Saturday, June 09, 2007

Employee handbook for the cowboy

Cowgirl Sass And Savvy

By Julie Carter


We live in a time when rules and regulations are everywhere. If the government hasn't regulated it, we, the people have.

We write rules and pass out manuals with job descriptions. We have laws to abide by while on the job or as members of most organizations.

A cowboy's job is not just a career. It is a heritage that has evolved over more than a century of man working with bovines. With it comes a code that isn't written in a manual.

These rules aren't printed and handed out at the bunkhouse or posted on the saddle room door.

They have been passed from generation to generation among the cowboys themselves and between father and son. These are laws of respect and cowboy etiquette that are just part of the job.

The concepts are age-old but still hold true today. But because more and more cowboys are "found" and not raised, fewer and fewer are aware of the content of this unwritten manual.

Genuine legitimate indisputable cowboys have influenced my life. Over the years, I have asked them to tell me what it was a cowboy should know in order to live true to the code.

If the cowboy had an employee handbook, these men all agreed that these simple laws, no matter which outfit it was on, would be included:

Never ride another cowboy's horse unless it's a matter of life and death.

Never use another cowboy's equipment without permission.

Never ride between another cowboy and the herd. Always ride behind him to get where you are going.

Don't ride in front of the boss. He knows what he wants to do. He will let you know what he wants you to know. If he's tracking cattle, stay back or you'll mess up the tracks.

Never ride into the herd if you haven't been asked to do so. If you are holding herd, hold the herd - period. Helping to cut cattle from the herd is not a volunteer option.

Don't ask the boss what you are going to do the next day. Again, if he wants you to know, he'll tell you.

Always take care of your horse before you take care of yourself.

Always be on time. Nothing makes a cow boss quite as mad as having to wait on someone.

Cowboy, take that hat off! If you are in the presence of a lady or if you go into someone's house, show your respect and hold that hat in your hand.

Watch your language in mixed company. If you are sitting in a room and a lady enters, stand up.

Always help the cook with wood and water and don't ever get into his grub unless he asks. Always put your plate and silverware in the roundup pan
(dishpan) after you eat.

Don't ever take a dog when you go to help another outfit. They may not like dogs. Never yell at another man's dog.

Always roll your bedroll when you first get out of it. ALWAYS leave a clean camp.

The best advice my mentors could offer was to always be respectful, dependable and do your best at whatever it was you were asked to do. Manners count.

There is no one finer to be in the presence of than a gentleman cowboy.

See Julie's website a www.julie-carter.com

Sale price for new book good only until June 30.
Federal judge blocks Bureau of Land Management's grazing rules

In a ruling that harshly criticized the Bureau of Land Management, a federal judge on Friday blocked the agency's new grazing rules, saying it had given in to pressure from the livestock industry. The BLM violated the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act in creating the rules, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled. Winmill's 52-age ruling said the BLM's rule revisions would have loosened restrictions on grazing on millions of acres of public land nationwide, limited the amount of public comment the BLM had to consider and diluted the BLM's authority to sanction ranchers for grazing violations. "While the BLM justifies the changes as making it more efficient, the BLM was not their originator -- it was the grazing industry and its supporters that first proposed them," Winmill wrote. "Past BLM regulations imposed restrictions on grazing and increased the opportunities for public input to reverse decades of grazing damage to public lands," Winmill wrote. "Without any showing of improvement, the new BLM regulations loosen restrictions on grazing. "They limit public input from the non-ranching public, offer ranchers more rights on BLM land, restrict the BLM's monitoring of grazing damage, extend the deadlines for corrective action, and dilute the BLM's authority to sanction ranchers for grazing violations."....Winmill also found fault with the rules themselves. The BLM reduced the number of interested parties that would be given notice of grazing allotment issues, and stopped consulting, cooperating and coordinating with the interested public at all on several types of allotment changes. "The changes substantially affect both the amount and quality of public input," Winmill said. The rules would have allowed the agency to rely only on limited data when reviewing potential grazing problems, and stretched the time given to address those problems to up to three years. While the BLM is "reluctant to convict cattle of grazing damage, the BLM is not hesitant to acquit," Winmill said. "The BLM never explains that distinction." The judge said the revised regulations will not take effect until the BLM receives consultation from the Fish and Wildlife Service as required under the Endangered Species Act and takes a hard look at the potential environmental impacts of the grazing changes. "The BLM is changing course here," Winmill said. "While the 1995 regulations erected protections against grazing damage and guarded against delay, the revisions at issue here promote delay."....

Friday, June 08, 2007

GAO

Waters and Wetlands: Corps of Engineers Needs to Ensure That Permit Decisions Made Using Funds from Nonfederal Public Entities Are Transparent and Impartial. GAO-07-478, May 16.
http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-478

Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07478high.pdf
NOTE TO READERS

My internet was down all Wednesday afternoon and night.

I'm on the road to Casper, Wyoming to attend the College National Finals Rodeo.

I'll have Julie Carter's column Saturday night and will start posting news and how the NMSU rodeo team is doing on Monday.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

NOTE TO READERS

Thanks to everyone for your positive email and comments.

Based on your suggestions, I have:

---changed the font

---enlarged the font and

---bolded the headline links

That last one has created all kinds of complications & delays, but it sure makes the blog easier to read. I will try to find a way to automate that function, or do something to make it work better.

One commenter said I could widen the template by going to the style sheet. I went there through my edit html tab, but couldn't figure out how to widen it. If that commentor or someone else can tell me how, it would be appreciated.

Thanks again for all your comments and suggestions.

