Saturday, May 29, 2004


The following is a list of my observations on the Peppin Fire in the Capitan Mountains:

May 14, 2004 - There was no fire observed.

May 15, 2004 - There was a small plume of smoke coming from a fire half way up the side of the Capitan Mountains, on the south side. This was North of the turn off to Fort Stanton. At this point the fire could have been put out by a couple of drops by the small tanker planes that were being used later.

May 16, 2004 - The fire had grown to approximately 5 acres (my estimation) and was growing (still could have been put out). I observed a sign along US 380, in the morning, between Capitan and Lincoln that said CONTROL BURN. This sign looked like a stop sign. It was painted red with white lettering. It had been removed by the evening. We watched the smoke from the Billy the Kid Pageant Grounds, in Lincoln, all of this day.

May 17, 2004 - The fire was still small but had grown to approximately 10 to 15 acres (my estimation and still could have been put out).

May 18 thru 21, 2004 - Could see smoke coming over the top of the Capitans from our home North of the mountains.

May 22, 2004 - Watched the fire top out and start down the North side of the mountain and expand East and West.

May 23 thru 28, 2004 - The rest is history and recorded in various news stories.

This is what happens when the US Forest Service “observes” a fire during hot, dry and windy conditions.

Lloyd Maness

Neptune Aviation defends its performance Regional Forester Gail Kimbell spent 90 minutes late Friday afternoon touring Neptune Aviation's hangar in Missoula, seeing firsthand the airtanker company's maintenance and training regimen. "And we're just getting started," Greg Jones, Neptune's director of maintenance and operations, said at tour's end. Kimbell, who oversees the Forest Service's Northern Region, had seen enough - for the time being. "Your care for your ships, as well as for your employees, is very evident," she said. "I appreciate what I've seen here today.".... Cabin Owners Mourn Homes Lost In Peppin Fire Landowners who recently lost their cabins in the Peppin fire are upset, blaming the Forest Service for letting the blaze burn and grow to become the nation's largest wildfire. They claim this all could've been prevented. Some cabin owners are angry because they say they weren't properly forewarned. The Forest Service said its property was a priority, but safety in a dangerous area came first. Cabin owner Michael Francis said despite the loss, he hopes to rebuild, and so do the others in the area, but that could be tricky. Some cabin owners are angry because they say they weren't properly forewarned. The Forest Service said its property was a priority, but safety in a dangerous area came first. Cabin owner Michael Francis said despite the loss, he hopes to rebuild, and so do the others in the area, but that could be tricky. The land is leased from the government, and it's up to the Forest Service to decide if the owners can rebuild.... Scientists Focus Research on Understanding Causes of Changes in Western Mountains A group of federal and university scientists today announced the launch of the Western Mountain Initiative, a 5-year effort funded by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to better understand ongoing changes in the mountains of the western United States. Their aim is to unravel the causes of sudden, often unwanted changes in mountainous areas, such as the recent die-off of trees on millions of acres in New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California. The consortium will bring together more than a decade of research conducted in national parks and other protected areas in the west. Because these areas have experienced minimal direct intervention by humans, national parks and other protected areas are ideal laboratories for detecting the effects of climatic changes.... Experts clash over stolen petroglyphs in U.S. court in Reno Expert witnesses disagree about the value, age and authenticity of American Indian petroglyphs two men are accused of stealing from national forest land bordering a Reno subdivision. One scientist testifying for the defense Friday suggested federal prosecutors had not done the proper scientific homework to establish the age of the rock art that local tribal leaders say is at least 1,000 years old. But archaeologists for the Forest Service and the state of Nevada said they are confident the etchings of an archer and bighorn sheep are older than the 100 years required to prove they are a federally protected archaeological resource.... Vandals damage logging equipment in salvage area Vandals damaged five pieces of logging equipment being used in a controversial timber salvage operation in south Baker County, authorities said Friday. The FBI has joined the investigation. Between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning, someone poured metal shavings into the engines, fuel tanks and hydraulic systems of the logging machines, which belong to J&D Logging of Prairie City, said Baker County Undersheriff Ken Draze. He told the Baker City Herald repair costs would be about $100,000.... Public Outcry Follows Calif. Lion Shooting Police in Palo Alto, California recently shot and killed a mountain lion that wandered into a highly populated neighborhood. Sightings and even attacks by mountain lions have shot up in recent years throughout the western United States. But despite the threat that the big cats pose to humans, reaction to the Palo Alto shooting surprised a lot of people, especially the police who were trying to protect the public. The killing unleashed a flood of angry complaints. One letter said, "I hope you all rot in Hell.".... Hatchery Salmon Plan Announced The Bush administration announced here on Friday a plan to consider hatchery salmon, which are bred in concrete pens, when deciding whether wild stream-bred salmon deserve protection under the Endangered Species Act. In explaining the new policy, which caused a regional uproar when it was leaked last month, the regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service said that hatchery fish will be used to "contribute to the rebuilding" of endangered wild runs of salmon. But Bob Lohn emphasized that hatchery fish will not, by themselves, become "the solution." Hatchery salmon are pumped into regional rivers by the hundreds of millions each year.... Proposal to Stop Protecting Yellowstone Grizzlies Meets Opposition Word leaked out last week that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is ready to submit a formal proposal to take grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park off the federal Endangered Species List next year. According to agency officials, recovery efforts for Yellowstone's grizzlies, which began in earnest in the 1980s, are now complete, with the population having doubled in the last two decades. But others, including some agency biologists as well as many environmentalists, disagree with the delisting proposal, citing on-going threats to Yellowstone's grizzlies, including the lack of suitable food sources to maintain the population at its current size.... Federal District Court judge rules goshawk not endangered in Southeast, but orders a review for Canada A federal District Court judge has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acted appropriately in not listing a Southeast Alaska species of goshawk as threatened or endangered. But Judge Ricardo Urbina's ruling keeps the issue open by mandating a study of the Queen Charlotte goshawk's habitat and protection on Canada's Vancouver Island. Environmentalists said Wednesday the ruling keeps the 10-year-old court battle alive because the study could conclude that Canadian habitat protection is insufficient and that restrictions on logging in the Tongass National Forest are required.... Dogs, vehicles shut out of Gold Beach on plover concern A pair of snowy plovers has been found on Gold Bluffs Beach north of Orick, and Redwood National and State Parks has imposed a 30-day ban on vehicle traffic and dogs to protect them. The plovers, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, are rearing their chicks. It's the first time in more than 20 years that a nesting pair of birds has been known to use the beach. The chicks can't fly for 30 days, and the park, after consulting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists, is imposing strict temporary restrictions for that time.... Feds not told of killings of three grizzlies Three grizzly bears were illegally killed in the Swan Valley last year, and federal officials only learned of the killings after investigations concluded recently. The three deaths adjusted the 2003 mortality count from 13 to 16 in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, a 6-million-acre recovery zone for grizzly bears, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Chris Servheen, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's grizzly bear recovery coordinator, mentioned the killings at a meeting of land and wildlife managers charged with grizzly bear recovery last week in Kalispell.... Defense Department to take migratory birds? The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will propose a rule that will allow the Department of Defense (DOD) to incidentally take migratory birds during military readiness training as directed by the 2003 National Defense Authorization Act. The proposed rule will print in the Federal Register on June 2, 2004. The proposed regulations require the Department of Defense to assess the adverse effects of military readiness activities on migratory birds in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. They also require the DOD to develop appropriate conservation measures if a proposed action may have a significant adverse effect on a population of migratory bird species of concern. In addition, the proposal requires the Department of Defense to monitor the effects of such military readiness activities on migratory bird species of concern and the effectiveness of conservation measures.... Service's role in bison issue questioned An official with the Humane Society says the National Park Service had enough cause to stop transferring bison to the Three Affiliated Tribes at least two years before it did. Dave Pauli, a member of Montana's humane bison review committee and regional director of the Northern Rockies Humane Society, said Theodore Roosevelt National Park continued to give bison to the tribes in 2002 even though the tribes had at least twice as many bison as the pasture could support under federal stocking standards.... Judge imposes restrictions on Alaska leases Oil companies may bid next week for rights to explore in a frontier region of Alaska's North Slope, but no work may be allowed that disturbs the ground for at least several months, a federal judge ruled late Friday. U.S. District Court Judge James Singleton stopped short of granting the ultimate request of environmental groups that had sued the federal government -- the postponement of Wednesday's much-anticipated lease sale for the northwestern third of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.... Column: Wilderness shouldn't be off-limits to firefighting We were called to a lightning-caused fire just a half a mile from our captain's home. The strike had started a burn just inside of a "wilderness study area" on the south side of the Centennial Valley. Initially the fire was only 5 to 10 trees and stayed at this stage for several hours. During this time, due to the amount of down and standing dead trees in the area, we were not allowed to go and fight the fire. We just sat there and watched it burn while it was being determined whether or not we could even use engines and other equipment (including chain saws) in the initial attack on this fire. This whole wilderness area had the basic issue tied up in knots. It was finally determined that fire retardant could be used in the wilderness. I have two points to make about the Winslow fire. First, when private property is in immediate harm's way, the wilderness or roadless area designations should have a clause that allows any fire control methods needed to quickly and safely control these fires. It will not eliminate the huge fires that take millions of dollars to put out, but a clause like this would definitely allow for quick control of most forest and range fires.... Mexico City faces water crisis as demand spirals Standing with her feet in a tangle of hose pipes, shantytown dweller Belen Hernandez prepares for the twice weekly ritual of siphoning precious water up the steep hillside to her breeze block home. The mother of three is among more than a million residents of the Mexican capital and surrounding area who depend on a roving fleet of water trucks, or "pipas," to meet their basic need for water as the capital faces a deepening crisis. Once a thriving Aztec citadel set on a broad highland lake, Latin America's largest city is threatened with outages, rationing and an angry population as the water needs of its growing population outstrip hard-squeezed supplies.... U.S.-Central American trade pact signed The U.S. trade representative and ministers of five Central American countries Friday signed the U.S. Central American Free Trade Agreement. The agreement will eliminate tariffs and other trade barriers and expand regional opportunities for the workers, manufacturers, consumers, farmers, ranchers and service providers of all the countries, a USTR statement said.... Farm groups divided on effect of CAFTA on agriculture CAFTA will immediately eliminate tariffs on more than 80% of US exports of consumer and industrial products, phasing out the rest over 10 years. The Central American countries already enjoy duty free access to the US for more than 75% of their exports, according to the USTR. The agreement expands their opportunities. USTR says CAFTA has been endorsed by every national business association and "virtually every" farm association. "The American Farm Bureau Federation believes that the US-Central American Free Trade Agreement will provide a substantial competitive advantage to US agriculture," AFBF president Bob Stallman said in a statement Friday.... USDA steps up efforts to track livestock Every cow in the United States may someday have a unique ID number. "We want to allocate an individual identification, just like you and I have Social Security numbers," said Bill Hawks, an undersecretary of marketing and regulatory programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.... Where the Racing Is Down to Earth HERE are three great passions in south central Louisiana: spicy food, Cajun music and horse racing. It's a tossup which comes first. Most people know about gumbo and zydeco, but to pick up on the horseracing fever, you have to go to Evangeline Downs, just north of Lafayette. The racing at Evangeline is strictly minor league. The purse money is a pittance compared with racetracks like Santa Anita, Churchill Downs or Belmont, and it's a pretty safe bet that not too many of the local horses are headed for the Kentucky Derby. Lots of the horses are trained by their owners, who may race no more than two or three of them in the course of a season. This is racing at the grass roots. It's not glamorous, but like the local cuisine, it has savor and spice. The Daily Racing Form is filled with surnames like Desormeaux, Guidry, Bourque, Lanerie and LeBlanc, and most of their owners come from the heart of Acadiana, where boys as young as 8 or 9 ride in match races at the bush tracks scattered all over the area. Even the names that don't sound French often turn out to be Cajun. Shane Sellers and Robby Albarado, two of the country's top riders, come from little towns near Lafayette, and like most of their fellow Cajun jockeys, they started their careers at Evangeline, the only track in America where, when the starting gate opens, the track announcer doesn't say "They're off!"; instead, he says, "Ils sont partis!"....

