Saturday, October 25, 2008

Los Payasos - Government At Work


Uses for $700 billion bailout money ever shifting First, the $700 billion rescue for the economy was about buying devalued mortgage-backed securities from tottering banks to unclog frozen credit markets. Then it was about using $250 billion of it to buy stakes in banks. The idea was that banks would use the money to start making loans again. But reports surfaced that bankers might instead use the money to buy other banks, pay dividends, give employees a raise and executives a bonus, or just sit on it. Insurance companies now want a piece; maybe automakers, too, even though Congress has approved $25 billion in low-interest loans for them. Three weeks after becoming law, and with the first dollar of the $700 billion yet to go out, officials are just beginning to talk about helping a few strapped homeowners keep the foreclosure wolf from the door....

Friday, October 24, 2008


How the West Was Lost Two regions in this election contain a disproportionate number of battleground states: the Rust Belt (including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin) and the Interior West (Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada). On that score, each candidate would seem to have a home-region advantage, with Barack Obama representing Illinois in the heart of the Rust Belt region, and John McCain Arizona in the Interior West. Studies have proven the presence of a strong "friends and neighbors" effect in a candidate's home state: They tend to outperform their demographics among voters who know them the best. There is also some evidence that this advantage carries over to the regional level, particularly in the South and in New England, if the candidate has a grasp on the concerns and the ways of thinking most common to the voters in his region. Obama has lived up to his end of the bargain, winning in essentially every state that borders the Land of Lincoln. In Iowa, which John Kerry lost in 2004, but where Obama's victory in the state's January caucuses made his campaign viable, there have been 27 public polls released since the first of the year; Barack Obama has led 26 of them, and was tied with McCain in the other. In Wisconsin, a state that went to Kerry by fewer than 12,000 votes in 2004, Obama has led four of the last five polls by double digits. In Indiana, which hasn't voted Democratic since 1964, Obama has drawn the race to a dead heat. Missouri was on the verge of losing its bellwether status after John Kerry ceded it by seven points, but is now back in the toss-up column, with some recent polling trending toward Obama. But John McCain, by contrast, has made little progress in the West beyond his home state of Arizona. He now trails Obama in Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico, all three of which went to George Bush in 2004. In spite of early declarations from his campaign that he would fight for Washington, Oregon, and perhaps even California, he never eroded Obama's advantage along the Pacific coast, and is no longer trying. Obama has even led in a few polls in Western states as far-flung as North Dakota, Montana, and--before Sarah Palin's entry into the race-a poll in Alaska. The region that had once appeared to harbor the most potential for McCain might now contain the states that tip the balance of the election toward Obama. Why is McCain performing so poorly in his own backyard? In part, he is fighting a Sisyphean battle against the demographic changes in the region....
Roadless area backers make mass appeal to Forest Service Environmental organizations delivered what they said were 170,000 letters urging the U.S. Forest Service to reject Colorado’s petition for rules governing management of forest lands in the state. Critics of the proposed rule say it contains loopholes that allow for energy development, logging and roadbuilding. The Colorado petition was drafted by a bipartisan task force that called for a no-surface occupancy provision for those areas, meaning only directional drilling would be allowed to reach natural gas or oil beneath the forests. Gov. Bill Ritter has resisted urging by environmental organizations to repudiate the state’s petition for its own version of the roadless rule. Opponents also have pointed to the proposed rule allowing what are termed “long-term temporary roads,” which are intended to be reclaimed once they outlive their value to the energy, mining or logging industries. Those roads, however, could be used for as many as 30 years, the Forest Service has said....The key, of course, is the roads. If your ultimate goal is wilderness, they must be roadless.

How Green Is the High Court? Is the U.S. Supreme Court hostile to environmental regulation? Does it shy away from the tougher environmental questions of today? Or are its decisions a "mixed bag," giving comfort and angst to environmentalists and industry depending on the issue? The justices this term have taken five environmental cases for decision thus far -- a significant number for a relatively small docket. With the exception of the already argued case involving Navy sonar and its impact on whales and other marine mammals, this environmental quintet is unlikely to arouse public passions. But all five cases raise bread-and-butter environmental issues, some with potentially huge implications for the ability of environmentalists and the government to enforce the nation's major environmental laws and for the wherewithal of business and industry to survive and prosper under those laws. Traditional antagonists in these high court cases, environmental and business groups do seem to agree on at least one thing: The five pending cases are likely to be especially revealing of the still-emerging Roberts Court in an area of increasing national and international concern. But their assessments of the Supreme Court in the environmental area are, like the cases this term, widely varying....

Lumber industry threatened by glut of unsold homes he glut of homes in foreclosure, vacant, or stuck on the market has the nation's lumber industry hanging on by a limb. Since housing starts hit their peak in mid-2005, demand for lumber used in floors, home frames, and cabinets has declined sharply, and experts say the number of unsold homes would need to significantly decrease before homebuilders commit to building new ones. With fewer new houses under construction, and foreclosure notices surging this summer, there's a lot at stake for the sawmills and loggers that feed the nation's dwindling appetite for floorboard, housing frames and cabinets. The industry, which employs more than 100,000 workers, has seen employment drop 13 percent the last three years, according to government data. Millions of private landowners that manage family owned timberlands also depend on the lumber industry....
Environmental Defense Fund Takes Legal Action to Address Landfill Methane Emissions Today, Environmental Defense Fund filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its failure to update emission standards for hundreds of landfills nationwide. Landfills are the nation’s second largest source of manmade methane pollution. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and a contributor to the smog air pollution that is associated with respiratory illnesses affecting millions of Americans. In September, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program issued a landmark report declaring measures to reduce methane emissions a “clear win-win” solution. EPA has failed to update the emission standards for landfills for a dozen years, violating its duty under the nation’s clean air laws to modernize the emission standards at least every eight years....
Marines Corps' plans to acquire land raise residents' concerns Desert residents said Thursday that they fear Marines Corps plans to expand the 932-square-mile Twentynine Palms combat training center will take their homes, curtail their off-road recreation and destroy wildlife habitat. "I'm very concerned," said artist Thom Merrick, of Wonder Valley, a rural area that borders the eastern side of the existing military land. "It's like living next to a giant that knows no end to its hunger." Merrick said he and several other Wonder Valley residents can't tell from the maps provided by the military whether their homes are inside the proposed expansion area. The military contends additional land is needed to test weapons systems on the MV-22 Osprey vertical takeoff aircraft and the Joint Strike Fighter, the Marines' first stealth jet. But many of the residents who showed up Thursday were more worried about losing land than fighting wars. The 424,000 acres identified by the military cover almost 76,000 acres of private property and most of the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area, a 189,000-acre playground for motorcyclists and other off-roading enthusiasts....

Release of foxes marks end of wildly successful comeback These are wonderful times to be an island fox. A decade ago, the house-cat-sized animals were scampering toward extinction, with only a few dozen surviving at spots scattered around Channel Islands National Park. Now they're practically poster mammals for species revival, numerous enough that government scientists no longer have to breed them in the safety of chain-link pens. On Thursday, one, then another of the relentlessly cute critters dashed into the brush of this wind-swept island -- the last of the three where the breeding program operated. The transfer, solemnly performed by a park biologist and the second-in-command of the Interior Department, marked the end of a $5.4-million rescue effort that started in 1999....

