Friday, August 07, 2009

Climate Bill Is Threatened by Senators

Ten moderate Senate Democrats from states dependent on coal and manufacturing sent a letter to President Obama on Thursday saying they would not support any climate change bill that did not protect American industries from competition from countries that did not impose similar restraints on climate-altering gases. The letter warned that strong actions to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases would add to the cost of goods like steel, cement, paper and aluminum. Unless other countries adopt similar emission limits, the senators warned, jobs will migrate overseas and foreign manufacturers will have a decided cost advantage. “As Congress considers energy and climate legislation,” the senators wrote, “it is important that such a bill include provisions to maintain a level playing field for American manufacturing.” The 10 senators are seen as crucial undecided votes in the Senate debate on climate legislation. The House narrowly passed a climate bill in late June, but the Senate is moving slowly, in part because it is preoccupied with health care legislation. The senators represent Midwestern and coal-producing states from which many of the 44 Democrats who voted against the measure in the House come from. Without their support, it is unlikely that the Senate can pass a major climate change bill...NYTimes

Tiny prairie grouse could hamper wind energy plans in Texas Panhandle, South Plains

A little prairie grouse could give the wind energy industry big fits. Should the lesser prairie chicken become listed as threatened or endangered – and it's close now – significant restrictions would be placed on companies hoping to plant towering turbines across a five-state region believed to have some of the nation's best wind energy potential. "We've never seen the likes of this," said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist Heather Whitlaw, who is part of conservation efforts with the other states and believes the bird could be listed within two years. "Anybody who puts anything on our landscape would be evaluated in one form or another." Scientists believe the prairie chicken population has dropped 80 percent nationally since 1963, the result of habitat loss and fragmentation, population isolation, drought and changes in land use. They once numbered about 3 million across an area that stretches through eastern New Mexico, eastern Colorado, western Kansas, northwestern Oklahoma and parts of the Texas Panhandle and South Plains. Estimates show their population now at about 30,000. The birds' habitat could shrink more beginning in September, when 1.3 million acres in the five-state area come out of a federal land conservation program started about 25 years ago. Farmers and ranchers may then use the land as they wish – which could include crop cultivation that would eliminate more of the birds' breeding and nesting grounds...AP

Oil shale and its not-so-repetitive past

When it comes to the future of the American West, how we think about the history of oil shale is of immediate and direct consequence. No place in the world matches this region in the abundance of this resource. The Shale Country region that straddles the T-shaped border of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming holds enough oil shale to dwarf the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. But oil shale is a resource of unusual persnickityness. Dark-hued rocks found in pockets along the Western Slope of the Rockies contain a high concentration of petroleum-like kerogens that will ignite when exposed to enough heat. An individual or group with hopes to put this resource to commercial use must extract the oil from the rock by mimicking the natural geologic process that produced conventional deposits of oil and gas, the process that will eventually take place in Shale Country over millennia if the rock is left undisturbed. Twice in the twentieth century, with the start of World War One and then with the energy crisis of the 1970s, anxiety about the nation’s energy security prompted the federal government to encourage the development of oil shale. Federal support artificially stimulated large-scale rushes based on the hope that, with enough money and effort, industry would discover a viable, cost-effective technology. But then, as the price for oil declined and the nation’s energy anxiety subsided, the commitment to a long-shot resource like oil shale waned. The artificial booms collapsed into very real busts. On the Western Slope of Colorado, the “Black Sunday” bust in 1982 marked an extraordinary episode of big hopes and ambitions hitting the rocks...HeadwatersNews

EnergySolutions' Utah site due trainloads of depleted uranium

More trains filled with depleted uranium are coming to Utah. Even as state regulators consider a moratorium on new shipments of the radioactive material -- which becomes more hazardous over time -- the U.S. Department of Energy plans to ship another 14,800 barrels of it to the EnergySolutions Inc. disposal site in Tooele County. Part of the $1.6 billion in federal stimulus money for the Savannah River cleanup site in South Carolina will pay for rail cars filled with depleted uranium to be buried in Utah during the next 13 months. "This is exactly the situation we were hoping to prevent by asking the state Radiation Control Board to enact a moratorium on depleted uranium," said Christopher Thomas of the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah. The EnergySolutions site, about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City, has buried 49,000 tons of depleted uranium waste from past cleanups nationwide...SaltLakeTribune

Multiplying like bunnies? Not this jackrabbit

Rabbits are certainly known for their propensity for multiplying, but one species of jackrabbit is having trouble keeping up. There are an estimated 150 white-sided jackrabbits left in the United States, and federal wildlife officials announced Wednesday they will study the elusive rabbit to determine if it needs to be protected under the Endangered Species Act. It's not lack of libido that's holding back the white-sided jackrabbit. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the biggest threat is change to the rabbits' habitat brought on by drought, grazing, the suppression of wildfire and the encroachment of shrubs into the Chihuahuan grasslands of New Mexico's bootheel — the only place in the United States where the jackrabbit has been documented. Wildfire helps keep shrubs in check and revitalizes grasslands, which the rabbits depend on. The rabbit also lives in Mexico, and those populations have also declined, said Nicole Rosmarino, a biologist with the Western environmental group WildEarth Guardians. In New Mexico, the rabbit has been listed as a state endangered species since 1975...AP

Song Of The Day #101

I've been remiss in not including some early bluegrass in our selections. Country radio use to play bluegrass and country side by side. It's only in the modern era where they have been separated on various radio stations.

We'll start with one of the most influential groups, Flatt & Scruggs. Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs recorded Down The Road in 1949, not long after breaking up with Bill Monroe.

This cut is available on the 4 disc box set Flatt & Scruggs 1948-1959.

Endangered birds released onto Goliad ranch

An endangered Texas bird breathed new life on Thursday thanks to a zoo, private ranch land and a program that links the two. Conservationists released 10 4-month-old Attwater's prairie chickens on a ranch that spans portions of Refugio and Goliad counties. The chickens, bred in captivity at an Abilene zoo, were fixed with radio collars, delivered in wooden boxes and dusted for parasites. The birds will live for two weeks in pens and on diets designed to prepare them for life in the wild. The Attwater's prairie chicken numbered a million a century ago. Today, fewer than 130 roam the wild and all do so in Texas. "In Texas, the vast majority of land is privately owned," said Roger Welder, owner of Vidauri Ranch, location of the bird release. "We've learned to work with these groups for the benefit of us all. Our objectives are really aligned."...VictoriaAdvocate

Mountain Lion Killed At Elementary School

Colorado Department of Wildlife officials killed a mountain lion at Park Elementary School on Monday morning after a woman in the neighborhood called police. "We don't want mountain lions in the town," DOW spokesman Joe Lewandowski said. "So, we had our officer shoot and kill the mountain lion on site." Lewandowski said the mountain lion was a 2-year-old male and weighed about 75 pounds. In July of last year, two mountain lions were killed inside Durango city limits, with one killed at a home on east 11th Street and the other near the Ninth Street bridge. Both were adolescents - about 1 to 2 years of age and weighed about 50 pounds each. Lewandoski said full-grown mountain lions can weigh 150 pounds or more. He said sightings of mountain lions are a weekly occurrence...DurangoHeraldNews

Rancher kills persistent bear after failing to scare it away

The number of bears that have been shot by concerned campers and homeowners continues to grow as another bear was shot this week north of Bryce Canyon National Park at John's Canyon. The same 300-pound male black bear had been spotted at the private ranch in Garfield County five times in the days prior to the shooting, said Lynn Chamberlain, conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources. The landowner chased the bear away twice Monday night, once after it was seen rummaging through garbage cans and again when it was caught eating grain from sacks located in the back of a pickup truck. Chamberlain said that while it is common for bears to "take whatever's easy" when it comes to food, the recent weather should have provided them with plenty...DeseretNews