Thursday, May 27, 2004


Drought, bugs may be permanently killing forests Western forests may be on the brink of epochal change, driven to permanent retreat in lower elevations by years of drought and decades of fire-suppression that has made them vulnerable to a scourge of insects, scientists warned Wednesday. The die-off in turn is resulting in uncontrollable wildfires of the sort that swept Southern California last fall, and Arizona and Colorado the previous summer. A hundred of the West's top scientists are gathered by invitation only for a three-day Lake Tahoe conference to share the latest studies on global warming and its impact, and to plot what research is needed over the next five years. "There's stuff dying all across the montane forests of the western U.S.," said Craig D. Allen of the U.S. Geological Survey. "It's a big deal -- socially, environmentally and economically." Other researchers compared the current drought and rising temperatures to a similar episode 13,000 years ago. Mountain forests died off or were wiped out by fire, to be replaced by woodlands, grasslands and desert scrub that had been prevalent at lower elevations or farther south.... Lawyers for men accused of petroglyph theft blame Forest Service Lawyers for two men accused of looting American Indian artifacts said Thursday that the real culprit is the U.S. Forest Service because it failed to mark the site on the edge of Reno as culturally significant. Federal prosecutors urged a U.S. District Court jury to hold the two men responsible for stealing three boulders with artwork etchings that tribal leaders say are priceless and more than 1,000 years old. But the defense lawyers said John Ligon, 40, Reno, and Carrol Mizell, 44, Van Nuys, Calif., removed three boulders with the petroglyphs from national forest land and placed them in Ligon's front yard to protect them from an encroaching subdivision. "He would have never taken them and displayed them in his front yard if he thought they were government property," said Scott Freeman, Ligon's lawyer.... Reid promises help on Jarbidge U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has agreed to look into helping Elko County resolve the South Canyon Road issue at Jarbidge in light of questions arising from the latest court opinion. Elko County District Attorney Gary Woodbury, who was in the meeting with Reid, said today the county is looking at congressional action to back up the agreement the county and federal agencies already signed. "We need something to keep us out of 9th Circuit Court, which we thought the agreement did," Woodbury said.... Environmentalists Sue Over Forest Policy Environmentalists sued the Bush administration on Thursday, objecting to recent changes in the Northwest Forest Plan that they say endanger salmon and clean water. The suit, filed in federal court in Seattle, follows a suit filed last month objecting to another change in the forest plan that eased restrictions on logging of old-growth forests. The administration announced the new rules in March, completing changes that had been in the works for more than a year. One change relaxes a rule requiring that forest managers look for rare plants and animals before logging; another allows agencies to meet clean-water goals on a broad, watershed-wide basis rather than through evaluation of individual projects.... Editorial: Reasonable approach sought on off-road use The U.S. Forest Service and recreationists should look for common ground on road usage rather than resort to heavy-handed regulations. The Forest Service is expected to release a report for public comment within days that will address inconsistencies in how forest roads are managed for off-road use. But some off-roaders are rightfully wary whether the report is actually a route to reducing availability of roads. If the proposal focuses on uniformity and helps educate off-roaders about which trails are open, season availability, etc., then this will be a positive addition for all trail users. If the regulations are a smoke screen used to decrease the number of trails available for off-road use, then the Forest Service could be acting arbitrarily against a particular segment of the public.... Fencing off Spawn Creek could reduce whirling disease Cattle and trout have coexisted in the West for more than a century, with mixed results. Members of Cache Anglers have come up with an idea to help protect a vital native Bonneville cutthroat trout spawning area and slow the spread of whirling disease in Logan Canyon without affecting free-range cattle in the area. The plan to line 1 1/2 miles of aptly named Spawn Creek with fencing has, however, encountered resistance from some grazing-permit owners who worry the $80,000 project could set a precedent.... Owens taps $1.3 million to hire firefighting aircraft Gov. Bill Owens released $1.3 million from the state's Disaster Emergency Fund on Thursday to contract two additional air tankers and a helicopter to help fight wildfires. "As the drought continues, the wildfire potential is something we will have to confront aggressively all summer," Owens said. The U.S. Forest Service grounded federal air tankers recently because of safety concerns.... In about-face, Army scraps plans for environmental cutbacks The Army scrapped plans on Thursday to curtail some environmental protections and contracts after learning from Pentagon budget officials it could make do with cuts elsewhere. The about-face came after a report earlier Thursday about an Army memorandum directing base commanders to shift money out of environmental programs. The Army later said it would carry out other measures — such as a hiring freeze and lower spending for travel and conferences — to help pay for costly military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maj. Gen. Anders Aadland, in a May 11 email, had ordered garrison commanders worldwide to "take additional risk in environmental programs." He told them to "terminate environmental contracts and delay all nonstatutory enforcement actions" until the beginning of the government's next fiscal year in October.... State offers prairie dog management plan The state of South Dakota has drafted a prairie dog management plan that would establish buffer zones aimed at preventing prairie dogs on federal land from encroaching onto adjacent private land. The plan would also establish an emergency interim process to help private landowners next to federal lands control prairie dogs until the U.S. Forest Service can begin action in the buffer zones on federal lands, possibly next year. The plan, which state officials hope to finalize by early July, drew criticism both from grazing interests who say it doesn't do enough to control prairie dogs and from wildlife advocates who say the buffer zones would hurt recovery efforts for black-footed ferrets.... Red-legged golf lawsuit? Two environmental groups are threatening to sue Morgan Hill and The Institute Golf Course if they don’t comply with the Endangered Species Act, according to letters sent to two government agencies. In a letter sent Thursday to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society and the Committee for Green Foothills noted its intention to sue after 60 days if the city and The Institute don’t comply with the Endangered Species Act. “The (city and Institute) are causing illegal ‘take’ that harms and harasses the California red-legged frog, a species listed as ‘threatened’ under the ESA,” the letter said. “The ESA prohibits all activities that cause a ‘take’ of an endangered species.”.... Biologists move to protect Mojave rare plant habitat The Center for Biological Diversity (Center), Utah Native Plant Society (UNPS) and Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) today noticed the Bush administration Interior Dept. -- Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) of an intent to sue over their failure to designate critical habitat and to implement a recovery plan for two endangered Mojave Desert plants, the Holmgren milkvetch and the Shivwits milkvetch, as required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).... NOAA expects no big change in salmon runs under draft policy The federal government's new draft plan for counting hatchery fish alongside wild salmon in determining whether some runs need protection could create some confusion among salmon fishermen, but it won't immediately change much else. "There is no lightning bolt," said Commerce Undersecretary Conrad Lautenbacher Jr., who oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "Nothing here is going to change that much." This morning, NOAA officials will release their response to a 2001 court ruling that said the government had wrongly excluded fish reared in hatcheries when deciding whether salmon should be listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).... Groups' lawsuit seeks lamprey protection The Pacific lamprey deserves protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, according to a lawsuit filed by a dozen conservation groups. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court in Portland, asks the court to require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take legal steps to protect the Pacific, river, western brook and Kern brook species of lamprey. The eel-like fish once numbered in the thousands in West Coast rivers, but numbers on the Snake River declined from 50,000 in the early 1960s to fewer than 1,000 in the 1990s.... Plan would use hatchery salmon to boost wild stocks Stung by criticism from federal judges, property-rights advocates and environmentalists, the Bush administration today plans to propose allowing salmon produced in hatcheries to boost struggling wild populations -- some to the point they could lose federal protections. The decision is bound to set off another round of lawsuits over one of the prickliest and most complicated factors in struggles over how to restore the iconic salmon of the Pacific Northwest. But it may satisfy Native American tribes, who say hatcheries could help wild salmon rebound if the rivers where both kinds of fish live are protected. The policy foresees allowing Native Americans and others to keep catching hatchery-produced fish so long as they're not needed to help wild stocks rebound.... Tests show hatchery-raised salmon, trout aren't free of chemicals Atlantic salmon and trout raised in five federal hatcheries are safe to eat, but have high enough levels of dioxin and other pollutants to trigger advisories limiting consumption, according to tests done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency commissioned the tests on the brood stock fish to determine whether they were picking up PCBs and other contaminants from feed. The tests came after other researchers found that farm-raised salmon, fed the same diet, had higher levels of the chemicals than wild fish.... Park Retirees: Hidden Cuts at National Parks at Odds With Bush Administration Assurances of 'Outstanding Visitor Services' A new national survey based in part on information from 12 representative U.S. national parks reveals a combination of significant cuts in budget, staff and visitor services at all of the parks, a finding that casts into doubt the truthfulness of March 24, 2004 testimony by National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, who told angry members of Congress that Americans would not see major park cuts this summer and that "outstanding visitor services" would be provided. Compiled by the 250-member Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees, the new report, which is entitled "Pretending to Protect the Parks: Mainella and Norton's Legacy of Neglected National Parks in Decline," finds:.... BLM still doesn't have power to cite underage drinkers Proposed new rules to give U.S. Bureau of Land Management rangers authority to cite people for alcohol-related offenses won't be in effect this Memorial Day weekend - the busiest weekend of the year in terms of visitors. Churchill County District Attorney Arthur Mallory isn't so sure the BLM should ever have that power. "My theory is government that is closest to the people is the best for the people," Mallory said.... Greenpeace sets up in Josephine Greenpeace, the conservation group best known for its work with whales, is planning to open its first mobile "forest rescue station" in Josephine County. The station will be an education and campaign center for the group, which has called for an end to logging on federally-owned lands. The exact location of the station, a solar-powered facility which consists of several giant domes, will be revealed next Tuesday.... Endangered Forests Rally at White House Conservation and religious groups rallied at the White House today at noon to call on the Bush administration to protect the nation's remaining old growth and endangered National Forests. The Endangered Forests Rally marks the "Summer Kickoff" (May 27 to June 4 - during which environmentalists from Oregon to Virginia will be speaking out to expose the truth regarding the Bush administration's policies that hand over our National Forests to corporate special interests. "The stage is set for the next big showdown over America's endangered National Forests. The Bush administration has derailed sensible and balanced protections for National Forests, and the summer of 2004 may bring ancient forest logging and more development in roadless wildlands," stated Jake Kreilick, Endangered Forests Project Coordinator of the National Forest Protection Alliance. Editorial: BLM needs to heed wishes of the people The obstinate U.S. Bureau of Land Management is asking for it. And Gov. Bill Richardson, and a growing and potent group of local and national conservation organizations, should give the disrespectful federal bureaucrats and the Bush administration all they deserve. New Mexico should fight to protect Otero Mesa from oil and gas drilling, in the courts if necessary.... Disaster film has scientists laughing Slouched in their seats and munching popcorn, a group of climate scientists from the University of Washington pronounced their verdict on the Hollywood blockbuster "The Day After Tomorrow" with giggles and guffaws. When star Dennis Quaid, playing a hunky paleoclimatologist, solemnly warns that a massive storm unleashed by global warming is going to plunge the Northern Hemisphere into a new Ice Age — within days! — the real experts nudge each other and snicker. When helicopters freeze midair and the Atlantic Ocean swamps Manhattan, peals of laughter erupt.... If owl rules roost, center gets boot: Native bird may force nature haven to migrate A bird on New Jersey's threatened species list is threatening plans to build a $3 million environmental center where children would learn about such imperiled animals. The fluffy barred owl was spotted in a wooded area of Roseland where Essex County wants to build the 8,900-square-foot center. The Department of Environmental Protection has now refused to approve construction until it can determine if the new center will jeopardize the owl's habitat.... Feds may investigate Canadian beef imports The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General is considering opening an investigation to determine why the agency violated its own policy and allowed the import of millions of pounds of Canadian processed beef products that were banned due to concerns about mad cow disease, United Press International has learned. If the OIG proceeds with an investigation, it would be the fourth inquiry it has launched involving mad cow disease-related issues since the first case of the deadly disease in U.S. herds was discovered last December....