Bear deaths high Researchers say human-caused grizzly-bear deaths have taken a toll in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem this year, despite estimates that the overall population continues to grow. Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team officials estimate that 39 grizzly bears have died in 2008. Seventeen of those deaths involved hunting incidents, six where the result of natural causes and four had unknown causes. The remainder of the deaths were some form of human-caused death, including management removals of problem bears. Male grizzly bears have already surpassed a 15 percent mortality threshold that, if observed for three consecutive years, would prompt a management review by state agencies. That review could result in grizzlies being placed back under Endangered Species Act protection. If another female grizzly is shot by a hunter, female mortalities would pass a 9 percent threshold that would trigger a similar review after two consecutive years. Those thresholds were last surpassed in 2000. When a person other than a wildlife manager reports a grizzly bear death, researchers count it as three toward the thresholds because roughly two-thirds of citizen-caused grizzly deaths go unreported, said study team leader and U.S. Geological Survey researcher Chuck Schwartz....
Fast readers wanted Rushing to ease endangered species rules before President Bush leaves office, Interior Department officials are attempting to review 200,000 comments from the public in just 32 hours, according to an e-mail obtained by The Associated Press. The Fish and Wildlife Service has called a team of 15 people to Washington this week to pore through letters and online comments about a proposal to exclude greenhouse gases and the advice of federal biologists from decisions about whether dams, power plants and other federal projects could harm species. That would be the biggest change in endangered species rules since 1986. In an e-mail last week to Fish and Wildlife managers across the country, Bryan Arroyo, the head of the agency's endangered species program, said the team would work eight hours a day starting Tuesday to the close of business on Friday to sort through the comments. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's office, according to the e-mail, will be responsible for analyzing and responding to them. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., whose own letter opposing the changes is among the thousands that will be processed, called the 32-hour deadline a "last-ditch attempt to undermine the long-standing integrity of the Endangered Species program."....
Fire-charred NM mountains fuel policy debate The three Manzano fires cost the Forest Service more than $9 million. Nationally, the agency has said spending on fires could reach $1.6 billion this year, about half its budget. While federal land management agencies have long recognized the need to allow fire to burn in some areas, the problem is transferring that philosophy to decision-making on the ground, said Stephen Pyne, a professor at Arizona State University who teaches courses on wildfire history and management. Shifting gears can't happen soon enough, according to Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M. He said wildfires have charred some 58 million acres — or 90,000 square miles — across the nation in the past seven years. "We are spending more, managing less, burning more and as a result, having to cut funds to other important resource programs such as recreation, fisheries and wildlife to battle these wildfires," Domenici said. In the Manzanos and elsewhere, decades of mismanagement have resulted in overgrown forests that make reintroducing fire a difficult task, said Arlene Perea, a fire information officer with the Mountainair Ranger District. The district has used prescribed fire and mechanical thinning, but Perea said wildfires can't be allowed to burn to clean out the forest because of the homes scattered throughout the area....

A Solution to Overgrazing What White and Winder realized 10 years ago was that cattle were not the West’s problem — proper management was. The organization showed both sides of the conflict that by implementing ecological ranching practices like rotational grazing and pumping water to troughs in order to protect streams, cows can actually benefit the land. Quivira took environmentalists on tours of ranches bordering national wildlife refuges and found that, because cattle can fulfill an ecological niche absent since the age of the bison, sometimes land that was grazed every year was healthier than land that hadn’t been touched by hooves in decades. Sid Goodloe, a rancher for more than 52 years, has been using sustainable methods of ranching since the ’60s. Though he was ecologically conscious, Goodloe resented the environmentalists — many of whom had never set foot on a ranch, let alone tried to manage one — who took a condescending view toward ranchers. “But when I saw that Courtney White was kind of a converted environmentalist, then I thought, ‘Well somebody is beginning to see the light and maybe [the dialogues the Quivira Coalition was promoting] is a way to tear down the wall between the environmental community and the ranchers,” he says. Now, as a Quivera Coalition board member, Goodloe works with both sides of the conflict to show how ranching and sustainability can coexist. The Coalition has grown in its ten years, and with its growth has come an expansion of its programs....

Green spaces, grasslands, are casualties of the ranching industry’s woes Warm days have made the task of gathering the cattle off summer ranges much more pleasant for the cattle ranchers of the Cariboo. The age-old rhythms of cattle ranching stay true to tradition in spite of the industry being in the most critical state it has ever been in, in its very long timeline of existence. The industry is in distress; if it were compared to a hospital patient, you would say that it is on life support and many are thinking that it’s time to pull the plug (if they haven’t already). There are other industries and businesses in trouble as well. Ranchers are not alone. Loggers, mill workers and industries that rely on the activity in the woods are also suffering terribly. But, and this is a big but, the loss of prosperity in that industry does not equal the loss of green space or grasslands. That is what the loss of ranch, after ranch, after ranch, after ranch is going to do to to the landscape of the Cariboo because, let’s face it — when the rancher pulls the plug, he sells out. That’s his only option. Who buys the ranch? Very likely, not anyone who wants to run a cattle operation....

Wallowa County tops NY Times' bestsellers People are coming to Wallowa County as if they were going to Lourdes - but they're not looking for physical healing, they're looking for spiritual healing. They're looking for an unnamed road that goes straight north. Somewhere up there, they hope to find a shack - where they may meet God. One Oregon man has already met God in the shack and written about it. That man is a former Christian minister and the son of Evangelical missionaries, William P. Young. His account of that meeting with God is recounted in his best selling book "The Shack." The story told in that book is a horrific one. It concerns the kidnap of a child whose family is vacationing at Wallowa Lake. The child is later murdered in a shack somewhere in the Hells Canyon Wilderness north of Imnaha. There follows the descent of the family into a different Hellish canyon - a canyon of grief they call "The Great Sadness." The book chronicles the journey of the father, Mack, as he finds a way to transcend this Great Sadness through an entirely new understanding of the nature of God....
Smithfield Foods completes beef sale to JBS Smithfield Foods Inc. said Thursday it has completed the sale of its beef business to Brazilian beef giant JBS SA. The deal worth $565 million in cash received clearance by regulators on Monday when they said they wouldn't challenge the merger, which pairs Smithfield Beef Group Inc., the nation's fifth-largest beef producer, with JBS, the nation's third-largest beef producer. The Department of Justice said it wouldn't challenge that deal, but it did file a lawsuit Monday to block JBS from buying the nation's fourth-largest beef processor, National Beef Packing Co. of Kansas City, Mo. Federal regulators and attorneys general from 13 states said that deal, worth $560 million in cash and stock, could push up costs for consumers and drive down prices paid to ranchers and feedlots. At that point, both JBS and Smithfield said they'd work to close their deal immediately....

Animal ID: 13 States Now Exceed 50 Percent Premises Registered The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced that 487,670 premises are registered nationwide as part of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Producers registered more than 50,000 premises so far in 2008 and 13 states now have at least 50 percent of their total estimated production premises registered through NAIS. The latest state to go over 50 percent premises registration is Iowa. The 13 states that have topped the 50 percent mark are Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Illinois is very close to the 50 percent mark, with 48.3 percent of its estimated 30,046 premises registered....

Raccoon tased but unfazed in clash with Dallas cops Police learned something during a frenetic burglary call to an elderly couple's home: Tasers don't work on raccoons. Police arrived with guns drawn after receiving a 911 call from an 85-year-old man who heard noises near his front door Tuesday night. Officers surrounded the house but pretty quickly — in the words of the police report — "determined the suspect was a raccoon." In the meantime, the masked burglar apparently made its way into the house through the chimney. That's when things got really interesting. With officers in pursuit, the raccoon took off through the house, ripping up Venetian blinds, pulling down drapes, knocking over a lamp and toppling a flowerpot. Finally, Officer Daniel Ek tried to let it out the back door when the suspect apparently turned threatening. "While unlocking the back door, the suspect ran at Officer Ek," the police report says. Ek used his Taser, but the raccoon ran up the chimney with the stun gun's prongs in its back....

