Friday, February 06, 2009

Ken Salazar says U.S. keeping options open on Roan Plateau

The Rocky Mountain News reports:

The Obama administration might reopen the debate over energy development on Colorado's Roan Plateau, and it's not going to "rush headlong" into oil shale development in the state, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters Thursday. Salazar's statements came in the wake of his first big decision as a member of President Barack Obama's Cabinet: Wednesday's announcement that he would void dozens of oil and gas leases on sensitive federal lands in southeastern Utah. The Utah decision provoked a swift backlash from Republican lawmakers and outside groups, who accused him of doing the bidding of Hollywood environmentalists and ignoring the nation's energy needs. But rather than backing down Thursday, Salazar offered some of his most forceful statements yet about the change the new administration will begin bringing to public lands policy. "The position I take is the same position I took while I was a U.S. senator," Salazar said. "There are places that are very special and should be protected. There are places which ought to be explored and developed." He said the Interior Department was in the process of examining 12 to 15 decisions made at the tail end of the Bush administration and decide, perhaps within the next month, whether to reverse them or let them stand...

Salazar going Hollywood?

The Denver Daily News reports:

Colorado’s Ken Salazar is facing his first major backlash as Secretary of the Interior. A national civil rights group says Salazar is “going Hollywood on us” and caving into actor Robert Redford’s demands that American oil and gas leases in Utah be cancelled. He is also being accused of going counter to the spirit of economic stimulus by cancelling the leases. Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) says higher energy prices will result from the decision to scrap the leases of 77 parcels of land for oil and gas drilling in Utah’s Redrock country. The group believes low-income families feel the effects of higher energy prices more so than any other income class. “The losers are working parents, single mothers and elderly folks all over America, who count on abundant and affordable natural gas from states like Utah to remain employed, keep warm and stay alive,” said CORE spokesman Niger Innis. Redford passionately criticized a lease auction held last December in which 77 parcels, totaling 130,000 acres, were put up for auction. The sales were worth $6 million to the government. But Salazar on Wednesday ordered the Bureau of Land Management to not cash checks from winning bidders. But Salazar is even being assailed by some in his own party over the decision. Wyoming Sen. Bill Vasey, chairman of Americans for American Energy, said the decision comes at a poor time, as Western states — like the rest of the nation — are facing severe budget shortfalls. “As a state legislator who is right now looking at having to make hard choices at the state level in tough economic times, I know that natural resource developments is one of the few bright spots we have in the West,” said Vasey. He added that Utah is already considering cutting back the length of its school year, and that cancelling oil and gas leases may exacerbate that situation...

Rural Utah lawmaker angered over block on drilling

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

One lawmaker says that it's time for Utah to fight back over the sale of 77 oil and gas leases disrupted last month by University of Utah student Tim DeChristopher and since shelved by the Obama administration. Rep. Mike Noel said he initiated a bill Thursday to make DeChristopher's actions a felony. "To me, it's environmental terrorism," said the Kanab rancher. "I'm really upset that he participated in taking millions [of dollars] away from the school system that he benefited from and he sits out there laughing at us." Noel told his GOP colleagues in the House that the state could miss out on $30 million in royalties over the next 15 years because those leases are now off-limits. "Utah is in the gun sights of the environmental community," Noel said, blasting the Obama administration for -- in one month -- reversing the opening of public lands, including near national parks, to drilling...

Lawsuit on federal gas and oil leases is left in limbo

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision to cancel 77 disputed federal oil and gas leases in Utah has left a lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Interior Department in a holding pattern. On Thursday, Interior asked U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina for an indefinite timeout on the suit, which the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and 10 other conservation and historic-preservation organizations filed in December to stop a federal lease auction in Salt Lake City. The request came a day after Salazar nullified the sale of the 77 parcels listed in the suit. The parcels cover 103,000 acres of public land near Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Dinosaur National Monument, Desolation Canyon and Nine Mile Canyon. Salazar's move negated any need to argue against Urbina's Jan. 17 temporary restraining order that halted further BLM action on its Dec. 19 sale. SUWA isn't fighting Interior's request for more time, but isn't backing off either. "We're very eager to move ahead with the rest of the case," said staff attorney Steve Bloch...

Non-navigable River Blues

An interesting article from High Country News:

...In the meantime, Wylie's troubles drew activist, media and even congressional attention to the murky consequences of a 2006 Supreme Court ruling and its subsequent interpretation and enforcement. The Rapanos v. United States case was supposed to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act. Property rights activists initially hailed the court's split ruling as a victory. "Our constitutional way of life got a boost last year from the U.S. Supreme Court when the court rejected the idea that federal officials have unlimited control over every pond, puddle and ditch in our country," said the Pacific Legal Foundation, a property-rights organization. Today, however, almost no one is happy with the ruling. Environmental-ists say that Rapanos leaves thousands of once-protected streams, arroyos and wetlands without federal oversight. About 350 miles of streams were removed from federal control in a single six-month period, for instance, and enforcement of many anti-pollution cases was stopped in its tracks. Developers, meanwhile, have found the new guidelines to be even more cumbersome and time-consuming than the old ones were. In other words, it's a mess. Though Congress is poised to intervene in an attempt to clean things up, that will likely only provoke a bigger battle over the Clean Water Act and its enforcement, especially when it comes to the ephemeral waters of the arid West...

California farms, vineyards in peril from warming, U.S. energy secretary warns

From the LA Times:

California's farms and vineyards could vanish by the end of the century, and its major cities could be in jeopardy, if Americans do not act to slow the advance of global warming, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said Tuesday. In his first interview since taking office last month, the Nobel-prize-winning physicist offered some of the starkest comments yet on how seriously President Obama's cabinet views the threat of climate change, along with a detailed assessment of the administration's plans to combat it. Chu warned of water shortages plaguing the West and Upper Midwest and particularly dire consequences for California, his home state, the nation's leading agricultural producer. In a worst case, Chu said, up to 90% of the Sierra snowpack could disappear, all but eliminating a natural storage system for water vital to agriculture. In the course of a half-hour interview, Chu made clear that he sees public education as a key part of the administration's strategy to fight global warming -- along with billions of dollars for alternative energy research and infrastructure, a national standard for electricity from renewable sources and cap-and-trade legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions. He said the threat of warming is keeping policymakers focused on alternatives to fossil fuel, even though gasoline prices have fallen over the last six months from historic highs.

Environmental concerns roadblock to renewable energy

Stephanie Tavares writes in the Las Vegas Sun:

...That’s because for all their “green” credentials no renewable energy project is without its environmental drawbacks and community effects. Hydropower and the dams that come with them interrupt the natural flow of rivers and the migration and breeding of native fish; geothermal plants require water and their exploratory drilling sometimes damages the land; modern wind farms kill migratory birds and bats and kick up dust during construction; utility-scale solar photovoltaic arrays are made from sometimes toxic or unsustainably mined materials and require vast expanses of land formerly open to native animals; and solar thermal plants face the same land use issues as solar PV but also can’t operate without a good deal of water. On top of that, some wildlife biologists and environmentalists say the new transmission lines that would bring the electricity from planned electric plants to big cities such as Las Vegas often crisscross major migration routes for endangered species, destroying vegetation and affecting grazing and mating routes. “People are beginning to realize there are some problems associated with all these renewable energy sources and maybe we haven’t really thought them through like we should have,” said Mark Stermitz, an environmental lawyer...

National Landscape Conservation System

Yesterday I posted a map of the NLCS.

If you go here there is a map of the NLCS, and you can click on your state and get a breakdown of how the legislation will impact your locality.

The NLCS is just one section of The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which some press is reporting will be voted on next week by the House. The bill, S.22, has already passed the Senate.

