Friday, July 10, 2009

Federal Court Hearing Update - NEPA & CEs

From: Caren
Sent: Friday, July 10, 2009 4:22 PM
Subject: Federal Court Hearing Update

Yesterday (7.9.09) the lawsuit filed by the WildEarth Guardians against the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) challenging the use of categorical exclusions (CEs) to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for permit renewal was heard in Federal District Court in Albuquerque. The case included a request for an injunction to remove grazing if the WildEarth Guardians prevail in their claim that the USFS abused the NEPA process in the use of the CEs.

While it appeared that the Judge has a good grasp of the fact that Congress has repeated provided safety for allotment owners whose allotments have not received NEPA analysis in a timely fashion, there is no ruling expected on the case until August or September.

In a departure from the original suit and its’ opening briefs, the WildEarth Guardians focused their argument on potential harm of grazing on the reintroduced Mexican wolves. The USFS attorney did a good job of pointing this out, as well as defending the process used by the agency to renew term grazing permits with CEs.

Interveners in the case were the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association and the Arizona/New Mexico Coalition of Counties. Their attorney Karen Budd-Falen did an excellent job of pointing out the harm that could come to the allotment owners, many of them in the court room, if the WildEarth Guardians prevailed on the suit and its’ requested injunction.

Special thanks to all the folks who attended the hearing from Catron, Sierra, Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, Lincoln, and Valencia counties!

Ann Mills appointed as USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Natural Resources & Environment

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the appointment of Ann Mills as USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment (NRE). In this position, Mills will have responsibility for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the federal agency with primary responsibility for working with private landowners in conserving, maintaining and improving their natural resources. The NRE mission area includes NRCS and the U.S. Forest Service, which manages 193 million acres of National Forest System lands and provides assistance to the more than 10 million family-forest landowners in this country. Most recently, as a senior executive at American Rivers - the nation's leading river conservation organization - Mills directed day-to-day operations, led the expansion of regional offices and directed a team of senior policy staff. She led the implementation of programs to develop sustainable solutions for flood and drought mitigation and water quality improvement across the country including urban and rural watersheds in Northern California's Sierras and Bay Delta; the Columbia, Missouri and Mississippi river basins; the Great Lakes; and the Chesapeake Bay...Press Release

G-8 leaders set broad goals to reduce global warming

President Obama and leaders of seven other world economic powers agreed Wednesday to broad goals for reducing global warming, but they stopped well short of measures that environmentalists call critical to stopping the problem and also failed to get developing nations such as China and India to go along. The Group of Eight industrial democracies agreed to a statement setting the goal of holding global warming to an increase of 2 degrees Celsius — 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit — by 2020, as measured since the dawn of the industrial age in 1900. They also set a long-range target of cutting emissions of greenhouse gases that cause warming by 50 percent worldwide and by 80 percent among industrialized nations by 2050. Obama and the other leaders, however, didn't discuss prominent proposals urging a timetable for quicker emission cuts by 2020...McClatchy

Senate Ag Panel's Members Look to Stake Major Claim in Climate Bill

Powerful members of the Senate Agriculture Committee are angling to include even more farm and ethanol-friendly provisions to their chamber's energy and climate legislation than the House added to its bill last month. Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and other members of his panel say they want to ensure any effort at wide-ranging climate legislation in the Senate will include all of the provisions that House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) brokered for the House cap-and-trade bill, H.R. 2454 (pdf). With the hard-fought Peterson deal as their starting point, the farm state lawmakers could have leverage to capture additional benefits for farmers and ranchers. As Senate leadership aims to advance the bill this fall, agricultural interests could form a formidable coalition. Several key fence-sitters on the bill sit on the Agriculture Committee, and farm interests have wide appeal in the Senate. Each senator has some farm interests in his or her state -- unlike the House, which has more representatives from urban and suburban areas...NYTimes

Official supports rights to wind

Coloradans used to owning their homes, but not necessarily the water and mineral rights associated with them, may have another commodity to call their own in the future. State Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, has asked the nonpartisan staff at the Capitol to help research a measure that would create a "wind right." The bill would be introduced when lawmakers return to work in January. "By creating a new wind right in Colorado, we'll give people a new private property; . . . an economically viable opportunity to sell some of their property and promote the environment by developing that wind right into wind energy," Gardner said. Gardner said some lawyers on the Eastern Plains are drawing up contracts between developers and some ranchers and farm owners to lease land for wind energy, but they have concerns over whether state courts would recognize the deals. Some environmentalists are hesitant to embrace the idea, which is being discussed in Texas, California, Montana and South Dakota. They ask whether the state wants to add wind to historically contentious legal fights over such things as water and mineral rights...DenverPost

