Saturday, March 07, 2009

Wrangler Timed Event Championship Round 3

After 15 head, hear are the top 7:

Trevor Brazille 160.9
Daniel Green 191.7
Josh Peek 201.4
Beau Franzen 211.0
Bret Fleming 214.6
Kyle Lockett 224.0
Jimmie Cooper 230.0

Round #3 Summary
GUTHRIE, OK -- 3:30PM / March 7, 2009

What does 170 pounds of iron look like? It wears a black shirt and black cowboy hat and is named Trevor Brazile. The 5-11, 170-pounder of Decatur, Texas came into this year's "Iron Man" competition, the 25th Wrangler Timed Event Championship of the World, with a record five titles to his name.

But don't close that record book. After three rounds, the 32-year-old is showing why he's won more than a half-million dollars at the WTEC as he leads with 160.9 seconds on 15 head. He went into Saturday afternoon's third round with a 4.2 margin on 10 head over the other 19 cowboys competing this weekend at the Lazy E Arena. But Brazile, a six-time All-Around and nine-time overall Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association World Champion, will stretch a lead in a hurry. And he did. After 15 head he is 30.8 seconds ahead of the field. What does that mean? On the first run of the weekend he was 13.9 seconds in the team roping heading when his heeler picked up a 5-second penalty for roping only one leg. Brazile's been faster than 13.9 seconds on every run since.

Sitting second is defending and two-time WTEC champion Daniel Green of Oakdale, Calif. with 191.7 seconds on 15 head. Moving up the leadboard Saturday afternoon was former PRCA Reserve All-Around World Champion Josh Peek of Pueblo, Colo. who used a round of 48.3 seconds, the second fastest this year, to move to third in the average at 201.4 seconds on 15 head. The fastest round this year continues to be Brazile's 45.7 second showing in the second round...LazyE

Obama Delists Wolf In Idaho & Montana

In a blow to environmental groups and a boost for ranchers, the Obama administration announced Friday that it would take the gray wolf off the endangered species list in Montana and Idaho, though it left the predator under federal protection in Wyoming. The delisting allows Montana and Idaho to assume complete management of the animal, which will include a hunting season in both states. The move also delists wolves in the western Great Lakes and parts of Oregon, Utah and Washington. The new policy was announced by the Bush administration in January, but its adoption was delayed so the incoming Obama administration could assess it. “The recovery of the gray wolf throughout significant portions of its historic range is one of the great success stories of the Endangered Species Act,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said. “Today, we have more than 5,500 wolves, including more than 1,600 in the Rockies.” Jenny Harbine, a lawyer with Earthjustice in Bozeman, Mont., which has sued to keep the federal protections, said, “We’re disappointed.” She added, “Idaho has shown an eagerness to kill as many wolves as possible, and they are drawing up plans for killing wolves as we speak.” Officially, however, Idaho has agreed in its state plan to maintain a population of 500 wolves. Montana has agreed to keep 400 wolves. If the number of animals falls below 150 total and 15 breeding pairs for three years in a row, the wolf will be relisted in that state...NY Times

Wrangler Timed Event Championship Round 2

After two rounds:

Trevor Brazille 103.0
Kyle Lockett 107.2
Daniel Green 107.3
Bret Fleming 121.2
Beau Franzen 127.4
Jimmie Cooper 148.2

Trevor has the fastest round so far at 45.7

Friday, March 06, 2009


The Ironman event of ProRodeo will celebrate twenty-five fabulous years this coming March 6th, 7th, and 8th, 2009 at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. For two and a half decades, this one-of-a-kind event has showcased world champion cowboys competing in the most unique event in rodeo – the Wrangler Timed Event Championship.

The WTEC features twenty of the world’s best cowboys in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) competing in pro rodeo’s most unique event that is often referred to as “The Ironman” — it is a true test of versatility and stamina. Each contestant is required to compete in all five grueling timed events: tie-down roping, steer roping, heading, heeling and steer wrestling – over five rounds in three days.

In addition to the competition, numerous special functions are being planned to commemorate this special anniversary event that will include appearances and highlights from previous champions such as two-time WTEC Champion Leo Camarillo; 1986 Champion Mike Beers; 1990 Champion Bobby Harris and 1995 Champion Olie Smith. These great WTEC ambassadors who are now retired, will join current competing past champions for special festivities that include five-time WTEC Champion Trevor Brazile; four-time Champions Paul Tierney and K.C. Jones; three-time champion Jimmie Cooper; two-time and defending champion Daniel Green; and 2005 champion Kyle Lockett.

Last year, Daniel Green of Oakdale, California went into the fifth performance with a 31-second lead on the “King of Rodeo” Trevor Brazile and a field of World Champions. Not only did Green win his second title and hold off the world’s best cowboys, but shattered the arena record in the average set in 2007 by Brazile. Green posted a 276.1 over 25 head of livestock worth $57,000.00 and joined the elite fraternity of multiple-time world champions.

Green had a stellar weekend and used consistent runs, great horses, and world class helpers to rise above his fellow nineteen competitors that made up one of the greatest fields of contestants ever assembled to compete for the prestigious “Iron-Man” title. Brazile, after winning his record fifth title in 2007, finished the event as the runner-up, recorded the fastest over-all go-round time, and placed again in the 5th round for an event total of $41,000.00 bringing Brazile’s career WTEC earnings to $508,500.00. Keeping on the west coast, Los Alamos, California cowboy Casey Branquinho took home third place honors and earned $15,000.00.

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

The Wrangler Timed Event Championship was developed by the Lazy E in 1985 to determine the best all-around timed event cowboy in the world — the man who could stand out in more than his specialty event, the man who could be consistent in all five timed events. The majority of today’s professional rodeo cowboys no longer compete in multiple events, but specialize in one, possibly two. This event attracts the biggest names in the rodeo industry that correlates into 40 World Championship titles, in addition to thousands of fans representing 48 states from across the country! Some of the cowboys scheduled to compete against defending champion Green for the $150,000.00 purse include: eight-time PRCA World Champion Trevor Brazile; World Champions Luke Branquinho, Steve Duhon, Scott Snedecor; ten-time NFR qualifier, Cash Myers; 2005 PRCA All Around World Champion, Ryan Jarrett; Veteran World Champions Jimmie Cooper and Paul Tierney; and new stars such as the 2007 PRCA Runner-Up World Champion All-Around, Josh Peek.

First Round Results:

Kyle Lockett 55.10
Josh Peek 55.9
Daniel Green 57.10
Trevor Brazille 57.3
Brett Fleming 59.5

Predator Clash: Wolves Kill Mtn. Lion Near Homes

An age-old conflict between two formidable foes ended with the death of a well-traveled mountain lion in the foothills above Elkhorn this week. The epic fight likely occurred Sunday night, Hailey-based Idaho Department of Fish and Game Conservation Officer Lee Garwood said as he ran his hand through the cougar's matted fur just after noon on Monday. "There's still some warmth," he said. According to Garwood, the confrontation likely pitted the solitary, 2-year-old male cougar against an unknown number of wolves from the Phantom Hill pack. Tipped off by nearby residents, the seasoned officer found the crumpled remains of the big cat near the carcass of a cow elk it had likely been feeding on before its fateful encounter. Only a few hundred yards from where Garwood stood was the first of several large homes in the lower end of Parker Gulch...Idaho Mountain Express

Sawmill shuts down because of enviro lawsuits

Environmental lawsuits have long made it difficult for Sierra Pacific Industries, the second-largest lumber producer in the United States, to obtain local timber for its small-log sawmill in the tiny Northern California town of Quincy. This week, the flagging economy hit the final nail into the mill's coffin: The company announced on Monday that it will close the plant in May. The mill was conceived to use small-diameter logs from programs that thin trees on national forest lands for the purpose of reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire. But due to a long series of administrative appeals and lawsuits from environmental groups that object to any commercial logging in national forests, the Forest Service has only achieved 20 percent of its overall sales targets, said Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI). Nearly two-thirds of this year's timber sale program is being held up by pending litigation, the company said. The result is that SPI has had to haul logs from farther away to run the mill and make up for the difference...NY Times

A fine way to create jobs and stimulate the economy. I guess they can all get green jobs.