House committee recommends wolf bill

The Casper Star-Tribune reports:

A legislative committee moved forward a bill Wednesday that would retain tight state control over gray wolves in Wyoming if the federal government removes the animals from the endangered species list. On Wednesday, the state House Committee on Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources recommended House Bill 32 and killed four other wolf bills. The defeated proposals included addressing most federal concerns about the state's wolf management plan and revoking the state's earlier concessions to federal concerns. House Bill 32 would emphasize protecting livestock and wild ungulates from wolves and would continue to classify wolves as predators in most of the state. The bill also authorizes the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to work in cooperation with Idaho and Montana to move wolves as necessary to assure genetic interchange among the states' wolf populations. The bill would bind Wyoming to maintaining at least seven breeding pairs of wolves outside of National Park Service lands in northwestern Wyoming, where the previously extirpated species was reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park in 1994. Or, if Wyoming entered into a management agreement with the Park Service, the bill would call for maintaining 15 breeding pairs on Park Service and state lands within Wyoming...

Fish and Game plans to kill wolves to help elk

From the Idaho Statesman:

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is making plans for managing wolves, including a hunting season when they are removed from the endangered species list. In March, Fish and Game will recommend a wolf hunting season length and estimated mortality limits. Itexpects to recommend harvest quotas by July or August. Should wolves remain listed, Fish and Game is planning to use all options to control wolves available under the Endangered Species Act, which allows the agency to kill some wolves to benefit elk herds. Fish and Game biologists are particularly concerned about elk numbers in the Lolo elk management zone in north-central Idaho. Hunter opportunities have been reduced by 90 percent. Wolf predation is the primary cause of poor calf survival and a 13 percent average annual decline in the number of adult female elk, which is key to population stability. The tentative minimum estimate of Idaho's wolf population at the end of 2008 was 824 wolves in 88 packs and 38 breeding pairs.

Pending GAO Study on Off-Highway Vehicles Fatally Flawed

The Earth Times reports:

Nine national off-highway vehicle (OHV) groups today sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noting that an ongoing GAO study on OHV use is flawed in such a way that any findings will be skewed against OHV use on federal lands. The letter noted that GAO’s survey questions ignore ongoing federal management activities and are ambiguous, subjective and lack context. Both the BLM and the USFS are currently engaged in multi-year efforts to improve OHV management by designating which trails are open for motorized use on each Unit and Forest. The survey ignores these efforts, despite the fact the USFS process is scheduled for completion in December 2009. In addition, most of the survey questions are vague and only provide limited responses that will overstate problems and downplay successes in OHV management...

Photographers detail wildlife at Arizona border

From the Tucson Citizen:

Several photographers were capturing images of wildlife and landscapes at the San Pedro River earlier this week as part of an effort that will highlight the ecological implications of the border wall. They are part of a team of about 12 photographers associated with the International League of Conservation Photographers who are participating in a three-week expedition along the U.S.-Mexico border that started in San Diego last week and is heading for Texas. The team features international award-winning photographers such as Pulitzer Prize winner Jack Dykinga, Kevin Schafer, Wendy Shattil and Roy Toft. Krista Schlyer, a photographer and writer, came up with the idea for this Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition while she was working on a story in New Mexico about a transboundary bison herd that spends time in both Mexico and the United States. Schlyer, 37, who lives in Mt. Rainier, Md., said besides the photographers, the group also includes a three-member film crew from Cornell University, as well as two biologists — one from the U.S. and one from Mexico...

Sheriff says he'll sign bison neglect complaint

The Sioux County sheriff says he'll sign a neglect complaint against the ranch along the North Dakota-South Dakota border where hundreds of bison broke loose. Landeis said about 1,000 starving bison have been ranging more than a dozen miles from Wilder Ranch feedlots. Fences where the animals broke out still must be fixed, he said. Dan Bauer, a Selfridge rancher, estimates the bison caused $10,000 damage to his property in hay eaten and fences wrecked. Landeis and Sioux County State's Attorney John Gosbee have told ranchers to submit damage claims. Gosbee has estimated they easily could reach $100,000...From the Dickinson Press.

Dead horses found dumped with brands cut off

KTVB.COM Idaho reports:

Someone is leaving domestic horses on public land, without a way for the animals to eat or survive. The latest case involved 15 dead horses dumped on Bureau of Land Management property in Gem County in the past few weeks. BLM officials say the animals were found dead about six miles southwest of Emmett near County Line Road. The animals were found with the brand cut off the carcasses so their owner could not be identified. Overall, the BLM says 32 horses have been left dead or let loose on public land across southwestern Idaho recently. A BLM law enforcement ranger speculated that increasing hay prices and decreased demand for horses have left owners unable to pay to feed the horses, and unable to sell them - so instead they are illegally releasing them on public land.

They were told this would happen, but banned the humane slaughter of horses anyway. It will only get worse, as the next step is to ban the shipment of horses for slaughter. The ignorance and cruelty of it astounds me.

Beef groups differ on checkoff funds

From Capital Press (sub):

Conflicts between U.S., Canadian and Mexican cattle producers over the new U.S. mandatory country-of-origin meat labeling law intensified at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and Beef Board annual meetings here last weekend. The NCBA voted to support use of checkoff dollars to promote U.S. beef and the Beef Board voted to open itself up to pro-labeling groups. Canadian and Mexican beef officials say trade battles over labeling are likely to continue...NCBA remains opposed to labeling, but at the meeting Saturday, Jan. 31, the membership voted to use beef checkoff money to promote U.S. beef in addition to promoting beef consumption regardless of the country of origin...The Beef Board, which would have to move to use some of the money to promote U.S. beef, did not take action on the issue. But the Beef Board voted to seek congressional approval to double the checkoff fee to $2 per head and to allow R-CALF USA and the U.S. Cattlemen's Association to be contractors for spending the checkoff money. NCBA did not go along with those ideas. It passed a resolution that the checkoff program should be "fair, cost-efficient and coordinated in order to achieve long-range goals."...

Legendary Pete Kitchen comes alive

The name Pete Kitchen meant nothing to me when I first came across it in my great-grandfather Sanford’s Southern Arizona letters and diaries. However, I soon learned that Kitchen had been a legend of sorts, renowned as an Indian fighter whose ranch was used as a stronghold against attacking Apaches. Historian Anne Merriman Peck described him as “probably the first American rancher in Arizona” and author Rufous K. Wyllys called him “a crack shot feared by both Indians and bandits.” Born in Kentucky in 1822, Kitchen joined the U.S. Army and went west, honing his fighting skills and arriving in Southern Arizona at the age of 31. He built his Potrero Ranch five miles above what is now the Mexican border and hired 30 Opata Indians from Sonora to help protect it. He raised cattle and hogs and was known for his excellent hams and bacon. (Based on Sanford’s above statement, for his mescal as well.) According to historian Jay J. Wagoner, Kitchen described the road to his ranch back then as “Tucson, Tubac, and to Hell.” He married a Mexican woman and is said to have worn a Mexican sombrero and serape, which may be the reason my great-grandfather often called him “Pedro.”...From the Nogales Bulletin.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Salazar Cancels Utah Oil and Gas Leases; Robert Redford Happy

Bloomberg reports:

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he is nullifying oil and natural gas drilling leases on about 130,000 acres in Utah because they are near national parks and questions have been raised about environmental reviews. “Those are American iconic treasures we need to make sure are being protected,” Salazar said on a conference call with reporters today. He also said the environmental review process “was not complete.” The government will forgo $6 million of $7.5 million in bids on the leases from a Dec. 19 auction, Salazar said. The directive today, affecting 77 of the 116 leases sold, are for areas near Dinosaur National Monument and Arches and Canyonlands national parks. “I see this announcement as a sign that after eight long years of rapacious greed and backdoor dealings, our government is returning a sense of balance to the way it manages our lands,” actor and director Robert Redford, a trustee for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement...