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Where the presidential candidates stand on public-lands issues Perhaps the most contentious public-lands issue in recent years has been the so-called "Roadless Rule" that the Clinton administration put in place during its final days in 2001. "Obama supports the Roadless Area Conservation Rule to keep over 58 million acres of national forests pristine," according to the candidate's environment plan [PDF]. "As president, he will repair the damage done to our national parks by inadequate funding and emphasize the protection and restoration of our national forests." When it comes to logging on public lands in general, Obama told the Flathead Beacon of Montana that he thinks we can balance economic growth and sustainability. "If we're going to have timber industries operating on public land, then we should make sure that old-growth forests aren't destroyed but it's that second growth are what are harvested." On national parks, Obama has said he is "committed to addressing the funding shortfall that the National Park Service has experienced" and will push for the park service to have enough money to meet its backlog of maintenance needs by the service's 100th anniversary in 2016. On mining, Obama last year opposed a House bill that would have reformed the 1872 Mining Law, saying the bill would have "placed a significant burden on the mining industry and could have a significant impact on jobs." That disappointed enviros who have long called for an overhaul of the 1872 law, which lets companies mine public lands without paying royalties and doesn't hold them responsible for mine cleanup. Obama says he does want to update the 1872 law to improve environmental protections and provide compensation for the use of federal land, but on the campaign trail he has stressed that he wants to support the mining industry and make sure reform doesn't hurt it....

United States, Peru Announce Debt-for-Nature Agreement The United States has agreed to redirect $25 million of Peru’s debt into local funds to protect the country’s tropical forests, the State Department announced October 20. The debt-for-nature agreement was made possible by the federal Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) of 1998. Peru will become the largest beneficiary under the TFCA program, with more than $35 million generated for environmental conservation. Eleven other countries also participate in the program, which is administered by three U.S. government agencies — the State and Treasury departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). In a debt-for-nature agreement, countries redirect their debt payments to the United States into local funds that administer competitive grants that support forest conservation, according to James Hester, agency environmental coordinator at USAID and director of the Office of Natural Resource Management. Grants are awarded to nongovernmental and other local organizations for a broad range of conservation activities. The new Peru agreement marks the 14th TFCA pact....
Snowbowl case might reach Supreme Court A lawsuit filed by various tribes against the Arizona Snowbowl might be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court after several contradictory rulings by more local courts have left the case under dispute. In March 2005, the U.S. Forest Service granted permission to the Snowbowl to expand its infrastructure to allow artificial snowmaking using reclaimed water. Supporters say this is needed due to the inconsistency in snowfall over the past few years. In response, the Navajo, Hopi, Yavapai-Apache, White Mountain, Havasupai and Hualapai tribes filed a lawsuit saying the reclamation project threatens the environment and religious freedoms. The case was taken to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three-person panel ruled in favor of the tribes in March 2007. However, a ruling made on Aug. 8, 2008 concerning the religious right of the tribes gave favor to the Snowbowl. The tribes are currently deciding whether to appeal to the Supreme Court on the grounds of religious freedom. Since the District Court did not rule on the merits of the environmental aspect of the lawsuit, the tribes may still appeal to the District Court for a separate ruling. Until a future ruling, the court has ordered a stay on production....

Forest Service credibility at issue Conflicts over mineral and grazing rights on the former Eberts ranch are eroding the credibility of the U.S. Forest Service in western North Dakota. The purchase of the ranch by the federal government was controversial, and manufactured disagreements now ongoing are working to further polarize interests and people. The Forest Service needs to do its homework and effectively deal with core issues on the 5,200-acre ranch north of Medora. The ranch was purchased for $5.3 million, and involved public and private resources. It's part of the view shed east of Theodore Roosevelt's Elkhorn Ranch. Two conflicts have arisen since the purchase of the ranch last year:The Forest Service has proposed, and the grazing association has opposed, the development of grass bank on the ranch and its lease property, rather than it be under the grazing association's authority. And more recently, a third party has purchased half the mineral rights under the ranch and wants to sell the gravel, or sell those rights to the Forest Service, so digging an open pit mine on the ranch could be avoided The idea of a grass bank, which could be used to help manage the grasslands, isn't necessarily a bad idea. That's not the point. The legislation to purchase the ranch, introduced by U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, specifically said the "Federal and private lands encompassing the Elkhorn Ranch (Eberts) shall become part of the grazing agreement held by Medora Grazing Association to be reallocated to its members in accordance with their rules ..."It might be legalese but there's no ambiguity in the language. Yet Dakota Prairie Grasslands supervisor Dave Pieper has continued to press for making the Eberts ranch a grass bank. This is where trust breaks down, where credibility gets trampled....For why the FS is doing this, see my comments here.
Geothermal leasing, development plan announced Secretary of the Interior Dick Kempthorne today said the federal government would open 197 million acres of public land for geothermal development, according to media reports. Under the plan, 122 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land-use plans would be amended to allow geothermal power development that could provide as much as 5,540 MW of new electricity for 5.5 million homes by 2015. The plan, which expected to be made final in two months, calls for leasing land to project developers with the proceeds shared by local, state and federal governments. The broader environmental review for the overall leasing program calls for 118 million acres of land managed by BLM, and 79 million acres under the U.S. Forest Service, to be made available for potential geothermal development....
Federal Agencies to Team with Landowners, Ranchers and Energy Industry to Protect and Restore Wildlife Habitat on State, Federal and Private Lands The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Center of Excellence for Hazardous Materials Management have proposed to enter into an innovative, voluntary conservation program that encourages landowners, energy companies and ranchers to join the agencies in protecting and restoring habitat for the lesser prairie chicken and sand dune lizard in southeast New Mexico. Included in the program are agreements for participants to voluntarily undertake or fund conservation measures for the species, which are candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Service recommends using the agreements to encourage conservation, while providing greater certainty that if a species becomes listed as 'threatened' or 'endangered' despite their efforts, landowners will not be required to make significant additional changes in their activities on federal or non-federal lands. Copies of the proposed agreements and an Environmental Assessment are available for public review and comment on the Service's website at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/NewMexico/. To receive a compact disc or paper copy of the agreements, contact New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2105 Osuna NE., Albuquerque, NM 87113 or call 505-761-4707. Comments should be submitted to this address and are due by Nov. 20, 2008....

