Friday, September 25, 2009

Nations Appear Headed Toward Independent Climate Goals

Several world leaders on Tuesday gave the most decisive indication in months that they will work to revive floundering negotiations aimed at securing a new international climate pact. But the vision that President Obama and others outlined at the United Nations climate summit -- in which countries offered a series of individual commitments -- suggests that a potential deal may look much different from what its backers originally envisioned. Initially, many climate activists had hoped this year would yield a pact in which nations would agree to cut their greenhouse gas emissions under the auspices of a legal international treaty. But recent announcements by China, Japan and other nations point to a different outcome of U.N. climate talks that will be held in December in Copenhagen: a political deal that would establish global federalism on climate policy, with each nation pledging to take steps domestically...WPost

The Dog Ate Global Warming

Imagine if there were no reliable records of global surface temperature. Raucous policy debates such as cap-and-trade would have no scientific basis, Al Gore would at this point be little more than a historical footnote, and President Obama would not be spending this U.N. session talking up a (likely unattainable) international climate deal in Copenhagen in December. Steel yourself for the new reality, because the data needed to verify the gloom-and-doom warming forecasts have disappeared. Or so it seems. Apparently, they were either lost or purged from some discarded computer. Only a very few people know what really happened, and they aren’t talking much. And what little they are saying makes no sense...If we are to believe Jones’s note to the younger Pielke, CRU adjusted the original data and then lost or destroyed them over twenty years ago. The letter to Warwick Hughes may have been an outright lie. After all, Peter Webster received some of the data this year. So the question remains: What was destroyed or lost, when was it destroyed or lost, and why? All of this is much more than an academic spat. It now appears likely that the U.S. Senate will drop cap-and-trade climate legislation from its docket this fall — whereupon the Obama Environmental Protection Agency is going to step in and issue regulations on carbon-dioxide emissions. Unlike a law, which can’t be challenged on a scientific basis, a regulation can. If there are no data, there’s no science. U.S. taxpayers deserve to know the answer to the question posed above...NRO

Oil Industry Sets a Brisk Pace of New Discoveries

The oil industry has been on a hot streak this year, thanks to a series of major discoveries that have rekindled a sense of excitement across the petroleum sector, despite falling prices and a tough economy. These discoveries, spanning five continents, are the result of hefty investments that began earlier in the decade when oil prices rose, and of new technologies that allow explorers to drill at greater depths and break tougher rocks. More than 200 discoveries have been reported so far this year in dozens of countries, including northern Iraq’s Kurdish region, Australia, Israel, Iran, Brazil, Norway, Ghana and Russia. They have been made by international giants, like Exxon Mobil, but also by industry minnows, like Tullow Oil. Just this month, BP said that it found a giant deepwater field that might turn out to be the biggest oil discovery ever in the Gulf of Mexico, while Anadarko announced a large find in an “exciting and highly prospective” region off Sierra Leone. is normal for companies to discover billions of barrels of new oil every year, but this year’s pace is unusually brisk. New oil discoveries have totaled about 10 billion barrels in the first half of the year, according to IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. If discoveries continue at that pace through year-end, they are likely to reach the highest level since 2000...NYTimes

Senate rejects wildfire funds for D.C. parks

The Senate this week told the Obama administration to stop spending stimulus bill wildland firefighting money on urban parks in the nation's capital - the first time either chamber has voted to reject one of the administration's stimulus spending decisions. With fires raging out West, lawmakers said, it was ridiculous to spend firefighting money in Washington, which has no national forests and isn't considered a forest fire danger spot. In a voice vote Tuesday, senators voted unanimously to prohibit the U.S. Forest Service to spend any of its $500 million in wildland fire money in the city. "This is ridiculous, it is outrageous, and we should not stand for it," said Sen. John Barrasso, the Wyoming Republican who sponsored the amendment to the Interior Department spending bill. The money, part of the $787 billion stimulus bill, came from a $500 million fund the Forest Service was given for "wildland fire mitigation."...WashingtonTimes