Senate colleagues salute Thomas' contributions
A vase of red, white and blue flowers stood on the black-draped desk of Sen. Craig Thomas as his mourning colleagues rose together in the Senate chamber for a moment of silence early Tuesday. Senator after senator paid tribute to the late Wyoming Republican in speeches lasting the morning. They all turned to the same words: cowboy, Marine, courageous, kind, calm, straightforward. A picture emerged of a gentle spirit who never complained despite his recent illness, an upbeat man with a warm word for everyone, a quiet but tough fighter who stood his ground on issues that mattered most to his state. "For me, I'll always remember Craig's spirit, for his spirit in life was a great illustration of the spirit of Wyoming," said Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. "His life became a living portrait of the American West. He saw a world from the saddle of his horse and from under the brim of his cowboy hat. He was proud of Wyoming, and Wyoming was proud to be represented by him."...
Senator's grace fondly recalled among those in his home state Al Simpson remembered a young man who was a tough wrestler and football player, while Eli Bebout recalled team roping with him. Former State Treasurer Cynthia Lummis said she admired his cool, steady style of leadership - while for state Republican Chairman Fred Parady, it was a pie-eating contest that stood out. Fond memories abound of Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., who died Monday. Simpson grew up with Thomas in Cody and played football with him at the University of Wyoming. Both went into the military after college - Simpson into the Army, Thomas into the Marines. "He was a tough guy," Simpson said. Yet Thomas had a big smile. Simpson said Thomas was a leavening influence on Simpson's own rambunctious demeanor, a dynamic that continued years later, when Thomas would bring people to visit Simpson when he was a U.S. senator....
Forest Service investigates former employees The case against a wildfire commander ignites an intense debate over prescribed and unauthorized burns. It has also sparked an investigation into the actions of former firefighters. Just two days after former fire commander Van Bateman was sentenced to two years in prison for starting fires without authorization, other commanders have come out and said they know of other firefighters who have started unauthorized fires. Raqual Romero, a forest service spokesperson, told 12 News that investigators will look into the comments made by former employees Jim Paxon and Charlie Denton. Former commander Larry Humphrey, who spoke out in support of Van Bateman told 12 News he's aware of "several" firefighters who have started unauthorized burns. "It was against the rules as far as we knew but not against the law", said Humphrey. Several high ranking forest officials have come out since Bateman was sentenced and called his actions the work of a "rogue" firefighter. The forest service is just starting their investigation....
Feds begin wolverine review Scientists have long known the wolverine -- once described as a weasel with a scrap of demoniac fury -- is a beast of great ferocity, cunning and secrecy. They also know the animal lives in just a fraction of its historical range. What they don't know is whether wolverines, which inhabit parts of Wyoming, should be considered an endangered species. In response to a court ruling last fall, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is initiating a status review of the fierce, reclusive predator to determine whether the species warrants special protection, the agency announced Tuesday. Conservationists contend wolverine populations are in steep, drastic decline and need help. Problems for the species include loss of habitat because of roads and other human development, trapping in Montana and denning disturbances caused by snowmobiles. The Fish and Wildlife Service intends to complete the wolverine status review by a court-ordered date of Feb. 28, 2008, said agency spokeswoman Lori Nordstrom. "The Service will evaluate all existing and new information to determine whether impacts to the wolverine warrant a listing proposal," Mitch King, director of the Service's Mountain-Prairie Region, said in a news release. Nordstrom said the agency is seeking information from the public, government agencies and others regarding the status and potential impacts to the wolverine....
Bear attack victim released A wildlife photographer mauled by a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park last month has been released from an eastern Idaho hospital. Jim Cole, 57, of Bozeman, suffered serious facial and eye damage when he disturbed a female bear while shooting photographs in the park's Hayden Valley. Park officials say Cole was hiking alone, off a trail, and was two or three miles from a road when the bear with a single cub attacked. Longtime friend Michael Sanders said Cole was released from the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center on Sunday and will spend the next several weeks recovering at an undisclosed location. Cole "is experiencing problems with his vision and speech," Sanders told the Idaho Falls Post-Register. "His arms are very weak, but he is doing some exercises and feeling better." The May 23 attack is not the first for Cole, who has written and taken photos for two books about grizzly bears....
Injured eagle put into wild after rehab A golden eagle that was seriously injured last winter returned to its home along the Bighorn River last week after having been rescued by cattle ranchers and rehabilitated in Bozeman. Harry and Ellen Allen, owners of the Pocket Creek Ranch near Custer, helped release the female adult eagle back into the wild last Friday. "It was pretty exciting that she is back home again," Ellen Allen said. The family is keeping an eye on the bird, and so far she is sticking close to the river, Ellen Allen said. Lou Hanebury, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the Allens' ranch is teeming with wildlife and that the family especially enjoys watching bald and golden eagles during nesting season and throughout the year. In January, the Allens noticed a golden eagle that was doing poorly and could fly only short distances. Harry Allen called the FWS on Jan. 10, and Hanebury and other agency officials went to the ranch and captured the bird....
US Chamber Joins Growing Clamor Against Rahall Energy Bill The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tuesday joined the growing clamor against Rep. Nick Rahall's, D-W.Va., energy bill which critics say would not only stunt future oil and gas production in the U.S., but also suppress a growing wind energy market. The chamber, along with a raft of industry groups, is urging federal lawmakers to oppose the bill ahead of a markup in the House Natural Resources Committee Wednesday. Environmental groups, however, say they are mostly delighted with the bill - especially the oil and gas provisions - and are near to brokering a legislative compromise with committee chairman Rahall's office that would allow continued wind power growth while protecting wildlife. In a letter to lawmakers, chamber vice president of government affairs Bruce Josten said Rahall's Energy Reform and Revitalization Act of 2007, "not only fails to produce a single kilowatt of energy, but also threatens to reduce, and in some sectors eradicate, energy production." "Any lawmaker serious about energy security or energy independence should have strong reservations about voting for H.R. 2337," Josten wrote....
Land owners fight back against drillers The energy boom across the West has created tens of thousands of jobs and funded state scholarships, teacher raises — even top-of-the-line sports centers in remote ranch towns. The other day, Roger Hawkins was reminded how much all that wealth would cost him. Strolling his 32-acre ranch in southwest Colorado, Hawkins came across yellow survey tape running past a web of deer tracks. It indicated plans for drilling on his property — in the pine-studded hollow where he had hoped to build a new home. Like many Westerners, Hawkins owns the surface of his ranch but not the rights to the minerals below. Traditionally, property owners in such “split estates” have had little choice but to get out of the way when energy companies start chopping trees, paving roads or sinking wells to get buried fuel. But now they’re fighting back. Legislatures in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming recently passed bills to rein in oil, gas and coal extraction on private property. The measures do not halt the practice, by any means; the energy extracted heats homes and powers fuel plants, and Western states depend on energy revenue and the jobs that exploration brings. But the legislation gives some leverage to landowners....
Cry Wolf Pick up the february 2007 issue of Outdoor Life magazine, and the first thing you’ll probably notice is a pretty scary-looking confrontation. The cover features an outdoorsy oil painting—think 1950s Boy Scouts manual—of two snarling wolves charging toward a hunter. “Wolf Attack,” reads the neon-orange cover line, pointing to a story about a hunter whose dogs were killed by wolves. The story has conservationists fuming. “It makes it sound like the wolves are attacking these people and their dogs, but it doesn’t really explain what occurred,” says Suzanne Asha Stone, a spokesperson for the conservation group Defenders of Wildlife. “People went hunting with their dogs, and they released them near the wolves’ denning site. It’s unfortunate that this happened, but it’s not common.” Neither the story nor Stone’s reaction is surprising; hunters and animal advocates have an acrimonious history together, to put it mildly. But there’s a backstory that makes the Outdoor Life article especially timely—and, if you ask Stone, especially worrisome. Wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains are back from the brink of extinction....
Forest Service branch to assess emissions The regional branch of the U.S. Forest Service has decided to assess its greenhouse gas emissions by joining the California Climate Action Registry, a voluntary program established by state law. The Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, which oversees federal forests in California, announced the plan Tuesday, becoming the first federal agency to join the registry. Its 18 national forests cover one-fifth of the state and involve about 5,000 employees, 7,600 facilities and 3,500 street-legal vehicles. Spokesman Matt Mathes said forest officials will use the registry's accounting rules to assess emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming gases from its vehicles and facilities. A future assessment may probe emissions from forest management. "The whole idea here is to establish a baseline for what our emissions are, and then to be able to reduce them," Mathes said. "In the long term, we do think it will be important for us to measure the effect of forest management on carbon." Everyone better watch this. It has the potential to influence every decision on management and could set a precedent for other Federal agencies. Are you ready to purchase some "carbon credits" so you can graze, hike, camp, ski etc.?? Will also be used by the agencies to ask for more money.
Budworm now bigger threat Entomologist Dr. Laurel Walters says the spruce budworm, one of the insect species previously named as one of the detrimental species affecting the Lincoln National Forest, is now a larger immediate threat to the forest than the looper. "We just surveyed many of the conifers on our one-acre property in Cloudcroft," Walters said during an interview with the Daily News Sunday. "Of 60 trees, 100 percent are infested with spruce budworm." Walters called this discovery "a disaster." "Now it is essential that we spray for this in a couple of weeks, in addition to spraying for the looper," she said. Walters, who is serving as an unpaid consultant for Otero County on the insect infestation in the Lincoln, said the budworms will become voracious in the larval stage between moulting after they leave their silken home at the base of the buds. The entomologist said she has already observed several budworms emerging out of buds on trees in the forest. "I believe that this poses an immediate threat to our trees," Walters said. "And that this may be even more deadly to the trees than the loopers."....