Push is on for mine cleanup funds to go to uranium sites

The name Poison Canyon offers a hint of what's faced by those trying to clean up abandoned uranium mines in the West. The area north of the village of Milan contains some of the 259 abandoned uranium sites in New Mexico that need cleanup. State officials are pressuring the federal government to direct more money to those areas because of their unique hazard of radioactivity. "In this case, a pile of rocks is more than just a pile of rocks," said New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division Director Bill Brancard. There are hundreds of thousands of safety issues at abandoned hardrock mines in 13 western states, according to the Government Accountability Office. Thousands of sites, many dating to the 19th century, also are considered environmentally damaged. The GAO lists about 800 abandoned hardrock mine sites in New Mexico and says at least one-fourth have environmental problems such as radioactivity or chemical contamination. Half of Wyoming's 956 sites are environmentally degraded, as are 9,900 of Arizona's 50,000 abandoned sites and 5,200 of California's 47,000-plus sites...AP

National ID Card Hacked In 12 Minutes

Laurie is holding one of 51,000 ID cards issued by the Home Office to foreign nationals currently working or studying in Britain. It is similar to the ID card for British citizens unveiled last week by Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, as part of the Government's ongoing National Identity Scheme. But as I watch, Laurie picks up a mobile phone and, using just the handset and a laptop computer, electronically copies the ID card microchip and all its information in a matter of minutes. He then creates a cloned card, and with a little help from another technology expert, he changes all the information the card contains - the physical details of the bearer, name, fingerprints and so on. And he doesn't stop there. With a few more keystrokes on his computer, Laurie changes the cloned card so that whereas the original card holder was not entitled to benefits, the cloned chip now reads 'Entitled to benefits'. As a chilling twist, he adds a message that would be visible to any police officer or security official who scanned the card: 'I am a terrorist - shoot on sight.' And all of this has been done in such a way as to fool the electronic readers intended to check the ID card's authenticity. It is, quite simply, a terrifying achievement...DailyMail

More ask to carry concealed weapons

Gun owners are packing heat in record numbers, fearful of stricter gun control under the Obama administration and higher crime in a sour economy. Some states and counties report a surge in applications for concealed weapons permits since the November election. All states but Illinois and Wisconsin allow concealed weapons, but requirements differ. Applications already have hit a record this year in Clay County, Mo., where the sheriff's office received 888 through June, compared with 863 in all of last year, Sheriff Bob Boydston says. In the past, applicants tended to be middle-aged men, he says, but now include "grandmothers, older folks, young women, young men." They also fear gun control, he says. Last week, an elderly couple seeking a permit told him they were sure the president was "on the verge of coming to our homes and taking our weapons," he says. Statewide, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has processed 18,878 background checks this year for the permits, the most since the agency began keeping statistics in 2005, Lt. John Hotz says...USAToday

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Court strikes down 2005 change to forest roadless rule

A federal court Wednesday reinstated protection for tens of millions of acres of federal forests in Oregon and across the West. But the ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals does not end the uncertainty of the long-debated "roadless rule" for national forests. The Roadless Area Conservation Rule, put forward in 2001 by the Clinton administration, banned road construction or logging in 58.5 million acres of largely undeveloped forest lands, nearly a third of the total area managed by the Forest Service. Almost immediately, the rule was challenged in court. The Bush administration chose not to defend it and in 2005 replaced it with the State Petitions Rule, which left it to the states to decide which roadless areas in their boundaries should be protected. On Wednesday, a panel of three judges determined the Bush rule illegal, and the judges reinstated the Clinton era rule except in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska and in Idaho, which created its own plan for its roadless forests. "The Forest Service's use of a categorical exemption to repeal the nationwide protections of the Roadless Rule and to invite States to pursue varying rules for roadless area management was unreasonable," said the ruling, which upheld a lower court's decision. The Forest Service, the judges said, failed to comply with national environmental laws and wrongly asserted that the change to the roadless rule wouldn't affect endangered species or their habitat...Oregonian

Song Of The Day #100

For our 100th song Ranch Radio has selected some tunes by Jimmie Rodgers, The Father Of Country Music.

My mother, Wanda DuBois, got to see him perform in person. I asked her to send me her memories of Rodgers and of that performance, and here's what she wrote:

In 1931 I lived with my family in a small Texas town called Douglass. The school was right across from the largest store and I made friends with the older couple who ran it - mostly groceries, but you could get a sandwich. Everyone who knew me also knew I loved Jimmie Rodgers, so this couple invited me to bring my lunch, eat in their livingroom and listen to their Jimmie Rodgers records. So, at age 11, I had it made!!! Spent many hours in that place and loved every minute. Finally, when I was 12, somehow we found out that Jimmie was to appear in Alto, Texas. This was 1932 in the Spring - we went and I am not sure who was the most thrilled! The only theater in Alto showed movies on weekends only so that's where Jimmie appeared - the theater manager came out and introduced Jimmie - the curtains parted and there was nothing on the stage but a straight chair. Then Jimmie walked out with his guitar, wearing a beautiful white Stetson hat, walked over to that chair, propped his foot up and started playing "T for Texas." He played a few more songs and then asked the audience, "Do you folks like my hat?" Everyone clapped, whistled and yelled, "Yes!" Jimmie said, "It's a good thing, 'cause I have lost all my hair and I am not taking this hat off!" Then he continued singing for two hours - songs like "Waiting for a Train," one of my favorites. He finally said, "This is it," and closed the show with "TB Blues." Seeing and hearing Jimmie was the highlight of my childhood, and we all cried when he died.

Mom's memory is pretty good, as the book Jimmie Rodgers: The Life and Times of America's Blue Yodeler confirms he was touring in that part of Texas in April and May of 1932. Within a year he was dead from TB.

All of Rodger's recordings are available on the 6 disk box set The Singing Brakeman.

I have chosen two songs for your listening pleasure, and those would be the ones he opened and closed his show with the night my Mom saw him in person: T for Texas (originally titled "Blue Yodel") from 1928 and T.B. Blues from 1931.

Desperate Times: Arizona Leases State House

...And Arizona faces its own catastrophe. Its budget shortfall, while at $3.4 billion not as large as California’s, represents 30 percent of its $10.7 billion budget. After months of wrangling over how to meet the shortfall — program cuts versus tax cuts — a possible solution was reached this week, four weeks into the state’s new fiscal year: the lease of 32 government-owned properties including the State House, a prison, and a state hospital. The plan involves selling the properties for a quick infusion of cash, and their leaseback over a period of years. Lamentations over the leasebacks are misplaced. Unlike other states — California is “borrowing” money from its cities, New Jersey secured a line of credit from J.P. Morgan to pay its debts — Arizona is taking a step in the right direction. In fact, looking at the proposed list, it’s not clear why several of the properties aren’t just sold outright. Does the state need to own a Coliseum and Exposition Center?...Eileen Norcross

Best Headline I've Seen In A Long Time

D.C.'s new mental hospital 'too small'

Opposing camps agree on rewriting toxin law

Environmentalists and chemical manufacturers don't often agree. But on Tuesday, environmentalists and industry leaders called on Congress to change the way that the country protects children from toxic chemicals. The law that governs toxins, the Toxic Substances Control Act, is more than 30 years old and "badly broken," says Richard Denison, senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund. In three decades, the Environmental Protection Agency has used the law to ban or severely restrict only about half a dozen chemicals, says Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. Members of the American Chemistry Council, which represents chemical manufacturers, agreed that the law has not kept pace with science. Giving the EPA more money and power to ban dangerous substances will help restore confidence, says the council's president and chief executive officer, Cal Dooley. "It is clear that many in the public for a variety of reasons do not have a lot of confidence in the system," Dooley said at a news conference...USAToday

Fed study: Climate bill spells gloom for jobs

Despite President Obama's prediction that it would create new jobs, the climate change bill passed by the House will mean fewer jobs by 2030 than if Congress did nothing at all, according to the first comprehensive study of the measure by the federal government. The Democrat-controlled House narrowly passed its climate change bill on a 219-212 vote June 26. A week later, Mr. Obama told chief executives that the legislation "holds the promise of millions of new jobs -- jobs, by the way, that can't be outsourced." Mr. Chu repeated the assertion Tuesday. But a chart in the EIA report showed the employment rate -- just like the economy as a whole -- worsening for the first several years, improving slightly in the midterm, peaking in 2024 and then declining steadily. It showed 0.25 percent fewer jobs in 2030 under the Democrats' bill, with the manufacturing sector suffering a 2.5 percent lag. For the economy as a whole, immediate energy price spikes would be followed by relative calm as the economy adjusted. But when stricter rules go into effect in 2025 "the rapid increase in energy prices causes the economy to contract," EIA said...WashTimes

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The same old Sen. Reid?