Sheep Drives Squeeze Between Old West And New West his is the time of year ranchers move sheep by the tens of thousands from the mountains to lowland pastures. In the inland Northwest, sheep drives can cross over a hundred miles by foot. But land that used to be open range is gradually turning into subdivisions, golf courses, and busy streets. In one central Idaho valley, ranchers have a colorful way to win newcomers over to sharing the land. Correspondent Tom Banse reports they drive their sheep right down the center of swanky Ketchum-Sun Valley. Brothers Mike and Mark Henslee are walking with about a thousand sheep. They started high in the Stanley Basin of central Idaho and plan to wind about 150 miles south to warmer pastures near the Snake River. Along the way, they have somehow to slip all those sheep through the eye of a needle, otherwise known as fashionable Sun Valley....
Two horses shot dead in their corral in rural Livermore Choctaw was a beautiful Tobiano paint that helped children and was seen by millions around the world in the Rose Parade. Lucky was living the good life, also helping special needs children after the "bag of bones" was rescued by the Rountree family earlier this year. The lives of both horses ended sometime between Tuesday night and 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning when their bodies were found on their pasture near Collier Canyon Road in rural Livermore. Someone had shot the horses to death with a .22 caliber weapon, said Marianne Rountree, who owns the horses with her husband Mike. Choctaw was shot in the heart, and was, found slumped over in the pasture near the street. Lucky was shot twice in the belly and might have been running toward the stables when he died. Based on the weapon used, the family says the pair probably died slow deaths. The horses were fine when the Rountrees last saw them about 8 p.m. Tuesday. The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office is investigating the shootings as an animal cruelty case, said spokesman Jimmy Lee. Investigators don't have a motive, but a rancher's cow was found also shot dead nearby on Wednesday morning....

Small size doesn't hurt steer roping horse Woody Woody is one little steer roping horse with a lot of determination. The quarter horse gelding, whose registered name is Larneds Ricoche Doc, is 14.1 hands tall and weighs 1,185 pounds. Most competitive steer roping horses are about 15 hands and closer to 1,300 pounds. "He's just got a lot of athletic ability to be as small as he is," said Dan Fisher of Andrews, Woody's owner and rider. "He's got a lot of heart. He's smaller than any other steer roping horse I've ever had before. But I kind of like short horses because I'm only 5-foot-9, and I can get off of them quicker" to tie the steer. Those factors helped Woody win the American Quarter Horse Association/Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association 2008 Steer Roping Horse of the Year honors. Fisher is also on the card at the Nov. 14-15 National Finals Steer Roping in Hobbs, N.M....

The Roswell Legacy In early July 1947, something crashed in the high desert outside of Roswell, New Mexico. Sheep rancher Mac Brazel discovered some strange metallic debris on his land. Not knowing what it was he eventually took some of this debris into Roswell and reported it to the Sheriff´s Office. They in turn contacted Roswell Army Air Force who housed the 509th Bomb Wing, the only atomic bomb wing in the world at that time. RAAF despatched two men to Roswell to look at his strange debris. One of these was base intelligence officer Major Jesse Marcel. Major Marcel drove out to the ranch in question and recovered some of this material. On his way back to base he stopped at his home in the early hours of the morning. He awake his wife and his son, 11 year-old Jesse Marcel jnr. Major Marcel spread some of the recovered material on the kitchen floor of his house and Jesse jnr was most intrigued by it. Little did either of them know then that they were to become involved in what has become known as the Roswell Incident. Major Marcel passed away in the l980´s, but not before he had told his story....

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


JAMES SAMUEL CURETON

December 5, 1920 - October 18, 2008

Jim Cureton was born in Lordsburg, New Mexico to George H. and Edith S. Cureton. He was a third generation cattle rancher in southwestern New Mexico on land homesteaded by his grandfather, James W. Cureton. He attended Lordsburg Public Schools and played on the Lordsburg High School basketball team that won the 1939 New Mexico State Basketball Championship. He received a bachelor of science degree from New Mexico State University in animal science. He was in ROTC and served in the armed services during WWII. He married Nan Elton and was widowed in 1948.

Jim was an active member of the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau and the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association. He was an employee of the New Mexico Public Health Department for 15 years. In 1951, Jim married Jane L. (Turner) Hart, who had a daughter, Mary Edith. He and Jane had two children, J. Samuel (Sam) Cureton, Jr. and J. Alice Bundrant. He is survived by his wife, children, brother, Robert H. Cureton (Helen) and sister, Dorothy (George H.) Jackson. He has seven grandchildren: Eda Jane Egashira, James Canniff, Chance Cureton, Erin Meng (Tyler), Paige Cureton, Brittany Bundrant, Logan Bundrant and five great grandchildren: Saundra, Tyler, Anthony and Robert Egashira and Ethan Ross Meng

He had been living in Bainbridge Island, Washington near his two daughters for the past year. He was a prior member of the Lordsburg First Baptist Church and a member and deacon of the Silver City First Baptist Church.

Funeral services will be held at the Silver City First Baptist Church on Tuesday, October 28 at 2:00 p.m. followed by burial at the Masonic Cemetery in Silver City. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the New Mexico Boys’ or Girls’ Ranch. Their address is:
The Ranches
6209 Hendrix Rd NE 2FL
Albuquerque, NM 87110
or donations can be made on-line at www.theranches.org

Closing Arguments in Stevens Trial Government prosecutors and a defense lawyer for Senator Ted Stevens gave starkly different accounts to a jury Tuesday over whether Mr. Stevens violated ethics laws by not disclosing tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and services that he received. Joseph Bottini, a federal prosecutor, told the jurors that Mr. Stevens, Republican of Alaska, was well aware that he received an array of gifts, including a sled dog, a sculpture and a massage chair, as well as the more valuable services of a longtime friend, Bill Allen, who used his company, Veco, to oversee a vast remodeling of the Stevens home. “This is a simple case of an elected public official who received hundreds of thousands of dollars in free benefits and concealed those facts,” Mr. Bottini said. Mr. Stevens’s chief defense lawyer, Brendan Sullivan, responded that the government had offered “a very twisted interpretation of the evidence” to prosecute a prominent lawmaker who had served in the Senate honorably for 40 years. In his telling, Mr. Stevens was the unwilling recipient of many gifts that Mr. Allen provided without his knowledge. And it was Catherine Stevens, the senator’s wife, who was in charge of the renovation project and paid some $160,000 in bills believing they accounted for the entire project....

Judges hear cases on hatchery vs wild salmon A panel of federal appellate judges is being asked to decide whether the government should count hatchery-raised salmon and steelhead when considering the fish populations for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Lawyers for the building industry, farm and property rights groups asked Monday that the judges undo the listings of 16 West Coast salmon and steelhead populations under the act, arguing that thanks to abundant hatchery fish, the stocks are nowhere near extinction. In its lawsuit, the Alsea Valley Alliance of Oregon challenged the listing of 16 salmon and steelhead populations as endangered in Washington, Oregon and California, claiming the government was lowballing its estimates of salmon and steelhead populations by counting only wild fish. The listing unnecessarily harms the economy by restricting development and agriculture to protect salmon habitat, the alliance argued. U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan rejected the group's claims last year, finding that federal officials were not required to treat wild and hatchery fish identically....
Judge declines to reduce pumping of delta water for salmon A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request by environmental groups to reduce delta pumping and take other measures at two major California reservoirs to help the state's endangered salmon population. In an 11-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger didn't outright reject the requests, but said a hearing would be necessary if environmental groups wanted to pursue the proposals. Environmentalists aren't sure whether they will seek a hearing because an updated opinion on how to manage the salmon is due in March, said Michael Sherwood, an attorney for the environmental group Earthjustice. The litigation over winter-run Chinook salmon, spring-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead is part of a long-running battle between the government and environmentalists dealing with the massive Central Valley Project's effect on the fish, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Wanger already has issued a written opinion that the three fish species are at risk of extinction, and the state and federal water project operations are further jeopardizing them. But in Tuesday's ruling, the judge was reluctant to issue a further ruling without hearing more evidence....

