Saturday, July 10, 2004

NEWS ROUNDUP

Forest Service OKs Logging in Tongass Federal officials are allowing a 665-acre timber harvest in a roadless area of Tongass National Forest, the first since an anti-logging rule was lifted early this year. The harvest was announced Friday by the Forest Service along with the agency's plans to approve a proposed 1,800-acre harvest next month....
Forest Service suspends Diamond Rim drilling project Consideration of the town's proposal to drill exploratory wells under the Diamond Rim in the Tonto National Forest has been suspended by Ed Armenta, head ranger for the Payson Ranger District. Armenta informed Town Manager Fred Carpenter of his decision in a letter dated June 18. At issue is whether the U.S. Forest Service has the legal right to consider the impact the project might have on the wells of nearby residents. The issue was raised by Attorney Thomas Wilmoth of Fennemore Craig Law Offices, the firm that is representing the town in its efforts to acquire a special use permit authorizing groundwater exploration in the Tonto National Forest. In a letter to Rod Byers, lands staff officer for the Payson Ranger District, Wilmoth contended that "protection of third party well owners is not within the scope of the Forest Service's authority."...
Ponderosa Ranch sold to Incline Village businessman The owners of the 570-acre Ponderosa Ranch announced they have agreed to sell the historic property to local Incline Village businessman David Duffield for what Duffield's representative Tom Clark called, "Comparable to what the agencies were offering." The property, which was put up for sale in February, has operated as a theme park since the late 1960's and was based on the television western "Bonanza."....
Watchdog group sues for names in wildfire deaths probe A Forest Service report released last January said the two were not warned of the area's potential for extreme fire danger, they were confused about the availability of helicopters and other firefighting resources and they were working under inadequate leadership. But the report removed names and other identifying information about crew members directly involved. In May, Regional Forester Jack Troyer said six faced disciplinary action. The Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics sued the agency Thursday in U.S. District Court in Missoula, Mont., seeking the names....
Editorial: Outsourcing: $23 Million to Cut 16 US Jobs You might think that privatizing federal jobs is one thing the Bush administration, in its zeal for shrinking government, would get right. Think again. According to a recent report by a House appropriations subcommittee, the U.S. Forest Service spent more than $23 million in fiscal 2002 and 2003 on an outsourcing program that eliminated exactly 16 maintenance jobs. Program managers also claimed to have "saved" taxpayers a grand total of $5 million -- all of it by hiring a private company to run a computer help desk....
Barton: 'I am not an arsonist' The woman serving time in a Texas federal prison for starting the largest wildfire in Colorado history yearns for forgiveness from the fire's victims while hoping one day to return to the forests she loves. Terry Lynn Barton, 40, is serving simultaneous prison sentences of 12 years on state charges and six years on federal charges after admitting she started the Hayman Fire while working as a U.S. Forest Service employee assigned to the task of ticketing people who violated a burn ban....
PLF Credits House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo for Defending Landmark Court Ruling in Federal Fisheries Case Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) welcomes the efforts of U.S. Representative Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), chair of the House Committee on Resources, to safeguard PLF's landmark federal court victory in Alsea Valley Alliance v. Evans in 2001. Rep. Pombo's letter sent late yesterday to Commerce Secretary Don Evans expressed deep concern that the federal marine fisheries agency was failing to comply with court directions in managing salmon and steelhead populations throughout the Western states. In the 2001 case, Federal Judge Michael Hogan ruled that the federal government could not ignore hatchery-spawned salmon and count only naturally-spawned salmon when deciding whether to list the Oregon Coast coho salmon as threatened under the Endangered Species Act....
Nevada conservation team’s report outlines plans to protect sage grouse Nevada has an abundance of sage grouse habitat and healthy populations but a new report says a broad spectrum of public land-use restrictions might be necessary in some areas to protect the bird from demise. The long-awaited report from Gov. Kenny Guinn’s sage grouse conservation team identifies statewide goals and recommendations from local planning groups around the state to address specific threats in specific areas....
Federal Judge Rejects Process for Approval of Mining A federal district judge in West Virginia struck down on Thursday an Army Corps of Engineers procedure that gives a blanket pre-clearance to Appalachian mining operations that dynamite away mountaintops and dump some of the refuse into streams. The judge, Joseph R. Goodwin of Federal District Court in Charleston, ruled that the procedure, called a nationwide permit, improperly bypasses the requirement that the impact of mining on streams be determined "before, not after" such a permit is granted. The judge added that the general permits allowed "an activity with the potential to have significant effects on the environment to be permitted without being subject to public notice or comment," in violation of the Clean Water Act....
Conservation groups will appeal Minnesota judge's Missouri River ruling Environmentalists on Friday appealed a recent federal court ruling allowing the Missouri River to operate without changes they say will save endangered fish and birds. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson in Minnesota ruled in favor of the Army Corps of Engineers last month, and the agency has proceeded with its new plan to keep summer water levels high enough for barge shipping. Conservationists and the fishing and recreation industry in Montana and the Dakotas oppose that approach; they want a more seasonal spring rise and lower summer flows that would mimic how the river flowed naturally for centuries....
Chief of Park Police fired after airing in-house woes The chief of the U.S. Park Police was fired yesterday, about seven months after she was suspended for publicly complaining that the department was understaffed and under-funded. The Interior Department said Teresa Chambers was dismissed after a review of her case by Paul Hoffman, the agency's deputy assistant secretary....
Group promotes range partnerships Partnerships between permittees on national forests and blm and the two federal agencies are the goal of a new organization. The new group, called Guardians of the Range, formed in February, and Kathleen Jachowski of Cody became executive director in March. The chairman is Gregg Pruett, a Meeteetse-area rancher. The members who hold grazing permits on Forest Service and BLM allotments in Northwest Wyoming want a voice in how public lands are managed, Jachowski said. "We want to re-establish the partnerships and move beyond contentious issues," she said....
NRA and Outdoor Writers Have Falling-Out In a spat that could have implications for the presidential campaign, the National Rifle Association has angered a group of opinion makers among America's 50 million hunters and anglers. The president of the National Rifle Association warned a convention of outdoor writers last month that it should not be seduced by environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, which promise to protect hunting habitat but actually are scheming to ban guns....
FBI Worried Utah Eco-sabotage Becoming More Violent Federal officials said Friday they were worried about the escalating violence on the part of environmentalists operating in Utah, and said these groups apparently are no longer content to show their defiance by simply spray-painting initials at crime scenes. The latest event triggering alarm was an arson fire that caused minor damage Thursday at a building at Brigham Young University in Provo. The letters ALF, thought to stand for the Animal Liberation Front, were spray-painted at several sites around the arson scene. The ALF has not claimed responsibility, and did not immediately respond to an e-mail Friday from The Associated Press seeking comment....
Nevada Loses Yucca Mt. Waste Site Appeal An appeals court on Friday upheld the government's decision to single out Nevada as the site of a nuclear waste dump but ruled that the federal plan does not go far enough to protect people from potential radiation beyond 10,000 years in the future. While the court dismissed virtually all of the arguments raised by Nevada and environmentalists against the Yucca Mountain project, its rejection of the radiation standard raised new questions about whether the waste repository will be built or at least meet its target of 2010 to begin operation....
Column: Drought Becomes Opportunity Drought is a rude reminder that in any given year the interior West is but a storm or two from that hydrological tipping point where farming, ranching and the presence of cities become not merely ill-advised but -- impossible. The region is being reminded of this now in a big way: Five consecutive years of drought, six in some areas, are throwing a scare into urban water managers, driving farmers and ranchers off the land and threatening power shortages this summer as anemic river flows curtail hydroelectricity generation. But there are some to whom the drought presents opportunity....
Jet exhaust may be adding to global warming Next time you're on a plane, think of this: The plane's exhaust might be adding just enough moisture to the atmosphere to create a cloud and keep it floating. That cloud could stretch 1,000 miles long and 37 miles wide, depending on the weather and your flight distance. Add that cloud to all the other clouds produced by airplane exhaust, and it creates a blanket effect - trapping heat that's radiating from the Earth. The end result: warmer temperatures on the surface. In other words, your flight might be contributing to the greenhouse effect. A recently published study by researchers at NASA Langley in Hampton, Va., concludes that clouds from airplane exhaust, or contrails, contributed to a .5-degree per decade warming trend in the United States between 1975 and 1994...
The Big Gulp: Troubles with Lake Powell Nobody thought it could happen this fast. Lake Powell in Utah has drained so rapidly that water experts are talking about what might happen if the giant reservoir drops to its "dead pool" level, below which it can't deliver stored water downstream. If it does, and the natural flows of the Colorado River aren't enough to satisfy all water rights, states in the lower basin could exercise senior rights and call for water upstream. The water in question in some cases is already being used by towns, farmers and industry....
Editorial: Water ruling right on target A ruling by Pueblo District Judge Dennis Maes in a closely watched water-rights case strikes us as falling properly within the state's "first in use, first in right" doctrine. But unlike some observers, we don't think it will stop the sale of agricultural water rights to municipal and industrial users. Maes ruled against plans by High Plains A&M, a company that owns water rights in the Fort Lyon Canal that are designated for agricultural use. The company wanted to sell those rights to as-yet-unspecified municipal buyers, but the judge said no....
Norton, Anderson Sign Zuni Tribe's Water Rights Department of Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs Dave Anderson signed an agreement with leaders of the Zuni Tribe of New Mexico to settle a dispute over the tribe's claim to water rights in the Little Colorado River Basin of Arizona. The agreement will reportedly not harm other water users in the area. The site holds religious significance for the tribe. The settlement provides just over $19 million to be used by the tribe for riparian and wetlands restoration activities. The money comes from a Zuni Indian Tribe Water Rights Development Fund. The U.S. Government is footing most of the bill, with the state of Arizona kicking in $1.6 million to the restoration project. The state will reportedly make additional settlement contributions. One million dollars of the funding is expected to come from the Salt River Project....
Brucellosis confirmed in cow near Jackson Hole A third incidence of brucellosis this year has turned up in Wyoming, in a 13-year-old cow near Jackson Hole. The cow was part of a 105-head herd that was tested before it was to be moved to summer pasture in Idaho. The animal was slaughtered on the rancher's property after the test result came back. The result was confirmed by the National Veterinary Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, on Thursday. No other animals in the herd tested positive, according to State Veterinarian Jim Logan. The case pushes back by at least another year when the federal government could restore Wyoming's brucellosis-free status....
Gentle Horsemanship Takes Hold Across U.S. With a well-trimmed mustache, crisp white shirt and worn leather chaps over jeans, Tim Schaack is easily pegged as a cowboy. But as he calmly leads a young horse around a paddock of the Haythorn Ranch near Arthur, in Nebraska's Panhandle, it becomes clear that the popular image of the Western horseman is due for revisions....
Stampede rodeo bull closes NY Stock Exchange In a historical first, a rodeo bull named Outlaw rang the bell that closed the New York Stock Exchange -- from the rodeo ring of the Calgary Stampede. "He's rung more than a bell or two in his time," Robin Burwash, ranch manager for the Calgary Stampede, told reporters. Only one of 58 cowboys has ever managed to stay on Outlaw for the required eight seconds. The bell was tied to Outlaw's midsection. He burst out of the chutes at 2 p.m. MDT. Steven Turner, Canada's all-round champion cowboy, had the honour of riding Outlaw, but he joined the list of those tossed off....
Buckaroo took the rough road The harsh high desert lands of Nevada have produced more than mineral wealth. Nevada has also produced a rare generation of men known as the Nevada buckaroo, an extraordinary gem indeed. It's getting harder to find the authentic breed these days as modern convenience and lifestyle are slowly making them outmoded. Ernie Fanning, who lives with his wife Kay in Fish Springs Valley, is the genuine article. A true diamond in the rough, Ernie is the perfect example of the real Nevada buckaroo....
Cowboy poets get ready for annual festival Western cowboys have all but disappeared from America's landscape. Only a handful of cow/calf operations exist today. Rising land costs, poor beef prices and ever-encroaching housing developments are largely responsible for the decline of open range cattle companies. Cowboys, however, continue to be a vital part of our western culture. Rodeos offer events like calf roping, bull riding and bucking horses. These are remnants of the Old West. But cowboy culture also exists today in music, song and poetry that remind us of life as it was decades ago. It may seem like an odd marriage between the ruff-and-ready cowboy and the sensitive, insightful mind of the poet/songwriter....

