Friday, March 21, 2008

This Land is My Land Even after a long, steady gaze, the scenery in Southeastern Colorado doesn’t have much to offer. Compared to the majestic mountain peaks found farther west and north, this area of the state appears to be a whole lot of nothing, with flat, dry and rugged expanses stretching for hundreds of lonely miles. But looks can be deceiving. This shortgrass region is alive with unique wildlife, plant species, red canyons, rivers and cattle ranches that have thrived for more than a century. By the same token, while these wide-open expanses project a quiet, calm setting, they are in reality the site of a heated and bitter fight over property rights between local ranchers and the U.S. Army. It began in 2005, when an Army map detailing plans to expand the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site was revealed. The maneuver site, located between Trinidad and La Junta, is a training ground used by troops stationed at Fort Carson, 100 miles to the north, near Colorado Springs. At 235,896 acres, it is the second-largest training site for the Department of Defense. Activities include two major military exercises a year, each consisting of a month of intense maneuvers involving 5,000 troops, 300 heavy-tracked vehicles and 400 wheeled vehicles. When the Army’s map showed plans to acquire an additional 418,000 acres, with the potential for expanding the site to more than 2 million acres, local landowners were outraged and began organizing against the expansion. Much of the proposed area is private property, and residents remember all too well how the original maneuver site was acquired—the federal government seized about half of it by condemning it and relocating 11 landowners....
Grant to help protect land along border A $1 million grant to The Nature Conservancy in Arizona is paying for the conservation of 9,500 acres along the Arizona-New Mexico border. The newly protected area will extend the land protected by a ranchers' group in New Mexico and Southeastern Arizona to nearly 85,000 acres. The area is rich in rare and endangered species and vital to profitable ranching and other traditional livelihoods, says The Nature Conservancy, a conservation organization. However, it was under threat by encroaching development. The property secures a corridor of wildlife habitat from grasslands in the San Simon Valley to woodlands in Coronado National Forest. It contributes to a key migratory corridor for several species — including jaguars in their northernmost route — along the United States-Mexico border, The Nature Conservancy says. Five statewide projects will be funded with $1 million from a $13 million regional grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, among them the 9,500 acres, the group says. The conservation area is the result of an agreement between the Malpai Borderlands Group and the owners of a ranch in the border area. The Malpai Borderlands Group is a collaboration of ranchers who live and work primarily in Southeast Arizona and Southwest New Mexico who want to maintain their livelihood while also protecting the environment....
Ranch agrees to end grazing near park Part of a federal grazing allotment south of Yellowstone National Park that was a hot spot for problems with bears and wolves has been retired. The National Wildlife Federation and other groups brokered the deal between the Diamond G Ranch of Dubois, Wyo., and the Shoshone National Forest. The agreement will end grazing on about 35,000 acres of federal land and will pay the Diamond G Ranch $150,000 to secure grazing elsewhere. The deal is the 29th of its kind since 2002 aimed at reducing conflicts in the Yellowstone ecosystem between livestock and predators in prime wildlife areas. So far, about 550,000 acres of federal grazing allotments have been retired, said Hank Fischer, special projects coordinator with the National Wildlife Federation. Stephen Gordon, Diamond G Ranch president, estimated losses to predators in the hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years. That includes cows, horses, family dogs snatched from the front porch and a young colt killed in a corral, he said. Since 1991, wildlife officials have confirmed 31 cows killed by grizzlies, and the actual losses may be three times higher, he said. Although the ranch has a very high density of bears, ranch managers found ways to work around them. The arrival of wolves after reintroduction in 1995 and 1996, though, proved too much, Gordon said. Over the past 13 years, verified losses to wolves include 27 cows, eight dogs and four horses. The actual number of depredations may be about eight times higher, Gordon said....
No way to run a national park Who has the most clout in Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana? Thousands of citizens who took part in an environmental impact study, or a railroad that wants to control avalanches as cheaply as possible? If you guessed the railroad, it seems you’re right. Four years ago, avalanches halted train service for 30 hours, twice derailed an empty freight train and nearly slammed into a cleanup crew. Afterward, Burlington Northern asked the Park Service for a permit to use explosives to control avalanches originating in the park. The company also contracted for an avalanche study, which identified 12 slide paths likely to affect the railway. The avalanche study suggested expanding the snowsheds, among other recommendations. But the company had a different idea. It claimed that setting off controlled avalanches on park hillsides each winter was the best and least expensive to address its safety and financial concerns. But there are other things to worry about in a national park. The Park Service’s draft environmental impact statement in 2006 found that explosives would disrupt the park’s natural avalanche regime, altering vegetation, hydrology and wildlife habitat....
GF&P kills big cat treed by terrier GF&P officers killed a mountain lion treed by a terrier Monday in an area two or three miles east of Belle Fourche with near homes and livestock. Game, Fish & Parks conservation officer Bill Eastman of Belle Fourche said Tuesday that the lion was near a flock of 60 pregnant ewes, less than a quarter-mile from four homes and also near where horses and cattle were grazing. "This cat fell into the criteria of having to be destroyed," Eastman said. There had been several reports the past several weeks by rural Belle Fourche residents who suspected lion activity, based on their cattle's behavior or sounds they described as lion-like. Eastman said that history makes a case for young "movers" to be a danger to livestock. Two years ago, Eastman said, a lion killed sheep near Fruitdale, east of Belle Fourche, and the department issued a kill permit. That same year, a lion had been seen inside Belle Fourche, and another kill permit was issued. Both permits expired without another lion sighting. Six years ago, he said, a lion near the Belle Fourche Reservoir at Orman Dam -- eight miles east of Belle Fourche -- had killed sheep, apparently for play rather than just for food....
Rancher, environmental group file complaint on waste pit spills
A western Colorado rancher and an environmental group have filed a formal complaint with state regulators over the release of tens of thousands of gallons of waste liquids from gas drilling storage pits, including some that is frozen inside a waterfall. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates the industry, is investigating four large releases from pits operated by two companies on top of the Roan Plateau near Rifle. The commission says waste, including mud used in oil and gas well drilling, could flow into West Parachute Creek when the ice melts. The investigation comes as the state is revamping oil and gas regulations. Industry officials have criticized the proposed rule changes as too stringent. Rancher Sid Lindauer lives on Parachute Creek and said the state didn't tell area residents about the spills. He and the Western Colorado Congress, an environmental group, have filed a complaint with the commission. “So far, the state has not told us what is in the wastewater and what threat it could pose to my livestock,” Lindauer said....
Kansas landowners suing over federal Trails Act Two Kansas landowners have sued for compensation after the government took old railroad rights of way on their properties -- but unless Congress intervenes, only one is likely to get paid. The aim was to turn the old tracks into recreational trails. But the cases illustrate how federal rails-to-trails programs can lead to decades of legal conflict. The controversy over rail-trail conversions has been brewing since Congress passed the federal Trails Act 25 years ago. It allowed the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to give unused railroad lines back to states to use as recreational trails. But adjoining landowners began asking why that property wasn't returned to them. In Butler County, a young couple has an abandoned railroad track running through their property. In McPherson County, a 95-year-old cattle farmer lives with a recreational rail trail that splits his property. Compensation -- if any is granted -- could range from getting the use of their land back to being paid for the time the government has held rights to the land....
Tahoe Fire Prevention Hurt by Infighting Steps to prevent catastrophic wildfires in the Lake Tahoe basin, one of the country's most treasured natural wonders, have been hampered for years by bureaucratic infighting among agencies that often work at cross-purposes, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press. The failure of the agencies to adequately protect the basin was brought to light in June when a wildfire ripped through a thickly forested ravine and destroyed 254 homes near South Lake Tahoe. Since then, blame has fallen on the overlapping agencies that have environmental and regulatory oversight of the Tahoe basin. A commission established after the fire was scheduled to vote Friday on a report recommending ways to heal the rifts. The AP's review showed just how glaring the problems have been over the years. Most of the documents covered the three years before the wildfire and reveal a tangle of agencies with competing agendas. Efforts to clear trees and brush were delayed - often for years - as agencies bickered over methods and jurisdictional disputes. The documents also show that while the wildfire heightened the urgency to thin the forest, years of delay have left the basin ripe for a repeat calamity....
Commission says Tahoe agencies must emphasize fire-prevention A commission established by the governors of California and Nevada after last summer's Lake Tahoe wildfire has a simple message for the overlapping agencies of the Tahoe basin: Get along. The commission is scheduled to vote Friday on the report's 70 recommendations, which will be forwarded to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons. The Angora Fire that swept down a thickly forested canyon in South Lake Tahoe last June destroyed 254 homes and caused $140 million in property damage. It also exposed long-standing rivalries between the various local, state, federal and regional agencies that are charged with protecting Tahoe's environment or promoting fire protection. The commission focused on two agencies at the core of the criticism: the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and California's Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. Both agencies traditionally have made fire protection secondary to environmental protection, in particular trying to maintain the lake's clarity. They now must recognize that in just a matter of days a wildfire can undo years of environmental progress, sending black ash and barren soil streaming into the lake. "There is perhaps no single ... event with greater potential deleterious impact on the lake than a catastrophic wildfire," the report says in the first of its 47 official findings....