BLM Forest Tour: Is thinning a winning idea? This is the Bureau of Land Management’s proposal for stimulating old-growth characteristics in crowded tree stands. The pros for doing such follow: Fires ravage dense forests; birds and wildlife vie for huge, old-growth trees with thick branches and decaying cavities. Then there’s the con, which sticks in the craw of the logging industry: Thinning projects eat profits. The BLM inventories these considerations and more when it plans a thinning harvest sale. They are also the particulars of a 14-year study on tree-stand density at a dozen different sites in Western Oregon. “We don’t have stands that are complex because of things that we’ve done,” for wholesale timber sales of the past, announced Al James, a BLM forester, to a mixed group of timber industry leaders, businessmen, conservationists and a schools superintendent on a field trip last week to two study sites in the Umpqua area. But the BLM hopes it can enhance critical habitat for threatened birds and other at-risk wildlife by selling commercial thinning harvests. The work would also increase the flow of timber receipts into local and county coffers....
Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front Members Sentenced in Oregon Today U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken sentenced the final defendant in the conspiracy case involving twenty acts of arson committed by members of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), the Justice Department announced. The ten defendants acted in an underground cell of what they called "The Family." In their previously entered guilty pleas, the defendants acknowledged that they, and their group, sought to influence and affect the conduct of government, private business, and the civilian population through force, violence, sabotage, mass destruction, intimidation and coercion, and to retaliate against government and private businesses by similar means. The investigation of the environmental extremists involved multiple federal, state and local law enforcement and spanned over nine years. "Today's sentence is a fitting culmination to the largest prosecution of environmental extremists in U.S. history. These defendants were responsible for a broad campaign of domestic terrorism that spanned five states, included roughly 20 arsons or attempted arsons, and caused more than $40 million in property damage. The lengthy sentences should serve notice to others who use violence to further their causes," said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales....
Texas' Dirty Coal
The latest carbon dioxide emissions numbers from the Energy Department, listed by state, are out. Not surprisingly, Texas topped the list of biggest polluters in 2003, the most recent year with available data. It holds steady as 7th in carbon dioxide emissions behind whole nations: the entire United States, China, Russia, Japan, India and Germany. The co-star of the report was coal, Texas' major power source, because although carbon dioxide emissions from car exhaust account for 25% of America's greenhouse gasses, coal produces 50% of America's electricity and burning coal creates more carbon dioxide than any other common fuel source. Texas seems to be a house divided regarding its own place in the global emissions hierarchy. In 2005 the state's Governor Rick Perry fast-tracked plans for 11 new TXU Corp. coal power plants after the company lined the war chest for Perry's re-election campaign. But Robert Cervenka, a Republican rancher of Riesel, Texas, manage to organize 1,000 people to fight the governor and TXU Corp. in their effort to double the state's already grossly high emissions....
NASA chief regrets remarks on global warming The head of NASA told scientists and engineers that he regrets airing his personal views about global warming during a recent radio interview, according to a video of the meeting obtained by The Associated Press. NASA administrator Michael Griffin said in the closed-door meeting Monday at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena that “unfortunately, this is an issue which has become far more political than technical, and it would have been well for me to have stayed out of it.” “All I can really do is apologize to all you guys.... I feel badly that I caused this amount of controversy over something like this,” he said....
I can persuade George Bush on climate change - Blair Tony Blair insisted yesterday that he could persuade President Bush to agree for the first time to a global target for a "substantial cut" in greenhouse gases within a framework sanctioned by the United Nations. In an interview with the Guardian on the eve of the G8 summit, the prime minister said both elusive goals were now achievable and that America was "on the move" in its position on climate change. Although Mr Blair said it would take tough negotiations over the next three days and it was still unclear exactly what the president would agree to, he was sure Mr Bush's speech last week, in which he talked about establishing a US-led initiative to tackle global warming, was not a ploy to undermine the UN or the G8. " I think the announcement by President Bush last week was significant and important, and it is absurd to say otherwise, since it moved things on. On the other hand you then need to flesh out what it means." He stressed that any agreement reached between the G8 and the five leading developing countries would have to be sanctioned by the entire United Nations....
Can Prairie Dogs be Managed Utilizing Reconciliation Ecology? Reconciliation ecology is not really a new idea. Henry David Thoreau included human beings and human activity as part of the "environment (1)." However, the whole concept seems quite foreign and unbelievable to those who are steeped in modern Western philosophy. The concept of reconciliation ecology is to accommodate wild species within a human modified or occupied landscape(2). According to Michael Rosenzweig, saving a major part of the world's biodiversity will require more than just setting aside parks and wildlife preserves. It will require that humans adapt their own environments to accommodate other species(1). Rosenzweig defines reconciliation ecology as "… the science of inventing, establishing, and maintaining new habitats to conserve species diversity in places where people live, work, or play. Reconciliation Ecology seeks environmentally sound ways for us to continue to use the land for our own benefit(3, 4). Rosenzweig continues, "Although these habitats would not be ideally suited to wild things, they would provide enough support to allow them to adapt to us…"(8) Interestingly enough, nature has been one of our best teachers of possibilities that can result from reconciliation ecology....
Supervisors reject call for buffer zones on farmland Farmers may need help keeping their land in production once development encroaches, but forcing builders to create wide buffer zones between farms and new homes isn't the solution, Ventura County supervisors decided Tuesday. On a 3-2 vote, the board majority rejected a proposed law that would have mandated "farmland buffers" whenever a new development is built adjacent to farming operations. Such zones would have created a 300-foot open strip between farms and new construction. The barrier would have been reduced to 150 feet if the developer planted and maintained a vegetative barrier, such as a stand of trees. The ordinance was proposed by Supervisor Linda Parks of Thousand Oaks and was intended to quell fights over noise, odors and pesticide use that emerge when new homes are built close to working farms....
Montana Pick-Up Truck Users Concerned about Legislation in U.S. Senate The United States Senate is expected to begin discussions this week on S. 1419 which calls for radical increases in CAFE standards for pick-up trucks and light vans. If the bill is passed in its present form it would cause severe changes in the way pick-up trucks are made and reduce the amount of trucks that would be built. Montana pick-up truck, and four wheel drive users will be counting on Senators Tester and Baucus to protect their rights and work with their peers in the Senate to find effective compromises that don't threaten safety, production and consumer choice. Title V of S. 1419 would create a single car and light truck fuel economy standard of 52 miles per gallon by 2030. This is bad policy with serious consequences for many reasons: S. 1419 is extreme, by any yardstick. For the foreseeable future, few autos could achieve 52 mpg. No crossovers, minivans, SUVs or pickups on our roads could meet this extreme mileage standard. In Europe, where gasoline costs more than $5 per gallon, the average fuel economy is 35 mpg. Europeans buy small vehicles, often two-seaters. Light trucks are rare. But even Europe couldn't achieve the extreme mileage in S. 1419. Technology breakthroughs are required to meet such high mileage standards, and these breakthroughs cannot be mandated or scheduled on any timeline. S. 1419 would change how light trucks work in this country. Under such an extreme mileage standard, light trucks would become smaller, lighter, less powerful...and less capable of work....
Brucellosis tests show no infections Tests results on Montana cattle that rolled in Tuesday were all negative for brucellosis, although all the 800 blood samples drawn over the weekend won't be tabulated until today or Thursday. Christian Mackay, executive officer with the Montana Department of Livestock, said the investigation so far hasn't turned up any other positive animals. "Test results continue to come in negative, and we continue to follow all the contacts and are confident we are doing the testing in the time allowed," Mackay said. He did not know what percentage of the outstanding tests had been reported. After seven cows from a Bridger herd showed signs of exposure to the contagious bacteria in May, the herd was quarantined and testing began on cattle that may have come into contact with that group. State and federal officials have 60 days, or until about July 6, to conduct "trace backs" on cattle that may have come into contact with the positive animals....
Kansas company introduces natural beef premium program The Beef Marketing Group (BMG), headquartered at Great Bend, Kansas, announced its Customer Ownership Program in May. BMG will pay a $100 per head premium for all cattle harvested as natural. BMG is a marketing cooperative of 14 feedyards in Kansas and Nebraska. Five of those are currently dedicated to the production of natural beef as part of an agreement with Tyson Fresh Meats, the top volume Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) licensed packer. To qualify for Certified Angus Beef brand Natural, cattle must be individually identified and never received antibiotics, hormonal implants, ionophores or animal by-products. BMG prefers, but does not require pre-conditioned, weaned calves. "Through producer participation in ownership, we hope they will take the right steps to add value by making cattle healthier and preventing fall-outs," Wiens adds. Ranchers can retain full ownership or partner with BMG to own a percentage of their calves, which are procured in load lots only. Mixed groups of steers and heifers are accepted, too. All producers in the program receive carcass data. "That's just one tool to help them understand how their cattle perform through harvest," Wiens says. Producers applied use of such information ensures BMG a continued and improving high-quality supply....
Vero Beach man charged with cattle rustling You don't sell the babies or the mothers. But John Englehart sold both at the Okeechobee Livestock Market - the kind of animals nobody else was selling. Pete Clemons, the cattle auction's 80-year-old manager, took notice last fall. Suspicious that something was amiss, Clemons called Englehart's employer, John Cairns, a Port St. Lucie dentist, health club owner and, Clemons knew, a novice cattleman. Cairns, he said, shrugged it off. "All I could do was tell him what I saw and what my opinion was," Clemons said. "He said he'd take it from there, and he could keep up with John. I told him I didn't much think he could, but if he thought so, that's fine with me." Turns out Cairns could not. John Clint Englehart, 34, of Vero Beach, now faces 123 counts of grand theft livestock, or cattle rustling. After St. Lucie County Sheriff's deputies arrested Englehart Tuesday on six counts, Englehart confessed to stealing another 111 cows, police say, for a total of 117. And he faces six other charges related to incident....

