Friday, July 31, 2009

New BLM requirement for "courtesy" notification of surface owners at lease sale

The BLM has new guidance (Instruction Memorandum 2009-184) requiring notification of split-estate surface owners when their subsurface is going to be included in a lease sale. In addition, when companies nominate parcels that are on split-estate lands, they must provide the name and address of the surface owners or the BLM will not process the nomination. The requirement to include the information is effective immediately, but the IM states that the requirement to notify landowners is not effective until October 2010 lease sales – which seems a bit far off.

There is a sample form letter included that is to be used by the BLM to send out the notice with the notice of lease sale. Also, of interest, the IM was developed with staff from the Colorado, Eastern States, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, and the IM states that there was a desire to make the policies in place in New Mexico and the Eastern States (and part of a recent pilot effort in Montana) uniform across the BLM.


July 24, 2009

In Reply Refer To:
3120 (310) P

Instruction Memorandum No. 2009-184
Expires: 09/30/2010

To: State Directors

From: Acting Assistant Director, Minerals and Realty Management

Subject: Courtesy Notification of Surface Owners When Split Estate Lands are Included in an Oil and Gas Notice of Competitive Lease Sale

Program Area: Oil and Gas Leasing.

Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) establishes a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) requirement to notify surface owners, as a courtesy, whenever split estate lands are included in an oil and gas Notice of Competitive Lease Sale. The BLM’s notification serves as a reasonable attempt to inform surface owners when their lands are included in a list of lands to be offered for competitive sale. This courtesy notification will provide basic information on Federal oil and gas leasing, the Oil and Gas (O&G) development process, and applicable O&G regulation. The notification will also include any special stipulations attached to the parcels that include their lands.

Policy/Action: Effective with the issuance of this memorandum, parties filing an Expression of Interest (EOI) to offer lands at a competitive oil and gas lease sale are required to provide the names and addresses of any surface owners where split estate lands are included in their EOI. Any new EOI including split estate lands that does not provide the name and address of the surface owner(s) will not be processed or listed in a competitive oil and gas sale until the required information is received. The State Office (SO) will return the EOI to the nominator with a letter advising of the new requirement.

If a SO has a pending EOI that includes split estate lands, the BLM must inform the party filing the EOI of the new requirement. This should be completed in the most efficient method possible, whether by letter or phone call. All phone calls should be documented. Also, depending on what is most efficient for the SO, the EOI may be held as pending until the surface owner information is provided. The BLM may have to return the letter to the party filing the EOI to request that the EOI be resubmitted with the required information if there is still interest in having the lands offered for lease.

Effective with the issuance of this memorandum, the SOs will use the courtesy notification form letter (attachment 1) to notify surface owners whenever split estate lands are included in an oil and gas Notice of Competitive Lease Sale. The letter is to be sent by regular mail when the Notice of Competitive Lease Sale is posted. Use the name and address provided with the EOI to send the notification letter. The SOs are not required to expend any additional time or effort to verify surface owner names and addresses or research alternative names and addresses if delivery to the provided name and address is unsuccessful. This is a courtesy notice. An unsuccessful delivery of the letter is not a reason to withdraw a parcel from the lease sale.
Establishing the requirement to provide surface owner names and addresses

Attachment 2 is a notice to announce this requirement. Effective with the issuance of this instruction, each SO must include this notice with at least two consecutive Notices of Competitive Lease Sale. In addition, an announcement of this requirement must be included in the opening remarks at two area competitive lease auctions, at a minimum. Each SO is to modify the Notice of Lease Sale and relevant web pages to include this requirement in describing how a party files an EOI.

BLM nominated parcels

The policy to send this courtesy notice also applies to BLM-nominated split estate lands included in an oil and gas Notice of Competitive Lease Sale. In such cases, it is incumbent upon the BLM to obtain the names and addresses of the surface owners. This IM does not dictate the method to be used to obtain this information, because the location of, and access to, such information varies from state to state and county to county. State and Field Offices are encouraged to research and use the most efficient and cost-effective methods possible.

Relationship to other BLM policies and procedures regarding split estate lands and oil and gas leasing

This policy does not cancel, replace, or modify any existing policy or procedures regarding split estate lands, particularly relating to land use planning and National Environmental Policy Act compliance. It is limited to the notification of surface owners whenever split estate lands are offered at auction.

Timeframe: The requirement to obtain surface owner name and addresses from parties filing an EOI is effective immediately. The requirement to notify surface owners whenever split estate lands are included in an oil and gas Notice of Competitive Lease Sale is effective October 1, 2010.

Budget Impact: There will be minor expenses incurred by the SOs to prepare, print, and send the required letters to surface owners. Researching the names and addresses of surface owners for BLM-nominated parcels will require some additional expenses. However, it is anticipated that the number and frequency of such nominations are not significant.

Background: As a result of work done to implement portions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 relating to split estate lands, BLM offices increased their efforts to provide split estate surface owners more information and notice regarding oil and gas leasing activities. However, these actions do not include direct notification of the surface owner when split estate parcels are going to be offered at auction, except in Eastern States and New Mexico and the start of a recent pilot effort in Montana. The Rocky Mountain State Directors suggested that a uniform and broadly applied BLM policy should be considered and implemented so that all SOs are providing the same notification to surface owners in the same manner.

Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: This policy will be included inthe BLM Manual 3120 –Competitive Leases, and BLM Handbook H-3120-1 – Competitive Leases, when they are next updated.

Coordination: This policy was developed in coordination with staff from Colorado, Eastern States, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. A draft of this Instruction Memorandum was provided to all State Directors for review and comment.

Contact: If you have any questions concerning the content of this IM, please contact me at 202-208-4201, or your staff may contact Robyn Shoop at 202-452-0334 or

Signed by: Authenticated by:
Jeff Holdren Robert M. Williams
Acting, Assistant Director Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
Minerals and Realty Management

2 Attachments
1 – Letter to Surface Owners (1 p)
2 – Notice of Expression of Interest Requirement (1 p)

Cartels Turn U.S. Forests Into Marijuana Plantations, Creating Toxic Mess

Empty turtle shells, decaying skunk carcasses and a set of deer antlers lay strewn about an empty campsite in California's Sierra National Forest. The butchered animals, as well as several five-pound propane canisters, camp stoves and heaps of trash, were all that remained of the 69 marijuana plantations recently uncovered in Fresno County as part of operation "Save our Sierras." The massive operation that began in February has already seized about 318,000 marijuana plants worth an estimated $1.1 billion, officials announced last week. In addition to 82 arrests, the multi-jurisdictional federal, state and local operation netted 42 pounds of processed marijuana, more than $40,000 in cash, 25 weapons and three vehicles. "Mexican drug trafficking organizations have been operating on public lands to cultivate marijuana, with serious consequences for the environment and public safety," said Gil Kerlikowske, chief of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy at a briefing on the investigation. The drug plantations are as much an environmental menace as they are a public safety threat. Growers in Fresno County used a cocktail of pesticides and fertilizers many times stronger than what is used on residential lawns to cultivate their crop. "This stuff leaches out pretty quickly," said Shane Krogen, executive director of the High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew in charge of helping clear the land of chemicals and trash so it can begin its slow restoration. While the chemical pesticides kill insects and other organisms directly, fertilizer runoff contaminates local waterways and aids in the growth of algae and weeds. The vegetation in turn impedes water flows that are critical to frogs, toads and salamanders in the Kings and San Joaquin rivers, Krogen said. The Sierra operations are the latest in a growing number of illegal plantations run by foreign suppliers who have moved north of the U.S.-Mexico border where they are closer to U.S. drug markets. Of the 82 individuals arrested in the "Save our Sierras" sting, all but two were Mexican or some other foreign nationality. Bankrolled by sophisticated drug cartels, suppliers are sidestepping border patrols to grow in relative obscurity on Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service lands across the West and even into the Southeast...NYTimes

Must be appropriation time again.