Forest Services proposes expansion of elk feedgrounds The Bridger-Teton National Forest proposes to allow the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to continue to feed elk at state-operated feedgrounds in northwest part of the state for at least 20 more years. The Forest Service also proposes to allow the state to expand three elk feedgrounds. Government officials say expanding the areas will help to keep elk spread out and reduce the transmission of diseases such as hoof rot and brucellosis. Permits for some of the feedgrounds had already expired or were set to expire soon. The Forest Service in its new environmental study states that operation of the feedgrounds has harmed some plants in the surrounding areas, but concludes that the damage is not severe enough to bar the Game and Fish Department from continuing feeding operations. The Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance and other conservation groups have pushed for years to phase out Wyoming's elk feedgrounds. They claim that they create artificially dense elk populations that promote the spread of diseases.
Ritter signs law to fine unlawful off-road-vehicle use Beginning in July, those caught using motorized vehicles on prohibited, public lands will be handed fines and penalties. Gov. Bill Ritter on Thursday signed into law a bill to set these penalties, which include fines ranging from $100 to $200, and suspensions of hunting and fishing licenses for violators also engaging in these activities. “This is an issue that has been percolating for a couple of years and it took that long for everybody to come together to meet consensus about how best to move forward,” said Evan Dreyer, Ritter’s spokesman. He said the governor praised the hard work of many groups in finding common ground. The legislation, which goes into effect July 1, puts in place an agreement that allows state peace officers to enforce federal regulations — a point some opponents of the measure have criticized. This agreement also initiates a unprecedented practice in land management. “Because this is relatively new practice, we know that the eyes of the nation will be on Colorado to see how this unfolds,” said Dreyer....
Congress to research delays in polar bear decision The top Democrat on the U.S. Senate environment committee wants Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to explain why the department has delayed a ruling on the expansion of federal protection of the polar bear. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., sent a letter to Kempthorne on Thursday requesting him to appear before the committee when the Senate reconvenes after the Easter recess. “It is time for the Interior secretary to answer questions about the administration’s continued foot-dragging on the polar bear listing,” Boxer said in a prepared statement. In the letter, Boxer says she will hold an oversight hearing either April 2 or April 8. She gave Kempthorne until today to confirm his appearance. Boxer also questioned why the department went ahead with an oil and gas lease sale in the Chukchi Sea — home to about 20 percent of the world’s polar bears — before finalizing a decision on the listing....
U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Whether ESA Listing Exceeds Federal Power The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government authority to regulate Alabama sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act. A lawsuit contending the federal government overstepped its bounds in seeking to regulate Alabama sturgeon was filed by attorneys with the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), an organization that litigates on behalf of property owners against government overreach. PLF attorneys represent the Alabama-Tombigbee Rivers Coalition, an alliance of Alabama businesses, agricultural associations, and other water users who would be adversely affected by federal regulation. Critical to the issue of federal oversight authority is the fact that the Alabama sturgeon is not found outside of limited areas in Alabama and is not used for any commercial purpose. "We are very gratified that the Supreme Court has accepted this case, which raises major constitutional questions about the appropriate limits of federal power," said M. Reed Hopper, an attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation. "Does federal power to regulate commerce among the states extend to purely local land and water use matters, and local species, that don't have a role in interstate commerce?" Hopper asked. "Will a balance of power between federal and state authority continue to be a meaningful concept in our constitutional system? That is what is at stake in this case."....
Eco-Terrorism: No Such Thing Right or wrong, they're not terrorists. The feds say they are. They call ELF, the loose-knit "group" that took responsibility for the blazes in unincorporated Snohomish County, the biggest threat to mom, freedom, apple pie and three-minute pop songs since the Soviet Union closed shop. Six months before 9/11, shortly before the famous "Bin Laden Wants to Kick Our Ass Six Ways to Sunday" memo, the FBI went so far as to list the ELF as a federally designated terrorist organization. Like al Qaida. Terrorism—you can look it up—involves killing people. Hijacking a plane and flying it into a building is terrorism. Destroying property—property that, for the most part, made the world a worse place—is not. ELF's goal of "inflict[ing] maximum economic damage on those profiting from the destruction and exploitation of the natural environment" has inspired people to set fire to SUVs at a New Mexico car dealership, Hummers in California, and a Vail ski lodge whose construction threatened the lynx, an endangered species. Damage to the Colorado ski project amounted to $12 million. ELF members are vandals. They're arsonists. But they aren't terrorists. ELF demands that its adherents "take all necessary precautions against harming any animal—human and non-human." Although it could happen someday, no one has ever been killed or hurt in an ELF action. Equating the burning of a Hummer to blowing up a child exposes our society's grotesque overemphasis on the "right" of property owners to do whatever they want....
Bill gives animal owners right to kill harassing wolves The House has approved changes to state law that would let ranchers, outfitters and pet owners kill wolves harassing livestock. House lawmakers voted 65-4 on Wednesday to give owners up to 72 hours to report wolves they've killed after catching them annoying, disturbing or stalking animals or livestock. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is rewriting its wolf laws, ahead of the expected lifting of federal Endangered Species Act protections this year. The Senate has already passed the bill. It is now ready for Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's signature.
EPA, Army Corps Square Off Over Mississippi Delta Drainage Plan The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers are squaring off over an Army Corps proposal to seasonally drain 67,000 acres of wetlands adjacent to the lower Mississippi River. The Army Corps wants to spend $220 million to build a pumping station in the Yazoo River Basin. It argues the taxpayer-funded project is necessary to protect agricultural lands and approximately 1,000 homes from potential flooding. EPA says the project's goals do not justify altering wetlands that are vital to regional fish and wildlife. It has notified the Army Corps it plans to veto the proposal unless the Corps can provide sufficient evidence the feared environmental impacts will not occur. Army Corps officials maintain the proposed pumping station would not have as much environmental impact as EPA and environmental activist groups claim. The Corps notes it would operate the pump only to drain water into the adjacent Mississippi River when floodwaters in the Yazoo River Basin reach exceedingly high levels....
At island retreat, Branson and friends seek to save a world 'on fire' Richard Branson was lounging under the starry midnight sky on this palm-dappled speck of an island recently when he popped a sobering question. "So, do we really think the world is on fire?" Branson, the British magnate and adventurer, asked several guests, as a manservant scurried off to fetch him another glass of pinot grigio. What he wanted to know was whether his high-powered visitors, among them Larry Page of Google, Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, thought global warming threatened the planet. Branson does - and so did most of his guests. So on this recent weekend on his private hideaway in the crystalline waters between the islands of Tortola and Anegada, they tried to figure out what to do about it and perhaps get richer in the process. Some of them, like Page, carbon-consciously jet-pooled in from Silicon Valley, where the financiers who bankrolled the Web boom of the 1990s have started chasing the new "New New Thing": green power. In an era of $100-plus oil, venture capitalists like Vinod Khosla, another invitee, are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into young companies that cook up biofuels and harness the power of the sun....
Manson Family's gruesome history resurfaces in the desert The Barker Ranch was the last redoubt of the gaggle of hippies, hitchhikers and lost souls that called itself the Family and followed the twisted beliefs of the convicted pimp, sex offender and would-be musician Charles Manson. It was to this lonely outpost in the California desert that the group of 26 came after committing the gruesome Sharon Tate and LaBianca murders, and it was here, on August 12 1969, that Manson was arrested hiding under a bathroom sink. The story of how Manson came to form his sex and drug-fuelled cult, and turned his followers' adulation into blood lust, has become the stuff of criminological legend, marking the low point of the 60s revolution. Members of the Family were prosecuted for nine murders, the most famous victim being Tate, the pregnant wife of the film director Roman Polanski, but rumours have consistently claimed that the true death toll was much higher. Now a group of interested individuals - including Tate's younger sister, Debra, a local police detective, and forensics experts - have begun searching the desert around the ranch and believe they have found evidence of two, perhaps three, human graves that may be linked to the Manson Family....
Colo. ranches preserved on film
As the state's conservation-easement program comes under scrutiny, legendary landscape photographer John Fielder is working on a new book aimed at illustrating the importance of the program for preserving Colorado's ranching heritage. Fielder is photographing 50 working ranches from the Eastern Plains to the western river canyons. He is focusing on multigenerational, centennial-quality ranches, about two-thirds of which have conservation easements on them. "I want to show people how glorious ranches are in this state," said Fielder, who is well-known for previous books he has published, such as "Colorado 1870-2000" and "Colorado Then & Now." "We can show Colorado what's at stake." The conservation-easement program allows landowners to get tax deductions and earn tax credits they can sell for cash in exchange for restricting development on their land. Preliminary results from an investigation launched by the state's Division of Real Estate in October have revealed some highly suspect transactions that may have cost the state a significant amount of lost revenue. A bill wending its way through the state legislature is aimed at stemming abuses of the program....
Open wide, please Flashlight in hand, Tom Murphy peers into the horse’s large open mouth, then reaches for one of the dental tools neatly laid out on the table in the barn aisle. The acrid smell of ground tooth permeates the air as he slides the rotary disc float over the top row of molars. This is the first patient of the day for Murphy, a certified equine dentist from Killdeer, N.D. By the end of the day Murphy will have performed dental procedures, including floating or filing off the teeth’s rough points on 23 horses in the Grand Forks area. Murphy, a cattle rancher and certified equine dentist, from Killdeer, N.D., got interested in equine dentistry after being impressed by the results his niece saw when she took her 16-year-old mare to a Rapid City, S.D., dentist. At the time, the horse was thin and was having difficulty getting pregnant. The equine dentist found that one of the horse’s teeth was longer than the others, which interfered with its chewing....