Capping Economic Growth

Tax-challenged Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and White House Budget Director Peter Orszag went to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to defend a federal budget that assumes $650 billion in revenue from a cap-and-trade carbon emissions scheme that may be worse than Bill Clinton's defeated Btu tax on energy. Under the plan, the Obama administration would sell or auction off emission credits based on a predetermined cap of carbon emissions arbitrarily set for the U.S. economy. Lower-polluting companies could then trade their excess. At least that's the theory. The problem is that capping emissions based on dubious climate science will also kill hopes for a rapid economic recovery. Any good that comes from the stimulus package will be wiped out by this energy tax that will be passed on to every consumer through everything we produce and consume. Money that could be spent on creating jobs will be wasted trying to save the polar bear...IBD

Extensive wilderness bill could thwart new energy development

The 111th Congress is poised to usher in the largest expansion of the nation's wilderness in a generation, with 2.1 million acres of public land in line for the strictest environmental protections allowed under federal law. An omnibus lands bill that could receive final congressional approval this month would create new wilderness areas in nine states -- from the San Gabriel Mountains of California to Michigan's Lake Superior shoreline to a portion of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia -- covering almost as much land as the 2.4 million acres designated during the entire eight years of the Bush presidency. Meanwhile, Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) last month introduced the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, which would designate 24 million acres of mostly Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service land in five states as wilderness area. At issue is the National Wilderness Preservation System and attempts to add to the 107 million acres of public land already designated as wilderness. The centerpiece of the latest effort to expand wilderness designations is the "Omnibus Public Land Management Act," which the Senate approved in January. The bill consolidates dozens of individual wilderness bills, from designating 37,000 acres within the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia to 700,000 acres and 105 miles of rivers and streams in California. If Congress approves the measure, it will be the single largest wilderness designation since the 1994 California Desert Protection Act, which extended the highest federal protection to 3.5 million acres of BLM lands in the Mojave Desert. One reason environmentalists are pushing to expand wilderness areas is to protect plants and animals from the damaging effects of climate change. While larger than anything proposed under the last several Congresses, the 2009 wilderness proposals are just a glimpse of things to come, congressional watchdogs and conservation leaders say. Once the omnibus lands bill is approved, the floodgates will open and lawmakers will introduce dozens of wilderness proposals covering potentially millions of acres, experts say. "There's a whole suite of bills ready to go," said Spitler of the Wilderness Society...NY Times

Group files petition to stop Karuk Tribe from fishing Klamath River

An ongoing battle between miners, ranchers, loggers, and Native Americans over uses of Klamath River water is taking a new turn. On Monday, a coalition made up of miners and others who have been the target of Karuk efforts to limit Klamath River use filed a petition with the California Fish and Game Department to stop Karuk Tribe members from operating a dip-net fishing site on the lower Klamath River. The petition says natives have no legal right to take salmon while at the same time alledging fish kills from other river users. In a response, Karuk officials called the petition vengeful, and suggested the action is retribution for recent lawsuits to stop suction dredge mining...

Go to News Watch 12 for the video report.

Wyoming Groups Unveil "Thank a Rancher" Campaign

On March 4, look for three new billboards on Wyoming’s roads, expressing appreciation for the state’s ranchers and the role they play in Wyoming open space and conservation efforts. To raise awareness of how ranchers help to conserve Wyoming’s wide open spaces, abundant wildlife and unparalleled recreation opportunities, a group of sportsmen, conservation and outdoor interests has organized the campaign, uniting to articulate a shared desire to recognize the importance of agriculture in land protection, and the need to work together to maintain what is unique about Wyoming. The group – working in conjunction with the Wyoming Stockgrowers Agricultural Land Trust - includes Audubon Wyoming, Trout Unlimited, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy, and is committed to preserve Wyoming’s open landscapes, healthy wildlife populations, and iconic views. “Wyoming still has what so many other places have failed to protect. We recognize that our ranchers and farmers are important caretakers of our wildlife habitat and open spaces” said Brian Rutledge, Executive Director of Audubon in Wyoming. “The stewardship and cultural values embodied by the ranching community are critical in preserving what Wyoming values”...Nature Conservancy

Stimulus - Archaeologists concerned about NEPA & NHPA compliance

With all these stimulus projects coming down the road, the Society for American Archaeology has raised the issue of agencies having sufficient funding and personnel to perform NEPA and NHPA compliance. The SAA is concerned about the "haste" to implement economic relief and feels the Obama administration's efforts to ensure NHPA compliance have been "cursory, at best." They also doubt that many of the stimulus projects are "shovel-read", i.e. that they have "completed all their NEPA and NHPA reviews."

The SAA has expressed their concerns in a letter to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. You can read their letter here.

So, will the government comply with their own laws? Will historic preservation and environmental reviews hold up many of these projects? Will the enviro's sue over NEPA compliance? How many new jobs for archaeologists will be created in this spending frenzy?

It will be interesting to watch.

Moose moseys on slopes as skiers marvel

A moose on the ski slopes of Steamboat turned heads recently, including catching the eye of a vacationer with a video camera. "It was cool," said Ben Satterfield of Tennessee, who was with his family at the resort and took the video. "I was amazed. I've been skiing all my life and had never seen anything like it." Satterfield and about 100 other skiers were at the slope base Feb. 12 enjoying a collective après-ski moment when people started screaming "Moose! Moose!" The moose came out of a parking lot, crashed through a plastic mesh fence and trotted upslope. That's when Satterfield trained his camera on it. "You just never know what's going to happen when a wild animal — a moose — shows up," he said. For the most part, skiers on camera at Steamboat did the right thing, giving the moose plenty of space and not trying to get too close or aggressively interact with it...Denver Post

Here's the video:

AgCam’s images are on the waiting list

It was a seven-year wait before UND’s AgCam was launched into space. It will be a little longer, maybe late summer, before its first high-resolution images are seen. AgCam sits aboard the International Space Station orbiting from 2,200 to 2,600 miles above Earth. The original plan was to have it unpacked and mounted by late March. Next week’s scheduled launch of the Discovery Space Shuttle is pushing every project back at least a month on the ISS schedule. Once operational, UND students will command AgCam from Room 270 in Clifford Hall. Its data will be used by farmers, ranchers and natural resource scientists to make decisions concerning land and crop management. For its first year, Olsen said AgCam’s images will come from the Great Plains, but its lens could open wider to worldwide interest. “Once we see it works, if we can get the support and staffing, we can go 24/7 anywhere,” Olsen said. “It’s just a matter of funding.”...Grand Forks Herald

This info is from NASA's website:

Brief Summary The Agricultural Camera (AgCam) will take frequent images, in visible and infrared light, of vegetated areas on the Earth, principally of growing crops, rangeland, grasslands, forests, and wetlands in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions of the United States. Images will be delivered within 2 days directly to requesting farmers, ranchers, foresters, natural resource managers and tribal officials to help improve their environmental stewardship of the land for which they are responsible. Images will also be shared with educators for classroom use. The Agricultural Camera was built and will be operated primarily by students and faculty at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND.

Description...Current Earth remote sensor platforms typically collect data too infrequently for rapidly changing short-season northern crops that often are under cloud cover, or deliver data with too much latency for effective in-season decision support; those that can meet the preceding needs have spatial resolutions that are too coarse for evaluation of in-field variability. AgCam will allow selection of specific geographical areas of interest and request collection of AgCam imagery in both red and near-infrared bandpasses, and at medium-high spatial resolution. The AgCam sensor will be able to point up to 30 degrees off-nadir, enabling frequent (multi-week to multi-day) imaging of a requested area, dramatically improving chances of obtaining cloud-free images. Collected images will be downlinked, processed on the ground, and delivered to the requesting end users within 1-2 days of image collection. Farmers using variable-rate application and other precision agriculture techniques will be able to dynamically delineate management zones as the crop vegetation canopy changes during the growing season; this can result in more effective use of fertilizer and other chemical inputs and reduce negative environmental effects. Further, crop canopy reflectance in AgCam spectral bands is correlative to nitrogen concentrations in the plant biomass; knowledge of variability of plant nitrogen across fields can be used to improve in-season nitrogen application decisions. Ranchers will be better able to determine livestock carrying capacity of rangelands; this can help avoid ecosystem damage due to overgrazing and erosion. Rapid delivery of imagery for these and other applications will enable management decisions to be applied to the current season's operations...Italics are mine

How long will it be before the FS & BLM contract with NASA to count cows and set carrying capacity? They'll be laying off all them danged old range cons. County Assessors and other tax collectors will sign up. Did you get that horse inspected the last time you crossed a district line? The brand board will sign up. Is your premises registered with USDA? No need, they'll sign up.

