Saturday, March 04, 2006


For those of you not familiar with this event, one go round consists of 5 events: heading, tie-down roping, heeling, steer wrestling and steer roping, in that order. There are 5 go rounds or a total of 25 runs per contestant, and a total of 500 runs over the weekend. The timed event champion is the person who completes the 25 runs in the shortest time. First place for the average pays $50,000 and they pay 8 places in the average. They also pay for the fastest rounds at the event, with first paying $10,000 and they pay 6 places in the rounds. Each contestant pays a $3,000 entry fee.

The standings and times of the top ten after two rounds:

1. Cash Myers 120.2
2. Kyle Lockett 132.6
3. K.C. Jones 134.8
4. Jimmie Cooper 145.5
5. Paul Tierney 152.0
6. Steve Duhon 152.3
7. Trevor Brazile 160.2
8. Ryan Jarrett 168.1
9. Casey Branquinho 182.7
10. Jim Locke 183.7

Trevor Brazile has the fastest round so far at 53.9
All the times are unofficial.

Steve Duhon told me he might have been considering making this his last appearance at the TEC, but that now he was here he could see that it was just too good an event to walk away from, so he will keep his options open. He does most of his preparation for the event at Jasper, Texas, but he hadn't tried out the roan steer roping horse until he got here. His tie-down horse is owned by Cooper Shofner. His steer wrestling horse is named Chip, is 14 years old and used by his boys in high school rodeo. The 4 year old paint he is heeling on belonged to his Dad. Bucky Campbell is Duhon's helper in the heading and heeling. Duhon said this was his 11th year at the TEC and he thought the stock looked pretty good. He did say the calves were a little uneven, with some running real hard and others being pups.

Duhon's times in the first round were 7.2,17.1,14.9,4.9 and 31.2 for a total of 75.3 He had to take a second trip on his steer in the steer roping. He had a pretty, smooth run in the second round with a time of 16.6, so it looks like he and that roan will get along just fine.

Some other observations:

Trevor Brazile hickeyed a horn on his heading steer in the first round. He didn't fish it off but grabbed it by the loop to get it off. He looked at the flagger and the flag was still up, so he threw his second loop, completed the run and then was flagged out. I'm just curious why he wasn't flagged out as soon as he touched the loop. Maybe someone who knows the rules better than me can send an email and straighten me out on this.

B.J. Campbell missed his dogging steer in the first round and had to run the length of the arena (the Lazy E is a hugh arena, it is wider than the NFR arena is long) remount and throw the steer before his sixty seconds was up, which he did. What was funny was he took his hat off while running and fanned his butt, just like he would have been spanking his horse. I'll be darned if he didn't miss his dogging steer again in the second round, and had to run the length of the arena again. One wag said if he kept it up he would leave Guthrie in the best shape of his life.

It's nice to see the rodeo family growing in this event. Jake Cooper, one of Jimmie's twins, is his dad's helper in the heading and heeling. Jimmie Cooper Jr is heeling for Kyle Hughes, who is the son of former competitor Paul Hughes. Finally, Paul Tierney's son Jess is heading for him.

I'll try to have the results of rounds 3 and 4 up for you tomorrow night after the 4th performance.

Friday, March 03, 2006


If you tuned in yesterday and wondered why there were no posts, it was because I was travelling to Guthrie to attend the Timed Event Championship.

Went to the opening ceremony this evening and had a nice visit with Jimmie Cooper. He's in great shape as always and we visited about the Frank DuBois Invitational Calf Roping to be held during the NMSU Alumni rodeo this spring. He liked the concept and may be participating...but more on that later. Also heard from a source that this will be Steve Duhon's final appearance at the TEC. I'm meeting with the big cajun steer wrestler tomorrow and will let you know what he says.

Stay tuned for reports from the TEC, Saturday Night At The Westerner and all the rest.


Contact: Shayla Givens
(405) 282-3004


GUTHRIE, Okla., January 17, 2006 – The top 20 timed event cowboys in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) will ride into the Lazy E Arena for the 22 annual Wrangler Timed Event Championship, March 3rd, 4th & 5th. This is pro rodeo’s most unique event and is often referred to as “The Ironman” of pro rodeo — it is a true test of versatility and stamina. Each contestant is required to compete in all five grueling timed events: tie-down roping, steer roping, heading, heeling and steer wrestling.

The Wrangler Timed Event Championship was developed by the Lazy E in 1985 to determine the best all-around timed event cowboy in the world — the man who could stand out in more than his specialty event, the man who could be consistent in all five timed events. Today’s professional rodeo cowboys no longer compete in multiple events, but specialize in one possibly two. This event attracts the biggest names in the rodeo industry that represent 28 World Championship titles, in addition to thousands of fans from across the country.

Each round of competition features excitement with leaders changing after every run, with only seconds separating them. The champion isn’t determined until the last rope is thrown, the flag is dropped and the clock has stopped.

Pro rodeo’s hottest talents make up the most decorated field of champions ever invited, such as: three-time Wrangler Timed Event Champion and three-time PRCA All-Around World Champion, Trevor Brazile; reigning 2005 Wrangler Timed Event Champion, Kyle Lockett; eight-time NFR Qualifier, Cash Myers; and the newly crowned 2005 World All-Around Champion, Ryan Jarrett; as well as top seasoned veterans like: three-time Wrangler Timed Event Champion and 1981 PRCA All-Around Champion, Jimmie Cooper; and four-time Wrangler Timed Event Champions Paul Tierney and K.C. Jones.

The Wrangler Timed Event Championship is scheduled to be broadcast nationwide as a special event on The Horse Television Channel. Broadcast airdates and times will be released at a later date. Former PRCA Announcer of the Year, Clem McSpadden, and former National Finals Rodeo announcer, Bob Feist, will call the action for the 11th straight year.

Performances are March 3rd, noon and 7:30 p.m.; March 4th, noon and 7:30 p.m.; with the final round on March 5th, 1 p.m. Ticket prices are: VIP’s $35, Box Seats $25, Reserved Bleachers $20, General Admission $15 in advance and $18 day of the performance. Children 10 and under receive free general admission with an empty Pepsi can, thanks to Pepsi and KWTV News 9. Tickets are available at all outlets, or by calling (800) 595-RIDE.

For more information on the Wrangler Timed Event Championship, or other upcoming Lazy E events, contact the Lazy E Arena, 9600 Lazy E Drive, Guthrie, Oklahoma 73044, visit our Web site at or call (800) 595-RIDE or (405) 282-RIDE.

2006 Invited Contestants Scheduled to Compete

Trevor Brazile
2002, 2003, 2004 PRCA World All-Around Champion
1998, 2003, 2004 Wrangler Timed Event World Champion
1996, 1997, 2005 Wrangler Timed Event Reserve World Champion

K.C. Jones
1993, 1996, 1999, 2001 Wrangler Timed Event World Champion
1995, 2003 Wrangler Timed Event Reserve World Champion

Jimmie Cooper
2005 Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame Inductee
1988, 1992, 1994 Wrangler Timed Event World Champion
1981 PRCA All-Around World Champion

Paul Tierney
1987, 1991, 1997, 2000 Wrangler Timed Event World Champion
1980 PRCA World All-Around Champion
1979 PRCA World Champion Calf Roper

Kyle Hughes
2000 PRCA Resistol Rookie of the Year – AA and TDR
2001 Mountain States Circuit All-Around Champion

Herbert Theriot
1994 PRCA World Champion Tie-down Roper and 12-time NFR Qualifier
1998 NFR Runner-up All Around Champion

Casey Branquinho
2005 DNCFR Tie-Down Roping Champion
2001 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Assoc. West Coast AA Champion National High School Rodeo Association All-Around Champion

Chance Kelton
Three-time NFR Team Roping Qualifier
1997, 1998 USTRC Open Roping Champion

Steve Duhon
1986, 1987, 1993 PRCA World Champion Steer Wrestler
1987 NFR Steer Wrestling Average Champion

B.J. Campbell
2002 DNCFR Team Roping Champion
2001 PRCA Regular Season Leader – Team Roping
Four-time Wrangler NFR Qualifier

Cash Myers
1999 PRCA Resistol Overall and S.W. Rookie of the Year
Seven-time NFR Steer Wrestling and Tie-down Roping Qualifier

Kyle Lockett
2005 Wrangler Timed Event World Champion
2001, 2002 Wrangler Timed Event Reserve World Champion
Eight-time Wrangler NFR Qualifier

Mickey Gee
1999 PRCA Steer Wrestling World Champion
2003 NFR Steer Wrestling Average Champion

Luke Branquinho
2004 PRCA World Champion Steer Wrestler
2004 NFR Steer Wrestling Average Champion
Four-time NFR Steer Wrestling Qualifier

Jim Locke
2002 NFR Tie Down Roping Qualifier
Three-time Pace Picante Series Qualifier

Doug Clark
2005 NFSR Qualifier
1986 Prairie Circuit All Around Champion

Ryan Jarrett
2005 PRCA World All-Around Champion
2005 NFR Tie Down Roping Average Champion

Chad Hiatt
1991 Great Lakes Circuit Team Roping Champion
2005 WTEC Qualifier

Scott Snedecor
2005 PRCA World Champion Steer Roper
2005 NFSR Average Champion
Five-time NFSR Qualifier

Clint Robinson
2004 Wilderness Circuit All-Around Champion
2003 PRCA Resistol All-Around and Tie-Down Roping Rookie of the Year