Thursday, March 20, 2008

NATIONAL AG DAY

Paying Respect

From a team of horses in the early 1900s to tractors with 300 horsepower today, American farmers and ranchers provide consumers with more and better quality food than ever before. In fact, one farmer now supplies food for about 144 people compared with just 25.8 people in 1960.

The efficiency of American farmers pays off in the price American consumers pay for food. U.S. consumers spend roughly 9% of their income on food compared with 11% in the United Kingdom, 17% in Japan, 27% in South Africa and 53% in India. This great value is due in large part to improved equipment efficiency, enhanced crop and livestock genetics through biotechnology and conventional breeding and advances in information management.

All Americans are asked to enjoy and admire the wonders of American agriculture as National Agriculture Day is celebrated on the first day of spring, March 20. National Ag Week runs March 16-22.

Ag Facts to Share

* Today's average farm is 441 acres compared to 147 acres in 1900.
* 41% of U.S. total land area is farmland.
* U.S. farmers account for 46% of the world's soybean production, 41% of the world's corn production, 20.5% of the world's cotton production and 13% of the world's wheat production.
* Almost 99% of U.S. farms are operated by individuals or family corporations.
* Nearly 22 million people are employed in farm or farm-related jobs.
* Farmers and ranchers provide food and habitat for 75% of the nation's wildlife.