Court appointee takes on states' water fight The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday assigned a California lawyer as special master to sort out the facts in a dispute between Montana and Wyoming over waters in the Tongue and Powder rivers. Both rivers rise in the mountains of Wyoming and flow across the state line into Montana. In a lawsuit filed before the court in January 2007, Montana alleged that Wyoming is taking more than its share of water under terms of the 1951 Yellowstone River Compact. Montana Attorney Mike McGrath said Monday that he felt good about the Supreme Court's decision. "It demonstrates that the court is moving forward with the process," he said. "They could have ordered it dismissed." Wyoming had filed a motion with the court to dismiss the case. That motion will now be taken up by the special master. Named special master was Barton H. Thompson. He is a professor of natural resources law at Stanford University and serves as director of the law school's Woods Institute for the Environment....

Decision upheld to keep elk feedgrounds going A regional forester has upheld a decision by the supervisor of Bridger-Teton National Forest to allow the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to continue operating elk feedgrounds in the forest for at least 20 years. Five environmental groups had appealed the supervisor's decision, saying feedgrounds can promote the spread of chronic wasting disease. The deadly disease affects the nervous systems of deer, elk and moose. The groups also were concerned about damage to the soil and water in the forest. Wyoming operates 22 feedgrounds that provide winter feed to 16,000 elk. Several of the feedgrounds are on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Sublette and Teton counties....
State of Oregon tells feds to put the brakes on LNG The state of Oregon has joined a chorus of legal challenges to the federal approval of the Bradwood Landing liquefied natural gas project. On Monday, Gov. Ted Kulongoski asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a rehearing of the Bradwood decision, promising to take the feds to court if his environmental and procedural concerns aren't addressed. Kulongoski says FERC overlooked environmental impacts of the Bradwood project and violated several federal laws when it conditionally approved the $650 million LNG terminal and pipeline last month. Located 20 miles east of Astoria on the Columbia River, Bradwood Landing is the first LNG proposal on the West Coast to receive FERC approval. But since FERC's 4-1 approval Sept. 18, several tribal, conservation and citizen groups, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Washington Department of Ecology have filed protests insisting that FERC's ruling on the Bradwood project was premature and illegal and pressuring the federal energy board to reconsider....

HISTORY OF WISCONSIN'S WOLF POLICY FILLED WITH COMPROMISE, MEDDLING To some, last month's federal decision that put the gray wolf back on the endangered species list in the Great Lakes region was an unmitigated triumph. Siding with the Humane Society of the United States and other groups, the court ruling placed the wolf once again under federal protection after it was removed from the list last March. But in doing so, the decision also took away critical tools from the states, such as the ability to kill wolves that have attacked livestock. And, in that sense, it's not a victory but a blow to Wisconsin's hard-won compromise on how best to manage the iconic animals, says University of Wisconsin-Madison environmental studies professor Adrian Treves. "The irony in the current situation is that the state has found a constructive middle ground ( on wolves )," says Treves, who has just published an analysis of 30 years of Wisconsin wolf policy. "But it's consistently having that middle ground undermined by the federal government and through lawsuits by outside groups, usually wolf preservationist groups." Writing in the current issue of the journal Human Dimension of Wildlife, Treves argues that the history of wolf recovery in Wisconsin is one of "interest groups vying for control" of wolf policy and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources ( DNR ) balancing those interests. Over the past 26 years, for example, the agency has promoted coexistence with wolves by compensating people for lost livestock and pets with funds paid for by wildlife enthusiasts. In recent years, the DNR also began exploring the idea of a hunt to control Wisconsin's wolf population, numbered now at more than 550 animals. Hunters have lobbied strongly for this management strategy, but Treves' public opinion research also shows that a hunt carefully designed to reduce attacks on domestic animals might also be broadly acceptable....

$100,000 reward offered in mink-release cases A fur industry group is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for releasing mink this year from six ranches in Oregon, Utah and British Columbia. The latest mink release came Friday, when someone broke into the Ylipelto's Fur Farm in Astoria, opening 1,500 mink pens. About 400 animals remained missing during the weekend. Thirty-five mink were found dead. Some were run over by cars, but most -- about 20 -- were killed by large dogs, according to Teresa Platt, executive director of Fur Commission USA. Platt's organization renewed a standing reward offer of up to $100,000 for information leading to conviction of the culprits in any of the string of crimes. Animal-rights extremists, including the Animal Liberation Front, or ALF, have claimed responsibility for the vandalism by writing anonymous communiques to the North American Animal Liberation Press Office....
USDA Announces More Than Two Million Acres enrolled in Wetlands Reserve Program Agriculture Under Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment Mark Rey announced October 21 landowners have enrolled more than 2 million acres in U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wetlands Reserve Program, a significant contribution toward increasing the Nation's wetlands. "We have gained wetland acreage, thanks to the stewardship ethic of the Nation's farmers and ranchers," Rey said. "Because of this achievement, USDA was able to help President Bush exceed his goal of improving, restoring, and protecting at least 3 million acres of wetlands in less than five years.".…