Nevada Sen. Harry Reid "is a son-of-a-bitch," a professional environmentalist in Washington, D.C., griped last week. It's an epithet that fits many denizens of Congress, especially those who walk over people while climbing to power. Reid, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader, has that kind of toughness, honed by childhood poverty and his father's suicide. When an environmentalist criticizes Reid, though, it might seem out of line. Reid has voted green on at least 75 percent of the key environmental bills over the last 10 years, according to the League of Conservation Voters. But sometimes the senator takes spectacularly anti-green positions. He's the political architect of a proposed 6-foot-diameter, 300-mile-long pipeline that would suck up rural groundwater for Las Vegas' use, for instance. Most egregiously, he's the bulwark protecting the decrepit General Mining Act of 1872. It's a D.C. ritual: Year after year, environmentalists try to reform the mining law and year after year, Reid blocks them. In the last session of Congress, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would have imposed royalties and used some of the revenue to clean up pollution. The bill was never even introduced in the chamber that Reid runs, because the other senators knew it was useless and didn't want to incur his wrath. In the current session, Sen. Jeff Bingaman -- a fellow Democrat from New Mexico -- has dared to try. He's sponsoring a bill that's vague and loopholed but better than nothing. It would impose royalties only on new mines, somewhere between 2 percent and 5 percent of the value of their production, while allowing the companies to deduct transportation and processing costs. It would also impose a special fee (up to 1 percent) to raise money for mine reclamation. And -- this is crucial -- it would establish more ways for environmentalists, agencies and local governments to prevent mining in sensitive areas...HCN

Healing Amid the Herd - Don Imus

Over the last 11 summers Don Imus and his wife, Deirdre, have welcomed nearly 1,000 children with cancer to their cattle ranch here in northern New Mexico for weeklong stays intended to be more work than play. But this is the first season they have done so since Mr. Imus himself learned that he had cancer. In March a biopsy confirmed that Mr. Imus, the outspoken talk show host, had Stage 2, or intermediate, prostate cancer. Though he was initially advised to begin radiation treatments, he has so far chosen to treat the disease holistically. He has been dutifully ingesting habanero peppers and Japanese soy supplements as part of a regimen partly devised by his wife, a natural foods proponent, and monitored by a urologist at Columbia University Medical Center. “The kids want to know why, if I have cancer, I have so much hair,” Mr. Imus, 69, said in a recent interview in the Imus Ranch kitchen, rustling his shaggy, reddish-gray mane. The Imuses modeled the ranch, which is set on more than 4,000 acres dotted with juniper and pinyon trees, at least partly on the 35,000-acre working cattle ranch in Arizona where Mr. Imus grew up. After establishing the ranch as a nonprofit organization, Mr. Imus raised $40 million in donations for it, some from companies whose names appear like billboards on ranch buildings, like the Aflac Rodeo Arena. Over the years the couple have contributed $10 million of their own money to the ranch, they said, and Mrs. Imus said they also pay the ranch’s annual administrative expenses, which are more than $250,000...NYTimes

'Dead zone' strategy rattles farm interests

The fight over the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone" - a problem scientists say can be traced in large part to Iowa and its sister farming states - has ramped up as the Obama administration considers a regulatory attack on the problem. Suzanne Schwartz, who directs a division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency working on the dead-zone issue, said the federal government and Louisiana researchers are checking to see whether the pollution violates water quality standards. If it does, "Louisiana could set standards for what comes in," using the legal authority of the Clean Water Act, Schwartz said at a news conference this week. "That is not a short-term, immediate action but something we are looking at." Said Jane Lubchenco, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: "This is an issue we take seriously." The possibility drew immediate fire from Iowa agricultural interests, which pointed out that this year's dead zone is far smaller than predicted and among the smallest in recent history. The dead zone is an area left largely lifeless in summer as algae fed by a mixture of Midwestern fertilizers, sewage and dead plants from the Mississippi River watershed die off, consuming oxygen. Biologists call this hypoxia. There are at least 200 such zones worldwide. The U.S. Geological Survey has said that nine states - Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi - are responsible for 70 percent of the nitrogen and phosphorus running into the Gulf of Mexico. At issue is not only water quality in those states but disruption of Louisiana's lucrative shrimping industry...DesMoinesRegister

Video: Premier of Split Estate

One won't see a drilling rig on the corner of 32nd and Broadway, but Split Estate, a new documentary that tells the story of a David versus Goliath struggle raging in the West, exposes why there is plenty cause for concern in the Big Apple anyway. Split Estate joins the stellar line-up at the International Documentary Association's DocuWeeks 2009 and will enjoy a theatrical release at the IFC Center in New York City and the ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles (August 7 - 13), which will qualify it for the Academy Awards. Split Estate maps a tragedy in the making, as citizens in the path of a new oil and gas drilling boom in the Rocky Mountain West struggle against the erosion of their civil liberties, their communities and their health. Zeroing in on Garfield County, Colorado, and the San Juan Basin, the film examines the growing environmental and social costs to an area now referred to as a "National Sacrifice Zone." "I could not believe that an energy company could come in on land that you own, and drill at will without your permission as close as 150 feet from your front door," remarks director and producer Debra Anderson. "For those of us living in the path of that industry and its potential to do real destruction to the environment and our health, it is impossible to remain silent."...PressRelease

Here is the trailer for the documentary:

Group sues to stop S.E. Valley sheep drive

An environmental group filed suit last week to stop a century-old sheep drive from going through Tonto National Forest on its way to the south East Valley. The drive, which moves about 4,000 sheep between San Tan Valley and Heber in the spring and back in the fall, could lead to the deaths of herds of bighorn sheep, according to the lawsuit, filed Thursday by The Western Watersheds Project. The organization has fought to keep domestic sheep away from the wild bighorn sheep in other states. The Sheep Springs Sheep Co., owned by Dwayne Dobson of Chandler, is the only company that has a permit to use the trail, known as a driveway and officially known as the Heber-Reno sheep driveway. The trail has existed since the 1890s and at the turn of the century it was designated a driveway by Presidential Executive Order, according to U.S. Forest documents. Every April, Dobson drives the herd 220 miles to pastures on the north side of the White Mountains near the New Mexico border to spend the summer in cooler temperatures foraging and mating. The flock, attended by dogs and herders with donkeys, begins its return trip to the East Valley in mid-August and travels about six miles a day. Such driveways were common throughout Arizona and at one time there were as many as 400,000 sheep herded along the Heber-Reno driveway...EastValleyTribune

Los Alamos - Unexploded munitions keep firefighters at bay

The U.S. Forest Service is letting a 20-acre fire south of Tijeras burn because it is scorching an area that was used to test explosives during the cold war era. "We can't allow our firefighters to go off of the hard road to fight the fire because of unexploded ordinance. And since this landscape was used for testing, there are still live munitions actually still left in the ground," said Karen Takai of the U.S. Forest Service. Back in the Cold War era, the Department of Defense used the area to test explosives...KOB-TV

Over 60 yeas later and the feds still haven't cleaned up their mess.