Source: Agriculture Council of America
Global Warming Threat to US Security, Liberals Claim Global warming is one of the greatest threats to U.S. national security and the world, according to a panel of well-known environmentalists who spoke Tuesday at the self-described "progressive" Take Back America conference in Washington, D.C. In their discussion, "Global Warming: Meeting a Real and Present Danger," the panelists warned that, despite a rising movement to debunk the theory of global warming as a myth, climate change threatens America's security. Two panelists also claimed that no matter the outcome of November elections, U.S. environmental policy will improve. John Podesta, president/CEO of the liberal America Center of Progress and former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, called global warming a "severe national security problem" and noted that President Bush, who has made national security a top priority, has nonetheless nearly ignored the problem of climate change. Nonetheless, said Podesta, "I am confident in 2009 we will have government that will take on global warming. At least all three candidates believe there is a problem this time. The next president is going to have to show that this is, overall, a top priority in the government."....
Death by Environmentalism For the last half century, the environmentalist movement has been a dominant influence on the cultural and political scene. This is widely viewed as a blessing, whose progressive result has been without exception the improvement of our society. John Berlau has written a book aimed at kicking that smug sense of green achievement smack in the teeth. Berlau makes a sharp and vigorous presentation of the view that the environmentalist movement has had some very unfortunate consequences. He begins by reviewing the history of the successful campaign by environmentalist organizations to demonize DDT and other pesticides. DDT was first discovered in the 1870s and found to be a potent insecticide in the 1930s. But it was the U.S. military that pushed its mass production at the outbreak of World War II. With the troops facing both malaria and typhus — which had killed millions in World War I — the army knew it had to find some way to combat the vectors, i.e., the disease-carrying insects (lice and mosquitoes). It gave the assignment to Merck, and one of Merck's top chemists (Joseph Jacobs) was able to set up a plant to mass produce DDT. Starting in 1943, DDT was widely used; it stopped a number of wartime typhus epidemics. It was then used worldwide in the 1950s and early 1960s to stop malaria, which it almost eliminated. But after Rachel Carson's popular book "Silent Spring" (1962), in which she alleged that DDT and other pesticides were killing wildlife and hinted that they were causing cancer in people, DDT was banned. Berlau covers in detail a number of other issues, with arguments that are sure to rile environmentalist tempers. He argues that cars are a Godsend and that big cars save lives. He suggests that environmentalists (especially such people as "population guru" Paul Ehrlich) have a not-so-hidden agenda of stopping people from having children, viewing children as a kind of pollution. He supports the view that far from there being a shortage of trees, "There has never been a better time for forests and wildlife" (155). He argues, indeed, that because we have fossil fuels, we don't have to chop down trees for fuel. Moreover, he holds that the biggest threat to forests is the environmentalists themselves, because they fight the harvesting of old growth, leaving forests more prone to disastrous fires....
Americans Cool to Global Warming Action, New Poll Finds Forty-eight percent of Americans are unwilling to spend even a penny more in gasoline taxes to help reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new nationwide survey released today by the National Center for Public Policy Research. The poll found just 18% of Americans are willing to pay 50 cents or more in additional taxes per gallon of gas to reduce greenhouse emissions. U.S. Representative John Dingell (D-MI), chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, has called for a 50 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for 33% of the U.S.'s man-made carbon dioxide emissions. Over 60% of these emissions - or about 20% of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions - result from burning gasoline in personal automobiles. "With one-fifth of all U.S. CO2 emissions coming from light trucks and cars, any serious effort to significantly reduce U.S. emissions would have to encourage fuel conservation in personal automobiles," said David A. Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "But almost half of all Americans oppose spending more for gasoline, despite polls indicating wide public concern over global warming. These results suggest Americans' concern may not be as deep as we've been led to believe." Opposition to increased gasoline taxes was especially strong among minorities, with 53% of African-Americans indicating they are unwilling to pay higher gas taxes in any amount. Eighty-four percent of blacks and 78% of Hispanics opposed paying an additional 50 cents or more for their gasoline....
Hunting is just one way to manage wolf packs It wasn’t unusual for one or two lambs to go missing every other year on Eric Wallis’ 600-acre sheep farm in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. But six years ago, 46 lambs disappeared. The next year, 51 went missing. Wallis searched in vain for their carcasses, until he found one, torn up and barely alive. That was all Wallis needed to identify the culprits: wolves. In search of a way to keep the wolves at bay, Wallis turned to Central Michigan University wolf biologist Thomas Gehring—an expert when it comes to non-lethal methods of preventing livestock predation. Gehring suggested that Wallis invest in four Great Pierney guard dogs. Since the dogs have been protecting the herd, Wallis hasn’t lost any lambs. “They’re naturals at protecting our sheep. We still find wolf tracks outside my fences, but the presence of my dogs and their marking of the territory is enough to keep the wolves out,” Wallis says. Non-lethal management includes using guard dogs, putting shock collars on wolves so they won’t enter livestock owners’ property, and setting off loud noises to frighten the animals. Fladry is another approach: flags, each 18-inches long, hang off a rope encircling a pasture. “With just a little bit of wind, it turns into this big moving thing,” says Gehring. “A wolf is probably a little freaked out by it.” All of these techniques have been shown to keep wolves away from livestock—at least for a while. Gehring has found shock collars work for about 40 days, and fladry is effective for up to three months....
Group of wolves sighted in Utah, but is it a pack? Wolves may finally be making a permanent home in the Beehive State for the first time since the Great Depression era. While sightings of individual wolves in Utah have been steady for years, particularly since the reintroduction of the animals at Yellowstone National Park, the endangered animals generally haven't stayed in state. Instead, they've crossed into Utah and then back into Wyoming, Montana or Idaho, where larger wolf populations reside. But a recent report of five wolves spotted near the Dutch John Airport in Daggett County have wildlife experts wondering if a wolf pack is establishing territory in Utah, said Kevin Bunnell, mammals program director for the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR). "We do think it was a credible sighting and we've done a lot of follow-up to try to confirm," Bunnell said Wednesday. A pilot headed to Dutch John Airport spotted what he believed to be three gray and two black wolves traveling in a remote section of the county at the end of February, said Bunnell....
Group sues to protect prairie dog A Western conservation group has filed suit in federal court in Washington, D.C., to force Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to respond an August 2007 petition to list the black-tailed prairie dog under the Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit filed by WildEarth Guardians on March 13 claims the department has failed to meet a 90-day finding deadline required under the ESA. The suit also claims that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, overseen by the Interior Department, ignored scientific evidence supporting the need for federal protection for the species and overturned earlier findings due to political pressure. In the complaint, the group claims that from 2000 to 2004, the black-tailed prairie dog was listed as a candidate for endangered protection but was removed after a Fish and Wildlife survey of seven complexes, or groups of prairie dog colonies, determined the future of the species was secure. Nicole Rosmarino, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians in Santa Fe, N.M., said the species has faced new threats since the 2004 removal decision including widespread poisoning, shooting and other removal methods by government agencies as well as populations decimated from nonnative disease. The group is filing suit after six months of waiting for a finding in hopes of getting results for what Rosmarino calls a "species on the brink."....
Pushing the envelope U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave wants to know why Congress' ban on activities promoting the expansion of Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site appears toothless. The Colorado congresswoman, whose district includes counties near Fort Carson's proposed expansion area in southeast Colorado, has sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, in an effort to find out. Among Musgrave's concerns: Why was consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton early this year posting a Colorado Springs job for an "Army Land Expansion Project Manager" to handle the "land acquisition process" for Piñon Canyon? Musgrave, a Republican, teamed up last year with U.S. Rep. John Salazar, a southern Colorado Democrat, to secure a 383-34 House vote preventing "any action that is related to or promotes" the expansion of the site in 2008. The Senate passed the Military Construction Appropriations Act with the same language, and President Bush signed it into law. But later, when the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 was finalized, it included authorization for Piñon Canyon expansion studies as pushed by U.S. Rep. Mark Udall and Sens. Ken Salazar and Wayne Allard, starting with an initial analysis by the Army due in July. Musgrave is questioning why all these expansion-related activities are apparently trumping the spirit of her law....The power of the purse is one of the few powers Congress hasn't delegated. Apparently the military, in their quest to acquire ever more territory, feels they can spend the money whether it's authorized or not. No doubt the two Senators and Udall muddied the water with their language requesting a study. Do they really think the will get a factual, objective "study"?
Crossfire -- Water, Power, and Politics On Saturday, there will be a Eyewitness News I-Team special titled "Crossfire: Water, Power, and Politics." This is an in-depth examination of how Las Vegas growth is going to affect vast areas of the American Southwest. Rural Nevada is facing two dramatic challenges, both of which are directly related to our community's relentless growth. One proposal would siphon billions of gallons of water from environmentally-sensitive but politically weak rural counties. At the same time, plans are moving forward to build three, massive coal-fired power plants in the same areas. Most rural residents believe their land, their air and their way of life are threatened by both. Las Vegas leaders say the economy of the entire state could collapse if the plans are thwarted. No matter which side is right, our state will never be the same. Every resident, every business, whether urban or rural, has a direct stake in the outcome. The issues involved are the most important of our time; global warming, conservation, growth, sustainability, economic justice versus economic realities, how to plan for the future. The decisions made in the next few years will affect the lives of millions of people for the next century and beyond, so it's important to get it right....