Report: Public lands see increase of OHV use

Hampered by lean budgets and growing responsibilities, federal land management agencies have struggled in recent years to keep up with the rising popularity of off-highway vechicle use on public land, congressional investigators said in a report Thursday. The Government Accountability Office said OHV use on public land has grown during the past five years, while the response by the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management has been limited by dwindling resources and growing responsibilities. The three agencies, which oversee 530 million acres, all reported to the GAO that the main challenge to managing OHV recreation was having too few employees to enforce existing regulations. The report pointed to the BLM's office in Grand Junction, Colo., where a single law enforcement officer patrols 1.3 million acres. "Law enforcement officers have many responsibilities including, among others, enforcing OHV regulations, controlling gang activity, preventing illegal drug activities, and responding to impacts on resources and public safety from illegal smuggling activities along the U.S. border," the report said. Larry Smith, executive director of Washington, D.C.-based Americans for Responsible Recreational Access, said federal actions haven't been adequate to meet the growing popularity of off-road recreation...AP

Wolves kill four more bear-hunting dogs

Four more bear-hunting hounds have been killed by wolves in northern Wisconsin while running free during bear-hunting training sessions. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported Thursday that the dogs were killed, and another injured, in separate incidents over the past two weeks in Bayfield, Burnett, Clark and Oneida counties. The latest dog deaths follow four deaths in Ashland, Clark, Oneida and Forest counties earlier in July. Wisconsin has more than 500 wolves that, under a court settlement, were returned last month to federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. It remains illegal under federal law to kill a wolf in Wisconsin, except for federal trappers who kill wolves near where livestock or dogs have been killed...NewsTribune

Forest Servince In NM - $2.8 Million In "Potty Pork"

New Mexico's oldest and most-used national forest restrooms will soon get a potty break thanks to $2.8 million in the federal pipeline. The money from the federal economic-stimulus package is set to be spent on repairing and replacing aging toilets in three of the state's national forests including the Cibola National Forest where Jim Hughes is a park host. But some critics think spending millions of making potties pretty is a waste even calling it "potty pork."...KRQE-TV

The American Thinker headline is 2.8 Million porkulus dollars down the toilet. They compute the cost to be $125,000-$150,000 per restroom.

I'd best keep my comments to myself.

NM Ranch Is First Ranch Approved Under IMI Global's VerifiedGreen

Integrated Management Information, Inc. Integrated Management Information, Inc. (IMI Global) (OTCBB: INMG), a leading provider of verification solutions in the agricultural/livestock industry, today announced that the nation's first cattle were sold at auction under the Company's new VerifiedGreen™ program (See More Information), an innovative verification system that caters to ranchers, retailers and consumers who are committed to reducing their carbon footprint. The cattle auction featuring animals that were assigned a specific number of carbon credits took place on Monday, July 27, 2009, on Superior Livestock's ( Video Royale XVII sale in Winnemucca, Nevada. Buyers of the cattle -- typically feed yards -- paid the owner, Mayfield Ranch of Hidalgo, N.M., one price for both the cattle purchased at auction and the carbon credits associated with the sustainable activities of the ranch. Butch Mayfield, owner of Mayfield Ranch, said, "We are very excited to be participating in the carbon market with IMI Global and VerifiedGreen. It has been hard to determine the actual value of carbon credits, but this program ensures the benefit of our credits will stay in the beef industry and not be sold to benefit another industry. One group of the cattle we sold brought $1.36 per pound and topped the market that day so we are very pleased with the results." Under the VerifiedGreen program, farmers and ranchers who employ environmentally sustainable production processes can have their operations verified "green" by IMI Global's auditors, making them eligible to market their animals with carbon credits attached. The quantity of carbon credits attached to each calf is determined independently for each ranch based on the carbon sequestration rate of the land where the cattle were born and raised...marketwire

Take Home Messages From The Animal Agriculture Alliance Meeting

Consider these facts: Ninety-five law schools now offer at least one course in animal law. A publication exists called the Journal of Animal Law and Ethics. The World Bank has created a publication on animal welfare. Animal rights issues have permeated our culture, and animal agriculture is seeing the effects. So in May, when farmers, legislative leaders, veterinarians, issue management specialists, government officials and others interested in the future of agriculture came together in Arlington, Virginia, for the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s Stakeholders Summit, that’s what they talked about. This year’s theme was "Politics, Activism and Religion: Influencing the Debate on Animal Welfare in America." Here are some of the highlights: There was a warning from Wes Jamison, associate professor of communications at Palm Beach Atlantic University: animal rights activists are using messages with religious themes and language to advance their agenda: vegetarianism. Bruce Vincent, a third generation logger from Montana, also gave an impassioned talk, warning that animal rights groups thrive on conflict – in fact, they must perpetuate conflict to survive. It is a conflict industry, he said. "Groups involved in this industry generate cash by marketing fear.” He warned that activist groups put before the public false choices, especially on animal welfare and the environment (the only way to have clean water is to eliminate animal agriculture, etc.)...cattlenetwork

Bill would restrict antibiotics in food animals

A New York congresswoman is trying to rally support for a federal bill that would restrict antibiotic use in food animals just months after a similar measure tanked in California. Despite being voted down in Sacramento, a proposal that bans feeding antibiotics to cattle, hogs and poultry to increase their growth seems to be gaining momentum in the nation's capital, where the Obama administration has condemned the practice. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that as much as 70 percent of the antibiotics used in the United States are given to healthy animals. Conventional farmers and ranchers routinely feed antibiotics to their herd to help the animals use their food more efficiently and bulk up faster. They say the medication also helps ward off pathogens that could sicken or kill their livestock. But scientists and doctors fear that the overuse of these drugs makes them less effective in fighting bacteria in humans and animals. Microbes that develop immunity to the drugs will multiply and flourish. "We're looking at ways to phase out the use of antibiotics for growth promotion and food efficiency in livestock," said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, principal deputy commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, who is concerned that giving anti-microbials to animals when they are not sick is inappropriate - and even worse, contributes to more drug-resistant infections in people. Sharfstein is also pushing for veterinarians to oversee antibiotic use on animals. Currently, livestock feeds mixed with antibiotics such as Tylosin, a macrolide; and Chlortetracycline are sold over the counter...SanFrancisoChronicle

USDA reviewing 4,800 pages of comments

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reported that it has received and is reviewing more than 4,800 pages of public comments regarding its rule to reopen the U.S. border to Canadian cattle 30 months old and older and to beef from those cattle (Feedstuffs, Nov. 19, 2007). A federal judge in South Dakota, in response to a petition by R-CALF USA to temporarily enjoin the rule, ordered USDA last year to reopen its rulemaking to public comment because it failed to provide for comment on the beef portion of the rule (Feedstuffs, July 14, 2008). However, the judge did not issue an injunction that would halt cross-border trade in older Canadian cattle and beef from those cattle...Feedstuffs

Fatalities Caused by Cattle — Four States, 2003–2008

During 2003–2007, deaths occurring in the production of crops and animals in the United States totaled 2,334; of these, 108 (5%) involved cattle as either the primary or secondary cause (1). During the same period, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska accounted for 16% of the nation’s approximately 985,000 cattle operations and 21% of the nation’s cattle and calf herd (2). To better characterize cattle-caused deaths in these four states, investigators reviewed all such deaths occurring during the period 2003–2008 that were detected by two surveillance programs, the Iowa Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (IA FACE) and the Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health (GPCAH). This report summarizes that investigation, which identified 21 cattle-related deaths. These deaths occurred throughout the year, and decedents tended to be older (aged ?60 years) (67%) and male (95%). Except in one case, the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head or chest. Circumstances associated with these deaths included working with cattle in enclosed areas (33%), moving or herding cattle (24%), loading (14%), and feeding (14%). One third of the deaths were caused by animals that had previously exhibited aggressive behavior...Docuticker

Song Of The Day #095

Let's close the week with "The Tennessee Plowboy", Eddy Arnold, singing I'll Hold You In My Heart.