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Cougar spotted in Hillsboro, NM

Officers with the state Game and Fish Department are watching for a cougar that’s suspected of killing at least one house cat and possibly two other animals in Hillsboro. Wildlife officers responded Sunday to a complaint that a cougar had killed a cat. Hillsboro resident Harley Shaw says he saw the wild cat munching on the pet in a woman’s yard. Shaw says another house cat and a raccoon were found dead at the same home the day before, and two other cats disappeared from a different home a week before. But officials say there’s no way to tell whether the cougar was responsible. The cougar hasn’t threatened any residents, but authorities say people should be cautious since a few cougar attacks have occurred in Colorado and California in recent years.
NOTE TO READERS

I've been using an old version of blogger. In fact, it was so old that it would no longer support my archives. I discovered the archives weren't available to me or anyone else.

So, I had to upgrade and select a new template. I chose the one you are seeing now, but there are other choices. One even looks similar to the old template, although the space for the text is much smaller than in the old one.

Let me know what you think of this version. I like it because it looks more "western" or "old-timey" than the other choices. Leave a comment or email me with what you think. If this one is unacceptable, we'll give some of the other options a try.
NEWS ROUNDUP

Senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming Dies at 74
Senator Craig Thomas, a three-term Republican from Wyoming, died Monday evening, just hours after his staff reported that the treatment he was receiving for leukemia was no longer working. He was 74. Under Wyoming’s election laws, the state Republican Party will nominate three people to be his successor. The final choice will be made by the state’s governor, David Freudenthal, a Democrat. Because the seat will remain in Republican control, the balance of power in the Senate will not shift, a prospect that shook up Capitol Hill when Senator Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, had a brain hemorrhage on Dec. 13. Mr. Thomas’s family issued a statement saying he died Monday evening at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where he had been receiving chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia. Mr. Thomas announced that he had just been given the leukemia diagnosis two days after the 2006 election, in which he was elected with 70 percent of the vote. Raised on a ranch near Cody, Wyo., Mr. Thomas worked with the Wyoming Farm Bureau and the Wyoming Rural Electric Association before entering politics in the state Legislature. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1989 in a special election to replace Dick Cheney, who had been appointed secretary of defense. He was first elected to the Senate in 1994. Senator Thomas, a conservative who could almost always be counted on to vote with the Republican leadership, served on the national parks subcommittee, an assignment that was a good fit for a lawmaker whose state was home to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Whether the issue was snow-mobiling, wildlife management or timber rights, he believed that policy for parklands should be set Westerners, not by “East Coast liberals.”....
U.S. Cuts Back Climate Checks From Space
The Bush administration is drastically scaling back efforts to measure global warming from space, just as the president tries to convince the world the U.S. is ready to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gases. A confidential report to the White House, obtained by The Associated Press, warns that U.S. scientists will soon lose much of their ability to monitor warming from space using a costly and problem-plagued satellite initiative begun more than a decade ago. Because of technology glitches and a near-doubling in the original $6.5 billion cost, the Defense Department has decided to downsize and launch four satellites paired into two orbits, instead of six satellites and three orbits. The satellites were intended to gather weather and climate data, replacing existing satellites as they come to the end of their useful lifetimes beginning in the next couple of years....
Climate Change May Cut Yields, Feed Fires, USDA Says
Global warming could reduce U.S. corn yields 1.5 percent in the next 30 years and harm the livestock industry, according to the initial draft of the first major climate report from the Agriculture Department in five years. More wildfires, longer droughts and greater heat stress on animals will disrupt U.S. agriculture, forcing farmers to change land and water management practices, the department said. U.S. crops were valued at $122.4 billion in 2006, with corn accounting for $33.8 billion, the USDA said. The report was based on observed effects of climate change on U.S. agriculture, rather than the computer models used in past studies, David Schimel, a lead writer of the report, said before it was released. The initial document is less optimistic than the USDA's 2002 climate report, he said. The negative effects on crops may be mitigated somewhat by increased levels of soil-nurturing carbon dioxide, the report said. Rice and soybean yields may increase in some regions of the country, the USDA said. The report, prepared with help from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and other federal agencies, is subject to revision and peer review and won't be completed until the end of the year, Schimel said....
Vegas tapping Utah water?
Aquifers beneath the west desert are more connected than previously believed, indicating that a project to pump groundwater to Las Vegas from central Nevada valleys could impact neighboring Utah farmers and wildlife. A draft analysis released by the U.S. Geological Survey reveals that groundwater flows from Nevada to Utah at a greater rate than anticipated. It also indicates that there may be more groundwater in various aquifers than expected. That news only adds to the anxiety of ranchers and conservationists who say a proposal by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to eventually pump as much as 200,000 acre feet of water from desert valleys annually to the ever-growing Las Vegas metropolis would be "devastating." "It's basically a very immoral thing to do," Utah rancher Cecil Garland said Monday. "Those of us in agriculture know there isn't that kind of water in these desert valleys." Earlier this year, Nevada State Water Engineer Tracy Taylor ruled that the water authority could pump 40,000 acre-feet of water yearly from aquifers in Spring Valley, Nev. That area lies directly west of Snake Valley, which straddles the Utah-Nevada border. After 10 years, state and federal authorities will determine whether the pumping has been harmful to the environment. If the impacts are not too great, the Nevada water authority could then pump an additional 20,000 acre-feet a year from Spring Valley to Las Vegas....
Army to disclose plots it would seek in expansion
Fort Carson leaders plan to release a map this week showing which land they want to acquire if they expand their training site in southern Colorado, a spokeswoman said Monday. The Army has previously provided an area of interest for the proposed 418,000-acre expansion of Piñon Canyon, which is opposed by many ranchers in the area. Fort Carson spokeswoman Dee McNutt said a map of specific plots the Army is interested in would be released at a public meeting Thursday in Trinidad. She declined to provide details, including whether any landowners had agreed to sell to the Army. “This is just an area of interest,” McNutt said. Lon Robertson, a rancher in Kim who leads a group opposed to the expansion, said it doesn’t matter which land the Army wants, because acquiring that much ranch land would have a ripple effect on the region’s economy and culture. “It doesn’t matter which leg you cut off. You still cut off a leg,” Robertson said. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., said the Army didn’t tell him about the meeting. “I continue to not support the Army’s expansion plan, especially when it takes agriculture land out of production,” he said in a statement. The proposed expansion would nearly triple the size of what the Army now owns on the plains and canyon country of southern Colorado....
Yuma Proving Ground exploring expansion
Up to 500,000 acres of public land could go to expand a military training facility near Yuma, pushing the boundaries of the complex near or beyond several protected wilderness areas and into Maricopa County. If the U.S. Army annexes the land, public access to some parts of the Sonoran Desert will be eliminated. Expansion plans for the Yuma Proving Ground are only in the "exploratory" phase, facility officials said Monday. It's too early to know which lands would be included in the annexation and what the impact on plants and wildlife in those areas would be. The proving ground, about 30 miles northeast of Yuma, is a testing site for military weapons and hardware. Officials there want to be able to test artillery with greater firing ranges than weapons used there now, said Chuck Wullenjohn, public affairs officer for the proving ground. But some environmental advocates are concerned about an expanded facility's effects on sensitive areas. Officials at the Bureau of Land Management, which holds the land adjacent to the proving ground, say they won't know how the lands would be affected until the facility solidifies its plan....
When will Wyo gain wolf control?
Even with a recent compromise, it will be some time before Wyoming assumes control of wolves within its borders. "There are a number of hurdles that have to be dealt with," said Mitch King, director for the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. After years of negotiating, state and federal leaders last month announced a management plan that lawyers for both sides say they can live with. That plan will now be forged in the same public process that resulted in management strategies employed by Montana and Idaho. The work is expected to take several months. In the meantime, concessions made by both sides during the negotiating process could open new avenues for litigation regarding removal of wolves from Endangered Species Act protection. And the extended timeline means wolf numbers will continue to swell beyond expectations at the time of reintroduction in the 1990s. Before Wyoming takes control of its wolves, Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dale Hall must formally accept Wyoming's wolf management plan, a move that will require a lengthy public comment process....
Former Forest Service fire commander gets 2-year term for starting blazes
A former U.S. Forest Service fire management officer was sentenced to 24 months in prison Monday for starting a blaze without authorization. U.S. District Court Judge Paul Rosenblatt rejected the contention of Van Bateman that he simply "cleaned up a little timber" with that and at least one other prescribed burn, albeit without the proper authorization. "My intent and desires have always been to protect the national forest as best I could," Bateman told the judge. But Rosenblatt said that while he is "familiar with Forest Service bureaucracy," Bateman was wrong. "You simply were doing what you wanted to do rather that what should have been done," the judge told the 34-year veteran of the Forest Service, who acknowledged setting the Boondock Fire three years ago about 45 miles south of Flagstaff. Nor was the judge impressed by more than 50 letters from others — many of them former Forest Service employees — who wrote that they had done the same thing. In fact, the judge suggested those letters were one reason he was rejecting a plea by Grant Woods to place his client on probation. "That's kind of chilling," Rosenblatt said of the letters. "Too much paperwork simply doesn't cut it." Bateman also will have to pay a $5,000 fine and $10,390 in restitution to the Forest Service. Once released, he will be on supervised probation for another three years and will have to undergo a psychological exam. The two-year sentence was the maximum Rosenblatt could impose under the terms of a plea deal.... Former firefighter struggles with friend's pending imprisonment Until his recent retirement, Larry Humphrey was an incident commander for an elite Type 1 firefighting team. And for the past 30-some years, he's also been Van Bateman's best friend. Bateman, a firefighter accused of arson and sentenced to two years in prison, was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine along with a $10,000 restitution to the federal government. "It breaks my heart," said Humphrey. "He was the best firefighter in the U.S. as far as I'm concerned. Of course, he is my best friend." And now Humphrey's best friend is going to prison. Bateman and Humphrey were both top dogs when it came to waging war against the biggest flames. As Bateman was sentenced today, Presiding Judge Paul G. Rosenblat, addressed the fact that some top firefighters may think the rules don't apply to them. "You never think you're above the law," Humphrey said. "You have so many conflicting laws and policies, it's impossible for an incident commander to follow everything."....