Friends of Nevada Wilderness expects major changes to proposal "Based on the feedback we have received," the Friends of Nevada Wilderness has reported it expects some major changes are "likely" in the Lyon-Mineral wilderness maps as it is fully expected some areas on the maps will not be designated as wilderness. "Let me state first that I think there is a great deal of misinformation and confusion about what wilderness is and about the current public lands process in Lyon and Mineral County," said Brian Beffort, Associated Director for the Reno staff of FNW. Beffort explained that when a public lands bill process is being considered by the Congressional delegation and the counties, the Nevada Wilderness Coalition, of which Friends of Nevada Wilderness is one member organization, "works to identify areas in the county with high wilderness values (as defined by the 1964 Wilderness Act)." "We do preliminary mapping and field work, but that is just a beginning," Beffort said. "We then share these initial proposals with others. Our goal is to get feedback on our proposal and begin more detailed discussions with ranchers and other public land users to learn how these lands are being used. Many of these uses may be compatible with wilderness; some many not be."....
Off-road vehicle fight rages over trails, taxes From the air, the desert around the Estrella Mountains is a tangle of dirt roads, looping around and crossing back on each other haphazardly. Trails carve up the foothills, scratching through the green flush of springtime growth to expose bare ground. From an airplane window, state Rep. Jerry Weiers sighed. "With the city of Buckeye expanding, this area is going to get hammered," said Weiers, a Glendale Republican. The hammer is coming from off-highway vehicle use, and it's coming down hard. OHV ownership has skyrocketed in Arizona, and with it has come increasing ridership on lands that weren't necessarily designed for motorized vehicles. "The problem is they don't have any idea where to go or not go," said Jeff Gursh, a volunteer with the Arizona Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition. "Rogue trails" have been carved out by people heading out on their OHVs, only to be followed by others, and then others - and before you know it, there's a trail where none was intended. Weiers looked at this expanding network of trails spun like spiderwebs across desert and mountain. What he saw was disaster....
Preserving Wildlife Routes Long before windmills festooned the San Gorgonio Pass, before Interstate 10 barreled through it and before homes and strips malls sprouted, animals rambled freely between the San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains searching for food, mates and shelter. They still do, although they have to maneuver around some obstacles. The Pass and some of its mountain canyons are among the 15 wildlife linkages between the southern Sierra Nevada and the Mexican border that are considered key to keeping native species thriving and preventing their extinction, according to a report released Wednesday by South Coast Wildlands, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that focuses on connecting wildlife habitat. "Essentially, if one of these linkages is lost, it reduces the ecological integrity of the entire network," said Kristeen Penrod, conservation director for South Coast Wildlands. In 2000, land managers, conservancy groups and academic and government scientists from such agencies as the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and state parks gathered at the San Diego Zoo. There, they identified 232 wildlife linkages in California, 69 of them in Southern California....
Firefighting Burns Through Forest Service Budget This year’s wildfire season is about to begin, and Congress is scrambling to figure out how to stop it from consuming the U.S. Forest Service’s budget. Over the past decade, the Forest Service has devoted an increasing share of its annual funding toward putting out large, catastrophic fires. The service requested nearly $2 billion for wildland fire suppression in fiscal 2009, or 48 percent of its discretionary account. Firefighting accounted for only 13 percent of the total in 1991. “We’re approaching the majority of the budget,” said Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, D-Ariz. “It’s becoming a fire department.” Nine million acres burned across the United States last year, and experts see little reason to believe that 2008 will be any different. Climate change and drought are creating longer and more intense fire seasons, while a century of fire suppression has made the forests more susceptible to burning, experts say. An even more important factor is development in wooded areas, known as the “wildland-urban interface,” said Mark E. Rey, undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment at the Agriculture Department. This means the Forest Service has to use more personnel and equipment to stop houses from burning down....
Conservationist: Federal agencies reneg on bison plan An eight-year-old plan to give bison grazing room outside Yellowstone National Park has never been put in place because promised federal funding hasn’t materialized. Federal agencies are reneging on the agreement, a conservationist said this week. The Interagency Bison Management Plan adopted in 2000, aimed at limiting the spread of disease from bison to cattle, provided for a $2.8 million, 30-year lease of grazing rights for the Yellowstone herds on the Royal Teton Ranch adjacent to the park. The lease would allow the bison to migrate onto an additional 7,500 acres of winter habitat. The plan was adopted and signed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Montana Department of Livestock. “It’s not in the budget,” said Bruce Knight, undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs for APHIS. Knight said his agency’s entire budget for managing brucellosis, a disease that causes bison and cattle to abort, is less than $9 million. In addition to bison removal, the service has been seeking a “meaningful long-term solution without the need for land acquisition,” Knight said, referring to efforts to develop a vaccination protocol for bison. Brucellosis has been fully eradicated nationwide except for remnants in the greater Yellowstone area, he said....
Beef merger worries ranchers Wyoming cattlemen concerned about consolidation in the meatpacking industry said they're worried by a Brazilian company's bid to buy out two rivals and become the nation's largest meatpacker. Meanwhile, U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso have asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey to make sure that the Justice Department closely reviews JBS SA's proposed $1.1 billion buyout of Smithfield Beef Group Inc. and National Beef Packing Co. The senators said they wanted to ensure a fair and open market in the beef industry. They're particularly concerned about $565 million in the deal that would be paid for Smithfield Beef Group Inc. That would give JBS full control of Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding LLC, made up of 10 feedlots in five states with capacity for 811,000 head of cattle. The nation's largest meatpacker would then control the nation's largest feedlot company. Many Wyoming ranchers do business with the five Colorado feedlots owned by Five Rivers....
Tack Room owner retiring after 37 years For nearly four decades, Mendocino and Lake county residents seeking specialty Western wear, saddles and silver accoutrements knew they could find them at the Tack Room in Ukiah. Those days are coming to an end. After 37 years, Dee Runnings is closing the business she owns with her husband, Bob. "It's the end of an era," said Potter Valley rancher and former state Farm Bureau President Bill Pauli. The local feed stores and a small shop in Redwood Valley carry Western clothing and tack, but none has the amount and variety Runnings carries. "They've got really unique stuff," Pauli said. "You knew you could go there and find something really special." Runnings said she's loved running the store, but, at the age of 80, it's time to retire. Her husband, 86, retired 10 years ago. "We're folding up," said Runnings, a petite, vivacious woman with a ready smile. Runnings said she hoped someone would keep the Tack Room going, but she was unable to find a buyer. So she's selling everything between now and May 15, including display items collected, donated or dropped off by customers over the years....
Cattle Towns: Dalhart, Texas Dalhart, the county seat of Dallam County, straddles the border of Dallam and Hartley counties in the northwest corner of the Texas Panhandle. The original settlement was platted early in 1901 by W. J. Blair and Charles W. Thornton when the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway built west from Liberal, Kansas, and crossed the Fort Worth and Denver City line. The site of the crossing was known for a time as Twist Junction. J. H. Conlen supervised the laying of the Rock Island tracks and made an old boxcar into a section house on the site. Later the settlement was named Denrock, a combination of the names of the two railroads; in 1901 Robert B. Edgell named his new newspaper the Denrock Sun. But when postal authorities objected, the town adopted the name Dalhart, combining the first syllables of the names of the two counties in which it is located. On June 11, 1901, Ora D. Atkinson and other promoters incorporated the Dalhart Town Company, and the first and only sale of lots was held on July 20. Dalhart was incorporated as a town on May 6, 1902, and as a city on April 6, 1904. It replaced Texline as Dallam county seat, as a result of an election on February 21, 1903. From that time on, Dalhart quickly grew as a shipping center for the XIT Ranch and other area ranches. The activities of the W. P. Soashqv Land Company also contributed significantly to Dalhart's progress. C. E. Williams, a noted well driller, built the town's first water tower in 1906. Previously, it had been necessary to buy water at twenty cents a barrel from barrels lining the railroad tracks....
It’s The Pitts: RecyclaBull Some women say that bulls are a lot like men; they’re only good for one thing and after they’re done doing that then what do you do with them? While I don’t agree with that analogy I do think that bulls have a lot in common with British Royalty: other than their breeding they aren’t good for anything. After the breeding season is over bulls are as worthless as a Christmas Tree on December 26, an empty piñata, a pumpkin the day after Halloween and hard boiled eggs after Easter Sunday. After bulls are pulled from the cows they require separate pastures and special treatment. They fight worse than Congress and do almost as much damage. In the off season they tear up fences, feeders, horses and cowboys. To add insult to injury they require expensive extra feed to get back in shape. On second thought, maybe they are like men. They sit around eating and causing trouble and the only time they show any interest at all in doing anything other than sleeping, eating and tearing up stuff is during breeding season. My wife says it’s exactly like men during football season. Ever since man and woman first domesticated cattle they have tried to come up with creative ways to get rid of “the bull problem”. They have run the bulls with the cows all year, leased bulls or sent them to a feedlot and let other people suffer the damages. In a few extreme cases bulls drove some cattlemen so insane they sold their cows and started raising sheep. It’s my belief that there simply have to be other solutions that stop short of smelling like a Southdown sheep at all times....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