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


As Fire Season Approaches, Dread Grows in the West The Lower South Fork fire, which carved a black scar in the mountainside north of here three weeks ago, never became a monster. No homes or lives were lost. But it frightened many of the seasoned firefighters who responded to it because it did not behave the way fires in the high Rockies in early May are supposed to. Lower South Fork surged and crowned - flames leaping from tree to tree - and it ran up the steep alpine slopes, burning like a fire in the driest, hottest days of July and August. "Most of the people on that fire, including myself, were pretty alarmed by the fire behavior - it doesn't bode well for the rest of the fire season," said Kelly Rogers, an assistant district forester for the Colorado State Forest Service.... Forest Service admits flaws in job competition effort The Forest Service has acknowledged several significant shortcomings in its competitive sourcing program that were uncovered in a congressional report, and is working with the Office of Management and Budget to correct them. In the meantime, agency officials have decided to hold off on initiating any new public-private contests in fiscal 2004. A bipartisan congressional report issued Tuesday revealed a variety of flaws in the Forest Service's implementation of President Bush's initiative to let contractors compete for federal jobs.... Grazing Resolution: Rancher, Forest Service reach agreement Intervention and mediation by local elected officials resulted in an agreement signed Tuesday between the U.S. Forest Service and Elko County rancher Mike Riordan, ending a conflict over grazing rights on the west side of the Ruby Mountains. "We have more than we had at the beginning of the process," Riordan said. "I sure appreciate all the people that came together to help.".... Feds pledge a decision on prairie dog by August U.S. Department of Interior officials have pledged to decide by August whether to remove the black-tailed prairie dog from the candidate list for protection under the Endangered Species Act, according to Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D. The Interior Department promise came as a result of Daschle's meeting with Interior Secretary Gale Norton last week, Daschle spokesman Ted Miller said Tuesday. "Common sense tells us that the prairie dog should be removed from this list, so I am hopeful that's the decision the Department will announce in August," Daschle said.... Editorial: Folly of tanker decision already clear Well, it didn't take long to demonstrate the folly of the Forest Service's decision this month to fight wildfires without all the right tools. In southern New Mexico, the Captain fire is burning more than 23,000 acres and has sent dozens of homeowners fleeing. "I was shocked to be told this fire could have been held to a single acre if the heavy air tankers had been available at the beginning," New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. But, of course, air tankers weren't available at the beginning. And it doesn't look as though they're going to be available at the beginning of the next fire, or the ones after that.... Forest Service stands firm on grounding of air tankers The Forest Service official in charge of aerial firefighting said Wednesday that the agency would not reverse its decision to ground the nation's fleet of air tankers. "People keep talking about a near-term, stroke-of-the-pen reversal," said Tony Kern, Forest Service assistant director of aviation management. "That will not happen. This will be a data-driven decision. At the end of the day it will not be an emotional decision." Executives at Missoula-based Neptune Aviation Inc. were furious and promised to fight to get their planes back in the air.... Court strikes down USFWS decision to not list the Queen Charlotte Goshawk under the Endangered Species Act In a long awaited legal ruling, the D.C. District Court yesterday issued new hope in the longtime effort to save the Queen Charlotte goshawk from extinction at the hands of the U.S. and Canadian timber industry. Though the species has lost millions of acres of its old growth forest habitat, and will lose more under government logging plans, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled in 1997 that the species is not yet endangered. The court struck down this decision, ordering the agency to assess whether the areas of past and planned logging constitute a significant portion of the species total range. Though the Endangered Species Act clearly requires such an analysis, the Fish and Wildlife Service purposefully avoided it because the goshawk is clearly endangered in over two-thirds of its range.... Drought hurting ranchers’ efforts at saving arctic grayling The ongoing drought is thwarting local ranchers' efforts at keeping arctic grayling off the endangered species list at the same time an Arizona group is seeking an emergency listing for the fish. The Big Hole Watershed Committee has worked for years to keep enough water in the Big Hole River to help preserve the last native population of arctic grayling in the lower 48 states. But after five years of drought, rancher Harold Peterson is beginning to wonder if there's much else that can be done, even with a proposed $1 million federal conservation payment to help offset ranchers' costs to keep additional water in the river.... Interior secretary signs conservation pact with International Paper U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton signed a landmark agreement with International Paper Co. to conserve freshwater ecosystems in nine Southern states. The environmental partnership covers 5.5 million acres owned by International Paper in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The partnership between the scientists and researchers at International Paper and those of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will allow unprecedented monitoring of aquatic species across the Southeast, officials said.... Feds seek comment on toad 'safe harbors' The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on a plan to expand the habitat of the endangered Wyoming toad by using ranch land. Wyoming toads currently live only at Mortenson Lake southwest of Laramie. Wildlife biologists, however, say the lake has grown too salty and alkaline due to the drought and could be hindering reintroduction. Under proposed "safe harbor" agreements, ranchers who allow toad releases on their properties would be protected if they fail to thrive. The ranchers can continue traditional irrigation and grazing practices.... BLM plans meetings in Tonopah, Pioche on Yucca Mountain rail plan The federal Bureau of Land Management is scheduling two open-house meetings in rural Nevada about a proposal to build a new rail line to haul radioactive nuclear waste across the state to Yucca Mountain. The BLM is collecting comments on a DOE request to withdraw from public use a mile-wide swath of land for the 319-mile rail corridor. It would run from a rail head near Caliente, 150 miles northeast of Las Vegas, to a national nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.... GOP says no to Young act Alaska Republicans again rejected one of U.S. Rep. Don Young's favorite initiatives, a bill to put more than $3 billion a year into public land purchases, recreational facilities and projects loosely related to coastal conservation. The state Republican Party, at its convention this past weekend in Soldotna, passed a resolution opposing Young's proposed Get Outdoors Act. Young, a Republican, announced the bill's introduction last month with co-sponsor Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. They were backed by sports celebrities, outdoor and recreational gear manufacturers, and public land advocates.... Residents oppose BLM enforcement Do not allow additional police powers for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. That was the message directed to the Elko County Public Land Use Advisory Commission Tuesday night from every member of the public who spoke to the board. PLUAC was reviewing a proposal by the BLM to increase its law enforcement authority over use of drugs and alcohol on public lands.... New Information Documents Bush Administration's Land-Management Shift Although Federal law requires that public lands be managed to balance environmental protection and commercial exploitation, new information released today by The Wilderness Society (TWS) shows that the Bush administration has used a series of arcane and interrelated administrative decisions, and the settlement of a key "friendly" lawsuit, to make oil and gas development the dominant use of federal public lands. For example, a BLM instruction memorandum issued in August 2001 instructed BLM state directors to issue oil and gas leases and drilling permits on lands where new land use plans had not yet been completed. Another memorandum, issued in February of this year, in effect required BLM state directors to issue leases on demand to the oil and gas industry(Go here to see the report).... Utah farmers are told to use water or lose it With Utah in its sixth year of drought, the Utah Legislature has given farmers an ironic ultimatum: Use all your water, or what's not used may be taken away. In 2002, the Legislature modified provisions of Utah's water law to address the problem of what's often referred to as "partial" forfeiture — when people aren't using their full water allocation. What had been a long-standing right, allowing people to keep their water rights as long as they use at least some of it over a period of five years, is no longer the case. Now, water users are under enormous pressure to use their entire water allocation because if they fail to use some of the water for five years without notifying the state, their right to it is automatically forfeited. The unused portion of that water right then reverts to the public.... Community sees auction house fade into the past Down in Central Point, they're tearing down the Rogue Valley Livestock Auction and putting up a franchise Dutch Bros. drive-through coffee shop. Some people think change means something better is on the horizon. But a lot of folks in Southern Oregon are sad this week as employees of the auction house clean out the buildings that have seen a lot of cows, horses, pigs, sheep and goats trade hands in the past half-century. To say nothing of the social life that revolved around the place. "Everybody used to go there every Thursday," says Teresa Rippey, a longtime customer who raises horses outside Gold Hill. "Millionaires rubbed elbows with cowboys. It was just a treasure."....