Lawsuit seeks to reverse grizzly delisting
The grizzly bears in and near Yellowstone National Park face food shortages caused by global warming, a dearth of protected habitat and a shallow gene pool. Plus, there aren't enough of them to ensure their own survival. And the government is ignoring this information because of political pressures. That, in a nutshell, is the legal case presented by seven environmental groups in a lawsuit filed in United States District Court in Idaho Monday that seeks to halt the government's effort to remove federal protections for the bear. On April 30, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the grizzly from the U.S. Endangered Species Act, where it had been since 1975. Chris Servheen, the man who runs grizzly recovery efforts for FWS, said he wasn't surprised at the suit or its allegations. “It's called the 'throw-it-on-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks's approach,” Servheen said Monday. “Nothing we could have ever done would prevent them from suing us. That's what they do. Whatever we achieve, they always want more than that.” He also strongly defended the integrity of the government's delisting plans. The suit was filed by lawyers for EarthJustice, an environmental law firm. The plaintiffs are the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, Great Bear Foundation and Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance....
Some greens oppose lawsuit
If a lawsuit to restore federal protection for grizzly bears is successful, it would hobble the Endangered Species Act program and consume resources better spent on other threatened or endangered species, federal officials and some conservation groups say. Those who want grizzlies to remain shielded, meanwhile, portray the lawsuit as a challenge to the Bush administration's alleged strategy to remove wildlife as an obstacle to drilling, mining and grazing on federal lands. Several other conservation groups, including Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Federation, have supported the delisting of Yellowstone grizzlies. "There will always be uncertainties, for any species," said Tom France of the National Wildlife Federation. "But the facts are there to support delisting and the regulatory plans are adequate to protect bears."
Agreement Reached on Tongass National Forest Timber Sales Lawsuits
The District Court approved a comprehensive settlement agreement between mill owners, the Forest Service, the state, and conservation groups on May 30th. The settlement addresses a series of lawsuits concerning timber sales on the Tongass National Forest, and is effective until the Forest completes its amendment of the 1997 Forest Plan. Under the terms of the agreement, the Forest Service will withdraw Records of Decision for nine Environmental Impact Statements that allow timber sales in inventoried roadless areas. In return, plaintiffs will withdraw litigation on several purchased sales. The terms of the agreement provide enough timber to keep hundreds of people employed in the industry throughout Southeast Alaska until the Forest Plan Amendment is completed and implementation begun. "We're happy to be able to keep working," Viking Lumber owner Kirk Dahlstrom said. "Our existing wood products industry is dependent on timber from the National Forest, so it's great to have some wood available for the next year or more." "This settlement is very practical. For the duration of the agreement, it safeguards important community use areas and wildlife habitat-the places most important for hunting, fishing, wildlife, customary and traditional gathering, recreation, and tourism on the Tongass-while ensuring local mills have the timber they need until the Forest Service completes the forest planning process," said Russell Heath, Executive Director of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council....
Adopt a Wild Horse or Burro and Get a Free Gas Card!!!
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) invites you to head out to the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia, Missouri, on June 22 - 24, 2007 and take home a mustang or burro from America's public range lands. And they will even help pay for your gas. The three-day event features approximately 60 wild horses and burros, ranging in age from 5-years-old and younger. In addition to nice, healthy yearlings, mares, studs and geldings, there will be a limited number of jack burros. Gas blues keeping you home?? No worries. Adopt an animal and BLM will give you a $50 gas gift card. Plus, take home your choice of a nice ball cap or t-shirt. These bonuses are limited to one gift card and choice of ball cap or tee shirt per adopter....
Off roading leaves behind ugly scars in the desert
Ranchers say Pinal County is becoming a haven for off-road enthusiasts unlawfully riding their dirt bikes and sand buggies over areas that are off limits. And while they wait for lawmakers and state officials to do something, ranchers say off-roaders are tearing up the scenic desert. "If it wasn't for the ranchers out here, this place would be totally gone," said rancher Craig Shelley, who ranches about 15 square miles northeast of Queen Creek. "At least we're out here and trying to keep some semblance of the desert out here. It's getting harder to do it all the time." Shelley and other nearby ranchers have experienced a barrage of problems from off-road vehicle riders destroying their property and the property they've leased from the state. Ranchers are also spending thousands of dollars on fence and property repairs, litter cleanup and replacing signs that warn riders of trespassing and closed routes....
`America's salad bowl' on ballot
The fertile Salinas Valley served as a backdrop for some of John Steinbeck's most memorable writing, from "East of Eden" to "Of Mice and Men." Today, voters will write a new story there. Its plot: whether to sharply restrict development on farmland throughout the valley, a 100-mile-long expanse of lettuce, broccoli, strawberries, vineyards and cattle ranches known as "America's Salad Bowl" which stretches along Highway 101 south of Salinas, producing a $3.3 billion farm economy. In one of the more intense local election seasons in at least a decade, Monterey County voters will decide the fate of Measure A, a citizen initiative that would require a countywide vote for new developments on most of the region's unincorporated land - largely farms and ranches. But the most strident opponents are farmers and ranchers, who maintain the measure will do more to harm their way of life than preserve it. Environmentalists and their supporters say the measure is needed to limit the kind of sprawl and traffic that swallowed up Santa Clara County's "Valley of Heart's Delight" 50 years ago....
Carbon Credit Program Pays Off
The check is in the mail for about 630 farmers and ranchers in North Dakota, who signed up last year in the Carbon Credit Program. It`s a program that pays producers to capture carbon dioxide in their soil through practices like no-till cropping and grassland preservation. Those carbon credits are then sold at an exchange, to offset greenhouse gas emissions. To date, farmers and ranchers in the state have earned more than $2 million through the program. Enrolling acres in the carbon credit program might just change Jim Hopfauf`s way of life. "Right now I don`t NO till, but next year I`m planning on getting a no-till drill so I`ll be 100% no till," Hopfauf says. After two years of no-till, he can add that land to his 103 acres already signed up to earn carbon credits through the North Dakota Farmers Union program. The Carbon Credit Program not only benefits farmers financially now, it benefits them in the long run by helping to create a healthier soil environment. Preserving the environment is one of the main goals of the Carbon Credit Program. "We get better drought resistance. We get better productivity. We get lower production cost. We get higher water quality and water use efficiency," says Dr. Michael Walsh, executive vice president of the Chicago Climate Exchange....
Discovery in Orange Cauliflower May Lead to More Nutritious Crops
While orange cauliflower may seem unappealing to some, it has distinct nutritional advantages. Now, Cornell researchers have identified the genetic mutation behind the unusual hue. The finding may lead to more nutritious staple crops, including maize, potato, rice, sorghum and wheat. The genetic mutation recently isolated by Cornell plant geneticist Li Li and colleagues -- and described in the December issue of The Plant Cell -- allows the vegetable to hold more beta-carotene, which causes the orange color and is a precursor to the essential nutrient vitamin A. While cauliflower and many staple crops have the ability to synthesize beta-carotene, they are limited partially because they lack a "metabolic sink," or a place to store the compound. Developing staple crops with more vitamin A is important because vitamin A deficiency, common in developing countries, leads to compromised immune systems and is the leading cause of blindness in children. "A large percentage of the human population depends on staple crops for nutrition," said Li, an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics and a scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- Agricultural Research Service's U.S. Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory at Cornell. "The research provides a possible new technique for genetically modifying staple crops to increase their ability to store beta-carotene and increase nutritional content in staple crops."....
Cattlemen Eye Swift Deal Warily
Reverberations from the proposed sale of meatpacker Swift & Co. to a Brazilian conglomerate have now reached from Denver to Washington D.C. to Sao Paulo. Many ranchers in the West are “relieved,” the Post reports, because the sale will keep Swift’s four plants operating and could result in higher beef prices. Lower worldwide demand has resulted in a price slump for beef in recent years, and the Swift plant in Greeley – scene of a December immigration raid that resulted in 1200 arrests – had cut one of its two shifts. The new owners say they plan to go back to two shifts a day, and retain the current workforce. The cattle industry is not so thrilled, however: “What all this means for U.S. cattle producers is that the sleeping giant is awakening and quickly moving in our direction,” said Eric Nelson, Trade Committee Chair for R-CALF USA, a cattle-business lobbying association. R-CALF is pushing for “marketplace reform” – a euphemism for protectionist legislation. Brazil is now the world’s largest exporter of beef, but the beef industry there has been plagued by foot-and-mouth disease. The European Commission banned all imports of beef from the three Brazilian provinces affected by the disease, and an Irish delegation to Brazil recently found lax efforts to combat FMD: “If such practices were found anywhere in Europe the cattle would be deemed worthless and their owners faced with hefty fines and, quite possibly, a spell behind bars,” ag expert Dan Buglass wrote recently in the Scotsman newspaper....
It's All Trew: Country cures tame pesky farm critters
No one knows why, but occasionally rats will choose to invade a farm or ranch. As this is definitely a health and safety hazard, every effort should be made at eradication. A friend near Shamrock suffered such an invasion on his ranch overnight. It was frightening for the family, plus as damage soared, he was at wits end as rat poison would also be dangerous to family pets. An employee, hailing from another country, solved the problem with a bale of hay, a 2-inch by 2-inch board and a half barrel of water. He placed the half barrel in the barn and filled it about half full of water, then placed the bale of hay nearby. Wedging the board under the bale wires on one end, he extended the board out over the barrel about halfway. The rats ran down the board trying to get a drink of water, fell off into the water and drowned. They buried buckets of dead rats for days before complete eradication. Grandpa and Grandma Trew dipped snuff as long as I can remember. Before planting their garden each spring, they soaked the seeds in "snuff water" overnight to keep the bugs, worms and birds from ruining the seeds. They always had a beautiful garden....