NOTE TO READERS

Another People For Preserving Our Western Heritage meeting tonight. Will try to catch up on the rest of the news tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Perennial Arctic Ice Cover Diminishing, Officials Say The amount of long-lasting sea ice in the Arctic -- thick enough to survive for as much as a decade -- declined sharply in the past year, even though the region had a cold winter and the thinner one-year ice cover grew substantially, federal officials said yesterday. Using new data from NASA's ICESat satellite, researchers over the past year detected the steepest yearly decline in "perennial" ice on record. As a result of melting and the southward movement of the thicker ice, the percentage of the Arctic Ocean with this stable ice cover has decreased from more than 50 percent in the mid-1980s to less than 30 percent as of last month. "Because we had a cold winter, the public might think things have gotten better," said Walter Meier of the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. "In fact, the loss of the perennial ice makes clear that they're not getting better at all." The surprising drop in perennial ice makes the fast-changing region more unstable, because the thinner seasonal ice melts readily in summer....
A Bid to Lure Wolves With a Digital Call of the Wild The long, lonely howl of a wolf shatters the early morning stillness. But is it real? Beginning this June, it might be hard to tell, even for the wolves. One of the most famous sounds in nature is going digital. Under a research project at the University of Montana in Missoula, scientists are betting that the famous call-and-response among wolves can be used to count and keep track of the animals. Tricked by technology, scientists say, wolves will answer what amounts to a roll call triggered by a remotely placed speaker-recorder system called Howlbox. Howlbox howls, and the wolves howl back. Spectrogram technology then allows analysis that the human ear could never achieve — how many wolves have responded, and which wolves they are. “With audio software, we’ll be able to identify each wolf on a different frequency, so we can count wolves individually, kind of like a fingerprint,” said David Ausband, a research associate at the University of Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, where Howlbox was developed. The devices, using off-the-shelf technology, cost about $1,300, including $300 for a solar panel. Audio recordings in the wild are nothing new, of course. Bird and amphibian researchers, in particular, have long used recordings to find or flush out critters. Howlbox’s innovations are the tools of digital analysis and programmed instructions that tell Howlbox when to howl, when to sleep because the wolves are sleeping, and how to store each day’s file on a disk....
Big rattlers vex rural business Most afternoons at four o'clock, Stoney Harris and Eddie Lowrance stop their regular occupations to go diamondback rattlesnake hunting. They don't do it for fun but to decrease the danger. Harris, owner of Bulldog Steel Buildings at 4008 N. County Road 1241 some 10 miles west-northwest of Midland, discovered the dilemma diamondbacks present upon building his home and business three years ago. The rattlers crawl from an abandoned 1950s vintage Colorado River Municipal Water District sub-station that has become a prototypical den. With pipes and culverts covered by a concrete slab, there is no telling how many live there, the men say. "These snakes are so big, they feed on blue quail that come up to the hole," said Harris. "I have caught 100 with a snake catcher with a loop. "When they rattle, they're saying, 'You're too big to swallow, but I can still hurt you.' My wife stepped on a five-footer when we were unloading groceries at 10:30 one night last August. I was a few feet away and it sounded like a machine-gun." "I don't want to kill these big snakes," Harris said Tuesday. "They live to be 15-18 years old. If we lift that slab, there could be 80 or 800. My dogs have been bitten numerous times and it is getting to the point where somebody's kid will step on one. It's unbelievable what a snake that size can do to a child."....
Officials join in initiative to preserve sage grouse Top officials from several state and federal agencies signed on to efforts Monday to preserve a sagebrush-loving bird that many believe is threatened in Colorado by the growing energy industry and other activities. The Colorado greater sage grouse conservation plan marks a major move to protect the bird so that it doesn't become listed as a federally protected endangered species. A grouse listing, some say, could keep the oil and gas industry away from important fossil fuel reserves and make it harder for ranchers to graze their animals. The plan, 21/2 years in the making, identifies steps that can be taken to preserve the birds' sagebrush habitat in hopes of preventing population declines that could trigger more stringent protections. Signing onto the plan: the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Colorado Division of Wildlife....
Land near Yellowstone safe from mining under deal A conservation group said Monday it has an agreement to protect nearly 1,500 acres of private mining claims northeast of Yellowstone National Park. The plan calls for the Trust for Public Land to use $8 million in federal money to buy the claims and convey them to the U.S. Forest Service, ending the fight over the proposed New World Mine near Cooke City. "We're hoping in the next several months . . . that we will be able to work with Congress and our partners, the Forest Service, to do everything that we can to make sure our funding request is made good on," said Alex Diekmann of the Trust for Public Land. In 1989, Crown Butte Mines, a subsidiary of Canadian mining company Noranda Inc., proposed a large gold mine near Yellowstone. Conservation groups warned it would harm the park's ecosystem, and lawsuits were threatened. In 1996, Crown Butte agreed to abandon its planned mine and create a fund to clean up past mining operations in exchange for $65 million in federal land and other assets. However, Margaret Reeb, who owned most of the claims Crown Butte planned to mine, wasn't part of the negotiations and did not want to sell, the Trust for Public Land said. She eventually agreed not to mine the land and owned it until her death in 2005. Mike and Randy Holland, her nephews, recently reached the agreement giving the Trust for Public Land the right to purchase the land and mining claims over a two-year period and to convey them to the United States for inclusion in the Gallatin and Custer national forests....
Number of bison killed sets record Roughly one out of four bison in Yellowstone National Park has been captured, sent to slaughter or otherwise killed this winter. The unofficial tally on Monday reached 1,098, topping a previous record of 1,084, set in the winter of 1996-97. The number could exceed 1,200 in the coming days. Park officials said there were an estimated 4,700 bison in Yellowstone before winter set in, the second-highest total ever recorded. But as temperatures turned cold, bison began having a harder time breaking through crusty snow to find the food below. As they have done for years, groups began to wander west and north toward lower elevations. State and federal management policies, though, are designed to keep bison from wandering too far, out of fear that they might transmit brucellosis to cattle in the area. So far this year, 822 bison captured along the north edge of Yellowstone have been shipped to slaughter, including 57 on Monday. Another 110 or so are expected to be shipped in the coming days, and scores more in the area may soon be captured. Three bison have been euthanized on the north side. Meanwhile, the Montana Department of Livestock has captured and sent to slaughter 107 bison near the western border. Hunters this year also killed 166 bison: 63 in a hunt sponsored by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and another 103 by tribal members....
Wolves kill calf in Boulder drainage Wolves killed a calf on private property along the East Fork of the Boulder River south of Big Timber on Saturday, according to a release from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The pack returned Sunday and ran cattle through a fence. Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services were authorized to remove two wolves from the pack. And the landowner was issued a shoot-on-sight permit for as many as two wolves. No wolves had been removed as of Monday afternoon, the release said. Calving operations are just getting started in the area. The pack is believed to have been involved formed in 2004 and included four wolves as of December 2007. A year ago, the pack killed one calf, and one wolf was removed.
Forest Service land eyed for housing In the quest to find more places for Eagle County workers to live, some Eagle County residents are turning their attention to the biggest landowner in their area: the U.S. Forest Service. About 84 percent of the county is owned by the federal government, and there are ways that local governments could acquire slivers of the land for housing — even if most of that land is either too remote, too steep or too sensitive for development. “I don’t know exactly where you’d do it, but they have a lot of land up and down the valley,” former Vail Mayor Rod Slifer said. One way to acquire Forest Service land is a swap in which the Forest Service would receive land that it considers valuable, such as wildlife habitat, said Eagle District Ranger Brian Lloyd. Otherwise, Congressional approval might be needed to approve a sale, Lloyd said. A third option is the “Townsite Act,” which can allow for Forest Service lands to be sold to towns if those lands serve a community need. That might include housing, Lloyd said....
Fair game for drillers Nature rewards hunters on horseback who hoof a few miles into the pine-covered hills of the Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area. On display are red-tailed hawks riding the thermals, black bears, bobcats, regal bull elk crowned with forests of antlers and a slumber party of wild turkeys dozing in the roof of a cottonwood tree. But, as documented in recent Colorado Division of Wildlife surveys, local hunters also are running into the startling impacts of the coal-bed methane industry. Dirt clouds follow truck convoys carrying water, chemicals and equipment in and out of the Bosque. Haul roads make gravel ribbons through habitat - along ridges, through valleys and cut into hillsides. Drill pads are flat-topped interruptions to the rounded high country. The grind of diesel engines pierces the cool, silent air. Industry's mechanized omnipresence is an especially jarring sight considering that hunters enter the preserve only on foot or by horseback. Inside the 30,000-acre Bosque del Oso (Forest of the Bear) State Wildlife Area, 25 miles west of Trinidad, energy producers are drilling for methane deposits trapped in coal seams a thousand feet or more underground, seeking fuel to run power plants and heat the West's homes and businesses....
Congressman proposes bill to block mining on land near Grand Canyon More than 1 million acres of public lands near the Grand Canyon would be withdrawn from potential mineral exploration under a bill introduced Monday by U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz. The Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act of 2008 was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources less than a week after the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations filed suit to block exploratory drilling near Grand Canyon National Park. Also last week, Gov. Janet Napolitano asked President Bush to issue an executive order blocking exploration in the area. Soaring uranium prices have prompted hundreds of new mine claims on Kaibab National Forest and Bureau of Land Management properties north and south of the Canyon. Grijalva said he moved to block mining efforts until environmental and health issues are resolved.
Environmentalists intend to sue over Fort Irwin's tortoise-relocation plan Environmental groups on Monday put three federal agencies on notice that they intend to sue over a plan to move nearly 800 desert tortoises from land where the Army is expanding its tank-training center near Barstow. The notice from the Center for Biological Diversity and Desert Survivors comes just two weeks before the Army was planning to move the reptiles, which are threatened with extinction, from the southern expansion edge of the National Training Center at Fort Irwin and onto public lands closer to Interstate 15. It is the latest salvo in what became known as tanks vs. tortoise -- a more than 20-year effort by the military to expand the training center to accommodate faster-moving tanks. Troops come to Fort Irwin from across the country to train against a home team that acts as the enemy. Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said the groups are not against the so-called tortoise translocation since Congress approved the center's expansion. But, she said, the new land is lower-quality habitat, and has pockets of diseased tortoises, mines, and illegal dumping and off-roading....
State to raise deer kill to reduce bovine TB The state's latest attempt to stop the spread of bovine tuberculosis, a sickness that poses little threat to humans but has hit 11 herds in northern Minnesota -- and threatens more -- comes to northern Minnesota this week. Watch out, wild deer, blamed for spreading the disease. With the blessings of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who flew to the northwestern corner of the state on Monday to visit ranchers hurt by the disease, state officials plan to distribute expedited deer-hunting permits at a meeting in the northern town of Wannaska tonight. A proposed emergency rule, expected to take effect later this month, would allow any landowner in the area to shoot deer without a permit or license until May 15, provided the deer are turned in for TB testing. The new steps come on top of a crew of state and federal sharpshooters sent to Roseau and Beltrami counties last month to thin the deer herd....
Patch burning: A new concept in rangeland management A six-year research project is underway in Woodson County, Kansas where Kansas State University scientists are working to determine how viable patch-burn grazing is for raising livestock. Patch-burn grazing is a fairly new concept in rangeland management, but has been occurring naturally for hundreds of years, said Walt Fick, K-State Research and Extension range management specialist. Historically, Native Americans purposely started prairie fires, and lightning did the same thing naturally. Bison and other native herbivores were attracted to the new growth that comes up after the land burned; consequently, these animals moved from grazing area to grazing area -- searching out the most attractive areas of new growth, Fick said. Some ranchers are mimicking that grazing pattern by sectioning a large pasture into three or more burn areas. "Every year, one of those sections is prescribed burned, concentrating the grazing pressure in specific areas of the pasture," he said. "The cattle are free-roaming over the entire pasture, but tend to gravitate toward the one-third area of the pasture that has been burned, because that is where the most attractive new growth has occurred."....
Your Burger on Biotech If the biotech industry has its way, ordering a hamburger might soon sound something like this: “one charbroiled cloned-beef patty, with genetically modified cheese, lab-grown bacon and vitamin-C-fortified lettuce, on a protein-spiked bun.” The burger of the future is delicious, nutritious and contains more engineering than a stealth bomber. With the Food and Drug Administration ruling in January that meat and milk from cloned cows, pigs, goats and their offspring is safe to eat, the only thing keeping the superburger off your dinner plate is time. It will be a few years yet before cloned meat hits store shelves. Cloning the perfect (and tastiest) cow can cost upward of $15,000, which makes clones themselves too expensive to eat, so we’ll have to wait until they spawn enough offspring (the old-fashioned way) to feed the masses. Meanwhile, researchers are busy formulating all the fixings. Take a look at what science is doing for the burger, from bun to beef and everything in between....
Pheasant Ranch Nine years ago, with cattle prices down and farmers throughout the Klamath Basin struggling with low water supplies and increased hay costs, Burt Holzhauser pondered about the future of his ranch. A third-generation rancher in rural Siskiyou County, Holzhauser decided to sell his cattle and start a pheasant hunting club. Today, the Rising Sun Ranch Hunting Preserve is one of the more successful pheasant hunting destinations in the West. I was in the field plowing one day and it popped into my head,’ Holzhauser recalls. ’I thought about it for a while. There were no pheasants in this area at all. But I thought it would be a good thing to do.’ Holzhauser’s grandfather, Herman, homesteaded 1,080 acres 38 miles south of Klamath Falls in 1880. Growing up on the ranch, Holzhauser’s father and grandfather would take him bird hunting when they weren’t busy with the cows or growing grain or alfalfa....
Women fliers made aviation history in Idaho Alys McKey became the first woman to fly in Idaho on May 30, 1913, when she took off in a Curtiss biplane from the Boise fairgrounds, which then were at the corner of Fairview Avenue and Orchard Street. It might well have been her last flight but for a bumpy takeoff. In the press of the crowd that gathered around her frail plane, someone had leaned hard enough on a wing rod to crack it. It might never have been noticed had she not hit a rut in the field on her first attempted takeoff. "That jolt saved my life," she told a Statesman reporter. The jolt collapsed the top wing onto the one beneath. If she had started on the smooth race track in front of the grandstand, instead of on the grassy infield, the jolt would not have happened and she would have left the ground with the rod already splintered. "With that rod in that condition," she said, "the first time I attempted a turn in the air it would have snapped and that would have been the death of me." By the late 1930s, many Idaho women had learned to fly. Some were students in Idaho colleges through the Civilian Pilot Training Program, established in 1939 by the federal government. Its mission was to be "a safeguard against the vast aerial militarization now being pressed with fanatical zeal by foreign powers." Clearly, Germany and Japan were the unnamed foreign powers, and women trained as pilots in the program would serve in various flying capacities after Dec. 7, 1941....
FLE