Livestock groups denounce "cash-for-grass" offer

State and national livestock groups are denouncing an effort by wildlife groups to pay ranchers not to graze cattle on the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. The World Wildlife Fund and National Wildlife Federation have set aside between $300,000 and $600,000 to buy out grazing rights. The groups say they want to end conflict between nesting birds and elk and foraging cattle. The Montana Stockgrowers Association, the Montana Association of Grazing Districts and both the Montana and National Public Lands Council on Thursday call the grazing buyout effort "a giant step backward in finding ways for agriculture and wildlife groups to work together." The livestock groups argue that sage grouse and elk can live in harmony with grazing cattle. Errol Rice, executive vice president of the MSGA, says a better solution would be to seek balance between conservation and producer needs. AP

States ready for first open wolf hunts

Montana and Idaho are moving to host the first open gray wolf hunts in the lower 48 states after the animal's removal from the endangered list across much of the Northern Rockies. Montana wildlife commissioners voted Wednesday to let hunters throughout the state shoot 75 wolves, or 15 percent of Montana's population, beginning in mid-September. In Idaho, commissioners meet later this month to set their quota. A prior plan called for hunting almost 250 wolves. Legal challenges to the hunts are certain as environmentalists argue wolves could again be driven toward extinction. Experts, however, said wiping out wolves would be difficult. And state wildlife managers said the quotas are crucial to keep the fast-breeding predators in check and limit attacks on domestic sheep and calves. Government wildlife agents and ranchers protecting livestock killed 264 wolves in the Northern Rockies in 2008, including 21 entire packs, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service...AP

Hunters, ranchers, farmers fed up with mountain lion laws

A revolt is brewing on the rangelands of San Benito and Monterey counties over state game laws that protect mountain lions. Hunters, ranchers and farmers appear to be fed up with what they see as depredations on deer and livestock by an out-of-control mountain lion population. They are resentful of regulations they say were imposed on them by big-city voters who never saw one of the big cats outside of a television program or a zoo, and distrustful of state Department of Fish and Game enforcement. And they seem to be waging their own guerrilla warfare against the specially protected predators in the Gabilan range. Wednesday, the San Benito County Fish and Game Advisory Commission held a public forum in Hollister on mountain lions. Officials from neighboring counties, state legislators' aides and mountain lion supporters attended to talk about the issue. San Benito County has asked the state to survey the area's mountain lion population to determine what farmers and ranchers are dealing with, said Supervisor Anthony Botelho. He said his constituents are seeing evidence of a greatly increased lion presence and worry about being prosecuted if they can't justify shooting a mountain lion on their property to an investigating game warden...TheHerald

Leaders Seek to Finish Trade Deal by 2010

Leaders of rich and developing nations want to finish a long-delayed world trade deal in 2010 and head off trade wars that could hit world economies as they struggle to emerge from the recession, according to a draft of a joint declaration obtained by the Associated Press. Completing the so-called Doha round of talks has risen up the agenda due to fears that the economic crisis will lead to an upsurge in protectionist policies like the ones that helped cause the Great Depression of the 1930s. The global trade talks, which were initially to conclude in 2004, have been beset by difficulties and at a standstill for months. A deal would cut goods tariffs and subsidies around the world. The leaders asked trade ministers to meet prior to the Group of 20 meeting of developing and rich countries in September in Pittsburgh, according to the draft. The final document is to be released later in the day...WSJ

First big fencing job was on the Laureles

Before barbed wire — what cowboys called Texas silk — Mifflin Kenedy built a 36-mile fence of pine boards and cypress posts. Kenedy’s fence stretched across a peninsula, from the Oso to Laureles Creek, which closed the Laureles Ranch in 1868. Capt. Andrew Anderson recalled that when the fence was being built, he hauled “a million feet of lumber” to the Laureles aboard the schooner Flour Bluff. Isom H. Thomas, caporal of Laureles, said Kenedy took a lively interest as the fence went up. “He would look down a long line and if he saw the slightest deviation from a straight line, the kink had to be straightened out before he would pass it.” A year later, Kenedy’s friend and former partner Richard King began to fence King Ranch. Like Kenedy, he used planks and cypress posts treated with creosote. Within three years, by 1874, King had 70,000 acres fenced. The Coleman, Mathis and Fulton Pasture Co. began fencing in 1871. One fence was north of Fulton and one stretched from Puerto Bay to Corpus Christi Bay. After a bad drought and severe winter in 1873, ranchers in South Texas lost thousands of head of cattle. They starved and froze to death, helped along by their weakened condition. Mifflin Kenedy, with his grass protected on the fenced-in Laureles, didn’t lose a single head. Other cattlemen took notice. The following year, patents for barbed wire and a machine for making it were granted to Joseph Farwell Glidden of De Kalb, Ill. Barbed-wire fences soon stretched across the land. But not in South Texas. Ranchers distrusted anything from the North; barbed wire had another strike against it, being invented by an Illinois farmer. They also feared the “thorny wire” would wound cattle and give entry to the deadly screw worm. So barbed wire was slow to catch on in South Texas...Caller-Times