Hi there,

Kit Laney, having shown himself to be non-violent and no flight risk, has finally been granted release on his own recognizance with the condition that he not stray into Catron County since his father's home is there and there are still cattle being removed from that ranch although they are being moved by family members. There have also been several other good news turn around this week in the case surrounding the Diamond Bar.

Beginning with a very successful concert in Truth or Consequences thanks to the generosity of Michael Martin Murphey. Ending with Kit's release granted yesterday. Other notable events this week is the animal cruelty investigation opened by DA Clint Wellborn, and the granting of discovery to the Paragon foundation case over the Livestock Boards violation of the open meetings act in the approval of a MOU between it's executive director and the USFS.

Laura Schneberger

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Forest Service clarifies ban on ads U.S. Forest Service winter sports experts said they are sticking by a long-standing ban on outdoor advertising and have clarified rules on corporate sponsorships. Despite the ban, skiers and snowboarders will probably see more sponsorship messages with company logos in coming years, especially around base areas and in terrain parks. "This will help us prevent unwanted outdoor ads at ski areas and it explains and validates the good sponsorship arrangements that are out there," said Rob Deyerberg, a New Mexico-based ranger who was part of the team that reviewed the ad policy.... Cashing in on fires: Were Rich lunches worth it? Jack Rich would rather cater to guests at his Seeley Lake dude ranch than bag lunches for firefighters. But last August, with 664 people assigned to attack the 3,550 acre Boles Meadow fire, the state turned to the nearby Rich Ranch to help supply meals. Three generations of the Rich family rolled up their sleeves and went to work, creating 250 to 300 sack lunches a day for the next 10 days. Those lunches were the talk of the fire camp. Those 2,600 lunches also cost the taxpayers of Montana $15 each, more than double the typical state lunch rate and at least $5 a lunch more than any other provider. Accountants at the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation pulled the invoices and set them aside for future discussion.... Neptune takes air tanker fight to U.S. Senate The grounding of the nation's fleet of firefighting air tankers has nothing to do with safety concerns, the CEO of Missoula's Neptune Aviation said Tuesday. "I honestly believe this is all political," said Mark Timmons, whose company had eight air tankers on contract to the U.S. Forest Service. "They're not looking at ways to find solutions. They're not looking at individual operators. They've never even called us. "The only agenda I can figure out right now is to have the private operators basically go away. They want us to go out of business.".... Grizzly migration prompts state to revise management plans, procedures Grizzly bears are moving into parts of western Montana where they haven't been for years, and it is time to update management strategies to reflect the change, said an endangered species specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Bozeman. "It's time to review it (the grizzly bear management plan) and see how it needs to change for the future," said Arnold Dood.... Rancher who shot wolf avoids fine by placing ad A rancher who shot a wolf as it chased her sheep has settled a federal civil suit by agreeing to pay for a local newspaper ad educating others about legal protections for wolves. Laura Mitchell avoided a fine by placing the ad, the text of which filled her requirement to "educate the local populace about the regulations surrounding the experimental population of wolves in our area," according to the terms of the settlement. Mitchell, however, was also allowed in a brief introduction to explain what led to the wolf's death and to note that she does not support federal wolf reintroduction that began in 1994. "This program totally ties our hands to deal with canine depredation because if we shoot it and it turns out to be a wolf, we've got a problem," she said.... Tax breaks for thinning forests set Arizona lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that gives businesses tax breaks to cut and remove trees, shrubs and woody mass from Arizona's drought-ravaged forests. House Bill 2549 lays out a series of property-, sales- and income-tax incentives to get companies to move their cutting and milling operations to Arizona. It would take advantage of long-term contracts authorized by President Bush's Healthy Forests Act. For example, it would exempt machinery and equipment from the retail sales tax.... Washoe orders ordinance to protect `presumed public roads Angered by subdivisions blocking roads to the mountains, Washoe County commissioners Tuesday unanimously ordered new ordinances to protect “presumed public roads.” Commissioner Jim Galloway asked for an ordinance giving five citizens the right to petition for a public hearing over the closure of a road people once used across federal lands before they were sold to private interests decades ago and still can be considered public under federal law.... Cattle grazing aids seasonal wetlands Cattle started trampling some of the rarest, most sensitive wetlands abutting San Francisco Bay on Monday, ripping up grass and scattering hoof prints and cow pies across the landscape. The destruction brought nothing but smiles to the faces of federal wildlife biologists looking on, because it's the only way managers at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge know to preserve and restore their fragile vernal pools. Cattle knock back the weeds, reducing thatch, opening up the landscape not just for the shrimp and salamanders and flowers but also burrowing owls and other creatures.... Record number of whale pairs counted off Piedras Blancas A record number of mom-and-baby gray whales are swimming their way back to Alaska, according to scientists who are completing the annual count at Piedras Blancas. The researchers have counted 450 cow-calf pairs since March. The record count was 501. But this year, because of budget cutbacks, spotters worked fewer days. "So this count is equal to one of 545 on the old schedule," said Wayne Perryman, marine biologist and whale expert from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Service's Southwest Fisheries Center.... More refuge water going down Klamath River to boost flows Water drained from the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is being used to bolster flows in the Klamath River, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials announced Monday. Over the next month, about 8,500 acre-feet of water will be pumped off seasonal wetlands on the Lower Klamath refuge, adding about 150 cubic feet per second to the flows in the river.... Butterfly group calls for Mexico to protect forest Local butterfly preservationists are leading a national campaign to pressure the Mexican government to intervene against increasingly violent loggers they say are illegally deforesting the region of Mexico the group seeks to protect. Bob Small, director of the Alameda-based Michoacan Reforestation Fund, said Monday hostile Mexican mobsters are illegally logging in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a protected stretch of forests 100 miles west of Mexico City, where Monarchs arrive by the millions each winter to roost.... Government worries Illinois plant will pollute Missouri wilderness The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that the new coal-fired Prairie State Generating Station in Illinois' Washington County will damage the Mingo Wilderness in southeast Missouri with pollution haze and acid rain. The Interior Department registered its concerns this month in a letter to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which is considering Peabody's request for an air pollution permit.... Humane Society questions tribal bison management The regional director of the Humane Society of the United States says the rate of death among bison owned by the Three Affiliated Tribes is too high. Dave Pauli, in a letter to Tribal Chairman Tex Hall, said that after he inspected the herd last month he concluded that the death rate is more than double what is considered acceptable.... BLM Announces National Volunteer Award Winners Who Are 'Making a Difference' on Public Lands Seven volunteers, one volunteer organization, and two employees of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will receive a prestigious national award for their public service contributions at a ceremony to be held June 3, 2004 at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C.... The volunteer winners announced today are Carole Adams and George Baland of California, Diane Delano of Florida, Alvin McLane of Nevada, James Hutchins of Oregon, Bob and Kathy Bailey of Utah, and the Raptor Inventory and Nest Survey Group, also from Utah. BLM employees selected for recognition are John Rose of Arizona and Gayle Irwin of Wyoming.... Hanna CBM project tries horizontal wells In the natural gas-rich fields of southwest Wyoming, producers are employing a new kind of drilling technology to minimize surface disturbances as they seek traditional gas. Now they want to see if it will work on coalbed methane. Anadarko Production Company officials are seeking permission to try horizontal drilling techniques in recovering coalbed methane near Hanna. Horizontal drilling is a relatively new oil field technology in which the hydrocarbon-producing borehole is sunk first downward, then across the seam, horizontally. Like directional drilling from a single pad, horizontal drilling aims to eliminate the need for separate well sites, production facilities and access routes.... Column: Symbol of the West Is Being Spurred Toward Oblivion Every Wednesday, a group of protesters gathers on old Highway 395 in front of the Nevada state Capitol in Carson City to draw attention to the plight of wild horses. They carry signs such as "Goodbye Spirit of the West" and "As It Should Be, Wild Horses Running Free." They've been at it since February, when the latest in a series of stealth roundups sponsored by the government sent them to the streets. Every week, traffic slows and horns honk in agreement in the state that has the largest number of free-roaming wild horses in the West. But the question remains: Can the wild horse, pressed into service to blaze our trails and carry us into battle, survive the Bush administration? The war against the wild horse and the federal law that protects it is being waged by cattlemen and ranchers, lone nuts and sagebrush rebels with a copy of the 2nd Amendment tucked in their back pockets. In one way or another, the war is officially backed by government agencies such as the federal Bureau of Land Management and the Nevada Department of Agriculture, by bureaucrats and small-town officials who in essence are stealing wild horses from public lands.... Clint Eastwood urges volunteers to clean up public land Clint Eastwood wants you to volunteer, punk. The "Dirty Harry" star reprised his role on Tuesday as spokesman for Take Pride in America, an organization of volunteers who maintain public lands. Eastwood, 74, previously promoted the group in the 1980s alongside fellow tough-guys Charles Bronson and Lou Gossett Jr.... Park Service chief downplays cutbacks With homeland security a growing concern, the head of the National Park Service said Tuesday that the 388 parks within the park system will have more law enforcement rangers this summer - but also more self-guided tours and fewer seasonal rangers. Director Fran Mainella sought to dispel concerns among lawmakers and environmentalists that budget considerations might prompt widespread cutbacks in services for summer visitors. During a lengthy interview in her office, she said visitors can expect about the same level of services despite tight budgets this year. "You're not going to see parks closed. This welcome mat is out," Mainella told The Associated Press. She said $1.5 million that had been cut from employee travel spending has helped cover the budget needs of some smaller parks.... Ocean-saving plan passes state Senate A plan by national environmental groups to steer more of California's taxpayer money to Pacific Ocean research and protecting fishing grounds passed the Senate on Tuesday, moving a battle between environmentalists and California fishing associations to the Assembly. The Senate voted 24-12 for two bills to add ocean protection to the mission of California's $3.4 billion Proposition 50 bond, passed in 2002 to restore the state's coastline and wetlands, estuaries and bays. Environmental groups want more money to buy and retire fishing boats, better map the ocean, lease or buy underwater land to restrict fishing and launch pilot projects to put more of the ocean off limits to fishing.... Brazil says foreign media distort Amazon destruction Brazil's government accused foreign media and nongovernmental organizations Tuesday of trying to undermine Brazil's farm boom by distorting the facts and linking it to destruction of the Amazon jungle. Brazil's Agriculture Ministry said the foreign reports of these charges showed a lack of knowledge about the Amazon and that farming there represented a tiny fraction of the jungle's total size. The Amazon's continuous rain forest is just under half the size of the continental United States, but the rate of destruction of the forest jumped in 2003.... Disaster Movie Used to Highlight Environment 20th Century Fox (search) — a sister company to Fox News — releases "The Day After Tomorrow" later this week. The movie depicts worldwide disasters triggered by a massive climate shift brought about by global warming. The movie not only is full of special effects and dramatic license, it has also caught the eye of environmentalists like former Vice President Al Gore (search), who held what was billed as a "town hall meeting" to discuss the topic in connection to the film. Gore admits that the movie uses only a tiny bit of science to back its grand assertions, but that didn't stop him from taking a whack at political opponents and declaring future doom under current environmental policies.... Bill gives military more sway over California growth decisions A key part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's strategy to keep California's military bases from closing next year passed the state Senate Tuesday, as it approved a plan to make cities and counties near military bases notify commanders of local growth plans. The bill passed 24-10 despite opposition from homebuilders, shopping center owners and elected officials in several Southern California counties. It now moves to the Assembly. The notion of letting military leaders comment on nearby growth proposals mirrors efforts by other fast-growing states, including Florida, Texas, Washington and Arizona, to control growth near military bases and below aerial training routes. Officials say the moves are designed to show the Pentagon they're serious about keeping bases viable, as leaders prepare next year to announce more than 100 base closings.... Hearst Ranch plan twists in the wind Covering two and half times the area of San Francisco, the state's largest coastal cattle ranch is an environmental gem local activists say has changed little since the Spaniards first came to California's Central Coast. Now, Hearst Corp., which once proposed building a city of 65,000 here, is offering to give up most of the ranch's development rights in one of the biggest and most complex conservation deals ever. The New York-based company set a May 31 deadline for the $95 million transaction with the state - a deadline no one expects to meet.... 2 states to discuss water dispute Wyoming officials have agreed to meet to discuss Montana concerns about water rights on the Tongue, Powder and Little Powder rivers, but said they don't feel they have any obligation to make more water available to senior water rights holders in Montana. Montana regulators asked Wyoming last week to shut off pre-1950 junior water rights in the Tongue, Powder and Little Powder rivers to provide much-needed drought relief to senior water rights holders in Montana, who Montana officials say have priority based on the Yellowstone River Compact. In a Monday letter replying to Montana's Department of Natural Resources, Wyoming state engineer Patrick T. Tyrrell wrote that state officials there were willing to get together in June to discuss the matter.... Property rights protect owners, not trespassers except in N.D. Private property rights have always been of the utmost importance to us and to my constituents. It makes no difference if that property is a house on a lot or a farm. That is the point of the lawsuit against the state. Over the years, many legislators have offered alternatives to correct this injustice, and they all have been fought by special interest groups, leaving no recourse but to ask the court system for judicial clarification. The question I want answered is simple: Does the executive or legislative branch of government have the authority to give away anyone's private property rights? The North Dakota Game and Fish Department publishes that if land is not posted, anyone can hunt on it. And when the state of North Dakota declares that private property can be used by the public if we owners do not post signs, is that not a "taking," in violation of private property owners' constitutional rights?.... Editorial: Feed starving masses, not irrational fears Some 842 million people — 13% of the world's population — don't have enough food to eat each day. Millions of them face starvation in Africa because of droughts and armed conflicts in countries that include Sudan, Angola and Uganda. In one sense, that's an old story — so old, it makes even sympathetic eyes glaze over. But it could have a new happy ending that, remarkably, has yet to be written. While the script promises a reliable, cheap food supply for all who are hungry, some fear that outcome the way villagers were terrified by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein monster. In fact, fearful environmentalists and their political allies call the solution "Frankenfood," crops genetically altered to resist disease, pests and drought, or staples engineered to add nutrients. Such crops could transform health in the poorest nations, the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization said in a report last week. Biotech rice alone could prevent 500,000 cases of blindness and 2 million children's deaths each year as a result of vitamin A deficiency.... Groups unite over voluntary COOL plan America's cattle ranchers, pork producers, seafood producers and produce grower-shippers, as well as US food processors, wholesalers and retailers, said today they are united behind a proposed approach to implement voluntary country of origin labeling (COOL). They say the effort will create a program to identify domestic and imported fruits, vegetables, beef, pork and seafood with labels showing where they originated.... Equine disease in West Texas causes worry about Breeders' Cup There is a remote possibility that the Breeders' Cup could be moved from Lone Star Park because of an outbreak of a contagious equine disease 500 miles from the site of the race. The disease, vesicular stomatitis, has been found in three horses on a farm near Balmorhea in Far West Texas. The rarely fatal viral disease causes blisters to form in the animal's mouth and on teats or hooves. It can affect horses, cattle, pigs, and occasionally sheep, goat and deer. The Breeders' Cup, scheduled for Oct. 30, is a group of eight races with $14 million in purses held on one day for thoroughbreds from North America and Europe. The race is estimated to have an economic impact of more than $30 million on the area.... No Reports of Human Mad Cow Disease - CDC U.S. health authorities are not investigating any reports of possible cases of the human form of mad cow disease, despite a rumor which sent cattle futures plummeting on Tuesday. The Web site of a Nashville television story earlier on Tuesday posted a story about a U.S. soldier stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, who had developed a case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). The variant from of the disease, vCJD, comes from eating beef infected with mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy.... Report: Animal Antibiotics Pose Threat A new report by the investigative arm of Congress, the Government Accounting Office, concludes that the Food and Drug Administration "has determined that antibiotic resistance in humans resulting from the use of antibiotics in animals is an unacceptable risk to the public health." The study, AntibioticResistance: Federal Agencies Need to Better Focus Efforts to Address Risk to Humans from Antibiotic Use in Animals (GAO-04-490), was requested by Senators Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Tom Harkin (D- Iowa). Kennedy and Snowe are sponsors of a bipartisan bill (S. 1460) to phase out the routine use of medically important antibiotics in livestock and poultry that are not sick; the bill also provides funding to help farmers make the transition. Reps. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) are sponsors of the companion bill (H.R. 2932).... Viruses carried by mites damaging Panhandle wheat fields Some Panhandle wheat farmers are battling a double whammy that has taken aim on their fields. Agriculture experts are trying to determine the extent of an infestation of a mite that carries the two viruses - the wheat streak mosaic and the High Plains viruses. Both have been found in fields in several Panhandle counties.... On The Edge Of Common Sense: Windbreaks can be tricky in unregulated New Mexico An excellent question. As you pointed out, cows will eat car parts and baler twine, not to mention nails, staples, wire, tennis balls, bones, prickly pear, lug bolts, the Western Horseman magazine, windmill leathers, stirrups, moldy hay, quilts, diapers, the flag of Honduras, snow cones and apple pie. So eating Arizona Cypress, which sounds like it should be related to the juniper or eucalyptus, would be expected....