Urban folks raise hell about red-light cameras but that's nothing compared to this. Hell, cowboys will have to go to town to feel "free." Ain't that a switch.

Senators Introduce Bill To Reform FDA's Food Safety Systems

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) today introduced bipartisan legislation that will dramatically improve the way the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protects the safety of the nation’s food supply. The bipartisan bill focuses on four key areas where FDA’s authorities and resources need to be improved: food-borne illness prevention; food-borne illness detection and response; food defense capabilities; and overall resources. Specifically, the bill improves the ability to prevent food safety problems with these steps:

Hazard analysis and preventive controls: Requires all facilities to have in place preventive plans to address identified hazards and prevent adulteration, and gives FDA access to these plans and relevant documentation.

Access to records: Expands FDA access to records in a food emergency.

Third party labs and audits: Allows FDA to recognize laboratory accreditation bodies to ensure U.S. food testing labs meet high quality standards and requires food testing performed by these labs to be reported to FDA. Allows FDA to enable qualified 3rd parties to certify that foreign food facilities comply with U.S. food safety standards.

Imports: Requires importers to verify the safety of foreign suppliers and imported food. Allows FDA to require certification for high-risk foods, and to deny entry to a food that lacks certification or that is from a foreign facility that has refused U.S. inspectors.

Detection: Improves Our Capacity to Detect and Respond to Food-borne Illness Outbreaks

Inspection: Increases FDA inspections at all food facilities, including annual inspections of high-risk facilities and inspections of other facilities at least once every four years.

Surveillance: Enhances food-borne illness surveillance systems to improve the collection, analysis, reporting, and usefulness of data on food-borne illnesses.

Traceability: Requires the Secretary of HHS to establish a pilot project to test and evaluate new methods for rapidly and effectively tracking/tracing fruits and vegetables in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak.

Mandatory Recall: Gives FDA the authority to order a mandatory recall of a food product when a company fails to voluntarily recall the product upon FDA’s request.

Suspension of Registration: Empowers FDA to suspend a food facility’s registration if there is a reasonable probability that food from the facility will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.

Enhances U.S. Food Defense Capabilities: Directs FDA to help food companies protect their products from intentional contamination and calls for a national strategy to protect our food supply from terrorist threats and rapidly respond to food emergencies.

Increases FDA Resources: – Increases funding for FDA’s food safety activities through increased appropriations and targeted fees for domestic and foreign facilities...Ag Network

Solid, But Falling Profits At Agricultural Banks

The U.S. financial crisis has trimmed the profitability of agricultural banks and other commercial banks. However, agricultural banks performed much better than their banking peers. The strongest performance emerged from smaller agricultural banks.

Based on Agricultural Finance Databook information, the financial performance of agricultural banks weakened in 2008.1 The Federal Reserve defines agricultural banks as commercial banks with agricultural loans accounting for more than 14 percent of their loan portfolio.2 According to the Federal Reserve, the average return on assets and equity at agricultural banks steadily declined in 2008. By September 2008, the return on equity at agricultural banks declined to 7.6 percent, and the rate of return to assets edged down to 0.8 percent (Chart 1).

Agricultural bank returns, however, were much stronger than returns at other commercial banks. By September 2008, returns for all commercial banks had plummeted more than 70 percent, with the return on equity dropping to 2.86 percent and return on assets falling to 0.28 percent.3 Agricultural banks also had much stronger performance than other similarly sized small commercial banks, those with less than $500 million in assets. The return on equity and assets at smaller banks was 2.4 and 0.3 percent, respectively, well below the returns at agricultural banks.

Several factors contributed to the dip in agricultural bank profits. First, interest rates on agricultural loans have declined, trimming gross revenue on loan activity. According to agricultural credit surveys from the Federal Reserve, interest rates on all types of agricultural loans have dropped significantly below 2006 levels.4 The average interest rate on operating loans dropped from more than 9.0 percent in 2006 to 7.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. During the same time, the average rate on farm real estate loans fell from roughly 8.5 percent to 6.75 percent...AG NETWORK

Thievery occurs in agriculture too

Manufacturers build big warehouses for storage of their products so they won’t be stolen. Agriculturists can’t do that. Crops in the field can’t be locked up. Neither can cattle or sheep — or horses. Since prevention is difficult, punishment after the fact was considered the next best option, the sooner the better, in the old days. So horse thieves were summarily hanged from the nearest big tree. Actually, cattle rustlers and horse thieves were the main reasons for the formation of livestock associations in the late 1800s and for branding livestock to prove ownership. The possibility of theft also is why most ranches don’t have their shipping pens and loading chutes near a highway. No use making the thieves’ getaway easier. Times have changed...Clovis News Journal

Farm Bureau Calls ‘Cow Tax’ Bill Timely and Critical

Legislation introduced today to prevent a “cow tax” on farmers and ranchers is both “timely and critical,” said the American Farm Bureau Federation. In a letter to the bill’s sponsors, Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), AFBF commended their bipartisan efforts and said the organization would work with them to ensure that the legislation gains broad support. The Thune-Schumer bill would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing Title V operating permits on U.S. agriculture operations under the Clean Air Act. Those permits automatically result in mandatory fees. If EPA were to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) under the act, as the agency indicated it was considering last year in an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, AFBF calculated that it could cost farmers and ranchers $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per beef cow and $21.87 per hog. The fees were arrived at using publicly available government data...Farm Bureau

There are many dairy cows in New York...just in case you thought Schumer was doing this out of the kindness of his heart.

Rodeo cowboys doing better economically

Unlike people in many other occupations, professional rodeo cowboys say they're faring better economically this year. ``The pay is still the same. We're rolling down the road, fuel, diesel and gas prices are down right now. We're doing better than we were six, eight months ago _ a lot better,'' said Texan bareback rider Wes Stevenson. Stevenson, 29, is one of 684 contestants who entered the 84th Annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros, which ran through Sunday at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds. That's nearly a 6 percent increase in entries from the 2008 Tucson Rodeo. The increase in entries isn't limited to the Tucson Rodeo but extends to Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association rodeos in general. Entries into PRCA rodeos are up 16 percent since the start of the year, said Jim Bainbridge, a PRCA spokesman...KTAR

2009 College National Finals Rodeo Dates Set

The nation’s best college cowboys and cowgirls from eleven different regions will enter the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) arena at this June in Casper, Wyo. The 61st Annual event will begin June 14 and run through June 20. National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) members will compete for national titles in saddle bronc, bareback, bull riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping, and goat tying. In addition men’s and women’s team and all-around champions will be determined. The top three students in each event, and top two men’s and women’s teams from the NIRA’s 11 regions will qualify for the CNFR. Student athletes will also be competing for over $200,000 in scholarships from the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. Scholarship Awards Program. Two special “Bulls, Broncs and Breakaway,” performances will be held on Sunday, June 14th, a matinee at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. All remaining performances begin at 7:00 p.m., including the Saturday Championship Round. Slack will be held on the mornings of Monday, June 15th and Tuesday, June 16th, at 7:00 a.m...Rodeo Attitude

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Obama's endangered species ruling could allow climate legal action