Retooled suit targets Utah land-use plans

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

Barely two weeks after pushing the federal government into a corner over a chaotic oil- and gas-lease sale, conservation organizations threw more punches Tuesday, hoping to overturn a Bush administration quest to maximize drilling in Utah's redrock country. Eleven conservation and historic-preservation groups amended a lawsuit that already has resulted in a temporary restraining order against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which on Dec. 19 auctioned 77 oil and gas parcels that were under formal protest. The groups had argued that the leases were faulty because the BLM didn't properly study air quality or potential damage to ancient rock art. The amended lawsuit seeks to nullify long-term BLM management plans for the Vernal, Moab and Price regions, claiming the agency didn't properly consider wild and scenic-river designations, wilderness, climate change and the effects of off-highway vehicle recreation on arid public lands...

BlueRibbon Coalition Responds To Omnibus Land Bill

From Cycle News:

The BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC), a national trail-based recreation group, today voiced concern that the U.S. House of Representatives will "grease through" over 160 public lands bills, thereby avoiding the public review these bills deserve. In addition, BRC cautioned that recreational access tenets in some of the bills may have been intentionally removed in closed-door proceedings. The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 was fast-tracked through the U.S. Senate and could see a vote in the House as early as next week. The bill (S 22) is over 1,200 pages long with over 160 different bills, designates 2.2 million acres of Wilderness, identifies three new national parks, 10 national heritage areas, and designates over 1,000 miles of wild and scenic rivers. BRC expressed concern that access protection provisions were apparently stripped from several of the bills involved. For example, new sections were added in the Washington County (Utah) Growth and Conservation Act regarding closure of roads and trails and limiting how Bureau of Land Management funds generated by the Act can be used. "This bill collectively reduces recreational opportunity, feeds millions of earmarked dollars into pet projects, will cost billions to implement, and provides very little of the protection it is touted to deliver," added Greg Mumm, the Coalition's Executive Director...

National Landscape Conservation System

For those who haven't seen this, here is a map of the NLCS. This program was created administratively by Babbit and Clinton, and was supported legislatively by Bush. It is now part of the Omnibus Federal Lands bill.

Klamath Dam Removal Introduced into Oregon Legislature

Today lawmakers introduced a bill that would direct funds from PacifiCorp power bills to remove dams instead of paying millions more for federally mandated dam upgrades. Affected Tribes, fishermen, conservationists, ratepayer advocacy groups, and even dam owner PacifiCorp, support the legislation. The legislation is a first step to restoring fisheries and stabilizing tribal, agricultural and fishing economies in the Klamath Basin – as mapped out in the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. “Governor Kulongoski has helped negotiate a win-win-win situation that we hope legislators will support,” said Jeff Mitchell, Klamath Tribal council member and long time dam removal advocate. “Tribes and fishermen win because we will recover salmon runs, farmers win because dam removal is a cornerstone of our water sharing agreement, and PacifiCorp and their customers win because they control costs.” The legislation is based on a dam removal “agreement in principle” signed by PacifiCorp, Oregon, California, and the United States last November...

From North Coast.

Fossils of Largest Snake Give Hint of Hot Earth

The NY Times reports:

Some 60 million years ago, well after the demise of the dinosaurs, a giant relative of today’s boa constrictors, weighing more than a ton and measuring 42 feet long, hunted crocodiles in rain-washed tropical forests in northern South America, according to a new fossil discovery. The fossil find — a batch of super-sized vertebrae pulled from an open-pit coal mine in northeast Colombia — is remarkable enough just as a paleontological extreme. The species, given the name Titanoboa cerrejonensis, is now the largest known snake species ever discovered. But the existence of such a large snake may also help clarify how hot the tropics became during an era when the planet, as a whole, was far warmer than it is now, and also how well moist tropical ecosystems can tolerate a much warmer global climate. An independent critique of the work by Matthew Huber, an earth and climate scientist at Purdue, also published in Nature, said the findings provided a hint that the tropics could get a lot warmer than they are now, but also “attest to the resiliency of tropical ecosystems in the face of extreme warming.”...

Environmental lawsuit challenges river oversight

A coalition of conservation and fishing groups Wednesday filed a lawsuit contending that California water quality officials have failed to do enough to clean up streams and rivers along the North Coast. The lawsuit claims that the North Coast Water Quality Control Board and state water board have taken too long to implement action plans to clean up more than 15 waterways from southern Sonoma County to the Oregon border. The rivers include the Russian, Navarro, Albion, Eel and Mattole. “We’re hoping to both restore the health of these rivers and to provide the cool clean water for these salmon populations to be restored,” said George Torgun, an attorney with the Oakland-based environmental legal group Earthjustice...

From the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat.

Study shows most nations ignore UN fisheries code

Thirteen years after the world rallied to curb overfishing, most nations are failing to abide by the U.N.'s "code of conduct" for managing fisheries, scientists found. Norway, the U.S., Canada, Australia, Iceland and Namibia were the only nations that scored above a 60 percent compliance rate, the equivalent of a barely passing "D" grade, according to the marine scientists' research. The global fisheries standards were developed in 1995 by the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. Though voluntary, the 12-part code is based on rules of international law and some of it has been made into legally binding agreements...

From Taiwan News.

"Grizzly Wars" is the saga of the "ghost bears" of the North Cascades

"Grizzly Wars: The Public Fight Over the Great Bear" by David Knibb Eastern Washington University Press, 296 pp., $29.95 As many as 100,000 grizzly bears once ranged across western North America from Mexico to the Yukon. From the beginning, the great bears commanded the attention of those who encountered them. On May 11, 1805, Captain William Clark wrote in his journal, "These bear being so hard to die rather intimidates us all. I must confess that I do not like the gentlemen." The feeling persisted among the waves of trappers, miners, ranchers and railroad men that followed. By 1975, when the grizzly was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, less than 2 percent of the original population remained. Bellevue conservation writer David Knibb ("Backyard Wilderness") presents a compelling and detailed investigation into the effort to preserve and recover this enigmatic species. Unlike most books on the subject, which focus on Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies, Knibb locates his case study on the remnant grizzly population in Washington's North Cascades...

From the Seattle Times.

PETA vs. Georgio Armani

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has opened up a new front in its battle for the bunnies with a full-page advertisement in today's Hollywood trade paper Variety that brands fashion designer Giorgio Armani "Pinocchio Armani" for apparently breaking a promise not to use animal fur in his clothing collections. Beneath a photo of the designer, at right, that has been altered to give him the elongated nose often associated with the fibbing marionette, is a plea to this year's Oscar-goers: "Until Mr. Armani makes good on his promise, please choose somebody else's clothes to wear to this year's Academy Awards." Before showing the Armani PrivĂ© collection during Haute Couture in Paris a year ago, Armani told reporters through an interpreter: "There is no fur in the collection. Many years ago I actually made a declaration that I wouldn’t use fur. I used some fur in some recent collections, and the organization PETA, whom most of you are familiar with, discussed this particular issue, and presented some information to [me] and [I'm] not using fur in [my] collection." At the time, he called the decision "limiting."

From the LA Times.

Census of agriculture released

The 2007 Census counted 2,204,792 farms in the United States, a net increase of 75,810 farms. Nearly 300,000 new farms have begun operation since the last census in 2002. Compared to all farms nationwide, these new farms tend to have more diversified production, fewer acres, lower sales and younger operators who also work off-farm. In the past five years, U.S. farm operators have become more demographically diverse. The 2007 Census counted nearly 30 percent more women as principal farm operators. The count of Hispanic operators grew by 10 percent, and the counts of American Indian, Asian and Black farm operators increased as well. The latest census figures show a continuation in the trend towards more small and very large farms and fewer mid-sized operations. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of farms with sales of less than $2,500 increased by 74,000. The number of farms with sales of more than $500,000 grew by 46,000 during the same period...

From a USDA press release.

The census can be viewed here.

Brand new owner for an old brand

A historic cattle brand from Divide Creek raised $44,000 for the Holy Cross Cattlemen’s Association Scholarship Fund. Most importantly to some, the brand is being kept in the area and will still be used by a family that runs cattle up Divide Creek. The quarter circle slash cattle brand, registered with the state in 1915, was donated to the Holy Cross Cattlemen’s Association auction Saturday night at the Ramada Inn. Frank Starbuck died about 2 1/2 years ago and had indicated he wanted the brand to be auctioned to raise money for the scholarship fund. The brand can be traced back to his grandfather, Asa Starbuck. The brand “was used by the Starbuck ranch since its inception,” said Garfield County Commissioner John Martin. “It’s one of the oldest brands in Colorado.”...