U.S. boosts deportation of illegals The Department of Homeland Security, continuing to enforce what it calls a "strict policy of arresting, prosecuting and jailing" illegal immigrants, deported a record number of those caught on the nation's borders last year — more than 280,000 in fiscal year 2007 compared with 186,000 a year earlier. It was the largest number of illegals ever removed from the country in a single year. The increase is attributable to what veteran law-enforcement authorities said is a revised apprehension process, adding that the department no longer is targeting only criminal illegals for removal, but seeks eventually to apprehend, charge and deport all those who cross illegally into the United States. To that end, Homeland Security has initiated "Operation Streamline" along some sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border, which brings illegal immigrants into the U.S. criminal justice system, where they are prosecuted either for a misdemeanor on their first offense or a felony if they have been caught before. "Under this program, individuals who are caught at certain designated high-traffic, high-risk zones are prosecuted and, if convicted, are jailed," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said at a recent press briefing. Mr. Chertoff noted that between October and December, the Justice Department prosecuted 1,200 cases under the new program and, as a consequence, apprehension rates dropped nearly 70 percent in those areas....
D.C.'s Gun Ban Gets Day in Court Despite mountains of scholarly research, enough books to fill a library shelf and decades of political battles about gun control, the Supreme Court will have an opportunity this week that is almost unique for a modern court when it examines whether the District's handgun ban violates the Second Amendment. The nine justices, none of whom has ever ruled directly on the amendment's meaning, will consider a part of the Bill of Rights that has existed without a definitive interpretation for more than 200 years. "This may be one of the only cases in our lifetime when the Supreme Court is going to be interpreting the meaning of an important provision of the Constitution unencumbered by precedent,'' said Randy E. Barnett, a constitutional scholar at the Georgetown University Law Center. "And that's why there's so much discussion on the original meaning of the Second Amendment.'' The outcome could roil the 2008 political campaigns, send a national message about what kinds of gun control are constitutional and finally settle the question of whether the 27-word amendment, with its odd structure and antiquated punctuation, provides an individual right to gun ownership or simply pertains to militia service. "The case has been structured so that they have to confront the threshold question," said Robert A. Levy, the wealthy libertarian lawyer who has spent five years and his own money to bring District of Columbia v. Heller to the Supreme Court. "I think they have to come to grips with that."....
Gun Case Causes Bush Administration Rift Suppose that after decades of silence on the subject, the Supreme Court was to decide that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to gun ownership, as opposed to a right tied to service in a militia. Such a ruling would be a cause for dancing in the streets by proponents of the individual-rights view — or so it might seem. After all, the great majority of federal courts have long refused to read the Second Amendment as protecting an individual right, and the Supreme Court itself has said nothing for nearly 70 years. But nothing is quite that straightforward when it comes to the case to be argued Tuesday on the constitutionality of the District of Columbia’s strict gun-control law. Judging by the sniping from within the Bush administration at its own solicitor general, Paul D. Clement, for a brief he filed in the case, a long-awaited declaration by the Supreme Court that the Second Amendment protects an individual right would not be nearly enough. Mr. Clement’s brief embraces the individual-rights position, which has been administration policy since 2001 when John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, first declared it in a public letter to the National Rifle Association. But the brief does not take the next step and ask the justices to declare, as the federal appeals court here did a year ago, that the District of Columbia law is unconstitutional. Not that the solicitor general’s brief finds the law to be constitutional, or even desirable. Far from it: the brief offers a road map for finding the law unconstitutional, but by a different route from the one the appeals court took. The distinction may seem almost picayune, but it is a measure of the passions engendered by anything to do with guns that Mr. Clement’s approach is evidently being seen in some administration circles as close to a betrayal. But Vice President Dick Cheney was nonetheless so provoked by Mr. Clement’s approach that last month he took the highly unusual step for a vice president of signing on to a brief filed by more than 300 members of Congress that asks the Supreme Court to declare the District of Columbia law “unconstitutional per se.” (Mr. Clement’s brief, by contrast, says that “a per se rule is clearly out of place in the Second Amendment context” because at the time the amendment itself coexisted with the “reasonable restrictions on firearms” that were in place at the time.) The Congressional brief, circulated by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, asserts that “no purpose would be served by remanding this case for further fact finding or other proceedings.” The case “involves nothing more than the right of law-abiding persons to keep common handguns and usable firearms for lawful self-defense in the home,” the brief says....
Audit: FBI watchlist data error-riddled The FBI gave outdated, incomplete and inaccurate information about terror suspects to be added to the government's watchlist for nearly three years despite steps taken to prevent errors, a Justice Department audit concludes. Responding, an FBI spokesman said gaps identified in the system should be fixed within six months. Overall, the audit released Monday by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine gave the FBI a mixed review for its process of submitting an estimated 8,000 names and other data to the terror watchlist that is compiled by U.S. intelligence agencies. It found that the FBI has proper training and other internal controls in place to help make sure names of suspected terrorists were accurately added to the list. However, Fine's report rapped the FBI for failing to consistently pass along newly discovered information about people on the watchlist, or to remove those who were no longer deemed a threat. "We found that the FBI was not always providing updated nominations when new information became known about a nominated individual," the audit concluded. "We also found that the FBI was not always removing records from the watchlist when it was appropriate to do so....
Bush defangs watchdog for spy agencies Almost 32 years to the day after President Gerald Ford created an independent Intelligence Oversight Board made up of private citizens with top-level clearances to ferret out illegal spying activities, President Bush issued an executive order that stripped the board of much of its authority. The White House did not say why it was necessary to change the rules governing the board when it issued Bush's order late last month. But critics say Bush's order is consistent with a pattern of steps by the administration that have systematically scaled back Watergate-era intelligence reforms. The board's investigations and reports have been mostly kept secret. But the Clinton administration provided a rare window into the panel's capabilities in 1996 by publishing a board report faulting the CIA for not adequately informing Congress about putting known torturers and killers in Guatemala on its payroll. But Bush downsized the board's mandate to be an aggressive watchdog against such problems in an executive order issued on Feb. 29, the eve of the anniversary of the day Ford's order took effect. The White House said the timing of the new order was "purely coincidental." Under the old rules, whenever the oversight board learned of intelligence activity it believed might be "unlawful or contrary to executive order," it had a duty to notify both the president and the attorney general. But Bush's order deleted the board's authority to refer matters to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation, and the new order said the board should notify the president only if other officials are not already "adequately" addressing the problem. Bush's order also terminated the board's authority to oversee each intelligence agency's general counsel and inspector general, and it erased a requirement that each inspector general file a report with the board every three months. Now only the agency directors will decide whether to report any potential lawbreaking to the panel, and they have no schedule for checking in....
'State secrets' privilege fuels surveillance bill battle House Democrats are hunkering down for a long siege with President Bush over his administration's terrorist surveillance program. Democrats are aiming to rein in the White House's power to wiretap without a warrant and assert "state secrecy" in key court battles. As Congress broke for a two-week recess last Friday, President Bush warned that the latest House version of the surveillance bill would "undermine America's security." At the heart of the dispute now is whether to grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies now facing lawsuits over their cooperation in warrantless surveillance. The Bush administration argues that liability protection is crucial to national security. Facing multibillion-dollar class- action suits, telecommunications companies will be less willing to cooperate in antiterrorist surveillance, say top officials. The House bill proposes an alternative fix for telecom companies facing big lawsuits: to allow a judge to determine whether the executive branch's claim of the state secrets privilege is legitimate. It passed by a partisan vote of 213 to 197, with all Republicans and 12 Democrats voting in opposition. "The telecoms have always had total immunity, as long as they get a statement from the administration. What's at issue is the administration's use of the state secrecy doctrine to prohibit them from using that immunity in court," says Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D) of New York, who proposed this strategy to the House Democratic leadership....
Wiretapping's true danger As the battle over reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act rages in Congress, civil libertarians warn that legislation sought by the White House could enable spying on "ordinary Americans." Others, like Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), counter that only those with an "irrational fear of government" believe that "our country's intelligence analysts are more concerned with random innocent Americans than foreign terrorists overseas." But focusing on the privacy of the average Joe in this way obscures the deeper threat that warrantless wiretaps pose to a democratic society. Without meaningful oversight, presidents and intelligence agencies can -- and repeatedly have -- abused their surveillance authority to spy on political enemies and dissenters. The original FISA law was passed in 1978 after a thorough congressional investigation headed by Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) revealed that for decades, intelligence analysts -- and the presidents they served -- had spied on the letters and phone conversations of union chiefs, civil rights leaders, journalists, antiwar activists, lobbyists, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices -- even Eleanor Roosevelt and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The Church Committee reports painstakingly documented how the information obtained was often "collected and disseminated in order to serve the purely political interests of an intelligence agency or the administration, and to influence social policy and political action." Political abuse of electronic surveillance goes back at least as far as the Teapot Dome scandal that roiled the Warren G. Harding administration in the early 1920s. When Atty. Gen. Harry Daugherty stood accused of shielding corrupt Cabinet officials, his friend FBI Director William Burns went after Sen. Burton Wheeler, the fiery Montana progressive who helped spearhead the investigation of the scandal. FBI agents tapped Wheeler's phone, read his mail and broke into his office. Wheeler was indicted on trumped-up charges by a Montana grand jury, and though he was ultimately cleared, the FBI became more adept in later years at exploiting private information to blackmail or ruin troublesome public figures. In 1945, Harry Truman had the FBI wiretap Thomas Corcoran, a member of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "brain trust" whom Truman despised and whose influence he resented. Following the death of Chief Justice Harlan Stone the next year, the taps picked up Corcoran's conversations about succession with Justice William O. Douglas. Six weeks later, having reviewed the FBI's transcripts, Truman passed over Douglas and the other sitting justices to select Secretary of the Treasury (and poker buddy) Fred Vinson for the court's top spot....
Precious liberty In the current debate about the erosion of civil liberties, a stock claim aimed at dampening the ardour of their defenders is that "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear". The answer to this is - oh indeed? - nothing to fear from legislation that reduces civil liberties by extending the power of the state to detain, inspect, question, collect personal information, intercept communications, and deploy new and more instruments of surveillance and monitoring such as CCTV cameras and ID cards? The assumption behind the "if you have nothing to hide" claim is that the authorities will always be benign, will always reliably identify and interfere with genuinely bad people only, will never find themselves engaging in "mission creep" with more and more uses to put their new powers and capabilities to, will not redefine crimes, and even various behaviours or views now regarded as acceptable, to extend the range of things for which people can be placed under suspicion - and so considerably on. It is all or some of naive, lazy and irresponsible not to be maximally vigilant regarding civil liberties and human rights, because it is a datum that the liberties of individuals are inconvenient for all states and their security services, and in dispensations where there are few if any restraints (think the Soviet Union, or even today's Russia - and China) it is liberty which quickly and comprehensively suffers....