President Obama took another step towards regulating carbon this week, calling on agency officials to review changes to the Endangered Species Act imposed during the last months of the Bush adminstration that limit the prospect of climate change-related legal action against carbon intensive projects. Rule 50 CR Part 402 eliminated a requirement under the Endangered Species Act for agencies to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) or National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). These Agencies, which fall under the Department of the Interior, are responsible for ensuring that the Act is upheld. The rule, which was listed in the Federal Registry on December 16 and came into force on January 15, just days ahead of Obama's inauguration, not only removed this requirement for many cases, but also explicitly dismissed any connection between climate change and endangered species, on the grounds that "effects of such action are manifested through global processes and cannot be reliably predicted or measured at the scale of a listed species' current range". Obama's transition team had already vowed to reverse such environmental regulations, which were designed in part to stop environmental groups from using the Endangered Species Act as a carbon regulation tool. For example, some green groups had been investigating using the climate change-related threat to the Polar Bear posed by the disappearance of its habitat to underpin legal action against carbon intensive industries...Business Green

Team Obama May Not Grant Ca. Emissions Waiver

Will the Obama administration grant California’s wish to toughen auto-emission standards? It may not be a sure thing. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday she is “not sure” the Obama administration will let California regulate automobile greenhouse-gas emissions and said she believes the administration would prefer a single national standard governing the industry’s fuel economy and emissions levels. Ms. Granholm, who was at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday for a conference on climate change, was responding to a reporter’s question about how a decision by the administration to allow California to regulate automobile greenhouse gas emissions would affect Michigan, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation and is home to ailing auto giants General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., and Chrysler LLC. Automakers reported dismal February sales numbers again Tuesday. “I’m not sure they will,” Ms. Granholm said. “I think there’s an interest in making sure there’s a unified standard,” she said. Ms. Granholm’s comments are significant because she is a close political ally of Mr. Obama...Environmental Capital

Oil Prices: Here Come Tighter Oil Supplies, Higher Prices

It’s a classic good-news, bad-news scenario. First, the good news. Analysts are scouring data for signs that the economy may be bottoming out and oil types are seeing faint signs of firmness on the energy front. Now, the bad news. If the economy does start to get back on its feet later this year, it could get a repeat wallop from higher fuel prices. Forecasters are basing their hunch that oil is heading upward partly on mounting signs that the economic crisis and lower oil prices are shuttering projects around the world. OPEC countries—which meet next week to consider another output cut—have voluntarily slashed production by around three million barrels a day since last fall. But the big and lasting cuts are coming in non-OPEC countries, where companies are postponing or canceling projects in droves. Bernstein Research said this week that non-OPEC oil production could fall by 2.5 million barrels/day over the next year...Environmental Capital

Arizona jaguar's death probably hastened by capture, zoo veterinarian says

A jaguar captured recently during an Arizona Game and Fish Department research study was fitted with a tracking collar and released. Jaguars were once thought to be extinct in the U.S., and researchers were hopeful that following the big cat's movements could prove helpful in the jaguar conservation effort. But events took a sad turn when wildlife officials noted Macho B's movement patterns slowing. Observing the jaguar in the wild, they noted his abnormal gait and apparent weight loss. Fearing for his health, they recaptured Macho B and transported him to the Phoenix Zoo for evaluation. Shortly thereafter, Macho B was euthanized when tests revealed severe kidney failure from which he could not recover. Fish and Wildlife spokesman Jeff Humphrey said kidney failure was common in older cats, but questions remained about whether stress from his capture had caused or exacerbated Macho B's condition. A necropsy was performed, and today Phoenix Zoo Executive Vice President Dr. Dean Rice is saying the capture probably played a key role in the jaguar's death...LA Times

Capture 'em and kill 'em, a new motto for the USFWS.

Let's bring them boys over to manage the mexican wolf program.

Memorial service for euthanized jaguar

A service in memory of jaguar Macho B will double as an appeal for better protection for other jaguars in the United States. The service will be held from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday outside the offices of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 201 N. Bonita Ave., Suite 141, in Tucson. Macho B's death came as a blow to scientists who had hoped to learn more about the species by tracking him. No jaguar besides Macho B had been seen in the U.S. for the last 10 years. The Center for Biological Diversity hopes the service will provide an outlet for people to reflect on the loss of Macho B and push for increased protection of jaguars as an endangered species, according to a press release...azcentral

From the CBD press release:

"...By speaking out for Macho after he is gone, we fervently hope that our mountains and deserts can still be home to his kin for decades and centuries into the future,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. The event will allow people to share their thoughts and feelings about the much-photographed Macho B, along with their wishes for a new presidential administration to right the many wrongs committed against American jaguars before it is too late. “Secretary Salazar has an opportunity to correct past wrongs done to Macho B and other jaguars by the Bush administration,” said Robinson. The public is invited to bring written expressions of support for protection of critical habitat for jaguars and for development of a long-delayed jaguar recovery plan. These, along with other pleas for the defense of jaguars and the conservation of their wild homelands in the Southwest, can be addressed to the new Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. The public prayers and petitions will be handed to local Fish and Wildlife Service officials at the conclusion of the services. Participants are also encouraged to bring signs to express their regret over the loss of Macho B...

One has to wonder if they are mourning the death of the jaguar, or more likely, the loss of their stalking horse for critical habitat.

These are the same folks who want to bury every public lands rancher in the southwest. Then they'll go after the remnant on private land. They are looking forward to more memorial services.

Humane Society throws its weight behind 'ROAM' Act

The Humane Society of the United States has put its support behind a proposed law change that would restore the 34-year-old ban on the commercial sale and slaughter of American wild horses and burros. HSUS president and chief executive Wayne Pacelle testified before the US National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee Tuesday in support of The Restoring Our American Mustangs Act (HR 1018), introduced by House Natural Resources Committee chairman Nick Rahall and National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee chairman Raul Grijalva. "For more than 30 years, wild horses and burros had been protected from commercial sale and slaughter since the passage of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971," Pacelle said. "Yet, a midnight manoeuvre by former Senator Conrad Burns, (R-Montana) - in which he slipped a controversial rider into an omnibus spending bill - gutted these longstanding protections. HR 1018 removed outdated limits on areas where horses can roam freely, allowing the BLM to find additional, suitable acreage for these animals. Further, it strengthened the BLM's wild horse and burro adoption programme, and required consistency and accuracy in the management of wild horse and burro herds, he said...horsetalk

Federal hogs protect feral hogs

A man from Licking is accused of illegally hunting wild hogs in the Mark Twain National Forest. The U.S. attorney's office says Charles Wade operates a guide service that advertises hunts for wild hogs and other animals. Wade, 66, is charged with violating federal law and U.S. Forest Service regulations regarding feral hogs. Prosecutors say Wade conducted an illegal hog hunt last April in the forest in Texas County. They say it's illegal to conduct work activity in the national forest without a special use permit or other government authorization...KY3 News

Committee says no to Mount St. Helens national park

An advisory committee on the future of Mount St. Helens is recommending that Congress keep the mountain in the hands of the U.S. Forest Service instead of converting it to a national park. The committee's draft recommendations now go out for public comment. Advocates of a national park say the mountain would get more money and visitors if it was run by the National Park Service and was given the marquee status that goes with national park designation. Others worry that access would be restricted if the 108,000-acre Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was converted to a national park, including limiting opportunities for elk hunters and snowmobilers. The 14-member committee, including county and tourism officials, did recommend after meeting last weekend that the Forest Service create campgrounds within the monument boundaries and reopen the Coldwater Ridge vistor center, closed in 2007 for lack of funds, as an overnight destination. The service should also "develop destination resorts in and around the monument," the committee said...The Oregonian

Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition Releases New Report

The Nature Conservancy and 51 national, regional and state land conservation and outdoor recreation groups today released a report which documents the decline of two major federal land conservation programs and the need to restore federal funding to protect America’s public lands. The report, Conserving America’s Landscapes, urges Congress and the Obama Administration to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the premier federal program for buying open space and creating parks, forests, wildlife habitat, and recreation areas across the country. Since its creation in 1965, LWCF funding has been used to safeguard some of America’s most iconic places; including Redwood National Park, Valley Forge National Historical Park, the Appalachian Trail National Scenic Trail, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. In the report, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition recommends full and dedicated funding of $900 million annually for the LWCF federal and state grants programs and an annual allocation of $125 million the Forest Legacy Program...Nature Conservancy

Go here (pdf) to view the report.