That doesn't keep them, though, from prosecuting, fining and throwing in jail others whose mess is far less dangerous.

Gorge landowner could face jail time

A Washougal landowner could face 30 days in jail for allegedly opening aerial rope slides on his 83-acre property in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in violation of a temporary injunction. Skamania County Prosecutor Peter Banks will ask a Skamania County Superior Court judge on Aug. 13 to uphold a previously suspended 30-day jail sentence for Washougal’s Derek Hoyte. Hoyte was sentenced in May to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine for previously violating the temporary injunction, which bars him from opening the zip lines to the public. At issue is whether the zip lines Hoyte wants to operate on his ranch violate a U.S. Forest Service conservation easement on the land, which is about six miles east of Washougal. The easement, which had been negotiated with a previous landowner, restricts the use of the land to agriculture...Columbian

Song Of The Day #099

It's time again for the man with the cleanest name in country music - Ernest Tubb. Today Ranch Radio will feature his recording of Seaman's Blues.

This song was written by Tubb's nephew, Quanah Talmadge "Billy" Tubb. He served in the Navy in WWII and was still at sea with the Merchant Marines. Inspired by his Uncle's success, he wrote Seaman's Blues and sent it to Ernest. Ernest revised it a bit and recorded it on Dec. 14, 1947. It was a hit for ET in 1948 and remained an important part of his performances for the rest of his career.

Talmadge continued to write hit songs, including the immortal Waltz Across Texas.

I've also started posting these songs at a lower bitrate so they should be easier to play for those of you who don't have a fast connection.

Seaman's Blues
is available on many ET collections, including the 4 disc box set Texas Troubador and the wonderful 5 disc box set Let's Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello.

RHINO RANCH By Larry McMurtry

...Instead, Mr. McMurtry gives us a herd of rhinoceroses, huge African black rhinoceroses to be exact. Hence the title. Not surprisingly, the roughly 2,000 folks who live in Thalia (it's a short drive south of the very real Wichita Falls) don't like the animals and don't like the wealthy do-gooder who brings them in to prevent them from becoming extinct. In the end, they don't like Duane Moore very much, either. Small towns are like that. Mr. McMurtry's Thalia novels are just a slice of his lifelong fascination with the American West in general and his own roots in a family where his father and eight of his uncles were all cowboys and ranchers. Thalia is in a part of Texas where the cattlemen find both the grazing and profits increasingly scarce. Yet for a little town that progress passed by, Thalia continues to feel the tremors of the changing outside world. Its people keep on adjusting even as they try to hang on to whatever it was they valued about themselves or their way of life. In "Rhino Ranch," Duane Moore finds himself depressed and adrift. He has retired from a life as an oilman and turned over the drilling business to his son. He now lives in Arizona (which he hates) with a second wife, an expert geologist and meth addict whom he loves but who leaves him, first for Vancouver, then for Tajikistan and then for good, in the first 10 pages. Duane moves back to Thalia, first to the big house and vegetable garden where he and his late first wife lived and raised their kids. Soon enough he also spends more time at the primitive little cabin he has kept out on the banks of the Little Wichita River. Across the river is the Rhino Ranch, where K.K.Rawlings, a leggy Dallas billionairess and basic tough old Texas gal, has decided she will begin breeding the black rhinos that were being hunted into extinction in Africa by crazed European adventurers and hunters who cater to the Asian myth that a powder made from the beast's horn restores sexual potency. Roaming rhinos are just one of the annoyances the people of Thalia find unsettling about K.K. and her entourage...WashingtonTimes

House bill's land use unsettles farming, food costs

Forget the food-vs.-fuel debate for a while. The new issue is carbon vs. food. How this debate plays out could go a long way to deciding the fate of the Obama administration's effort to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The debate over a House-passed climate bill has focused on how much it will raise energy costs, including the cost of farming. When the Senate returns this fall to write its version of the bill, attention will turn to the impact on food prices. This became clear at the Senate Agriculture Committee's first hearing on the climate issue. Senators from both parties demanded to know what impact a cap-and-trade system would have on land use and food costs. Economists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working to learn the answers. The issue is simple: A cap-and-trade program, such as the one approved by the House, would allow utilities and other polluters to comply with caps on greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing credits from landowners who plant trees on their property. The question is how much land that's now in crops or pasture is likely to be converted to forests. Quite a bit, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's analysis of the House-passed bill. The analysis predicted there would be less cropland as a result of the bill because acreage would be converted to trees to earn carbon credits. Reducing the amount of available cropland likely would raise the price of commodities such as corn and soybeans, increasing feed costs and eventually food prices...DesMoinesRegister

A Legislative Drought

The problem is a drought, brought on by weather patterns outside our control and political malfeasance that is entirely man-made. It’s amazing how some people can take a bad situation and make it worse. More rainfall would help, but that’s not the only problem. Politics is wreaking havoc as well. Radical environmentalists favor fish over farmers. In particular, they’re lobbying on behalf of a minnow-like species called the delta smelt. Their efforts are working, as public officials in both Sacramento and Washington conspire to neglect the needs of agriculture. Water levels in our area are actually at about 95-percent normal. Farmers, however, are getting only about 10 percent of their fair share, based on agreements we have made with the government. We’re trumped by the delta smelt. This is not a phenomenon of climate, but rather a political choice. That’s why I’ve started referring to our problem as a “legislative drought.” It’s a strange set of circumstances, given the financial crisis. The University of California at Davis estimated that 35,000 people had lost their agricultural jobs as of May. A few of our towns have some of the highest unemployment rates in the country. In addition, farm revenue was down by $830 million. If lawmakers truly want to stimulate our local economy, they simply should release more water to food producers...Ted Sheely

Nobel Halo Fades Fast for Climate Change Panel

Two years ago, an international scientific panel seized worldwide attention by reporting that human activity was warming the planet in ways that could greatly disrupt human affairs and nature. The work of the group, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore. After two decades of delivering climate reports to the world without fanfare, it suddenly had a wide following. But as the panel gears up for its next climate review, many specialists in climate science and policy, both inside and out of the network, are warning that it could quickly lose relevance unless it adjusts its methods and focus. Environmentalists assert that the reports by the panel are watered down by a requirement that sponsoring governments approve its summaries line by line. Some experts fret that the organization, charged with assessing fast-evolving science, has failed to keep pace with an explosion of climate research. At the same time, scientists who question the likelihood of a calamitous disruption of the Earth’s climate accuse the panel of cherry-picking studies and playing down levels of uncertainty about the severity of global warming. “It just feels like the I.P.C.C. has gone from being a broker of science to a gatekeeper,” said John R. Christy, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and a former panel author...NYTimes

Judge hears dispute over bison migration

Cattle producers say allowing bison that aren't tested for brucellosis to migrate onto Horse Butte Peninsula near Yellowstone National Park threatens the Montana beef industry. The producers on Tuesday asked District Judge John Brown in Bozeman to force the state to remove bison from the area more quickly than in recent years. Brown has not ruled on the case. The hearing focused on whether the Montana Stockgrowers Association and two ranchers in the West Yellowstone area can sue over how the state Department of Livestock implements the Interagency Bison Management Plan. The agreement between state and federal agencies sets protocols to prevent interaction between bison and cattle. John Bloomquist, a lawyer for the Stockgrowers Association and the ranchers, said local cattle producers could be devastated if bison are given more leeway in southern Gallatin County. "We have two livestock producers ... whose herds, whose livelihoods and whose economic viability, whose entire operation, is at risk if the Department of Livestock does not properly manage bison," he said. The Stockgrowers Association wants to force the state to haze all bison back into Yellowstone by May 15 and only allow bison to migrate to the area if they have not been exposed to brucellosis, a disease that causes pregnant cattle, elk and bison to miscarry...BillingsGazette

