, having to go back and repair it again.

Once the Fish and Game department opened hunting season on the Elk, it caused considerable problems because the end of the grazing season and hunting season were at the same time. You couldn’t get the semi-wild cattle off the narrow single file trails with hunters coming up. You couldn’t keep the cattle in authorized areas with a minimum of 80 riders scouting for the elk and shooting rifles.

Bedford then turned to the incident when the Forest Service fenced off his springs in Meadow Canyon on the Jefferson Range. Wayne testified that he ran into a Forest Service employee who had been touring his range and was told that he was surveying the water because since the Federal Land Policy and Management Act was enacted in 1976 the Forest Service believed they owned all the waters in the National Forest.

Shortly after that, the Forest Service expanded their horse pasture next to an administrative site they have in Meadow Canyon taking in Hage’s primary spring system, which water the cattle on the Meadow Canyon allotment. Hage objected to this and the Nevada State Engineers held a field hearing with the Forest Service and Hage. At the hearing Hage brought stacks of title documents showing the chain of title and his ownership of the water. The Engineer ruled that Hage owned the water not the Forest Service. “Even though I won the ruling, the Forest Service wouldn’t take out the fences that blocked my water.” Still today those fences remain and the Forest Service continues to use the water for its purposes.

Wayne then described several other places where the Forest Service had fenced off, or blocked access to his water.

Bedford began questioning Hage on the stacks of complaints the Forest Service had filed against him over the 13 years. Hage testified these were primarily trespass notices and charges of not maintaining fences. During the 105 day grazing season in 1983, they had 40 visits and 70 certified letters from the Forest Service all alleging different violations of his grazing permit. For instance, they didn’t like his temporary repairs to the fence he would make through the season until he could get the necessary fencing equipment up on the mountain. They wanted him to use a different splicing method, which he later found out was a rule they made locally in the Tonopah office.

One notice he received gave him the usual 5 days to fix the fence. So he sent a man leading a pack horse loaded up with fencing equipment to the top of Table Mountain, and when his rider found the Forest Service’s blue flag marking the problem, there was one staple missing.

The previous owners had told him they were selling because of the increased Forest Service pressure, but Wayne thought he could get along with them. When asked if he intentionally violated any of the rules he said no. “You might say I was a little naive. I had worked for the Forest Service and BLM, taken more range courses than most of them had, so I thought I could work with them, but quickly found out it had nothing to do with good range management, but that they didn’t want me there.”

“Do you recall what led to the decision to suspend 20% of the livestock allowed on the Table Mountain Allotment?” asked Bedford. Hage said yes, and explained that with all the new policies, new fences they erected which inhibited proper grazing, and continual charges they were bringing, he decided to take non use in 1989. He was making about $13 dollars a head for a cow that was now costing him $32 when
moving it to the mountain. Since they were already appealing many of the decisions, he opted not to use the allotment until the conflict was resolved.

They said he didn’t fill out the proper form to take non-use so they suspended 20% of the cattle allowed on the allotment. Then they said he was required to put at least 90% of the cattle on the allotment. By this time there were only 30 days left in the grazing season. There wasn’t enough time to put cattle on and off without creating more trespass situations.

Bedford then turned to a letter from the Forest Service, which cancelled 25% of the cattle allowed and asked what led to this action. Hage explained that during this non-use year, the cattle that normally summered on the mountain would stay close to the gate at the head of the trail. One day, they saw a Forest Service vehicle drive up to the gate and then shortly thereafter leave. Curious as to what they were doing, he went to the same location later that day and found the gate open and saw that the cattle had gone through. A few days later he received a letter canceling 25% of his permitted numbers because he had cattle on the allotment.

At this point Judge Smith asked Wayne for clarification. He asked if what he was saying was that the Forest Service opened the gate and the cattle wandered onto the allotment and then the Forest Service filed trespass charges against him. Wayne responded, “that is correct.”

Bedford asked if the charges the Forest Service made against him affected his cattle operation. Wayne answered “yes, because usually you would have to correct the problem within five days, so you would have to drop what you are doing, often haying, and fix the problem. Stopping in the middle of haying compromises the quality of hay. One time, we were responding to their demands, and couldn’t take care of other necessary functions, and our yearlings ran out of water causing weight loss right before they were sold.”

“We had a standard policy that we would do everything we could to abide by the terms and conditions of the permit. We began a policy of having each man involved with complying with the regulations write a note telling what they did that day. I believe that is provided in the record here.”

Bedford then turned to a line of questioning on the 1866 Act ditch rights of way which caused Lead counsel for the Government, Dorothy Burakreis, to object. She stated that the ditches were a subject of the previous trial and it was not necessary to cover these again. Judge Smith asked Bedford what the relevance of this testimony was and Bedford responded that we are now in the takings phase, not proving ownership, and that this line of questioning goes towards the government’s interference with the maintenance of Hage’s ditches causing a taking of his property. The Judge said that seems to be relevant and overruled the objection.