Bear Family Records have collected all of his early work on two box sets, The Tennessee Plowboy & His Guitar (my favorite) and There's Been A Change In Me 1951-1955.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Obama praises US House vote for food safety reform

The House passed a bill for a sweeping reform of the U.S. food safety system, a vote immediately praised by President Barack Obama as step to protect Americans from tainted food. The bill would give the Food and Drug Administration the power to order food recalls, requires all facilities to have a food safety plan in place, increases the frequency of food inspections and expands FDA access to company records. "This action represents a major step forward in modernizing our food safety system and protecting Americans from food-borne illness," said Obama in a statement that listed administration actions for safe food. Obama thanked the House and said he will work with the Senate "to enact critical food-safety legislation."...Reuters

U.S. House Passes Bill Overhauling Food-Safety Laws

The U.S. House voted to overhaul the nation’s food-safety laws in the wake of high-profile outbreaks of food-borne illnesses that sickened, killed and left industries fighting to woo back wary customers. The chamber approved on a 283-142 vote today a $3.5 billion measure that would direct the Food and Drug Administration to write new regulations to safeguard the food supply, require more frequent inspections of processing facilities and force companies to keep better records to help regulators trace outbreaks. The plan would be partly financed by a $500 annual fee on food producers. The FDA, which has the authority now to recall a handful of products such as infant formula, would get expanded power under the bill to have more tainted items yanked off store shelves. The agency would also be allowed to impose quarantines restricting the movement of food deemed a threat to public safety. Food processors would have to be inspected more frequently, with those deemed the riskiest examined at least once a year. Produce and processed foods would have to bear labels identifying their countries of origin. The bill also requires factories to register annually with the government, which Dingell said is “very important because without that, Food and Drug doesn’t know who is doing what.” The measure directs the Health and Human Services secretary to determine by the end of this year whether bisphenol A, a chemical used in plastic food containers, presents a risk to infants, pregnant women or young children. It also calls for a study of whether antibiotics used in animals contributes to antibiotic resistance in humans. The $500 fee, which would be indexed for inflation, would generate an estimated $1.4 billion over the next five years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Companies owning multiple facilities subject to the charge would pay no more than $175,000 annually. Farms and restaurants would be exempted from the fee...Bloomberg

A List Of Concerns - The Food Safety Bill

The Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Fund has this to say about the bill:

The bill imposes burdensome requirements while not specifically targeting the industrial food system and food imports, where the real food safety problems lie. Small farms and local food processors are part of the solution to food safety, yet HR 2749 takes a one-size-fits-all approach subjecting local producers to the same regulations as industrial firms. The bill gives FDA much more power than it has had in the past while making the agency less accountable for its actions.

Here is their list of concerns:

HR 2749 would give FDA the power to order a quarantine of a geographic area, including "prohibiting or restricting the movement of food or of any vehicle being used or that has been used to transport or hold such food within the geographic area." Under this provision, farmers markets and local food sources could be shut down, even if they are not the source of the contamination. The agency can halt all movement of all food in a geographic area.
HR 2749 would empower FDA to make warrantless searches of the business records of small farmers and local food producers, without any evidence whatsoever that there has been a violation. Even farmers selling direct to consumers would have to provide the federal government with records on where they buy supplies, how they raise their crops, and a list of customers.
HR 2749 charges the Secretary of Health and Human Services with establishing a tracing system for food. Each "person who produces, manufactures, processes, packs, transports, or holds such food" would have to "maintain the full pedigree of the origin and previous distribution history of the food," and "establish and maintain a system for tracing the food that is interoperable with the systems established and maintained by other such persons." The bill does not explain how far the traceback will extend or how it will be done for multi-ingredient foods. With all these ambiguities, it's far from clear how much it will cost either the farmers or the taxpayers.
HR 2749 creates severe criminal and civil penalties, including prison terms of up to 10 years and/or fines of up to a total of $100,000 for individuals.
HR 2749 would impose an annual registration fee of $500 on any "facility" that holds, processes, or manufactures food. Although "farms" are exempt, the agency has defined "farm" narrowly. And people making foods such as lacto-fermented vegetables, cheeses, or breads would be required to register and pay the fee, which could drive beginning and small producers out of business during difficult economic times.
HR 2749 would empower FDA to regulate how crops are raised and harvested. It puts the federal government right on the farm, dictating to our farmers.

Ethanol Battles: What Does Iowa Have to Do With the Ambassador to Brazil?

Farm-state congressmen clearly have lots of influence over domestic policy—especially energy. But foreign policy? Ditto, as it turns out, especially when it comes to energy. Iowa’s Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is holding up the nomination of Thomas Shannon to become ambassador to Brazil. The problem? Mr. Shannon has hinted he’s in favor of repealing the $0.54 cent-per-gallon tariff the U.S. levies on imports of Brazilian sugar-cane ethanol—a direct threat to the farm-state interests Mr. Grassley represents. “I ask that you clarify the policy of the Administration regarding the ethanol tariff […] Mr. Shannon’s statement has caused concern among domestic biofuels producers who are now left to wonder if President Obama supports repealing the import tariff,” Mr. Grassley wrote yesterday in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk. That all came about after Mr. Shannon said in his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this month that removing the tariff would be “beneficial.” If it sounds familiar, it should. Last summer, when gasoline prices hit $4 a gallon, several high-ranking senators, including Richard Lugar of Indiana and Dianne Feinstein of California, came out in favor of scrapping the tariff in order to save U.S. drivers a few cents at the pump. Brazilian ethanol—even with the tariff—is cheaper than U.S. corn-based ethanol, which is blended with gasoline. Most senators, especially in the corn belt and led by Mr. Grassley, heartily opposed the idea. Candidate Obama, too, was opposed—he hails from Illinois. But the spat over ethanol tariffs revives an old question—what’s the priority behind U.S. energy policy, if there is one?...WSJ

Our energy policy is politicians rigging the market to benefit a favored constituent group. All else is rhetoric.

EPA "Endangerment" Finding On CO2 Could Expand Climate Change Tort Suits

In April 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a finding that elevated atmospheric concentrations of six greenhouse gases (GHG), including carbon dioxide (CO2), constitutes "air pollution" that "may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and welfare." Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, 74 Fed. Reg. 18886 (Apr. 24, 2009). EPA's proposal would also find that four of the GHGs that are emitted by motor vehicles cause or contribute to pollution. As EPA states, if it makes such an Endangerment Finding, the agency would be legally obligated under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act to regulate GHG emissions from new motor vehicles. The effect of an Endangerment Finding, however, will not be limited to new automobiles. As EPA indicated in its Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), the same or very similar Endangerment Finding language in Section 202(a) is set forth in other Clean Air Act provisions governing many other kinds of stationary and mobile sources. See Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions under the Clean Air Act, Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 73 Fed. Reg. 44354 (Jul. 30, 2008). Logically, if EPA finds that GHG emissions from new motor vehicles endanger the public health or welfare, then EPA must make the same finding as to the GHG emissions of numerous other significant sources. EPA will therefore be obligated to regulate those sources as well. Accordingly, EPA is about to embark on a course in which it will determine that most significant sources of GHG emissions throughout the economy pose a danger to public health and welfare, and must therefore be regulated. An EPA Endangerment Finding could potentially encourage a flood of lawsuits against companies that emit greenhouse gases by claiming that such activities constitute "negligence" or a "nuisance."...WashingtonLegalFoundation

Really Green Fuel: The EPA Opens the Door to Algae

The renewable energy and law blog of Stoel Rives LLP, a big law firm in the western U.S, reports that the Environmental Protection Agency will count algae as an advanced biofuel under Renewable Fuel Standard rules being developed. The EPA is said to be encouraged by recent interest in algae by heavyweights such as Exxon Mobil and Dow Chemical. Biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol, sugar-cane ethanol and even biodiesel were envisioned in the RFS – but algae was absent. Why do EPA’s steps towards including algae matter? Because when Congress created its mandate to blend advanced biofuel into the fuel pool, it created a big market for these fuels. By 2012, the law mandates that two billion gallons of these advanced biofuels be blended, a figure that rises by tenfold by 2022. It’s all in Section 202 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. If EPA decides that algae should be included, that creates a big opening for companies such as Sapphire Energy similar to the opening for cellulosic ethanol makers such as Verenium Corp...WSJ

Military planning for possible H1N1 outbreak

The U.S. military wants to establish regional teams of military personnel to assist civilian authorities in the event of a significant outbreak of the H1N1 virus this fall, according to Defense Department officials. The proposal is awaiting final approval from Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The officials would not be identified because the proposal from U.S. Northern Command's Gen. Victor Renuart has not been approved by the secretary. The plan calls for military task forces to work in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. There is no final decision on how the military effort would be manned, but one source said it would likely include personnel from all branches of the military. It has yet to be determined how many troops would be needed and whether they would come from the active duty or the National Guard and Reserve forces...CNN

You just knew when Bush created this domestic arm of the military under the guise of terrorism, that items like this would start popping up.

Bush gave them the hammer and now the are running around looking for nails.