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

The mystery of the missing horse tails

Three Belgian draft horses from a ranch near Parker are missing their carefully-groomed tails and owners suspect thieves are to blame. "Somebody was brazen enough to come in and cut the tails off our horses," said Tom Johnson. Johnson co-owns Happy Trails Horse-Drawn Rides with Jim and Cheryl Hoff, who board the horses at their property on Crystal Peak Road. The horses' tails were cut off last Tuesday or Wednesday night, said Johnson. "I have no idea what would possess somebody to do it or why somebody would do it," said Johnson, who called the incident "creepy." The horses weren't physically harmed; the tails were cut off below the dock, or the fleshy part of the tail. As much as two and a half feet of hair was cut away. But by whom?...

Reported by in Colorado.

Cow struck by lightning and survives

The Cairns Post reports:

In a moo-ving experience, this cow is believed to have been struck by lightning and somehow survived. This is no mad cow story. It's entirely feasible, according to JCU Professor of Geo-Sciences, Jon Nott. "Cows are susceptible to lightning strikes because of both sets of legs being on the ground, and they're eating grass from where electricity is conducted from the strike so it is possible it happened but, more often than not, cows die from it," Prof Nott said. So, does it mean this cooked cut of beef is the Jesus of cows? "The electricity from a lightning strike would enter the front set of legs and exit out the back legs so, again, based on the picture, it is possible it happened," Prof Nott said. "While I can't explain the knee wounds, the ankle wounds would be consistent with those of a lightning strike."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

How is the border fence working? An abysmal failure of course

First, on the last 70 miles, the Wall Street Journal reports:

Opponents of the fence have petitioned the Obama administration to halt construction. Environmentalists are demanding a top-level review of the route, which they say would block such rare species as the ocelot from critical habitat. Property owners are contesting federal seizure of their land. Engineers are struggling to address flooding concerns.

So how is the rest of the fence doing? Has it stopped illegal immigration and the drug trade?

And all the while, drug smugglers and illegal immigrants continue to breach the fencing that is up, forcing Border Patrol agents and contractors to return again and again for repairs. The smugglers build ramps to drive over fencing, dig tunnels under it, or use blow torches to slice through. They cut down metal posts used as vehicle barriers and replace them with dummy posts, made from cardboard.

Did you really expect the feds to have the knowledge or expertise to design and oversee the construction of a fence? It's as simple as shitting in a well, but they can't do it.

Keep that in mind as they begin to design and oversee our health care system.

There are about 300 miles of the fence in high pedestrian areas. Those fences cost $3.9 million per mile.

Better keep that in mind too, as you contemplate the cost to you of politicized health care.

The same people who can't even build a reliable fence are planning to run the banks, revamp the auto industry, direct our energy exploration and production, create "green" jobs and guide our national economy.

This Government Gong Show ain't gonna be fun to watch.

Idaho lawmaker wants to give wolves away

From the Idaho Statesman:

One Idaho lawmaker has a novel idea for managing the state's wolf population: Give the animals away to other states. Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, has introduced legislation to require the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to contact other states about taking Idaho wolves. The Senate Resources and Environment Committee voted unanimously to send the bill to the full Senate, even though Schroeder doesn't expect other states will accept the animals. "I can't think of any," Schroeder said. "I assume by now they would have contacted us for some or wanting some." Schroeder, who hung a wolf pelt in the meeting room, said this bill is a necessary step in Idaho's continuing fight to have the wolves removed from the federal endangered species list and put under state control. He said the wolves are a threat to other game animals. "We have to protect the elk here and get rid of some wolves," Schroeder said. "All of us have constituents who want us to do something about wolves. We can't just ignore it, or otherwise they'll send someone else down here who will do something about wolves."

Obama wants to redistribute the wealth, and Idaho wants to redistribute the wolves.

Roadless wars

Nathaniel Hoffman writes in the Boise Weekly:

Depending on the vantage point, Idaho's roadless rule, which went into effect in October 2008, is either the end of 40 years of wrangling over roadless politics or the end result of eight years of Bush administration attempts to weaken protections on those federal lands. Five environmental groups, including the Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club, filed suit against Idaho's roadless rule four days before the Bush era ended, arguing that it allows excessive new road building for timber cutting and phosphate mining and puts endangered species at risk. But the groups also argue that an Idaho-specific roadless rule sets a bad precedent of local control over national wilderness policy. "We all benefit from the fact that these are federal lands and should be managed in the national interest," said Tim Preso, lead attorney in the case. Thwarted in an attempt to repeal Bill Clinton's 2001 roadless rule, which established nationwide protections for more than 58 million acres of designated roadless areas, the feds suggested in 2005 that states petition for roadless rule exceptions under the Administrative Procedures Act. Idaho took great initiative in its petition, first under Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and then under Gov. Jim Risch...

Ranchers try to fight back against possible listing of prairie dogs

The Gillette News-Record reports:

Punxsutawney Phil might get all the national media attention today, but his Wyoming cousin, the black-footed prairie dog, has some Wyoming ranchers and lawmakers up in arms. Wyoming ranchers already are frustrated with the wolf and sage grouse issues. Now a recent proposal by the federal government to consider the black-tailed prairie dog as a candidate for the threatened or endangered species list has sparked rebellion at the state Legislature. A resolution to let the feds know Wyoming’s take on that proposal is being sponsored by Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Glenrock, and Rep. Richard Cannady, R-Glenrock. It will be up for a vote this month. “I brought the resolution at the request of a landowner in the Thunder Basin Grasslands area,” Anderson said in an e-mail Friday. “He contends that the listing of the prairie dogs would impose a severe economic hardship on ranchers and industry in the area. I agree.” Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Campbell County, said enough is enough. “Look to the incredible amount of money and time the state is forced to spend to protect ourselves from the same (proposals to list) in terms of the sage grouse and wolf - and now the prairie dog,” she said...

Wandering wolverine surprises biologists

The Idaho Mountain Express reports:

The undulating high-desert steppe that stretches on for miles north of Idaho Falls isn't typical wolverine habitat. Rather, it's where you'd expect to see pronghorn antelope speeding off into the distance. But that apparently didn't matter to a young male wolverine that recently found itself on the wrong side of a bobcat trap set by a trapper from the nearby town of Menan. When the trapper arrived at the trap set among tall sagebrush he found the animal waiting unharmed. Contacted by the trapper, a wildlife biologist with the Caribou-Targhee National Forest was able to sedate and remove the wolverine. After a thorough checkup, the vets implanted an internal radio transmitter in the wolverine to allow its movements to be tracked. According to Fish and Game, internal transmitters have proven successful in the past...

Rainwater harvesting bill may have tough fight

From the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Water rights battles have raged in Colorado for decades, but a bill being considered at the state Capitol could ease some of the tensions between highly populated urban communities and agriculture-dependent rural areas. House Bill 1129, by Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, would establish a pilot program to determine whether sophisticated rainwater collection systems can be a sustainable water source without infringing on downstream water rights of farmers and ranchers. Looper said according to projections, Colorado will have 3 million new residents by 2035. By 2030, groundwater supplies will be decreased by 3 billion gallons on the Western Slope and 35 billion gallons on the Front Range. That could mean that water battles will become even fiercer in coming years. Under Looper's bill, the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the State Engineer's Office would be authorized to construct 10 such experimental groundwater collection facilities across the state over the next decade. One of the most common methods, Looper said, is to build a large gutter collection network that funnels rainwater into an underground storage facility, commonly installed under residential suburbs. Seven other states have similar programs...