Friday, July 09, 2004

MAD COW DISEASE

Mad cow disease targeted by new FDA rules Closing loopholes in protections against mad cow disease, the Food and Drug Administration today banned brains and other cattle parts that could carry the disease's infectious agent from use in cosmetics and dietary supplements. The action puts the agency's restrictions in line with those issued by the Agriculture Department to keep those cattle parts out of meat after the brain-wasting disease was found in December in a Holstein cow in Washington state. The ban affects products made from animals 30 months of age and older, the age in which the government has said the brain-wasting disease can be found. The restrictions prohibit the use of the brain and spinal cord, where the misshapen proteins blamed for mad cow disease are considered most likely to be found. The banned parts from the older animals also include skulls, eyes, and nervous system tissue close to the spinal cord. However, the use of tallow, a processed fat made from cattle, will still be allowed provided it carries less than .15 percent impurities, which could include proteins. Tallow is used in cosmetics, but FDA has said that the high heat and pressure used to make it should minimize any risk of having mad cow infectious agent in tallow....
Canada bans cattle brains, spines from feed Canada will keep cattle brains, spines and other materials that pose a risk of transmitting mad cow disease out of pig and poultry feed, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said on Friday. The strict new feed rules come more than a year after an expert panel recommended changes in the wake of the country's first home-grown case of mad cow disease, discovered last May. "We felt it was time to signal the direction we plan to go in order to allow us to move to a different stage of consultation and begin to really bear down on the details," said Billy Hewett, director of policy for the international affairs section of the CFIA, the federal food safety agency....
Western premiers say Ottawa must get tough with U.S. on mad cow Western premiers are calling on the federal government to be more aggressive about dealing with the U.S. government on the ongoing mad cow crisis. Live Canadian cattle have been banned from the U.S. and other international markets since a northern Alberta cow tested positive in May 2003 for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the scientific name for mad cow disease. A recent Statistics Canada study says the U.S. ban on Canadian beef has made cattle-farming families poorer. The report found that the border closure sliced incomes by an average of one-third. Canada's largest cattle farms lost an average of $220,000 each, and a typical family farm lost about $20,000. Both Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert and Alberta Premier Ralph Klein said the federal government needs to come up with a plan in the eventuality the border remains closed for a long time....
Canada PM Comments Unfounded Canada still has shown no proof that it was U.S. feed that infected a cow last year with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad-cow disease, FDA officials told DTN on Friday. The allegation was made by Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin in a speech Wednesday in Idaho. "When BSE, or mad cow, was discovered in a Canadian cow, some chose to ignore the fact that in all probability, the feed that gave it the disease came from the United States and consequently, the border was closed," he was quoted as saying. "This is the first time that we have heard the allegation," Linda Grassie of the FDA/Center for Veterinary Medicine stated in an email. Grassie was quick to point out neither the investigation conducted by the Canadian government nor the U.S. government indicated that feed or feed ingredients from the U.S. were implicated in the feeding of these animals....
NEWS ROUNDUP