Murphey takes a stand for Gila ranchers

It’s nearly midnight as Michael Martin Murphey leans back in his chair and brushes his hand down his beard.

He’s a little bit tired.

“That’s all we’ve got to give,” he said.

The weariness is evident in his very familiar voice, but his eyes are still bright. The day’s been long. At 11 a.m. he’d attended his son’s college graduation, proudly watching as a philosophy and mathematics degree was conferred. Then he caught a train to Truth or Consequences for a benefit concert for southern New Mexico ranchers Kit Laney, and Laney’s partner of 25 years Sherry Farr. Laney was arrested on March 14 and faces five counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of interfering with a court order. He spent 24 days and about nine hours in jail after allegedly charging U.S. Forest Service personnel on horseback. Those officers, who were armed, accused Laney of hitting at least one of them, and damaging a temporary pen where Laney’s confiscated cattle were being held.
Laney said he was only trying to put calves needing to milk back with mama cows.

On Saturday, May 22, Murphey — himself a New Mexico rancher — performed for nearly 900 fans, some who drove for hours and from miles away to hear the world’s number one cowboy singer. There’s an irony as Murphey, black cowboy hat still atop his head, talks about why he chose to take a stand for this couple in Truth or Consequences. When someone as famous as Murphey focuses his attention on an issue, the truth tends to unfold in the limelight; as Laney awaits his trial Murphey is confident the consequences will fall into place.

“Wait on the Lord,” Murphey tells the couple, quietly. “Wait on the Lord.”

Murphey came across Laney’s plight while surfing the Internet.

“I keep track of a lot of these kind of stories,” he said. “It was while I was looking into another case, and it somehow came up with (search engine criteria) land rights and grazing. I got in touch with some people and the next thing you know here we are.”

Murphey’s interest in ranchers and property rights started when he was 6 years old. He grew up on a ranch, and that’s just how he’s raising his children.
“I’m very, very interested in what’s going on. I consider it to be the most important issue in the world today,” he said.

For 14 years Murphey has raised money and public awareness in a similar cause: that of Nevada rancher Wayne Hage. Like Laney and Farr, the federal government — through the court system — sought to remove Hage from land where he had grazed cattle for decades. (That case is now in the federal Court of Claims.) But until Saturday’s concert Murphey had never met the couple who own the Diamond Bar and Laney ranches. The Diamond Bar Ranch is in Winston, and parts of the ranch are in Sierra, Grant and southern Catron counties. His family began working that land in the 1800s.

Murphey’s actions speak loud and clear, and because of his stance he received numerous anonymous death threats before the May 22 event. Throughout the evening four bodyguards made themselves obvious, even as Murphey spent some 90 minutes getting close with fans and signing autographs in the dimly-lit auditorium. The gathering was friendly, with smiles and handshakes rippling among the crowd like an agreeable breeze wafting through a field of blossoms. Denim and black felt comprised the evening’s dress, with plaids and bright colors dotting the crowd.
Murphey took the stage about 9 p.m. and was outspoken in his inter-song chatter. He said as much with his selection of tunes during his performance, which ran well past an hour.

“I think the problem with the media in this Kit Laney thing is they don’t speak our language. It’s not over. He (Laney) is going back (home),” Murphey said as the crowd gave him one of its many ovations.

Murphey, who has received a Forest Service award for his efforts on wildfire awareness, pointed out that the whole Forest Service isn’t bad.

“We don’t need to kill each other over this,” he said. “We need to start treating each other with respect.”

He did, however, decry what he characterized as an agenda working to remove cattle and man from the land. He said fire management over the last century has only exacerbated the problem of tinderboxes in the west, making forests ripe for destruction. Conversely, he emphasized that cattle were created by God and when the animals graze they reduce that fire danger.

“But we have roped this (the forests and land) off and declared we know how to do it better than God,” Murphey said. “Unfortunately I think it’s going to be a disaster. ... Disasters like that make so-called environmentalists look bad until they realize that (ranchers) on the ground are the only people that understand what’s going on.”