Wayne testified that after clearing sagebrush out of one of his ditches, Bob Mason of the Forest Service said he was in violation of FLPMA, which revoked those ditches and required that he have a special use permit to conduct routine maintenance. So he took out the permits, but found that under their rules you had to use hand tools, which made it prohibitive. Later, a court ruled if the ditch was in existence prior to FLPMA you didn’t need the permit. The new District Ranger, Guy Pence, wrote a letter informing him of this decision and asked that he write a letter asserting these were 1866 act ditches which he did. So then he continued the maintenance without the special use permits.

Bedford asked Wayne to look at two letters written by the Forest Service in August and October of 1986. Both letters state Wayne is required to have a special use permit to perform maintenance on his ditch. The letters were admitted into evidence.

He then showed Wayne a letter signed by David Grider, the District Ranger that replaced Guy Pence. It informed him that he would be subject to Federal Prosecution if he continued to maintain his ditches without a special use permit. This was also admitted into evidence.

Bedford then asked Wayne to describe the condition of his ditches and their ability to transport his water to the meadows and sites of beneficial use after not being able to maintain these ditches. One by one, Wayne describe the length and condition of the ditches, now inhibited by willow growth and Junipers. He testified how little water is now running through these ditches, a fraction of what use to flow, and how his meadows are increasingly being replaced with sagebrush and other brushy species such as rabbit brush, because of the lack of water.

At this point, the Court adjourned. Wayne would resume testifying the following morning.

Final battle in the war for the West?

The little-known U.S. Court of Federal Claims has set up shop in Reno, Nev., to hear what may be the final phase of a 13-year legal battle between Wayne Hage and the federal government, the result of which will either send seismic shockwaves through the government and the environmental community or signal the end of ranching and other resource use on federal land.

Much to the chagrin of federal agencies and the environmental community, Presiding Judge Loren Smith already ruled on Jan. 29, 2002, that Hage does, indeed, have a "vested water right" and title to certain "fee lands" adjacent to the water on his Pine Creek Ranch in Nevada.

Hage has been denied the use of his private property since 1991, when the federal government confiscated his cattle because, according to David Spohr, the government's attorney, "[Hage] continually broke the law, repeatedly trespassing cattle on public lands after being warned to remove them."

Hage has contended that the government had no power to require him to remove his cattle, since he owned the water rights and title to adjacent "fee lands."

Judge Smith told both sides: "We're not here to question whether the government could do what it did. The question is, can the government do what it did without compensation?"

If the court rules the government's denial of use of Hage's private property constitutes a "taking," then the government will be required to pay "just compensation" as required by the Fifth Amendment.

The budget-busting implications of this ruling has federal bureaucrats biting their nails. Hage believes compensation is due and that compensation must be paid on the basis of highest and best use of the resource. Since his property rights were denied in 1991, water has become an extremely valuable commodity, especially for drought-stricken urban areas such as Las Vegas and Reno. Should the government have to pay compensation for lost water sales, to which the judge has already ruled that Hage has exclusive rights, the size of the award could be staggering....