Possible wolf spotted in North Park A "large, dark canine" that wildlife officials believe is a wolf has been spotted in the area around Walden in North Park. Gary Skiba, state Division of Wildlife wolf management planning coordinator, said, "There is a video of it and I’ve heard the animal acts like a wild animal, not one that was domesticated." If it is a wolf, it will be the first verified in Colorado since a female that wondered down here from Yellowstone National Park was killed on I-70 west of Idaho Springs on June 7, 2004. "From what I’m hearing, it doesn’t act domesticated — that is it doesn’t seem to want to hang around where people are — but there still is no way to know," Skiba said. The animal was first seen on Feb. 16 and Feb. 17 after a rancher called a wildlife division officer and reported it. The officer shot a few minutes of video of it....
Saving the jaguar throughout its range In 1993, reports of jaguars occasionally swimming across the Panama Canal were borne out by track evidence on Barro Colorado Island. In 1996, a rancher in southern Arizona, thinking his dogs had cornered a puma, grabbed his camera and photographed a jaguar. That photograph led to the discovery of a small jaguar population in the Sonoran state of Mexico, which had been completely off the experts’ radar screen. We quickly realized that some jaguars were traveling long distances from Mexico into the seemingly inhospitable desert habitat of the southwestern U.S. This was no anomaly. State game agencies had decades of reports of regular, though infrequent, visits by jaguars to the United States-Mexico border. Sitting at my desk, I stared at the dots I had just connected. I thought about jaguars walking the beaches of Costa Rica, wandering the mangrove swamps of Mexico, moving through citrus plantations in Belize, crossing high mountain passes in the Andes, and living in the harsh Chaco region of Bolivia. Hunters believe that jaguars wander long distances through almost any kind of habitat. When the last jaguar was killed in California in 1955, American naturalist Aldo Leopold estimated the cat had traveled at least 500 miles from its home. Genetic uncertainty strongly affects extinction in animal populations. I realized that we had an unprecedented opportunity to guarantee the survival of the jaguar. While I had been focusing our efforts on JCUs—known jaguar populations in areas with relatively abundant prey and largely intact habitat—I had ignored the mostly human-dominated landscapes between these sites. With no clear genetic divergence detected between populations throughout the cats’ range, I could assume that at least some jaguars were using these landscapes—dispersing through everything from citrus plantations to village gardens....
Voters may see initiative to back landowners in drilling tiffs A new front opened in the oil-and-gas war Wednesday thanks to a ballot initiative from a group of Glenwood Springs residents. Colorado Land Owners for Fairness filed notice that it wants to pursue a state constitutional amendment to increase the rights of landowners when oil and gas companies want to drill on their land. Separately, a bill on the same topic is working its way through the Statehouse. "We never pinned our hopes on the legislative process," said John Gorman of Colorado Land Owners for Fairness. "It's a difficult process. It's fraught with many land mines as you go through. We've hit a couple, but it doesn't mean we won't see a good bill." Regardless of what happens at the state Capitol, the time was right to file the initiative, Gorman said. His group has to clear several procedural hurdles before it can start collecting signatures to put the measure on November's ballot. Last week, the House voted for a bill to push landowners and drillers toward signing agreements on land use. The vote came after days of meetings between environmentalists, home builders, real-estate agents, gas drillers, farmers and ranchers. In the end, the House bill uses language pushed by BP, the most active gas driller in Southwest Colorado. Dan Randolph of the Durango-based San Juan Citizens Alliance hopes the initiative pushes legislators toward adopting a stronger bill. "If the Legislature deals with the bill in a good, solid way, then we think the initiative probably isn't necessary," he said....
BLM Biologist Exposes Inside View Of Agency Priorities The 37-year-old Mr. Belinda had signed up for a tour of duty in the BLM's Pinedale Field Office in 2004 because he thought he could make a positive difference as two titanic forces of environment and full-field energy development converged. His wife was from Wyoming and her roots were calling her home. As a hunter and angler, he also was drawn to the abundance of wildlife in the state. The natural beauty, formed by the Wind River Mountains rising above the Upper Green River Valley to the east, and the presence of big game and good fishing in the area, are one reason why some of the senior advisors to President George Herbert Walker Bush, the current president's father, bought ranches in the area, along with tycons who made big money in the private sector. Professionally, Belinda had a unique perspective when he arrived in Pinedale. For years, he had worked for the BLM in southern New Mexico, helping to manage gas leasing that had swept across the Permian Basin. "If only we could go back in time and apply the knowledge that we have today about impacts, things might be different there," he told me as we cruised across the Anticline in his pick-up truck in 2005. "But over the decades, because of our own ignorance, opportunities were squandered in the Permian. I hope the same thing doesn't happen here." Thousands of wells, tens of thousands of miles of pipeline and roads, and stubbles of compressor station nodes, are now proliferating in western Wyoming. It's a veritable bonanza, filling the state coffers with a lottery strike of fiscal richness but causing even the most enthused to wonder what will be left when the gas play ends in a couple of decades. Ironically, the most intense pressure wasn't coming from industry but from his own BLM superiors. Ironically, he told me last year, the oil and gas industry has a greater interest in being more sensitive on the land, and a willingness to modify its projects to accommodate wildlife, than the BLM does. Who's calling the shots for the agency isn't clear....
Scientists Urge Experiments on Barred Owls With the decline of northern spotted owls at a crisis point, a group of scientists is urging the government to consider experiments that include killing some of the barred owls that have invaded spotted owl territory from British Columbia to California. "There is nobody who wants to kill barred owls," said R.J. Gutierrez, one of the nation's leading experts on spotted owls and a professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Minnesota. "But if you really want to understand whether they are part of the problem with the recent declines in spotted owl populations, then that's what you have to do." As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prepares to choose a contractor to produce a recovery plan for the spotted owl, declared a threatened species in 1990, the prospect of killing one owl to protect another will be a key issue. A 2004 status review of the spotted owl pointed to the barred owl as a leading factor in spotted owl declines, but offered no clear path for the future....
Colmn: Wild Lands Logging Greenwashed by Enviro Groups Unfortunately, many environmental groups are providing 'green wash' for Bush's 'states rights' roadless plan by legitimizing the process and participating in the Governor's rule making. The Utah Environmental Congress (UEC) firmly believes that while these groups may be well intentioned--they are most definitely off the mark. UEC has heard repeatedly that some intend to participate in the Governor's petition of roadless areas while simultaneously working to defeat it through litigation. We believe this sends a mixed message to the American people in an already confusing issue. Yet, some greens are clamoring for a seat at the table when we believe they should be categorically denouncing the entire process. Legitimizing an unlawful Presidential policy does far more harm than good....
Landowners protect the Centennial Valley Two ranch families have signed conservation easements that prevent housing developments on 7,400 acres in the Centennial Valley. They join 13 other landowners in the remote southwestern Montana valley who have signed these voluntary agreements which now cover more than 31,000 acres. The landowners signing the latest conservation easements said they were motivated by a desire to keep the Centennial Valley like it is, with its ranching heritage, stunning scenery and diverse wildlife. “It’s such a beautiful valley,” said rancher David Schuett, whose conservation easement covers 3,346 acres west of Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. “All of us want to preserve it. We don’t want it broken into little recreational places,” he added. The Schuetts live and operate their main ranch near Dillon....
Cows shot, killed on Arizona ranch t’s an unusual crime that has cost a rancher $5,000 and left authorities puzzled. Sometime around Feb. 23, four pregnant cows were shot several times and left to die on a large ranch near Seligman, about 75 miles west of Flagstaff, the Arizona Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday. A hunter discovered the animals when he was scouting the area for predators. “This is very serious,” said Katie Decker, a department spokeswoman. “The fact that someone will go out and do something like this is very frightening.” Authorities don’t believe it’s related to a recent case at a ranch near Cave Creek dam where nine cows were shot. Whoever is responsible for killing the cows at Diamond A Ranch in Seligman could face multiple charges of animal cruelty, Decker said. Department investigators are searching for leads....
Too little, too late? “We sure could use some rain” is an all too familiar refrain heard lately. Sometimes, “... and a little hay wouldn’t hurt either” will follow that statement. The drought conditions that Texas and much of the Southwest has experienced has found area cattle producers scratching their heads and digging deep into their pocketbooks just to keep their cattle fed. Some cattle producers have had to go as far as Colorado to find hay, and pay a premium price if they’re lucky enough to find it. “It’s been a tough row to hoe” for the working man, Navarro County rancher Gary Brunton said. “What hurts the most is that I spent a fortune on planting in the fall, and it never rained. A lot of seed got ruined.” Brunton said he sold a lot of yearlings he would have held on to, not only due to the lack of hay, but the lack of water as well....
Spring work has sprung at Helle ranch despite winter winds It is a busy time at the Helle ranch. With four kids, sheep to shear and cows to calve John Helle is running in every direction. The spring work has begun. Although the dry, windy winter has Helle somewhat frustrated, he is pleased that it has not been too cold since he started shearing his sheep. They still get chilled when that icy wind blows, but Helle said he has enough shed space for the 500 they sheared this week. He also plans to feed them one and a half times as much feed as usual. He said they utilize a lot of feed burning the energy to stay warm. He has about 8,000 sheep and has finished the first 500. Helle plans to shear another 5,000 in April and the last 2,500 in May. He said they have taken a couple of thousand lambs over to Manhattan where he leases some pasture from a rancher....
Calving adds excitement through humdrum February Go feed the cows, go move the bales - it is the everyday humdrum way of life for Randy Pegar this week. After bringing up a load of their belongings, son Don and his wife have returned to California for another load. But first he spent a week helping his dad and brother with calving during a cold snap. Pegar does not like to hire outside help, so he and his sons alternate checking the cows. “Everything we do, we do ourselves,” he said. “We had one cow give Don a dance lesson,” said Pegar. “She was just a little bit snorty.” He said the cow cornered 6-foot-6 Don in the barn for 20 minutes the other night. When Pegar asked him why he did not call him to come help, Don said he could not get to his phone. He told his dad, “Every time I got close to the door she got back on me.” Pega said the cow calved right in front of the door.
"Eminent Domain: Abuse of Government Power?", will air on C-SPAN2

In the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court's Kelo decision regarding eminent domain, we are delighted to inform you that our recent Independent Policy Forum, "Eminent Domain: Abuse of Government Power?", will air on C-SPAN2 on Saturday, March 4th.

Here is the exact airing time:

Saturday, March 4th, 8:00 a.m. ET (5:00 p.m. PT) C-SPAN2

The program features presentations by:

STEVEN GREENHUT, Senior Editorial Writer, Orange County Register, and author of Abuse of Power: How the Government Misuses Eminent Domain.