Forest Service OKs Plan to Log Trees The U.S. Forest Service signed off on a plan Thursday to log thousands of acres of trees killed by a huge forest fire in 2002 -- a decision that will probably bring a legal challenge from environmentalists. Under the plan, loggers will be allowed to cut 370 million board feet of timber, enough to build 24,000 homes, from about 20,000 acres of federal land over the next two years. That is far less than the timber industry had sought....
Interior Secretary Norton Releases Report Showing Record Funding to Support National Parks Interior Secretary Gale Norton today released a report showing record levels of funds are being invested to increase staff and improve facilities at America's national parks, including more than 4,000 improvement projects. "The Park Service's operations budget of $1.8 billion is 20 percent higher than when President Bush took office," Norton said. "The budget has more funds per employee, per acre, and per visitor than at any time in the history of the National Park Service." Overall, the President's budget request for park operations and construction at $2.4 billion for 2005 is 20 percent higher than 2001....
Bullfrog invasion threatens British Columbia amphibians The bullfrogs are coming. The bullfrogs are coming. It's no joke, say scientists concerned with the spread of the nonnative amphibians, which are native to the eastern United States, grow as big as dinner plates and eat anything they can fit into their mouths - including ducklings, garter snakes, songbirds and mice. "In their place, they're fine," said Trudy Chatwin, an endangered species biologist with the British Columbia Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, "but here they've just gone explosive."....
For Saving Endangered Prairie Dogs, It’s the Eleventh Hour The prairie dog may soon go the way of the bison. Prairie dogs once occupied 700 million acres throughout the Great Plains. Poisoning campaigns on most Western rangelands between 1920 and 1970 cut that range to two percent of what it had been historically. There are five species of prairie dog, and all of them are native to North America. Their situation can best be described as perilous, even with some present or pending protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The status of white-tailed dogs is under federal review. Black-tailed dogs are candidates for listing. The Utah prairie dog is classified as “threatened,” and the Mexican as “endangered.” The Gunnison’s lacks all protection....
Column: Operation Prairie Storm Like the Bush administration’s reaction following revelations of Iraqi prisoner abuse, some in the hunting community will undoubtedly dismiss the prairie dog “hunts” described in our cover story this issue as the work of “a few bad apples.” Perhaps so, but just as the events at Abu Ghraib are only one of the ugly faces of war, hunting, even when not conducted by beer-swilling slobs from pickup trucks, involves a great amount of killing, suffering and death. Regardless of how much spin we employ to legitimize it, war is hell and so is hunting....
Wildfire threatens endangered squirrels The littlest potential victim of two wildfires on Arizona's Mount Graham could be an endangered type of red squirrel that has been living on the peak since the Ice Age. The world's only colony of Mount Graham red squirrels — numbering fewer than 300 — has been threatened in recent days by flames lapping toward the animals' spruce and fir forest near the 10,700-foot summit....
Judge granted biologist immunity A U.S. District Court judge ruled in a trespassing case last week that a federal wolf biologist's work should be protected under "sovereign immunity" because the agent was simply doing his job. Judge Alan Johnson surprised wolf foes around the state June 30 when he agreed with defense attorneys that U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Mike Jimenez should be protected from prosecution under federal immunity. "I find that federal immunity applies in this case to bar prosecution in the state court for trespass and littering," Johnson said when he dismissed the case orally from the bench....
Outbreak at Yellowstone blamed on norovirus More than 130 visitors and workers became ill in Yellowstone National Park in late June during an outbreak of a highly infectious virus at Old Faithful and Lake. The cause of the illnesses appears to be a norovirus, a group of viruses that can cause stomach flu, also known as gastroenteritis. It's the same bug that has sickened hundreds on cruise ships and caused earlier outbreaks at Yellowstone and Grand Canyon national parks....
BLM seeks coal, methane accord Sixty-nine thousand acres of leases bordering Campbell County's coal mines have been designated as "conflict administration zones" because of their potential for coalbed methane development. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is sending out letters to lessees involved, including all 14 of the county's coal mines - the first step toward resolving a long-standing conflict between the Powder River Basin's coal and methane industries. The policy offers methane producers in the conflict zones to apply for a reduction in federal royalties they pay on gas produced in exchange for shutting down operations if a coal mine needs to expand across the area....
Deal struck to preserve scenic Glenwood Canyon ranch After three years, a $5.1 million deal has been closed to preserve a 4,800-acre historic ranch at the eastern mouth of central Colorado's Glenwood Canyon. The agreement made final Wednesday will place a conservation easement on a 4,313-acre portion of the ranch and allow the government to acquire a 512-acre parcel along the Colorado River for recreational purposes. The agreement preserves sheep- and guest-ranch operations, along with some of the last undisturbed wildlife migration corridors for mule deer, elk, black bear and mountain lion along Interstate 70....
Survey: N.M. Voters Favor Richardson Otero Mesa Proposal Over Federal Plan by Wide 63%-23% Margin Fewer than one in four registered voters in New Mexico -- including under half (47 percent) of Republicans -- favor a controversial U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plan to permit extensive oil and gas drilling in the fragile Otero Mesa region, which sits on top of an aquifer that could supply drinking water to 800,000 state residents, according to a new survey conducted by the Albuquerque-based Research & Polling, Inc. (RPI), for the nonprofit and nonpartisan Campaign to Protect America's Lands (CPAL). The environmentally friendly counterproposal for Otero Mesa put forward by Gov. Bill Richardson attracts the support of more than three out of five New Mexico voters (63 percent), according to the survey....
Cross Bar to open to public Seventy-four years after the federal government acquired the Cross Bar Ranch in Potter County, its 12,000 acres are about to be formally opened to the public - if you're willing to jump through a few hoops. The public already knows the property is there, regularly breaking down fences and crossing other government land to get to it. The visitors are damaging what the Bureau of Land Management called "the unique natural resources present" through overuse....
Goshutes protest handling of Range Creek The Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians on Wednesday issued a statement questioning whether the land transfer of property in eastern Utah containing ancient Fremont Indian sites violated U.S. historic preservation laws. Leon Bear, chairman of the band, and Melvin Brewster, tribal historic preservation officer, said the transfer of land, from private to federal to state ownership, violated the National Historic Preservation Act, the Indian Sacred Sites Act and the Native American Grave and Repatriation Act. "It was done in complete silence and secrecy as if native Indians of Utah do not exist," the pair said in the statement....
New BLM rules put on hold A proposal to give federal rangers more authority over drug and alcohol-related crimes on Nevada's public lands was postponed Thursday, allowing 90 more days for public comment. The new rules would empower Bureau of Land Management rangers to cite and arrest people for such crimes as driving while under the influence and possession of alcohol by a minor. Since those aren't federal crimes, BLM rangers currently can only enforce them by making a citizens arrest....
Labor Environment Alliance Announces Multi-State Grassroots Effort to Defeat Lieberman-McCain Legislation The Labor Environment Alliance (LEA) today launched a national grassroots effort to defeat the Lieberman-McCain Climate Stewardship Act and thereby protect the American jobs that would be jeopardized by the passage of this misguided legislation. LEA is a joint educational effort of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy. The Lieberman-McCain approach would classify carbon, one of the most abundant and natural elements on Earth, as a pollutant. In doing so, energy prices will skyrocket, and American jobs will be unnecessarily lost as a result. "By working together, environmentalists and the labor community can find solutions to these problems which meet our environmental objectives without sacrificing jobs," said LEA board member, and former Sierra Club Executive Director, Douglas Wheeler....
Column: Terrorist Tree Huggers Ron Arnold -- the father of America's "wise use" movement -- is back. And this time he's adding accusations of terrorism to his arsenal. Consider the following: On June 8, the FBI distributed its weekly intelligence bulletin to some 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country, warning that eco-terrorists were planning a "day of action and solidarity" that could involve violent actions in a number of U.S. cities. And in early June, Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., introduced the "Ecoterrorism Act of 2004" which intends to "protect and promote public safety and interstate commerce." All of these stories have Ron Arnold's fingerprints on them. With friends in the Bush administration, a recent Playboy magazine interview under his belt, a series of radio appearances and PowerPoint presentations at industry-association gatherings, and a new anti-terrorism consulting contract, Arnold is back riding high in the anti-environmentalism saddle....
Mesa considering sale of its Pinal water farm A 19-square-mile piece of Pinal County that Mesa picked up years ago in a controversial land deal may now become expendable. The city is studying whether to keep its 12,000-acre Pinal County farmland for future water rights or take advantage of land prices in that region by selling it off piecemeal to developers....
Editorial: Another CUP milestone If it weren't for the much debated and revised Central Utah Project, Utah's six-year drought likely would be a monumental disaster instead of -- so far -- mostly an inconvenience. From the time it was first proposed in the 1950s as part of the Colorado River Storage Act, the CUP has been a topic of vigorous debate over who should benefit from it, who should pay for it and how its effects on the environment should be mitigated....
Seven homesites for sale on protected ranchland A group in Albuquerque has found a way to maintain a ranch in western New Mexico and develop it as well. Conservation Design Partners led efforts to protect the 30,800-acre Montosa Ranch near Magadelena in central New Mexico through a conservation easement that will be monitored and enforced by the New Mexico Land Conservation Collaborative. They were assisted by the Southern Rockies Agricultural Land Trust. The site is near the Very Large Array radio astronomy observatory and the Cibola National Forest, 70 miles southwest of Albuquerque. Under the plan, Montosa Ranch retains the right to sell seven 640-acre homesites where owners can only build within a prescribed 10-acre area. The rest of the homesite remains unfenced and available for ranching activities....
Supreme Court stalls exhumation of ranch scion The state's highest court on Thursday put on hold the exhumation of rancher John G. Kenedy, stalling a Corpus Christi man's quest to try to prove the supposedly sterile ranch scion was his grandfather. The 400,000-acre, oil-rich ranch is valued at up to a half billion dollars. It is now controlled by two charities that distribute money to Catholic charities throughout Texas. "They did stay the proceeding," Supreme Court of Texas spokesman Osler McCarthy said. "The exhumation is off, and they'll consider the petitions in due course." The exhumation to obtain DNA evidence was set for Saturday at the cemetery at the Kenedy Ranch at Sarita, about 60 miles south of Corpus Christi....
Texas cowboy blazes his own trail to the Stampede Rattlesnakes. Wild horses. Sinkholes. Bad weather. Worse weather. You name it, James (Hoot) Gibson has encountered it during his 4,000-kilometre journey to Calgary on horseback. "I've been told I'm crazy," the 50-year-old cowboy from Bandera, Tex., said during a break at his camp on the outskirts of Calgary. "Who would ride a horse all the way from South Texas to go to a rodeo?"....
Former dude wrangler recalls Nevada's quickie divorce era Like the classy Eastern socialites who visited the dusty Nevada ranch where William McGee was a dude wrangler, McGee and his wife, Sandra, are an unlikely pairing. William McGee, a Montana-born wrangler and Navy veteran, and Sandra McGee, a film buff from Southern California, teamed up to write "The Divorce Seekers: A Photo Memoir of a Nevada Dude Wrangler." Alongside more than 500 photos, William McGee first documents his time in Tahoe working at a deer hunters' pack station, behind what is now Alpine Meadows. In Part Two of "Divorce Seekers," he recalls his experience as a dude wrangler in the late '40s at the Flying ME, a Nevada ranch where Eastern socialites and celebrities would stay for six weeks to be eligible for Nevada's state-sanctioned quickie divorce....
Ropin’ fool Claremore will be the host town for the 2005 Wild West Arts Club convention and competition. WWAC embodies the spirit of western arena arts and is more than 700 members strong. At last year’s convention in Las Vegas, more than $6,000 in cash and prizes were distributed to contestants in trick and fancy roping, whip cracking, knife and tomahawk throwing and gun handling. Registrants came from all over the world: England, Australia, Germany, Czech Republic, Canada and the United States, according to Allen....

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Do you remember the beginning?

Politicians love to brag about their “humble beginnings”, but few of them have lived through anything like what our parents experienced.

One of my favorite stories about the humble beginnings is a true story of a family’s ranch.

The story goes like this… Floyd started out as a West River sheep man. When he was courting his future wife, she came to visit him one day and asked for a drink of water.

“There’s a water hole down there. That’s where I get my drinking water,” he told her.

When she returned from fetching the water, the bucket was empty. “There is a dead sheep near that water hole. It’s not safe to drink that water,” she warned him.

“You just went to the wrong water hole,” he said as he took the bucket and went for water.

Many years later, he finally admitted to her that there was really only one water hole, but neither of them got sick from drinking out it....
VESICULAR STOMATITIS

For release---July 7, 2004

Vesicular Stomatitis (VS) Caseload Climbs;Disease Detected in Colorado

Three states ­- Texas, New Mexico and Colorado ­- now have confirmed cases of vesicular stomatitis (VS), a sporadic, naturally occurring disease that causes blister-like lesions, that can affect horses, cattle, swine, goats, deer or other animals. The infection is thought to be transmitted by sand flies or black flies and, while usually not fatal, it can cause animals to go off feed, become lame or lose milk production while lesions heal in the animal’s mouth, on the muzzle, teats or above the hooves. Infected animals, and their susceptible herd mates, are restricted to their premises, under a short-term quarantine, to prevent potential animal-to-animal disease transmission.