"Rambo" author has new novel based on Marfa lights

The author whose first book sparked the "Rambo" phenomenon is releasing his 30th novel today. David Morrell, a former University of Iowa English professor, says his new work of fiction, "The Shimmer," is based on the real-life mystery of bright colorful lights that are seen near the tiny town of Marfa, Texas. Morrell says there are reports of the unexplained lights dating back to 1889 when a rancher first spotted them darting in the darkness. "He saw the lights and he thought they were campfires from marauders from Mexico," Morrell says. "The problem is, campfires don't move around and don't go up and down, go sideways and change colors. He was terrified enough that he and the ranch hands got out their rifles and guarded the cattle and then the next morning, they went out to look but they found nothing." The basis for the original Rambo movie was Morrell's first book, "First Blood," which was published in 1972, when Morrell was in his second of 18 years of teaching English at the U-of-I. Morrell is now 66 and lives in New Mexico. He has more than 18-million copies of his books in print in 26 languages...RadioIowaNews

Horse logger/poet Dufour launches new book

Most folks know Lorne Dufour best as a horse logger, or maybe as a poet. He’s spent a lifetime in the woods, raising his family there and using his big teams of Clydesdale horses to harvest trees gently and carefully from the land, working with the forces of nature to make a living in a slowed down manner. Lorne is a great storyteller. He has written about his experiences over the last 35 years in both prose and verse, publishing two books of poetry describing his big beautiful horses and backwoods lifestyle. Spit On Wishes came out first in 1983, then Starting From Promise in 2001. He has also published a number of other poems and articles in anthologies like Lived Experience - A Journal From the Mountains of BC, and regularly posts his work on the bulletin board in the Gecko Tree Restaurant for all to see. This month Lorne is set to launch his latest book, Jacob’s Prayer, published by Caitlin Press of Halfmoon Bay. Here Lorne combines his story telling prowess with his poetry to recount a poignant moment in the rich literary history of the Cariboo Chilcotin. His story recounts a tragic incident that occurred on Halloween night in 1975 when Lorne was a school teacher in the village of Esket. That night two prominent men, school principal John Rathjen, and rancher Martin Reidemann, lost their lives in Alkali Lake. A third man, author, Lorne Dufour, was saved by a friend, Jacob Roper...WilliamsLakeTribune

Song Of The Day #080

Today we'll feature Roy Acuff and his 1940 recording Lonesome Old River Blues.

It's available, along with thirteen others on The Essential Roy Acuff.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

NM drivers asked to test alternative to fuel tax

Researchers are looking for 1,500 drivers in six cities, including Albuquerque, to test an on-board computer system that taxes motorists based on miles driven rather than fuel taxes paid at the pump. That mileage-based tax is being considered by the University of Iowa Public Policy Center in a $16.5 million study for the U.S. Department of Transportation to determine whether it's a viable option for paying for surface transportation, including roads and railroads, in the future. Researchers are looking for participants to install the computers on their vehicles and tell researchers what they think of the new system. The other cities are Billings, Mont.; Chicago; Miami; Portland, Maine; and Wichita, Kan. Last year, motorists in San Diego, Calif.; Austin, Texas; Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, N.C.; Boise, Idaho; and eastern Iowa gave their opinions on the system. Kuhl said the data has not been analyzed so it's too early to reach conclusions from that phase of the study. Currently, motorists pay 18 cents per gallon of fuel to the federal Highway Trust Fund to pay for surface transportation, Kuhl said. All states except Alaska also charge a state gas tax. But the tax - the primary source of federal highway program funds - has become less effective in recent years. "As vehicles become more fuel efficient, the money raised by the gas tax goes down," Kuhl said. And drivers of the increasingly popular electric, hydrogen and hybrid vehicles aren't paying their fair share for road use...AP

Video: From Grass to Glass - Dairy Milks 32,000 Cows

Produces enough milk for 8 million people (2 and a half million pounds per day), 80 calves born per day, uses fertilizer to generate own power, and the public is invited in.

Al Gore invokes spirit of Churchill in battle against climate change

Al Gore invoked the spirit of Winston Churchill yesterday when he urged political leaders to follow the example of Britain’s wartime leader in the battle against climate change. The former US Vice-President accused governments around the world of exploiting ignorance about the dangers of global warming to avoid taking difficult decisions. Speaking in Oxford at the Smith School World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment, sponsored by The Times, Mr Gore said: “Winston Churchill aroused this nation in heroic fashion to save civilisation in World War Two. We have everything we need except political will, but political will is a renewable resource.” Mr Gore admitted that it was difficult to persuade the public that the threat from climate change was as urgent as that from Hitler. He said future generations would put one of two questions to today’s adults. “It will either be ‘What were you thinking, didn’t you see the North Pole melting before your eyes, didn’t you hear what the scientists were saying?’. Or they will ask ‘How is it you were able to find the moral courage to solve the crisis which so many said couldn’t be solved?’”...LondonTimes