I wish I knew how many millions of dollars had passed from the LWCF to the federal agencies and then to the Nature Conservancy. They are clearly lobbying to fund themselves.

The feds currently own one out of every three acres. Why on earth do they need more?

Vilsack Outs a Bad Contractor: Where Do We Find Stan Johnson?

Who is Stan Johnson? That was the mystery in the White House press room on Wednesday morning. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano spoke on behalf of the Obama Administration's new initiative to eliminate waste and abuse from federal contracting. As part of his speech, Vilsack mentioned that he had learned of a USDA contract worth $400,000 that career officials in the department had flagged as "unnecessary." Vilsack was vague, saying only that the contract had come late in the Bush Administration and was likely awarded due to contacts. He added that the contract included questionable international travel. Pressed by reporters for additional information, Vilsack looked to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, as if asking for permission. When Gibbs did not object, Vilsack revealed that the contract had gone to a man named Stan Johnson, a major operator in Iowa who Vilsack, former governor of Iowa, said he knew personally. (One assumes Vilsack will not be invited to the next Johnson family dinner party.) So the question is, who is Stan Johnson and what did he do (or not do) as part of his "unnecessary" federal contract? A little bit of online sleuthing reveals that Johnson is primarily a poobah at Iowa State University, having once headed ISU's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development and the university's extension school...Mother Jones

Watch out for sheep

Pet owners and bicyclists are asked to keep an eye peeled over the next four months for 500 to 1,000 sheep that will be grazing at various locations in the former Fort Ord, an annual chow-down that keeps the critters fed and helps the natural environment in the 2,500-acre area. The woolly animals, who make their home at a Los Banos ranch, are imported each year by the Bureau of Land Management to clear selected areas of weeds, thistle and non-native grasses — a plan that has worked effectively since the BLM received the property in 1996. A chief concern, though, is that speeding bicyclists and unleashed dogs aren't always compatible with large herds of animals...Contra Costa Times

NM state fish back in Rio Grande

New Mexico's state fish, the Rio Grande cutthroat trout, has returned to its namesake river. Dozens of volunteers released 2,000 fish into the Rio Grande on Wednesday after making an arduous trek down steep basalt cliffs to the confluence of the Rio Grande and Red River in northern New Mexico. On their backs, they carried heavy jugs and plastic bags full of the 2- to 3-inch fingerlings. This marked the first time the fish, a candidate for federal endangered species protection, has been released in the upper reaches of the infamous Rio Grande Gorge. "It's a release that's intended to get people interested in the fish, understand its situation and hopefully over time, we'll be able to restore the cutthroat to its native range," said Greg Gustina, a biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the Wild Rivers Recreation Area where the fish were released. Like many other native fish, the Rio Grande cutthroat has all but disappeared from its historic range throughout the Rio Grande basin in New Mexico and Colorado...Hays Daily News

Picacho Fire grows to 5,000 acres

The Picacho fire churning west of Artesia in Chaves County has grown to an estimated 5,000 acres. New Mexico State Forestry is reporting wildland firefighters knocked down much of the fire but were concentrating on one remaining active and dsnagerous area. The crews were making a stand in the path of the flames working to burn out fuels and stop the advance of the fire, a State Forestry spokesman said. He also said firefighters would be on the scene through the night. The fire near Dunken is not threatening any structures, according to State Forestry. No cause has been reported. A Chaves County Fire Department spokesperson said earlier that the fire started shortly after noon and spread to the northeast jumping U. S. Highway 82 near mile marker 59. The fire reduced visibility on the highway bringing out New Mexico State Police officers to control traffic...KRQE

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Supreme Court limits advocacy groups' standing to challenge public lands rules

Advocacy groups cannot challenge federal regulations on public lands unless they can prove they are themselves directly threatened by the proposed rules, the Supreme Court ruled in a split decision today. In a 5-4 ruling, the justices sided with the Bush administration, which argued that environmental groups do not have the standing to sue the Forest Service on land management policies that might contradict congressional action. The Summers v. Earth Island Institute case turned on whether the Forest Service violated the requirements of the 1992 Appeals Reform Act -- a law designed to ensure the agency considers public comment when it writes land and resource management plans -- when it enacted regulations that severely limited the rights of notice, appeals and public comment on certain projects that it deems to have little environmental impact. The majority sided with the Bush administration, finding that groups or individuals can challenge regulations in court only if they can show that they will be directly harmed by specific actions resulting from the regulations. "Except when necessary in the execution of that function, courts have no charter to review and revise legislative and executive action," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the opinion, referring to what he called the court's traditional role of preventing personal injury resulting from a legal violation. Because of this role, which Scalia called a "fundamental limitation," the burden of proof is on the groups or individuals seeking redress, Scalia said. Environmental groups had argued that they were personally affected because they were denied the chance to comment on certain Forest Service proposals, but Scalia said they did not show "concrete interest" and so failed to sufficiently prove direct and explicit harm. "The regulations under challenge here neither require nor forbid any action on the part of respondents," the decision says. "The standards and procedures that they prescribe for Forest Service appeals govern only the conduct of Forest Service officials engaged in project planning."...NY Times




Web-accessible at:

Argued: October 8, 2008 -- Decided: March 3, 2009 Opinion author: Scalia ===============================================================

After the U. S. Forest Service approved the Burnt Ridge Project, a salvage sale of timber on 238 acres of fire-damaged federal land, respondent environmentalist organizations filed suit to enjoin the Service from applying its regulations exempting such small sales from the notice, comment, and appeal process it uses for more significant land management decisions, and to challenge other regulations that did not apply to Burnt Ridge. The District Court granted a preliminary injunction against the sale, and the parties then settled their dispute as to Burnt Ridge. Although concluding that the sale was no longer at issue, and despite the Government's argument that respondents therefore lacked standing to challenge the regulations, the court nevertheless proceeded to adjudicate the merits of their challenges, invalidating several regulations, including the notice and comment and the appeal provisions. Among its rulings, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the determination that the latter regulations, which were applicable to Burnt Ridge, were contrary to law, but held that challenges to other regulations not at issue in that project were not ripe for adjudication.

Held: Respondents lack standing to challenge the regulations still at issue absent a live dispute over a concrete application of those regulations. Pp. 4-12.

(a) In limiting the judicial power to "Cases" and "Controversies,"
Article III restricts it to redressing or preventing actual or imminently threatened injury to persons caused by violation of law. See, e.g., Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U. S. 555 . The standing doctrine reflects this fundamental limitation, requiring that "the plaintiff ... 'alleg[e] such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy'as to warrant his invocation of federal-court jurisdiction," Warth v. Seldin, 422 U. S. 490 . Here, respondents can demonstrate standing only if application of the regulations will affect them in such a manner. Pp. 4-5.

(b) As organizations, respondents can assert their members' standing. Harm to their members' recreational, or even their mere esthetic, interests in the National Forests will suffice to establish the requisite concrete and particularized injury, see Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U. S. 727 , but generalized harm to the forest or the environment will not alone suffice. Respondents have identified no application of the invalidated regulations that threatens imminent and concrete harm to their members' interests. Respondents' argument that they have standing based on Burnt Ridge fails because, after voluntarily settling the portion of their lawsuit relevant to Burnt Ridge, respondents and their members are no longer under threat of injury from that project. The remaining affidavit submitted in support of standing fails to establish that any member has concrete plans to visit a site where the challenged regulations are being applied in a manner that will harm that member's concrete interests. Additional affidavits purporting to establish standing were submitted after judgment had already been entered and notice of appeal filed, and are thus untimely. Pp. 5-8.

(c) Respondents' argument that they have standing because they have suffered procedural injury--i.e., they have been denied the ability to file comments on some Forest Service actions and will continue to be so denied--fails because such a deprivation without some concrete interest affected thereby is insufficient to create Article III standing. See, e.g., Defenders of Wildlife, supra, at 572, n. 7. Pp. 8-9.