Emergency Meeting Gives Food Safety Bill Another Shot

The House Committee on Rules held an “emergency meeting” today, Jul 29, 2009, to discuss the future of H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act. Early today H.R. 2749 failed to garner the required two-thirds majority of the members “present and voting” necessary for a bill to pass under Suspension of the Rules; however, the legislation did have enough votes to pass under regular order. And that appears to be the next step according to sources on Capitol Hill. The conclusion of the “emergency meeting” is that H.R. 2749 will come to the House floor for a vote under a “closed-rule,” which means no amendments were made in order. The bill, which is somewhat controversial among those in the agricultural community, will likely pass tomorrow by a significant majority based on today's Suspension of the Rules vote outcome...AALA

Farmers see prices tank for carbon credits

Farmers enrolled in a program that rewards them for reducing greenhouse gasses are finding the market for their carbon credits has shrunk amid the recession and uncertainty about climate legislation being crafted by Congress. Carbon dioxide credits are fetching about 60 cents a metric ton, down from a high of about $7 a year ago, according to the National Farmers Union, which runs the program. Farmers, ranchers and landowners earn credits by growing grasses and trees or using no-till farming practices, in which seeds are injected into the soil to reduce the amount of dirt turned over and carbon released. Livestock producers can participate by installing systems to capture methane from manure. The program pools the credits for sale on the Chicago Climate Exchange, a private agency that trades greenhouse gases and other pollutants just as other exchanges trade commodities such as crops and livestock. Corporations, cities and other exchange members buy the credits to help offset their emissions. The program's participants in 2006 and 2007 captured carbon dioxide from 2.8 million acres, or about the amount produced by 320,000 cars per year, Enerson said. Farmers usually receive payment for their credits - typically a few thousand dollars - in July. But those checks haven't been sent this year because most of the carbon credits pooled in 2008 have yet to be traded, Johnson and Enerson said...AP

Judge Rejects Farmers' RFID Lawsuit

A federal judge quashed a lawsuit by Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), a national nonprofit organization representing small farmers, that the group filed against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA). The group had argued that USDA's National Animal Identification System (NAIS) violated federal laws, and that the MDA's cattle-tracking program, which requires all Michigan cattle farmers to identify each animal by means of an RFID tag, is a financial burden to small farmers and violates the religious freedoms of cattle owners who believe that God prohibits their participation in any sort of governmental regulatory system that imposes upon them a "mark of the beast," as described in the Bible's Book of Revelations. The FTCLDF also claimed that rules under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) were violated, namely that the environmental, economic and social impacts were not properly evaluated before Michigan's and the USDA's cattle-tracking program were established. What's more, the suit contended that the USDA unfairly pressured the state of Michigan into adopting a mandatory cattle identification program. The judge determined in a July 23 decision, however, that the MDA's program was not influenced by the USDA, noting the USDA does not require any state or rancher to use RFID technology to track cattle. She ruled that the MDA program was instead a state regulation subject to the laws of Michigan State, rather than the federal government. For that reason U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ruled that the suit against the MDA was invalid. In her decision she noted that with NAIS, states "may choose to keep premises registration voluntary or not, based on local needs." The judge also ruled that "each of plaintiffs' six counts against USDA hinges on the erroneous assertion that NAIS requires the registration of PINs and the use of RFID tags.... NAIS is neither 'federal law' nor 'federal regulation.' It is an identification and tracking program developed by USDA and adopted by state agriculture departments on a voluntary basis." The judge, therefore, dismissed the plaintiffs' counts against USDA...RFIDJournal

Argentina feels chill as exports tumble

THE weather has been particularly foul in Argentina, with cold winds sweeping across the great plains of the Pampas, but that is as nothing compared with the mood of beef producers, who fear their formerly vast and vibrant industry will struggle to recover from its depressed state. In 2006, Argentina exported one million tonnes of beef to a range of destinations. This year exports will struggle to reach 100,000 tonnes. Malcolm Rodman, a rancher and industry expert, told The Scotsman: "Due to the fall in production, we will have only limited exports in 2010 and in 2011 there will be no chance of exporting beef. "We also have two million fewer calves on the ground than last year, which will result in a fall in volume equivalent to our normal exports. Farmers are used to climatic vagaries and while Argentina has been experiencing one of the worst droughts for many years, it is political interference that really upsets them. The per capita consumption of beef at an astonishing 70 kilos is the highest in the world and the government in Buenos Aires has been determined to keep domestic prices low by imposing export taxes to avoid the possibility of political unrest...Scotsman

Most of our producers will not be saddened by the lack of exports from Argentina.

The thing to note though is this: Produce a quality beef product that is popular with consumers and your product may become "politicized", a political pawn to be kicked around by elected officials. What kind of perverse incentive is that? And we thought our system was screwed up.

You NFU folks and similar types who keep lobbying for more programs, more subsidies, bigger and more powerful agencies, etc. take note: the government is not your friend.

Early preacher helped tame West Texas town

Probably because of Western movies, we tend to think of the American West as wild and wooly. In some cases it was. A lady named Opal Berryman set out to change that image a bit with her book about her father. She said that “good men were relatively few,” but they contributed “much to the proper development of the West.” In her book, Pioneer Preacher, she tells about growing up in West Texas as the oldest child of her Baptist preacher father, George Berryman. The family moved in 1905 to a town whose name she spelled “La Mesa.” Located 60 miles south of Lubbock, the community was platted only two years earlier in an area where the land was so flat it reminded newcomers of a tabletop. Although the Spanish “La Mesa” was suggested, the town committee chose to spell and pronounce it “Lamesa.” The railroad came in 1910. Actually, Lamesa grew after it won an election for county seat over the nearby Chicago. The Berrymans first had arrived in Chicago and so packed up and moved to Lamesa as did numerous other families. While in Chicago and looking for a place to stay, they found only an empty storefront in which to set up housekeeping. A local merchant sold the new family several yards of red calico material to put over the two front windows. With a borrowed wagon sheet attached to a wire, the storefront was divided into two rooms. Imagine the surprise of the new minister when on a Saturday night two drunk cowboys banged on the door, thinking the building was a bawdy house in a “red light” district...AzleNews

Song Of The Day #094

Todays song is by the Delmore Brothers.

It's their 1946 recording of She Left Me Standing On The Mountain.

This great song, along with many others are available on their 4 disc box set Classic Cuts, Vol. 2: The Later Years 1933-52.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Organic food is no healthier, study finds

Organic food has no nutritional or health benefits over ordinary food, according to a major study published Wednesday. Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said consumers were paying higher prices for organic food because of its perceived health benefits, creating a global organic market worth an estimated $48 billion in 2007. A systematic review of 162 scientific papers published in the scientific literature over the last 50 years, however, found there was no significant difference. "A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, but these are unlikely to be of any public health relevance," said Alan Dangour, one of the report's authors. "Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority." The results of research, which was commissioned by the British government's Food Standards Agency, were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition...Reuters

More than 130 years after their deaths, Buffalo Soldiers buried in Santa Fe National Cemetery

Three members of the famed Civil War-era Buffalo Soldiers, whose remains were disinterred during a federal grave-looting investigation two years ago, were given full military honors and reburied Tuesday at the Santa Fe National Cemetery. In an emotional tribute more than 130 years after their deaths, U.S. Army Pvts. Thomas Smith, Levi Morris and David Ford were laid to rest in wooden boxes at the national cemetery. Sketches of their faces adorned posters nearby. Members of the Tucson-based Arizona Buffalo Soldiers Association, in full period dress, served as pallbearers. Later, they sang a rendition of the cavalry song "Boots and Saddles," as about 100 people, including veterans and government officials, watched. Smith, Morris and Ford died between 1866 and 1877, and were among hundreds of so-called Buffalo Soldiers, all African American regiments of the Army who served at remote outposts on the Western frontier in the years after the Civil War...AP

Video - New Mexico 1940s - Travel Film Archive

An interesting period piece with film of Santa Fe and downtown Albuquerque, and several ranching segments.

Judge Hears Arguments Over Bighorn Forest Plan

Managers of Bighorn National Forest should have considered the potential environmental damage of livestock grazing more when they revised the forest's management plan, an attorney for an environmental group argued before a federal judge Tuesday. A U.S. Forest Service attorney countered that such a forest-wide look at grazing was neither required nor necessary. The revised management plan for the Bighorn National Forest in Northern Wyoming went into effect in 2005. Western Watersheds Project, based in Boise, Idaho, filed suit over the revision process in 2007. U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer took Tuesday's arguments under advisement and told both sides not to expect a ruling for at least a month. "I don't really have an indication where I'm going to go in this case," Brimmer said. The lawsuit claims laws including the National Environmental Policy Act required forest managers to a closer look at grazing in revising the plan. "The Forest Service didn't actually tell us what the impacts of grazing on the forest are," Western Watersheds Project attorney Natalie Havlina told Brimmer. "Livestock grazing isn't something that can just be left in the background in this part of the country when the Forest Service is considering how it's going to manager 1.1 million acres for the next 15 years," Havlina said, referring to the size of Bighorn National Forest. Other forests in the region have considered less grazing in revising their forest plans, she said...AP