Landowners, drillers debate split estates

With methane wells in her corner of the world, rancher Jessie Huffman spends considerable time worrying about what her gas-drilling neighbors are up to. She worries about springs drying up or water turning bad as gas rigs plumb mineral rights leased from the government. In the West, the federal government has made a practice of leasing its mineral rights to oil and gas companies without personally notifying surface landowners first. Such properties wherein the surface land is privately owned, but someone else or the federal government owns the rights to underlying minerals, are known as split estates. Surface owners are compensated when companies extract the minerals, but conflicts do occur, often starting with notification. "The landowner hasn't even been notified when a parcel under their property comes under lease," said Huffman, who ranches near Kirby in remote southeast Montana. "There definitely should be notice to the landowner when their property comes under lease." Now with more liberal-leaning energy policies on the table in Congress, Huffman and others are asking for advance notice and then some. She and other Montanans are in Washington, D.C., this week asking for better notice, mediation and even compensation whenever the government allows gas drilling beneath their land. They say socially and politically, the country's mood is right for tipping the scales in favor of surface landowners in oil and gas debates...BillingsGazette

Wyo DEQ decides against CBM water rule

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is backing away from its method of regulating water discharged from coal-bed methane wells after two reports by independent consultants questioned the practice. The method has been in use for a few years. The department decided that it was important enough to ask the state Environmental Quality Council, a governor-appointed board that approves the state's environmental rules and regulations, to approve the method as a formal rule when the council meets next week. On Wednesday, the department withdrew the proposed rule. The department announced that it will instead convene a panel of experts to recommend ways to monitor drainages and prevent problems with soil salinity. Coal-bed methane wells extract methane from coal seams by pumping large amounts of groundwater out of the coal and onto the surface. That depressurizes coal seams, causing methane to condense out of the groundwater much like bubbles of carbon dioxide inside a soda bottle that's been opened. Most coal-bed methane development in Wyoming occurs in the Powder River Basin, where ranchers grow hay for their cattle in bottomlands and irrigated pastures. Millions of gallons of extracted groundwater has caused many of the arid region's ephemeral streams to flow year-round. For some ranchers, that's helpful. Others have had problems with salt buildup in their hayfields. "It's damaging the soil and the vegetation and it's going to be really hard to reclaim those areas," said Jill Morrison, an organizer for the Sheridan-based Powder River Basin Resource

Innovative water-rights program helping restore Northwest streams

Lawrence Martin remembers from his boyhood how Evans Creek flowed like an artery in the Rogue River Valley -- a deep, cold stream that gave life to salmon, steelhead and other species. Then the forests upstream were clear-cut in the 1950s. Floods scoured out the channel and stripped the land of its topsoil. And, one summer, the creek went dry. It happened again. And again. A few years ago, he realized he couldn't keep irrigating all of the 100 acres of hay he farmed. But today, that has changed. Evans Creek has a healthy flow again, thanks to an innovative program by the Bonneville Environmental Foundation that aims to recharge once-thriving Northwest streams. The program, which acts similar to carbon offsets, essentially pays water-rights holders to leave the water in the stream. Because rights are based on a use-it-or-lose-it model, many users continue to draw water even if they don't need it or their irrigation is ineffective -- rather than lose their claim. The program allows them to stop using the water without losing their rights -- while being compensated. Any company or individual can purchase water restoration certificates from the foundation to offset their water footprint. The water rights holders in turn are paid to leave water in the stream. Bonneville hopes to eventually expand the program across the nation...Oregonian

Environmentalists Seek to Wipe Out Soft Toilet Paper, Plus Exciting Video On TP Challenge

There is a battle for America's behinds. It is a fight over toilet paper: the kind that is blanket-fluffy and getting fluffier so fast that manufacturers are running out of synonyms for "soft" (Quilted Northern Ultra Plush is the first big brand to go three-ply and three-adjective). It's a menace, environmental groups say -- and a dark-comedy example of American excess. The reason, they say, is that plush U.S. toilet paper is usually made by chopping down and grinding up trees that were decades or even a century old. They want Americans, like Europeans, to wipe with tissue made from recycled paper goods. It has been slow going. Big toilet-paper makers say that they've taken steps to become more Earth-friendly but that their customers still want the soft stuff, so they're still selling it...WPost