Colorado State Veterinarian Wayne Cunningham has reported that tests have confirmed infection in two head of cattle and two horses in Las Animas County, in southeastern Colorado, and a horse on a premise in the central part of the state, in Douglas County.

In New Mexico, livestock are quarantined on 11 premises, due to VS infection. These include six premises in the Carlsbad area; three in Valencia County, near Albuquerque; and one in Grant County, in southwestern New Mexico; and one in Cibola County, in the northwestern part of the state.

With the exception of infected cattle on two of the five quarantined premises in Starr County, all cases in Texas involve only horses. Other cases in Texas have been confirmed on one premise each in Reeves, Uvalde, Dimmit, Yoakum and Val Verde counties.

To report potential signs of VS, owners and practitioners should contact their state veterinarian’s office, so a disease Investigation and appropriate testing can be conducted, at no Cost to the livestock owner.

Texas Animal Health Commission -- 1-800-550-8242
New Mexico Livestock Board -- 1-505-841-6161
Colorado Department of Agriculture, State Veterinarian’s Office – 1-303-239-4161
NEWS ROUNDUP

Forest Service Seeks Limits on All-Terrain Vehicles Facing mounting fiscal and environmental costs from damage done by the sevenfold increase in off-road vehicles in national forests in the past 30 years, the Forest Service has for the first time proposed a rule that could eventually limit their use. But an agency spokesmen said Wednesday that no extra money had been set aside to enforce the new regulation. The proposal, announced Wednesday, would require the national forests to restrict off-road vehicles to designated trails. The proposed rule, which is open for comment for 60 days, covers a variety of motorized off-road vehicles, including dirt bikes and four-wheel all-terrain vehicles, but exempts snowmobiles, saying that the impact of these vehicles on snow and the ground beneath is less than those of the all-terrain vehicles on muddy or sandy soil....
Forest Service Releases Draft Off-road Vehicle Rule: Proposal Must be Significantly Strengthened to Address Growing Threats The Sierra Club joined recreation, hunting and other conservation groups across the country in calling the Forest Service’s proposed rules for off-road vehicle use on America’s National Forests largely ineffective. The proposal, designed to govern use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles (ORVs) on America’s 176 National Forests and Grasslands, marks a small step forward but still needs significant strengthening. "The Forest Service has taken a small step by acknowledging the serious threat that unmanaged off-road vehicle use poses to America’s National Forests, wildlife habitat and the millions of people who recreate in these special places," said Karl Forsgaard, Chair of the Sierra Club’s national Recreation Issues Committee....
Column: Forest Service takes right steps Important changes are happening in our region's national forests. For the first time in more than 20 years the U.S. Forest Service is conducting a major overhaul of the way publicly owned forests are managed. New scientific findings, changes in demographics across the west and a recent growth in the number of uncontrolled wildfires offer a clear case for modernizing the outdated policies in place today. Some more extreme environmental groups claim the new changes are little more than a payout to campaign contributors and timber companies....
Firefighting Pilots Held Back By Red Tape, War More than 50 Navy and Marine helicopter pilots are ready to be certified to help fight fires in San Diego County, but the process is being slowed by red tape and the war in Iraq, it was reported today. However, their pilots can't be certified to fight fires with CDF until they make practice flights with CDF personnel on board, CDF Battalion Chief Ray Chaney told the newspaper. One reason the flights haven't happened is because many of those pilots -- no one can say how many -- have been deployed overseas, including combat duty in Iraq, according to the Union-Tribune. Other Navy and Marine helicopter pilots are training in Hawaii and Arizona....
Decades of Federal Mismanagement Increased Forest Fire Hazard, Says NCPA Arizona once-again is spending its summer fighting wildfires. National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett says federal mismanagement of our national forests is to blame for the annual toll that wildfires have wreaked upon the nation. "Decades of mismanagement of our national forests have left them in decline and like a tinderbox, ready to explode," said Burnett. "With the recent enactment of the president's "Healthy Forests" initiative, the government is now finally rushing to do what they should have been doing all along." The U.S. Forest Service estimates that more than 190 million acres of public land is at risk of catastrophic fires. Fully 60 percent of national forest land is unhealthy and faces an abnormal fire hazard. Too many trees and too much brush combined with bureaucratic regulations and lawsuits filed by environmental extremists have hampered the ability of professional foresters to manage the forests properly for the multiple goals of wildlife habitat, recreation and timber production....
Column: Biscuit Fire salvage plan doesn't serve public interest On June 4, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management released their long-awaited final environmental impact statement on salvage logging from the 2002 Biscuit Fire. Many in the scientific and conservation communities were disappointed by the magnitude of the proposed tree-cutting operations in the plan and their impacts on old-growth reserves and roadless areas. The Forest Service plan calls for cutting 372 million board feet of trees from nearly 20,000 acres, including 6,750 acres of late-successional reserves set aside for old growth, and 8,173 acres in roadless areas. About 195 million board feet -- or 53 percent of the total -- comes from inventoried roadless areas....
Rancher says prairie dog poisoning proposal doesn't go far enough A Conata Basin rancher says the state's plan to pay for emergency poisoning of prairie dogs in the basin will not be enough to comply with the state's responsibilities. Charles Kruse of Interior said local ranchers and township boards intend to sue the state over prairie dog management. Gov. Mike Rounds announced last week that the state will spend as much as $93,000 for emergency poisoning of prairie dogs later this year on about 10,500 acres in Conata Basin and Fall River County....
Legislature likely will settle prairie dog issue A controversial state plan to manage prairie dogs likely must go to the South Dakota Legislature for approval, Game, Fish & Parks Secretary John Cooper said Wednesday. GF&P officials released a draft of the plan in late May, saying a final plan would be released this summer. The proposal drew fire from ranchers, who said it didn't provide for enough control of prairie dogs, and from environmentalists, who said it controlled prairie dogs too much. Both sides have threatened lawsuits....
Column: The Self-Discipline of Leaving Room for Nature in the Gulf of Mexico For nearly as long as there have been humans, there have been laws defining the status of animals, reserving certain species for certain uses and certain people. Some of those laws have been unbelievably cruel, like England's game laws in the early 19th century. What they really protected were the property rights of humans, not an animal's right to exist, which humans have barely ever acknowledged. It's a major philosophical shift, then, to put laws on the books that protect an animal from any human use whatsoever. But even laws that make it illegal to shoot songbirds, for instance, often do not offer enough protection. Human activities simply impinge in too many ways on the well-being of animal populations. That is what makes the Endangered Species Act so remarkable. It's an extraordinary monument to human self-awareness as well as to our awareness of the world around us. It says that for certain species — determined by their vulnerability, not by any obvious value to humans — we're willing to place their interests ahead of ours. As an act of conscience, it's hard to beat....
FWS admits science mistakes in determining panther habitat The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday acknowledged that some of the science it used to determine critical Florida panther habitat was flawed. But in its response to a complaint filed by one of its own scientists, the agency stopped short of making changes to its past decisions, saying it did not know about the problems with its data when it assessed eight Florida development projects and constructed conservation and recovery plans for the endangered species....