TIMOTHY SANDEFUR, Staff Attorney, Pacific Legal Foundation.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Breaks hearing mostly congenial as sides disagree U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials heard suggestions on how to manage the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument from all sides Monday night at a public hearing on the bureau's proposed management plan at the Holiday Village Shopping Center. Wilderness and conservation advocates fear the number of roads and airstrips in the bureau's preferred plan will take away from the Breaks' remote quality, though some area hikers said more access is needed. Some worry that increased traffic and noise from aircraft will be a detriment to wildlife, though others who live near the Breaks called that concept ignorant. State Rep. Ed Butcher, R-Winifred, said he's concerned that the 120 ranchers who own land in the Breaks will suffer under the management plan. “They'll be driven out,” Butcher said. “You just keep tightening the noose.” He said he worries that the ranching operations will die out, drying up towns like Winifred, Big Sandy, Roy and Geraldine. He's also concerned that oil and gas companies will stay away from the area - even lands surrounding the monument - causing the loss of millions of dollars in tax revenues....
Proposed land deals gain interest Some West River ranchers are interested in the Bush administration’s proposal to sell some public lands in the state, even though members of the South Dakota congressional delegation have stated their opposition. Some of the eligible land parcels are part of the Black Hills National Forest and Buffalo Gap National Grasslands located in Custer and Fall River counties. Local landowners have expressed an interest for years in either purchasing or trading for the federal property, according the Ken Knuppe, a rancher from Buffalo Gap. However, Knuppe said local support among West River ranchers for the land sales would most likely hinge on them having the right of first refusal to buy the public lands located next to their property. “We’d like to see the first option to buy given to the local landowner,” Knuppe said. “That would clear up a lot of frustration that ranchers have with the federal government.” He added that some ranchers aren’t completely against the federal government buying land, but the cattlemen believe the government should also reduce its land holdings when it makes sense to sell land. “A lot of this land that’s managed by the Forest Service is right next to privately-owned land where ranchers are trying to graze their cattle,” Knuppe said. “There’s a ‘checkerboard’ of federal land and private land next to each other and some of of those lands aren’t divided by a fence.” And since there’s no fence between the properties, cattle can wander onto the property and graze — a situation that sometimes causes disagreements among neighbors....
Public-land sale plan challenged by lawmakers Senators from both parties on Tuesday challenged a Bush administration plan to sell more than 300,000 acres of national forest to help pay for rural schools in 41 states. Lawmakers said the short-term gains would be offset by the permanent loss of public lands. They also said profits from the proposed sales would fall far short of what's needed to help rural governments pay for schools and other basic services. "I just don't think we can play Russian roulette with these local communities," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who vowed to "do everything I can" to stop the plan. Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, had a more visceral reaction: "No, heck no," he told Bush administration officials at a Senate hearing Tuesday....
Rey: Proponents of Public Land Sale Out There, Just Silent Supporters of the Bush Administration’s controversial public land sale have been quiet, but they’re out there, said Department of Agriculture secretary, Mark Rey during a Tuesday press conference. “What I’m hearing is a level of concern that’s not surprising,” Rey told reporters. “Land sales are controversial.” Support has come from some county officials around the country who are looking forward to getting more land on the tax rolls, Rey said. The press conference was held to announce the beginning of a 30-day public comment session on the proposal. Even though people have been vocal with their frustration, since the land sale was announced earlier this month, no other options have come forward to fund the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, he said. “So far no one else has found another alternative.” Rey also announced a minor shift in the plan. Now, if county and state governments along with land trusts show interest in a piece of land the Forest Service wants to sell, they will have a non-competitive option to buy it for fair-market value. This change was made because the agency recognized some of the lands may not be suitable as National Forest, but they still have public value, he said....
USDA FOREST SERVICE ACCEPTING PUBLIC COMMENTS ON POTENTIAL LIST OF ELIGIBLE TRACTS OF LAND FOR SALE U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service today announced the start of a public comment period on a list of forest lands that would be available for sale as a proposal to provide funding to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 (SRS). The list of available forest lands, published in today’s Federal Register, comprises 304,370 acres of land within the 193-million-acre National Forest System. This represents less than 0.2 of one percent of all Forest Service managed land. All of the parcels are considered isolated or inefficient to manage due to their location or other characteristics. Detailed maps of each parcel can now be found on the Forest Service website ( The Forest Service will include in its proposal the opportunity for local and state government agencies and nonprofit land trust organizations the first right to buy these parcels at market value. Comments on the proposed list must be received by March 30 and may be sent by e-mail to
The Nature Conservancy Applauds President's Support for Conservation of North Georgia's Forest Lands in FY 2007 Budget The Nature Conservancy in Georgia applauded President Bush's request to fund the conservation of north Georgia's forests with $1.5 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund in Fiscal Year 2007. If approved, this funding will support the protection of approximately 540 acres of critical mountain forests, which will ultimately be added to the Chattahoochee National Forest for the enjoyment of all Georgians. "This funding will help ensure that the vital north Georgia mountain forests, essential for wildlife and the health of our rivers and streams, will continue to be safeguarded," Tavia McCuean, director of The Nature Conservancy in Georgia....The Fed's acquire land everyday, by purchase, exchange and easements, and that's ok. But if they try to sell less than 1 percent of one agency's holdings, then all hell breaks loose, with even Republicans cowering. Larry Craig should be ashamed of himself. I guess one out of every three acres in the US being owned by the Feds is not enough.
The Forest Service Is Dead; Long Live the Forest Service! n 1982, Earth First!er Dave Foreman used form letters to blitz the U.S. Forest Service with administrative appeals, blocking over 100 timber sales that threatened roadless areas in several Western states. This act of paper monkeywrenching sums up the relationship conservationists had with the Forest Service for three decades. We attempted nearly every act of peaceful hostility -- appeals, lawsuits, tree-sits -- to obstruct what was then the largest single agency in the federal government and the largest single employer in many rural communities. The Forest Service was destroying our old-growth and wild areas; it had to be stopped. That was then. This is now. Today the Forest Service is broken and demoralized, with a budget built more around firefighting than logging. The annual logging cut is a fraction of what it was in its heyday. Biodiversity is threatened less by the prospect of new roads and clear-cuts in wild country than by the ailing condition of old roads and tree plantations. The conservation movement is reinventing itself to partner with old nemeses, the timber industry and rural Western communities, to give the Forest Service new life and a new mission to face the challenge of the next 30 years: restoring to ecological health America's federal forestlands....
DoI staffers stayed on with Pombo Two staffers on the House Resources Committee played key roles in developing controversial environmental legislation while receiving salaries from the Department of Interior in apparent violation of House rules limiting their congressional service to one year. The two provisions they helped develop were attached to the budget-reconciliation bill, passed last month. Lawmakers stripped the provisions during negotiations before final congressional passage. The staffers’ roles in creating and pushing the legislation have raised concerns among congressional Democrats and environmentalists. Brian Kennedy, spokesman for the House Resources Committee, and Hugh Vickery, senior public-affairs officer for the Department of the Interior, said that the proper authorities had approved the necessary waivers. During their service, two of the most controversial pieces of legislation to emerge from the Resources Committee dealt with issues that Coleman and Deery specialized in while at Interior. One controversial provision would have given states revenue-sharing incentives for opting out of the moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf, a matter Coleman worked on while at Interior’s Minerals Management Service. The second would have amended mining law to allow federal lands to be sold to support the sustainable development of dying mining towns. Environmentalists criticized the provision as a massive giveaway of federal land. Deery, a detailee from the Bureau of Land Management, was an expert on solid-minerals leasing and hard-rock mining....
Cow deaths strike fear in ranchers The search for the Tehama County cattle killers is intensifying, with investigators working extra patrols and a reward that has reached $4,500 for information leading to the arrest of the those responsible, Sheriff Clay Parker said Tuesday. Ranchers have found seven cows, each worth about $1,200, shot to death since the beginning of the year. Six of the shootings were in the Hogsback Road area and one was reported off Blue Oak Road. No meat has been taken from the cows, Parker said. "Idiots shoot them and leave them there to rot," he said. In one case, a cow had to be put down after she was found alive but shot in the back of the head. Her dependant calf, which had not been shot, was killed in a coyote attack, the Sheriff’s Department said....

Patriot Act Renewal Clears Final Hurdle

Months overdue in a midterm election year, the USA Patriot Act renewal cleared a final hurdle in the Senate Tuesday on its way to President Bush's desk. But the bill's sponsor said he is unsatisfied with the measure's privacy protections and far from done tinkering with the centerpiece of Bush's war on terrorism. "The issue is not concluded," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa. He said he plans more legislation and hearings on restoring House-rejected curbs on government power. The Senate voted 69-30 Tuesday _ 60 votes were needed _ to limit debate and bring the bill to a final vote that could occur as early as Wednesday. The House then would vote and send the legislation to the White House. Sixteen major provisions would expire March 10 if President Bush doesn't sign the bill by then...Specter agreed on that point. Even as he urged his colleagues to vote this week for the bill, he introduced a separate bill to make the government satisfy a higher threshold for warrantless wiretaps and to set a four-year expiration date for the use of National Security Letters in terrorism investigations. However appetizing to Specter's colleagues in the Senate, the new bill represents items House Republicans flatly rejected during talks last year. The solution is a convoluted procedural dance that illustrates the razor-thin zone of agreement when it comes to Bush's terror-fighting law. Congress will extend the Patriot Act by passing two pieces of legislation. The first is the same accord passed last year by the House and filibustered in the Senate by members who said it contained too few privacy protections. The second is, in effect, an amendment to the first that adds enough privacy protections to win over those same libertarian-leaning Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is permitting no other amendments, allowing the measure to slide through both houses without extended debate....

Gonzales Seeks to Clarify Testimony on Spying

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales appeared to suggest yesterday that the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance operations may extend beyond the outlines that the president acknowledged in mid-December. In a letter yesterday to senators in which he asked to clarify his Feb. 6 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gonzales also seemed to imply that the administration's original legal justification for the program was not as clear-cut as he indicated three weeks ago. At that appearance, Gonzales confined his comments to the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program, saying that President Bush had authorized it "and that is all that he has authorized." But in yesterday's letter, Gonzales, citing that quote, wrote: "I did not and could not address . . . any other classified intelligence activities." Using the administration's term for the recently disclosed operation, he continued, "I was confining my remarks to the Terrorist Surveillance Program as described by the President, the legality of which was the subject" of the Feb. 6 hearing. At least one constitutional scholar who testified before the committee yesterday said in an interview that Gonzales appeared to be hinting that the operation disclosed by the New York Times in mid-December is not the full extent of eavesdropping on U.S. residents conducted without court warrants. "It seems to me he is conceding that there are other NSA surveillance programs ongoing that the president hasn't told anyone about," said Bruce Fein, a government lawyer in the Nixon, Carter and Reagan administrations....