Monday, June 04, 2007

The 2007 Farm Bill Will Not Be Neutral To Livestock Producers

So you are a pork producer or a cowboy, and just have a passing interest in the 2007 Farm Bill. Maybe you raise poultry, or sheep, or exotic livestock and they are never mentioned in farm programs. Since there are no program payments for livestock production (except milk), you have very little interest in the current debate on Capitol Hill. Buckle your seatbelt for a 180 degree turn. As all 435 Members of the House and 100 Members of the Senate prepare for farm policy debate over the next several months, the Congressional Research Service has been issuing background papers so everyone on Capitol Hill can speak about agriculture without having the audience or the media giggle. The recently released report on animal agriculture(pdf) contains a broad look at some controversial issues that need to be addressed in the 2007 Farm Bill....
NEWS ROUNDUP

Column - They call this a consensus? "Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the global warming crisis. The time for debate is over. The science is settled." S o said Al Gore ... in 1992. Amazingly, he made his claims despite much evidence of their falsity. A Gallup poll at the time reported that 53% of scientists actively involved in global climate research did not believe global warming had occurred; 30% weren't sure; and only 17% believed global warming had begun. Even a Greenpeace poll showed 47% of climatologists didn't think a runaway greenhouse effect was imminent; only 36% thought it possible and a mere 13% thought it probable. Today, Al Gore is making the same claims of a scientific consensus, as do the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and hundreds of government agencies and environmental groups around the world. But the claims of a scientific consensus remain unsubstantiated. They have only become louder and more frequent. More than six months ago, I began writing this series, The Deniers. When I began, I accepted the prevailing view that scientists overwhelmingly believe that climate change threatens the planet. I doubted only claims that the dissenters were either kooks on the margins of science or sell-outs in the pockets of the oil companies. My series set out to profile the dissenters -- those who deny that the science is settled on climate change -- and to have their views heard. To demonstrate that dissent is credible, I chose high-ranking scientists at the world's premier scientific establishments. I considered stopping after writing six profiles, thinking I had made my point, but continued the series due to feedback from readers. I next planned to stop writing after 10 profiles, then 12, but the feedback increased. Now, after profiling more than 20 deniers, I do not know when I will stop -- the list of distinguished scientists who question the IPCC grows daily, as does the number of emails I receive, many from scientists who express gratitude for my series. Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that a scientific consensus exists on climate change. Certainly there is no consensus at the very top echelons of scientists -- the ranks from which I have been drawing my subjects -- and certainly there is no consensus among astrophysicists and other solar scientists, several of whom I have profiled. If anything, the majority view among these subsets of the scientific community may run in the opposite direction. Not only do most of my interviewees either discount or disparage the conventional wisdom as represented by the IPCC, many say their peers generally consider it to have little or no credibility. In one case, a top scientist told me that, to his knowledge, no respected scientist in his field accepts the IPCC position....
New protections proposed for bald eagles The Fish and Wildlife Service wants to replace four decades of federal protections for the American bald eagle with new rules against disturbing it. In a push to remove the nation's symbol from the endangered species list, the wildlife agency is writing new regulations under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act to protect the birds and their nesting, breeding and feeding areas from anything likely to cause them harm. The law, which dates to 1940, says only that bald eagles cannot be disturbed. Since 1967, when the bald eagle was listed as an endangered species, it has benefited from much tougher protections. The government's new interpretation of the 1940 law, proposed Friday, would allow the birds to be moved in rare cases if their nests or breeding and feeding grounds were in the way of an airport runway or some other development. Killing or injuring them accidentally would not be punishable. Fish and Wildlife, which is part of the Interior Department, must meet a June 29 court-ordered deadline in deciding whether to remove the bald eagle from the endangered species list. A federal judge in Minnesota ordered the agency last year to remove the eagle from the list unless the government could prove further delays were necessary. The order came in a lawsuit brought by Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of a Minnesota landowner who wants to develop property with an active bald eagle nest....
Cougars or humans: Which are intruders? The notion that mountain lions are encroaching on people in the Great Plains draws a chuckle from Gary Jepson, who has lived smack in the middle of cougar country most of his life. The 66-year-old trapper and rancher says it's the hunters and outdoors enthusiasts who are intruding on the cougars' domain. "Human activity in this lion habitat has probably increased 100 times over," he said, atop a wind-swept bluff in western North Dakota's Badlands overlooking prime cougar territory. Cougar stories in the Plains and the Midwest have become more frequent in recent years. In 2004, Illinois reported only its second confirmed cougar sighting in more than a century. North Dakota has its share of unusual mountain lion stories, ranging from a cougar following mountain bikers on the Maah Daah Hey Trail in southwestern North Dakota to a dead lion found frozen in the ice on Lake Sakakawea. In the past six months, four lions have been caught in bobcat traps or snares in western North Dakota. The combination of more deer for lions to eat and more people out in the wilderness to see the cats "makes this appear like an explosion [of lions], when it really is not," Jepson said....
A Fresh Battle In South Dakota's Prairie Dog War Here on the sun-parched prairie, where rain seems as rare as gold dust, the fight over federal grassland is unending, pitting the backers of the crowd-pleasing prairie dog against the supporters of the humble cow. This week, the Bush administration could open the door to poisoning more of the furry rodents in order to help the cattle. A new environmental assessment will say that more prairie dog colonies can safely be targeted. Although the U.S. Forest Service will not make a decision until after a 45-day public comment period, conservation activists started to complain even before federal staff members in recent days mailed the document to politicians and advocates. Challenging ranchers who rely on public land for grazing, activists warned that a reduced habitat for prairie dogs would pose setbacks for Great Plains biodiversity and fragile communities of black-footed ferrets. The ferrets, masked members of the weasel family, were all but extinct a decade ago but have slowly been returning with careful attention from the federal government. It happens that the ferrets, often called the most endangered mammal in North America, prefer one delicacy to all others: prairie dogs. They eat almost nothing else. The controversy is unfolding as ranchers feel embattled and environmentalists feel emboldened by the national momentum toward conservation and "green" policies. Myron Williams, a prominent rancher in Wall, just north of the contested Buffalo Gap National Grasslands, has been pressing political appointees in the Bush administration to act while they still can....
Ferret release on hold pending conclusion of county’s lawsuit It’s been eight months since Mike LeValley submitted a 22-page environmental assessment report that would guide any effort to reintroduce black-footed ferrets into prairie dog towns in Logan County. It likely will be many more months before that report ever sees the light of day — or at least publication in the Federal Register, something that is needed before the prospect can move forward. As a result, it’s unlikely that ferrets will be reintroduced in Logan County again this fall, considered that’s the ideal time for releasing the animals. Under normal procedure, LeValley’s report would have gone from the Denver office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service upstream to the Washington office and ultimately be published in the Federal Register. The public then would have at least 30 days to comment on the plan. Then, and only then, could LeValley and his team at the FWS ecological field office in Manhattan start the process of reintroducing the nation’s most endangered mammal into an area where it once thrived. But for some reason, the report has been put on hold. For an unusually long time, officials say. The agency says the delay is a result of Logan County’s lawsuit that seeks to force the poisoning of prairie dogs on land where the ferrets would be reintroduced. Prairie dogs are considered a pest in Kansas and state law allows counties to poison the animals and then send a bill to the landowners. The Logan County lawsuit seeks to force ranchers to remove cattle from their land so the controversial poisoning program can continue. Rozol, the poison of choice, cannot be used when cattle are present....
The restoration: Five years later Walking a narrow path through the middle of Pinehurst Ranch, Laurie Glauth moves between the stark challenge and subtle joy of regeneration. To her right, a line of newly strung fence, pulled taut as piano wire, surrounds acres of scorched ponderosa pine amid an emerging bed of native grasses that will become grazing land. To her left, naked, singed remnants of towering aspen rise above remarkably lush new growth - a grove whose slender shoots reach as high as 20 feet. "How do you mitigate the damage?" says Glauth. "You cross your fingers a lot and hope Mother Nature heals herself." It's been five years since the Hayman fire burned a 138,000-acre footprint on the landscape after a U.S. Forest Service employee carelessly ignited a letter from her estranged husband amid drought- stricken woods. The worst wildfire in Colorado history destroyed 132 homes over six weeks, cost an estimated $238 million in damage and rehabilitation, and burned so hot it created its own weather beneath towering clouds of smoke and ash. It turned most of Pinehurst into a blackened moonscape. Five years. Half a decade to begin repairing the wide-ranging effects of the fire - from lost natural resources to crippled local economies to suddenly sludge-laden watersheds. But barely a heartbeat in the centuries-long process of restoring a forest....
Grayling savior - science or politics? The fluvial arctic grayling are one of Montana's rarest fish. That wasn't always so. At one time, the easily fooled grayling were caught by the basketfuls to feed hungry homesteaders, miners and cowboys all the way along the upper Missouri River drainage. Over-fishing, competition from introduced non-native trout, and habitat degradation slowly pushed the fish best known for its large dorsal fin back into the upper reaches of the Big Hole Basin. Now there's perhaps a few thousand that survive in this last stronghold. In this high mountain valley where cattle are more common than humankind, there's a debate being waged on what's the best way to save the last native river-dwelling arctic grayling population in the contiguous United States. On one side stand the valley's ranchers, many of whom can trace their lineage back the first few who ventured into this place known for its nutritious mountain grass. Over the last few years, many of them have taken up the call to protect precious grayling habitat by fencing off their river and creek channels, building fish ladders and installing water measuring devices on their irrigation head gates. It's all part of an effort to protect themselves from the fallout that could occur if the fish were listed under federal government's Endangered Species Act. On the other side are those who believe the federal law's umbrella of protection is the only sure way that Montana's population of fluvial arctic grayling has a chance to survive....
Cache County in Dispute with U.S. Forest Service over Roads Cache County is fighting with the U.S. Forest Service over whether it can claim to own nearly every mile of road on the Wasatch-Cache National Forest. The county council has passed two resolutions in six months declaring it owns 197 miles of roads in the national forest and it intends to claim another 150 miles of road in the future. The county wants to own the roads so it can maintain them. "We as a county are stepping up and saying . . . these are our roads," said Cory Yeates, a council member who has heard numerous complaints that forest roads are often blocked or in poor condition. "By law, they are (now) county roads," says Yeates. The Forest Service disagrees. "The Forest Service and other federal agencies don't really have the right to grant that to them," said Kay Shurtz, engineer for the Wasatch-Cache National Forest. A court would have to determine whether the county's claims to the roads are valid, he said. A Civil War-era mining law allowed counties and cities to use routes across federal land. That law was repealed three decades ago, but existing rights of way were grandfathered in. Confusion now exists on what constituted an existing right of way....It's interesting how these reporters refer to the mining law as a "Civil War-era" relic. The Constitution is just under a hundred years older than the mining law. Yet, those same reporters don't refer to the First Amendment as a "Revolution-era" amendment. No sir, not when their rights are protected.