Slump Mutes Call of the Wild

The promise of new jobs amid a recession is weakening the resolve of some rural residents to keep wildlands from development. That dynamic is evident around this historic mining town of about 1,650, which had long opposed a ski-resort expansion from nearby Mt. Crested Butte to the neighboring national-forest lands of Snodgrass Mountain. The proposal, which has come up several times in the past 30 years, had been repeatedly shot down by locals concerned skiing would ruin the popular hiking and biking area. But with the downturn, the Snodgrass expansion has been resurrected -- and this time it's drawing wide support. That's because the development would likely fuel a job surge in an area reeling from a slide in real estate and tourism. Housing prices are off as much as 20% from their 2006 peak, local officials say, while sales-tax receipts have slipped as much as 15% from 2008. Meanwhile, unemployment in surrounding Gunnison County rose to 5.9% in June from 3.8% a year ago. "The down economy definitely helps get people to support the expansion, because they understand the need to stimulate our ski product to get more people to come here," says Joseph Fitzpatrick Jr., town manager of Mt. Crested Butte, at the base of the resort...WSJ

Unable To See Wind's Deficiencies For Forests Of Concrete And Steel

On this side of the pond, legislators are promoting "green" energy and jobs, via new mandates, standards, tax breaks and subsidies. However, the U.S. would need 180,000 1.5-megawatt wind turbines by 2020, just to generate the 600 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity needed to comply with the Waxman-Markey global warming bill, retired energy and nuclear engineering professor James Rust calculates. Erecting these forests of concrete and steel would require millions of acres of scenic, habitat and agricultural lands, and 126 million tons of concrete, steel, fiberglass and "rare earth" minerals for the turbines (700 tons per turbine); prodigious quantities of concrete, steel, copper and land for new transmission lines; and still more land, fuel and raw materials for backup gas-fired generators. Posturing has already collided with reality in Texas. Austin's GreenChoice program cannot find buyers for electricity generated entirely from wind and solar power. After seven months, 99% of its most recent electricity offering remains unsold, as Austin's renewable electricity now costs three times more than standard electricity...IBD

Food safety bill headed for a vote

The House of Representatives is poised to vote on a historic food safety reform bill July 29. As some lawmakers and lobbyists continue fighting for last-minute changes to the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, the bill was positioned for an expedited vote in the House on July 29, Capitol Hill sources report. However, Capitol Hill contacts said that the timing could change. The Senate hasn’t completed work on its own food safety legislation. Emily Boneing, a legislative aide for Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, said July 28 it is unknown if changes would be incorporated into the bill before the full House vote. No copy of the bill was available for review July 28, she said. Kaptur and other six other lawmakers signed a letter to House Energy and Commerce leaders on July 23 seeking changes to address produce safety standards, traceability, registration fees and research priorities. Kaptur sought to focus FDA produce safety standards on value-added produce and also reduce record keeping requirements for traceability for smaller producers. A Washington D.C. lobbyist, speaking on background, said it is all but certain the bill will pass. He said the legislation is vague, which allows the FDA to write regulations with considerable flexibility. “The regulations will be the real law,” he said...ThePacker

So much for the separation of powers doctrine.

Scientists Expect Wildfires To Increase As Climate Warms In Coming Decades

As the climate warms in the coming decades, atmospheric scientists at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and their colleagues expect that the frequency of wildfires will increase in many regions. The spike in the number of fires could also adversely affect air quality due to the greater presence of smoke. Using a series of models, the scientists predict that the geographic area typically burned by wildfires in the western United States could increase by about 50% by the 2050s due mainly to rising temperatures. The greatest increases in area burned (75-175%) would occur in the forests of the Pacific Northwest and the Rocky Mountains. In addition, because of extra burning throughout the western U.S., one important type of smoke particle, organic carbon aerosols, would increase, on average, by about 40 percent during the roughly half-century period...ScienceDaily

Utility pays Forest Service $14.75 million in wildfire settlement

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is paying the U.S. Forest Service $14.75 million to settle damage claims stemming from a 1999 forest fire in Northern California. The payment is the second largest of its kind to the agency, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Last year the Forest Service won a $102-million settlement from Union Pacific Railroad Co. in a lawsuit involving another Northern California wildfire...LATimes

County fair roots grow from medieval times

Fairs date to medieval times when people weren't able to travel much, so tradesmen got together - usually once a year - to sell their wares and buy from others. In the United States, county and state fairs became popular as an "end-of-harvest" celebration in the 19th century, with mostly rural folks gathering to exhibit the best of their livestock, produce, flowers, sewing and quilting. Winning entries in county fairs often went on to exhibit at state fairs. Salida was founded in 1880 and during years that followed, residents were no doubt kept busy establishing a community, homes and businesses. But by 1893 the idea of a county fair was beginning to develop. A July 5, 1893, Salida Semi-Weekly Mail writer commented, "Why cannot Salida have a fair here next fall? No reason in the world why it should not. If the enterprising people of Salida will organize an association, prepare the grounds and offer the premiums...MountainMail

Song Of The Day #093

Country music lovers, it's time to break out the special Pink Music Player again.

Since we are all about diversity and equality here at Ranch Radio, we will from time to time have a special song to honor all you feminists out there.

Serving this important role today is Cowboy Copas singing If I Bring Home The Bacon.

This song has proven to be so popular that new copies of the CD are no longer available. Not to worry, you can purchase used copies of Copas' 26 track Copasetic.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Recovery of Mexican gray wolves remains elusive

Something has gone awry -- some would say everything has -- in the federal government's effort to reestablish the population of Mexican wolves, North America's most endangered mammal. Beginning with an initial release of 11 wolves in 1998, the Mexican wolf population in the Southwest was projected to reach at least 100 by 2006. Three years beyond, the number of wolves in the wild is half that. Wildlife managers -- following the program's often punitive rules -- have contributed to the deaths of more than 25 wolves through shooting, trapping, sedating, penning and relocating the notoriously skittish animals. A wolf slated for capture died of hyperthermia after a helicopter chase. At least eight wolves died of stress in holding pens. Six pups were killed when placed in the care of another captive pack. The program's most-photographed wolf -- Brunhilda, a young female in the first pack -- died after federal biologists captured her to perform a routine check; the animal became stressed and overheated during the examination and died...LATimes

Boom in hydropower pits fish against climate

The ability of the nation's aging hydroelectric dams to produce energy free of the curse of greenhouse gas emissions and Middle Eastern politics has suddenly made them financially attractive -- thanks to the new economics of climate change. Armed with the possibility of powerful new cap-and-trade financial bonuses, the National Hydropower Assn. has set a goal of doubling the nation's hydropower capacity by 2025. Expanding hydropower is fraught with controversy, much of it stemming from the industry's history of turning wild rivers into industrialized reservoirs struggling to support their remaining fish. The emerging boom in hydroelectric power pits two competing ecological perils against each other: widespread fish extinctions and a warming planet...LATimes

If the global warmists are correct, then this is fish vs. humans...and the fish are covered by the Endangered Species Act.

North Carolina to Ban Mountaintop Wind?

A furious battle over the aesthetics of wind energy has erupted in North Carolina, where lawmakers are weighing a bill that would bar giant turbines from the state’s scenic western ridgelines. The big machines would “destroy our crown jewel,” said Martin Nesbitt, a state senator who supports the ban, according to a report in The Winston-Salem Journal. As it currently stands, the bill would ban turbines more than 100 feet tall from the mountaintops. Residential-scale turbines (typically 50 to 120 feet high) could still go up, but the industrial-scale turbines that can produce 500 times as much power or more would be effectively ruled out. The legislation appeared likely to pass the state Senate last week, but got sent back to committee. Such a ban would be virtually unprecedented, according to Brandon Blevins, the wind program coordinator for the the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and it would make roughly two-thirds of North Carolina’s land-based wind potential unavailable...NYTimes

Feed-in Tariffs for Solar Continue To Spread

Variations on the policy that jumpstarted Germany’s decade-long boom in rooftop solar systems are taking root in more cities in the United States. The policy, called a feed-in tariff, offers small-scale producers of solar energy long-term contracts (usually at above-market rates) for the electricity they sell. Last week, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which serves 1.4 million people, approved a feed-in tariff that allows homeowners with solar panels a chance to sign up for 10, 15 or 20 years of guaranteed payments. The policy will take effect next January. The city of Gainesville, Fla., adopted a feed-in tariff this spring, as did Vermont. Washington state also has such a policy, and Hawaii is currently considering one. While feed-in tariffs are most closely associated with solar photovoltaic panels, utilities managing the programs in Vermont and Sacramento will also pay a set price for electricity generated from other renewable sources, like wind...NYTimes

Livestock Antibiotic Bill in the Works

A congressional committee recently held a hearing on a bill that proposes severe restrictions on the use of antibiotics in food animals. The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009 would ban "non-therapeutic" uses of antibiotics that are also used in humans. It is hoped that this would prevent antibiotic resistance and preserve these drugs to treat human infections. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) said there is no scientific proof that this ban would have any affect on resistance in human medicine. The AVMA said the bill affects food animals only and will not impact horses. "The AVMA opposes this legislation because it would increase animal disease and death--an unfortunate and unintended consequence--without assurance of improving human health. As defined within the text of the legislation, elimination of 'non-therapeutic' uses of antimicrobials would disallow disease prevention and potentially control uses. This type of broad based ban is contrary to the practice of veterinary medicine," the association stated. "We need tools that control herd health, not just treat disease. Animals that are exposed need to be treated prophylactically, and that is something that would be banned by the bill," said Ashley N. Shelton, DVM, of the AVMA. The American Association of Equine Practitioners has not taken a stand on the bill...TheHorse

Song Of The Day #092

Carl Smith's Satisfaction Guaranteed is our song today.