(d) The dissent's objections are addressed and rejected. Pp. 9-12.

490 F. 3d 687, reversed in part and affirmed in part.

Scalia, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito, JJ., joined. Kennedy, J., filed a concurring opinion. Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens, Souter, and Ginsburg, JJ., joined.

Obama Signs Memo Putting on Hold Bush Rule on Endangered Species

President Barack Obama announced plans Tuesday to resume full scientific reviews of projects that might harm endangered wildlife and plants. The president signed a memorandum putting on hold a Bush administration regulation allowing agencies to avoid scientific reviews in endangered species decisions. During a visit to the Interior Department, Obama said the review process had been undermined by past administrations. "For more than three decades, the Endangered Species Act has successfully protected our nation's most threatened wildlife. We should be looking for ways to improve it, not weaken it," Obama said. Obama's action puts the Bush regulation on hold until the Interior and Commerce departments complete a review. While on the campaign trail, Obama said he would fight to maintain the protections of the Endangered Species Act and work to undo what was then a proposal by the Bush administration. The rule, finalized in December, made optional the mandatory, independent consultations federal scientists have performed for 35 years on projects. The reviews have been blamed by developers and federal agencies for delays and cost increases...CNS News

Here's the full memo:

The White House, March 3, 2009


SUBJECT: The Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., reflects one of the Nation's profound commitments. Pursuant to that Act, the Federal Government has long required a process of broad interagency consultation to ensure the application of scientific and technical expertise to decisions that may affect threatened or endangered species.

Under that interagency process, executive departments and agencies (agencies) contemplating an action that may affect endangered or threatened species have long been required, except in certain limited circumstances, to consult with, and in some circumstances obtain the prior written concurrence of, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and/or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) -- the expert agencies that have the primary responsibility to ensure that the ESA is implemented in accordance with the law.

On December 16, 2008, the Departments of the Interior and Commerce issued a joint regulation that modified these longstanding requirements. See 73 Fed. Reg. 76272. This new regulation expands the circumstances in which an agency may determine not to consult with, or obtain the written concurrence of, the FWS or NMFS prior to undertaking an action that may affect threatened or endangered species. But under the new regulation, agencies may continue the previous practice of consulting with, and obtaining the written concurrence of, the FWS and NMFS as a matter of discretion.

I hereby request the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce to review the regulation issued on December 16, 2008, and to determine whether to undertake new rulemaking procedures with respect to consultative and concurrence processes that will promote the purposes of the ESA. Until such review is completed, I request the heads of all agencies to exercise their discretion, under the new regulation, to follow the prior longstanding consultation and concurrence practices involving the FWS and NMFS.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person. Agencies shall carry out the provisions of this memorandum to the extent permitted by law and consistent with statutory authorities. The Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.


Aquatic Animal Farts Contribute to Global Warming

Scientists at the Max Planck Institut and Denmark's Aarhus University found that mussels, freshwater snails and other underwater creatures release nitrous oxide -- laughing gas -- when nitrate is present in water. "There's nitrate in water that has been polluted by humans, so the more we pollute, the higher the production of this problematic gas will be," Fanni Aspetsberger from the institute told AFP on Tuesday. Aspetsberger added that no quantitative data were available, but that it could be "seriously detrimental" to the climate if nitrate pollution continues to rise the way it has over recent years. Laughing gas is one of many greenhouse gasses that has been released into the atmosphere since industrialisation...AFP

I guess laughing gas is no laughing matter.

Geez, two years ago it was dog farts and we can now all mitigate against cat farts. Of course, there's also the moose emissions of CO2...Thanks to Dakota Voice for the links and for bringing this terrible situation to our attention.

And I foolishly thought our only problem was soft toilet paper.

GAO: Mixed results to come from Forest Service move to DOI

Moving the US Forest Service into the US Department of the Interior could potentially create long-term benefits and short-term problems, the Government Accountability Office said in a Feb. 24 report. GAO said according to many agency officials and experts, where the mission of the Forest Service, which now is part of the US Department of Agriculture, is aligned with those of DOI agencies (in particular, its multiple use missions which is comparable to that of the US Bureau of Land Management), a move could increase some of the agencies' programs and policies overall effectiveness. "Conversely, most agency officials and experts GAO interview believed that few short-term efficiencies would be realized from such a move, although a number said opportunities would be created for potential long-term efficiencies," GAO's report continued...Oil & Gas Journal

Bob Burford, Director of the BLM in the 80's, had a proposal to just have the BLM & Forest Service swap land jurisdiction where it made budgetary and administrative sense. For instance, in northern Idaho where most of the land was owned by the FS, they would manage the BLM lands and vice versa in the south. Why have a BLM office & a FS office in the same town or area?

The proposal made sense so naturally it went nowhere.

ND Man fined $10,000 for violating easement

A Lawton, N.D., man convicted of draining wetlands on his property was smacked with a $10,000 fine and five years of probation in federal court Tuesday. It's the second time Alvin Peterson, 78, has been sentenced for such an offense. Peterson hired a contractor build ditches to drain protected prairie potholes in July 2007 on the land he'd farmed for decades, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in North Dakota. In November 2008, Peterson was found guilty of two misdemeanor counts of improper drainage of wetlands. Peterson's attorney Tami Norgard argued Tuesday that her client has opposed the wetland easement since it was first established on his property in 1966, when his now-deceased father -- and then-owner of the farm -- signed a contract with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Prosecutor Cameron Hayden agreed on no jail time, but recommended 10 years of probation and the maximum fine of $10,000, saying Peterson "egregiously violated" the terms of the easement for a second time. U.S. Magistrate Judge Alice Senechal ordered Peterson to pay a $10,000 fine, serve five years probation and cover the government's cost to hire a contractor to restore the wetlands he drained. Roughly 30,000 landowners have about 900,000 acres in the easement program which works to protect wetlands in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and Iowa, Jones

BLM whittles away Oregon land debt dating to 1859

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management calls it a birthday present from Uncle Sam to Oregon to help mark its 150th year as a state. The BLM has transferred a 640-acre parcel of juniper- and sagebrush-covered land south of Prineville to the state of Oregon. The Juniper Canyon parcel is the latest transfer between the federal government and the state since a 1991 federal court ruling that the BLM owed Oregon about 5,200 acres of land the state should have received back in 1859. Oregon Department of State Lands officials says the BLM has now transferred about 3,600 acres to the state — leaving only about 1,600 acres to go...AP...

That's not too bad. Just 150 years since they became a state and only 18 years since a court mandated the transfer.

Ranchers give wildlife a helping hand

Eastern Oregon critters are getting a lift this spring from ranchers who graze cattle on public land allotments. Worried that thirsty birds and small mammals fall into cattle watering troughs, get stuck and drown, biologists with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife came up with a quick, simple solution: a metal ramp that helps the animals get out of the trough. Officials haven't done a mortality count from ranch watering troughs. But in a land where the sage-grouse populations are vulnerable, every loss is critical, they say. The installation of water trough ramps was a priority for the Baker County Sage-grouse Working Group, which saw the trough problem affecting populations of bats, birds and small mammals in the Blue Mountain ecoregion. Money from the Upland Game Bird Stamp built 120 ramps, and ranchers are installing them this spring...The Oregonian

Economy sours West's wild horse adoption market

When the U.S. Bureau of Land Management put more than 450 wild horses and burros up for adoption here last month, the dirt parking lot was filled with cars and trucks — but very few horse trailers. While wild horses still draw curious onlookers, the market for adopting them in Utah and across the West has cooled dramatically. In 2002, more than 7,700 were adopted nationwide. Last year, as part of a steady decline, it was 3,700. And so far this fiscal year, which started Oct. 1, only 713 have been adopted, according to BLM figures. It's a discouraging development for an agency that relies on adoptions to help keep wild populations in check and is out of room at long-term holding facilities for unadopted horses. Each year, government agents take thousands of horses and burros off the range and put them up for adoption. More than 220,000 have been adopted since 1971. But these days, even at rock-bottom prices — $125 each and $25 more for a "buddy" — the agency is struggling to find buyers. Feed costs aren't the only reason. There is also the rising price of fuel and the falling price for domesticated horses on the market, driven in part by the closure of the nation's horse slaughterhouses...