U.S. settles detainee's suit in 9/11 sweep

The U.S. government has agreed to pay 300,000 U.S. dollars to settle a lawsuit brought by an Egyptian swept up in the New York area after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The Egyptian was among dozens of Muslim men that were swept up in the New York area after the attacks, held for months in a federal detention center in the city, and deported after being cleared of links to terrorism, the report said. The settlement, filed in federal court late Monday, is the first the government has made in a number of lawsuits charging that non citizens were abused and their constitutional rights violated in detentions after the terror attacks. The settlement, which removes one of two plaintiffs from a case in which a federal judge ruled last year that former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director Robert Mueller and other top government officials must answer questions under oath, requires approval by a federal judge in Brooklyn....

More pushback from Hill on eavesdropping

Washington is immersed in a furious debate over the legality of the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program - and the argument's outcome may affect the balance of power in the US government for decades to come. That is what a bipartisan group of US lawmakers believe, in any case, as they struggle to respond to the White House's assertions of broad powers in the surveillance case. Unless Congress asserts authority over the program via some form of legislation, some legislators and legal scholars assert, it risks becoming less relevant on important questions of war and national security than it is today. "This is a defining issue in the constitutional history of the United States," constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein testified Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Some key Republican lawmakers, such as Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Warner of Virginia, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, have joined Democrats in voicing worry about the extent of power claimed by the executive branch in the eavesdropping issue. While insisting that the program is legal, the White House has indicated that it would work with Congress to codify the law in this area, if necessary. It prefers a proposal from Sen. Mike DeWine (R) of Ohio, which would exempt the program from the FISA law and set up a special congressional committee to provide oversight and review of eavesdropping cases. The importance of this debate, say experts, lies in the fact that it bears directly on questions of power between the branches that have been debated since members of Congress wore breeches and wigs. Its outcome will have far-reaching effects, since any shift in this balance tends to persist, say legal scholars. In addition, the White House is in essence asserting privilege in an area that Congress has specifically addressed, via the 1978 FISA statute. "The president is asserting an inherent constitutional authority in 'wartime' that allows him to ignore the plain meaning of the FISA law," says Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. "How it is ultimately resolved will help define the limits of presidential power."....

'Times' sues government over surveillance records

The New York Times sued the Department of Defense on Monday, saying the government has refused to turn over records related to its domestic warrantless surveillance program. In its federal lawsuit, the Times asked the court to order the government to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request requiring it to release documents or provide a lawful reason why it cannot. The Times said a Dec. 16 letter to the Defense Department requested all internal memos, e-mails and legal memoranda and opinions since Sept. 11, 2001, related to the National Security Agency spying program. The department is the parent agency of the NSA. The newspaper said it asked for meeting logs, calendar items and notes related to discussions of the program, including meetings held by Vice President Dick Cheney and his staff with members of Congress and telecommunications executives. It also requested all complaints of abuse or possible violations in the operations of the program or the legal rationale behind it. And it sought the names and descriptions of people or groups identified through the use of the program and a description of relevant episodes used to identify the targets of the intercepts....

Illegal Surveillance: A Real Security Threat

Americans seem to have forgotten why the Founding Fathers prohibited government from spying on them. Public opinion polls show that a rising percentage of Americans approve of the warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps of Americans that Bush ordered. But such blind faith in government simply ignores the lessons of U.S. history. When the feds have unleashed themselves in the past, many innocent Americans’ lives were devastated. During the 1960s and 1970s, the FBI carried out thousands of Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) operations, often combining illegal surveillance with efforts to subvert any opposition to the government. Covert FBI efforts sought to incite street warfare between violent groups, wreck marriages, portray innocent people as government informants, sic the IRS on citizens, and cripple or destroy left-wing, black, communist, or other organizations. The FBI inflicted its wrath on speakers, teachers, and writers. A 1976 Senate report noted hundreds of COINTELPRO operations aimed “to get university and high-school teachers fired; to prevent targets from speaking on campus; to stop chapters of target groups from being formed; to prevent the distribution of books, newspapers, or periodicals; to disrupt news conferences; to disrupt peaceful demonstrations.”....