Green Jackets, Brown Shirts

Gore didn't come right out and call global warming skeptics Nazis while addressing an audience at Oxford University in England. But then, he didn't have to. By simply violating Godwin's Law — which essentially says that an argument dies the moment someone makes a comparison to Nazis — in the way he did, Gore labeled anyone who opposes his agenda a fascist. While the former vice president was delivering his sermon, the British were busy creating a para-police squad that will enforce government-imposed carbon dioxide emissions limits. Take a good look, because the formation of this team could well be a preview of what we'll get if the Democrats' climate change bill becomes law. So far, the cap-and-trade global warming legislation — known as the Waxman-Markey bill — has been passed only in the House. The Senate still has to take it up, and then a conference committee would write a version that both chambers would agree to vote on should the Senate approve legislation that has differences. What comes next is the legalized extortion of the American people. Some analysts estimate that this scheme to save us from ourselves could by 2030 cost each American family as much $4,300 a year and destroy 2.5 million jobs. That's even counting the "green" jobs the bill's supporters claim it will create. In return for that sacrifice, people living in our world a century from now will experience a global temperature that is projected to be one-tenth to two-tenths of one degree Celsius cooler than it would have been without the legislation. While the loss of economic liberty is chilling enough, how much more freedom will be lost if Washington follows London's lead and establishes a cap-and-trade police force?...IBD

NMSU women’s rodeo team places in top 10 nationally

The New Mexico State University rodeo team proved to be nationally competitive during the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) June 14-20 in Casper, Wyo.

“I am pleased with our performance at the CNFR. We had some individual triumphs and heartbreaks, but all in all NMSU showed that we are tough and we will be back stronger next year,” said Jim Dewey Brown, NMSU rodeo coach.

To qualify for the CNFR, a student must place in the top three in their event in the region, or place in the top two in the all-around standings. NMSU sent 11 athletes to the rodeo, with several team members placing in the top 20 in the overall standings, and others placing in the top 20 in different rounds.

“To have the women’s team win reserve champion last year and place in the top 10 this year is a great performance by the team. Also, to have Johnny Salvo place in the tie-down roping again this year speaks loads about his roping ability,” said Frank DuBois, founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.

In the final standings, the women’s team placed sixth overall and the men’s team placed 13th.

Johnny Salvo, of Horse Springs, N.M., placed third in the tie-down roping.

Jordan Bassett, of Dewey, Ariz., placed sixth in barrel racing and 13th in goat tying, giving her enough points to receive fourth place in the women’s rookie standings.

Megan Wilkerson placed 15th in the breakaway roping. She tied for second in the first round and tied for third in the second round of the event.

Aztec, N.M., native Kelsi Elkins placed second in the second round of the barrel racing, and teammate Dean Daly, of Belen, N.M., placed second in round three of the saddle bronc event.

Date: 2009-07-08
Writer: Margaret Kovar

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Pinon Canyon: US Rep. Lamborn's Letter To The WSJ

The article "Ranchers Attempt to Hold Off Army's Expansion in Colorado" (Currents, June 24) about the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site states that the U.S. Army is considering acquiring land through eminent domain. However, in a response letter I received from Keith Eastin, assistant secretary of the Army (Installations and Environment), dated April 27, 2009, he wrote, "I have testified that condemnation/eminent domain will not be used to acquire or lease land at PCMS. The Army will only deal with willing sellers." While the article notes that "willing sellers are in short supply," there are definitely some out there, and they should have the right to sell their land to whomever they want...WSJ

Just how foolish does Rep. Lamborn think we really are?

Congressional "testimony" is simply a statement of policy - a policy that can be revised at any time.

Give the Pentagon the acquisition money and watch the hammer come out if they can't get what they want from willing sellers. Sometimes just the threat of the hammer gets the job done. Of course, Rep. Lamborn could sponsor legislation to revoke the Pentagon's eminent domain authority. Reckon he'll be doing that soon?

Lamborn remains a prime example of why the Republicans are in the minority. He thinks having larger federal landholdings and smaller acreages of private property is good public policy. He also appears to be operating under the delusion that bringing political dollars and a larger bureaucracy to his district, while at the same time destroying private sector jobs and family owned businesses, constitutes sound economic development.

The poor fellow.

I just hope the condemnation of Lamborn is eminent.