Judge rules against ranchers in wolf case A judge has thrown out an effort to shut down the Mexican gray wolf reintroduction program after ranching groups alleged there had been wolf attacks on cattle and hybrid breeding with a dog. U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo issued an order Tuesday rejecting a preliminary injunction and saying far more harm would occur if the wolves were denied the survival of their species. She said cattle ranches have legitimate concerns about wolf attacks but that ranchers also have "mitigation measures designed to reduce negative economic impacts caused by the wolf reintroduction program."....
The trees live on In 1783, President Washington commissioned his staff at Mount Vernon to plant sycamore trees on the verdant grounds. More than 220 years later, Mount Vernon horticulturalists have planted a clone of a sycamore tree from that era on the grounds and are cloning other trees already on the property dating to Washington's salad days. At Mount Vernon, horticulturalists have taken tissue samples from 13 trees still standing from George Washington's days in hope of creating replacements when the trees fall from natural disaster or old age. "We'll be able to plant an exact duplicate," says Dean Norton, Mount Vernon's director of agriculture....
Column: Another Attack on the Arctic Thwarted by the public in its efforts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, the Bush administration and the oil companies are now quietly turning their attention to the balance of the Arctic region of Alaska, all the way west to the Chukchi Sea, within sight of Siberia. In advance of its efforts, the administration has jettisoned environmental safeguards and is now threatening the traditional-use rights of the Alaska Natives who have hunted caribou and waterfowl along the Arctic slope for thousands of years. This plan was announced in Anchorage just as Congress recessed for the Reagan funeral. Outside Alaska it has received little notice, not even for its centerpiece — a proposal to lease rights for oil and gas development in Teshekpuk Lake, a body of water that is vital to the region....
BLM conducts horse gathers in northeastern Nevada The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has begun rounding up wild horses from two herd management areas in northeastern Nevada. Diane Hendry of the BLM's Battle Mountain field office said the agency's goal is to round up about 650 horses from the Diamonds Complex near Eureka by the weekend. "We will try to return about 134 back to the range," Hendry said....
Wild horse advocates keep fighting roundups For the 20th consecutive week, wild horse advocates Wednesday took their protest signs to the middle of Carson City. Their message: Federal officials have become overly aggressive in removing wild horses from Nevada’s public lands, threatening their long-term viability. But Bureau of Land Management officials contend they are carefully following the law and are pursuing a goal of thinning wild horses in Nevada to about 14,500 by the end of 2005....
Bush signs law to pay Western Shoshone for ancestral lands A bill to pay Western Shoshone more than 145 million dollars for ancestral lands has been signed into law by President Bush. But some tribal members, including Crescent Valley ranchers Mary and Carrie Dann, say they won't take the money and will continue to fight for the land. Nevada Senator Harry Reid and Republican Congressman Jim Gibbons hailed the signing of the law authorizing payments as being long overdue. An apparent majority of the 6,000 eligible tribe members support the measure, contending that seeking the return of millions of acres is not realistic and the money would help buy basic necessities....
EnCana to drill more than 100 gas wells EnCana Oil and Gas plans to drill 114 natural-gas wells over a two-year period, beginning this year, on more than 4,000 acres in the Grass Mesa area south of Rifle. The company recently submitted a geographic area proposal to the Bureau of Land Management that calls for 80 wells on federal lands and 34 on private lands in the area. The wells would be in addition to any others not affected by federal mineral leasing in the area. The development proposals are required by the BLM for federal oil- and gas-lease operations....
Mexicali Valley farmers fear groundwater loss when U.S. lines canal For more than five decades, water from California has fed the wells of this flat and arid agricultural stretch of northern Mexico. But the flow may stop, and farmer José Leopoldo Hurtado is worried. A U.S. water conservation plan taking shape just miles from his wheat fields means less water will percolate through the sandy soil into Mexicali's underground water supply, threatening crops that are the lifeblood of Baja California's richest agricultural region....
Bureau: No water to spare for fish The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has nixed a proposal to send a big glug of water down the Klamath River to flush salmon out to sea. Too little water is flowing into Upper Klamath Lake, and most of the fish are already down the river, officials said. "We just don't have enough water to make it effective," said Cecil Lesley, chief of land and water operations for the Klamath Reclamation Project. In early June, downstream tribes and other groups at a science conference in Arcata asked for a one- or two-day "pulse" of water from Iron Gate Dam in Siskiyou County....
Ruling damages potential for sales of water A state judge has dealt a setback to water speculators, ruling they cannot seek to reclassify water rights from agricultural to municipal unless they have a contract to sell them. State Water Judge Dennis Maes' ruling last week means cities and others that want to buy agricultural water rights would have no guarantee that the water court would approve the new use of the water, experts said....
State: Pecos won't get water rights Water rights can't be saved for later. Use it or lose it. That is the law when it comes to water rights in New Mexico. Those with water rights must prove they are using the water to retain the water rights. The Village of Pecos and Phelps Dodge Mining Company got a painful reminder of this aspect of the law recently when the State Engineer's Office denied a request by the mining company to transfer 20 acre-feet of water to the village. The State Engineer's Office said the water rights no longer existed because they hadn't been used. The decision means the village will not get the 20 acre-feet of water it was to receive from the mining company. It also means the company may lose more than 2,200 acre-feet of water rights it thought it owned....
Western writers examine outdoor themes at fest Mary Zeiss Stange is trying to set the "literary and historical records straight." In the book "Heart Shots, Women Write About Hunting," Stange has brought together a collection of stories - some historical, others contemporary - to bring "to light some of the best women's writing about hunting in English over the past century." The public will get a chance to hear more about the topic Friday at 3 p.m. at the Yellowstone Art Museum when Stange will moderate a panel as part of the High Plains BookFest. Susan Ewing of Bozeman, Sandra Dal Poggetto of Helena and Eileen Clarke of Townsend, all contributors to the book, will join Stange. The panel discussion is one of many touching on outdoor topics during the two-day Billings bookfest....
Cowboy dies at rodeo while trying to calm bronco A cowboy who died after his horse was toppled by a bucking bronco at a rodeo was being remembered for having a "heart as big as Texas." Randy Tribitt, 54, of Hillman, died Sunday when his horse was knocked over by a bronco at the Little Britches Rodeo in Elk River. Tribitt flew face-first into the hard-packed dirt of the arena floor, a witness said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Tribitt's job was to ride his horse alongside the bucking one to lift riders to safety if they rode to the end of their allotted time, said rodeo spokeswoman Anne Glidden. Tribitt had worked and performed in rodeos for more than two decades, she said....
Mortensen: 6 horses, 48 seconds If your work is riding six bucking horses for a total of 48 seconds. Mortensen had the most profitable July Fourth weekend, known as "Cowboy Christmas,'' of all the professional rodeo athletes in the United States and Canada. The six-time world saddle bronc champion came home Monday with $27,519 stuffed in his pockets....
Cattle, cowboys and cast iron And more than 100 years later, chuck wagons are still used in some parts of the West, on large ranches and in remote areas during cattle roundups and branding time. But the romance of chuck-wagon cooking lives on with the hobbyists and historical re-enactors who restore chuck wagons or build replicas of them – and who demonstrate traditional chuck-wagon cooking techniques at gatherings, catered events and cook-offs held across the West, from Texas and the other Southwestern states northward to Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and even Canada....