6 environmental groups want say in lynx suit

Six environmental groups announced Monday they have filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit filed by snowmobilers challenging the federal government's designation of land in six states as critical habitat for Canada lynx. The groups want to make sure U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer in Cheyenne gets all the information he needs and doesn't hear just one side of the case, said Tim Preso, an attorney for the groups. “The critical habitat designation that's being challenged was a very important step in trying to ensure the survival of the lynx, but also to allow for the recovery of the lynx,” said Preso, with Earthjustice. “We want to ensure that that critical habitat designation can do its work.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in February designated 39,000 square miles in six states - Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Washington and Wyoming - as critical habitat for the threatened Canada lynx. The designation was a substantial increase from the 1,850 square miles of previously designated lynx habitat in three states. The Wyoming State Snowmobile Association and Washington State Snowmobile Association sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the expanded designation, saying it threatened to put some areas off-limits to snowmobiling...Missoulian

Gov. Ritter offers roadless rule

Gov. Bill Ritter's administration on Monday floated an updated state plan for managing national forest roadless areas — and immediately drew fire from environmental and sportsmen's groups pressing for stricter protection. The latest proposal makes allowances for road-building specified in Community Wildfire Protection Plans. It also makes exceptions for water supply, mining and power companies. Total protected acreage under Ritter's latest proposal would increase slightly — 4,184,000 acres, up from 4,031,000 in a 2008 draft that also drew heavy criticism. Both fall short of the 4,243,500 acres protected under the last federal standard before President George W. Bush in 2005 told states they could make their own rules. "It doesn't matter how many acres are protected unless you provide good protection," said Ryan Bidwell, director of Durango-based Colorado Wild, echoing views of other advocacy groups. Others are calling for a consistent national standard and urged Obama administration officials to reject Colorado's efforts. "Colorado's plan falls seriously short of the standard," said Jane Danowitz, public lands director at the Pew Environment Group think tank in Washington, D.C. "These are the last wild forests."...DenverPost

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

For Senate, a Climate of Competing Interests

Environmentalists want a tighter cap on emissions. Electric utilities want a looser one. The nuclear industry wants loan guarantees for new reactors. The AARP wants low electric bills for seniors. Even God, apparently, wants something from the Senate's climate change bill. The National Religious Partnership for the Environment has pressed for billions to help poor people made worse off by climate change. The body of the bill hasn't been written, and the health-care debate is still taking up most of Washington's oxygen. But after the House climate bill proved fertile ground for Washington's lobbyist corps -- it ballooned to 1,427 pages, stuffed with compromises that benefited industries from corn to coal -- a similar effort has begun to influence the Senate, where congressional aides will spend the summer recess drafting legislation...WashingtonPost

New strategy to save forests: logging

Stumps and slash piles are the tallest things on this forestland less than 30 miles from the Space Needle as the crow flies. Clear-cut two years ago, this is the sort of sight that not long ago would have riled most environmentalists. But the white hats are on new heads these days. Conservationists are partnering with timber companies on deals, and environmentalists are praising "working forests," the friendly new term for clear-cuts — in order to stave off development. It's a shotgun wedding born of duress, as sprawl, slowed only temporarily by recession, chews away at the last green places holding the Puget Sound ecosystem together. For any timber company, real estate — especially sales of developable land — is what brings in the big money. Since the 1970s, more than 1.2 million acres of privately owned forestland have been converted to development in Washington...SeattleTimes

Enviro's: We've Won, Please Help!

Thanks to the recession and the arrival in Washington of a perceived green-friendly administration, the coffers of nonprofit environmental organizations are shrinking. For instance, the much-maligned Bush Administration's support of energy development was certainly good for eco-fundraising. Either cash-strapped, or believing that the bad old days are over, many of those dependable liberal donors have fled, under the impression that their financial support is no longer needed. Consequently, national and local grassroots green groups are cutting back on expenses and laying off staff. "Until we have a clearer picture about how the crisis will affect [sic] giving, we are keeping a close eye on spending and making sure our resources are devoted to our top science-driven priorities," Amy Golden of the Nature Conservancy told the New York Times during last fall's initial banking crisis. The layoffs and cutbacks continue, as they do across the entire nonprofit landscape. Despite his rhetoric about our "energy crisis," the infamous cap and trade bill passed in the House and headed to the Senate, and green-directed economic stimulus (with marginal results, so far) -- President Obama is bad for business; green business, that is...AmericanSpectator

The Unlikely Orchid Smuggler: A Case Study in Overcriminalization

George Norris, an elderly retiree, had turned his orchid hobby into a part-time business run from the greenhouse in back of his home. He would import orchids from abroad--South Africa, Brazil, Peru--and resell them at plant shows and to local enthusiasts. He never made more than a few thousand dollars a year from his orchid business, but it kept him engaged and provided a little extra money--an especially important thing as his wife, Kathy, neared retirement from her job managing a local mediation clinic. Their life would take a turn for the worse on the bright fall morning of October 28, 2003, when federal agents, clad in protective Kevlar and bearing guns, raided his home, seizing his belongings and setting the gears in motion for a federal prosecution and jail time. Around 10:00 a.m., three pick-up trucks turned off a shady cul-de-sac in Spring, Texas, far in Houston's northern suburbs, and into the driveway of Norris's single-story home. Six agents emerged, clad in dark body armor and bearing sidearms. Two circled around to the rear of the house, where there is a small yard and a ramshackle greenhouse. One, Special Agent Jeff Odom of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, approached the door and knocked; his companions held back, watching Odom for the signal. Norris, who had seen the officers arrive and surround his house, answered the knock at the door with trepidation. Odom was matter-of-fact. Within 10 seconds, he had identified himself, stated that he was executing a search warrant, and waved in the rest of the entry team for a sweep of the premises. Norris was ordered to sit at his kitchen table and to remain there until told otherwise. One agent was stationed in the kitchen with him. As Norris looked on, the agents ransacked his home. They pulled out drawers and dumped the contents on the floor, emptied file cabinets, rifled through dresser drawers and closets, and pulled books off of their shelves...HeritageFoundation

Seeds of Tester wilderness bill rooted in Timber Wars

There was a time, not so very long ago, when environmentalists living in the shadow of big timber, in the logging lands of the Yaak, didn't sleep in the same bed two nights in a row. Cabins burned mysteriously in the dark. Cars were vandalized. People were attacked, literally beaten for beliefs. Out in the forests, logging equipment was sabotaged. Woods work was monkey-wrenched. In town, the U.S. Forest Service was crushed between opposing forces, retreating always. “The Timber Wars,” said Robyn King, “were absolutely fierce. We've had a long history of extreme polarization and violence up here.” And for a quarter-century, she said, “the fighting got us nowhere.” No new wilderness lands. No logs for the mill. “Everyone lost, and no one gained,” said King, who heads the Yaak Valley Forest Council, a conservation group. “We all knew, deep down, that we couldn't afford to continue to be adversaries. It was tearing our communities apart.” And so King came down out of the Yaak, again and again and again, to meet with tree-huggers and tree-cutters, motorheads and wilder-nuts, everyone with a stake. She told them what was on her mind and, more important, asked what was on theirs. And slowly, carefully, steadily King replaced fixed philosophies with familiar faces, brought forest management down to the neighborhood level, built bridges and created coalitions and surveyed the common ground. It was, she said, “often painful.”...Missoulian

FWS Switches Heads of Endangered Species, Fisheries Programs

The Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that two of its senior leaders will switch jobs, returning Gary Frazer to oversee the endangered species program as he did under the Clinton administration. Frazer, currently assistant director for fisheries and habitat conservation, immediately will assume management of the Endangered Species Program, which he headed from 1999 to 2004. Bryan Arroyo, currently assistant director of endangered species, will become assistant director for fisheries and habitat conservation. The switch will allow Arroyo to manage the Fisheries and Habitat Conservation Program using expertise he gained in the FWS Southwest Region, the agency said...NYTimes