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


Greenpeace ordered to pay loggers for lost work Greenpeace and two of its protesters must compensate loggers who couldn't work during an anti-logging protest, the B.C. Appeal Court has ruled. The case dates back to 1997, when a group of environmental protesters sailed to Roderick Island, some 200 kilometres north of Vancouver Island, on a boat called Moby Dick.... Writer helped environmentalist disable lion trap An Esquire magazine writer working on an article about environmentalists assisted them in disabling a mountain lion trap, according to a federal complaint accusing the writer of trespassing. The complaint also accuses John H. Richardson of entering a closed facility and interfering with a mountain lion hunt in Sabino Canyon. He was arrested March 24 along with environmentalist Rodney Coronado, who was trying to disrupt the hunt for lions, the complaint said.... U.S., states toil to cut wildfire risk As drought threatens to create another record wildfire year, federal and state officials told Congress Wednesday they are using new authority it gave them last year to clear extra fuels to help prevent small fires from becoming catastrophic. "For 2004, the Forest Service anticipates treating hazardous fuels on 1.6 million acres," and 60 percent of that will be in forests adjacent to urban areas, Mark Rey, undersecretary of agriculture, told the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs. Besides the stepped-up work by the Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is awarding 30 fuels reduction contracts this year and is on track for another 80 next year, testified Assistant Interior Secretary P. Lynn Scarlet. Montana Gov. Judy Martz, representing the Western Governors' Association, said combined efforts by federal, state and other partners since 2003 have managed to reduce fuels on 5.5 million acres, including 138,374 in Utah.... Blazes halted: Cooler weather aids firefighter efforts Firefighters got a break Wednesday as cooler air and lighter winds helped halt the advance of two blazes that torched 25,585 acres of Southwest County this week. By Wednesday, 3,173 firefighters from departments all over California had been dispatched to the Eagle and Cerrito fires. The two were the largest of four fires that, in all, burned more than 28,000 acres of Southwest County and Camp Pendleton since Sunday and destroyed more than a dozen houses as well as sheds, vehicles and the Dorland Mountain Artist Colony.... Feds free up money to prevent California fires Sen. Dianne Feinstein complained this week that $120 million designated by Congress for dead tree removal in San Diego, San Bernardino and Riverside counties had not yet been given out. The delay was partly because the counties were required to match 25 percent of the money with local funds. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman has agreed to eliminate the matching fund requirement on that pot of money, Feinstein announced Wednesday, meaning counties will get the millions without committing a local share. Veneman has also agreed to reduce from 50 percent to 25 percent a matching fund requirement on another $48 million in U.S. Forest Service money designated for fuel-reduction projects on state and private lands, Feinstein aides said. The Forest Service is spending an additional $44 million for projects on federal land, money that never required a match.... Bush Admin. Urged to Keep Roadless Rule Democrats and environmentalists urged the Bush administration on Wednesday not to make any more changes to a rule that bars construction of roads and other development in nearly one-third of national forests. The administration already exempted the nation's largest national forest -- the Tongass in Alaska -- from the rule and is considering a plan to allow governors to request exemptions for national forests in their states.... Glacier threatens to block Alaska river An advancing glacier is threatening to choke Russell Fiord and back up the river running into the fiord, cutting off salmon and steelhead migration and destroying Yakutat's livelihood. Hubbard Glacier is surging forward by as much as 12 feet a day, and residents are considering their options, such as a $1 million diversion trench away from the Situk River.... ARRA Applauds House Resources Committee Action on H.R. 3247 Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA) today commended the House Resources Committee for sending H.R. 3247, the TRAIL Act, to the full House of Representatives for further legislative action. This bill will protect lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from destructive individuals and groups by giving these agencies the power to impose significant fines for irresponsible behavior. It will also help prevent additional Federal lands and waterways from being closed to recreational use.... Column: ELF Rising In the liberal oasis of Boulder, Colorado there are whispers, an inkling that something is amiss. There are winks, nods, and hush-hush conversations in bars, dinner halls, and poetry readings at coffee shops. Aging liberal activists who are no strangers to G8 summits, IMF meetings, and WTO trade talks are immersed in “chatter”. They aren’t comparing bean bag bullet scars. They are talking about action with a keen eye on destruction. Few political activists wanted to talk about what they were hearing, and certainly no one wanted to be identified. The fear of enemy combatant status understandable or not keeps most of what they know and say off the record. But they all agreed they foresee a battle with Bush and big business at the hands of the biggest known threat to domestic security, the Earth Liberation Front.... Decision on dams raises questions Colorado's major water suppliers, the Forest Service and state officials said Tuesday they don't know if a recent federal court ruling would sap mountain reservoirs. In a victory for conservationists, a federal judge ruled last week that the Forest Service can't allow streams below dams to go dry, endangering fish, wildlife and habitat. Most Colorado cities store water in reservoirs on Forest Service land.... Forests are not what they used to be Forests impact both standards. When trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide that they convert into cellulose and oxygen, helping clean the air. But when fires destroy forests, they have a tremendous negative impact on air quality. This hasn't always been the case. Just 150 years ago, forest fires burned so differently, their smoke would not violate today's air quality standards. Fires burned low to the ground, and smoke was generally contained in the forest. Compare that with images of the Southern California fires last fall that devastated forestland: towering flames and huge, dark plumes billowing through the sky. The change is because our forests have become unnaturally crowded. Since humans have been putting out forest fires for a hundred years, we now have a superabundance of fuel that causes the kind of fires that used to burn quietly on the forest floor to explode into intense conflagrations.... Governor assails salmon plan Gov. Ted Kulongoski on Tuesday denounced the federal government's plan to alter its strategy for saving Northwest salmon, saying it could threaten more than a decade of habitat restoration work and Oregon's quality of life. The governor's remarks follow reports that NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency overseeing efforts to restore wild salmon runs, will count millions of fish raised in hatcheries annually when deciding whether salmon deserve continued protection under the Endangered Species Act.... Norton: Park will open to snowmobiling next winter Although the issue remains mired in legal dispute, snowmobiling is likely to be part of Yellowstone National Park next winter, Secretary of Gale Norton said Wednesday. "I am certainly confident that it will be," Norton said during a question-and-answer session with reporters in a telephone conference. Before next winter season, National Park Service officials may have to conduct further environmental studies, examine the numbers of snowmobiles allowed into the parks and look at management practices, Norton said. She did not provide details.... Bush OKs Utah land transfer The Bush administration on Wednesday strongly endorsed giving Beaver County clear title — at no cost — to lands in the recently closed Minersville State Park, so the county could assume control and operate it. "Normally, we would require payment of fair market value," Bob Anderson, deputy assistant director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, told the Senate Energy Committee. "However, we recognize the unique circumstances here." In 2002, Utah decided to close the 200-acre state park around a lake because of budget shortfalls. Beaver County sought to assume control — but wanted clear title so that, if necessary, it could sell off parcels for cabins and lodges to finance park operations.... U.S. to study drilling for natural gas on federal lands The U.S. Department of Energy said on Wednesday it is forming a group composed of federal agencies that will examine the feasibility of expanding natural gas supplies by drilling on federal mountain and coast lands. The group will study last September's report from National Petroleum Council, composed mainly of energy executives, that found consumers could save $300 billion in natural gas costs over 20 years if more federal land in the Rocky Mountains and coastal areas is open to drilling.... Navajo win another round over Peabody Last fall, a federal appeals court ruled the Navajo could revisit their lawsuit against the government based on a thicket of other provisions in law and policy that give rise to a federal fiduciary trust obligation for Indian resource leasing, or so the Navajo contend. Breach of fiduciary trust obligations could conceivably activate specific laws mandating monetary compensation for material damages the tribe suffered pursuant to the breach. And on April 13, Emmet G. Sullivan, federal District Court Judge for the District of Columbia, ruled that a Navajo lawsuit against Peabody Coal can proceed under RICO, the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law. (Peabody now generally goes by the name Peabody Energy, and by Peabody Holding Company as the named plaintiff in the Navajo RICO lawsuit.)....