Tester mum, advocates hopeful on wilderness legislation

Wilderness advocates and key officials say Sen. Jon Tester's office has plans to bring Montana its first new wilderness designation since the 1980s. But Tester's office is keeping details quiet - just saying that anyone interested in how forests are managed should contact the senator. Plans for the designation of a new wilderness area draw on separate proposals that have been in the works for years, say advocates who hope legislation will fast-track hundreds of thousands of acres into wilderness status. Beaverhead County commissioners say they have been in earnest talks with Tester's office over designation of perhaps 500,000 acres of new wilderness in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Those commissioners say they have been pressing to make sure the Montana Wilderness Association and its allies do not hold sway over the final plan. Commissioner Mike McGinley said the first proposed wilderness map presented to him by Tester's office came straight from the MWA-backed Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership. But he said Tester's folks switched the base map to a hybrid of a U.S. Forest Service plan, developed earlier this decade, for the area...Missoulian

Montana considers cashing in on 1.2B tons of coal

Montana officials are on track to seek bids this fall to mine a massive reserve of state-owned coal near the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation -- a deposit with enough fuel to feed the United States' coal appetite for a year. Experts describe the state's Otter Creek reserve as world class: more than 1.2 billion tons of coal massed beneath the rolling hills of the Powder River Basin. The Montana Land Board is to decide in September whether to seek a company to mine the reserve, following recent public hearings that revealed a local community divided over the proposal. The board is chaired by Gov. Brian Schweitzer, an outspoken coal advocate who has said the tracts will be put up for auction. Lining up behind development is a powerful alliance of coal industry supporters. That includes many of the area's elected officials and proponents of the Tongue River Railroad, a long-stalled $341 million line proposed from Miles City south through Otter Creek to the Wyoming border. The railroad would cut through dozens of ranches. Opposition to the line has long been a rallying cry for those landowners nervous about the change coal development would bring. The fight has attracted the Sierra Club, which along with the Billings-based Northern Plains Resource Council has organized ranchers and tribal members against the project. Aiding them behind the scenes has been candy company billionaire Forrest Mars Jr. He owns the 140-square-mile Diamond Cross Ranch along the Tongue River south of Ashland and doesn't want the railroad to cross his property...BusinessWeek

FWP to reconsider sheep’s place on public land

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks plans to take another look at whether it should allow sheep ranchers to trail their livestock across a 28,000-acres swath of land in Southwestern Montana. Earlier this month, three conservation groups challenged the agency for allowing domestic sheep to cross the Robb-Ledford Wildlife Management Area, a practice the groups say makes the habitat inhospitable to bighorn sheep due to diseases the domestic sheep can give to bighorns. “The most immediate issue regarding bighorns in Montana is the domestic sheep trailing FWP allows on the Robb-Ledford Wildlife Management Area,” wrote Summer Nelson, Montana legal counsel for the Western Watersheds Project in Missoula on behalf of her group, the Gallatin Wildlife Association and hunting group Safari Club International. “WWP, GWA and SCI contend this use is incompatible with WMA purposes, public trust responsibilities over native wildlife and restoring and maintaining healthy bighorn herds.” Pat Flowers, director of FWP Region 3 based in Bozeman, said his agency has never done an environmental analysis of allowing domestic sheep onto the Robb-Ledford, since sheep don’t graze there. Rather, the sheep spend about two days on the Robb-Ledford en route to and from grazing allotments in the Gravelly Mountains south of Ennis...BozemanDailyChronicle

Ohio Sets Forth Livestock Standards Board

The Ohio Senate has unanimously approved a resolution that would allow voters to create the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, which would provide oversight of how farm animals are raised. The House approved its version of the resolution yesterday by a vote of 84-13. According to the Ohio Farm Bureau, the final version of the resolution, once approved, will put the measure on the November ballot. The board will comprise a broad base of experts in livestock and poultry care, including family farmers, veterinarians, a food safety expert, a representative of a local humane society, members from statewide farm organizations, the dean of an Ohio agriculture college and members representing Ohio consumers. Over the past several months, the Ohio Farm Bureau and other agricultural groups had engaged in extensive discussions on how to best achieve farm animal well-being while protecting the state’s farmers and consumers from restrictive, short-sighted and emotionally driven regulations. Such regulations had been pushed by activists in other states and Ohio was expected to be the next target. Pork

Michigan Legislators Pushing for Livestock Standards

Lawmakers in Ohio aren't the only ones taking a proactive approach to livestock care standards. Michigan State Representatives Mike Simpson and Jeff Mayes introduced a group of bills last month to standardize livestock care requirements by establishing the Department of Agriculture and Agriculture Commission as the sole authority in regulation of livestock health; implementing science-based standards farmers must use by 2020 and more. Two State Senators have introduced identical bills. They were referred to the Senate Ag and Bioeconomy Committee. Representative Mayes said these new standards will ensure people think of quality products when they think of Michigan agriculture - but certain animal rights organizations - like Farm Sanctuary - feel they would be harmful to livestock for many reasons. Farm Sanctuary Director of Legal Campaigns Delcianna Winders says the legislation would create a council dominated by the agricultural industry and codify the procedures that Farm Sanctuary believes are inhumane. Winders says Farm Sanctuary will probably work with the Humane Society of the United States to reach out to people to oppose it...HoosierAgToday