If you want to support wildlife, support ranching

The best and most productive lands in Wyoming are in private ownership and have been for well over a century. These private lands support much of the wildlife we cherish so dearly. So before we go too far out of our way to cuss a rancher, let's be honest about the contribution his or her ranch makes to our hunting and fishing. Likewise, let's be honest about the alternative. As I look along the Colorado Front Range, I see hundreds of thousands of acres of land that were devoted to agriculture 20 years ago. Now, all of this land is covered up with houses. But that's not just a Colorado thing. Take a look at Star Valley not far from the Jackson Hole area, or the outskirts of Cheyenne or Gillette. If you care about wildlife, from moose to meadowlarks, ranches are better than subdivisions. I've come to the conclusion that ranchers aren't the only ones who have a stake in keeping ranchers in business in Wyoming. As a hunter and an angler, I've got a stake in that game, too. As open spaces in the West grow smaller and smaller, and as the average age of ranchers grows older and older, who's going to be the steward of all those private lands? I'd rather see a young family able to stay on the land and keep ranching than see that ranch become another subdivision, and that goes for whether I get to hunt on that place or not...HCN

World food output must rise 70 percent by 2050: FAO

The world will have to produce 70 percent more food by 2050 to feed a projected extra 2.3 billion people and as incomes rise, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization said Wednesday. Global cereals demand for food and animal feed is expected to rise to 3 billion tonnes by 2050 and more demand may come from the biofuels industry, the FAO said in a statement. Annual cereals output would have to grow by almost one billion tonnes from about 2.1 billion tonnes at present to meet the projected food and feed demand by 2050, the agency said. Meat output should increase by more than 200 million tonnes to reach 470 million tonnes in 2050, the Rome-based FAO said. "FAO is cautiously optimistic about the world's potential to feed itself by 2050," said FAO's Assistant Director-General Hafez Ghanem. But he added that climate change and biofuels demand would be the main challenges for world agriculture...Reuters

Retired Racehorse Lava Man Back in Training after Stem Cell Treatment

Lava Man, the former claimer who earned more than $5 million, has returned to training at Doug O'Neill's Hollywood Park barn. The 8-year-old gelding worked three furlongs in :36 flat Sept. 23 at Hollywood, his first official work. O'Neill, who claimed Lava Man for owners STD Racing Stable and Jason Wood, said Lava Man came into his Hollywood barn shortly after the Del Mar meeting closed Sept. 9. "He worked unbelievable and cooled out fantastic," O'Neill said. Lava Man was retired in late July 2008 after a sixth-place finish in the July 20 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar. "The intent was to retire him because he was off form," said O'Neill. "He went to Alamo Pintado, where they did a lot of diagnostics on him. They thought they could do some things to help with new technology." The Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Hospital in Los Olivos, Calif., works extensively in the area of stem-cell therapy. O'Neill said Lava Man underwent treatment, led by Doug Herthel, DVM, Alamo Pintado's founder. The gelding has been residing at Rich and Gaby Sulpizio's Magali Farms not far from the hospital. "They did stem cell therapy on Lava Man's ankles," O'Neill said. "Dr. Herthel said that he has the ankles of a 3-year-old. His ankles look phenomenal." Lava Man has been in training at Magali for about the last four months...The Horse

Critics: Elite Rangers Not Welcome at Texas Border

Rancher Mike Landry recently came upon a group of unarmed men dressed in camouflage burglarizing his guest house and stealing a truck from his 11,000 acres in Terrell County, rugged country bordering the Rio Grande in West Texas. A couple of shots over their heads from his hunting rifle kept nine of them, all Mexican citizens, in place until Border Patrol agents arrived. ''It has really gotten to be pretty spooky,'' said Landry, who has run cattle in the area for 29 years. Stories like Landry's seem to bolster Gov. Rick Perry's recent decision to send elite teams from the state's top law enforcement agency, the Texas Rangers, to remote borderlands to help them with security and deter a spillover of the gruesome drug-war violence plaguing Mexico. But Landry's situation never grew violent, and many other ranchers, sheriffs and politicians along Texas' 1,200 mile border with Mexico found the governor's announcement puzzling...AP