Shrinking cowhide prices add to US ranchers' blues

Reuters reports:

U.S. cattle ranchers, already hit hard as the global recession eats into beef consumption, have the added hardship of shrinking prices for cowhides, used to make leather car seats, coats, shoes and upholstery, industry sources said on Tuesday. Cowhides are an important revenue stream for the beef industry. But sales have slipped as many global carmakers have cut production as sales of new cars tumbled due to consumers putting off big-ticket buys and luxury purchases. "The demand for cars is down and the demand for leather seats is down," said John Whittenborn, president of Leather Industries of America. Cowhide prices have shrunk nearly by half in the last six months, according to economists. "In most markets for higher quality hides, we are running about $40 per hide. In August, they were about $70 per hide," said Jim Robb, economist with the Livestock Marketing Information Center. "So the dismal world economy impacted the cattle industry directly due to the hides and other items," said Robb. Most cow hides are exported but return to the United States in the form of finished leather that is then used for the car seats, coats, and upholstery...

Cowboy Breakfast draws crowd

The San Antonio Express-News reports:

Promoters say this year's Cowboy Breakfast was a roaring success with an impressive attendance, despite temperatures dipping into the 20s, reaching just below 40 degrees at the end of the event. “Oh, I'd have to guess at least 40,000 people were here because we went through all of the food that we had,” said Bert Mazoc, vice chair, Cowboy Breakfast Association. “It was a heck of a day for as cold as it was.” And then there's the coffee, complimentary and plentiful. This year, officials vowed to break the Guinness world record set in London. Charles Gass of McDonald's, who'd been peddling coffee all morning, said they were aiming for 5,000 cups, but he thought he'd served at least 9,000. Documenting every single cup is the hard part, he said. The breakfast is the official kickoff of rodeo season in San Antonio...

Cowboys Travel To Afghanistan

Six-time World Champion Saddle Bronc Rider Dan Mortensen and three-time Wrangler NFR bareback rider Jessy Davis will be part of a rodeo-themed Goodwill Military Tour of Afghanistan next month, being staged by Pro Sports MVP of Colorado Springs, Colo. The 10-day tour arrives in Doha, Qatar, on Feb. 24, and visits to U.S. military bases in Afghanistan will be staged Feb. 27-March 3, before the group returns to the United States on March 5. Each stop will feature autograph sessions, walking tours, hospital visits, question-and-answer sessions and possible rodeo demonstrations. Pro Sports MVP has implemented more than 60 such Goodwill Military tours for U.S. troops during the last five years. Joining Mortensen and Davis on the tour will be barrel racer Liz Pinkston, PBR bull rider Tater Porter and WPRA president Jymmy Kay Davis.

From a PRCA news release.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Climate bill possible "in weeks": Sen. Boxer

Reuters is reporting:

The Senate's top environmental lawmaker offered a preview on Wednesday of major component of climate change legislation she said could be introduced "in weeks, not months."

Senator Boxer set out a set of principles that would guide her global warming legislation:

-- set "certain and enforceable" short and long-term emissions targets;

-- ensure state and local entities keep working to address global warming;

-- establish a market-based system that cuts carbon emissions;

-- use revenues from this carbon market to help consumers make the transition to clean energy and invest in new technology and efficiency measures;

-- ensure a level global playing field with incentives for polluting countries to give their share to the international effort to curb climate change.

Let's hope Senator Boxer and the other deep thinkers in Congress are aware of the cost of this legislation to our economy and our families. Will they listen to their own budget office?

Congressional Budget Office - 2007

According to a 2007 study conducted by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a mere 15 percent would cost the average household nearly 3 percent of its income. A family making $50,000 per year would be forced to pay an extra $1,400 every year for the same goods and services it purchases today. "Most of the cost of meeting a cap on CO2 emissions would be borne by consumers, who would face persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline.”

Will they listen to MIT?

Massachusetts Institute of Technology - 2007

A 2007 study by economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) reached similar conclusions. According to the MIT study, mandatory greenhouse gas reduction schemes similar to those most popular in Congress and the state legislatures would cost typical families of four close to $5,000 each and every year.

They are aware of these studies and others with similar findings, but will dispute or ignore them. They are intent on imposing this restrictive legislation no matter the damage to our economy or the cost to families. Get ready.

Thanks to James Taylor of the Heartland Institute for the CBO and MIT info.

Daschle, Killefer withdraw their nominations; Obama dodges questions

Tom Daschle has withdrawn his nomination as Secretary of HHS. shocking Capital Hill. And just a few hours before, Nancy Killefer withdrew her nomination as the first chief performance officer for the federal government.

The Daschle nomination became controversial when it was disclosed he owed back taxes.

Killefer said she didn't want her "bungling of payroll taxes on her household help" to become a distraction for Obama.

The AP also reported:

In announcing his choice of Sen. Judd Gregg to be commerce secretary, Obama took no questions Tuesday and left the White House lectern ignoring a shouted question about why so many of his nominees have tax problems.

It seems the party most favorable to taxes has leaders who ain't paying them.

Ashley Judd, Sarah Palin & Wolves

Alex Isenstadt at POLITICO writes:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has a new foe -- Ashley Judd. Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, with a hand from the actress, has launched a Web-based campaign targeting Palin over her environmental record. In a video premiering on the organization’s new Web site,, Judd takes aim at Palin for allegedly promoting the aerial killing of wolves in Alaska, and goes so far as to accuse Palin of proposing bounties for severed forelegs of killed wolves.

Here is the video:

Groundhog Gets It Right - Bites Bloomberg

They call him Staten Island Chuck, and he took a nice little chunk out of NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's finger.

Staten Island Chuck took a nibble out of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's hand during this morning's Groundhog Day festivities at the Staten Island Zoo. "His hand was nicked," a Bloomberg spokesman said. The mayor is up to date on his Tetanus shot, so he simply washed his wounded finger and put on a bandage. [link]

A zoo official, Doug Schwartz, said ""They definitely looked like they were involved in a tussle."

But instead of cheering the fearless Chuck, Schwartz said, "I hope that's not going to affect the future funding of my zoo."

The dumbass Schwartz doesn't realize he could make Chuck a national hero and attendance would shoot up at his damned old zoo.

Now what we need to do is insist all politicians celebrate groundhog day, and breed a lot bigger and more ferocious species of groundhog.

With the right kind of planning, all we need is one more groundhog day and we'll all be "free at last."

Ecoterrorists & the bugs of war

Jeffrey A. Lockwood writes in the London Times:

The terrorists' letter arrived at the Mayor of Los Angeles's office on November 30, 1989. A group calling itself “the Breeders” claimed to have released the Mediterranean fruit fly in Los Angeles and Orange counties, and threatened to expand their attack to the San Joaquin Valley, an important centre of Californian agriculture. With perverse logic, they said that unless the Government stopped using pesticides they would assure a cataclysmic infestation that would lead to the quarantining of California produce, costing 132,000 jobs and $13.4 billion in lost trade. The infestation was real enough. It was ended by heavy spraying. It is still not known if ecoterrorists were behind it, but the panic it engendered shows that “the Breeders” were flirting with a powerful weapon. The history and future of insects as weapons are explored in my new book, Six-Legged Soldiers. As an entomologist, I was initially interested in how human beings have conscripted insects and twisted science for use in war, terrorism and torture. It soon became apparent that the weaponisation of insects was not some quirky military footnote but a recurring theme in human strife, and quite possibly the next chapter in modern conflicts. Insects are one of the cheapest and most destructive weapons available to terrorists today, and one of the most widely ignored: they are easy to sneak across borders, reproduce quickly and can spread disease and destroy crops with devastating speed.