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

NEWS ROUNDUP

D.C. judge denies venue change A Washington, D.C., judge has rejected a request that a lawsuit led by Montanans for Multiple Use against the Flathead National Forest be moved to a federal court in Montana. Environmental groups that have intervened in the case wanted it moved to Missoula. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Roberts rejected that request on Friday....
Edwards Praised by Sierra Club for Environmental Leadership John Edwards is a leader on protecting Americans' health and safety. In a 2003 Earth Day release Edwards stated, "our country needs real leadership on many critical issues: safeguarding the water our children drink, preserving our national parks and forests, and achieving energy independence while addressing dangerous climate changes are just a few." In the Senate, Edwards has built a strong record on these and other environmental issues....
Rainbows celebrate 'Interdependence Day' Members of the Rainbow Family gathered Sunday in the South Warner Mountains in the Modoc National Forest for its annual communion while the rest of the nation celebrated Independence Day. "We look at this as our day of interdependence," said a 30-something who has taken the name Aviathar, but goes by Vee. "We recognize how dependent we are on each other." Forest Service officials put the gathering's attendance at approximately 16,000 people, admitting the estimate was probably low....
Environmentalists rally in Medford against Biscuit salvage About 200 people rallied Tuesday in Medford to call on the US Forest Service to drop salvage logging plans for the Biscuit fire. Jasmine Minbashian of the Northwest Old Growth Campaign says the plan to log burned timber was a trojan horse for outdated ideas of how to deal with forests and fire....
Forest Service releases plan for historic OTO dude ranch The Forest Service wants to keep the historic OTO dude ranch near Yellowstone National Park a low-key place and protect the buildings. The plan for Montana's first dude ranch became formal with release of an environmental assessment subject to public comment until Aug. 1. The OTO became public property 14 years ago, and Gallatin National Forest officials have been trying to figure out what to do with it....
Decade after Storm King tragedy, families gather to pay tribute Parents and children of the 14 firefighters killed when a wildfire exploded and trapped them on Storm King mountain 10 years ago returned to the site of the tragedy today to remember their loved ones. "It's kind of bittersweet, but it's nice to see the other families," said Kathy Brinkley, whose son Levi died in the fire....
Corps agrees to BPA's summer dam spill plan A federal plan that continues to protect Columbia Basin fish while reducing summer spill at four Columbia and Snake river dams was given the go-ahead Tuesday by Brig. Gen. William T. Grisoli, Northwestern Division Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps decision cites a favorable findings letter issued by NOAA Fisheries that concludes the proposed spill and flow modifications meet the needs of affected fish listed under the Endangered Species Act....
Western Governors Say Wait on Sage Grouse Listing Eleven western governors have asked federal authorities not to grant a special protected status to the greater sage grouse -- a move that could threaten oil and gas drilling in the Rocky Mountains -- until local groups finish studying the issue, officials said on Tuesday. The governors in a letter to the service said local communities were already taking steps to protect the sage grouse and that 64 local groups had been formed to study the problem. "In the West, we are witnessing an unprecedented conservation effort," the governors said in their letter....
Editorial: Stop grousing, Norton, about protecting bird The Rio Grande has its silvery minnow. The Pacific Northwest has its spotted owl. And now the Western prairie - including New Mexico - might have its sage grouse. Last month, during the Western Governors' Association meeting in Santa Fe, Interior Secretary Gale Norton warned the bird's numbers have dwindled to a point the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's hand is being forced - again. It might need to protect the once-abundant game bird under federal law, specifically the Endangered Species Act. Oh, my!....
Salamander expected to nix Calif. project Concerns over the California tiger salamander and its habitat may delay a housing project at Fort Ord, Calif., the Monterey Herald reported Tuesday. The project, a 1,400-unit housing facility on a Monterey County controlled part of the former military base, was supposed to break ground next spring....
Editorial: We're losing Missouri water wars For heaven's sake, somebody please buy President Bush a new pair of glasses. His myopic view of Missouri River water management has all the earmarks of a nearsighted man on his way to total blindness due to politics. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently made a big deal out of creating 1,200 acres of shallow-water habitat for the endangered pallid sturgeon on the Missouri River in Nebraska. That was pretty much all that was demanded by U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson, of Minneapolis, as he put his legal rubber stamp on the status quo of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' management plan for the Missouri River....
Coalition plans suit over wolves A coalition of 27 associations and counties from Wyoming and elsewhere plans to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over its handling of wolves and its refusal to approve Wyoming's proposed wolf management plan. The group, calling itself the "Wolf Coalition," sent a notice of intent to file civil suit to the Fish and Wildlife Service last week, saying that a lawsuit would be filed in 60 days for violations of the Endangered Species Act. The group says the federal government has not met its obligations in properly handling wolves and their effects since they were reintroduced to the northern Rocky Mountains in 1995 and 1996. Wolves have "severely damaged" livestock and wildlife populations along with local agriculture businesses, the coalition says. The group says the wolf population has far exceeded original goals and Wyoming should not be forced to allow them to spread across the state....
Bison Range agreement unveiled The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes on Tuesday released details of their long-anticipated agreement on management of the National Bison Range at Moiese. The first year of the agreement calls for tribal management of some maintenance, educational and visitor-service activities. About eight to 10 maintenance employees will be affected and come under tribal management in fiscal year 2005. Subsequent annual agreements could expand tribal authority....
Lethal order issued for male Mexican gray wolf Fish and Wildlife Service officials authorized the killing of a male Mexican gray wolf that has killed at least five cattle since late March. Victoria Fox, a communications officer for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said wolf M574 committed three confirmed livestock depredations on the San Carlos Apache Reservation with his mate, F797. Since then, Fish and Wildlife Service officials issued a lethal take order for M574 and captured F797. Fox said the take order is only the third issued since the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project's inception in 1998....
Editorial: Whipping boys for past mistakes A decision by the federal government and state of Utah to sue the Boy Scouts of America for $14 million to recover the costs of fighting a 2002 wildfire that members of one troop are suspected of inadvertently setting smells suspiciously like scapegoating to us. It's not necessarily out of line for the government to hold people responsible for malicious or criminally negligent actions that result in wildfires. And the Boy Scouts, no doubt, make a tempting target for example-making, given their high national profile and deep pockets. But if we really want to get serious about holding people accountable for the precarious, disease- and fire-prone state of our national forests, the search for likely culprits leads right back to the government's door....
Greenpeace boat docks in Portland The Arctic Sunrise, a former Norwegian sealing ship, docked Friday near the Morrison Bridge in Portland, the only stop in the contiguous United States on the boat's trip to Alaska later this month. The boat was open for tours Sunday and Monday, with a slated departure time of early afternoon today. Greenpeace workers planned the stop as part of the organization's project to draw attention to logging on public land, including possible logging in areas burned in 2002 by the 500,000-acre Biscuit fire in Southern Oregon. A rally at noon today will further highlight the group's concerns....
Hahn Moves to Preserve Owens Valley Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn called Tuesday for the creation of a land conservancy that would ban any future development on 500 square miles of the Owens River Valley in the eastern Sierra Nevada — the same land the city secretly acquired a century ago in order to obtain the water rights. Under the mayor's proposal to "preserve 320,000 acres of natural beauty in the Owens Valley," the city would retain the water rights but establish a conservation easement that would ensure that the area remained in a natural state, probably open to the same general uses — fishing, hunting, hiking and grazing by local ranchers — that are currently permitted....
Housing project starts water fight along the San Joaquin A developer building on the banks of the San Joaquin River intends to use decades-old contracts originally given to farmers to siphon river water into a new housing development, drawing opposition - and lawsuits - from an unlikely coalition of farm interests, environmentalists and government agencies. "We never dreamed that they would be able to use riparian rights to build subdivisions," said Bud Rank, 82, a retired farmer who was born and raised on the banks of the San Joaquin....
Report sounds alarm on wilderness Lawmakers are working to permanently protect a big chunk of mountainous terrain in eastern Snohomish County, but environmentalists are worried that effort might fail. That's why environmentalists listed the proposed Wild Sky Wilderness north of Index and Skykomish in a national report that describes a dozen natural "treasures in trouble." The report, compiled by the campaign, extols the natural beauty of 12 places from Virginia to Alaska, where groups or lawmakers are trying to create new wildernesses....Go here to see the report...
Texas legal drama unfolds This weekend, if Corpus Christi Medical Examiner Ray Fernandez has his way, a couple dozen lawyers, medical experts and reporters will congregate at a small cemetery here to watch the exhumation of a famous Texas rancher — perhaps the initial step in opening a Pandora's box of Texas history. Mr. Fernandez, 44, on behalf of his mother, Ann, has sued one of Texas' wealthiest foundations, claiming that its namesake, John G. Kenedy, was the father of Mr. Fernandez's mother, the love child of a maid in the Kenedy household. Mr. Kenedy, grandson of one of the co-founders of the famed King Ranch just a few miles south of here and owner of La Parra, a 400,000-acre spread that once was the second largest in the state, died in 1948....
It's All Trew: Frugality way of life for pioneer families One frugal practice was never throwing anything away. People collected bits of string, tied them together, rolled them into a ball and stored them behind a trivet hanging on the wall. All wrapping paper was ironed flat with a hot iron and stored on a shelf in the pantry. Paper sacks were folded carefully and stored. Excess paper, such as old mail, was rolled into a tube, tied with twine and used as kindling to start a fire. Clothing was hemmed up, let out, cuffs turned up or down, holes patched in knees or the legs cut off, collars turned around and sewed back on again. When the clothing was completely used up, it was cut apart for quilt scraps or into long strips for floor-mop heads....

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

IRS Toughens Scrutiny of Land Gifts

The Internal Revenue Service announced yesterday that it is cracking down on improper tax deductions taken by people who give real estate and cash to environmental groups, warning that taxpayers could face penalties and charities could lose their tax-exempt status.

The IRS is specifically targeting gifts of "conservation easements" -- deed restrictions that limit some types of real estate development. The easements have become the environmental movement's key tool for preserving fragile ecosystems and millions of acres of open space.

The IRS is focusing on easements that have questionable public benefit or have been manipulated to generate inflated deductions.

"We've uncovered numerous instances where the tax benefits of preserving open spaces and historic buildings have been twisted for inappropriate individual benefit," IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson said in a statement. "Taxpayers who want to game the system and the charities that assist them will be called to account."

The IRS warned that it intends to levy penalties on charity executives and board members who collect or knowingly help secure improper deductions claimed in connection with such transactions.

The announcement did not name individual taxpayers or charities. It comes as the IRS is conducting a major audit of the Arlington-based Nature Conservancy, the world's largest environmental organization....
Man refuses state's millions to keep swampy Florida home

"It ain't been an easy life, but I love it. I really do. This is my home," said Hardy, a 68-year-old former Navy SEAL. "I couldn't trade it for nowhere else. It's irreplaceable."

But Hardy's 160 acres sit in the path of what is perhaps the nation's most ambitious environmental project ever, a 30-year effort to restore the natural water flow to the Everglades.

For years, state officials have quietly negotiated with Hardy to come up with a price for a piece of land that many consider worthless — and one man considers priceless. He has adamantly refused, even as the offers have doubled and tripled into the millions of dollars....
WESTERN STATES WATER, ISSUE NO. 1572

ENVIRONMENT/LITIGATION
In Re: American Rivers and Idaho Rivers United

On June 22, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) must formally respond to a petition from environmental groups asking the agency to formally consult with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) over hydropower operations affecting threatened and endangered salmon in the Snake River Basin. Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) section 7, all federal agencies are required to consult with either the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or NOAA Fisheries when an agency action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat. In 1997, American Rivers and Idaho Rivers United filed a petition with FERC requesting consultation on dam operations in Hells Canyon. The groups wrote they would pursue relief if they received no response within 30 days.

When FERC failed to act, the groups filed for a “rehearing” with the agency, but FERC denied the request for a rehearing, noting “because there has been no order from which to seek rehearing, the rehearing request is premature and must be rejected.” On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed. Citing precedent, the Ninth Circuit held: “Mere inaction by the FERC cannot be transmuted by petitioners into an order rejecting their petition. Administrative action is not reviewable as an order ‘unless and until [it] imposes an obligation, denies a right, or fixes some legal relationship as a consummation of the administrative process.’” Following the failed appeal, the environmental groups repeatedly requested FERC to either grant the 1997 petition and initiate section 7 consultation, or deny the petition. The groups then sought a writ of mandamus from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit compelling formal action. The court granted the writ.

FERC defended its inaction, claiming that it had no duty to respond to a petition for agency action merely because a party requests it. The court ruled that pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act, the agency was bound to respond to the petition. The three-judge panel wrote: “We are not concerned here with what answer FERC might ultimately give...rather, we are reviewing its failure to give them any answer for more than six years.... There is no per se rule as to how long is too long to wait for agency action, but a reasonable time for agency action is typically counted in weeks or months, not years. This court has stated generally that a reasonable time for an agency decision could encompass months, occasionally a year or two, but not several years or a decade. FERC’s six year plus delay is nothing less than egregious.” The court ordered FERC to formally respond to the petition within 45 days.