Out of the ashes, questions still burn I f ever you were caught in the path of a forest fire, believe me, you'd want to have John N. Maclean with you. This is a man informed about the behavior of fire -- about its tendencies to blast over hillsides and through canyons, to jump across roads and giant boulders, and to glow in wild and disturbing colors. Maclean knows how spot fires are doused, how big burns are controlled with the right kind of digging, and he knows how to gauge when it's simply time to get out of fire's way -- running from oncoming flames as fast as possible. Rather than a firefighter or a scientist studying the properties of fire, Maclean is a writer and the author of such fire-related books as "Fire and Ashes" and "Fire on the Mountain," as well as the volume he helped publish after his father Norman Maclean's death, "Young Men and Fire." His latest book, "The Thirtymile Fire: A Chronicle of Bravery and Betrayal," is an account of a travesty and a tragedy, the story of a forest fire that started out as a small blaze in the narrow Chewuch River canyon in Washington state, near the Canadian border, in July of 2001, but quickly became more fierce and powerful than anyone could control. Over-stretched managers, who were concentrating on the huge Libby South Fire in the North Cascades Range, underestimated the blaze. By the time these higher-ups realized the seriousness of a fire to which they'd sent mostly inexperienced firefighters, a crew was trapped (along with two campers who were in the wrong place at the wrong time) and four firefighters were dead. Maclean follows the mostly rookie crew forced to deal with the Thirtymile Fire, and we're with that rag-tag group as they realize they're fighting an all-consuming monster instead of a no-big-deal blaze....
Woman who started wildfire to leave U.S. prison next June Terry Barton, the former Forest Service worker convicted of setting the Hayman fire, is scheduled to be released from federal prison next June. Whether she will serve more time in a state prison remains unclear. Barton said she accidentally set the fire after she had burned a letter from her husband while on the job in the Pike National Forest. Barton was sentenced in 2003 to a six-year federal term, which computes, with good behavior, to about five years and two months. She also took a plea deal that carried a 12-year sentence on state arson charges, which likely would have been cut by half or more. That sentence was to run concurrently with her federal sentence....
Hayman recovery: 600 years Five years after the epic Hayman Fire blackened 138,000 acres of pristine Front Range woodlands, nature is sending some promising signals. A greenish hue tints the landscape, the once- blackened ground colored by blue gramma grasses and splashes of sage. Trees are returning, too. Not yet the signature ponderosa pine, but willows and cottonwoods filling in along denuded streambeds. Aspen, also, are resurfacing, their labyrinth root systems sheltered from the fire. Still, it will be centuries before the forest returns to the condition it was on June 7, 2002 - the day before a distraught Forest Service worker started what scientists believe to be the worst wildfire in the southern Rockies in at least 700 years. On Sunday, June 9, the fire raced 19 miles in 13 hours, a freakish explosion of energy so hot it sparked advance fires a mile ahead of its frontline and sent waves of heat to 21,000 feet....
Otero County says fire hazard may increase County officials say the risk of fire in the Lincoln National Forest could easily and steadily increase over the next eight years, if the right conditions remain in place. "Our most recent study shows that conditions will worsen for us over the next eight years, if things continue as they have been," Commissioner Mike Nivison said Friday. Otero County Emergency Services Coordinator Paul Quairoli said there are three factors that will determine the potential for increased fire risk. "These factors are the amount of moisture we receive, the defoliation and the amount of dead trees left in the forest," Quairoli said. "If the dead trees are not removed, they just add to the fire fuel." Quairoli said the depth of the fuel bed, the living above-ground biomass including conifer needles, always determines surface fire behavior. "If the trees die and are not removed, they become snags, standing dead trees or fallen ones on the forest floor. They will accumulate a massive fire fuel load in the forest," Quairoli said. It takes up to 1,000 hours of moisture to alter the combustibility of a tree from dry to saturated with moisture, according to Quairoli....
Snowbowl, feds appeal ruling barring snowmaking at ski resort The owners of the Arizona Snowbowl ski area and the federal government are asking an appeals court to reconsider a March ruling barring the use of treated wastewater to make snow. This week's filings are the latest step in a multi-year court battle between tribes and the owners of the resort on the San Francisco Peaks outside Flagstaff. The Department of Justice, Forest Service and the Snowbowl asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the ruling it made largely on religious grounds. Attorneys for the government and the Snowbowl contend the ruling sets a dangerous precedent, giving almost anyone the power to set up serious roadblocks anytime the government grants a use of public land that they disagree with. They also contend that the three-judge panel's ruling departs from established case law. The filing said the court should have relied on an earlier case that said Native Americans' religious rights were not harmed by the commercial ski area so long as other areas on the San Francisco Peaks were available for religious activities....
Wyoming's natural gas boom sees growing pains On a windy Friday afternoon in Sublette County, Wyo., Ensign Rig No. 121 clanks and moans as it drives steel pipe 11,500 feet into the ground to capture natural gas. Just a few hundred yards away, framed against the stark blue sky, a half-dozen antelope bound across the sagebrush desert. Until recently the county's three million acres served mostly as a quiet and relatively isolated habitat for the herds of grazing animals. But at the moment it's hard to hear anything other than the hulking mechanism's steady percussion. "I guess you could say it's like a gold rush out here," shouts 44-year-old supervisor Todd Arnold over the racket, with the 15-story derrick looming behind him. "Everything is going full bore right now. We keep all the components of this thing moving all the time - 24 hours a day, seven days a week." They can't afford not to. Arnold and his five-man crew are at the epicenter of the biggest boom ever to hit this part of cowboy country. His employer, Canadian natural gas giant EnCana, has drilled 374 new wells in Sublette in the past three years alone. A host of other multinational oil and gas companies, such as BP (Charts) and Exxon Mobil (Charts, Fortune 500), have rushed in as well. The promise of $25-an-hour starting pay for drillers has drawn thousands of men from as far away as Texas and Florida to this once-sleepy corner of western Wyoming. Arnold, who came from Utah, works up to 18 hours a day and makes more than $150,000 annually. A confluence of events in the global energy market brought the drillers here. In recent years Russia and Venezuela, both big natural gas suppliers, nationalized their fields, shutting off access to foreign companies. Simultaneously, natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico - the source for 10 percent of American consumption - declined some 40 percent from 2000 to 2005, as easy-to-drill reserves were depleted and explorers had to move to deeper water. The tightening supply, combined with ever-increasing demand in the U.S., has helped lead to a quadrupling of the price of natural gas over the past decade. And that has created a new urgency to drill for Wyoming's "unconventional" gas - which sits not in easy pools above oil, but thousands of feet beneath the earth in pockets of sandstone and coal formations....
Ducks Unlimited praises Congress for addressing grassland loss A briefing from a new report the Governmental Accounting Office will release this summer says conversion of native prairie grasslands is a growing problem. Ducks Unlimited believes this report and others will help Congress focus on solutions to prairie losses as it writes the new 2007 federal farm bill. “Ducks Unlimited is working with Congress to address grassland loss in the new farm bill legislation,” said Ducks Unlimited (DU) Executive Vice president Don Young. “Interim Results: Impact of USDA Payments and Sodbuster on Grassland Conversions to Cropland” was prepared for two key Senate and House committees working on the new federal farm bill. The report provides compelling evidence that farm program payments contribute significantly to grassland loss in the Prairie Pothole Region. More than 70 percent of North America’s ducks are hatched in this region annually. DU supports the Sodsaver provision to help stop grassland losses. Sodsaver was recently included in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s farm bill proposal. It would eliminate eligibility for federal payments - particularly crop insurance and disaster payments - on newly broken acres without a cropping history....
Dutch try to grow enviro-friendly meat in lab Dutch researchers are trying to grow pork meat in a laboratory with the goal of feeding millions without the need to raise and slaughter animals. "We're trying to make meat without having to kill animals," Bernard Roelen, a veterinary science professor at Utrecht University, said in an interview. Although it is in its early stages, the idea is to replace harvesting meat from livestock with a process that eliminates the need for animal feed, transport, land use and the methane expelled by animals, which all hurt the environment, he said. "Keeping animals just to eat them is in fact not so good for the environment," said Roelen. "Animals need to grow, and animals produce many things that you do not eat." Research is also under way in the United States, including one experiment funded by U.S. space agency NASA to see whether meat can be grown for astronauts during long space missions. But it will take years before meat grown in labs and eventually factories reaches supermarket shelves. And so far, Roelen and his team have managed to grow only thin layers of cells that bear no resemblance to pork chops....
They Die in Brooks County At the Side Door Café in Falfurrias, Texas, body counts enter conversations as naturally as the price of feed, or the cost of repairing torn fences. “I removed 11 bodies last year from my ranch, 12 the year before,” said prominent local landowner Presnall Cage. “I found four so far this year.” Sometimes, Cage said, he has taken survivors to a hospital; mostly, however, time and the sun have done their jobs, and it is too late. As increased U.S. border security closes certain routes, undocumented migrants continue to come but squeeze onto fewer, more dangerous and isolated pathways to America’s interior. One of these is the network of trails that bypasses the last Border Patrol checkpoint traveling north on Hwy. 281, in Brooks County. That change is having a dramatic ripple effect on the county (total pop: 7,685), and on people who have lived here for generations. Pictures of the dead are kept discreetly in certain places in this town, a collective album that tells an important part of what Brooks County—which used to be better known for oil, watermelon, and a Halliburton facility—has become in the last couple of years: a grave for the weak or unlucky....
America, by horseback Like journalistic legend Charles Kuralt and faux newsman Borat Sagdiyev before him, Bill Inman is embarking on a trip across the United States searching for the true American spirit, as well as for stories and people that aren't typically featured on the nightly news. The most obvious difference between Inman, 47, and his predecessors is that the loquacious Lebanon resident is making his cross-country trek on horseback, with a videographer tagging along every step of the expected 32-week-long adventure. The journey began Saturday during Lebanon's annual Strawberry Festival parade. From there Inman moseyed east along Highway 20 toward Sweet Home - the first of many small-town stops he expects to make between Oregon and the East Coast. If all goes as planned, the Inman expedition will wrap up early next year in Hendersonville, N.C. Inman is hopeful that by then, he'll have compiled enough footage to piece together a documentary film or series that showcases a side of rural American life that he believes is generally overlooked by mainstream media outlets....
Learning the ropes It's 140 degrees in the rope stretching room. Gary Mefford, employed 33 years, dabs his forehead as he strings ropes inside. The heat will permanently remove the spiral effect caused by coiling. It's 9:55 a.m. Five minutes until recess. Dan Morales, who joined the team in 1978, whirls a lasso around his torso, checking its stiffness. Andy Lucas flips a switch and twists strands of nylon and polyester into what will become a fine lariat. The clock on the cement wall in the basement reads 9:59.33 a.m. Close enough. Four grown men bound up the steps. It's break time -- or recess -- at King's Saddlery and King Ropes in Sheridan, a company known worldwide for its high quality, handmade saddles, ropes and tack. King's is fiercely devoted to regular Wyoming cowboys who do real work in a place that remains the real West. It is a business, like its Sheridan-area home, whose employees know how to cowboy up and play hard. Today, the gunslinging wild West has mellowed, but its spirit lives on in Sheridan's cowboys and ranchers. And it lives in the saddle and rope shop founded by Don King more than 60 years ago. Don grew up cowboying with his father around the West. Along the way, he learned how to tie his own ropes and build his own saddles....