Storm over rangelands contjnues in claims court

After battling U.S. land managers for more than two decades, rancher Wayne Hage thinks he's closer than ever to proving the government robbed him of water and grazing rights on a stretch of Nevada range more than two-thirds the size of Rhode Island.
"What we're talking about here is how the government -- working with the environmentalists -- took the property from me," Hage said Tuesday during a break in the latest round of his case before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
"This ruling could have a dramatic impact on Western state's rights and the proper jurisdiction of federal lands in the West," he told The Associated Press. "It's the first time in nearly a century that someone has effectively challenged the government over who owns the range rights and water rights out here on these federal lands."
The federal court has set up temporary shop in the Washoe County courthouse in Reno for the next three weeks to hear the latest phase of the lingering dispute between Hage, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management over property rights, water rights and livestock grazing on federal land.
Hage has been arguing with the government since the Forest Service started scaling back the number of cattle allowed to graze on national forest land in the early 1980s.
Ranchers and their families from New Mexico, Idaho and South Dakota were among those who filled the courtroom for Hage's testimony on Monday and Tuesday.
"We've been following this for 13 years," said Frank Duran, president of the Stewards of the Range based in Meridian, Idaho, which has helped Hage with some legal assistance.
A lawyer for the government said in opening remarks Monday that Hage lost the privilege to graze on the lands because he continually broke the law, repeatedly trespassing cattle on public lands after being warned to remove them.
"There is no sinister plot here, no conspiracy," said David Spohr, a Justice Department lawyer representing the two federal agencies.
"If anything, the federal agencies were too soft. They allowed too many violations to go on for too long," Spohr said. "He believes this entire 752,000 acres has been set aside entirely for his use."
U.S. Claims Court Judge Loren Smith ruled in Washington D.C., in 2002 that Hage had a right to let his cattle use the water and forage on at least some of the federal land where he formerly held a federal grazing permit north of Tonopah, in central Nevada.
The government says the ruling applies to 50 feet on each side of 10 different irrigation ditches built before 1866 -- an area Spohr estimates covers about three-tenths of 1 percent of the range in question.
Hage, who is married to former U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage of Idaho, insisted Tuesday the ruling applies to "the entire ranch" -- about 1,100 square miles.
That issue, addressed in Smith's original ruling, could be headed to a federal appeals court for resolution.
Smith ordered this week's evidentiary hearing to determine if the government must compensate Hage for what he says was an illegal "taking" under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.
"We're not here to question whether the government could do what it did. The question is, could the government do what it did without compensation?" Smith said.
Hage, 67, a longtime state's rights activist who wrote "Storm Over Rangelands," maintains the government imposed overly restrictive environmental regulations on the land to drive cattle ranchers like himself out of business.
He filed a claim seeking $28 million in damages in 1991 after Forest Service officials suspended his grazing permits on parts of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, saying overgrazing was causing ecological damage on the high-desert range.
Hage said the water rights came with the Pine Creek ranch when he bought it for about $2 million in 1978 and those rights carry with them the right to the associated forage.
"If you don't have the water rights, you don't have a ranch," he said.
When the Forest Service impounded 78 head of his cattle and suspended his grazing rights, the agency destroyed his livelihood, he said.
"We were broke. The Forest Service was telling our lender I was a terrible person and I didn't know how to run a ranch and was breaking all the Forest Service rules," Hage testified.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