American Rivers and Idaho Rivers United, applauded the decision. “The court has told FERC in very strong terms that it can’t avoid its responsibilities to protect endangered species by sticking its head in the sand,” said Connie Kelleher of American Rivers.
NEWS ROUNDUP

Firm to create habitat after spill A Pepco oil spill in Maryland is enabling federal officials to preserve more grassland in northeastern South Dakota. "Instead of requiring the oil company to just pay a bunch of money, they are required to restore habitat," Valerie Fellows of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Chesapeake Bay office in Annapolis, Md., said....
Beavers rebound, strengthen habitat Beavers are by no means scarce in Portland and many other North American cities, rebounding from centuries of trapping for their once-coveted pelts. The official state animal of Oregon has become a frustrating nuisance in the eyes of some property owners and city maintenance crews, with its habit of devouring prized landscaping and building unexpected lakes....
Herseth tour churns up questions about Casey ranch sale The on-again, off-again expansion plan for Wind Cave National Park took an interesting turn Monday on the wheels of an all-terrain vehicle driven by U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth. Although the park expansion seemed to spin out four weeks ago when members of the Casey family of Rapid City confirmed they had tentatively accepted a private purchase offer for their ranch — a stunning piece of pasture, forest and craggy canyons that would form the bulk of the park's 5,675-acre expansion — Herseth's visit to the ranch suggested the deal might not be done....
Teton County is No. 1 public playground Because of its wealth of high-quality public lands, Teton County has been ranked the top recreation area in the nation. The ranking as the No. 1 public playground came from Colorado College's 2004 "State of the Rockies Report Card." "Jackson, Wyo., located within Teton County, may be the supreme location for recreation in the United States," the report states. "Positioned as a gateway to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, and at the base of the world-renowned Jackson Hole ski resort, it is difficult to imagine a better place for the outdoor enthusiast or second-home owner."....
Lives lost, lessons learned The small mistakes, oversights, misjudgments and petty turf battles piled up for four days, unnoticed or ignored. They came together in one confused, terrifying moment at 4:11 p.m. July 6, 1994. At that minute, investigators later determined, 12 young firefighters who had been cutting a fire line high on Storm King Mountain near Glenwood Springs realized they couldn’t outrun a wall of smoke and flame that unexpectedly had blown up the hillside at them, fanned by 45-mph winds, and all 12 died....
Anger, bitterness still resonate with firefighter’s parents The fire line is still visible, cut in subtle arcs across the western flank of the mountain. It is kept alive by volunteers who trim the shiny, green oak brush to honor those who dug it. It is kept alive by death. It is a line smokejumper Don Mackey and others decided to build downhill on a steep slope that fateful day 10 years ago. It was a decision, in the eyes of some, made by someone who was overly aggressive....
Survivors forever changed by fire The embers of the Storm King Fire still burn inside the 35 people who escaped its wrath. Some took the red-hot pain and turned it into their passions, their careers. Others tried to smother the coals of remembrance, but they still glow, reminding them of the fire’s fury. The way they dealt with the aftermath of the fire determined their identities 10 years later....
Column: Keeping public lands open In the two centuries since Lewis wrote those words, much has transformed our country. Tiny outposts grew into great cities, and Indian trails became modern highways linking every corner of our nation. Yet today, the "visionary enchantment" Lewis experienced still beckons millions of Americans who take to the outdoors to enjoy the wonders of great open spaces. That's why it troubles us that access to many of the nation's public lands is being closed to recreational activity. Our organization, Americans for Responsible Recreational Access (ARRA), was founded because of a growing concern about the alarming number of closures....
Climbers support temporary ban at Cave Rock An advocacy group for climbers is urging its members to temporarily refrain from scaling Cave Rock at Lake Tahoe through the summer while its lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service is pending. The Forest Service had asked The Access Fund to support a voluntary climbing closure during July and August “to protect the area during this high use time of the summer,” according to a statement issued by the Forest Service....
Column: The cougar problem is more manageable than we think The mountain lion attack on a woman hiking in Sequoia National Forest last week makes it clear that California wildlife policy must change: What we need, to solve the cougar problem, is predator managers (i.e., hunters or trappers) to achieve a balance between predator and natural prey -- not human prey. Many environmentalists acknowledge that California is losing its mule deer. The fact is we are losing all deer, mule and blacktail, as well as bighorn sheep, kit foxes and wild turkeys. The reason for these losses is no predator management -- not people, as most biologists want you to believe, encroaching on habitat....
Lake Powell's low level threatens power supply Plummeting water levels in Lake Powell have drastically slashed electricity generation at the reservoir's Glen Canyon Dam, forcing power authorities to cut deliveries to utilities from the Colorado Front Range to Provo, Utah. Federal officials fear that $100 million worth of hydropower generated annually by Lake Powell could dry up completely by 2009 if dam managers continue releasing water at pre-drought rates....
The globalization of thirst It's a story about control. Not over oil or land, but over water. Who needs it? Who owns it? How much will it cost? The PBS Point of View documentary "Thirst" dives into the world's next global currency. Filmmakers Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman slash between Bolivia, India and California, examining the increasing privatization of the precious resource....
City: 50-year Jicarilla lease vital to tapping Rio Grande A plan by the city of Santa Fe to lease water rights from the Jicarilla Apache Tribe is essential to the community’s efforts to divert water directly from the Rio Grande, officials said Friday. The proposed lease calls for the city to pay the tribe $1.5 million a year for 3,000 acre feet of water — about one-fifth of the city’s current water usage. The price will fluctuate in the future depending on market conditions....
Dreams turn to dust: Drought, neglect bury a community in sand Successive years of severe drought wiped out the vegetation on the unoccupied -- and upwind -- portion of their Escalante Valley Ranchos subdivision. The neighborhood has become a wasteland of fine gray sand. With wind a constant phenomenon in this part of the state, the sand and dust have been assaulting Welsch and his two dozen neighbors for more than two months. It is a small-scale dustbowl, and someday it could spread across the Escalante Valley if farmers now cultivating thousands of acres of alfalfa and grain here go out of business or lose their water rights....
Vesicular stomatitis detected at three more sites Horses on a total of nine sites in Texas and four premises in New Mexico are known to be infected with vesicular stomatitis, announced officials with the Texas Animal Health Commission. Vesicular stomatitis is a painful blistering disease of livestock, such as horses, sheep, swine and deer. The viral disease appears spontaneously and sporadically in the southwestern U.S. and is thought to be transmitted by sand flies and black flies. The cases this spring are the first to be confirmed since l998....
Summer with sheep It's the ideal lifestyle for a mountain man. Living out of a tent, cooking on a wood-burning stove, all alone except for a horse, a dog and 1,300 sheep. For Peruvian Aldo Quiñones Inga, it's a job. This summer, Quiñones Inga will make a living tending ewes and lambs in the Weminuche Wilderness. Taking care of sheep can be a nomadic existence. In order to provide them with enough food to fatten them up for selling season, the Brown family herds them high into the mountains....
On The Edge Of Common Sense: PETA says angling is cruel, barbaric Trout Unlimited, an organized group of fly fishermen, takes up the defense of fishing by citing studies that show a behavioral response to noxious stimuli is separate from the psychological experience of pain. If I could give my advice to the TU lawyers, trying to use scientific evidence in a debate with PETA is like trying to potty train a duck. Rule to live by: Don't treat lunatics like reasonable people....