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The devil is in the details

Cowgirl Sass and Savvy

By Julie Carter

Dan and his roping partner Monte, are about as diabolically calculating as ropers can be - fine-tuning every facet of their sport and always looking for an edge that promises more frequent and lucrative trips to the pay window.

Last fall they decided they were a little weary of winning just enough at the local jackpots to almost get their fees back and were intent on setting their sights on any number of bigger, tougher ropings.

You know the ones. Thousands of ropers all vying to win a purple pickup truck with flames painted down the side. Prestige doesn't always partner with dignity, which, by the way, is usually hard to find at a team roping.

The duo practiced day and night and in all kinds of weather. When the early spring rains turned the arenas into rice paddies, they drove as far as they needed to find a covered practice pen.

No team roper has ever been accused of getting his priorities out of order as long as you agree his first priority is roping.

When the first "big one" rolled around, they entered up and arrived feeling skillfully prepared and confident. All things in order, when their names were called they backed their horses into the box with hats pulled down tight and minds focused on the task at hand.

Their first steer left the chute like a scalded dog headed for cool water. The cowboys traveled a good distance down the arena before they got him roped and turned, making their time a little long in the first round.

Their plan for the second steer involved Monte pushing the barrier a little harder and determining he would not play catch up this time.

Of course, this steer broke from the chute and promptly came to a complete stop.

The judge culled that steer and gave the team another one who happened to be of the Nascar-bred Corriente line. They caught him but, again, their time wasn't anything to be too proud about.

The day progressed in much the same pattern. Another steer ducked under the heading horse's neck and made a beeline to the arena wall like he was on his way to the hot dog stand.

They caught him "long" but it qualified them for the short round.

In the short round, with a last shot at making some money, their steer moseyed out of the box like an AARP member looking for a Furrs cafeteria.

The ropers pulled their horses up hard, flailed a couple loops at the gawking steer and in spite of the odds, managed to get a qualified time. It wasn't pretty but they had four steers down clean.

Their hard-earned, fine-tuned calculated efforts had put them pretty close to the bottom of the list of qualifiers. With no new money in their pockets, they loaded up and headed home.

The return trip, as it often does, offers enough miles and time for serious introspection.

It was during this analytical survey that the duo realized there was a critical element to roping they had neglected to factor into their program.

Sure enough, they needed to go home and work on practicing the luck of the draw.

Visit Julie’s Web site www.julie-carter.com


The Cowboy Manifesto

By Christian Probasco

Part I: Control

Our instincts evolved in tribes which have grown into corporations, armies and cities devoid of communities. Once upon a time, the rewards for our hard work and loyalty went to our families and to friends who might become part of our families, and now they go to strangers. In return, we get the illusion of security in the form of wages and benefits. What we really need is control.

Control of the means of production would be wonderful but I think most of us would settle for more control over our lives. To achieve it, each of us would need to be secure in his or her immediate environment. The problem is that the very space our bodies occupy in the city is usually partly or wholly owned by somebody else. The other problem is that we don’t have the freedom to act as we should within the spaces we don’t own.

When I say “freedom,” that’s exactly what I mean: freedom from coercion or the threat of coercion. Everybody is in favor of this kind of freedom, of course, as long as it’s balanced by everybody else’s security. To use a classic example, you’re not supposed to exercise your freedom to yell “fire” in a crowded theater even if there is a fire because the patrons will trample themselves to death in a rush to escape. Fair enough. But the “balance” goes too far in the wrong direction these days.

The “New West” phenomenon is really cities of the intermountain west filling beyond capacity with people from the rest of the world. As our cities grow, we will all have to find a new “balance” between our own needs those of our society. In other words, we will have to get used to being stuck in traffic, and we will have to develop thicker skins and become more tolerant of each other’s foibles and aberrant behavior. We will also have to conserve energy and water, and recycle, and drive economy cars. And eventually, we should expect to get piled on top of each other like New Yorkers.

While we are being compressed, we should expect more laws, guidelines and regulations concerning our behavior. Every time a criminal misuses a gun, somebody will suggest taking everyone’s guns away. If someone runs his motorcycle into a wall and vegetablizes himself, the law will require all of us to wear helmets. If somebody misreads a label on an over-the-counter medication and comes to harm, it will be suggested the drug be made available by prescription only. If doctors could get their way, we’d surely need prescriptions for aspirin.

Part II: The Manifesto, In Two Parts

The first part of the manifesto is refusing to allow further encroachments on our lives in the name of balance or even reasonableness. In order to do this, we must become less civilized. We must become less tolerant, on an individual basis, of pushy cops, politicians and the lobbyists they work for, lawyers and other criminal types, rude clerks, overbearing bosses, inconsiderate neighbors and moralists of every ilk.

We must, in other words, become more like the cowboys of the Wild West. Let me give you an example. A law was passed a while back in Florida which makes it clear that nobody has a “duty to retreat” in a public place when threatened with deadly force. Apparently that was the policy lawyers down there established on the backs of law-abiding people who had acted “reasonably” once too often; that if they were being assaulted, they had an obligation to run away instead of facing their attackers. Opponents of the bill warned that the new law would lead to a “Wild West” mentality. That is precisely the point. We Westerners, in turn, should worry about adopting a “Domesticated East” mentality.

The larger the cities of the intermountain west grow, the blander they will become. The more Las Vegas expands, for example, the more it will look and feel like Los Angeles, with its strip malls and big box retailers, convenience stores, clogged arterial freeways, smog, crime and cookie-cutter suburbs. The only difference, beyond the Strip will be the slot machines in the convenience stores and the vegetation growing through the cracks in the asphalt. As individuals and communities, we have an obligation to find our own way.

The second part of the manifesto is to disallow anyone coming between us and the country that keeps us wild. The open spaces beyond our cities are the common collective of freedom and nobody should have a monopoly on their use; not environmentalists, not the government, not corporations, not even cowboys. More importantly, nobody should restrict our access to them.

You might be thinking that this is all irrelevant to you because you are not a cowboy or a cowgirl. You don’t herd cattle, after all, and maybe you’ve never been able to sit through a John Wayne movie and perhaps you don’t even like country music, so how could you participate in any political movement involving cowboys? Excellent question. The fact is, you don’t have to be involved with any of these things and you don’t have to feel obligated to uphold some old “code of the West” to be a modern cowboy. You just have to have a healthy disrespect for authority and a desire to do things your own way and be left to your own foolish devices. In this sense, rock stars can be cowboys. Truck drivers can be cowboys. Bikers are the modern descendents of cowboys. Even pencil pushers can be cowboys on occasion. But if you’re really bothered by your lack of credentials, here’s what I suggest you do. Find a friend who espouses a coastal ideology, or better yet, find any European. Tell him your thoughts about the downsides of city life. Relay your feelings about bureaucrats, our sluggish legal system, meter maids, the lone prairie and instant Karma. Chances are, he’ll call you a cowboy, even if you’re a woman. Congratulations, you’re a cowboy. Now start acting like one.