Ex-Forest Service Worker Must Pay $14.7M A federal appeals court Tuesday ordered an imprisoned former Forest Service employee responsible for the largest wildfire in Colorado history to pay $14.7 million in restitution. A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with federal prosecutors who argued Terry Lynn Barton should pay the cost of emergency restoration of national forest southwest of Denver.... Administration’s Budget Too Low to Achieve Healthy Forest Goals The Administration’s budget proposals for restoring forest ecosystems and reducing fire risks to rural communities are too low, according to nonprofit environmental group American Forests’ analysis. In recent testimony to the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, AMERICAN FORESTS, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization, is urging Congress to dramatically increase the amount of funding for collaborative local efforts to thin forests and reduce fuel loads around communities threatened by wildfire.... Column: Fire can be a tool or a torment depending on how it is used Fire is one of nature's grand contradictions. When under control, working its way slowly through crackling logs surrounded by melon-sized rocks in a fire ring, it is pleasing and beneficial. When out of control, pushed by winds through dry prairie grasses, it is both dangerous and devastating. For people who spend time outdoors, campfire is good and wildfire is bad. So for much of the last century, forest and prairie land managers went to great lengths to prevent or suppress fires that had the potential to burn large areas. This is an obvious choice in areas where uncontrolled fire could endanger human lives. Over the last couple of decades, however, researchers have learned more and more about the long-term benefits of fire to both grasslands and forests.... Recovery plan approved for 'rarest trout in America' The U.S. Forest Service approved a plan Tuesday to restore what wildlife officials call "the rarest trout in America" to 11 miles of a Sierra Nevada creek after first removing nonnative fish from the waterway. The plan is controversial because the planned removal this fall involves the use of a fish poison to eliminate competition from the nonnative trout. That prompted an environmental group's lawsuit that delayed the process for a year while a federal environmental impact statement was prepared. Wildlife officials say restoring the Paiute cutthroat trout to its native habitat in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness is worth the damage to other species, most of which they expect to repopulate the creek within a couple years.... Front drilling proposal sparks 12,000 e-mails During the first week of a public comment period on a proposal to drill for natural gas in the Rocky Mountain Front, the Bureau of Land Management received more than 12,000 e-mails -- so many electronic comments that the government account is overloaded for now. But those 12,000 e-mails are just the beginning. About 150 people packed into Choteau High School on Monday to learn more about an environmental review that the BLM must complete before the proposal moves forward. The Choteau meeting was the first in a series of five that will be held this month.... Feds held off updating status of prairie dog The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has received so much new information about black-tailed prairie dog populations that it delayed its annual update on the animal's status as a candidate for the threatened species list. For now, the prairie dog remains a low priority for listing on the threatened species list, according to the service's report filed in the Federal Register on Tuesday.... Groups file petition to protect 225 species An alliance of environmentalists, scientists and artists petitioned the Bush administration yesterday, demanding that steps be taken to protect 225 vanishing plants and animals nationwide. The species are languishing under the Endangered Species Act without adequate protection, critics say. "They're all at risk for extinction. Some are on the brink," said Noah Greenwald, conservation biologist with the Portland office of the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups petitioning the government. The species have been placed on the "candidate list" for endangered species protection. More than a quarter of the species have been on the list for nearly 30 years.... Columbia River closes to spring chinook angling With a new run size projection 44 percent smaller than pre-season forecasts, Oregon and Washington fishery managers on Tuesday ended all sport fishing for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River, effective 12:01 a.m., Thursday, because the allowable impacts to wild fish have been met. Biologists from the Oregon and Washington fish and wildlife departments downgraded their pre-season prediction of the number of spring chinook destined for areas above Bonneville from 360,000 to 200,000. Pre-season predictions of the number of fish entering the Columbia River are based on jack counts at Bonneville Dam, the number spawning fish available and other factors. Biologists are unsure why the actual returns are less than the pre-season predictions, and will continue to evaluate the run.... Ditches kill a half million fish Hundreds of thousands of fish diverted into irrigation canals each year die because they are not able to return to streams and reservoirs before the canals dry up, a study on the Wind River Indian Reservation found. "Irrigators, sportsmen and wildlife managers have always known that fish are lost in irrigation canals each year, but we were amazed by the number of fish we found in every canal we sampled," said Dave Skates of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which participated in the research.... Tribes attack BLM for broken trust over mines An attorney for the Fort Belknap Tribes argued in federal court Monday that the Bureau of Land Management has broken its trust obligation to the tribes in its permitting and oversight of the Zortman-Landusky gold mines. "Not even the most basic requirements were followed by the federal government," Mike Axline, an attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center, told federal Judge Donald Molloy. The Fort Belknap Tribes sued the BLM and two other federal agencies in 2000, saying the government neglected its duties to protect the tribe's natural resources and historic sacred lands in its dealings with the now-defunct mines.... BLM looks at enforcing drug and alcohol bans The Bureau of Land Management is proposing a rule change that would permit BLM officers to enforce drug and alcohol regulations on public lands in Nevada. Currently, BLM officers must summon state and local law enforcement officers when violations occur.... Where the Wild Horses Go It’s a brisk, breezy February day—the second Tuesday of the month, a.k.a. auction day—and a pretty good crowd has gathered, despite the fact that only a handful of horses will be trailered away from here today. This is the Bureau of Land Management’s regional Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Center. There’s none of the hustle-bustle and “insiders-only” atmosphere that you’d feel at a local livestock auction barn, where most of the buyers are old pros and a newcomer hardly knows what’s going on. No, here all is done with simplicity and casualness. Facility manager Pat Hofmann kicks things off with a spiel on how things are done.... Study of the New Rockies Finds Old West Is Old Hat The myths and paradoxes of the new