Monday, July 05, 2004

NEWS ROUNDUP

Editorial: Lessons learned from Storm King Mountain Ten years ago, a raging wall of flame and smoke killed 14 brave federal firefighters near Glenwood Springs. Bosses at the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies say that they've absorbed the safety lessons from the Storm King Mountain tragedy and made important changes. But have they? On paper, the decision-making process has become clearer and more focused on protecting the lives of the men and women who battle wild infernos in the nation's forests and on other public lands....
Survivors look back, a decade after Storm King disaster By July 6, 1994, decades of wildfire suppression had forced firefighters to learn how fire behaves in rough terrain with thick vegetation acting as seemingly endless fuel. They had hours of training learning how to avoid getting into trouble where a fire shelter, a lightweight, silver metallic tent, might be needed. Yet 12 of 18 warning signs taught to all firefighters were either ignored or not recognized on Storm King, investigators found. Eight of 10 standard orders issued to ensure safety were not followed. The flames came so quickly that only one of the victims had time to crawl inside a fire shelter to no avail. What happened here that day?....
Ski-area sale triggers boom in Crested Butte In their first six months of ownership of Crested Butte Mountain, the couple have quietly studied the mountain, only recently announcing $6.5 million in improvements for next season. But homeowners, developers and real estate speculators are moving aggressively in their shadow....
Firefighters see impending disaster in woodland homes In California and Oregon, it's an old story: Flaming winds whip through the hills, decimating million-dollar dream homes, panicking communities and leaving dozens of people displaced. But in Western Washington, suburbanites are slowly waking up to the fact that their planned developments tucked into the foothills of Cascade timber forests look like potential disasters to firefighters....
Thompson's resolution focuses on wilderness dams access Adequate motorized access to repair, maintain or even replace the wilderness dams in Ravalli County should have been provided in the language of the Wilderness Act of 1964, and since it wasn't federal lawmakers should change it now, said Ravalli County Commissioner, Alan Thompson. "Technically (wilderness dams) should have been grandfathered because before the wilderness existed there was a need in our valley for irrigation water and without the dams being constructed obviously this valley would look a lot different than it does now," said Thompson. In two weeks, a resolution Thompson wrote for the National Association of Counties will come up for a vote at their annual convention....
Nevada, California in line to get air tankers returning to duty Two of five firefighting air tankers cleared to return to service after being grounded over safety concerns are headed for Nevada and California, federal officials said Saturday. The planes are expected to be stationed out of Battle Mountain, located about 220 miles northeast of Reno, and Lancaster, Calif., Bureau of Land Management officials said. "With only five of the tankers initially going back to service, it was a tough decision on where to station them," said BLM spokeswoman Jo Simpson in Reno....
Counterculture 'Rainbow Family' gathers in California forest to promote world peace This year's annual peace gathering got off to a bad start when one participant was jailed for allegedly beating another nearly to death with a shovel for driving too fast through a campground. But that was an aberration for an event where violations generally involve recreational drugs, occasional nudity or an unleashed dog, said participants and law enforcement officials, who have had 30 years of uneasy relations around the country. On Sunday, the high point of the July 1-7 conclave, more than 16,000 self-described hippies from at least 40 states and eight nations were expected to hold hands in a circle, silently praying for world peace from dawn until noon....
Cabin owners' rebuilding plans left to a lottery In an unprecedented move, forest officials plan to use a lottery system to determine which cabin owners who lost their homes in the 2002 Curve and Williams fires will be allowed to rebuild.
Dozens of cabin owners will have their names picked from a hat to find out which 10 can erect cabins on lots predetermined by the U.S. Forest Service. Forest officials devised the system after concluding they have only 10 or 12 lots available; the other lots are not developable because they are in riparian areas or flood plains, forest officials said....
Endangered Species Act's Protections Are Trimmed The Bush administration has succeeded in reshaping the Endangered Species Act in ways that have sharply limited the impact of the 30-year-old law aimed at protecting the nation's most vulnerable plants and animals, according to environmentalists and some independent analysts. The Bush initiatives, which have ranged from recalculating the economic costs of protecting critical habitats to limiting the number of species added to the protected list, reflect a policy shift that Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton calls the "New Environmentalism."....
Boy Scouts sell lemonade at $250 a glass A Boy Scout troop tried to put a dent in a potential $14 million judgment Friday by selling lemonade — at $250 a glass. The federal and state governments earlier this week sued the Boy Scouts of America to recover costs of the 2002 East Fork fire, allegedly started by Utah Scouts....
Wolves back in Washington? Howl, yes Wolves are about to return to Washington after decades of absence, and federal regulators have begun drafting a plan for their arrival -- addressing what to do when the howling canids scare people or threaten other animals. "It's a good thing to be prepared for that," said Doug Zimmer, information specialist for the Western Washington office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service....
Researchers work to reduce wolf conflicts Removing a few problem wolves from a pack can dampen that pack's taste for livestock, at least in the short term, according to research presented during a recent public meeting. Liz Bradley, a postgraduate researcher, studied wolf and livestock conflicts and found, in part, that wolves generally kill livestock in areas of elk populations. She also said wolf packs that kill cattle have a high probability of killing again. Of packs where some wolves were removed after livestock attacks, 68 percent of packs killed again....
In North Dakota, Pelicans Leave A Breeding Ground for Mystery Yet this year, that perch's vista is instead one of baffling desolation, a plain of baby chick carcasses and hundreds of never-to-hatch eggs simply left behind for the snacking pleasure of hungry coyotes and gulls. In a quirky and unprecedented natural mystery, the world's largest breeding colony for the birds is eerily vacant. The more than 30,000 pelicans that usually spend the summer procreating at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge in central North Dakota returned in their usual droves in April from their winter residence on the Gulf Coast, but then they suddenly dispersed in May after starting an apparently normal breeding season. Nobody knows for sure why....
Fallon tribe seeks protection of prehistoric sites The Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe is pushing for a higher level of federal protection for three prehistoric sites in Churchill County. The tribe wants the Bureau of Land Management to designate the Sand Mountain Recreation Area, Grimes Point Archaeological Area and Stillwater Mountains as areas of critical environmental concern. If the request is granted, the agency would have to create a separate management plan for each....
West Nile virus poses dangers to wildlife Efforts to prevent the spread of West Nile Virus in California shouldn’t ignore the state’s wildlife, including majestic raptors and endangered sheep in the Coachella Valley and statewide, according to one authority. Walter Boyce, director of the Wildlife Health Center at the University of California, Davis, called on West Nile watchers statewide to be alert to the dangers the disease poses to animals, particularly some species of rare birds....
Column: Economic success, ingenuity a recipe for a better environment Simon's work led many other scientists and statisticians to examine environmental claims more critically. Some environmentalists eventually broke with the movement. They saw that the world was not collapsing - that our quality of life is getting better, not worse; that the creation of wealth and technology supports environmental quality, not undercuts it; and that the relationship between man and his environment is less a Darwinian battle than a mutually beneficial interaction powered by human ingenuity. The relationship between environmental quality and economic success breeds ongoing improvement. Quantitatively, we know not only that higher levels of income promote environmental quality but also that the improvement in quality is better than a 1-to-1 ratio. That is, if income rises 10 percent, the demand for environmental quality rises more than 10 percent....
In Montana, Gas Drilling Hits a Rare Roadblock This search, which affects about 60 million American homes that heat with gas, has a guiding rule: If companies can lease land, they can drill it. The rule has proved inviolable, even though the companies' newest drilling technique -- called coal-bed methane extraction -- has often enraged environmentalists and local ranchers by lowering water tables, souring streams with salt and scarring wild lands with wastewater pits and screaming gas compressors. One county in the West has had the temerity and the wherewithal to break the rule of lease it and drill. Not one gas well has been drilled here in Gallatin County, where the Old West ranch culture has been replaced by the recreating ways of the New West bourgeoisie. Affluent, well-educated newcomers from the East and West coasts have bought up and taken over this western Montana county in the past 15 years, turning it into a place where people go outside not to work the land, but to play on it....
Challis ranchers, farmers seem to like proposal Simpson has worked on the plan for more than three years, crafting a package that offers benefits to most of the groups that have fought over the future of the region for more than 30 years. For example, ranchers who give up grazing permits would be paid and motorcyclists would retain most of the trails they use, including a trail that runs through the heart of the Boulder-White Cloud Wilderness. Simpson has proposed transferring more than 1,000 acres of federal land to Custer County, which it could sell to pay for services and economic development....
Column: Wyo. says "no" to more wells The announcement this June that Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal opposed new oil and gas leases in the Upper Green River Valley startled both conservation groups and the oil industry. After all, Wyoming is one of the few states fortunate enough not to face a budget crisis right now, and it's because of oil and gas royalties. Yet, in the state's fastest-growing county of Sublette, even pro-development locals were having second thoughts about one more gas field....
Federal officials open up 1,500 miles of desert to off-roaders The Bureau of Land Management substantially increased the amount of public land open to off-road vehicles in Riverside and San Bernardino counties by approving 1,500 miles of roads in the Mojave Desert. The decision made Friday affects 1.3 million acres in the Mojave Desert and covers a large portion of critical habitat for the endangered desert tortoise. But officials said they made efforts to avoid sensitive areas....
Column: BLM must grapple with an ORV plan after court decision The Supreme Court overruled the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals last month and concluded that conservationists could not use a specific provision of a federal law to force the Bureau of Land Management to protect sensitive public lands, including Wilderness Study Areas, from off-road vehicles. A 1,000-fold increase in ORV use in Utah since the late 1980s had left a wide path of scars, water pollution, soil erosion, cross-country trails, trampled vegetation and teeth-rattling noise that the BLM had ignored for years. Before we filed the lawsuit, the BLM's own ORV expert could not tell us how much BLM land was protected from ORVs (turns out it was a paltry 6 percent); and not a single BLM field office had mapped an ORV trail system, or had a current environmental study of ORV impacts....
Stevens inserts $15,000-an-acre offer in military bill U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens recently slipped $2.5 million into the annual military spending bill to buy 160 acres on the North Slope that belong to Jacob Adams, the president of the powerful Arctic Slope Regional Corp., and two of his siblings. A paragraph Stevens wrote into the Defense Department appropriation bill in June said the Air Force will pay the Adams family in exchange for the land and "in consideration of its unauthorized use and contamination." The $2.5 million cost comes to more than $15,000 per acre....
Editorial: Renew Emerald Mountain effort Two years ago, local activists and government officials came together to preserve Emerald Mountain, a broad, velvety escarpment that rises behind Steamboat Springs. The deal hasn't been completed, though, because of bureaucratic footdragging. The vision and muscle of Interior Secretary Gale Norton is needed to unsnarl the logjam. In 2002, the land board and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management agreed to attempt a property swap. The pact looked like a win-win-win deal for the community, state and federal government. The BLM identified 106 isolated and hard-to-manage federal properties, most of them inaccessible to the public. The bureau planned to sell those parcels to adjacent private landowners and then, using the proceeds, buy Emerald Mountain. That plan would ensure that Emerald would remain open space....
Fort Belknap grazing rates soar After six years of crippling drought and the most brutal winter in 110 years, Doney and other Fort Belknap Reservation ranchers face a 51 percent increase in grazing fees on reservation land. He estimates the increase will cost him $25,000 this year. With the increase, Fort Belknap ranchers pay the highest grazing rate on any reservation in Montana or Wyoming. And they pay more than the average fee for state-owned land, federal Bureau of Land Management property in Montana and private land in the Treasure State....
Deep in drought It’s a drought that’s drying forests in Idaho, killing crops in Wyoming and spreading wildfires in New Mexico. Experts say it may be the West’s worst drought in 500 years, surpassing the Dust Bowl years in places like the Colorado River basin. “There’s really no clear indication when this thing is going to end,” said Don Wilhite, director of the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb.. “It looks like it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.” Some states are now in their sixth year of drought, Nevada is in its fifth. In Southern Nevada, the situation is dire....
Preserving Iosepa's Heritage Hoopiiaina's ancestors were among the first Mormon Polynesian settlers who colonized the area 60 miles west of Salt Lake City in 1889. At its peak, Iosepa (pronounced Yo-seppa) had nearly 300 residents; now what remains is a cemetery. Hoopiiaina, 45, president of the Iosepa Historical Association, travels to Iosepa at least 12 times a year, often spending at least three days every visit....
Marking massacre site shifts direction The little-known massacre occurred in May 1887 at the mouth of Deep Creek where it flows into the Snake River on the Oregon side of Hells Canyon in Wallowa County. The Chinese miners were ambushed by a gang of seven rustlers and schoolboys. The killings still stir deep feelings in Wallowa County, where several of the killers were from well-known families....