Red, Green or GMO? This time of year, the state is nothing short of chile crazed. The smell of roasting chile permeates grocery store parking lots and wafts through neighborhoods. After peeling pounds and pounds of the spicy varieties, people all across the state are carefully avoiding touching their eyes—and freezers everywhere are stuffed with gallon bags of chile. But while the cultural importance of chile remains unshaken, the actual crop has seen better days. Between the shaky agricultural market and the influx of various diseases, commercial chile farmers say they are struggling to survive. Scientists believe genetically modified chile seeds could be the answer to the crop’s woes. But farmers like Brascoupe fear the changes could affect traditional communities, family farms and the future of the chile itself. In fact, two years ago, the New Mexico Acequia Association and the Traditional Native American Farmers Association drafted “A Declaration of Seed Sovereignty: A living document for New Mexico.” Based on that document, in 2007, the Legislature passed Senate Joint Memorial 38, which recognizes the significance of native seeds to both cultural heritage and food security in the state. In it, the state agrees to support the New Mexico Food & Seed Sovereignty Alliance to prevent the genetic contamination of seeds, strengthen small-scale agriculture and increase the cultivation of native crops within communities....
Rendering Crisis Hits Oregon Livestock Industry You might be forgiven for not knowing this, but Oregon is in the middle of a ‘rendering’ crisis. Rendering is the process by which dead farm animals like cows and horses are turned into products like dog food and leather. As it stands now, there are no such processing plants in the entire state. And as Kristian Foden-Vencil reports, about 100 cows a week are going straight into Oregon's landfills. For a state with a glowing reputation for environmental policies, Oregon has a dirty little secret. Old and sick farm animals are being tossed into landfills after they die or are killed -- instead of being used to make leather, animal feed, fertilizers and other products. The problem started a couple of years ago, when Carl Cacho closed the state's last rendering plant -- Redmond Tallow. The main problem was Mad Cow disease. New regulations banned animals from being used in cattle feed --- so the disease wouldn't spread. Already low bone meal prices dropped through the floor....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Rare black-footed ferrets released in Kansas prairie dog colony A dozen black-footed ferrets — one of North America’s most endangered mammals — were released last week in a restoration effort at a prairie dog colony in western Kansas. The release was on 10,000 acres where three ranch owners in Logan County are cooperating because they want the natural prairie ecosystem preserved, said Ron Klataske, executive director for Audubon of Kansas. Seven more black-footed ferrets were released on a ranch in the region owned by the Nature Conservancy, a private conservation group. Black-footed ferrets almost vanished from the West because they live exclusively in large prairie dog colonies and feed on them, Klataske said. But prairie dogs have been poisoned or their habitat has been destroyed throughout the West....
Straw from the sky: Effort will fight erosion Rice straw drifted down slowly in heaps onto sloped hillsides Monday in areas near Concow Reservoir that burned this summer. The straw will help control erosion and lead to new vegetation on 793 acres. Weedless straw is taken from bales, "fluffed up" and put into nets that are hauled by helicopter and dropped onto burned areas. Most of the areas where straw landed Monday have 30 percent to 40 percent slopes, explained Herman Wendell, road maintenance team leader for the U.S. Forest Service, Feather River Ranger district. Two nets filled with about 500 pounds of rice straw were taken on each helicopter drop maneuvered by pilot Clint Burke. The goal of the pilot is to spread the straw one inch thick....
Conservation group targets Colo. roadless plan A group of hunters and anglers says Colorado's plan for managing 4 million acres of roadless forest land could open backcountry important to big game and trout to logging and other development. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership released a report Monday to warn of potential loopholes and call on state and federal officials to strengthen protections for the areas. The state and the U.S. Forest Service are writing rules to enact a management plan for more than 300 sites scattered through national forests in Colorado. Thursday is the deadline for public comments on the draft rules and proposal. The land is among roughly 58 million acres of land nationwide declared off-limits to new roads and development by the Clinton administration in 2001. Critics, including environmental and hunting and fishing groups, argue Colorado's proposal is weaker than the 2001 rule and would leave the state's roadless areas less protected than comparable sites in every other state. The plan would allow temporary roads to reach livestock grazing areas, for wildfire prevention, expansion of existing coal mining and some utility infrastructure. It would also remove some ski area terrain from the inventory of roadless areas....
U.S. Forest Service Turns to Cow Power The U.S. Forest Service, seeking to reduce its environmental impact, has enrolled its Rutland headquarters in CVPS Cow Power(TM) the nation's first manure-based farm-to-consumer energy program. "We work hard to improve the environment every day, so it's natural that we'd want to lessen our environmental impact through Cow Power," said Forest Supervisor Meg Mitchell. "As we looked at ways to reduce the impact of our energy usage, enrolling in CVPS Cow Power(TM) had a great impact. We are supporting a working landscape, helping to improve water quality and removing methane from the atmosphere." Central Vermont Public Service President Bob Young praised the Forest Service, which will pay approximately $2,100 more for electricity per year due to its enrollment. The funds, paid through a 4-cent premium on 25 percent of the Forest Service's electrical usage, will go to farm-producers who supply renewable energy, other renewable products, or incentives to help more farms get into the energy business....
Easing rules could put more bikers on national park trails A new federal proposal will give national parks managers more power to permit mountain bikers on trails. Mountain bikers are banned from riding anywhere but on roads in most of the country's 391 national park units, said Jeffrey Olson, a spokesman for the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. In the 40 where riders are permitted to use trails, permission was required from the NPS' central headquarters. But the change being pushed by mountain biker President George Bush would let local park mangers approve off-road riding in "non-controversial" situations, Olson said. Olson said the current restrictions were enacted in 1987, and represented the best thinking at the time. Now, the park service is willing to give superintendents more flexibility in letting riders use trails, he said. The proposal is being pushed by Bush and by the Boulder-based International Mountain Bicycling Association, and could be published for formal public comment within a few weeks, Olson said....It still amazes me that the Bushies have offered more flexibility and regulatory relief to all kinds of users of Forest Service land, but not to ranchers. Has the NCBA requested such relief or reform? Have they requested that all the vacant allotments be returned to grazing?

Sen. Craig skeptical of grazing report Years ago, Larry Craig was among a group of ranchers who regularly improvised putting out fires that overtook their land. "The moment a fire struck we went to put it out. Very often we had the fires out before the BLM ever got there," Idaho's U.S. Senator said. "That doesn't happen today. It's almost against the law." Such first-hand experiences have remained etched in Craig's mind - and reinforce his skepticism of grazing restrictions, critics who say ranchers destroy land and the diminished role of ranchers in firefighting. During a recent interview in his Wash-ington, D.C office, Craig questioned the conclusions of a new report that found restrictions on cattle grazing in the Jarbidge area didn't really contribute to the massive, 600,000-acre Murphy Com-plex Fire in 2007. The report was compiled by a team from the Bureau of Land Management, University of Idaho and other state and federal researchers. He agrees the liability issues with having ranchers participating need to be heeded. But he notedadvantages to having those ranchers and expanded grazing. He said grazing could have decreased the extent of burning of riparian areas - often an eco-friendly interface between land and streams that provides wildlife habitat. "Would grazing have helped that? Changed that scenario? More than likely it would've helped it some," Craig said, noting the lands take much longer than open space to recover. "If you use it responsibly, grazing is a substantial component in controlling the fuel loads in upland grazing lands that the state of Idaho is so well known for."....

Federal judge will not dismiss petition by SUWA and others U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell ruled Monday that she will not dismiss a petition filed by two environmental groups seeking to get Arch Canyon in San Juan County closed to motorized vehicle use. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Great Old Broads for Wilderness (both referred to by the acronym SUWA) challenged a decision by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to deny the environmentalists' request to have the area closed to motor vehicles. SUWA contends such vehicles damage the ecosystem and archaeological sites. The BLM responded with a letter from its acting field manager stating that SUWA's information and the BLM's own field assessments showed that "no undue or unnecessary damage is occurring," according to the ruling. SUWA then challenged that decision, contending it was a final agency action that was arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law. The BLM's position is that the environmental groups were not entitled to court review because the agency has "broad discretionary authority" to decide whether to exercise its authority, the ruling states. Campbell said in her 10-page decision that judicial review of the BLM's decision is permitted under federal law in this instance and the court will not dismiss SUWA's action.
Coburn says land grab bill laden with earmarks and anti-energy U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement regarding the Senate Democrat Majority’s plan to devote a week or more of the Senate’s post-election special session debating a 1,082 page, $3 billion earmark-laden omnibus bill that expands federal land control over millions of acres of U.S. property, and restricts energy exploration over millions of acres of U.S. territory. “Congress’ approval ratings are at an all-time low because the American people understand that never before in our nation’s history have the priorities of the United States Congress been more at odds with the priorities of the American people. The majority’s willingness to spend a week or more debating a lands bill loaded with frivolous projects and radical environmental provisions when we are facing our greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression is a case study in Congress’ misplaced priorities,” Dr. Coburn said. “While the Senate would prefer to pass this omnibus package after the election, the American people have a right to understand the Senate’s post-election agenda before they go to the polls,” Dr. Coburn said....

Huge Field of Dinosaur Tracks Found More than 1,000 dinosaur footprints along with tail-drag marks have been discovered along the Arizona-Utah border. The incredibly rare concentration of beastly tracks likely belonged to at least four different species of dinosaurs, ranging from youngsters to adults. The tracks range in length from 1 to 20 inches (2.5 to 51 centimeters). "The different size tracks may tell us that we are seeing mothers walking around with babies," said researcher Winston Seiler, a geologist at the University of Utah. The tracks were laid about 190 million years ago in what is now the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. "There must have been more than one kind of dinosaur there," said researcher Marjorie Chan, professor and chair of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah. "It was a place that attracted a crowd, kind of like a dance floor." While the site is covered in sand dunes now, the researchers say the tracks are within what was a network of wet, low watering holes between the dunes. In fact, the tracks provide more evidence of wet intervals during the Early Jurassic Period, when the U.S. Southwest was covered with a field of sand dunes larger than the Sahara Desert....