Monday, March 17, 2008

Mexico submits offer on cattle trade Mexico has offered a new trade protocol to the U.S. Department of Agriculture concerning the import of U.S. cattle. The news comes after Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced during the first week of March specific Canadian cattle would not cross into Mexico through Texas export facilities due to unfair trade practices. "I have now learned that Mexico has submitted an offer to USDA as of March 6. Although details of this offer have not yet been shared, the fact an offer has been made is proof of progress," Commissioner Staples said. "I want to thank the many people who have stood with me in support of this action. I look forward to learning the details of this new Mexican offer and reviewing its consistency with international standards." On March 4, Commissioner Staples issued an order to stop specific Canadian cattle from passing through the state's export facilities into Mexico. Canada and Mexico have signed an agreement allowing the trade of certain dairy and beef cattle less than 30 months of age--including breeding stock. Currently, Mexico only allows the importation of U.S. dairy heifers under the age of 24 months, despite in-depth international negotiations to broaden this to breeding stock....
California joins Arizona, other states in international cattle trade dispute California is the latest of several border states to enter an international dispute surrounding cattle trade. State officials announced Friday afternoon that California would join Arizona, New Mexico and Texas in urging U.S. exporting facilities to turn away Mexico-bound Canadian cattle. California's decision follows an order issued March 4 by the Texas Department of Agriculture that would stop state-operated exporting facilities from allowing Canadian cattle to pass through to Mexico. A recent agreement between Canada and Mexico prompted the trade dispute, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said when he issued the order. Earlier this month, Canadian and Mexican officials signed an agreement that allows Canada to trade breeding cattle less than 30 months old. But Mexico prohibits imports of U.S. breeding cattle, with the exception of dairy heifers under the age of 24 months. Mexico enacted the embargo on U.S. cattle in 2003 after a single Canadian-born cow in Washington state was found to have mad cow disease. Unlike in Texas, where the state operates five livestock export facilities, such facilities in California, New Mexico and Arizona are privately owned and operated and do not fall under state jurisdiction. Nevertheless, the agriculture departments in those three states are urging private facilities to support Texas' decision....
Senate considers stricter slaughterhouse controls Acting in the wake of undercover video that showed “downer” cattle – those too sick to stand – being shoved to their slaughter in a Southern California packing plant, California’s two U.S. Senators are calling for tighter controls on packing plants. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is author of a bill that would shut down slaughter facilities that repeatedly process downed animals and offer stiff fines and temporary one-year shutdowns for first and second time violators. For first time offenders, the legislation would impose stiff fines and for second time offenders, it would effectively shut down operations for a year. Third time offenders would be shut down permanently. The bill, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska) and Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, will give the USDA additional authority to apply a tough penalty system on facilities that violate the law when it comes to handling nonambulatory animals, including stiff fines for first time offenders and temporary or permanent facility shutdowns for repeat violators. Nonambulatory is defined as those animals that cannot stand or walk without assistance....
Too little testing for mad cow, critics say After the country's first mad cow case was found in 2003, the federal government ramped up testing cattle for the fatal disease. But in 2006, officials scaled it back by 90 percent, citing the "extremely low" incidence of the disease in the United States. Today, about 40,000 -- or 0.1 percent -- of the 37 million cows slaughtered each year are tested, a number that consumer groups say is too low, especially when compared to testing programs in other countries. "Don't look, don't find" might be a more apt way of describing this country's testing program, said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at Consumers Union. But officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which oversees mad cow testing, say the fact that only two infected cows were found during the heightened testing -- which cost $158 million -- made it difficult to justify continued testing at those levels. No cases have been identified since then. "We're finding it at extremely low levels," said Karen Eggert, a spokeswoman for the inspection service....
Equine Herpesvirus-1: Mutant Strain an Emerging Problem Scientists from the Gluck Equine Research Center and the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center at the University of Kentucky recently reported that a particular mutant form of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) that causes myeloencephalopathy (a degenerative disease of the brain and spinal cord) in horses has the potential to pose serious health and economic threats to the North American horse industry. Like other herpes viruses, EHV-1, including the encephalopathy-causing mutant strain, can lay dormant in previously infected horses. "Latently infected horses are at risk for re-activation of the dormant mutant virus and can serve as a virus reservoir to potentially infect other horses," explained George Allen, PhD, a professor at the University of Kentucky and a co-author on the study. Since EHV-1 myeloencephalopathy is currently considered a potentially emerging disease, this study was designed to determine the prevalence of the mutant EHV-1 in the Thoroughbred broodmare population in central Kentucky. DNA was extracted from submandibular lymph nodes from 132 broodmares and was analyzed by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to determine if EHV-1 and/or mutant EHV-1 were present. "Over half of the horses examined were latently infected with EHV-1, and 18% of these horses harbored the mutant form of EHV-1 that causes myeloencephalopathy," said Allen....
Jaguar Conservation Team Update 3-11-08

March 17, 2008

Attached is a copy of the minutes Judy took at the Jaguar Conservation Team (JAGCT) meeting, March 13th. There are several items we think are note worthy. Some items are informational only, others we recommend action be taken.

1) Signatory Agencies: Two years ago we were able to get the Conservation Team Working Group (JAGWG) realigned so controversial issues can now be voted upon. Up until that time all decisions were made by consensus, usually Terry Johnson’s consensus. Since Terry limited NRCD participation to only two representatives from each of the two states, we would strongly encourage counties to request Signatory Status on the MOU and delegate a representative to attend the Jaguar Conservation Team meetings. These meetings take place 4 times a year.

If your county is not a signatory on the MOU, you believe it is important that sound science be used in jaguar conservation in the U.S., and you can make the time to attend the meetings, encourage your County Commissioners to sign on to the MOU and ask they appoint you as their representative.

Requests to become a signatory agency should be mailed to: Arizona Game and Fish Department; 5000 W Carefree Hwy; Phoenix, AZ 85086 – Attention Terry Johnson. Any questions can be directed to Terry Johnson, Arizona Game and Fish Dept. - TJohnson@azgfd.com

2) Emil McCain’s Report: Emil heads up the Jaguar Detection Project in Arizona. His report, published in the American Society of Mammalogy, is full of holes. It has been creatively written to strongly suggest many jaguars may be residing in the U.S. borderlands but have yet to be discovered. The best available science and historical sightings of jaguars in the U.S. has been tweaked to support this hypothesis. The report also claims there may be a breeding population residing here.

These claims are necessary to secure funding to continue his “research”. We would encourage everyone to request a copy of this article/report. You can send your request to: Emil at: emilmccain@gmail.com .

3) Recovery Plan: Tony Povolitis, Sierra Institute, had his students write a “research paper” entitled “Jaguar Habitat in Southern Arizona and New Mexico; A Report to the Habitat Committee of the Jaguar Conservation Team”, in June of 2000. The objective of this report was to recommend establishing an experimental release area so jaguars could be studied in the U.S. The report proposed the study area should be in the Central Arizona/New Mexico Mountains (also know as the Sky Islands).

The report also recommended jaguars should be obtained from a wild source, or raised in captivity, then released into the “study area”. The JAGCT accepted this report by consensus. The Scientific Advisory Group (JAGSAG) was not in favor of a captive breeding program and/or capturing jaguars from other areas for various reasons and so stated in their response to this report in October of 2000.

To our knowledge, no one, including the JAGSAG and the state game and fish departments, are in favor of a captive breeding/reintroduction/recovery plan. However, this does not stop the Center for Biological Diversity from suing in an effort to get such a recovery plan while trying to find a "friendly" federal judge to rule in their favor. The articles being published in the mainstream press certainly support this effort. It matters not that the science is being manipulated to support their concept of a recovery plan.

A recent news release from the Defender of Wildlife states they too have “filed a notice of intent to sue in Washington D.C. district court to compel the Bush administration to create a recovery plan for jaguars in the Southwest”. The push is certainly on to force U.S. Fish and Wildlife to develop a plan.

4) New Committees: Terry is “reconstituting” the committees. The new committees are: Depredation, Education, Habitat, Monitoring, Outreach and Research. If you have experience, training or an interest in any of these areas, please let Terry know which committee you can serve on, ASAP. TJohnson@azgfd.com We have only 30 days to get common sense, reasonable, intelligent individuals on some of these committees.

5) The Endangered Species Act/Wildlands Project: During the JAGCT meeting, Ron White, Sierra NRCD, asked by what authority the JAGCT continues to operate. In summary, Terry explained it was by virtue of the Endangered Species Act. No one needs to explain the ESA or the impact it is having on private landowners and small, rural counties. Neither do we have to explain how the “Wildlands Project: Plotting a North American Wilderness Recovery Strategy”, as published by the Cenozoic Society, 1992, has to do with this agenda.

It is worth noting, however, that Tony Povolitis had the maps for jaguar habitat in the U.S. already developed when the JAGCT first met in Douglas, Arizona in April of 1997. According to the Wildlands Project, page 31, Tony promoted the concept of using the U.N.’s Man and the Biosphere Program as a “potent means of protecting relatively intact bioregions”.

The narrator of this section -“Editor’s Introduction to the Wildlands Proposals” - John Davis, goes on to recommend “Wildland advocates need to work to gain on- the ground protection for on - paper Reserves”. Mr. Davis continues his commentary by stating: “Until people on this overdeveloped continent adopt ecologically benign ways, local control will often mean locally – sanctioned abuse of local resources…. International control and more private reserves under the control of NGOs such as the Nature Conservancy are other options to consider.”

Mr. Davis asks a very poignant question as he discusses the deliberate airing of controversial issues (in the media we presume) when he asks: “How radical – and biologically honest – dare we be, given that many people will choose their own economic well-being over the survival of a species? Should we favor ‘local control’ of resources, in the spirit of bioregionalism, or lean toward state or federal control, in the spirit of the Wilderness Act of 1964?” No where does he discuss the virtues of private property, or the right of U.S. citizens to retain these intrinsic American values.

Although Terry is frustrated with all the lawsuits that draw funding away from recovering the jaguar, he does not openly oppose the Wildlands Project, or its “science – conservation biology”. Regardless of which initiative prevails – a state led initiative or a federally led initiatives – the results may be the same if we are not vigilante to ensure sound science and common sense prevail.

We would like to thank everyone that attends the JAGCT meetings. We appreciate your time and hope you realize by helping us, you’re helping yourselves. If we don’t stay on top of this jaguar conservation effort it could turn into the same scenario we are witnessing with the Mexico Wolf “experimental population” reintroduction scheme. The jaguar is, after all, just another of the Wildland Project’s charismatic, umbrella species.

We still have a copy of the jaguar map Michael and his associates would like to see “repopulated” with jaguars. It is an extensive area and takes in several Arizona counties and many counties in New Mexico. If you’d like to review it, let us know.

People always want to know how long the JAGCT will continue to meet. We’ve already been meeting for 11 years. Many of the original ranchers and landowners have dropped out, but not our friends the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Institute, Defenders of Wildlife and Sky Island Alliance. They have a prize in mind, a jaguar preserve that includes parts of southern Arizona, lots of New Mexico and a big portion of northern Mexico. Are we going to be as single-minded and tenacious?

In conclusion, if we don’t hang together, we’ll all hang separately! We need your involvement!!

Respectfully,

Sue Krentz and Judy Keeler