American West were explored Tuesday as experts here released a comprehensive report highlighting sweeping changes in population, growth and the environment across the Rocky Mountain region. Most Westerners don't live off the land, aren't especially rugged and like big-box stores and lattes as much as anyone else, the statistics show. "We continue to believe this Marlboro man, cowboy myth about the West," said Walter Hecox, a professor of economics at Colorado College. He pointed out that 1.7% of Westerners earn a living from agriculture, mining or other natural resource-based occupations.... To Cut Smog, Los Angeles Places a Bounty on Mowers In the smog capital of the nation, it seems that no effort to reduce pollution is too small. The South Coast Air Quality Management District, which sets emission rules for the Los Angeles basin, announced a program on Tuesday to take 4,000 soot-belching gasoline mowers off Los Angeles lawns. Angelenos who turn in their old gasoline mowers will get a $300 credit toward the purchase of a shiny new $400 electric mower.... Column: Climate change too slow for Hollywood, too fast for the rest of us It's always been hard to get people to take global warming seriously because it happens too slowly. Not slowly in geological terms -- by century's end, according to the consensus scientific prediction, we'll have made the planet warmer than it's been in tens of millions of years. But slowly in NBC Nightly News terms. From day to day, it's hard to discern the catastrophe, so we don't get around to really worrying. Something else -- the battle for Fallujah, the presidential election, the spread of SARS, the Jacksonian mammary -- is always more immediate, and evolution seems to have engineered us for a fascination with the sudden. Slowness, by all accounts, shouldn't be a problem with The Day After Tomorrow, a new global-warming epic due in theaters May 28. Apparently, the script posits that rapid melting of Arctic ice is enough to trigger massive changes in ocean currents, shutting down the Gulf Stream and setting off a humongous super storm.... Judge throws out hunting suit A judge has thrown out a lawsuit, closely watched by landowner and hunting groups, that argued hunters should be required to get permission before they set foot on private North Dakota farm and ranch land. Rod Froelich, a Selfridge rancher and state legislator, and his wife, Kathryn, were seeking an advisory legal opinion in their case, which North Dakota courts do not give, South Central District Judge Gail Hagerty ruled.... NRCS Chief optimistic CSP will be a vibrant, rapidly growing program Bruce Knight, Chief of USDA's NRCS, was dealt a difficult hand by legislators in terms of how to fairly administer the Conservation Security Program (CSP) in light of restrictions placed on it during the political process. The plan for how to play those cards, announced today, uses priority watersheds and categories of farms and ranches to narrow eligibility as a cost saving measure. Knight explained to reporters this afternoon that NRCS is up against some serious constraints that are the direct result of decisions made at the Congressional level. Those decisions mean the agency has been forced to make some tough decisions about how best to implement the $41 million program for 2004.... USDA strangling CSP in the crib, says Senator Harkin The Bush Administration today announced its plan for implementing the landmark Conservation Security Program (CSP). USDA will use watersheds as a basis to determine participation. The plan has drawn harsh criticism from Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Specifically, critics say USDA's proposals for selecting priority watersheds and determining producer eligibility by categories within those watersheds appear to be "unnecessarily complicated and exclusionary." What's more, they say the Administration seems to plan to make the restrictions permanent.... Shy Australian now world's biggest cattle baron Outback Australian rancher and ex-potato farmer Peter Menegazzo became the world's biggest cattle baron on Tuesday when he bought out his partners in Stanbroke Pastoral Company, the country's biggest beef producer. Stanbroke has 24 cattle properties covering 10 million hectares (24 million acres) and carrying 435,000 head of cattle.... Statement on Texas cow with central nervous system symptoms The Food and Drug Administration learned that a cow with central nervous system symptoms had been killed and shipped to a processor for rendering into animal protein for use in animal feed. FDA, which is responsible for the safety of animal feed, immediately began an investigation. On Friday and throughout the weekend, FDA investigators inspected the slaughterhouse, the rendering facility, the farm where the animal came from, and the processor that initially received the cow from the slaughterhouse. FDA's investigation showed that the animal in question had already been rendered into "meat and bone meal" (a type of protein animal feed). Over the weekend FDA was able to track down all the implicated material. That material is being held by the firm, which is cooperating fully with FDA.... USDA vet: Texas mad cow breach not unique The recent case of a Texas cow that displayed symptoms consistent with mad cow disease but slipped through the cracks of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's surveillance plan is not an isolated incident, an agency veterinarian and a consumer advocate told United Press International. The revelation that the cow was not tested has generated alarm among the public and Congress, and a USDA veterinarian said cows displaying central nervous system disorders, such as the one in Texas, often are not tested for mad cow -- even though the department considers these animals the most likely to be infected with the disease. "Sometimes Veterinary Services (the USDA branch responsible for picking up brains for mad cow testing) won't even show up," the veterinarian, who requested anonymity, told UPI. "If you tell them the cow is under 30 months (old), they won't bother with it.".... Only 3 mad cow tests done at Texas firm Only three cows have been tested for mad cow disease over the past two years at the Texas plant where federal testing policies for the deadly disease were breached last week, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture testing records obtained by United Press International. The small number of tests occurred despite the fact that the plant, Lone Star Beef in San Angelo, Texas, processes older, dairy cows, which are considered to hold a high risk of being infected. The only confirmed mad cow infection in U.S. herds occurred last December in a 6 1/2-year-old dairy cow in Washington state. Lone Star is the 18th largest slaughterhouse in the country and processed about 350,000 animals over the two-year period.... Bob Welch: Saddle sore Cowboy Bob earns his spurs When I last looked at Rusty - really looked at the horse - he was smirking slightly. It was November 2002 and, as I began my first elk-hunting trip, Rusty initiated me by bucking me onto a log. Physically, I was only bruised. Emotionally? Ask my therapist. It's bad enough being the only nonhunter on a trip with a bunch of Eastern Oregon cowboys, one of whom has a dried antelope scrotum on his truck's gearshift knob. But to walk while the "James gang" is riding - you having been dubbed "Cowboy Bob" - well, you might as well be riding a battery-operated scooter at a Hell's Angels rally. Slowly, I've been healing. Then, a few weeks ago, came chilling words....