Guilty Plea Entered In 2001 Eco-Terrorism Attempt Ian Jacob Wallace, 27, of East Setauket, New York, pled guilty today to the November 5, 2001, attempted fire-bombing of U.S. Forest Service property located on the campus of Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan. Wallace, a resident of Minnesota at the time of the offense, entered the plea as part of a plea-agreement with the United States that called for his cooperation in ongoing investigations of similar acts committed on behalf of the “Earth Liberation Front (ELF).” In exchange for his guilty plea and for his assistance in investigating other similar acts, Wallace was charged with attempted destruction of U.S. Government property, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1361, instead of more serious Federal arson charges. The plea agreement also provides that he will not be federally prosecuted for similar acts in Wisconsin and Minnesota....
Landowners see potential profit in land stewardship Scientists, farmers, ranchers, policy wonks and local government officials came together Monday to discuss how Montana landowners can manage their soil to absorb greenhouse gases and, in doing so, reap financial rewards. Land-management techniques like no-till production, improved crop rotation and even the use of native plants help soil absorb carbon from the atmosphere and store it. Some say landowners willing to sign on and practice such techniques are poised to profit. “NCOC is sending checks now,” said Neil Sampson, technical advisor for the National Carbon Offset Coalition, which aims to take advantage of economic opportunities arising from curbing climate change. “There’s real money out there now.” While there’s some money available for landowners practicing this type of good stewardship, known as “terrestrial land sequestration” demand has yet to pick up in the carbon-offset market. And it likely won’t until greenhouse-gas emissions are regulated....
Suit Against Packer Acquisition Draws Praise for Justice Department The action of the U.S. Department of Justice to file an antitrust lawsuit against Brazil-based JBS acquiring the National Beef Packing Company is drawing positive responses from many different sectors. On Monday, DOJ filed a civil antitrust suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. According to DOJ, if not blocked, JBS's acquisition of Kansas City, Mo.-based National would make it the largest U.S. beef packer, with an ability to slaughter more than 40,000 head of cattle per day, or more than one third of U.S. fed cattle packing capacity. "The combination of JBS and National will likely lead to grocers, food service companies and ultimately American consumers paying higher prices for beef," said Thomas O. Barnett, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department's Antitrust Division. "It will also lessen the competition among packers in the purchase of cattle that has been critical to ensuring competitive prices to the nation's thousands of producers, ranchers and feedlots."....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Around New Mexico


Animas-La Plata water project moves to NM
The Animas-La Plata Project in Colorado is opening its floodgates. The progress means the Navajo Nation can begin building a 29-mile pipeline that will more than quadruple the water supply for residents. Gil Arviso is vice chairman of the Navajo Nation's Water Rights Commission. He says the project's completion in Durango means funding is now available for the Navajo Nation Municipal Pipeline project. The pipeline is expected to be finished in 2012. It will run from Farmington and Shiprock to Navajo chapters in Upper Fruitland, San Juan, Nenahnezad, Hogback, Shiprock and Beclabito. Three tanks that can store 5.5 million gallons of water also will be built. Arviso says the pipeline project will lead to more housing and employment for the Navajo Nation.
State proposes fine for Hobbs dairy The state Environment Department issued a compliance order that includes a proposed $10,500 fine to Rockview Dairy for failing to meet a deadline to install monitoring wells. Environment Department officials said Friday the wells, which detect groundwater conditions, are required under the dairy's permit. The dairy is located near several residences with drinking water wells that could be affected by discharges. In a news release, state officials said dairy owner Rick Schaap failed to install the wells within the mandatory timeframe after detailed discussions and meetings.
Clovis resident is 'Ed the Dairyman' Clovis resident Eddie Schaap is "Ed the Dairyman." Schaap caught the attention of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin as she spoke to a crowd of about 10,000 supporters Sunday in a Roswell airplane hangar. Palin alluded several times during her speech to "Ed the Dairyman" after seeing someone in the crowd holding a sign identifying Schaap that way. Schaap has been in the dairy business in eastern New Mexico for more than two decades. He owns Northpoint Dairy in Clovis. He says his 18-year-old daughter Kayla made the sign that caught Palin's attention. One side read "Ed the Dairyman" and the other side read "Kayla the Bookkeeper."....
Nambé: Acequia group files suit against ditch neighbor among neighbors and a civil lawsuit. Commissioners of the Acequia de la Comunidad in Nambé filed a civil lawsuit against Mark and Monique Rochester in Santa Fe Magistrate Court claiming the couple's solid wood fence was constructed too close to the ditch and interferes with the annual cleaning of the acequia. Moreover, the lawsuit claims the fence blocks the acequia association's easement. "My clients have not blocked that easement," said the Rochesters' attorney, Will Waggoner. "In fact they've been the ones that cleaned that (section of the) ditch for years and years." Acequia mayordomo Narciso Quintana said in December 2002 he was walking the ditch as he usually does before the annual cleaning. He found the wood fence newly constructed on the Rochesters' property, which is part of Rancho de Nambé. Quintana said the fence is built right along the bank of the acequia. "We have to have a certain clearance on either side of the ditch so we can walk or to bring in equipment," Quintana said. "We used to burn off weeds along the ditch, but we can't there now because of the fence."....
City land chosen for racino site It may cost $50 million to build a horseracing track and casino in south Raton, but the investors will save a little cash by getting the land for $1 from the city. For its buck, Horse Racing at Raton will get 400 acres that the city values at $400,000. The city hopes to get jobs for local residents and a new events center that would be Raton's largest such facility and a key element if city officials are to fulfill their desire to attract larger events that bring significant numbers of visitors to town. At Tuesday night's city commission meeting, the project director for Horse Racing at Raton confirmed the group intends to build its racino on land in what the city calls its Technology and Development Park on the east side of Interstate 25 just south of Hereford Avenue. The slot-machine casino is expected to open next year while live horseracing on a one-mile oval is scheduled to start in the summer of 2010....
Apple fest feeds plenty Two young boys walked together each eating an apple and swinging their bags of goodies after spending an afternoon at the 43rd High Rolls Apple Festival on Saturday. Jumping balloons, art and boxes of red, green and yellow apples were just a few of the attractions of the day. Local folks and visitors lined up to purchase the sweet fruit by the pound. Free samples were available to taste before purchasing from the boxes of locally grown and other apples. "This one is really red," said Ceci Porras, of El Paso as she handed an apple to her grandson, Joshua Medina, 6, of El Paso. Rows of apple pies, jugs of apple cider and jars of apple butter were also available for purchase inside the community center. Local charitable organizations were raising money through these sales. "We are raising money to remodel our bathrooms," said Mary Marrujo of Tularosa Community Church. Visitors listened to live music while visiting artists selling lavender, herbs, spices, hand-made necklaces, bracelets, rocking chairs, scarves, key rings, unique walking canes, horseshoe art and framed art....
Residents turn out for annual Peanut Valley Festival Dozens of booths filled with everything from purses and jewelry to pottery and artwork line the lobby and ballroom of Eastern New Mexico University’s Campus Union Building. Outside, vendors cooked up kettle corn, barbecue, bratwurst and funnel cakes, and served up shaved ice and cotton candy. It’s all part of the annual Peanut Valley Festival, and yes, you can get peanuts, as well as peanut butter and peanut brittle, at a booth operated by the Portales Woman’s Club....