It's available on several of his collections, such as the 20 cut Don't Just Stand There: 20 Greatest Hits .

Monday, July 27, 2009

You will be "lured" not "coerced" out of your vehicle

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who said in May that he wanted to use federal policy to "coerce" people out of their cars, told on Friday that what he really meant to say is that he wants to use federal policy to "lure" people out of their cars. At a May 21 event at the National Press Club, LaHood responded to a piece in Newsweek written by columnist George Will, which quoted LaHood as saying, " I think we can change people's behavior," and mocked him as the "Secretary of Behavior Modification." At that May event LaHood talked about a Transportation Department initiative that is designed to change people's behavior by getting them to walk and use bicycles rather drive, and he specifically described the initiative as "a way to coerce people out of their cars."...CNSNews

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary a lure has several definitions. One is:

an inducement to pleasure or gain.

Another is:

a decoy for attracting animals to capture.

I'm thinking he wants us to believe the first, while he really means the second...and with no bag limit.

Whale-Watching Ship Hits, Impales Whale

It wasn't a pretty sight, but whale watchers on a cruise ship in Canada got more than they bargained for when they arrived at the port of Vancouver -- a dead whale stuck to the bow. The vessel apparently struck the 70-ton fin whale in the ocean and unknowingly carried it wedged to the bow from Alaskan waters to the Canadian port. The adult whale was an estimated 70 feet (21 meters) long...AP

Climate Bill: Chambliss wants numbers, more numbers

For an update on the Climate Bill and the activity of Senator Chambliss, Ranking Minority Member on the Senate Ag Committee, see this post at blogriculture.

A Picture Is Worth A 1000 Words

The picture on the left demonstrates the importance of private property rights more than words ever could. Taken in Zimbabwe, and put up by the Center for Global Development, this is an ariel view where the "dry communal lands on the left are sharply delineated from the green private farms dotted with lakes and ponds on the right–so sharply that soil quality and rainfall are unlikely to explain the difference." The center then provides a second image, taken after President Mugabe's attack on private property, and the seizing of farms by the State. The result is sadly predictable. The dams and irrigation systems on the private farms collapsed, making them look more like communal lands, to the detriment of all...Tim Andrews on ATR.

Water Restoration Act Threatens Ranchers, Small Business

Jim Chilton, a fifth generation rancher from southeast Ariz., testified today on behalf of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) during a House Committee on Small Business hearing on the Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA). Chilton, whose family has been in the cattle business for over 120 years, explained how the CWRA would threaten farmers and ranchers, in addition to small businesses, small communities, forestry, mining, and manufacturing on private and federally-managed lands. “This is essentially a limitless national land and water use control effort that will regulate every activity in a wet area in the nation,” said Chilton. “It’s nothing more than a ‘nice-sounding’ name which masks an economically and culturally devastating power grab, flagrantly violating both the spirit and the words of the U.S. Constitution.” The proposed Act—which passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last month—would drastically expand the Clean Water Act (CWA), giving the Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) and the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) control over all watersheds in the nation, and all “activities affecting these waters.” Since all land in the nation is within a watershed, it means that the Corps and EPA would have land-use control over farmers’ and ranchers’ property and other businesses not currently under the jurisdiction of the CWA. This new Federal jurisdiction would include hundreds of millions of isolated, intrastate pools, stock water ponds, springs, small lakes, depressions filled with water on an intermittent basis, drainage and irrigation ditches, irrigated areas that would otherwise be dry, sloughs, and damp places located on farms and ranches that have no nexus with any navigable waters...PressRelease

Coordination: Old concept, bold new weapon for property rights

The word coordinate has been around for quite a while, since at least the mid-seventeenth century, but its application as a strategy to protect property rights is relatively new. Now, a number of communities across the nation, and a growing group here in Wisconsin, are using the concept to force federal and state agencies to coordinate, or work integrally, with them in planning land-use projects. Simply put, a mandate for government agencies to coordinate with local governments is found in most federal land-use statutes and agency regulations, and in many state statutes. According to a Standing Ground white paper published last year by the groups Stewards of the Range - a pro-property rights organization - and the American Land Foundation, coordination was first required in a federal land use statute in 1976, in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and has been included in every federal land use legislation since. Some years ago, attorney Fred Kelly Grant, a land use expert who has served as president of Stewards of the Range (as of July 1, Stewards and the American Land Foundation merged to form American Stewards of Liberty), recognized the little-known requirement and began to use it to preserve local governments' policy prerogatives, not to mention private property rights. It sounds deceptively simply, but it can be deceptively powerful, having scored successes ranging from the preservation of grazing season length in Modoc County, Calif., to similar triumphs in Idaho, Texas and other states. Specifically, as last fall's white paper laid out, coordination requires early notification to a local government of all actions or plans of a federal agency that will affect those units of government, as well as giving those governments meaningful input into the planning process. It also requires an agency to consider a related local government policy or plan or management action, and to make every effort possible to make the federal policy, plan or action consistent with the local one...LakelandTimes

This article just shows how far ahead of his time Dick Manning really was.

Uranium Contamination Haunts Navajo Country

It was one year ago that the environmental scientist showed up at Fred Slowman’s door, deep in the heart of Navajo country, and warned that it was unsafe for him to stay there. The Slowman home, the same one-level cinderblock structure his family had lived in for nearly a half-century, was contaminated with potentially dangerous levels of uranium from the days of the cold war, when hundreds of uranium mines dotted the vast tribal land known as the Navajo Nation. The scientist advised Mr. Slowman, his wife and their two sons to move out until their home could be rebuilt. “I was angry,” Mr. Slowman said. “I guess it was here all this time, and we never knew.” The legacy wrought from decades of uranium mining is long and painful here on the expansive reservation. Over the years, Navajo miners extracted some four million tons of uranium ore from the ground, much of it used by the United States government to make weapons. Many miners died from radiation-related illnesses, and some, unaware of harmful health effects, hauled contaminated rocks and tailings from local mines and mills to build homes for their families...NYTimes

Las Cruces family gets glimpse of cattle's rough ranch life

A family recently learned firsthand how cruel nature can be when they came upon several head of livestock struggling to get out of the mud surrounding a watering hole. The situation so distressed the Las Crucens that they called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to intervene, but livestock experts say the grim scene at Corralitos Ranch is really just an unfortunate part of life on a ranch. Trey Bays, district livestock board supervisor for the Las Cruces area, said a livestock inspector responded on Sunday and he followed up himself a couple of days later. He said what they found at the site was not a case of ongoing animal abuse or neglect, but actually a relatively common occurrence. "Cows get stuck in the mud all the time," Bays said. "It's part of nature. Sometimes, you're just too late to save them. I don't think there's any neglect here." Dennis Hallford, professor of animal science at New Mexico State University, said even in the best of circumstances, it's normal for Western ranchers to lose about 1 percent of their cattle in a given year to poisonous plants, trouble calving, lightning strikes, predators - or even getting stuck in the mud. "It's certainly not a function of neglect on the part of the rancher," Hallford said...SilverCitySun-News

Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition launches Rangeland Monitoring Program

The Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition announces the launch of its Rangeland Monitoring Program and has contracted with two new Rangeland Technicians to implement on-site technical monitoring assistance. Funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service of Nebraska, the new NGLC Rangeland Monitoring Program provides assistance to landowners and managers in identifying grazing management goals and implementing a monitoring system to measure change. The program is available across the state on a first-come, first-serve basis for a low cost of only $25. Participants will receive an initial on-site consultation and training session with an NGLC Rangeland Technician who will provide assistance in identifying a monitoring plan, establishing one monitoring site and collecting samples. They will also receive a monitoring kit valued at over $175 consisting of grass shears, and a scale, tape measure, clipping frame and more. Dana Larsen, NRCS State Rangeland Management Specialist and NGLC advisor, said, "Ranchers and landowners who are dedicated to improving the quality of their grazing lands will ultimately see results in profitability, with economic and environmental changes that benefit the long-term sustainability of their business and the land." As part of enrollment, participants will agree to share their knowledge and experience--and help the program grow--by committing to help one additional rancher or landowner in their region set up a similar monitoring program. The program is limited to 100 participants statewide, and is expected to fill up fast, according to Larsen...HighPlainsJournal

Slater rancher Tom Williams pursues burro racing

Had everything gone to plan, Thursday’s workout would have been an important one, and Justine’s hesitation, even as slight as it was, might have been a worry. Everything hasn’t gone to plan, though, and instead of a final tune-up for Williams’ original goal — Saturday’s Burro Days race and celebration in Fairplay — Thursday’s jog saw Williams easing back into the sport. “That felt all right,” Williams said afterward, looking surprised. “I haven’t run for more than a week.” An early July riding accident ended Williams’ hopes of competing not just in the Fairplay race, but also in the other two spires of the triple crown of Colorado burro racing: the Gold Rush Days race in Buena Vista and the Boom Days race in Leadville. Williams fell from his horse and broke his ribs while checking the fence on a friend’s ranch. “The dog got after the horse and (it) bucked me off,” Williams said, looking at the floor and shuffling his feet. “It doesn’t really buck, but I lost a stirrup and fell.” Williams, a native of the Baggs, Wyo., area, has long been a regular runner. He’s completed in half a dozen marathons, logging finishes everywhere from Jacksonville, Fla., to Taos, N.M. He ran the Steamboat Marathon in 2006 and has been a regular in the Steamboat Springs Running Series throughout the years. “I still get between two and 10 miles a day,” said Williams, now 62 years old. It wasn’t until Justine came into his life that he contemplated burro racing. He got the animal from a friend and got the idea to race it from a flier for the Fairplay event...SteamboatPilot

Fair’s cattle drive reflects ranching legacy

The California Mid-State Fair opened this week with a cattle drive. It’s the real thing because San Luis Obispo County was a real “cow town.” The late Peter Andre recalled the days of cattle here: “It was great fun to become involved in cattle drives in those days. Before he died in the 1980s, George Souza, an old time rancher and also at times a cattle buyer, gave me two cashed and canceled checks, one dated in 1932, showing me receiving a day’s pay of $2.50, and one dated 1934 for $3.50 for one day’s pay driving cattle.” Pete’s father, grocer J. J. Andre, became a cattleman by default. Grocers extended credit to ranchers for supplies, sometimes for several years. Occasionally, when bad times hit, J. J. would acquire a ranch for the amount owed. That’s just the way it was in the Old West. Pete continues: “Before the days of trucks, we had to drive our cattle to either the slaughter house or stock yard from the ranch in the Irish Hills and Pecho area...TheTribune

Strong, Plentiful Green Chile Harvest Expected

New Mexico's harvest of the green chile crop is just a couple of weeks away, and experts already believe it will be a very strong and plentiful harvest. Stephanie Walker, a chile breeding researcher at New Mexico State University, said the chile fields look very good and the plants are loaded with peppers. "As long as Mother Nature cooperates for the rest of season, we will have an excellent crop," said Walker. The New Mexico green chile crop has had some difficult years recently due to insect problems and disease. In the state's top chile-producing area, Luna County, 25 percent of the crop was affected by disease and parasites during the 2008 harvest. Experts in Luna County said the chile fields "look phenomenal" this season. The county extension office said some growers are already preparing to harvest. K-FoxTV

Save the habitat, kill the turtles

Vin Suprynowicz

When -- in the name of heaven, I demand to know -- are those responsible for enforcing the Endangered Species Act going to do something about remediating the habitat devastation and starting to recover the minuscule remaining population, before it has dwindled past the point of no return, of that brave and noble beast, the poodle?

What? Are you serious, Vin? There are, like, 68 million domestic pet dogs in this country, and the poodle is the seventh most numerous breed. There are millions of poodles out there.

As a matter of fact, purebred poodles are among the 4 million to 6 million dogs euthanized in America each year because homes can't be found for them. America's dog and cat problem is not species extinction; it's overpopulation.

Well, to anyone tempted to respond in that manner, let me clarify for you what the Endangered Species Act is really all about. You see, the number of poodles living in domestic captivity doesn't count. Once we have succeeded in getting the noble poodle listed as threatened or endangered -- as it most certainly is, in the traditional range of its wild habitat -- all that will matter is the number of wild, untouched acres set aside. Once you've developed a house and a yard and put two happy poodles in it, for purposes of the federal ESA, you might as well have just shot the pups, because you have destroyed wild poodle habitat, and we are going to count your poodles as "taken," meaning dead. In fact, we may have to take steps to stop you from allowing them to breed, up to and including "euthanizing" your captive slave dogs, since "Unlimited breeding of an endangered species in captivity is something the community has to look into."

You think I'm making this up? Here in Las Vegas, Clark County's Desert Conservation Program -- a well-paid division of the county Department of Air Quality and Environmental Management -- is currently going hat in hand to the appropriate chain of federal agencies, asking "permission" to amend the so-called Desert Tortoise (and 77 other critters, including bugs and mosses) Habitat Plan, with the purpose of "allowing" the county to develop an additional 215,000 acres of adjoining stinking desert in the decades to come.

The theory, you see, is that any human activity which "moves dirt" destroys tortoise habitat, and cannot be allowed unless developers obtain federal permits for the "incidental take" of tortoises (regardless of whether a single tortoise is seen or killed), including a fee or fine of $550 per acre, which is used to build "tortoise fences" to keep the turtles from crossing the road to get to water, and so forth.

Wow. Under that theory, there must be practically no tortoises left in the Las Vegas Valley, which has now been heavily developed for decades. Right?

Actually, officials have rounded up more than 10,000 of the little buggers, right here in the Vegas Valley, turning them over to the Fish and Wildlife's Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, where they and their progeny are farmed out as pets, or for experiments. Those that aren't euthanized for having runny noses, you understand. Marci Henson of the county's Desert Conservation Program estimates about 2 percent of the poor little "threatened" reptiles get "euthanized."

("Run, little tortoises, run!" as former County Commissioner Don Schlesinger once put it.)

Sometimes, on a Saturday morning, I drive around this town, visiting garage sales. I've seen quite a few kids playing with their desert tortoises in their driveways. Cliven Bundy, the last cattle rancher in Clark County, tells me when the Kern River pipeline people came through and did a federally mandated tortoise population density study as part of their required Environmental Impact Statement, they found several times more tortoises per acre on the lands where the Bundys have water tanks for their cattle than they found in the hot, dry desert -- and literally 10 times the tortoise population density -- the highest densities recorded -- right here in the Las Vegas valley.

This isn't even counterintuitive. Early explorers found precious few tortoises in the dry Mojave desert, where the toothless reptiles struggle to find enough water and edible tender shoots. The Spaniards found only shells and thought them extinct. These animals developed in an ecosystem which had large toothy vegetarians -- deer, elk, whatever -- to crop back the brush, a role now filled only by cattle.

In the 1920s and 1930s, tortoise populations swelled artificially as ranchers ran cattle on these lands and killed the tortoises' main predators, the coyote and the raven.

As "environmentalists" have succeeded in running the ranchers off the land, the cattle have vanished, no one is any longer shooting coyotes and ravens, and thus tortoise populations have slumped back to historically normal levels.

Are there now more tortoises, or fewer, than when cattle grazed the land? How many tortoises are there? Fish and Wildlife is still working to establish a "baseline population number," Ms. Henson replies.

Twenty years after the tortoise received an "emergency listing" as a threatened species in 1989, they're still trying to establish a "baseline"? So when will they be able to tell us whether we have enough new tortoises, bred in their joyous cattle-free paradise, to de-list the species and allow humans to get back to developing our land as we see fit? Eighty years from now? Eight hundred?

Twenty years and no one has done a simple control experiment, releasing 300 tortoises on Cliven Bundy's grazed land with its water tanks and cattle, and another 300 tortoises on an adjoining dry, desolate and cattle-free valley, coming back three years later to count which valley has more tortoises and which seem healthier?

All this bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo is based on the presumption that any "human interference" with the dry and stinking desert ruins it as tortoises habitat, when the truth -- that tortoises actually do much better with people around, just like roaches and pigeons and hummingbirds -- stares us right in the face.