He summed up the modern ranchers’ dilemma in a single phrase: “The lack of understanding of the culture of agriculture.”

There’s proof backing up Murphey’s suppositions. He revealed to the crowd that he had seen the memo written by Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt (under President Bill Clinton’s Administration) that stated America’s rangelands were in the best shape in a hundred years.

“ ‘We’re going to have to find another way to get them (cowboys and ranchers) off the land,’” Murphey said the memo then clearly stipulated.

Then, for a moment Murphey pondered. Would he have the fortitude, he finally mused aloud, to stand up against the resources of the U.S. government?

“I don’t know if I’d have the guts to look (my kids) in the eye and say I’m going to jail,” Murphey said.

“Sure you would,” said Laney. “The other option is to look them in the eye and say we’re losing everything we’ve got.”

The Paragon Foundation, property-rights advocates that fund ranchers such as the Hages and Laney in their court battles, sponsored Murphey’s concert.

“Michael Martin Murphey has been involved in this from the git-go,” Paragon Executive Director G.B. Oliver III said. “He did a concert for Wayne Hage in Nevada.”

According to Oliver, New Mexico Livestock Board member Joe Delk first called Murphey. Murphey invited a neighbor, a cowboy poet, to join him on stage. Delk, a well-known musician, finished out the night with his band fiddling up an old-fashioned dance — a lot of high-toned and old-timey two-stepping songs after the audience itself cleared the floor of chairs.

“I was glad to be a part of it,” said Delk’s son Neal Delk, the band’s singer and lead guitarist. “My dad’s played a big part in getting this set up. When this came up about doing a benefit we told Dad — ‘we’ being my brothers and the rest of the band — ‘Don’t let us slow you down. We’ll be there to help you with Kit and Sherry and the Paragon Foundation to support the cause.’ ”

Concert goer Sabrina Baxter, also a Delk family friend, called the show “excellent.”

“From what I could see of it, it was very overwhelming,” she said.

Laney, for the most part, was speechless; but then Oliver described Laney as a quiet man who, like Murphey, chooses to speak through actions.
“Man, I’m impressed,” Laney said.

His wide grin, though, said reams more.

Laney has not been permitted to return home to his ranch since his release from the Doña Any County Detention Center. He was remanded to the custody of Crow Flats rancher Bob Jones, Paragon’s president, with the proviso that he stay at Jones’ ranch.

“You can’t say enough good about them Joneses,” Laney said. “I don’t think a hired hand ever got treated so well.”

Laney did get the court’s permission to travel to Truth or Consequences on Saturday with Jones and his wife Elizabeth, and their son Bobby Jones and his wife Pat.

“I think it was a real success,” said Jones, who is always outspoken on ranchers and property rights issues. “And I think it sends a message to the Forest Service and the U.S. attorneys for the mess they caused for Kit. We also hope that the politicians are paying attention cause they can do something about it if they’ll just get involved.”

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) has called for an investigation into the Forest Service’s actions.

Paragon granted discovery in suit

Paragon Foundation lawyers have 12th Judicial District Judge Frank Wilson’s approval to query State of New Mexico Livestock Board members in writing, regarding a controversial Memorandum Of Understanding.

Paragon sought the discovery process on Monday as part of the foundation’s lawsuit alleging the Livestock Board violated the Open Meetings Act.

“I think,” Paragon Executive Director G.B. Oliver III said, “that’s what will tell us whether we have a case. If they ever try to keep us from finding out the facts of the case, that seems kind of odd to me.”

Paragon, a property- and Constitutional-rights advocate based in Alamogordo, is suing on behalf of Catron County ranchers Kit Laney and Sherry Farr. As Laney’s family has done for more than a century, the couple graze cattle on the Gila National Forest, or did until federal courts ruled they had to cut the herd. The Forest Service had the cattle impounded, which Laney and Farr contend was “illegal” and “a criminal offense.”

Their situation escalated on March 14 when Laney was arrested. He allegedly charged U.S. Forest Service personnel while on horseback. Those officers, who were armed, accused Laney of hitting at least one of them, and damaging a temporary pen holding Laney’s confiscated cattle. According to Livestock Board member Joe Delk, in a March 19 letter to the Forest Service after he inspected the impounded cattle on March 17, 251 head of “bulls, cows, yearlings and calves” were penned.

Delk, in his letter, wrote: “It is my opinion that the Forest Service personnel involved in the impoundment of the Laney cattle, including their contractor, are not sufficiently capable of handling and caring for these cattle in a manner that adequately satisfies me that there won’t be cattle unnecessarily injured or cattle that die from the stress and strain of the circumstance in which they have been placed. It is my recommendation that the New Mexico Livestock Board take an active role in observing the care and handling of these cattle to insure that there can be no instance or inference of animal neglect or cruelty.”

Of his March 14 actions, Laney said he was only trying to put calves needing to milk back with mama cows. He faces five counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of interfering with a court order. He spent 24-1/2 days in jail.

On March 7, The Associated Press reported Laney and Farr “have been battling the ... Forest Service for years,” and finally turned to the Livestock Board for help. “But,” the story stated, “the board said it can’t stop the cattle from being removed from Forest Service allotments.” Board Executive Director Dan Manzanares then violated the Open Meetings Act according to Paragon’s suit, by entering into the MOU with the Forest Service. Signed only by Manzanares, the document states the Forest Service and/or a contractor would impound branded livestock for transportation and sale.

Creating that MOU violated the Open Meetings Act, Paragon alleges. It believes “Manzanares’ actions were ... made without authority, and are, therefore, void” because the “MOU was approved by Manzanares on behalf of the Livestock Board.” The suit contends “Manzanares did not have statutory authority to approve the MOU on behalf of the Livestock Board,” and that the MOU had “not been ratified by a vote” of board members.

Lawyers representing Paragon, the Kienzle firm of Albuquerque, maintain if executive directors “had the authority to execute” such documents then “boards would be unnecessary.”

On Monday, Paul Kienzle reiterated that stance to Wilson. Kienzle stated that as part of the legal discovery process he simply wants to know which board members may have discussed the MOU outside of a scheduled board meeting, and who else participated in discussions.

“There may be people I wish to depose,” Kienzle. “They (the board) may identify people I’m not aware of ... in executing of the Memorandum Of Understanding.”
New Mexico Assistant Attorney General David T. Tourek, though, countered that the board never authorized the letter, ergo its members did not act and therefore can not be accused of violating the Open Meetings Act. Instead, he said the document was only Manzanares’ “opinion,” which negates any “purpose” for discovery of how the board performed.

“That Memorandum of Understanding was not ... a physical vote,” Tourek said. “We’re talking about the action of the executive director whose name is on that document. Did a quorum act? There is no evidence of a quorum acting.”

Kienzle disagreed.

“This was a specific action. This was something the board decided to do and they decided to do it through their director,” he said. “I maintain ... the Memorandum Of Understanding is an action of the board. It needed to be voted on at a public meeting, of course under the Open Meetings Act. It’s actions of a board that are not taken at a public meeting which are declared void when not done properly.”

Delk, on March 31 after a prior hearing before Wilson, said he was not notified of the memorandum until after it was signed — and then only by mail. He said he thought the issue should have been dealt with in a public meeting.

“Some may consider it a daily activity of the executive director, but I certainly don’t,” Delk said. “There’s nobody out there holding (the Forest Service) accountable and that’s where the Livestock Board should be more involved.”

Wilson granted Paragon’s motion in part by permitting written questions to be submitted to the board in lieu of full depositions.

“I can’t see how they (the board) would possible find that objectionable,” Kienzle said. “I’m asking for some very limited items here.”

“I think I would be remiss if I did not permit (the participation) of Mr. Manzanares,” Wilson said. “Let’s see what the written discovery provides.”

He did stipulate a caveat.

“That’s not going to include every telephone conversation. That would be ridiculous,” he said, at the same time acknowledging that what was learned might lead to depositions.

Kienzle surprised Tourek when he revealed that not all of Laney’s and Farr’s cattle have been rounded up. Farr herself was not in court, Kienzle said, because the Forest Service asked her help in bringing in remaining cattle.

“That’s a shocker,” Tourek said. “(I thought) they all went to Arizona on a train and they’re being served at McDonald’s.”

The next hearing is June 29, at 3 p.m. Wilson said one of the issues he will address is whether Paragon has legal standing in the suit.

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) has called for an investigation into the Forest Service’s actions.

Hope you can see this. I can view the blog using the software, but can't get to it using the internet. Blogger just initiated a new system...