Supreme Court

Carcieri v. Kempthorne (07-526)

Oral argument: Nov. 3, 2008

Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit (Jul. 20, 2007)

BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, STATUTORY INTERPRETATION, INDIAN LAND, INDIAN CASINO, INDIAN REORGANIZATION ACT

In 1978, Rhode Island and the Narragansett Indian Tribe settled a dispute concerning land ownership. In exchange for 1,800 acres of land, the Narragansett surrendered other claims to title and agreed that Rhode Island law would apply to the 1,800 acres. This settlement became federal law. The Narragansett later purchased a thirty-one acre parcel from a private developer. At the Narragansetts’ request, the Secretary of the Interior took the land into federal trust under the Indian Reorganization Act (“IRA”), thereby removing it from Rhode Island’s jurisdiction. Concerned over their loss of sovereignty, Rhode Island fought the Secretary’s actions, ultimately leading to the present case between Rhode Island, the Governor, and the town of Charleston, against the Secretary of the Interior and the Regional Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The IRA applies to “tribe[s] now under Federal jurisdiction,” (emphasis added) (25 U.S.C. 479). Interpreting “now” to mean 1934, the time of the IRA’s passage, Rhode Island argues that the IRA would not apply to the Narragansett Indian Tribe, who were recognized later. The Secretary argues that “now” means when the statute is used and therefore the Narragansett do fall within the IRA’s scope. Rhode Island also argues that the settlement with the Narragansett precludes the Secretary from taking the land into federal trust. This case will affect state sovereignty and the power of the IRA. Rhode Island and other states are concerned over the potential loss of local control and jurisdiction over land within their borders. An interpretation of the scope of the IRA could also affect access to the IRA, potentially resulting in a loss of its benefits and protection from state law....

Conclusion

This case will define the extent of the federal government’s authority under the IRA to remove land from state jurisdiction. In so doing, the Court will address the appropriate interpretation of the IRA’s definition of “Indian,” therein settling whether the act applies in full force and effect to all tribes now federally recognized, or to only the tribes that were recognized at the time of the IRA’s passage in 1934. As such, Indian tribes are concerned about how this decision will affect the ease with which they will be able to bring land into federal trust in the future. A ruling restricting the interpretation of “Indian” to tribes recognized in 1934 could also result in depriving some post-1934 tribes of the ability to acquire Tribal sovereignty over their lands and receive federal benefits. The Court will also settle the dispute between the State and the Secretary’s disparate interpretations of Rhode Island’s Settlement Act — whether the agreement gave lands to the Narragansett in exchange for a relinquishment of any future claim to territory in the state, or whether the Act has the effect of actually guaranteeing the State’s sovereignty only within the Settlement Lands. The case draws the interests of over twenty-two states with significant Indian populations who are concerned about a potential loss of jurisdiction and local control over considerable amounts of land within their borders.

Conservationists, Forest Service buy Idaho mines Hundreds of mining claims deep in Idaho's Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness are now in public hands, a move officials say will protect drainages where salmon return annually while keeping a winding dirt road open for the curious to explore ramshackle cabins and other mining artifacts brought in by prospectors a century ago. Thunder Mountain, as the area is known, is the latest example of private property owners, conservation groups and the U.S. Forest Service in Idaho, Colorado and Montana inking million-dollar compacts to preserve Rocky Mountain backcountry. Sometimes, the transactions halt further mining, as with Thunder Mountain; elsewhere, they keep developers from turning old claims into mountaintop trophy homes. "There are all these mining communities that came and went," said Alan Front, senior vice president for the Trust For Public Lands, which helped negotiate the Thunder Mountain deal. "Now, they're only digging deep enough to put in foundations for McMansions."....
Wolf proposal well-received State Rep. Keith Gingery said he was cautiously pleased with how legislators and the public responded to changes he has proposed to how wolves would be managed in Wyoming. Gingery (R-Jackson) in September unveiled significant changes to the state’s wolf plan, which he said he will propose during the next legislative session. He testified Friday in front of a meeting of the Legislature’s Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee in Riverton. “If I took anything away from the meeting, it was that there are just a lot of people who are tired of the issue and want it resolved once and for all,” he said. “If that is a true sentiment, then let’s stop fighting in court and find a solution similar to Montana and Idaho. I think most people are getting to recognize fighting in court doesn’t get you anywhere.” Gingery’s bill allows for all wolves to be classified as trophy game, meaning they could be shot only during regulated hunts, and it rewrites the state’s depredation control law to be similar to laws in Idaho and Montana. In Wyoming’s current plan, wolves are classified as trophy game in the northwest corner of the state. In the rest of the state, wolves can be killed at will by any means. Gingery said the changes address criticism leveled at Wyoming’s plan from U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Montana....

Wolves issue comes full circle
On a mild fall day, with the Wind River Range glittering in sunlight to the southwest, more than a dozen state and local lawmakers and some 50 members of the public spent several hours inside a windowless conference room Friday talking about wolves. "We are right now, in effect, right where we were before that rule was published," Wyoming Attorney General Bruce Salzburg told the panel. "The plan going forward, as I understand it, is they will re-open the comment period for another 30 days, the Fish and Wildlife Service will look at those comments and publish a revised delisting rule." Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, urged lawmakers not to rush into anything until the legal issues shake out a bit more, and until they see what happens with wolves in Idaho and Montana. It's possible the animals could be delisted in those two states and remain endangered in Wyoming. "We'd like to put this to rest, but I don"t think we have a playing field where we can put this thing to rest today," Magagna told the panel. David Noble, a rancher, agreed with Magagna, and he urged legislators "not to waste any more energy trying to accommodate" the judge. The delisting process, Noble believes, is "set up to fail." Rancher Charles Price urged the panel to stick to its guns and sue the federal government to accept the Wyoming plan and make them "do as was promised."....Nice comments, but Wyoming is gonna cave. They're thinking about who Obama will appoint as head of the Fish & Wildlife Service.
The secret's out: Tons of water in Oregon's Cascades The most valuable resource in the national forests atop the Oregon Cascades may not be the timber and recreation spots they're known for, but something else that's largely invisible: water. Scientists from the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon State University have in recent years quietly realized that the high Cascades in Oregon and far Northern California contain an immense subterranean reservoir about as large as the biggest man-made reservoirs in the country. The secret stockpile stores close to seven years' worth of Oregon rain and snow and is likely to become increasingly precious, even priceless, as population and climate add pressure to water supplies. The reservoir hides within young volcanic rock -- less than 1 million years old -- in the highest reaches of the Cascades. The rock is so full of cracks and fissures it forms a kind of vast geological sponge. Heavy rain and snow falling on the rock percolate into the sponge, like a river filling a reservoir....

Tucson environmentalist wields political muscle in land exchange battle For three decades, Bill Roe has worked to protect some of southern Arizona's great places. Now the 66-year-old Tucson resident and former lawyer is waging the biggest battle of his environmentalist life: a confrontation over federal land-exchange legislation that would clear the way for a huge new copper mine near Superior, 60 miles east of Phoenix. At stake are the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars the mine would generate for decades, with an estimated economic and fiscal impact to the state of almost $800 million a year for more than 60 years. Along with some Indian tribes and other environmentalist groups, Roe opposes the legislation sponsored by Sen. Jon Kyl and backed by the Resolution Copper Mining Co. Kyl proposes to swap 3,025 acres of Forest Service land to the company in return for private parcels around the state totaling 5,539 acres. At a Senate hearing in July, Kyl said the exchange would "preserve lands that advance the important public objectives of protecting wildlife habitat, cultural resources, the watershed and aesthetic values, while generating economic, recreation and employment opportunities for state and local residents." Roe said the deal isn't good enough....