Supreme Court declines to hear case on water diversion for fish The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear an appeal of a lower court decision that the government can close irrigation ditches crossing U.S. Forest Service land to provide additional water to help endangered fish runs. The Supreme Court, without comment, let stand a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that was a setback for groups seeking to limit federal control over state waters. "We consider this a great victory for protecting wild salmon," said Michael Mayer, a lawyer for the environmental group Earthjustice in Seattle. Irrigators argued that the Forest Service did not have the right under the Endangered Species Act to deny long-standing water rights to farmers. They claimed the state, and not the federal government, had the authority to set in-stream flow requirements for fish.... PROFILE: REP. RICHARD POMBO Pombo is a crusader -- a cowboy hat-wearing rancher and outspoken property rights activist who believes the government's approach to environmental regulation is too intrusive, too confrontational and often ineffective in protecting natural resources. At 43, he is the youngest chairman in the House, having jumped over nine more senior Republicans on the committee to win the job last year, with the strong backing of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas. Pombo, known on Capitol Hill for his ostrich-skin boots and fund-raising ability, convinced Republican leaders he could spearhead a more aggressive effort by the party to reshape federal environmental policy.... U.S. Accused of Cooking Fla. Panther Data With no more than 100 Florida panthers roaming the southwestern part of the state, a Fish and Wildlife Service biologist is accusing the agency of putting developers' needs ahead of the endangered cats. Andrew C. Eller Jr., a Fish and Wildlife biologist for 17 years, filed a formal complaint Monday alleging the agency is knowingly using flawed science in key decisions affecting how much undeveloped land is set aside for the panthers.... Sierra Club exec laments loss of federal land For Carl Pope, one statistic speaks volumes about President George W. Bush's environmental record: In just over three years, the executive director of the Sierra Club says, the Bush administration has stripped protection from 234 million acres of federal land more than all the 230 million acres protected by President Theodore Roosevelt when he ushered in a century of American land conservation in the early 20th century. That total, Pope says, includes wilderness study areas, lands designated as critical habitat for endangered species and national forest roadless areas. All have lost protection and are now open to development as a result of action by this administration, he says.... Editorial: ESA scandal A Denver zoologist whose work has called into question the validity of a threatened species listing for the Preble's meadow jumping mouse testified before Congress last Wednesday. But his revelations concerning the creature's true genetic blueprint — it's indistinguishable from mice found in abundance elsewhere, raising potentially scandalous questions about the process leading to a federal listing — wasn't all that was on Rob Roy Ramey's mind. The top zoologist at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science offered a startlingly candid critique of the sometimes slipshod science underlying the nation's most powerful environmental law, the Endangered Species Act — a point underscored last week when the professor whose work led to the animal's listing admitted he had erred in declaring it a distinct sub-species, based on examinations of only three mice.... Species Act allies Cardoza with GOP, Bush supports Dem's efforts to change law For Rep. Dennis Cardoza, the three-decade-old Endangered Species Act is a runaway train that threatens the humans in his Central Valley congressional district by damaging an already fragile economy. That strongly held belief by the Modesto Democrat is music to the ears of House conservatives, who are supporting his new legislation to make it harder for land to be designated critical habitat for the survival of endangered or threatened species, a designation that often prevents farmers or builders from using private land. Even the Bush administration is backing Cardoza's bill.... Court Rulings on Emissions Sharply Split Two Groups The Supreme Court on Monday, for the second time in a week, issued a decision on emission standards for power plants that cheered industry groups while upsetting environmentalists. The two actions came in unrelated cases, the one on Monday involving the Tennessee Valley Authority and the other last Wednesday a regional air pollution control agency in Southern California. Environmental lawyers, trying to gauge the impact of the decisions, said the cases seemed to reflect a certain hostility by the court toward aggressive steps intended to reduce air pollution.... Development May Threaten National Park A valley treasured by biologists as one of the wildest places in North America could become the site of large coal-related development projects, if two plans are realized. The proposals call for mining and gas development in the Flathead Valley in British Columbia, a sparsely settled region that includes the North Fork of the Flathead River. A few miles south, the river forms the western boundary of Glacier National Park in the United States. Kenneth Bates, president of the Cline Mining Corporation, a Canadian company, said he planned to have an open-pit coal mine operating within two years to extract hard metallurgical coal, which is in demand because of a boom in steel production in China. The other project