Cue "Thus Spake Zarathustra." Remove the blindfold, please. No, Mr. Tortoise, you haven't died and gone to heaven. We call this ... a golf course.

If they really wanted more tortoises, any old desert rat can tell them the solution is to shoot ravens and coyotes. Mind you, I'm not recommending that. We've got plenty of tortoises right now.

These people don't care about tortoises -- they're euthanizing them, for heaven's sake. The tortoise -- or whatever moss or bug or flycatcher eventually takes it place -- is merely a stand-in, a cat's paw, to give federal bureaucrats and their lunatic green pals complete control over development of private land in the West.

Just how fecund are those 10,000 captive tortoises, I asked Marci Henson.

"Oh, we think a lot of those ten thousand were pet tortoises, we believe as few as 2 percent may have actually been wild."

How can they tell -- the turtles came in wearing little knitted sweaters and booties? They keep trying to sit up and shake hands?

Besides, Ms. Henson said, quite seriously, "Unlimited breeding of an endangered species in captivity is something the community has to look into."

"To stop it?" I asked.

"Yes," said Marci Henson.

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of the books "The Ballad of Carl Drega" and "The Black Arrow." See and

Maxine Hille 1919-2009

Maxine Hille passed away at the age of 89 at Mesilla Valley Hospice's La Posada in Las Cruces following a short illness, July 21, 2009. Her husband, Dick Hille, preceded her in death in 1998.
She is survived by a son, Rod Hille and wife, Bonnie, of Engle, N.M.; daughters, Ann Mobley and husband, Tom, of Doña Ana, N.M.; Linda Edwards and husband, Joel, of Hurley, N.M., and Gayle Ayers and husband, Jim, of Estancia, N.M.; a son, Freddie, predeceased her in 1941 at the age of 3.
Surviving grandchildren are Clint Hille, of Gonzalez, Texas; Bonnie Jo (Hille) Lee and husband, Randy, of Edmond, Okla.; Lori (Mobley) Snodgrass and husband, Mel, of Santa Teresa, N.M.; Fred Mobley and wife, Rebecca, of Las Cruces, N.M.; Jeff Mobley and wife, Cristy, of Nichols Hills, Okla.; Lisa (Edwards) Smith and husband, Darryl, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Jolene (Edwards) Latta and husband, Marty, of Marana, Ariz.; Jason Edwards and wife, Rhonda, of Hurley, N.M.; Jamie Ayers and wife, Christy, of Lubbock, Texas; Jimi Ann (Ayers) Losleben and husband, Chris, of Glendale, Ariz.; and Jeremy Ayers of Glendale, Ariz.
She has 21 great-grandchildren, Shelbi, Blake, Audra, Ross, and Cade Lee; Stephanie and Chance Snodgrass; Brannon and Annalies Mobley; Mackenzie and Madison Mobley; Ryder and Sophia Smith; Dustin Latta; Jayross and Jaycee Edwards; Ethan, Aubree, and Jayton Ayers; and Bradley and Jocelyn Losleben.
Maxine was born on Nov. 21, 1919, into the family of a horse-and-buggy country doctor in Wellington, Texas. The family that included father, Dr. W. W. Beach; mother, Ethel Beach; brother, Gaston Beach; and sister, Zenada Beach Anglin, all preceded her in death.
The Beach family followed the traveling doctor with residences in several west Texas towns during the first five years of Maxine's life. In 1924, they settled in Shamrock where the doctor established a private hospital, then called a "sanitarium." The family home and separate living quarters for nurses, along with laundry facilities for the sanitarium, were located on an adjacent lot.
In 1935, Maxine met Dick Hille during a family visit to Hot Springs, N.M., now Truth or Consequences. During the night of June 11, the couple eloped and were married by a justice of the peace in Kingston, whom they had to awaken to perform the ceremony.
Together, Dick and Maxine homesteaded on the Seco Canyon near the Rio Grande adjacent to present day Caballo Lake, where they built their home and hand dug a well for irrigation and house water. Maxine continued her schooling, riding the school bus to Hot Springs each day, and graduated from Hot Springs High School. They "proved up" on the homestead and received the patent in 1938.
When construction on Caballo Dam began, Dick was hired on the project and became a skilled blacksmith and welder. During the World War II years, those skills were considered essential to the war effort and the couple moved through a series of military support projects in Oklahoma, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. In 1946, they returned to N.M. and established Las Cruces Welding and Fabrication in Las Cruces, which they owned and operated until 1973.
In 1959, Dick and Maxine bought the V O Bar Ranch adjoining White Sands Missile Range in northern Doña Ana County and southern Sierra County. During the ensuing years, they maintained the home and business properties in Las Cruces, along with the ranch. Following Dick's death in 1998, Maxine sold the city properties, building a home near her daughter Ann north of Doña Ana. In 2004, she sold the ranch, and in 2008, sold the home to live her final days with Ann and Tom.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Monday July 27, 2009, preceded by family visitation at 9 a.m., at Fairacres Baptist Church, where Maxine was a longtime member, under the direction of the Rev. Dr. Robert Donohue, with burial following at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens. Maxine's grandsons will serve as pallbearers.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts be made to Fairacres Baptist Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 257, Fairacres, N.M. 88003; or to Mesilla Valley Hospice, Inc, 299 Montana Ave., Las Cruces, N.M. 88005
Arrangements by Getz Funeral Home, corner of Solano and Bowman Ave., Las Cruces, N.M.; (575) 526-2419. To sign the local online guest book, go to

Sunday, July 26, 2009



Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Read Julie's column today not just for pleasure, but for commentary. She's said more by using children, dancing and smiling in the rain than I and most political pundits have said using all kinds of political lingo.

God bless the country folk

Julie Carter

Is dancing on a dirt floor and laughing in the rain a sign that, maybe, perhaps, we the people are headed back to some basics in life?

Through my job, I've paid pretty close attention to rural trends and traditions for the past decade, hot on the trail of fun with a camera and keyboard. I recorded, documented, cussed, discussed and inquired myself through event after event throughout the years.

In the beginning, the families that had young children they watched and worried over, have now seen them off on their first date followed too soon, by seeing them off to college.

Those who had toddlers that crawled in the dirt under the bleachers at the 4th of July rodeo and dug in the sand pile at the county fair are now waiting late for them at the rodeo dance.

Year after year, it was the same, sometimes a few new faces, but life moved through its paces like a filmstrip on a steadily turning reel.

Country folk have always been able to find a way to enjoy life using what was at hand. All it took was family and friends with a dose of food and some music.

Ingredients for happy moments.

None of that has changed much. Even this far into the age of high-tech living where those same kids own iPods, cell phones and laptop computers, the basics of rural family entertainment still remain.

Those boot-scootin' teens will happily show up at a country dance - hats on, belt buckles shining and smiles that light up a barn.

It started when they were barely big enough to walk. Momma or Daddy took them out on the dance floor and danced with them.

By the time they were in the fourth grade, they were finding their own dancing partners, usually someone they had played with in the mud under the bleachers when they were toddlers.

A huge part of this country is living in situations and circumstances that are far from entertaining or uplifting. Fear and worry feed the stress they wear on their faces.

I believe the majority of people in those places have forgotten how to have fun. They have no way to fight it except with what ends up as addictions and a boiling rage at life in general.

I know people have been dancing in barns on dirt floors since they invented barns.

They've laughed and smiled in the rain since the beginning of rain, except for, maybe, those folks stuck on the shore while the ark floated off over the horizon.

However, what I see now, and I could just be all dusty and/or wet, is a new levity of spirit as folks gather to celebrate something worthwhile, something simple.

It seems to me the smiles come easier, folks laugh more readily and there is an elevated appreciation for friendships and the freedom to be happy.

A joyful spirit is a generous spirit and when there is a need, even the poor will pull out their pockets and empty them for a cause. That fuels even more joy. Pie auctions and passing the hat are two of the original bailout plans.

Is this the upside of a disastrous economy and uncertainty for tomorrow? Are we, the people, finally realizing that what we have right here in front of us is precious and that simple things can bring great pleasure?

I'm just saying, I'm convinced those folks dancing in the barn and smiling in the rain have something figured out.

The recipe isn't new, but the enthusiasm is renewed.

I'm all for passing a little more of that around.

Julie, who never did learn the Cotton-eyed Joe, can be reached for comment at

Song Of The Day #091

Today's gospel song is I Heard My Savior Calling Me.

It's available as the fifth cut on her CD Dust On The Bible.