Investigators struggle with horse slaughter law

The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act prohibits the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption and for other purposes. Not everyone sees the after affects of the Horse Slaughter Law like we do,” explained Andrea Soliz, director of the Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society. “Most people, who invest in livestock, invest in them for work purposes. When an animal could no longer work, they were usually sent to the slaughter house. Now there’s nowhere to send them. “They’re put out to pasture . . . That’s not a good thing if you’re an old horse that doesn’t have any teeth.” With the Horse Slaughter Ban, Soliz and Steele are receiving more calls. Soliz, shaking her head, said, “What baffles us is how can you let things get in this condition?” In the past, when a working animal could not do its job, it was sent to the slaughter house to be humanely killed. What the Horse Slaughter Ban has done, especially in western states like Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, is to perpetuate unwanted horses. Many horse owners cannot afford the $600 fee to euthanize an animal, and then pay someone to haul off the carcass. Owners are resorting to putting these equines out to pasture, where there may not be good grass until a rain. Steele sees horses that have been dumped on the highway. Some horses have been let loose on ranches without the rancher knowing they were there, until he was investigated for neglect. Steele advised, “(Landowners) need to understand they become the responsible party.” journal

Roper celebrates turning 80 in the arena

Wind, rain, age and being blind did not stop Leonard Alexander from roping on Feb. 22 at his 80th birthday celebration held at Tony and Karen Cain’s ranch in Canebrake. It was an open roping event to honor Alexander’s many years of loving this sport. Among the nearly one hundred people that gathered at the roping arena to celebrate with Alexander were members of the Tipton, Alexander, Larsen, Carver, Andreas, Rhoads, Crowder, Kleidon, Scott, Lucher, Vanrensselaer, and Hafenfeld families; all having as Alexander does, very deep roots in the Kern River Valley. Alexander roping off his faithful horse named “Rose” teamed up with Tony Cain; Alexander took the head and Cain the heels with a time of 14.02. Wondering how a blind man knows when to throw his rope, Alexander said, “Rose knows where I need to be and I know by the feel of the rope if I get to dally.” Then he added, “ And besides I have my many roper friends watching and when I get one, they yell, “You caught him.” This life long love did not always fall under the title of a hobby; Alexander began roping cattle at a very young age. When he was six years old he attended cattle drives with many of the valley ranchers when they moved the cattle from the desert floor to the high country, long before there were any roads leading to their camp. Alexander’s experience began with his uncle, Jim Robertson and Will Alexander when they ran cattle on Walkers Pass in the winter and spring, and Marvin Powers and Stanley Smith when they ran their cattle in Indian Wells and Grapevine Canyon...Kern Valley Sun

'Shovels hit the ground' on stimulus project, Obama says

President Obama said Tuesday that the country already is "seeing shovels hit the ground" on the first infrastructure repair project funded through the Transportation Department's share of the $787 billion stimulus bill...CNN

Nope, it ain't shovels hitting the ground. Rex Barron gets it right in this cartoon:

Looks like donkey dung and elephant excrement to me.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Two more Coloradans at Interior?

It’s probably not a surprise that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar would look to familiar faces as he fills out appointments at the Department of Interior. Al Kamen at the Washington Post is reporting that Mike King, deputy director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and former state assistant attorney general may become director of the Bureau of Land Management. Also, he writes that Anne Castle, a Denver lawyer specializing in water issues may become assistant secretary for water and science. Those folks would join Tom Strickland, former U.S. attorney for Colorado, who is now Salazar’s chief of staff. Strickland also has been nominated by President Obama to be assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks in the Interior Department...Denver Post

Judge rules in southwest Idaho grazing case

A federal judge has directed the Bureau of Land Management to rethink the way it manages grazing across thousands of acres of southern Idaho, especially the impact livestock have on sage grouse and other threatened species. But Thursday's decision by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill falls far short of the all-out ban on grazing sought by conservationists on 625,000 acres of the so-called Jarbidge Resource Area, which stretches across southwestern Idaho and Nevada's northeast corner. The ruling stems from motions filed last year by the Western Watershed Project, a Hailey-based group that has battled for decades to roll back cattle grazing across Idaho and other western states. Western Watersheds asked the court to ban grazing on 36 allotments, none of which suffered any damage during the Murphy Complex fire in 2007. Ignited by lightning, that wildfire burned for three weeks and became the largest single fire ever fought by the Idaho BLM at nearly 1,000 square miles, leaving dead wildlife and cattle and scorched prime habitat for sage grouse. Winmill denied the outright ban and a handful of other motions sought by the group to curtail grazing. But he concluded that grazing is a key factor in the decline of species like the sage grouse, pygmy rabbit and slickspot peppergrass, and that the agency must give more consideration in the future to the impact grazing has on those species and their habitat....AP

James Hansen's Political Science

Speaking before Bill Clinton's Global Initiative in New York City last Nov. 2, Gore advocated the concept of civil disobedience to fight climate change. "I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration," Gore said to loud applause. Following Gore's lead, a group called Capitol Climate Action organized a protest that took place Monday at the 99-year-old Capitol Power Plant in southeast Washington, D.C. Its Web site invited fellow warm-mongers to "mass civil disobedience at the coal-fired" plant that heats and cools the hallowed halls of Congress. The site features Gore's quote as well as a video by Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a leading global-warming activist, urging attendance at the event. Hansen has called such coal-fired facilities "factories of death" and considers climate-change skeptics guilty of "high crimes against humanity and nature." Despite Dr. Hansen's hysterical animus toward carbon, the fact is that CO2 is still a mere 0.038% of the gaseous layer that surrounds the Earth, and only 3% of that thin slice is released by man. According to Dr. William Happer, a professor of physics at Princeton University, current atmospheric CO2 levels are inadequate in historical terms and even higher levels "will be good for mankind." Happer, who was fired by Gore at the Department of Energy in 1993 for disagreeing with the vice president on the effects of ozone to humans and plant life, disagrees with both Gore and Hansen on the issue of the impact of man-made carbon emissions. He testified before the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) on Feb. 25 that CO2 levels are in fact at a historical low. "Many people don't realize that over geological time, we're really in a CO2 famine now. Almost never has CO2 . . . been as low as it has been in the Holocene (geologic epoch) — 280 (parts per million) — that's unheard of," said Happer. He notes the earth and humanity did just fine when CO2 levels were much higher...IBD

Soft Toilet Paper: Mankind’s Doom?

The tenderness of the delicate American buttock is causing more environmental devastation than the country's love of gas-guzzling cars, fast food or McMansions, according to green campaigners. At fault, they say, is the US public's insistence on extra-soft, quilted and multi-ply products when they use the bathroom. "This is a product that we use for less than three seconds and the ecological consequences of manufacturing it from trees is enormous," said Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defence Council. "Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age. Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution."...The Guardian

And yet, As Ryan Young points out here, while our population has tripled in the last century, the amount of forested land has remained stable at 32%.

Doesn't look like ecological disaster to me, so keep those soft babies coming.