ID INFO EXPO 2009 To Explore Viable Alternatives For Functional Animal Identification

As the debate rages about animal identification in the United States, ID INFO EXPO 2009 will explore the challenges facing a national animal identification program and ways to move animal identification forward. ID INFO EXPO 2009, presented by the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, is set for Aug. 25-27 at the Westin Crown Center, Kansas City, Mo. “ID INFO EXPO will provide a collaborative atmosphere in which concerns and solutions can be addressed in order to enhance animal identification,” states Glenn Fischer, chairman of the ID INFO EXPO Planning Committee. “Based on comments received at USDA Secretary Vilsack’s listening sessions regarding animal ID, we know what won’t work; this conference will focus on what can work.” Victor Velez, vice chairman of the Planning Committee, emphasizes that the conference will zero in on four key areas: 1) the current state of, and need for, animal identification in the United States; 2) the obstacles to gaining ID participation; 3) the ID opportunities that exist; and 4) the next crucial steps to developing a functional animal identification program in the United States. The EXPO’s opening general session will start with an up-to-the-minute report on the status of animal identification programs in the United States and outline what full participation in animal ID could mean to animal agriculture. Other opening general session topics include global implications of identification and models of traceability within other commodities and industries...cattlenetwork

Its all Trew: Doing more work has helped us overcome

My grandfather, who survived the Great Depression and Dust Bowl plus another recession or two before that, often said, "I blame most of the average person's problems on a family named Jones. Trying to keep up with the Joneses is always a losing proposition." During a recent Barbed Wire Collectors show in Shamrock, a few old-timers sat together and talked about their memories of coping with hard times. Here is a sample. One man said just after he started school in the second grade, morning and evening on his way to and from school he fetched the milk bucket off a neighbor widow's porch and milked her cow, returning the fresh milk to her back porch. He received a dime per day for this chore. He also said he was the only kid in his school with a steady job. Another man down in Collingsworth County earned 10 cents per day as a first-grader by arriving at his country school early enough to carry out yesterday's wood stove ashes and build a fire to warm the building for the students arriving later. A 15-year-old girl played piano for my father's dance band in the 1930s, earning 50 cents per night. Not much pay for four hours of dance music, however, she was the only girl in the school with a paying job and therefore the richest young lady in her class. I have written before about the mail carrier at Dime Box, Texas, who would leave you a can of snuff if you left him a dime clamped in a wooden clothes pin. The reason for the clothes pin? His hands were so crippled from arthritis he couldn't pick up a loose coin...AmarilloGlobeNews

Song Of The Day #079

Here's Carl Smith and his recording of Mr. Moon.

It's available on his Don't Just Stand There: 20 Greatest Hits CD and on the wonderful 5 disc box set Satisfaction Guaranteed.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Designation of Mount Taylor results in beatings and arrest

The fight over Mount Taylor's designation as a Traditional Cultural Property has led to bloodshed and an arrest. Five Native American men reported severe beatings between June 9 and June 18, according to Grants Police Department reports. Another known beating was not reported by the victim and details are unknown, except that it follows a similar pattern to the other racial violence. “We made a report to the FBI for hate crimes,” said GPD Detective Kevin Dobbs, “and they'll get back to us.” According to reports, an anonymous caller told officers that Longoria was boasting of “beating up the men because the Native Americans had got Mount Taylor and now they owned him.” Seven known victims were barraged by rocks, struck with bats and gashed with knives and brass knuckles. The following are multiple accounts of the incidents from the victims to officers...CibolaBeacon

Protection sought again for giant, spitting worms

Fans of the giant Palouse earthworm are once again seeking federal protection for the rare, sweet-smelling species that spits at predators. They filed a petition Tuesday with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting the worm be protected as an endangered species. "The giant Palouse earthworm is critically endangered and needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act to have any chance of survival," said Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity. The center filed the lawsuit along with Friends of the Clearwater, Palouse Prairie Foundation, Palouse Audubon and Palouse Group of Sierra Club. The worm has been seen only four reported times in the past 110 years, but supporters contend it is still present in the Palouse, a region of about 2 million acres of rolling wheat fields near the Idaho-Washington border south of Spokane. Only about 2 percent of the Palouse prairie remains in a native state, he said. The worm can reach 3 feet in length, is white in color and reportedly possesses a unique lily smell, said Greenwald, who is based in Portland, Ore. It is the largest and longest-lived earthworm in North America...AP