Monday, May 24, 2004


Government Not Truthful on Air Tankers? CBS 5 News has obtained evidence that the U.S. Forest Service may not have been telling the "straight story" when it announced it was grounding 33-air tankers last week. To the public and the media Forest Service officials minimized the importance of the air tankers. But according to a confidential Forest Service Briefing Paper, the agency knows there could be in big trouble this summer without those planes. But a Forest Service Briefing Paper obtained by the 5 i-Team puts the impact in black and white terms. It says "...increased acres burned would be inevitable..." without air tankers. The paper is dated May 11th and is labeled "for internal use only." Oregon seeks air tankers to fill federal gap The Oregon state forester has declared a state of emergency over the shortage of large air tankers and is looking for more planes to contract on its own to make up for planes whose federal contracts were canceled over safety issues. The Oregon Department of Forest said Monday it is looking for two air tankers to be available as early as July 1 in addition to two tankers and two lead planes due to arrive Aug. 1 after they have completed work in Alaska. "Aircraft are integral to our aggressive firefighting strategy," said Bill Lafferty, director of fire protection for the department, said in a statement....Forest Management Practices Fueling Western Wildfires Wildfires that burn hotter, spread faster and occur more frequently than they might naturally may be the unintended legacy of decades of misguided forest management practices, says a Duke University fire ecologist. Large wildfires now blazing in California, Arizona and New Mexico are the latest evidence that the plan to ``fireproof'' the West's forests has backfired, says Norman L. Christensen Jr., professor of ecology and founding dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke. Current wildfire management practices, he says, fail to take into account local conditions like weather and topography, and don't give top priority to the most hazardous fuel source in most Western forests -- ground fuel such as dry grasses, pine needles and low shrubs. ``Ignited ground fuels can create enough heat to scorch a tree up to a height of 150 feet,'' Christensen says.... North Umpqua Hydropower License Illegal Seven conservation groups today sued the federal government for issuing an environmentally damaging hydropower license for a hydroelectric project on the North Umpqua River. For more than 50 years, the North Umpqua Hydroelectric Project has harmed species and habitat within the North Umpqua River basin and on Umpqua National Forest lands. According to the lawsuit filed by Earthjustice, the Forest Service ignored the advice of its own scientists when it agreed to the issuance of a new operating license for the project without requiring adequate measures to protect wildlife and their habitat.... Bedwell's rise In the relatively few years since Drew Bedwell erupted onto Nevada County's political scene, many words have been used to describe him: tenacious, radical, passionate, outspoken, militant. His politics have been loved, loathed and lambasted, but all admit that he is a man who had an impact. When the Natural Heritage 2020 Program - an environmental project to study and protect open space - was approved by the Board of Supervisors in May 2000, Bedwell felt that his favorite pastime was threatened. He decided it was time to speak out for property rights and defend home ownership. He founded the group Protect Your Property Rights in March 2001 and led fellow opponents in sporting yellow armbands at board meetings and public hearings in protest. He launched a petition campaign against NH 2020 that was so effective, even those who rallied behind it from the beginning are now skeptical of the program's future.... Protected toad's hopping grounds may be changed U.S. Forest Service officials this summer will begin to reanalyze what areas of Little Rock Creek can be reopened to the public and what parts must remain closed to protect a rare toad. The Forest Service will bring in a staffer to coordinate the examination of how to manage the 3,000 acres upstream of the Littlerock reservoir that have been closed to off-roaders, fishermen and campers since 1999 to protect the Southwestern arroyo toad.... Thousands Urge Governors in 11 States To Fight Federal Takeover of Sage Grouse Efforts Organizations representing more than a quarter million Westerners are urging the governors of 11 states to oppose a federal takeover of state and local conservation programs aimed at preserving the Greater Sage Grouse. More than 400 companies, associations, coalitions and individuals that collectively represent over a quarter of a million Westerners are calling on the governors of California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming to "do all that you can do to prevent the federal government from imposing the regulatory straightjacket of the Endangered Species Act on the citizens of the West and on our sage grouse populations." In letters to individual Governors, released Monday, the Greater Sage Grouse Conservation Task Force said that "an effort to list the greater sage grouse as a 'threatened' or 'endangered' species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) could cause extraordinary economic damage to the West (go here to see the letter).... Lynx birth gives endangered species hope Spanish television has broadcast footage of what is said to be the first Iberian lynx cub to be born in captivity. The Iberian lynx is one of the world's most endangered wild cat species and is nearing extinction. The three-week-old cub was born in an animal conservation centre in the western Spanish town of Sierra de Fuentes.... Young lamb-killing bear caught, released A young grizzly bear has been captured and released after killing three lambs and some chickens in the Madison Valley. The capture took place last Thursday, said Kevin Frey, bear management specialist for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. A federal Wildlife Services agent caught the 3-year-old to 4-year-old male bear with a leg snare after it had repeatedly come to a ranch in the Cedar Creek drainage southeast of Ennis.... A full-fledged comeback Nearly extinct 30 years ago, peregrine falcons have a fruitful life among Portland's bridges Peregrine falcons, back from near extinction in the 1960s, have found life good in Portland and many other cities. They showed up 10 years ago to nest at the Fremont Bridge, and now Portland bridges have become some of the most productive falcon nesting sites in Oregon. Despite some new threats, biologists say cities are expanding -- if only by accident -- the range available for these dive-bombing carnivores. "Buildings and bridges are ecologically equivalent to cliffs, and in some ways better," said Brian Walton, coordinator of the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group in California. "In the San Francisco Bay Area, we have them nesting on cranes, buildings, bridges and cliffs," Walton said.... Yellowstone-area grizzly count dips Observations of female grizzlies with cubs - an important indication about how well the overall population is faring - dropped from 52 in 2002 to 38 last year, according to the grizzly study team's annual report. More than likely, that drop is tied to a poor food year in 2002 and a slight reproductive increase in recent years that left few females available to breed and show off their offspring in 2003, Schwartz said. "It's no cause for concern," Schwartz said. "It's just normal environmental noise, and we'll probably see slightly higher counts next year." The recovery of the bear population is about more than numbers, biologists say. It has more to do with available habitat, tolerance by people and the food supply.... Judge orders agency to pay for farm water The heavy-handedness of at least one federal environmental agency toward agricultural water users in California has been dealt a serious blow by a court in Washington, D.C. The judge ruled recently that water diverted from farmers in California in 1992 and 1994 -- some 300,000 acre feet -- to provide protection for Delta smelt must be paid for by the government agency involved to the tune of $26 million. The water was withheld from the farmers by order of the Endangered Species Act in violation of contracts they hold with state water agencies. Four water distribution agencies in Kern, Kings and Tulare counties were denied the water. The attorney who represented the local water agencies, which are administered by boards comprised primarily of farmers, is now preparing a case on the same grounds that calls for water users in the Klamath Basin to be similarly compensated in the amount of $100 million.... National Parks fast falling into disrepair Leaky lodge roofs. Potholed roads. Beaches closed for lack of a lifeguard. Not enough rangers in their Smokey Bear hats teaching kids about flora and fauna. It's not a picture Americans want to imagine for their national parks - the "crown jewels" often likened to European cathedrals. But as the nation approaches the year's first holiday weekend when families head for the mountains, seashore, and battlefield monuments, there's a groundswell of concern (bordering on revolt) among current and retired US Park Service employees over the condition of national parks. Meanwhile, a coalition of environmental groups has just sued the Interior Department over its failure to minimize the air pollution impacts of nearby development on more than a dozen national parks and wilderness areas in the Rocky Mountain West. Interior is charged with failure to uphold the Clean Air Act around parks.... Rafting dispute roars on mighty river But upstream at Lees Ferry, where each year up to 20,000 people begin their journey down the canyon's renowned whitewater, the Colorado has become the symbol of the latest debate over who should be able to use national parks and how. A draft version of a new management plan for Grand Canyon National Park is due this summer. As part of that plan, the National Park Service must decide how to allocate the limited number of permits to float through the canyon. For now, commercial river outfitters, who lead large groups down the river, get the lion's share of those permits; about 700 to 750 launches a year are reserved for them.... Rec industry joins fight for wild lands Conservationists aren't the only ones fighting the Bush administration over protections for the nation's wild lands. A group of mostly small-business owners is increasingly joining the fray. The Outdoor Industry Association argues that preserving wild lands is not only good for people who like to hike, bike and raft there but also for the businesses that sell them gear. The association represents 4,000 companies that make and sell outdoor gear and guide city folks on backcountry trips. These businesses employ 500,000 people and generate $18 billion a year in sales. The association this month launched its "Protect today, play tomorrow" campaign to educate its members' customers about the need to preserve their undeveloped playgrounds. The association's nonprofit arm is running ads in four national outdoor magazines, distributing posters to specialty retail outdoor stores and traveling to member businesses to educate employees as part of its Business for Wilderness program.... CBM water may be leaking into Wyoming groundwater Water discharged from coal-bed methane drilling may be leaking from a Johnson County reservoir into area groundwater, state and federal officials say. The impact of any leak is likely tiny. The Skewed Reservoir holds just 15 acre-feet of discharge water, and is used primarily for research by Anadarko Petroleum and government agencies. Some, however, say the leak could be a sign of things to come for the thousands of similar discharge reservoirs dotting the Powder River Basin. In a letter dated March 12, the Bureau of Land Management said discharge water had leaked through about 15 feet of shale and coal below the reservoir and possibly penetrated underground aquifers.... Race course nixed by bureaucratic snafu Miscommunication about the actual course layout for the Eagle Spring Classic mountain bike race forced the Bureau of Land Management to tell race organizers that their new and improved route would not be allowed for this year. Dorothy Morgan of the Bureau of Land Management said that the original course map she received and approved was identical to last year's with regard to what federal land it crossed.... Gibbons defends Shoshone claims bill U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., said Saturday that a claims bill he supports for Western Shoshone "is merely for distribution of money. The money doesn't do any good sitting in the bank." He told a handful of Western Shoshone and Western Shoshone Defense Project representatives at his town hall meeting that the Western Shoshone can still seek more land under separate legislation. "Nothing stops land distribution. We're for that," he said.... Nine Mile Canyon on list Utah's Nine Mile Canyon, sometimes called the world's longest art gallery because of its thousands of ancient Indian rock art images, was listed Monday as one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places." "Today the canyon is threatened by growing tourism and vandalism, as well as by extensive oil and gas exploration plans recently approved by the federal Bureau of Land Management," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which released the annual list Monday at the National Press Club. Veneman will review plans for National Scenic Area Activities as disparate as getting married and canning fresh fish could both be permissible in the 80-mile National Scenic Area of the Columbia River Gorge, under a plan that's being reviewed by U.S. Secretary Ann Veneman. But the revisions authored by the Columbia River Gorge Commission have drawn concern from environmentalists who say the scenery of the area will be marred. Property rights groups, on the other hand, say the decisions don't go far enough. The management plan for the area is now in Washington, D.C., where Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman has until August to review it and decide whether it is consistent with the scenic act. Any appeals or lawsuits will probably be filed after she makes her decision. Maverick environmentalist's conference to list solutions to global ills A maverick environmentalist brought together eight prominent economic experts recently for a conference aimed at finding cost-effective solutions to the world's most urgent woes, including climate change, conflict, disease, and malnutrition. The weeklong meeting was organized by Danish statistician Bjoern Lomborg, who wrote the 2001 international best seller