Counties fear Utah selling out Snake Valley water

Counties from the west desert to the Wasatch Front want Utah to back away from an imminent Snake Valley water deal with Nevada. Officials in Millard, Juab and Salt Lake counties fear Utah is about to sign away a big share of the aquifer straddling the state line about 60 miles southwest of Delta. Doing so could enable "water mining" for a 285-mile pipeline to Las Vegas, they say, drying up ranches and wildlife watering holes while wafting dust clouds toward the Salt Lake Valley. "By the time they realize what the impacts are," Millard County Commissioner Daron Smith warned, "it'll be too late." Eskdale farmer Jerald Anderson said his western Utah community's life is at stake. He and his colleagues there raise 300 milking cows. They fear Las Vegas' thirst for 50,000 acre-feet a year would sink the water table out of reach of all other users, who combine to use a third as much. "The water is the basis" for his desert town, he said. "The water is absolutely critical to us being there." Utah negotiators are close to releasing a draft agreement for public review, said state Department of Natural Resources Director Mike Styler. He won't discuss particulars until the document is public later this summer, but he said it protects existing water users, air quality and fish and wildlife. It would divvy the aquifer between the states, allowing Nevada to funnel its share to Las Vegas if that state's water engineer consents...SaltLakeTribune

Calif. farmers say feds make drought worse

The road to Todd Allen's farm wends past irrigation canals filled with the water that California's hot Central Valley depends on to produce vegetables and fruit for the nation. Yet not a drop will make it to his barren fields. Three years into a drought that evokes fears of a modern-day dust bowl, Allen and others here say the culprit now isn't Mother Nature so much as the federal government. Court and regulatory rulings protecting endangered fish have choked the annual flow of water from California's Sierra mountains down to its people and irrigated fields, compounding a natural dry spell. "This is a regulatory drought, is what it is," Allen says. "It just doesn't seem fair."...USAToday

Unabated use of groundwater threatens Arizona's future

Thirty years after Arizona tried to stop cities and towns from using up their groundwater, the state still can't shake its thirst for one of its most finite resources. The steady drain on underground reserves grows out of two realities: Canals and pipelines don't reach far enough to deliver surface water to everyone, and laws don't reach far enough to stop people from drilling. If the groundwater addiction continues unabated and under-regulated, the effects will be broad and potentially disastrous: Scarcer supplies could push rates higher and create uncertainty about water availability, discouraging new business and slowing economic growth. If wells start to run dry and aquifers collapse, the landscape could be dotted with fissures and sinkholes. Lawmakers adopted some of the nation's most progressive water-protection laws to avert such crises, but the laws excluded rural areas and allowed changes that let cities and subdivisions resume well-drilling, further depleting exhaustible aquifers...ArizonaRepublic

Rural areas face challenge to find next water source

As Phoenix, Mesa, Tucson and the rest of Arizona's big cities wonder if there will be enough water for the next 100 years, the question up in the cool pines of the high country is sometimes a little more basic: Will there be enough for the next year? Rural Arizona has long been the weak link in the state's water-supply chain. Its cities and towns can pump groundwater freely with almost none of the limits that protect urban aquifers. Renewable surface-water supplies are rare, and without the kind of federal subsidies that helped build the Central Arizona Project canal that delivers Colorado River water, those supplies can't reach far. The result for rural parts of the state is an erratic patchwork of wells, springs and seasonal streams and lakes - a water supply that fails occasionally because of overuse and carries few promises about its long-term sustainability...ArizonaRepublic

Funding for animal-ID program slashed

Federal plans to track livestock and poultry from birth to butcher shop took a hit Monday as senators from Montana and Wyoming gutted the program's funding. Unanimously, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee cut half the funding for the controversial National Animal Identification System. NAIS would require everyone from large cattle operations to backyard chicken owners to tag livestock and regularly report those animals' whereabouts to the government. The U.S. Department of Agriculture asserts that such a system would allow farm regulators to easily locate sources of disease in the nation's food supply and identify animals that have been potentially exposed. The USDA has spent several years and $142 million developing the program. Western farmers and ranchers have been adamantly opposed to the program, which they consider overreaching and unworkable. Monday's amendment to cut NAIS funding in half was co-sponsored by Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. Tester said the funding cut drives a stake into the program's heart. He has repeatedly said that real food safety needs to begin in packing plants and not on farms and ranches. "This basically cuts funding by $7.3 million," Tester said. "It basically kind of does what I want to have done, which is take some of the steam out of this program." Enzi said the amendment allows reasonable funding for voluntary identification program without burdening ranchers. He noted that House lawmakers deleted all funding for NAIS. A July attempt to do the same in the Senate failed...BillingsGazette

This is typical of the Senate, taking a half-assed approach. When they go to conference, the House should insist on additional cuts.

The Senate is allowing a program to hang around until some "crisis" hits, then you can watch the funding triple and the "voluntary" go out the window.

Riverbend Publishing reissues Thomas Savage's 1944 classic "The Pass."

I’d never heard of Thomas Savage until I came across Riverbend Publishing and the Drumlummon Institute’s recent reprint of 1944’s The Pass, and after falling into this beautiful, multi-layered, funny, heart-wrenching novel of the Montana prairie, I’m kicking myself for not reading his books sooner. Savage was the author of thirteen novels. Born in Utah in 1915, he grew up in Horse Prairie, Montana and Lemhi, Idaho, spent brief stints in Missoula and Portland, Ore., then lived most of the rest of his life on the east coast until his death in 2003. But like Willa Cather, he set much of his fiction in the West where he grew up, and his first novel, 1944’s The Pass, shares Cather’s themes of the tight communities that form in isolated stretches of prairie and a reverence for the beauty of the open land coupled with a respect for the hardships that living there can bring. Although this was Savage’s first book and he published it at age 29, he seemed to have an innate sense of structure as he slotted all the pieces into place. A young man from Wyoming, Jess Bentley, inherits some money after the death of his father, and decides to use it to become a rancher on the Montana prairie. He meets a rancher’s daughter named Beth who impresses him with her horsemanship, woos her with some talk about rope knots, marries her, and brings her to his new home in Montana...NewWest

It's all Trew: Horses enabled Comanches to rule Texas

It's hard to find anyone, young or old, who is not familiar with the term Six Flags Over Texas. Most would say it is the big tourist attraction in the Metroplex. Few can name the actual flags or countries that have claimed ownership of Texas since the beginning, which is the real reason for the existence of the term. Few historians acknowledge another dominating owner of much of Texas for more than 150 years, the Comanche Indian tribes. The name comes from "Komantieia," a Ute Indian word meaning enemy. The Comanche tribe call themselves "Nermernal," which means human beings. Comancheria, the name given to the area ruled by the Comanche in 1850, includes approximately one-half of Texas, more than one-half of New Mexico, about two-thirds of Colorado and one-third of the southern part of Kansas. Their rule lasted almost 150 years as no matter who you were, civilian or military, or how big a stick you carried, when you entered Comancheria, you literally put your life and the lives of those with you into Comanche hands. Comanche culture was built around the use of horses for all reasons. Over time they learned that approximately 100 members was the best sustainable group and split the tribes into 12 groups originally for that purpose. Eventually they grew to 4,000 members in their heyday. Many stories and theories have been written about how the Indians acquired horses. The most practical theory, backed up in Spanish archives, stated horses became plentiful when Don Juan Onate brought 300 mares and colts to the Santa Fe area in New Mexico in

Song Of The Day #098

Let's get started this week with a song I will dedicate to the U.S. Congress - Elton Britt's version of Jackass Blues.

Don't fret, it's availabe on the BACM CD Elton Britt Sings Jackass Blues & Other Country Songs.