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Questions surround wild horse sales plan Ranchers may be hesitant to adopt older wild horses, as they have been asked to do by a ranchers' group and a federal agency, because of unclear laws on what they can ultimately do with the horses. Niels Hansen, a Rawlins rancher and chairman of the Wyoming State Grazing Board, said laws are "ambiguous," and it appears ranchers' hands may be tied as to what they can do with any wild horses they buy. "It's so tough that I have no interest in it," he said. Last week the Public Lands Council -- a ranchers' group -- and the Bureau of Land Management sent out 15,000 letters to ranchers who use BLM lands in the West to consider adopting some of the older wild horses now in BLM holding facilities. The BLM says if these horses, numbering about 7,000, are moved, it will make room for more horses to be rounded up from ranges. In November, Congress passed legislation making it illegal to send wild horses to slaughter for human consumption. It did so by shutting down funding for horse inspectors as of March 10 -- a move that would prevent slaughterhouses from slaughtering horses because the animals were not inspected. But last week, the USDA put forth a plan under which slaughterhouses could have their animals checked before slaughter through a "fee-for-service" system. That would allow exporters to meet federal requirements that apply to meat sold for human consumption. As soon as the USDA put forth the plan, animal rights groups sued to block it, calling it a "scheme" that circumvents Congress's intention. They also say it violates the Federal Meat Inspection Act's requirement that the agency, not private parties, pay the cost of inspection in order to ensure that inspectors are not beholden to the industries they are hired to monitor....
Overcoming the urban-rural divide A newborn calf probably owes its life to some city slicker kids from Portland who went to Eastern Oregon to discover what rural life is really all about. Two students from Sunnyside Environmental School found the calf on the ground when they went into a pasture with a rancher from Monument to check on mother cows. The calf couldn't rise in the sub-zero weather, and its mother couldn't seem to help her baby. Maria Chapman, 13, and Maddy Meininger, 12, helped get the freezing calf inside, then they bottle-fed it and named it Blackie. "It made me feel really good inside," Maria said. In fact, she has a new ambition now. She wants to get a job as a cowhand when she's old enough: "To me, being on the ranch is like home. It's so comfortable. I belong there." The two girls were among 22 youngsters from the K-8 school who visited Grant County last week at the invitation of area ranchers hoping to bridge a urban-rural divide. The split opened up last year when some students from Sunnyside testified at a public hearing in favor of wolf protections, reciting poetry and singing a rap song. The display offended some ranchers who say they need to guard their livestock from wolves if the predators establish a population in Oregon. The children were selected from 40 applicants, and priority was given to six who had testified at the hearing last March. The visit went so well that everyone is making plans to do it again....
Editorial: What is reasonable use of scarce water? One of this year's most entertaining pieces of legislation is a bill that pits kayak parks and other recreational users of water against developers who are fearful of future shortages. The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that recreation is a beneficial and legitimate use of water and that enthusiasts are entitled to the minimum flow necessary for a "reasonable recreation experience." Senate Bill 37 is bogged down in a heated debate over how to define "reasonable." Each side accuses the other of wanting too much control over the available water. Recreational users and local governments whose economies revolve around tourism need enough water flowing through their rivers and streams to serve local river rats and tourists who come from all parts of the country. Developers say recreational users are claiming more water than they need. Democratic Sen. Jim Isgar of Hesperus, a rancher, hopes to hammer out a compromise, and we wish him good luck. "I have no problem recognizing a valid recreational amount," he says. "But we need to limit it."....
Forestland on Sale List Not All Bare Mountain property with dramatic views, the headwaters of salmon streams, tall timber and rugged backcountry, even a cave or two — all could be sold as part of a Bush administration proposal to auction roughly 300,000 acres of national forestland to fund rural schools and roads. Administration officials have characterized the land, more than a quarter of which is in California, as isolated parcels that don't belong in the 193-million-acre national forest system because they're expensive to manage and aren't vital to wildlife or recreation. But a closer look at the 85,500 California acres that the U.S. Forest Service listed for possible sale two weeks ago reveals that the tracts aren't all scraggly odds and ends. According to interviews with local forest officials and conservationists, some of the land — most of which lies in Northern California — borders scenic river corridors or has been proposed for possible wilderness protection by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Some has valuable timber. Other acreage provides winter range for deer or habitat for threatened species....
Forest Service Considers Outsourcing Two-Thirds of Workforce The U.S. Forest Service is studying how to contract out more than two-thirds of its total workforce by 2009, according to agency planning documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the national association of workers in natural resources agencies. In addition to Bush administration plans to sell off 300,000 acres of Forest Service land included in the Fiscal Year 2007 budget proposal to Congress, the agency is also seeking to privatize environmental, law enforcement, firefighting, engineering, and research positions. The agency documents say that "in accordance with current USDA direction" 21,350 full-time jobs will soon be under review for possible replacement by private sector firms. The Forest Service has a total of 31,625 full-time jobs, according to Office of Personnel Management figures for FY 2003. During the current fiscal year, 500 fire-fighting jobs in the aviation program, including the smoke-jumpers, will be examined for outplacement to interested contractors; In FY 2007, approximately half of the agency’s law enforcement agents and rangers, 600 positions, the jobs of all of its geologists, 500 jobs, and 1,100 biologists who prepare environmental studies on the impacts of timber sales, oil and gas leasing and other actions on national forest lands may be put out to bid....
Critics say money spent on California delta has produced little Frustrated members of Congress vented their anger at efforts to save California's most crucial water source, saying millions of dollars have been spent to study problems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta with little to show for it. Water managers have spent 15 years "spending literally hundreds of millions of dollars, and billions of dollars in lost economic activity, and none of that has worked," U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, said Monday during a field hearing focused on the delta's problems. Pombo, chairman of the House Resources Committee and a critic of the federal Endangered Species Act, called the hearing to focus attention on the decline of four key delta fish species. The plight of the fish has raised concerns that the overall health of the vast estuary is being jeopardized by pesticides, agricultural pumping, invasive species and other problems. The delta is the linchpin of California's water supply, draining 42 percent of the state's land mass and providing drinking water to two-thirds of the state. It also is the key water source for one of the nation's most fertile farming regions. Scientific studies cost $2 million last year and are projected to cost $3.7 million this year in an attempt to find a cause for the historic drop in the number of delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt and threadfin shad. Implementing steps to save those species could cost millions more, according to state water officials, and could disrupt plans to divert more of the delta's water for Central Valley agriculture and Southern California water agencies....
The Flap Over Wind Power The Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service thought it would be a breeze to get interested parties together earlier this month to work out some kinks in its guidelines on how to build wind turbines with minimal harm to bats and birds. With oil and natural gas prices spiking, wind power is a growth industry. The American Wind Energy Association said some 15,000 turbines in 30 states are generating wind power. Enough units to serve 650,000 homes were installed last year, and wind is expected to provide 6 percent of the nation's electrical needs by 2020. But the towers supporting the giant windmills can reach more than 400 feet above ridgelines, and several wind projects have been linked to the deaths of thousands of bats and a substantial number of birds. Industry says the harm to birds is minimal, compared with damage done by cats, plate-glass windows and pesticides. It estimates that two to three birds per turbine are killed annually, a figure that avian experts dispute as too low....
How an ugly bird came to own a writer Condor: To the Brink and Back is a strange book about a strange bird by a strange writer. It is also an important book about an important bird by an important writer. Lots of species show up on endangered lists as the ever-expanding human species and its demands on the environment push further into territory once considered wild. But perhaps no endangered species has ever gripped the human imagination in quite the way that the condor has. Fascination with the condor is easy to understand. As National Public Radio environmental correspondent John Nielsen explains, "The California condor is a New World vulture with telescopic eyes, a razor-sharp beak and a wingspan of nearly 10 feet. Helicopter pilots says they've seen it soaring well above 10,000 feet. I have seen it glide for miles without ever bothering to flap." The giant birds date back to the dinosaur era. But dinosaurs eventually vanished from the earth. Condors remained - although just barely....
Keeping grasslands intact Eastern Wyoming grasslands are not really suitable for conversion to croplands as on other parts of the Great Plains, which means the state's grasslands still exist across relatively large, intact landscapes. That's why Wyoming plays such a key role in the recovery of endangered, threatened or declining species such as the swift fox, burrowing owls and black-tailed prairie dogs when other Great Plains states don't. Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials recognize, however, this probably will not always be the case. Increased population, rapid and growing coal-bed methane energy development, noxious weeds, more roads, more traffic and urban sprawl from cities such as Cheyenne are slowly taking a bite out of eastern Wyoming's grassland ecosystems. What better time to recognize the potential problems and to draft a grassland management plan that aims to sustain, and perhaps even enhance, those grasslands in the future, Game and Fish commissioners decided earlier this month at a meeting in Cheyenne....
Endangered bats slow runway plans Jackson County Airport's proposed runway project is crossing paths with an unpredictable flight pattern of nature -- the Indiana bat. As part of a $30 million project, the airport is seeking to realign the primary runway while extending its crosswinds landing strip to federal safety standards. However, the 670-acre site's wooded area near wetlands could be a summer roosting area for the endangered bat, according to an environmental assessment prepared to seek project approval. About 34 acres of trees would be removed during construction. The environmental report recommends no trees be toppled between April and September, when the bat migrates north. The stop-gap measure won't stem the species' declining numbers, a Bloomfield Hills-based bat researcher said....
Ag official: energy shortages mean opportunities for farms Energy sources grown on farms offer an exciting rural economic opportunity, a Bush administration agriculture official said Monday, but he urged farmers to find local sources of money, rather than relying on federal subsidies. Tom Dorr, U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for rural development, said the administration's energy policy encourages less dependence on foreign oil, opening windows of opportunity to farmers who grow crops to make biodiesel, ethanol and other energy fuels. Dorr, an Iowa corn farmer and Federal Reserve Bank board member before his appointment during George W. Bush's second term, told a conference on clean energy here that the federal government can encourage development and provide incentives - but forget about subsidies....
Railroad workers pulling up history as they remove lines Railroad workers hit town this winter, swinging sledgehammers on the Union Pacific tracks. They're removing 60 miles of steel rails between Healy and McCracken, a stretch abandoned more than a year ago. In rural areas, Union Pacific plans to return the land to adjacent property owners. But spokesman Mark Davis said Union Pacific plans to retain its property in Healy and McCracken. "The Union Pacific will research all the line titles and determine how best to use or dispose of the property," Davis said. One option used for other abandoned rail lines involves a rails-to-trails program. Davis said the railroad had no such plan for the Healy- McCracken line but acknowledged the plusses of rails-to-trails....
Cloned Cow Gives Birth Again The University of Georgia is celebrating yet another birth from a cloned cow. Researchers were able to clone a cow from cells about three and half years ago. About two years later, that cow, named KC, delivered a calf. This past December KC gave birth again. This time to a 70 pound calf named Moonshine. What makes this is a neat story is the fact that KC was the first in the world to be cloned from a dead cow. Most come from a Petri dish. "We took the cells from a side of beef in our slaughter house back to our lab at the University and used it in the cloning process. Nine months later we produced KC," explains Steve Stice, a Georgia Research Alliance Scholar and one of the world's top cloning expert....
IT'S OFFICIAL: WHOSLEAVINGWHO IS RETIRED Whosleavingwho, American Quarter Horse racing’s co-world champion in 2002, has been retired. Co-owners Kim Kessinger and Jim Geiler made the announcement following the 8-year-old gelding’s fifth-place finish in Saturday’s Grade 1 Los Alamitos Winter Championship. “This is it for him – he’s taken us for a great ride,” said Kessinger. “We’ll probably send him to Vessels Stallion Farm (in Bonsall, California), and he’ll stay there for a while. We’ll eventually bring him to Colorado.” Bred by Gordon Haslam of Essex Junction, Vermont, Whosleavingwho earned $1,334,842 from 23 wins in 47 starts, and he ranks 15th on the sport’s all-time earnings list. The gelding’s 10 stakes victories include the 2002 Champion of Champions (G1) and six other unrestricted Grade 1 stakes – the Los Alamitos Winter Championship in 2003 and ’05, the Go Man Go Handicap in 2002 and ’05, the 2001 Los Alamitos Winter Derby and the ’03 Vessels Maturity. Whosleavingwho also won the Spencer Childers California Breeders’ Championship (RG1) in 2003, and in 2000 he was one of the few horses to qualify for all three Grade 1 futurities at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico....
From Eastern elite to Wyo ranch living
She was a debutante from New Jersey who gave up a life of ease at age 20 to become the wife of a dashing cowboy who trained horses on a Wyoming dude ranch. Now, at 81, Jonesy Smith looks back with pride on her life experiences, knowing she has had the best of both worlds. "It was quite a culture shock when I faced the reality of just how different the two lifestyles were. I guess I thought if I lived here, I could just go riding all the time,” she said with a smile. “Even though that didn’t happen, I was sure I’d be OK as long as I had my horse and a lake where I could go boating.” Smith has come a long way since her precarious entry into the world of luxury as a 2-pound premature baby born in 1922 to Dr. and Mrs. Edgar Ill, who lived in an exclusive suburb of Newark, N.J. She returned to Sandy Jacques' the summer of 1942 after the death of her father and met Tud Smith, the man who would change her life. “Tud was the ranch foreman, and I knew right away he was different from other cowboys,” Smith said. “He didn’t just use a horse -- he trained them. He had a wonderful horse he had trained to jump, and he knew how to change leads. I think I fell in love with him because of his great horsemanship.” Back home in Newark, the riding academy was about to close, so Smith convinced her mother to send Amberkiss out to the dude ranch. “My horse came out by train with her own groom and a private box car,” Smith said, laughing. “And I can tell you the whole thing cost $500, which was quite a bit of money in those days.” Before the summer was over, Smith called her mother to tell her she was going to marry a cowboy she'd met. “You get on a train and you come right home." her mother replied....
Ben Johnson Ben was born in Foracre, Okla., on June 13, 1918. His father, Ben Johnson Sr., had a place on Bird Creek, northwest of Pawhuska. The senior Johnson was a respected rancher and champion roper, and is an honoree in the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. And Pawhuska honors Ben Sr. every year with a memorial rodeo named after him. Ben Jr. grew up in the Pawhuska area, cowboyed on the Chapman-Bernard Ranch, and rubbed elbows with some accomplished rodeo cowboys of that time - such names as Ike Rude, Everett Shaw, Louis Brooks and Clark McIntire. Ben liked rodeoing, too, and it is likely that he would have pursued rodeo as a career had it not been for a chance encounter with people who were making a movie for Howard Hughes. It was around 1940, and Hughes was making The Outlaw, starring Jane Russell. His crew bought a load of horses out of Oklahoma, and Johnson was asked to deliver them to the movie location near Flagstaff, Arizona. At the time, Ben was working for $30 a month, and the $300 he was offered was more than he could pass up. After the shoot, he took the horses on to Hollywood, and that's where he stayed. Ben says, "They decided I rodeo a horse pretty good, so they put me in the Screen Actors' Guild, and I went to work as a wrangler, stuntman and as a double for actors like John Wayne, Joel McRae and Jimmy Stewart." Then, in 1949, Ben was offered a 7-year contract with famed director John Ford. The contract was for up to $5,000 per week, and Ben signed immediately "before Ford had a chance to change his mind," Ben explains. Ben went right to work on such films as Wagon Master, Mighty Joe Young, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and Rio Grande. And in Rio Grande, he and fellow actors Claude Jarman Jr. and Harry Carey Jr. did their own stunt work in a spectacular Roman-riding scene that's still a film classic. Anyone who views that scene can easily see that Johnson is a real horseman. Despite his movie success, Johnson still felt he had something to prove to himself, so, in 1953, he took a year off and hit the rodeo circuit. He had been rodeoing all along between movies and, in 1949, had set a calf-roping record at Pendleton, Ore., where he roped and tied in 12.5 seconds with a 60-foot score. "I really thought I was something," says Ben. He continues, "I got in a position where I could afford to travel, so I decided to see just what I could do." He teamed with Buckshot Sorrells, Andy Jauregui and others in the team roping. "That was the year everybody else had hard luck," says Ben, modestly, "and I beat them out and won the world. I came home with a championship, and I didn't have $3. All I had was a wore-out automobile and a mad wife. Fortunately, they let me back in the picture business, and I've stayed there ever since."....
It's All Trew: Ghost towns aplenty in Texas Panhandle During my research, I continue to find more Texas Panhandle ghost towns I didn’t know existed. Ray Carter from Lefors called my attention to Codman, located in Roberts County. The site is located eight miles southwest of Miami, alongside the Santa Fe Railroad tracks. The legend and lore appears to be as follows, based on several different but interesting versions. Codman began as an “end-of-track” tent town used during construction of the tracks. A nearby spring of fresh water helped the town become permanent. The railroad built a section foreman’s house plus a bunkhouse for single crew employees. A post office was established in 1892, closed a year later then opened again in 1901 when additional homes and businesses came to town. Eventually, a general store and two grain elevators operated successfully until the town of Hoover, just up-track to the west, began to grow. Later, when Highway 60 located away from the town, Codman began to fade into the past....
Protect Private Property Rights, 85 Groups Tell Senate, in Endangered Species Act Reform