The EPA Silences a Climate Skeptic

Wherever Jim Hansen is right now -- whatever speech the "censored" NASA scientist is giving -- perhaps he'll find time to mention the plight of Alan Carlin. Though don't count on it...So much so that one of President Barack Obama's first acts was a memo to agencies demanding new transparency in government, and science. The nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lisa Jackson, joined in, exclaiming, "As administrator, I will ensure EPA's efforts to address the environmental crises of today are rooted in three fundamental values: science-based policies and program, adherence to the rule of law, and overwhelming transparency." In case anyone missed the point, Mr. Obama took another shot at his predecessors in April, vowing that "the days of science taking a backseat to ideology are over." Except, that is, when it comes to Mr. Carlin, a senior analyst in the EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics and a 35-year veteran of the agency. In March, the Obama EPA prepared to engage the global-warming debate in an astounding new way, by issuing an "endangerment" finding on carbon. It establishes that carbon is a pollutant, and thereby gives the EPA the authority to regulate it -- even if Congress doesn't act. Around this time, Mr. Carlin and a colleague presented a 98-page analysis arguing the agency should take another look, as the science behind man-made global warming is inconclusive at best. The analysis noted that global temperatures were on a downward trend. It pointed out problems with climate models. It highlighted new research that contradicts apocalyptic scenarios. "We believe our concerns and reservations are sufficiently important to warrant a serious review of the science by EPA," the report read. The response to Mr. Carlin was an email from his boss, Al McGartland, forbidding him from "any direct communication" with anyone outside of his office with regard to his analysis. When Mr. Carlin tried again to disseminate his analysis, Mr. McGartland decreed: "The administrator and the administration have decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision. . . . I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office." Mr. McGartland blasted yet another email: "With the endangerment finding nearly final, you need to move on to other issues and subjects. I don't want you to spend any additional EPA time on climate change. No papers, no research etc, at least until we see what EPA is going to do with Climate." Ideology? Nope, not here. Just us science folk. Honest...WSJ

For a thorough backgrounder, including links to the emails and the Carlin report, see E-mails indicate EPA suppressed report skeptical of global warming.

Congress's Travel Tab Swells

Spending by lawmakers on taxpayer-financed trips abroad has risen sharply in recent years, a Wall Street Journal analysis of travel records shows, involving everything from war-zone visits to trips to exotic spots such as the Galápagos Islands. The spending on overseas travel is up almost tenfold since 1995, and has nearly tripled since 2001, according to the Journal analysis of 60,000 travel records. Hundreds of lawmakers traveled overseas in 2008 at a cost of about $13 million. That's a 50% jump since Democrats took control of Congress two years ago. Although complete travel records aren't yet available for 2009, it appears that such costs continue to rise. The Journal analysis shows that the government has picked up the tab for travel to destinations such as Jamaica, the Virgin Islands and Australia's Great Barrier Reef. In mid-June, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D., Hawaii) led a group of a half-dozen senators and their spouses on a four-day trip to France for the biennial Paris Air Show. An itinerary for the event shows that lawmakers flew on the Air Force's version of the Boeing 737, which costs $5,700 an hour to operate. They stayed at the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand Hotel, which advertises rooms from $460 a night...WSJ

I wonder what the carbon footprint is of all this travel.

California group pushes for Endangered Species God Squad

Less than 24 hours after a top Obama administration official rejected the idea of convening Endangered Species Committee to resolve California’s water woes, Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation launched a campaign to force the committee’s activation. The foundation sent letters to President Barack Obama and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger requesting they act to convene the committee, also known as the God Squad, said Rob Rivett, the foundation’s president. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar rejected the idea at a news conference in Fresno June 28. “That would be admitting failure. I am not about failure,” Salazar said. Under the Endangered Species Act, the special committee may be formed and empowered to override the law when it causes excessive destruction of jobs and the economy. “There’s a reason to have it in the statute,” Rivett said, “and there isn’t a better reason or circumstance than right now when we have an economy that is being devastated by the implementation of the Endangered Species Act." Salazar should take a step back to see what can be done that would modify “the Draconian measures that are being taken to try to save some of our farmworkers’ jobs and our farms,” he said. The foundation launched an online petition June 29, to be presented to the president, Salazar and Schwarzenegger. The petition is at, Rivett said...Packer

Ethanol-free gas rare but popular

Gasoline without ethanol has become a hot commodity for the only two vendors who sell it in Brevard County. "We just recently started bringing it in because there's been such a hue and cry for it from the marinas," Ken Marshall, vice president of Glover Oil in Melbourne, said Thursday. Favored by boaters and motorcyclists, the fuel -- known as recreational gasoline -- was put on sale to the public last month by Glover Oil. Ethanol absorbs water and can degrade rubber seals and gaskets. Boat engines, weed trimmers, lawn blowers, generators, motorcycles and older auto engines are most affected. Ethanol contains one-third less energy than gasoline. And many makers of lawn care machinery, marine engines, motorcycles and high-performance autos recommend avoiding gasoline with ethanol...FloridaToday