Administration Will Cut Border Patrol Deployed on U.S-Mexico Border

Even though the Border Patrol now reports that almost 1,300 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border is not under effective control, and the Department of Justice says that vast stretches of the border are “easily breached,” and the Government Accountability Office has revealed that three persons “linked to terrorism” and 530 aliens from “special interest countries” were intercepted at Border Patrol checkpoints last year, the administration is nonetheless now planning to decrease the number of Border Patrol agents deployed on the U.S.-Mexico border. Border Patrol Director of Media Relations Lloyd Easterling confirmed this week--as I first reported in my column yesterday--that his agency is planning for a net decrease of 384 agents on the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal 2010, which begins on October 1...CNSNews

Song Of The Day #140

We'll close out the week with Slim Whitman singing his 1953 hit North Wind.

My version comes from his 6 disc box set Rose Marie by Bear Family Records. There is a remastered version on the 15 track Slim Whitman - Vintage Collections Series by EMI Records.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Army: There's no plan for Fort Carson to annex Pinon Canyon

An Army plan to have Fort Carson "annex" the 238,000-acre Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site for management and budget purposes never was approved for action, Army lawyers told ranchers opposing the expansion of the Army training ground Wednesday. The annexation plan was obtained by the Not 1 More Acre group as part of its successful lawsuit in U.S. District Court. The ranchers had challenged the 2007 environmental impact study the Army conducted to support training more troops, more often at Pinon Canyon. Two weeks ago, District Judge Richard Matsch set aside the Army study, saying it was severely inadequate - a decision that blocked the Army's plan to increase training schedules at Pinon Canyon. But the annexation plan caused alarm among foes of the Army's expansion efforts at Pinon Canyon. The plan called for the annexation to occur by this Oct. 1. Having successfully lobbied Congress two years ago to approve an annual ban on the Army spending money on the expansion, the ranchers argued the plan to make Pinon Canyon a "sub-installation" of Fort Carson was an effort to evade that congressional moratorium. "We were in federal court over the Army's failure to publicly disclose their unlimited expansion plans when we learned Fort Carson was secretly planning to take Pinon Canyon as its own," Mack Louden, a board member of the group, said Wednesday...PuebloChieftain

Federal wildlife service unveils new climate change policy

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday unveiled its new climate change strategy, which environmental groups have heralded as a significant advance in government policy. The proposed plan will provide a framework for incorporating climate change modeling into the service’s decisions, which include Endangered Species Act enforcement and management of the nation’s 540 national wildlife refuges. Tom Strickland, assistant secretary of the interior for fish, wildlife and parks, called climate change “the single greatest conservation challenge of the 21st century” in a teleconference Wednesday. Sam Hamilton, the new chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the policy is a fundamental shift toward anticipating effects of climate change on plants, animals, their ecosystems and the humans who rely on the same resources. The wildlife service plan calls for targeted monitoring of climate change impacts on fish and wildlife, developing “landscape conservation cooperatives” with private partners, and pursuing reforestation projects to increase the amount of carbon dioxide being removed from the

An International Environmental Court?

For years American politics has been stirred by debate over whether the United States should join or cooperate with newly emergent instruments of multilateral law such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Kyoto Accords on climate change. To these ongoing controversies may soon be added another: should the United States support or oppose plans for an international court for the environment, empowered to punish states or private actors that damage irreplaceable natural resources or fail to protect imperiled species or ecosystems? At present, the debate over such a court is mostly being heard abroad - particularly in Great Britain, where a prominent lawyer named Stephen Hockman is spearheading a campaign that has won backing for the idea from various public figures such as Exchequer secretary Alistair Darling and Dame Judi Dench (Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also made vaguely favorable noises). At some point, however, we are likely to hear more about it on this side of the Atlantic. Already one international environmentalist group well known in this country, Friends of the Earth, has declared its backing for the concept, and others are likely to follow. If it follows the lines promoted by Hockman's campaign, an international environmental court would have the following characteristics...PointOfLaw