Today, a letter signed by 85 major national and state policy organizations was delivered to Senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee. The letter warns Senators that any Endangered Species Act reform effort must include strong private property rights protections. The coalition letter was spearheaded by The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Whatever action the Senate takes on ESA reform should reflect the national, bipartisan outcry for strong property rights protections," said David Ridenour, vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Quite simply, when the government takes your property, the least it can do is pay for it." National policy organizations signing the letter include: Coalitions for America, the American Conservative Union, the National Taxpayers Union, Eagle Forum, National Center for Policy Analysis, 60 Plus Association, National Legal and Policy Center, the Property Rights Foundation of America, and the American Family Association, among many others. The letter was also signed by the Honorable Edwin Meese III, who served as U.S. Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan, and the Honorable Don Hodel, who served as both U.S. Secretary of Interior and Secretary of Energy in the Reagan Administration. Former Senator Malcolm Wallop (R-WY) signed the letter as well. State policy groups, including the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Oregonians in Action, the James Madison Institute, the Illinois Policy Institute, and the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, among others, also signed the letter. "Today, private landowners live in fear of the ESA. Those who harbor endangered species on their property or merely own land suitable for such species can find themselves subject to severe land use restrictions that can be financially devastating," said Ridenour. "This creates a perverse incentive for landowners to preemptively 'sterilize' their land to keep rare species away. Such sterilizations benefit no one - least of all the species the ESA was established to protect." "Property owners should not be punished for being good environmental stewards, yet that is exactly what the ESA does," said Peyton Knight, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for The National Center. In order to fix the ESA's perverse incentive problem, the letter says property owners who are denied the use of their land should be given 100 percent, fair market value compensation for losses. This would bring the ESA in line with the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees such compensation ("nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation")....

Go here(pdf) to read the letter.
EDITORIAL: Oregon court upholds property rights

The Oregon Supreme Court did the right thing last week, upholding the right of the people of Oregon to amend their constitution through Measure 37, which requires state and local governments to compensate property owners for any diminution to the value of their properties imposed through land use restrictions. The measure does not prevent governments from "preserving" attractive scenery, wildlife habitat and the like. It merely prevents governments from shuffling the costs of those noble undertakings onto others. If a local Oregon town or county wants to bar the owners of a hilltop farm from selling off part of their property for a subdivision -- in order to maintain the "pretty view" for all the neighbors -- the municipality can either buy the land, or pay the land owner the amount he or she loses by not being allowed to use the property as the owner sees fit. This is well in keeping with the letter and intent of the federal Fifth Amendment, which requires "just compensation" for any property taken for "public use." Self-styled "preservationists" moan this will limit their ability to "preserve" all kinds of stuff which they either do not choose or cannot afford to actually buy. Yes, and laws against bank robbery make it harder for gunmen to accrue the capital they need to live the Life of Riley....

Monday, February 27, 2006


Implementation of the Split Estate Section 1835 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005; Listening Sessions

February 15, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 31)]
[Page 7995]

AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of public listening sessions.

SUMMARY: Listening sessions will be held by the Bureau of Land Management to solicit suggestions from the public on how best to implement the split estate provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Section 1835 of the Energy Policy Act directs the Secretary of the Interior to review current policies and practices for managing oil and gas resources in split estate situations, that is, how the BLM provides for oil and gas development and environmental protection where the surface estate is privately owned and the mineral estate is owned and administered by the Federal Government. The Act directs that this review be conducted in consultation with affected private surface owners, oil and gas industry, and other interested parties. Dates and Locations: Listening Sessions will be scheduled during late March 2006 in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Washington, DC. The BLM will announce exact times and locations through the local media, e-mail, and on the Split Estate Web site at: at least 15 days prior to the listening sessions.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jim Perry, Senior Natural Resource Specialist for the BLM Fluid Minerals Program at (202) 452-5063, or visit the Split Estate Web site at

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The listening sessions will begin with an overview of the split estate provisions of the Energy Policy Act and current split estate practices, policies, regulations, and laws that guide management of the Federal mineral estate. participants who request to speak will be provided a set amount of time to provide recommendations for managing oil and gas resources in split estate situations.


June 22, 2004

In Reply Refer To: 3100 (310) P2800 (350)


Instruction Memorandum No. 2004-194

Expires: 09/30/2005

To: All Field Officials

From: Director

Subject: Integration of Best Management Practices into Application for Permit to Drill Approvals and Associated Rights-of-Way

Program Areas: Oil & Gas Operations; Geothermal Operations; Helium Operations; Lands & Realty.

Purpose: The purpose for issuing this Instruction Memorandum (IM) is to establish a policy that Field Offices consider Best Management Practices (BMPs) in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents to mitigate anticipated impacts to surface and subsurface resources, and also to encourage operators to actively consider BMPs during the application process.

Background: BMPs are innovative, dynamic, and economically feasible mitigation measures applied on a site-specific basis to reduce, prevent, or avoid adverse environmental or social impacts. BMPs are applied to management actions to aid in achieving desired outcomes for safe, environmentally sound resource development, by preventing, minimizing, or mitigating adverse impacts and reducing conflicts. The early incorporation of BMPs into Application for Permit to Drill (APDs) by the oil and gas operator helps to ensure an efficient and timely APD process.

Policy/Action: All Field Offices shall incorporate appropriate BMPs into proposed APDs and associated on and off-lease rights-of-way approvals after appropriate NEPA evaluation.

BMPs to be considered in nearly all circumstances include the following:

* Interim reclamation of well locations and access roads soon after the well is put into production;
* Painting of all new facilities a color which best allows the facility to blend with the background, typically a vegetated background;
* Design and construction of all new roads to a safe and appropriate standard, “no higher than necessary” to accommodate their intended use; and
* Final reclamation recontouring of all disturbed areas, including access roads, to the original contour or a contour which blends with the surrounding topography.

Other BMPs are more suitable for Field Office consideration on a case-by-case basis depending on their effectiveness, the balancing of increased operating costs vs. the benefit to the public and resource values, the availability of less restrictive mitigation alternatives, and other site specific factors. Examples of typical case-by-case BMPs include, but are not limited to the following:

· Installation of raptor perch avoidance;
· Burying of distribution power lines and/or flow lines in or adjacent to access roads;
· Centralizing production facilities;
· Submersible pumps;
· Belowground wellheads;
· Drilling multiple wells from a single pad;
· Noise reduction techniques and designs;
· Wildlife monitoring;
· Seasonal restriction of public vehicular access;
· Avoiding placement of production facilities on hilltops and ridgelines;
· Screening facilities from view;
· Bioremediation of oil field wastes and spills; and
· Use of common utility or right-of-way corridors.

A menu of typical BMPs can be found on the BLM Washington Office Fluid Minerals website. The website is updated frequently and submission of new BMPs and photos is encouraged.

BMPs have been developed and utilized by numerous oil and gas operators throughout the nation. When implementing new BMPs, Field Offices are encouraged to work with affected operators early, to explain how BMPs may fit into their development proposals and how BMPs can be implemented with the least economic impact. Discuss potential resource impacts with the operators and seek their recommended solutions while encouraging operators to incorporate necessary and effective BMPs into their proposals. BMPs not incorporated into the permit application by the operator may be considered and evaluated through the NEPA process and incorporated into the permit as APD Conditions of Approval or right-of-way stipulations.

Field Offices must be cautious to avoid the “one size fits all” approach to the application of BMPs. BMPs, by their very nature, are dynamic innovations and must be flexible enough to respond to new data, field research, technological advances, and market conditions. Following implementation, Field Offices should monitor, evaluate, and modify BMPs as necessary for use in future permit approvals.

The overall goal of the Bureau is to promote the best examples of responsible oil and gas development. Public lands should be showcases of good stewardship while providing for responsible, sustainable, and efficient development of the nation’s oil and gas resources. BLM will use the Quality Assurance Team (QAT) and General Management Evaluation (GME) processes in order to review our progress. To recognize good environmental stewardship work through the use of BMPs, BLM is establishing an annual “Best Management Practice” awards program with annual awards for industry and BLM offices, the details of which will be available subsequently.

Timeframe: Immediately.
Budget Impacts: Minimal.
Manual and Handbook Sections Affected: None.
Coordination: AD-200.

Contact: Please direct policy questions to Tom Lonnie, Assistant Director, Minerals, Realty, and Resource Protection (AD-300) at (202) 208-4201; or by E-mail at ; and technical questions to Jim Perry, Washington Office Fluid Minerals Group (WO-310), at (202) 452‑5063; or by E-mail at ; or to Tom Hare, Washington Office Fluid Minerals Group (WO310), at (202) 452‑5182, or by E-mail at

Signed by: Francis R. Cherry, Jr.