GPS for Forest Creatures on the Move

Natale Anger writes in the NY Times:

...Called the Automated Radio Telemetry System, the method relies on seven 130-foot-high radio towers scattered across the island that can monitor data from many radio-tagged individuals simultaneously, round the clock, through the calendar. Once an animal has been outfitted with a transmitting device, the towers can track its unique radio signature and, by a process of triangulation, indicate where it is on the island, whether it’s moving or at rest, what other radio-endowed individuals it encounters. The constant data stream feeds into computers at a central lab building on the island, allowing researchers to stay abreast of far more animal sagas than they could possibly follow through direct observation, and to make the best of their hours in the field. If you see an extended flat line on your computer monitor, it’s time to go out, retrieve the corpse and figure out what happened. And because transmitters can now be made as light as two-tenths of a gram, scientists can tag and track katydids, orchid bees, monarch butterflies, even plant seeds. “Automated systems like this are ushering in a new era of animal tracking,” said Roland Kays, another institute research associate. “There’s a lot of potential for seeing the routes animals take and the decisions they make every step of the way.”...

Two Utah counties lose again in monument grazing fight

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Two southern Utah counties have lost another round in their fight to reverse the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's decision to allow conservation groups to buy grazing allotments on the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The Denver-based 10th U.S. District Court of Appeals on Monday upheld a federal administrative law judge's 2006 ruling that the BLM had acted properly when it issued grazing permits to the Grand Canyon Trust and Canyonlands Grazing Corp. after the groups cut deals with ranchers to acquire their allotments and cattle. The appeals court also affirmed an administrative law judge's decision to deny grazing permits to other individuals and upheld a federal district court's ruling that the counties didn't have standing to join with those individuals in their case. In 2006, Kane and Garfield counties lost a federal lawsuit that claimed economic harm from the BLM's sale of the permits to the Grand Canyon Trust. In that ruling, the federal judge also found the counties lacked standing to continue pressing their case against the agency.

Barbed wire over the Metolius

Steve Duin writes in The Oregonian:

The difference between an environmentalist and a developer, the saying goes, is that the environmentalist has a cabin in the woods and the developer wants one. It's been 20 years since I first heard that sentiment, and I have rarely seen a more entertaining illustration of its merit than the ongoing rift over the future of the Metolius River basin. How dramatic are the ironies involved here? This has to be my favorite: State Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose -- one of the "true champions for the preservation of the Metolius," according to Gov. Ted Kulongoski, her frequent house guest -- has stretched barbed wire across the river where it meanders through her 130-acre property. And I thought Oregon's wild and scenic rivers were completely open for Oregonians who wanted to experience them in the wild. Silly me. Jim Kean wants to build an arguably eco-friendly resort in the basin, featuring a 180-room lodge and 450 single-family homes (one-third the number at Black Butte Ranch). Among those lined up against him are Johnson; Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, whose family leases a riverfront cabin on the river from the U.S. Forest Service; and the Guv...

Firecrackers used to disperse elk grazing on ranches

From the Durango Herald:

In an effort to help ranches co-exist with large populations of elk, the Colorado Division of Wildlife has issued firecrackers to some landowners to scare away herds. Elk, in large numbers, have the ability to destroy crops and eat food that otherwise is intended for cows, costing ranchers and farmers thousands of dollars every year. "We love to see them, but we can't afford to feed them," said Tim Karl, who has 200 head of red Angus on his Pine River Ranch north of Bayfield. The firecrackers are a hazing tactic used to scare away the elk. They look like shotgun shells and are fired from a special handgun or a shotgun. The rounds make a loud crackling noise in the air. They are fired whenever elk are caught feasting on a rancher's property, including during the middle of the night, which has upset some neighbors...

Trial begins for Douglas rancher, 16 undocumented immigrants

KNXV-TV in Phoenix reports:

Trial is under way in Tucson against a Cochise County rancher accused of detaining several illegal immigrants who attempted to cross into the United States near Douglas. Attorneys for the five women and 11 men who were trying to cross into the U.S. illegally accuse Roger Barnett of holding the group at gunpoint, threatening them with his dog and also threatening to shoot anyone that tried to escape, a press release from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said. Barnett, his wife, Barbara Barnett; and his brother, Donald Barnett; are charged in the federal lawsuit with conspiring to violate the plaintiffs' civil rights, the release said...

The Rahm Emanuel memo on regulations & an example of it's impact

First, here's the Emanuel memo, as published in the Federal Register:

January 26, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 15)]
[Page 4435-4436]

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

January 20, 2009, Washington, DC.
From: Rahm Emanuel, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff
Subject: Regulatory Review

President Obama has asked me to communicate to each of you his plan for managing the Federal regulatory process at the beginning of his Administration. It is important that President Obama's appointees and designees have the opportunity to review and approve any new or pending regulations. Therefore, at the direction of the President, I am requesting that you immediately take the following steps:
1. Subject to any exceptions the Director or Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (the ``OMB Director'') allows for emergency situations or other urgent circumstances relating to health, safety, environmental, financial, or national security matters, or otherwise, no proposed or final regulation should be sent to the Office of the Federal Register (the ``OFR'') for publication unless and until it has been reviewed and approved by a department or agency head appointed or designated by the President after noon on January 20, 2009, or in the case of the Department of Defense, the Secretary of Defense. The department or agency head may delegate this review and approval power to any other person so appointed or designated by the President, consistent with applicable law.
2. Withdraw from the OFR all proposed or final regulations that have not been published in the Federal Register so that they can be reviewed and approved by a department or agency head as described in paragraph 1. This withdrawal is subject to the exceptions described in paragraph 1 and must be conducted consistent with OFR procedures.
3. Consider extending for 60 days the effective date of regulations that have been published in the Federal Register but not yet taken effect, subject to the exceptions described in paragraph 1, for the purpose of reviewing questions of law and policy raised by those regulations. Where such an extension is made for this purpose, you should immediately reopen the notice-and-comment period for 30 days to
allow interested parties to provide comments about issues of law and policy raised by those rules. Following the 60-day extension:
a. For those rules that raise no substantial questions of law or policy, no further action needs to be taken; and
b. For those rules that raise substantial questions of law or policy, agencies should notify the OMB Director and take appropriate further action.
4. The requested actions set forth in paragraphs 1-3 do not apply to any regulations subject to statutory or judicial deadlines. Please immediately notify the OMB Director of any such regulations.
5. Notify the OMB Director promptly of any regulations that you believe should not be subject to the directives in paragraphs 1-3 because they affect critical health, safety, environmental, financial, or national security functions of the department or agency, or for some other reason. The OMB Director will review all such notifications and determine whether an exception is appropriate.
6. Continue in all instances to comply with any applicable Executive Orders concerning regulatory management.
As used in this memorandum, ``regulation'' has the meaning set forth in section 3(e) of Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993, as amended; this memorandum covers ``any substantive action by an agency (normally published in the Federal Register) that promulgates or is expected to lead to the promulgation of a final rule or regulation, including notices of inquiry, advance notices of proposed rulemaking, and notices of proposed rulemaking.''
This regulatory review will be implemented by the OMB Director, and communications regarding any matters pertaining to this review should be addressed to that official.
The OMB Director is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

And here's an example in how it has affected the Forest Service:

[FR Doc. E9-1639 Filed 1-23-09; 8:45 am]

January 29, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 18)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Page 5107]

Sale and Disposal of National Forest System Timber; Special Forest Products and Forest Botanical Products

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule; notice of delay of effective date and comment period.

SUMMARY: In accordance with the memorandum of January 20, 2009, from the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, entitled ``Regulatory Review,'' published in the Federal Register on January 26, 2009, the Department is delaying the effective date and opening for public comment, the rule published on December 29, 2008. This rule regulates the sustainable free use, commercial harvest, and sale of special forest products and forest botanical products from National Forest System lands. The December rule was originally set to take effect January 28, 2009.

DATES: Effective January 28, 2009, the effective date of the rule amending 36 CFR parts 223 and 261 published at 73 FR 79367, December 29, 2008, is delayed until March 30, 2009. Comments must be received by March 2, 2009.