BLM says Pickens deal for wild horses flawed

An offer from the wife of Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens to establish a sanctuary for 30,000 wild horses is "problematic" and not viable as proposed, a federal land management official said Monday. Nonetheless, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is willing to continue talks with Madeleine Pickens, said Ron Wenker, the agency's state director for Nevada. Wenker, who recently served two months as acting national BLM director, said there are two problems with Pickens' offer. One is the $500 per head, per year — or $15 million annually for 30,000 horses — she was asking to take the animals now in long-term holding facilities off the government's hands. Pickens last week told The Associated Press the stipend would used to finance a nonprofit foundation that would care for the animals. "You've got to get some kind of break from the government," she said. "We need help from them." The other problem with Pickens' proposal, Wenker said, involves use of public lands. He said government land Pickens has considered for the sanctuary is ineligible because federal law restricts horses to areas where they existed when the Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act was enacted nearly four decades ago. "Because the BLM grazing allotments under consideration by your foundation did not have wild horse herds in 1971, wild horses cannot now be placed there," Wenker wrote to Pickens in a Feb. 20 letter obtained by the AP. "At this point, two options seem most plausible," Wenker wrote. "The BLM could contract with your foundation to care for wild horses strictly on private land. Alternatively, your foundation could own and care for the horses without compensation from the BLM, as you first proposed."...AP

Measure favors mineral rights over surface rights

Kennecott soon could strengthen its mining claims in the Oquirrh Mountains under a bill that bestows broader power on the company to grow its mine and places the interests of prospectors above those of homeowners, hikers and horeseback riders. The copper giant insists the measure -- sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse -- simply puts the mine's existing rights into writing and ensures its long-term success. "We want to feel confident that the money we are investing in operations will allow us to continue mining into the future," spokesman Kyle Bennett said. But Salt Lake County leaders warn that SB68 would diminish government regulation, shrink private-property rights and weaken the county's power to police nuisance complaints. So what, exactly, would the legislation do? It would make mineral rights dominant over surface rights. That means landowners would have to let a mining company such as Kennecott search beneath their soil for ore, allowing them access to the property and "reasonable use" of the surface if the mine chooses to extract those minerals. The bill isn't breaking new ground on this point, according to mining-law attorney Daniel Jensen. Mineral rights already rule in the courts. But the provision comes months after a turf battle in which the state's most-populous county fought unsuccessfully to keep Kennecott from prospecting on an open-space preserve in the Oquirrh Mountains. County officials fear SB68 would chip away at surface owners' remaining rights. Among their concerns: The bill includes no provision for compensating landowners for damage to their property...Salt Lake Tribune

Law school's enviro conference

The University of Oregon Law School’s annual Public Interest Environmental Law Clinic (PIELC), more commonly known as E-LAW, is the nation’s and world’s premier gathering of Environmental attorneys, law students, policy wonks, Indigenous activists and eco-activists. Planned and conducted by a new group of Law students each year, this one-of-a-kind gathering held its 27th annual at the plush NIKE, er Knight, Law School building at the U of O the last weekend of February. The hallways of the Law School are lined with tables full of literature from a wide range of activist groups. The next door Native Longhouse is the site of many discussions of what is going on on Native Lands and to Native peoples worldwide. Established by visionary eco-lawyers and professors John Bonine and Mike Axline, E-LAW is always the place for some though-provoking panel discussions and plenary keynote speeches...Then there was the time that Earth First! co-founder Dave Foreman got an entire crowed of DC policy wonks, government factotums, attorneys, would-be attorneys and crusty activists to join him in a spirited wolf howl...Saturday night, the definitely not-sanctioned by PIELC, Outlaw Party is held by local Earth First!ers. Local musicians play for a crowd of all ages - outside with the traditional bonfire. Even some of the DC crowd attends. Often, huge effigies of bulldozers, oil derricks, etc. are burned to the delight of the crowd...counterpunch

Debate over economic stimulus priorities hits Park Service

The economic stimulus package sent $750 million to the National Park Service -- and is sparking debate over the agency's priorities. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $15 million for historic preservation, $146 million for deferred maintenance and "critical repair and rehabilitation projects," and $589 million for replacing facilities and equipment and cleaning abandoned mine sites, among other things. But the law does not mention "natural resources," and that has some worried that the stimulus will be repairing park roads, rebuilding visitors centers and shoring up campgrounds. That would leave nothing for restoring wildlife habitat, tracking wildlife populations or battling invasive species. Rita Beard, an invasive species expert at the service, said that while the agency has a backlog of infrastructure problems to address, natural resource infrastructure must be shored up, as well...NY Times

Feted as hot new resort, Idaho's Tamarack goes bust

Tamarack Resort in central Idaho billed itself as the first new destination ski resort in a quarter century when its first customers climbed aboard lifts in December 2004. Four years later, the resort operation, including lodging, is shutting down Wednesday, leaving owners of resort real estate once worth millions fearing the worst. Factors dooming Tamarack, at least for now, include a spending spree by French owner Jean-Pierre Boespflug that drained a $250 million construction loan, tight credit markets, collapsing resort real estate demand, foreclosure litigation and $20 million in unpaid construction bills. Mom-and-pop ski areas come and go, the victims of fickle weather and fickle finances. Where there were once more than 800 such U.S. resorts, there are now about 475. Still, to find a failed Western resort approaching Tamarack's size and aspirations, Michael Berry, president of the National Ski Areas Association, can recall only the 1974 demise of Stagecoach Ski Area, about 20 minutes from Colorado's Steamboat Springs...Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Wild turkey crashes through window at school

A fifth-grade class received an unexpected visitor today. Around noon today a wild turkey crashed into the window of a fifth-grade classroom at the Our Lady of Lourdes School, said school principal Carol Polito. "He literally flew through the window right from the outside. Thank God nobody was injured,” she said. “I think it’s just amazing that not only did the bird come flying through, but the noise it made; it was a very, very loud noise.” Technology Teacher Josh Marris was able to coax and walk the turkey outside of the building. He said the turkey didn’t appear to be hurt, although he did see red on the stairwell when he was taking the bird outside. “I heard the smash, the fifth-graders screamed,” he said. “They went screaming down the hall, some of them were holding the door shut." He then went in the room and began the process of coaxing the bird out. “We’ll remember this one for a very long time,” Polito said. The Observer-Dispatch.

I took some Wild Turkey to school once, and I crashed too.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Attempt to move Forest Service could spark turf war

In what eventually could become a major bureaucratic turf war, there have been stirrings on Capitol Hill about moving the U.S. Forest Service from the Agriculture to the Interior Department. For more than a century, the Forest Service, which manages the federal forests, has been part of the Agriculture Department, while the nation's three other public lands agencies - the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service - have been at Interior. Backers of the switch say it makes sense because the agencies face such similar problems as climate change, wildfires and the pressures of urbanization. Critics say the move wouldn't save much money, at least initially, and it could leave the Forest Service more vulnerable to political pressure. "We believe there is a need to approach these things innovatively - to think outside the box," Robin Nazzaro, director of natural resources and environment for the Government Accountability Office, said in an interview. "This is one option. This is the beginning of the debate on how to position ourselves to meet these challenges." Nazzaro was among those who testified last week before the House Appropriations Committee's interior subcommittee about moving the Forest Service to Interior. The committee controls the purse strings for the Forest Service, even though it is part of Agriculture, and the Interior Department...Kansas City Star

Mineral rights showdown at Badlands ranch

A Montana man who wants to mine gravel on the Badlands ranch where Theodore Roosevelt once ran his cattle is comparing his dispute with the U.S. Forest Service to an Old West stare-down. He says he won't blink. "If they want me out of the picture, pay me $2.5 million and I'll go back to Montana and they'll never here from me again," Roger Lothspeich said. "Or I'm going to mine that ranch for decades and decades to come." Lothspeich, 50, of Miles City, Mont., claims he owns half the mineral and gravel rights beneath the 5,200-acre ranch in western North Dakota. He said his portion of the subsurface rights represents about $10 million in high-grade gravel that can be sold to the government and oil companies for road building. The Forest Service purchased the ranch, next to Theodore Roosevelt's Elkhorn Ranch site, from brothers Kenneth, Allan and Dennis Eberts and their families in 2007. It cost $5.3 million, with $4.8 million coming from the federal government and $500,000 from conservation groups. The purchase did not include mineral rights. The Ebertses had bought the ranch and half the mineral rights from the Connell family in 1993 for $800,000. Lothspeich, who grew up near the ranch before moving to Montana, bought the other half of the mineral rights about a year ago, knowing the government had not obtained them in the Eberts deal. Byron Connell, of Scottsbluff, Neb., said the Forest Service never gave him a formal offer for the mineral rights. "They had a middle man call me and he offered some ridiculous price," Connell said. "After that, I never heard from them again." Connell calls it a joke and says it's typical of government. "Nobody did their homework on this," Connell said. "Now, everybody is ducking and diving at the Forest Service and trying to save face."...AP