is a series of exploratory wells to find out whether it is feasible to drill more extensively for natural gas found in coal deposits in the valley.... Reports in 12 States Find Changes to National Forest Policies Threaten Last Wild Forests in U.S., Says National Environmental Trust Reports to be released in 12 states will warn that changes to the Roadless Area Conservation Rule would destroy most of the remaining roadless areas in our national forests that remain intact. The reports, embargoed for May 4, will mark the three- year anniversary of Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman's pledge to uphold the provisions of the 2001 rule. Changes to the rule protecting the last pristine roadless portions of America's national forests threaten to ravage millions of acres with commercial logging, road-building and mining. Despite Secretary Veneman's pledge, Agriculture Undersecretary Mark E. Rey recently announced that changes to the rule were imminent. Environmental groups expect the changes to follow the Bush Administration's practice of favoring logging interests instead of protecting old- growth forests for future generations. These reports specifically deal with national forests in the following states: Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Idaho, Montana and New Hampshire. Government statistics show that a reversal of the Roadless Rule could result in the complete loss of roadless forests in 11 of the 50 states. Among them are the politically important states of Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Online copies of the reports and high resolution forest photos will be available at Popular recreation sports alter Western bargaining The growing popularity of kayaking, canoeing, fishing and other sports is helping the recreation industry gain political clout in the battle over one of the most precious commodities in the West: water. For generations, the lion's share of water went to farmers, cities and mines. The desire to go floating down a river for fun was rarely recognized as a valid reason to release or divert water from streams and reservoirs. But in recent years, recreation has gained a seat at the table.... Brazil's Road to Victory Over U.S. Cotton A cattle rancher with a master's degree in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Camargo thought he had understood the logic of globalization and liberalized trade. He had been an adviser for Brazil during global trade negotiations in the Uruguay round. The premise was that developing countries like Brazil could better lift their farmers out of poverty through trade, and not aid. "This is really a pioneering case,'' Mr. Camargo said after hearing about the preliminary outcome. "I wish this would have happened while I was still in the government. It's nice to be recognized.'' The W.T.O. ruled that the multibillion-dollar subsidies to the biggest American cotton farmers and agribusinesses amounted to unfair trading practices.... Some cattlemen cool to identification system A national system of tracking cattle from birth to slaughter is coming, but at least some South Dakota cattle ranchers and sale barn operators are worried about costs, potential disruptions to the markets and impacts on producers. About 100 sale barn operators and cattle producers attending the South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets Association annual meeting in Pierre were cool to presentations on individual animal identification systems.... Cattle producers seek reinstatement of $1.28 billion jury verdict The unanimous jury verdict in Pickett, et al v. Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. had cattle ranchers cheering in February. They won a historic class-action victory that painted a picture of Tyson Fresh Meats and IBP as having intentionally manipulated the cattle markets using "captive supplies" of cattle. However, a federal trial judge shortly thereafter made a ruling that vacated the $1.28 billion jury verdict that had gone in the producers' favor. Now, the Birmingham law firm Whatley Drake has filed an appeal on behalf of cattle ranchers seeking to overturn the federal trial judge's ruling.... No sample taken of reject cow A cow that was ordered destroyed at a West Texas meatpacking plant was sent to rendering before the U.S. Department of Agriculture could collect samples to test it for a possible central nervous system disorder, USDA officials said Monday. The rendered product from the animal did not enter the human food chain and presents no risk to human health, said a joint statement by Ron Dehaven, administrator for animal and plant health inspection, and Barbara Masters, acting administrator for food safety and inspection. The cow was taken to slaughter Wednesday at Lone Star Beef in San Angelo. The statement said a veterinarian condemned the animal after seeing the cow stagger and fall, indicating either an injury or a potential central nervous system disorder, one of the signs of mad cow disease.... Rope 'em, ride 'em, mend 'em: When rodeo cowboys get hurt, volunteer physicians are there to help In 1981, the Justin Boot Co. began sponsoring the medical program, with Dr. Evans and athletic trainer Don Andrews leading the effort. Now, more than two decades later, the Justin Sportsmedicine Team, which includes Dr. Murray, treats about 6,000 cases annually at more than 125 rodeos sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Assn. About 150 to 200 physicians offer their medical skills for free through the Justin program at rodeos nationwide, Andrews said. Doctors typically work with athletic trainers, paramedics and other health professionals. Some arenas use training rooms as clinics while others get visits from mobile trailers....