ADDRESSES: The public may send comments to USDA Forest Service, FM, Director, 201 14th Street, SW., Mailstop 1103, Washington, DC 20024, or by e-mail to

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Richard Fitzgerald, Forest Service, Forest Management Staff, (202) 205-1753. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In accordance with the memorandum of January 20, 2009, from the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, entitled ``Regulatory Review,'' published in the Federal Register on January 26, 2009, 74 FR 4435, the Department is delaying the effective date and opening for public comment, the rule entitled ``Sale and Disposal of National Forest System Timber; Special Forest Products and Forest Botanical Products'', that was published in the Federal Register
on December 29, 2008, 73 FR 79367.
The Department is seeking comment from the public on any issues or concerns on the policy raised by the December rule. The December rule is needed to promote sustainability in light of the increased public demands for both timber and non-timber special forest products and forest botanical products over the past 10 years. In many cases, these demands are challenging sustainability, particularly in the most heavily used parts of the National Forest System. The December rule will help ensure the continued sustainability of special forest products and forest botanical products.

One still has to wonder why the Bushies waited to the last minute to propose many of these regulations, and was too incompetent to meet the deadlines. I guess 8 years notice wasn't enough.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Sex education is hot topic for wolf scientists

Yes, that's the actual headline, from the Minneapolis-St.Paul Star Tribune:

Mexican wolves that roam the hills of Arizona and New Mexico don't know it, but their Minnesota cousins did them a huge favor last week. The Southwestern wolves are endangered, so scientists tested 14 Minnesota gray wolves as surrogates to learn more about wolf reproduction. It got personal. Eight male wolves donated sperm. Six females had their reproductive organs probed and viewed on monitors. The goal of those and other tests is to improve the chances that artificial insemination can rebuild the endangered Mexican wolf population, said Cheryl Asa, reproductive biologist at the St. Louis Zoo. The zoo team found an ideal lab at the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake. The nonprofit center cares for more than 50 gray wolves that have been orphaned, injured or are unable to survive in the wild for other reasons. They and other animals are used for scientific research and education programs...

Judge rules bear-attack suit can proceed

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

A judge declined Friday to throw out a lawsuit accusing the federal government of negligence in the death of an 11-year-old Pleasant Grove boy who was killed by a bear while camping. U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball ruled that the government does not have immunity from suit under the circumstances in the case, noting officials knew an aggressive bear had been present earlier in the day at the campsite where the mauling occurred. Government attorneys argued at a November hearing that there is no requirement that federal agencies post signs warning the public about a bear or close a campground. But a lawyer for the family of Sam Ives contended that under an agreement with state agencies, the U.S. Forest Service was required to take action to protect campers. He said that before the boy was killed, authorities had decided the bear was so dangerous that it needed to be euthanized. Sam was camping with his mother, stepfather and brother on June 17, 2007, when a black bear sliced open their tent, pulled him out and killed him. Earlier in the day, a bear had raided coolers at the same campsite in American Fork Canyon and hit another camper, who notified authorities. The bear was tracked down and killed the next day. The boy's family also filed a negligence suit against the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The agency says it was not required to issue warnings, and its request that the suit be dismissed is pending in Utah's 4th District Court...

Watch these FS MOUs or other similar agreements start to disappear across the West. They break written agreements with ranchers all the time and with no consequences. Looks like agreements with permittees or other private individuals mean nothing, but agreements with another government may have some teeth. Unfortunately, this may also mean that without the MOU, the individual would be left out in cold. The FS has no responsiblity except to the FS.

Now if this tragic event had happened on private property do you believe the landowner would be held at least partially responsible?

States fail in latest prairie dog report card

The AP reports:

While groundhogs will get all the attention Monday, a report being issued by an environmental group says their cousins, the prairie dogs, are in dire straits across the West. WildEarth Guardians says in its report to be released Monday that North America's five species of prairie dogs have lost more than 90 percent of their historical range because of habitat loss, shooting and poisoning. It grades three federal land management agencies and a dozen states on their actions over the past year to protect prairie dogs and their habitat. Not one received an A. Most grades even dropped from the previous year, but Arizona improved to a B — the highest grade of all the states in prairie dog country. That state reintroduced 74 black-tailed prairie dogs to a small southeast parcel in October. New Mexico, home to the Gunnison's prairie dog and black-tailed prairie dog, earned a D — the same as last year — because, the group said, state wildlife officials weren't actively conserving prairie dogs.

Two children should be limit, says green guru

From The Sunday Times of London:

COUPLES who have more than two children are being “irresponsible” by creating an unbearable burden on the environment, the government’s green adviser has warned. Jonathon Porritt, who chairs the government’s Sustainable Development Commission, says curbing population growth through contraception and abortion must be at the heart of policies to fight global warming. He says political leaders and green campaigners should stop dodging the issue of environmental harm caused by an expanding population. A report by the commission, to be published next month, will say that governments must reduce population growth through better family planning. “I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate,” Porritt said.

So, the government will determine who can have children and how many children they can have, all in the name of protecting us from global warming. Here in the U.S., we'll end up with more polar bear and kangaroo rats and fewer children, a sure prescription for a bright future.

I wonder how many federales it will take to enforce this. How do you enforce a regulation that prevents pregnancy? They've been dying to get into our bedrooms, and it looks like global warming may be their ticket. The D's will want a mandate and the R's will want tax incentives. Who will speak for freedom?

I'm exaggerating a little here, but it is scary.

Land Trusts Purchase More Property

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

The valley known as Perazzo Meadows is a stunning landscape of woods and watershed habitat surrounded by glimmering Sierra Nevada peaks, but there is more to the high-country Shangri-La than sheer beauty. The 982-acre meadow northwest of Truckee is an integral piece of an unusual land grant made almost 150 years ago that left pristine forests, rivers and valuable wildlife habitat in the northern Sierra in a checkerboard pattern of alternating public and private ownership. Bisected by a meandering section of the Little Truckee River, the remote, snow-covered meadow was in imminent danger of being sold to developers or parceled out for vacation homes until a conservation coalition purchased it and two other private properties from Siller Brothers Inc. for $6 million. The Dec. 30 deal is the first major success of the Northern Sierra Partnership, formed in 2007 as part of an unprecedented campaign to take out of private hands 65,000 acres of land over the next three to five years through a combination of purchases, conservation easements and management agreements. The $130 million effort is part of a broader plan, started in 1991 by the Trust for Public Land of San Francisco, to permanently protect as much as 200,000 acres of private checkerboard property in the region, which stretches from South Lake Tahoe to Lassen Volcanic National Park...

Longliners say new federal rule endangers livelihood


Waiting to unload a boat full of fish last week, veteran crew member Tennessee Dave Kerrick sipped a beer and summed up the anger and resignation that is sweeping Pinellas County's grouper docks. "Everybody else is going out of work because of the economy; we are going out of work because of flipping reptiles." To protect loggerhead turtles, federal regulators voted last week to push the grouper fleet's 100 or so longline boats out to water that is at least 300 feet deep. Turtles rarely forage out there, but neither do a lot of keepable fish. Longliners figure they are done for...

Not in the West, but it sounds familiar.

Bison herd breaks loose

The Bismarck Tribune reports:

For weeks, Waliser and other Selfridge area landowners have been seeing renegade, possibly starving bison, crashing fences and running loose into their yards, hay yards and pastures. At least 500 bison have moved north out of an 18-mile stretch of pasture that runs along Highway 6 between McLaughlin, S.D., and Selfridge. The animals are part of a 6,000-head herd belonging to the vast Wilder Ranch that straddles the North Dakota and South Dakota state line, part of a corporation owned by Maurice Wilder of Clearwater, Fla. Sioux County Sheriff Larry Landeis said he estimates about 1,000 bison are ranging on the north end of the pasture, more than a dozen miles from the Wilder Ranch feedlots near the headquarters outside McLaughlin. "They've got 1,000 animals up here and they ain't getting fed," Landeis said.