Authenticated by: Barbara J. Brown Acting Director Policy & Records Group, WO-560

Federal protection has led to wolves unafraid of people Some ranchers say the wolves in the Madison Valley have grown increasingly brazen and are apparently unafraid of people. State wildlife officials say such behavior is to be expected, given the federal protection the predators have had in the decade since being reintroduced in the Yellowstone National Park. Jack Atcheson Jr. said he was spooked on a recent hunting trip, when three men and three mules got within 47 yards of a wolf that was staring right at them. The Butte hunting outfitter, who books international trips, said he had never seen wolves in Alaska, Asia or other places act so boldly around people. "It was approaching us with the wind right in its face -- we were standing around the animals, but he was focused on us," Atcheson, 55, said. "He was not afraid at all." The wolf finally stopped when one of Atcheson's hunting partners chambered a rifle, while Atcheson snapped a photo. Even then, the wolf merely lay down and stared at the hunters before eventually walking away. Sunny Smith, manager of the CB Ranch near the Madison Range, said the wolves are "just like domestic dogs." And with calving season just weeks away, that lack of fear has ranchers worried about the prospect of the wolves attacking livestock....
Column - Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park: An ecosystem wanting wolves Elk graze on neighborhood lawns, golf course greens and the grass around city hall in this gateway town to Rocky Mountain National Park. The burgeoning herd browsing through Estes Park is a popular tourist attraction, but it's also a sign of an ecosystem out of whack. About 3,000 elk roam the national park and the Estes Valley. In the absence of native predators, they devour willows and aspens inside the park, and hundreds of them head down-valley to chow on lawns in town. As a result, the National Park Service may limit the elk population, and some are promoting the reintroduction of wolves to restore the ecosystem. The park is "mandated to look at the natural processes, which (in this case) is wolves," says Park Service spokeswoman Kyle Patterson. Wolves could reduce elk numbers, she says, and keep the herd mobile; ultimately, they could re-establish the park's predator base. But before Canis lupus returns to Colorado, supporters will have to placate the state wildlife managers in charge of surrounding lands, who fear wolves will wander outside the park and create more problems than they solve....
Court rejects rancher's appeal A Wyoming rancher's right to due process was not violated when the Bureau of Land Management revoked a settlement agreement that it said the rancher repeatedly violated, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled. In a decision handed down Thursday, the court rejected Harvey Frank Robbins' appeal, saying Robbins could still challenge the individual citations, but that terminating the agreement itself did not violate his rights. Robbins, of Thermopolis, and his attorney, Marc Stimpert, argued that the settlement agreement itself was a form of property because it provided a valuable benefit -- it would have erased 16 citations for alleged grazing violations -- and that the BLM couldn't, therefore, revoke the agreement unilaterally. The court rejected that argument, writing: "Robbins emphasized the 'serious consequences (to his) livelihood' that voiding the Settlement Agreement entails, noting that, '(w)ithout the settlement agreement, Mr. Robbins must litigate 16 cases against the BLM and face the consequences including possible loss of his BLM grazing permits. In contrast, Robbins can have these 16 cases dismissed and, in doing so, have his slate wiped clean.' "However, it is well established that 'an entitlement to nothing but procedure' cannot 'be the basis for a property interest."' The BLM also had argued that it had sovereign immunity from such lawsuits, but the court rejected that argument....go here to read the court's opinion....
Sponsors expect little change to bill aimed at protecting landowners’ rights The Colorado Senate sponsor of a bill that would help private landowners recover lost land value and property damages from energy companies that develop their land said Thursday he does not want to rewrite the bill. Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, said he intends to keep most of the details in the bill as it proceeds through the Senate. “I’ll sit down with the industry and the other parties like the Realtors and agricultural groups that back the bill to make sure their concerns are addressed,” he said. “But neither side will get all of what they want. That’s what I think is reflected in the bill now.” The state House gave final approval Thursday morning to the bill by a 60-3 vote, with two members absent. Backers of the bill observing the vote applauded the action. House Bill 1185, sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, would require landowners and oil and natural-gas operators to try to negotiate surface-use agreements to guide how land would be developed. If an agreement were not reached, operators would make a settlement offer to the landowner. If that offer was rejected, the companies could post a bond of at least $15,000 for each proposed well and proceed to drill the wells. The bill would call for “current fair market value” and an appraisal process to determine property damages....
Fate of 3 prairie species hinges on each other Before the arrival of Europeans in the New World, bison, prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets ran a co-op that benefited all three. Today, the loss of one threatens the others. Prairie dogs were the farmers of this cozy community. The little varmints cleared the prairies of brush and trees. Buffalo close-cropped the grass that would have overwhelmed the dogs. As many as 6 billion black-footed ferrets trimmed the prairie dog population. Prairie dog towns stretched from horizon to horizon. One colony in Texas was 250 miles long and 100 miles wide. Catastrophic diseases that exterminate colonies today would be lost in the depth of a gene pool that contained billions of individuals. By 1960, prairie dogs had vanished from 98 percent of their historic range. Thought to have vanished, the black-footed ferret was discovered alive and healthy in a prairie dog town near Meeteetse, Wyo. In 1981, a ranch dog came home with a dead ferret in its jaws. After threatening to prosecute the rancher, the feds set up a ferret watch and studied the born-again weasel. The ferret was studied almost to death....
Column: Sell Disney the Grand Canyon Earlier this month, the Bush administration proposed to sell 200,000 acres of federal land in order to raise money for rural schools in 41 states. Despite the fact that the proposed sale represents only tiny fraction of the total federal estate — and despite the fact that the parcels in question range from only a quarter of an acre to 200 acres in size — many environmentalists are apoplectic. Admittedly, many Americans believe that the federal government needs to own land in order to keep it out of the hands of developers. That is why so many recoil from privatization. But why should those who oppose development be able to impose their preferences regarding land use on everyone else? If there is more money to be made by turning the Grand Canyon over to the Walt Disney Co. rather than to an eco-sensitive tourism cooperative, it simply means that the public demand for Disney's services at the Grand Canyon is greater than the public's demand for Deep Green Trail Services Inc. In this case, environmentalist complaints are really complaints about the preferences of the rabble. If the preferences of the rich were to dominate the market, the environment would likely benefit because the rich (as a group) care a lot more about the environment than anyone else. The demographic profile of the membership of major environmental organizations certainly bears that out....
In Fire's Wake, Logging Study Inflames Debate If fire ravages a national forest, as happened here in southwest Oregon when the Biscuit fire torched a half-million acres four years ago, the Bush administration believes loggers should move in quickly, cut marketable trees that remain and replant a healthy forest. "We must quickly restore the areas that have been damaged by fire," President Bush said in Oregon four years ago after touring damage from the Biscuit fire. He called it "common sense." Common sense, though, may not always be sound science. An Oregon State University study has raised an extraordinary ruckus in the Pacific Northwest this winter by saying that logging burned forests does not make much sense. Logging after the Biscuit fire, the study found, has harmed forest recovery and increased fire risk. What the short study did not say -- but what many critics of the Bush administration are reading into it -- is that the White House has ignored science to please the timber industry. The study is consistent with research findings from around the world that have documented how salvage logging can strip burned forests of the biological diversity that fire and natural recovery help protect. The study also questions the scientific rationale behind a bill pending in Congress that would ease procedures for post-fire logging in federal forests....
Is it a New Day for the Timber Industry? He's not sure of the date, but Craig Thomas remembers a frozen night about 20 years ago. At 4 a.m. he was driving to Libby to begin his work day as a logger for Champion International when he saw a Volkswagen bug on the side of the deserted road at the bottom of Evaro Hill, outside Missoula. As he drove past, his headlights picked up a young woman kneeling beside the driver's side front tire. She was blonde and couldn't have weighed more than a hundred pounds, Thomas said. He saw that she had a flat and was struggling to remove the wheel's lug nuts. Thomas said she was trying to twist them the wrong way. He hit the brakes and threw his truck in reverse, parking on the shoulder 50 feet behind the Volkswagen. He climbed out of his truck and cautiously identified himself to the woman, looking around as he did so. Thomas had heard of assaults in situations like this one where a group of men waited to rob whoever pulled over to aid the woman with a flat tire. But this woman appeared genuinely distressed, and grateful for Thomas's help. As he knelt to remove the lug nuts he explained how Volkswagens were odd; the nuts unscrewed in the opposite direction of American cars. He had just gotten the final lug nut off when the woman paced back toward the direction of his truck and started shouting. "Cease and desist!" Thomas remembers the woman yelling....
FBI Green scare continues more arrests this week In what has been dubbed the “green scare” by environmentalists across the nation, the U.S. government returned three additional federal grand jury indictments this week for individuals allegedly involved in actions claimed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) between 1998 and 2003. In the more than two months of intense attention from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), eighteen people have now been indicted for more than a dozen actions of property damage. In Olympia, Washington, Nathan Fraser Block and Joyanna L. Zacher were arrested February 23 on two separate 14-county indictments for the May 21, 2001 arson at Jefferson Poplar Farm in Clatskanie, Oregon. Block and Zacher join four other defendants already charged in connection with the action. Tucson environmental and indigenous activist Rod Coronado was arrested February 22 at his workplace in Tucson, Arizona, by agents with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF). The arrest was in connection with a San Diego federal grand jury indictment charging Coronado with "teaching and demonstrating the making and use of a destructive device, with the intent that the device be used to commit arson" at a public gathering in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego on August 1, 2003. Coronado is not charged with setting a fire 15 hours before his lecture that caused $50 million in damages and destroyed a large apartment complex under construction in the University Towne Center area of San Diego. Three animal rights activists in San Diego were jailed in contempt of court for refusing to testify in the secret Grand Jury investigation and were released at the end of last year. Block and Zacher join the other 11 co-defendants involved in the Eugene grand jury investigation, all which are scheduled to go to trial October 31, 2006. The trial is expected to last between five and ten weeks....