Turn that volume up so your neighbors can enjoy it too!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Prodding the Liberal Agenda With a Pitchfork

Climate change legislation was moving along in the House in June when it ran into a tractorcade. Dozens of farm-state lawmakers, led by the blunt-talking Minnesotan who chairs the House Agriculture Committee, blocked the way. It was a striking demonstration of agricultural interests stamping their imprint on key parts of the Democratic program. That may come as a surprise to those who thought the "farm bloc" disappeared sometime around the end of the Eisenhower administration. In fact, its clout has been reshaping -- and in some cases halting -- the ambitious agenda of President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). A bloc of moderate-to-conservative rural Democrats in both houses now holds the fate of health-care legislation in its hands. Meanwhile, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the nation's largest farm organization, has vowed to kill the climate change bill in the Senate. And last week, farm groups forced significant changes in food safety legislation by limiting the Food and Drug Administration's role in tracing suspected pathogens back to farms. You might call these newly empowered farm-state lawmakers the Agracrats. They're Democrats, all right. In the House, many of them are newcomers who defeated Republicans in 2006 or 2008. In the Senate, Democrats have 12 of the 18 seats in the central farm belt and northern Great Plains. And while their influence is hardly new -- over the years the farm bloc has fought off efforts to reduce farm subsidies and, in the 1990s, to raise gasoline mileage requirements for cars and trucks -- this latest rise of the Agracrats poses a dilemma for the Democratic Party. Rebuilding the urban-rural coalition that enabled Democrats to control Congress for most of the final two-thirds of the last century has been a major achievement. Last year, 49 House Democrats were elected in districts carried by the Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). But Agracrats are putting the needs of farmers, ranchers and rural communities ahead of party loyalty, often to the chagrin of more liberal lawmakers...WashingtonPost

They need to drop the pitchforks...and pick up a cannon.

After the boom became a bust

Four and a half years ago, oil company executives negotiated for drilling rights at our dining room table. We are ranchers with some mineral rights and the drilling clamor was well underway in the West. Talk turned to the future, and they suggested our 19-year-old son postpone college. "Buy him a backhoe!" they urged. We remembered the last boom, which ended with a bang, not a whimper, on May 2, 1982. We were herding our own sheep, moving toddlers from winter desert to summer high country, while all around us, drilling dominated the local economy. Today, we have grown children and are fighting the fight to stay on the ranch established six generations ago. Oil and gas has long been a part of our Wyoming community. In recent years, it again swept everything before it. When we moved a sheep camp or checked our desert cows, semis and tankers swarmed the roads. Backcountry vistas were dotted with drilling rigs. Beer cans lined highways and two-tracks alike, and formed pyramids outside the man camps which sprang up to house new workers. This boom, we were assured — everyone in the oil patch was assured — would last 50, 70, 100 years. Young people found jobs, found a future at home. They did not have to migrate to faraway places and long for the mountains, for the West's open spaces...DenverPost

This is a well-written and important column, be sure and read the rest of it.

NM forest takes unusual route in travel planning

Hundreds of miles of dirt roads and trails cut through northern New Mexico's mountains. The hard part is deciding which ones to keep open and which to close. It's a scenario that's playing itself out across the country as the U.S. Forest Service tries to designate by 2010 a system of motorized routes that will provide recreational opportunities while still protecting America's natural resources. In northern New Mexico, off-road enthusiasts and environmentalists - typically arch enemies in the travel management debate - have found something to agree on. But it won't make the process any easier for federal land managers. Both sides say the Carson National Forest is going about travel management planning in an unusual way, one they fear will leave the public without a chance to comment on potential impacts to soil, water quality, wildlife and recreational access. At issue is the proposed action that the Carson forest released in July. It calls for closing nearly 270 miles of existing roads to motor vehicles on three ranger districts, prohibiting cross-country travel and adding corridors for camping. But absent is a comprehensive environmental analysis of the proposal, critics say. Carson officials said Friday they are working on an environmental assessment. However, the public likely won't have a chance to see the document until after the comment period ends Aug. 15...AP

DOE Makes $30B Available to Jumpstart Renewable Energy,' Smart Grid' Projects

DOE announced yesterday it was ready to accept applications for about $8.5 billion in loan guarantee authority for advanced renewable energy projects made available in the department's 2009 spending bill and $3.25 billion provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to cover the subsidy costs that will unleash the billions of dollars in loan guarantee authority for renewable energy, transmission projects and biofuels. Of the $3.25 billion in subsidy costs from the stimulus act, $500 million is specifically for biofuel projects, and $750 million is for large transmission projects that begin construction before Sept. 30, 2011. Applicants have 45 days to apply for the new guarantee authority, DOE said. The government-backed authority should help boost lending capital for renewable and other clean-energy technology projects, which has dried up with the financial recession. The stimulus act also included an extension of tax credits for renewable energy and added flexibility where companies can apply for grants instead of using tax credits that the Treasury Department also made available this month...NYTimes

Group launches constitutional initiative on takings

United Property Owners of Montana, a grassroots coalition of landowners, sportsmen, and allied businesses, has filed a constitutional ballot initiative designed to fix inequalities in Montana's eminent domain laws regarding takings. Under current law a property owner is paid compensation only when a government action reduces a property's value in its entirety, meaning that governments can take actions that significantly impact property values without owing any compensation. For example: If your property is reduced by 100 percent you get paid in full; if it's only reduced 95 percent, you get no compensation whatsoever. Toby Dahl, a UPOM board director from Roundup, pointed out this initiative was designed to be a "look-before-you-leap" policy for government. "This just makes sure that we're taking impacts on private property into account before we enact a new regulation," said Dahl. The ballot initiative proposal would amend the eminent domain section of the constitution to provide that if a government regulation diminishes an individual's private property value by more than 25 percent, that property owner is owed the difference. The group said the 25 percent threshold was included to allow for normal government land-use regulations and that the intent was to address only new regulations that would have a severe impact on a person's private property value. Dahl emphasized that the primary motivation for his group was to help farmers and ranchers in rural Montana. Increasing restrictions on how private property may be used is jeopardizing the ability of the next generation of Montana farmers and ranchers to make a living off the land...Chronicle

Ranchers Claim Border Patrol Agents Let Horses Escape And Get Near I-10

Ranchers in the Sierra Blanca area complain that federal agents keep opening the ranchers' gates allowing their livestock to roam free. Amateur video was obtained by KFOX showing horses near Interstate 10 in Sierra Blanca. One of the horses was in the median, while another is getting dangerously close to the freeway. "At night I'm really scared because I'm worried that my animals will get on the freeway and cause an accident," said a rancher who did not want to be identified. The rancher claims that Border Patrol agents either open his gates and don't close them or break the fence when they're driving through and his horses are getting out. "It's a big problem because someone can really get hurt if they're in a small vehicle. If they hit a cow or a horse someone can even lose their life," said the rancher...KFOX-TV

Increased Meat Recall Authority for USDA Introduced

As the House focused on food safety reform last week, Senator Tom Udall, D-N.M., made a related, more specific move. Udall re-introduced legislation he originally proposed in 2003 to grant USDA the authority to initiate mandatory meat product recalls. USDA currently doesn't have the authority to issue a mandatory recall of meat believed to be dangerous. Food processors decide whether they'll comply with USDA requests to recall unsafe products forcing time-consuming negotiations before meat is pulled from store shelves. Udall says it puts all consumers at risk when USDA can't get tainted meat off the market quickly. Udall notes millions get sick and thousands are hospitalized each year from food-borne illnesses. And when consumers don't trust that their beef is safe he says it hurts ranchers who had nothing to do with tainted beef. He says enforcement of health standards is good for consumers and crucial for ranchers...FarmFutures

Ranchers selling stock early to cope

CORPUS CHRISTI — Area livestock auction houses have been unusually busy. Ranchers are having a hard time keeping their herds as ponds dry up and prices increase for hay, alfalfa and other supplements. Live Oak County rancher Rosalee Coleman considers herself lucky compared to most. Three small rains fell at opportune times earlier this year to keep the grass on her ranch growing. But the persistent drought might soon have a claim to her cattle. “I might have to begin selling my herd in the next two or so weeks,” said Coleman, also the president of the Independent Cattlemen’s Association. “In the drought of the 1950s, the rains came but at a bad time. This is the longest we’ve gone without substantial rain. Everyone was hoping for a July rain.” But the rain hasn’t come, and ponds continue to dry up. Without grass for cattle to forage, ranchers are culling their herds at