NTSB: Aerial firefighter responsible for crash in Colorado reports:

Investigators say a series of errors, combined with pressure to complete the mission, contributed to a crash of a firefighting plane last spring. Gert Marais, 42, of Fort Benton, Mont., died on April 15 when his single-engine air tanker nose-dived into the ground. An NTSB report released this week reads, in part, "The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control following the jettison of the load during an aerial firefighting mission, which resulted in an inadvertent stall and impact with terrain. Contributing to the accident were the improperly configured aircraft for the flight, the gusty wind conditions, and the pressure to complete the mission." Marais had repeatedly warned officials that winds above a fire at Fort Carson were too strong to operate safely. Dispatchers and crews on the ground urged him to continue. The final call belonged to the pilot, experts say...

Peanut product recalls spread fast

From USA Today:

The economic wallop from a salmonella outbreak in peanut products continues to spread with more than 800 recalls and more expected this week. The recall, one of the largest ever, started with bulk peanut butter, spread to crackers and cookies and has engulfed products as diverse as kettle corn, pad Thai and trail mix. The Department of Justice on Friday joined in the investigation of Peanut Corp. of America, raising the possibility of criminal charges. PCA's Blakely, Ga., plant has been linked to a salmonella outbreak that's sickened 529 and may have contributed to eight deaths. For every reported illness, dozens go unreported. PCA expanded its recall last week to two years' worth of production and added peanuts, peanut meal and other products to the peanut butter and paste recall....

2009 Marks 60th Anniversary for National Reined Cow Horse Association

From the San Angelo Standard-Times:

The year 2009 represents an incredible landmark for the National Reined Cow Horse Association – as this is its Sixtieth Anniversary. Formed in 1948, the organization was originally called the California Reined Cow Horse Association and it was created to recognize the traditions of the California Reined Cow Horse. The ancestors of today’s reined cow horse first came to the Americas with the Spanish conquistadors. By the time the Spanish missionaries were making their way into California in the 1700s, the vaqueros (cowboys) were well established in other parts of America and came with them into the most western state. For almost 150 years, the California reined cow horse – the trusted partner of the vaquero – worked the great herds of longhorn cattle driven from Mexico to California and performed the day-to-day chores on the vast cattle ranches. The California vaquero – among the finest horsemen of all time – developed the equipment, riding styles, and the training techniques that produced some of the best stock horses the world has ever seen....

Book on White Sands Missile Range hits shelves

From the Las Cruces Sun-News:

A new pictorial history titled "Images of America: White Sands Missile Range" hit the shelves of local bookstores this month, the fruit of many hours of labor by the director of the Missile Range museum. Published by Arcadia press, the book covers the history of the Missile Range since its founding in 1945 in pictures. The author, Darren Court, is giving all the profits from the book sales to the White Sands Historical Foundation. When Court took over as WSMR's museum director in May 2007, he could find no single book that put the rich history of the Range into one volume for easy reference. He found many historical papers, including much material about the Trinity site. He even found writings about the ranchers who lived on and worked the land now occupied by the Missile Range, but there was no compilation of WSMR's history. In the fall of 2007, Court decided that he was in the position to meet the need of the many visitors and researchers who have asked for "the White Sands book." For the next eight months Court took his lunch hour and any free time he had after work selecting photos, scanning them and researching photo captions. "In our archives we have about 10,000 documents and photographs catalogued," said Court...

Aldo Leopold shack gets landmark status

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports:

The humble shack that became the centerpiece of conservationist Aldo Leopold's "A Sand County Almanac" has been granted National Historic Landmark status. The converted chicken coop and the farm on which it stands received the designation from outgoing Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne before he left office in December. Leopold died in 1948 at the age of 61, just before "A Sand County Almanac" was published. The collection of essays detailed his observations of nature through changing seasons and also called for a new land ethic to guide humans in the way they deal with the natural world. The shack is maintained in his memory by the Aldo Leopold Foundation, founded by his children in 1982 to carry on his legacy...

1949 Operation Haylift

Karen Simon writes in the Sierra Sun:

Few Nevada winters have been as brutal as that of 1948-49, when towering snowdrifts and frigid cold waves shut down the state’s major highways and isolated many rural communities. Sixty years ago, the harsh elements nearly decimated Nevada’s livestock industry as cattle and sheep became helplessly snowbound. Weather conditions were so severe a small group of ranchers in hard-hit Eastern Nevada devised an unusual plan to reach their starving livestock that were cut off from grazing by deep snow. The ranchers and officials were inspired by the besieged citizens of West Berlin, who were receiving shipments of food and fuel airdropped by U.S. military planes in the Berlin Airlift. The Nevadans organized “Operation Haylift,” a massive relief effort using U.S. Air Force C-82 cargo airplanes, known as Flying Boxcars, to save the starving animals...

Winter of 1886-87 stands as coldest

The Bismarck Tribune reports:

Bismarck's snowiest winter occurred 11 years ago, but the city's coldest winter goes back farther - to the days when Dakota was a territory. Half of Bismarck's 10 coldest winters were prior to 1900, and none was colder than the winter of 1886-87. From December to February, the average temperature was 0.4 degrees below zero - Bismarck's only winter with a below-zero average temperature. The season devastated livestock and ranchers in the west. Cattle, overstocked by ranchers during the summer's drought, died by the tens of thousands as hard snow hid the sparse prairie grasses. Storms raged from November to February. Five minimum temperature records from January 1887 still stand in Bismarck, including 41 below on Jan. 1 and 44 below on Jan. 2...

That's one of the reason's I love southern NM.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

What do you do with yours?

Julie Carter

Back in 1975, a man named Tim Leatherman was traveling through Europe on a shoestring budget in a cranky car with leaky pipes.

It was during this trying time he birthed the idea of a pocket survival tool. That tool today is known simply as the "Leatherman."

By 1977, the tool had taken on a rough form and in 1980, "Mr. Crunch" was patented. And finally in l985, 10 years after that idea, came the founding of Leatherman Tool.

By 1994, they employed more than 200 people. Through the '90s, new and better designs were released, setting the standard in the all-purpose pocket tool industry.

For those of you that missed it, the Leatherman tool is a fold-up tool that incorporates all the following tools in one handy frame: needle-nose pliers, regular pliers, wire cutters, hard-wire cutters, clip-point knife, serrated knife, diamond-coated file, wood saw, scissors, extra small screwdriver, small screwdriver, medium screwdriver, large screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, can / bottle opener, wire stripper and lanyard attachment.

Out here in "real men carry pocket knives" country, the Leatherman phenomenon was a little slow to catch on.

A Leatherman was pretty pricey for a pair of pliers, and the "I already have a good knife" made it easy to blow off the multipurpose handy-for-anything tool. They would show up under the tree for a gift at Christmas and promptly end up in the drawer next to the hankies with the initial embroidered on them and the ugly boxers.

In the meantime, the world knew something we didn't. Other tool companies began manufacturing acceptable, affordable imitations of the revered original. Gerber, Seber, Sears and an assortment of companies flooded the market in every shape, size and color.

Someone even put a teensy version on a key chain, handy for nose picking and nail cleaning.

Then it happened. Some "real" man dared to show up in the branding corral with one of the versions of the "fad" on his belt, neatly snapped in a little case. He used it to pull some cactus out of a horse's leg and change the needles on a vaccine gun. He loaned it to a kid to use for a cooking utensil while they cooked calf fries on the branding iron burner.

He twisted and tightened the wire on a gate that was doubling as a hinge. He tightened a screw in the emasculators and popped open the lids on an assortment of things.

That amazing day of demonstration opened the eyes and the dresser drawers of those "real men with pocket knives." No longer did they break the good blades on their high dollar pocket knives prying and digging with them.

No longer did they have to stick their heads under the seat of the pickup to find that pair of pliers or a wrench they knew was there somewhere.

Today, it's standard equipment on more belts than not. The women wear them on a belt or carry them in their purses. You will see the daintiest and most delicate of well-coiffed, finely garbed ladies slip a Leatherman from their purse and go to work with it like she'd been doing it forever.

The list of uses is as varied as the number of tools all hooked up into that one handy dandy tool. There are stories of lives being saved, babies being birthed and legendary feats all because of a Leatherman.

Tomorrow when you strap yours on your hip, know it just might go down in history next to Colt and Smith and Wesson.