NASA data: Greenland, Antarctic ice melt worsening

New satellite information shows that ice sheets in Greenland and western Antarctica continue to shrink faster than scientists thought and in some places are already in runaway melt mode. British scientists for the first time calculated changes in the height of the vulnerable but massive ice sheets and found them especially worse at their edges. That's where warmer water eats away from below. In some parts of Antarctica, ice sheets have been losing 30 feet a year in thickness since 2003, according to a paper published online Thursday in the journal Nature. Some of those areas are about a mile thick, so they've still got plenty of ice to burn through. But the drop in thickness is speeding up. In parts of Antarctica, the yearly rate of thinning from 2003 to 2007 is 50 percent higher than it was from 1995 to 2003. These new measurements, based on 50 million laser readings from a NASA satellite, confirm what some of the more pessimistic scientists thought: The melting along the crucial edges of the two major ice sheets is accelerating and is in a self-feeding loop. The more the ice melts, the more water surrounds and eats away at the remaining ice...AP

U.N. climate meeting was propaganda: Czech president

Czech President Vaclav Klaus sharply criticized a U.N. meeting on climate change on Tuesday at which U.S. President Barack Obama was among the top speakers, describing it as propagandistic and undignified. "It was sad and it was frustrating," said Klaus, one of the world's most vocal skeptics on the topic of global warming. "It's a propagandistic exercise where 13-year-old girls from some far-away country perform a pre-rehearsed poem," he said. "It's simply not dignified." At the opening of the summit attended by nearly 100 world leaders, 13-year-old Yugratna Srivastava of India told the audience that governments were not doing enough to combat the threat of climate change. Klaus said there were increasing doubts in the scientific community about whether humans are causing changes in the climate or whether the changes are simply naturally occurring phenomena. But politicians, he said, seem to be moving closer to a consensus on climate change. "The train can't be stopped and I consider that a huge mistake," Klaus said...Reuters

Scientists explore link between dust, snowpack

By digging in the muck of Rocky Mountain ponds and lakes, scientists have been able to establish an accurate historic record of how human activities have increased the amount of dust falling on high country snowpack. Using satellite images and analyzing the dust, other researchers have been able to pinpoint specific sources, including off-road vehicle disturbances, livestock grazing and oil and gas development on the Colorado Plateau. “It's profound,” said researcher Tom Painter, director of the snow optics laboratory at the University of Utah. “Areas that are actively disturbed release 1,000 times more dust,” Painter said, adding that dust layers in 2009 caused the snow pack to melt 45 to 48 days earlier than normal. Areas that haven't been disturbed by human activities release very little dust, Painter said. “This has huge impacts on hydrology and snow cover,” Painter said, explaining that water managers have to account for changes in runoff as they plan the operation of reservoirs and diversions. Painter said research in the last few years has enabled scientists to look back about 5,000 years. Lake sediments show a dramatic increase in dust deposition coincided with the settlement of the West, beginning in the late 1800s, he explained. The dust levels stayed high through the early 1900s and then declined in the 1930s, when new grazing laws changed the way ranchers ran their herds of cattle. Overall, the amount of dust being released since the advent of human disturbance is 500 times greater than prior to the disturbance of the West, Painter said...DailyNews

Hunting season on wolves should be expanded

The wolves were yearlings that killed 29 domestic animals in five separate incidents between April and August. This was surprising to folks who didn’t realize wolves would do that, but ranchers knew how it might happen. Biologists tried everything to protect livestock and discourage these wolves. They attached a radio collar to one of the predators so it could be monitored. Then, they installed flagged fencing called “fladry,” which is said to be a wolf deterrent. A radio-activated-guard box was used to make noises when a wolf’s collar approached. Biologists tried double-penning livestock, keeping animals near homes at night and burying carcasses. Even using guard dogs didn’t seem to help. Finally, they decided to shoot the wolves from airplanes and that seemed to work best. It would have been much less expensive if they had shot the wolves in the first place – instead of placing a collar on one...ColumbiaBasinFarmer

Secretary Vilsak's Rural Tour Comes To Las Cruces

You are invited to a Rural Tour Community Forum with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in Las Cruces, New Mexico on September 30, 2009. Secretary Vilsack is leading the Obama Administration’s Rural Tour – which is an opportunity to discuss the efforts by the Obama Administration to rebuild and revitalize rural America.