Etched in stone

Blood, brains and brawn settled the Texas Panhandle. Pioneers, tough and tenacious, shaped a region whose harsh, unrelenting weather turned away the most spirited of souls. Many names are familiar because they live in lore, but others, mostly unknown outside their communities, laid the framework for medicine, religion, ranching and government as people of the High Plains know them today. In the scrapbooks of marble called cemeteries - places we race by without stopping - students of history can learn without taking a test or reading a book. Texas has about 50,000 cemeteries, according to the Texas Historical Commission, though relatively few have been documented and the majority may be just a few, obscure plots. However, a handful, such as Llano Cemetery in Amarillo, are on the National Register of Historic Places. Other cemeteries, such as Memorial Park along Interstate 40, which 10 million travelers pass by each year, have their historic pages open - in the form of gravestones - to teach people about the customs of earlier times, the ethnic origins of settlers, how they earned a living and, sometimes, how they died. All over the Panhandle, early residents rest in church and community cemeteries waiting to tell their stories to those who stop and pay

'Cowboys' actors lament loss of cowboy lifestyle

The "cowboy lifestyle" wasn't anything new to a couple of rodeo teens, but working with John Wayne in the 1972 movie "The Cowboys" still means something special to Mike Pyeatt and Al Barker Jr. It brought both back a second year to Belle Fourche for Cowboy Crazy Days and Riverfest activities. "I had a ball last year. I never saw a town with so many good people," Pyeatt said. The film takes a dozen boys from a one-room school onto a 400-mile cattle trail to Belle Fourche under the tutelage of Wil Andersen, an older rancher, played by John Wayne. Andersen's grown-up cowboys ran off to a gold rush, leaving him with few options other than using the young cowboys to drive the herd. The boys grew in skills on the trail; then, a crew of rustlers killed Andersen, and the young cowboys took the herd in to finish their job. "We went from cow 'boys' to cow 'men.' ..." Pyeatt said. The actors fondly recalled their experiences making the movie. "It was special. Our dads were old-school, cowboy-type guys," Barker said. "To have that standard in our lives, then it was reinforced by being with John Wayne and making a movie that dealt with that same philosophical view."...RapidCityJournal

Video - Can The Feds "Own" Your Computer When You Visit One Of Their Websites?

And the answer is...Don't visit their Cash For Clunkers website.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Knowing when its time to quit

By Julie Carter

John Wayne taught about every cowboy I know how to be fearless. It's the movies, but they believe it anyway.

They will fight to get on a horse that clearly has blood in his eye and rope wild cattle that would love nothing better than to run a horn through them or their horses.

They will climb windmill towers in a blizzard wind and track cougars through the snow, fly crop dusters like a wild man, and generally undertake most any dangerous activity they can dream up.

On occasion, they will even go so far as to order their wives around.

When not endangering themselves, they love nothing better than to help their pards out along those same lines.

Button was running a big working crew and had already put in a full day. With great concentration, sitting astride his cowpony, he was counting cattle out the gate.

"Button," came a voice from behind him.

Button went on counting; ignoring the idiot that would dare interrupt.

"Button," came the voice again and getting the same response as before.

This continued, but Button just kept counting.

When the last cow got through the gate, Button turned and said, "What do you want, Reese?"

Reese tossed a big rattlesnake onto Button's lap and the wreck was on.

When the horse was back under control, the snake shaken off and his heart rate back below the critical stage, Button rode over to Reese.

He gave him a mean, squinty-eyed look and said, " I might not could whup you, but I can surely hit you up side the head with this saddle gun."

Reese took this statement under thoughtful consideration.

The next week Reese was horseback counting cattle while Button was slowly driving the feed truck along and putting out feed.

Reese tossed another big snake in the front seat of the truck.

Button bailed out the other side, the truck continued on, and Reese beat a cowboy-retreat for parts afar.

During the rather colorful discussion that followed somewhat later, it was determined that Reese would not give Button any more snakes, no matter the circumstances.

At the next cattle working, Button seemed to have misplaced his gloves.
Nobody would admit to anything, even with Button's threats about what he'd do if he found out someone had assisted the gloves in going missing.

At the break, Reese brought out a Banty rooster he had brought from home and carefully put him in the large cardboard box full of ear tags.

When the cowboy crew started working again, he fessed up to Button about his gloves and told him they were in the ear tag box.

The flapping, squawking rooster moment when the box was opened was not nearly as good as the rattlesnake chaos, but it would do.

The next day Button told Reese to saddle up the new bay colt and put some miles on him. He specifically told him to ride across the tank dam and show the colt how to do that, get him used to it.

Reese rode the skittish, scared colt onto the dam - fence on one side, water on the other- when a big Canadian goose, whose nest was disturbed by this intruder, raised up, flapped her wings and hissed loudly at Reese.

You can break a colt to a lot of things, but a mad momma goose on the fight is not one of them.

It had taken awhile, but it was in this moment that Reese had an epiphany. He was thinking maybe it was time to give Button a break.

Julie can be reached for comment at

BIG News at New Mexico Stockman!


Caren Cowan, Thank you for your years of service with the NMCG & WG! AND Congratulations on taking the helm of the New Mexico Stockman magazine!

Charles Stocks, Thank you for nearly 36 years of publishing one of the most respected publications in the country, the New Mexico Stockman magazine! We wish you the very best in all your new endeavors!

Mae Lopez, Thank you for 50 years! Half a Century of maintaining the office duties of the New Mexico Stockman magazine! We wish you the very best in all your new endeavors!

The New Mexico Stockman magazine, HAPPY 75TH BIRTHDAY! HAPPY 75TH ANNIVERSARY! Thank you for three-quarters of a Century of presenting the Industry to your loyal readers! We look forward to MANY more years of information and history!

o Caren Cowan has assumed duties as publisher of New Mexico Stockman!

o After 35 years with the magazine and as its longest tenured publisher, Chuck Stocks has sold his interest in the publishing business to Caren Cowan!

o After Half a Century, yes 50 years with the NM Stockman, our office manager, Mae Lopez is retiring!

o AND New Mexico Stockman is 75 years old this year!

Do not miss our Special 75TH September Celebration magazine, we'll be thanking and wishing Caren Cowan well and congratulating her not only on her new venture, but also for her career as the most dynamic and forceful executive in the history of the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association (NMCGA). Caren has served for 12 years as Executive Director of the NMCGA and prior to that, she held the same post for the New Mexico Wool Growers for seven years. We on the New Mexico Stockman staff, are proud to have someone of Caren's stature and accomplishment join us!

Although we're very saddened by Chuck's decision to sell, after 36 years, the good news is, he will continue to consult on the magazine staff. Chuck is synonymous with the magazine, when you think New Mexico Stockman you think Chuck Stocks!

...We hope you'll join us by placing a Congratulatory Ad, or a Thank you Ad, or a Farewell Ad, or a Happy Birthday Ad or an Ad or your Ranch/Business in this historic issue! Our September magazine will document the remarkable careers of Caren Cowan and Chuck Stocks and cover some of the highlights of the last 75 years of livestock industry history as documented in New Mexico Stockman. This will be an important and historic issue that people will keep and refer back to for years to come.

Please call me at 888-243-9515 ext 28 or email: to reserve your advertising space in this important issue today.

Thank you


Song Of The Day #097

Today's Gospel selection is the 1952 recording of You'll Be Rewarded Over There by Charlie & Ira Louvin.

It's available on the Bear Family 8 disc Box Set Close Harmony.

This is the definitive Louvin Brothers collection and you better get it while you can - it's been discontinued by the label.