Idaho judge turns down committee report on bighorn sheep

A federal judge says the US Forest Service can't use an advisory committee's report on whether domestic sheep pose a disease risk to bighorn sheep because the committee was improperly formed. The decision from U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill could complicate the Forest Service's decision on whether to close 61 percent of the domestic sheep grazing allotments in the Payette National Forest. The Idaho Wool Growers Association filed the lawsuit in 2008, arguing that the Forest Service hand-picked scientists, who then met behind closed doors, to come up with opinions supporting a decision to close grazing allotments to domestic sheep. In his ruling, Winmill declined to comment on the conclusions of the committee, noting only that the process itself was flawed. AP

Work begins to remove dam in Washington's Wind River Watershed

Preparations began this week to remove Hemlock Dam on Trout Creek in Washington's Wind River Watershed, a project that conservationists say will help restore native fish runs and educate the public about rivers and the wildlife they support. The project, directed by American Rivers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will eliminate a 26-foot-high dam that was classified as High Hazard -- one that could threaten lives if it failed. The project covers roughly a 1/2 mile stretch of the creek near the Wind River Nursery north of Carson, Wash. The Mount Adams Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service began rescuing and removing fish from the site this week, the first step to the $2 million project that will continue through the summer. The entire stream flow will be re-routed with pumps and pipes. A thick layer of sediment will be excavated from the shallow reservoir and the dam will be deconstructed. Crews will reconstruct the stream bed, using rocks and logs before returning the stream to its natural channel. Native plants that were salvaged from the site will be replanted...Oregonian

Mountain lion wipes out petting zoo

At first Stewart Loew was excited by the sight: a mountain lion on the family's farm near Amado. In 40 years on the Agua Linda Farm, Loew said this was first large cat he had seen when it appeared in the donkey pen about a month ago. But soon, his animals started to turn up mauled or dead. First there were four sheep. Then, on June 15, an awful sight: 16 pygmy and nubian goats — all the mammals in the farm's petting zoo — were killed. Only the geese were spared. Loew and his wife, Laurel, who run the all-natural, community-supported farm, faced a tough choice: Try to kill the wild cat or put their animals and possibly their farm's visitors — including many children — at some risk. "We were really conflicted," Stewart Loew said. But when they thought about it, there was no choice...ArizonaDailyStar

HT: Outdoor Pressroom

Feds could seize Calif. parks if closed by budget

California officials said Wednesday they are trying to avert the federal government's threat to seize six parks that could be closed to help reduce the state's ballooning budget deficit. National Park Service Regional Director Jonathan Jarvis warned in a letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that all six occupy former federal land that could revert to the U.S. government if the state fails to keep the parks open. The sites are Angel Island, a former federal military and immigration facility in San Francisco Bay; the top of Mount Diablo east of San Francisco, where the Navy once operated a microwave relay station; Point Sur State Historic Park in coastal Big Sur; and three beaches — Fort Ord Dunes near Monterey, Point Mugu State Park near Malibu, and Border Fields along the Mexican border. The properties are among the 220 state parks Schwarzenegger has proposed closing to save $143 million. Legislators are considering the move as part of efforts to close a $26 billion budget deficit...AP

Purity of Federal 'Organic' Label Is Questioned

Three years ago, U.S. Department of Agriculture employees determined that synthetic additives in organic baby formula violated federal standards and should be banned from a product carrying the federal organic label. Today the same additives, purported to boost brainpower and vision, can be found in 90 percent of organic baby formula. The government's turnaround, from prohibition to permission, came after a USDA program manager was lobbied by the formula makers and overruled her staff. That decision and others by a handful of USDA employees, along with an advisory board's approval of a growing list of non-organic ingredients, have helped numerous companies win a coveted green-and-white "USDA Organic" seal on an array of products. Grated organic cheese, for example, contains wood starch to prevent clumping. Organic beer can be made from non-organic hops. Organic mock duck contains a synthetic ingredient that gives it an authentic, stringy texture...WPost

Song Of The Day #078

Let's get things rolling this week with Leon McAuliffe playing Panhandle Rag.

This version is from his Columbia Historic Edition LP.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

In a First, Navajos to Vote on Their Power Structure

Navajo voters have never had much of a say in how their modern government was shaped. But that may soon change, after a tribal judge cleared the way for a special election on a restructuring that could alter the balance of power on the sprawling reservation. The government structure was forced upon Navajo voters 86 years ago and was reorganized under three branches without their consent. Maybe Navajos “will have a greater sense of ownership in the government than they now have,” said Dale Mason, who teaches Navajo government at the University of New Mexico, Gallup. Voting on the measures, which would cut the Tribal Council membership by more than half and give the president line-item veto authority, “would come close to that,” Mr. Wilkins said. A tribal hearing officer ruled that the initiatives could go forward after a legal fight between the Navajo president, Joe Shirley Jr., and the Tribal Council speaker, Lawrence Morgan. An election was ordered held within six months, but an appeal is planned...AP