State backs roadless rule Montana joined the legal battle Friday over the Bush administration’s repeal of the 2001 Roadless Rule by filing an “amicus brief” supporting reinstatement of the rule. Last year, the states of California, Oregon, and New Mexico filed a lawsuit alleging the Bush administration violated federal law by not studying the environmental impacts of repealing the Clinton Roadless Rule. Washington State joined the lawsuit earlier this year. In Friday’s brief, Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath and Maine’s Attorney General G. Steven Rowe write that they support a motion by the four other states for summary judgment, meaning that they want a court to rule now that the repeal of the Roadless Rule should be set aside. “Protected roadless areas serve as a primary source of clean water for fish and for wildlife, as well as for sources for the water supplies for our states’ cities and towns,” the attorneys general wrote in the legal filing. “Protection of roadless areas provides habitat for threatened and endangered species as well as for big game species.”....
Spendy salmon Northwest populations of Pacific salmon accounted for one of every four state and federal dollars spent on saving endangered or threatened species during 2004, according to a new report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Government agencies spent $393 million on helping the five Pacific salmon species protected by the Endangered Species Act -- chinook, steelhead, coho, sockeye and chum. Total government spending for 1,838 listed species was $1.4 billion, the report said. And the cost promises to rise. The Bush administration says it will spend $6 billion over the next 10 years to modify eight federally owned hydroelectric dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers to make them less lethal to salmon. Cost is increasingly becoming a factor in the debate over how best to restore struggling salmon runs....
Column: Column: Land-grabbing spurs a backlash by voters State after state is rushing to bar government from "taking" private property for transfer to another private entity. It's part of a populist firestorm triggered by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in a New London, Conn., case in which homeowners were ordered out of their houses to make way for a city-ordered redevelopment scheme. And it could be only the opening shot. Tempers also are growing short over the use of "regulatory takings" -- government-imposed rules that deprive owners of the full use of their property without compensation. Such takings were in the spotlight at the Supreme Court last week, where oral arguments took place on a pair of cases emanating from Michigan. The first involves a Midland developer, John Rapanos, who has been fined millions of dollars for filling in three parcels of property alleged to contain wetlands. The second involves developers June and Keith Carabell, who were prevented from building a 112-unit condominium complex in suburban Detroit after regulators determined it might jeopardize the "navigable waters" of the United States....
At the crossroads Helen Quinn steps out from behind the broken screen door of her son’s house on the hill at the end of Showdown Lane. Her breath curls in the frosty air as she stretches a wrinkled hand to point out the ranch to her left and the row of brand-new houses to her right. The sound of banging hammers echoes up from a construction site, matched periodically by moos from the white Charolais crosses grazing on the other side of the road. In front of the new houses, hulking yellow Caterpillars and Bobcats lay dormant in the fresh snow. “I’m sorry they had to subdivide this,” Quinn says with a sigh. “It was really pretty to see the horses on one side and the cows on the other. But it’s progress, I guess, with a question mark.” The aptly named Showdown Lane separates ranchland from subdivisions in Missoula’s Miller Creek area, and as such it defines a conflict the city has yet to reconcile as it expands. Once the rolling hills of the Miller Creek area were pasture and farmland, most part of the 3,200-acre Maloney Ranch. Now Miller Creek is the epicenter of a heated debate between longtime ranchers and developers. As ranching grows more difficult and less profitable, the land is being bought, subdivided and developed....
Bill pushed to stop any new agriculture rules Hands off agriculture. That's the message of a bill that would restrict the ability of the state Legislature and citizens to pass laws regulating the agriculture industry. Aimed, in part, at quashing a citizens' initiative on farming practices that is opposed by the industry, the proposed constitutional amendment would go much further. It would constitutionally bar legislators or citizens from passing agricultural laws, and experts worry it also could exempt the industry from broader state laws such as a state minimum wage law or even new environmental regulations. Critics are calling the measure absurd and radical and questioning the logic of putting a single industry out of reach of citizens or their elected representatives. The proposal, Senate Concurrent Resolution 1035, introduced by Republican Sen. Jake Flake, prohibits any new laws or regulations that "limit or restrict the production of agricultural products" except in certain circumstances, including public health and safety and water use. Any new laws that do apply to agriculture could be enforced or adopted only by an unnamed state agency to be designated by the Legislature, unless lawmakers or citizens amend the state Constitution....
Down 'n drought An East Texas man who once observed numerous lakes drying up said it was the first time he ever had seen fish with ticks on them. A West Texas rancher who watched heavy rains break a long drought said it hadn't rained in so long that 3-year-old bullfrogs were drowning because they didn't know how to swim. Indeed, some humor can be found almost anywhere, but anyone who is seriously concerned about the effects of this winter's Texas drought on outdoors activities, plants and wildlife know that it is not a laughing matter. The consensus among wildlife observers, outdoor-events planners, fisheries officials and others is that if the drought continues through spring and summer its effects are going to be the worst in at least a half-century. On Jan. 19, Gov. Rick Perry declared drought disaster for all 254 counties in the state after wildfires had claimed 455,000 acres and destroyed more than 300 homes and were blamed for at least three deaths. According to the National Climatic Data Center, 2005 was the 12th-driest year on record for Texas. April through December was the third-driest period on record, surpassing only the same periods in 1917 and 1956....
Climate change affecting agriculture, wildlife, recreation The old-timers are right. The snowdrifts were deeper back then, and winter persisted far longer. Climate studies in western Montana show spring is arriving two to three weeks earlier than it did 50 years ago. Missoula's annual average temperature is up 2 degrees over the same period. And the number of frost-free days in the growing season increased by about 16 days. Gov. Brian Schweitzer asked Montana's Department of Environmental Quality to form a Climate Change Advisory Group to thoroughly study the impact of global warming in Montana. Schweitzer wants a Climate Change Action Plan by next year....
Newcombe ranch to be auctioned One of the West River area's most historic ranches, where Chief Big Foot camped on his way to Wounded Knee and where famed trick rider Mattie Goff Newcombe and her husband, Maynard, raised cattle for many years, will be sold at auction this week. It is attracting interest from potential buyers in 19 states, as well as local ranchers. The nearly 16,000-acre Newcombe ranch, which has been in the same family since it was homesteaded in the 1890s, will be auctioned at 11 a.m. Thursday, March 2, in the Central Meade County Community Center at Union Center. Chief Big Foot and his band of Miniconjou Lakotas camped a mile or two east of the present Newcombe ranch headquarters downstream from the confluence of the Belle Fourche and Cheyenne rivers, according to Hereford resident Hugh Reichert, 85, who has lived in the area his entire life. Members of a local ranchers' militia called the Home Guard reportedly harassed Big Foot's band, and cavalry troops from Fort Meade kept an eye on the Lakotas, Reichert said. Big Foot and his band slipped away and traveled south through the Badlands to their ill-fated date with history on Wounded Knee Creek on Dec. 29, 1890. Meanwhile, 18-year-old John Newcombe emigrated from England to the Black Hills in about 1881, according to a grandnephew of Mattie's, Derral Herbst of Hawaii, who has examined U.S. Census records....
Man re-creates conveyances of Old West The vehicle housed inside Russ Tyndall's garage won't break any modern day land speed records. But there was a time, Tyndall said, when his 4-horsepower "interstate cruiser" could have gone unchallenged as it charged across the vast plains and mountains of the West. Tyndall's vehicle, a functional, nine-passenger stagecoach, is in mint condition. It has candle burning lamps, interior leather seating, and 23-carat gold-leaf exterior scrollwork. "It's an exact reproduction of the Western-style coaches originally manufactured by the Abbot Downing Company at (its) factory in Concord, New Hampshire, in 1864," Tyndall said from his 8-acre property in Cochise....
Lambing season's here: But sheep ranching a dying breed' Buck Guntley, a descendant of generations of sheep ranchers, remembers when family outings included driving on foot or horseback, about 1,200 head of sheep over Highway 101. "We used to trail sheep from here to Anderson Valley," the 74-year-old Guntley recalled Friday from his 4,000 acre ranch, hidden off Highway 20. "There used to be a slaughter house there. We'd take a buggy and a couple of horses ... We'd drive them on the ground right down Highway 101 ... " he said, until they reached a corral, then located near where Frank Zeek School is now. The next morning, they'd travel the rest of the way to their destination, he said, noting their last trip was made in 1947, by which time there were a few cars to deal with. "Cars coming would wait ... we'd wait until we had three or four cars behind us and then we'd take the sheep and move them over to one sie of the road (to let the cars go by)," he said. "It's a dying breed," Guntley said of sheep ranching. His family has been at it since the 1800s, and moved to the area in 1906, Guntley said....
Cattle drive became Okeechobee history Not so terribly long ago, cattle drives passed through town to sales or new pasture. On one such drive, a nine-year-old boy was allowed to accompany his grandfather and father on the three week long trip. In the mural, he is shown riding his Shetland pony and his father is on a grey horse. Many of you know this boy, now a grown man, as local rancher Haynes Williams. This is his story of that memorable cattle drive in 1937. “Back then cattle ranged free; no one owned the land his cattle grazed. Most of the land was owned by out-of-town big investors, like Okeechobee, Inc. or the State of Florida. “It had gotten crowded up near where we were in Highlands and Desoto Counties. Grandpa needed more grazing space for his cattle. We came from Highlands County down to Okeechobee on our way to grazing land over at Allapattah Flats. I was allowed to ride with the drive on my pony, Dan. My father, Zibe K. Williams, was on the cattle drive riding his grey horse. “I was nine years old and that three weeks was the horror story of my life! It was July and it rained every day. “You made maybe five miles a day with those cracker cows ‘cause you had to let them stop and graze part of every day. They had to eat. I cried every day of that trip to go home, but there wasn’t any going home. It was days away by horse through the mud. We didn’t have raincoats then and I didn’t even have a hat....
On the Edge of Common Sense: Chicken by any other name tastes the same It may come as a shock that I, a man who cannot fry eggs without searing an impermeable layer of Formica on the bottom, who still has not mastered Minute Rice and whose idea of a salad is a jalapeo and Miracle Whip, would keep abreast of the latest trends in haute cuisine. Many of you are aware that sous vide (plastic vacuum-sealed gourmet meats for boiling or simmering) has now jumped from the convenience store bean burrito you put in the microwave, to the Anazazi frijle blue tortilla wrap with Santa Fe red chile and mango sauce you buy at Trader Joe's for $12.99. It just shows you can paint racing stripes on a Geo and fool some of the people all of the time....