The Skeptical Environmentalist, which was criticized by many mainstream environmentalists for downplaying the impact of global warming. Four of the experts participating are winners of the Nobel Prize in economics: Robert W. Fogel, James J. Heckman, Douglass C. North, and Vernon L. Smith, all of the United States. The panel has already identified 10 problems, including education, financial instability, migration, sanitation and water scarcity, trade barriers, bad governance, and corruption. When the conference ends Friday, they will have discussed how to solve these woes and come up with 38 solutions that are ranked by their cost benefit, Lomborg said, calling the panel his "dream team.".... Is Water Flush helping Cutthroat Trout? Have you been to the Falls lately? There's an unbelievable amount of water splashing over. It's the result of a flush, sending saved water from Palisades to American Falls in one week rather than a few months. It's supposed to create natural conditions on the river and help cutthroat trout. It's still early in the experiment. But so far it doesn’t seem to be working. Checking for any sign of success means being on the river when conditions are less-than-friendly. Gaia Guru: Turn to Nuclear Now A leading Green researcher and environmental advocate who was among the first to warn of the effects of global warming has caused a stir with his idea that a faster, more troubling timetable of climate change requires an embrace of nuclear energy. While warnings over global warming and an end to nuclear energy have been basic tenets of the Green environmental movement, James Lovelock, 84, wrote in the United Kingdom's Independent this week that the only way to act effectively against rising temperatures and arctic melting is to turn to nuclear energy, which he called "the only one immediately available source" that does not cause global warming. "Opposition to nuclear energy is based on irrational fear fed by Hollywood-style fiction, the Green lobbies and the media," Lovelock wrote. "These fears are unjustified, and nuclear energy from its start in 1952 has proved to be the safest of all energy sources.".... Fast Arctic Thaw Portends Global Warming Global warming is hitting the Arctic more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet in what may be a portent of wider, catastrophic changes, the chairman of an eight-nation study has said. Inuit hunters are falling more frequently through the thinning ice with habitats for plants and animals also disrupted. The icy Hudson Bay in Canada could be uninhabitable for polar bears within just 20 years. The melting is also destabilising buildings on permafrost and threatening an oil pipeline laid across Alaska.... PETA Ad Calls for an End to Killing Cows for Car Interiors PETA had hoped that its new billboard—showing a blood-spattered tire tread next to the tagline, "Killer on the Road: 4 Cows Killed for Every Mercedes Leather Interior," and steering motorists to its Web site—would rise in time to usher in the busy summer driving season, but Detroit outdoor advertisers Viacom and Lamar stopped the idea dead in its tracks, claiming that the ad was too controversial. The billboard is the newest weapon in PETA’s international campaign to get DaimlerChrysler, maker of Mercedes-Benz automobiles, to offer non-leather upholstery options for all models of its cars. The campaign follows PETA’s successful efforts to pressure DaimlerChrysler India to make alternatives to leather interiors available in Mercedes cars manufactured and sold in India.... Heinz Kerry: SUVs Are Safer To the environmentalists she funds with her billion-dollar philanthropy, SUVs are public enemy No. 1. But when it comes to her own personal driving needs, Teresa Heinz Kerry says she drives SUVs because they're safer. "Safety first," she tells USA Today, which notes Monday that "four [of her] close relatives were killed in car crashes." What's more, Heinz Kerry says she needs the SUVs "to drive safely in snow and sand at her various homes," the paper explained. The would-be first lady is said to be "angry that U.S. car manufacturers have taken so long to build a fuel-efficient four-wheel-drive vehicle." So she's now planning to buy a gas-electric hybrid Ford Escape.... Supreme Court to hear beef checkoff appeal The US Supreme Court said this morning it will hear an appeal of a lower court decision declaring the mandatory beef checkoff unconstitutional. The appeals court in 2003 found that the program violated farmers' rights to free speech and should end, in a case brought by the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) and the Livestock Marketing Association. The final ruling in this case could also have an impact on the pork checkoff program, which has also been deemed unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds by a lower court.... Got drought? Tax help for ranchers passes Senate In passing the Jumpstart Our Business Strength (JOBS) Act in mid-May, the Senate approved important tax cuts for US cattle producers suffering from drought conditions, National Cattlemen's Beef Association reports. Finance Committee Chairman Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) won full support with a 92 to 5 vote in the Senate. The legislation includes a provision which would allow for the extended deferral of capital gains tax from drought-related sales of livestock, previously referred to as the "Rancher Help Act."....U.S., Australia sign FTA U.S. and Australian officials signed a free trade agreement last week that may - or may not - result in a confrontation between American manufacturing and agriculture and even between American economic and security interests. U.S. manufacturers desperately want this agreement because it would remove all Australian tariffs on 99 percent of U.S. manufactured goods. Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash., a co-founder with Rep. Cal Dooley, D-Calif., of the Australia caucus in Congress, noted at the elaborate signing ceremony on May 18 that it would make it easier for the Boeing company to sell airplanes to Qantas, the Australian carrier. But most American farm groups and agribusinesses are not supporting it, although for opposite reasons. The farm groups don't like the U.S.-Australian agreement because it reduces tariffs and other restrictions on most Australian commodities coming into the United States and is likely to result in increased imports of beef, lamb and dairy products. Many agribusiness groups such as the Grocery Manufacturers of America and the National Food Processors Association don't like the agreement because it did not reduce restrictions on U.S. sugar imports. The American Meat Institute, whose members include importers of meat from Australia, is supporting the agreement but the National Chicken Council is opposing it, a spokesman said, because Australia won't let in any U.S. chicken unless "it's cooked for such a time and at such a high temperature it is not edible.".... U.S., Some Ranchers Clash Over Mad Cow Tests Under a 1913 law, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has sole authority to license "veterinary biologics," such as diagnostic tests. So far, the agency has licensed the mad cow test kits only to itself. They can be used only by USDA scientists or at seven USDA-approved labs. And they can be used only to further the USDA's surveillance system, which monitors the nation's herd for BSE by testing less than 1% of cattle sent to slaughter. "Let's say you're conducting your own testing, and you get a false positive. You yell out: 'Guess what? We have a positive!' Know what would happen? Everybody in the world would stop trading with the U.S.," USDA spokesman Jim Rogers said. "Or let's say you get a cow that tests positive, but instead of telling us, you go bury it out in the pasture," Rogers said. "That's why we need to have one confirmatory agency in charge.".... Group doubts USDA chief's beef denial The cattlemen's group that uncovered the U.S. Department of Agriculture had been allowing banned Canadian beef products into the United States despite concerns about mad cow disease said it doubts Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman's denial she was unaware the products were being imported. The group, the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, told United Press International there were numerous indications Veneman would have been aware millions of pounds of Canadian ground beef and other processed beef products -- such as hot dogs and sausages -- were moving across the border for months after the agency banned such items last year. Despite struggle, sheep ranchers sustaining ancient calling Skye Krebs parks his truck next to a gray box trailer, set among bunch grass and sagebrush. Other than the trailer and the power lines running across the desert between Arlington and the Blue Mountain Scenic Highway, not another sign of civilization is in sight. Inside, the small trailer contains a tiny wood stove, two gas burners, a bed and a table. A portable stereo takes up most of the table space. There is no shower. No toilet. The man who calls the trailer home arrives on horseback, with several dogs for company. Jeronimo Quispe-Valario is from Peru. In a slow exchange of Spanish, he and Krebs discuss the more than 1,000 head of sheep Quispe-Valario watches over day and night, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Right now, the herd is several miles away, just white speckles in a green valley.... Editorial: Kill the death tax The very rich aren't campaigning against the death tax, because they don't pay it. The death of a Kennedy or Rockefeller is a non-event to the taxmen. Such ultra-wealthy families have retained the best estate-planning lawyers and bankers for generations. Their assets are held in virtually immortal family trusts and foundations. So who does pay the estate tax? The surviving children of moderately wealthy farmers and businessmen who leave behind ongoing enterprises worth more than $3 million. Think that could never be you?.... Film stunt double to be honored by Kanab About the only thing you'll ever find playing on Jackie Hamblin Rife's television is a good, old Western. For her, offerings on the cable television network Westerns are more than just good stories -- they're also nostalgia, history and a family scrapbook. The 70-year-old former extra and stunt double appeared in about 50 movies filmed in Kanab during the genre's heyday, movies that have found a new generation of viewers on cable. Rife's movie career hit pause in 1957 after she was trampled by horses during the filming of "War Drums," but the granddaughter of a Kanab cattle rancher didn't forsake the business she grew to love.... Onetime One-Man Town Has Its Own Kind of Boom Deep in the high desert of Central Oregon, on a lonely terrain thick with sage brush and juniper trees where there are far more antelope, bobcats and jack rabbits than people, lies one of America's tiniest towns. With its seven residents, all members of the Murray family, Millican's population is actually booming these days. For more than 60 years it was Oregon's one-man town, a dinky outpost with one store and two wooden cabins, where two different men were, for several decades each, mayor, postmaster, hotelier and lone resident.... Book Review: A Return Trip to the Prairie With Its Timeless Rhythms ith "Eventide" we are back in the small prairie town Holt, Colo., which Kent Haruf conjured with such intimacy and fidelity in his critically acclaimed 1999 best seller, "Plainsong." The McPheron brothers, Raymond and Harold, who gave a pregnant young woman named Victoria a home in that novel, are back at the center of "Eventide," and some of their neighbors put in return appearances as well. We see the changes that the passage of a few years has wrought: the losses, hopes and disappointments that have blown through these characters' lives, and the small and momentous ways in which they have tried to cope with them.... High noon for the Winchester mob These people take their nicknames and leisurewear seriously, and all belong to the Single Action Shooting Society, a Yorba Linda-based for-profit venture. Born in 1981, SASS claims 60,000 members worldwide, each with a badge and nickname, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (or, as he is known on the range, Trinidad Slim). Every month, thousands dress up and assemble in posses. "It goes beyond shooting," says Ken Amorosano, the society's marketing director. "The most defining aspect of American culture is the Old West…. Our culture and the gun go hand in hand.".... Historic nuptials: Cody couple melds love of history, love for each other Chalk it up to seeing "Gone With the Wind" one too many times. Or having a love of history. Or better yet, loving someone who loves Old West history enough to grow out a handle bar mustache and play Buffalo Bill Cody every weekend during the summer months. Whatever the reason, Tricia McCullough spent this Friday in Greybull, getting pinned into a dress straight out of the 1890s for her upcoming marriage to Alan Baker. And when the crowd forms in front of Cody's Irma Hotel on June 25 to see the nightly gunfight, they will find love, not gun smoke, in the air. "It's not every day that a girl gets to marry Buffalo Bill," said McCullough, referring to her husband-to-be, who has played the colonel on the weekends with the Cody Gunfighters for four years.... Another way to rodeo This is charrería, a Mexican tradition similar to rodeo, with hundreds of years of history. The cowboys, or charros, displayed their skills Saturday at the Texas State Competition of the 2004 Jose Cuervo Tradicional Charro Championship. Ten regional competitions will be held around the country. The winning teams and individual competitors will head to the national finals Sept. 3 and 4 in New Cuyama, Calif. "It's just a very old tradition," Francisco "Paco" Gaona said as he helped load horses and bulls into the chutes. "Family members pass it down to their sons and kids and continue the tradition.".... CHILEAN RODEO RIDERS DEMONSTRATE NATIONAL SPORT An hour south of Santiago is Rancagua, one of Chile's agricultural centers and home of the national rodeo finals. Every year, hundreds of riders gather in April to compete for Chile's highest equestrian honor and for a chance to win the first prize - about $19,000 and a double-cab pickup. About the only thing Chilean rodeo shares with its American counterpart is its name, derived from the Spanish word for circle. In the Chilean sport, teams of two riders run alongside a steer and guide it into a padded area on the arena's wall, where they bump the animal against the surface. Judges award the teams points based on which part of the steer's body touches the wall: four points for the back leg, three for the ribs, two for the shoulders and no points for the neck....