At each stop on the Rural Tour, Secretary Vilsack has been listening to local residents about how USDA can assist them, and discussing solutions to the challenges facing their communities.

So please bring your thoughts, ideas and questions. Your input and participation would be greatly appreciated.

Time and Place:

10:30am to 11:45am, Wednesday, September 30th
Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds
Memorial Medical Center Stage
12125 Robert Larson Blvd
Las Cruces, New Mexico 88007-9021

Doors open at 9:45 am

While the Community Forum is open to the public, you will need to purchase a ticket to the State Fair to get into the fairgrounds. Information about tickets to the State Fair can be located at

If you have any questions, you may email or call us at 877-85-RURAL; 877-85-78725.

Be sure to check out our website WWW.RURALTOUR.GOV and share your thoughts and ideas about the tour and rural America.

Feds probe US Census worker hanging in Kentucky Forest

When Bill Sparkman told retired trooper Gilbert Acciardo that he was going door-to-door collecting census data in rural Kentucky, the former cop drawing on years of experience warned: "Be careful." The 51-year-old Sparkman was found hanged from a tree near a Kentucky cemetery and had the word "fed" scrawled on his chest, a law enforcement official said Wednesday, and the FBI is investigating whether he was a victim of anti-government sentiment. The Census Bureau has suspended door-to-door interviews in rural Clay County, where the body was found, until the investigation is complete, an official said. He was found Sept. 12 in a remote patch of Daniel Boone National Forest and an autopsy report is pending. A private group called PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, tracks violence against employees who enforce environmental regulations. The group's executive director, Jeff Ruch, said it's hard to know about all of the cases because some agencies don't share data on violence against employees. From 1996 to 2006, according to the group's most recent data, violent episodes against federal Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service workers soared from 55 to 290. "Even as illustrated in town hall meetings today, there is a distinct hostilityin a large segment of the population toward people who work for their government," Ruch said...AP

Grazing allotment changes proposed

For the first time in 30 years, the way grazing allotments are managed on the Little Missouri National Grasslands will be revised. The revisions will affect hundreds of ranchers in western North Dakota, who lease publicly owned grasslands owned by the U.S. Forest Service. The Medora district of the Forest Service released a draft environmental impact statement last month and is worried that the few comments that it has received will lead to a final plan that lacks public involvement, especially from the ranchers most affected. The Medora District of the grasslands contains 500,000 acres, divided into 253 separate grazing allotments. The document covers grazing revisions for 43 of the allocations, or some 50 to 60 ranch permittees, all mostly in northern Billings County. These are the first allotments in the Medora district to undergo the painstaking environmental review that's now required. Over time, they'll all be put under the same scrutiny, meaning some allotment permittees will be operating under the revisions for years before other ranchers are...Republic

Prairie dog tax ruling's affects still unknown

Almost 10 days after the Utah State Tax Commission granted an appeal to local property owner Bruce Hughes to have his property reassessed because of a prairie dog problem, the county assessor said his office still does not know what effect the ruling will have. "We haven't gotten the whole set of findings about that," Iron County Assessor Dennis Ayers said, adding the county has contacted him over several pieces of land with prairie dog issues that need to be addressed. Hughes appeal came out of the property owner's argument that his land was valued too high and should be lowered because the prairie dogs make it difficult to sell. "Several people are being very objectionable about letting anyone know they have prairie dogs now," Ayers said about the initial reaction he has heard on the ruling. Iron County has until Oct. 10 to appeal the decision, but Ayers said he would speak to Hughes before publicizing the next move, and speak to the commission on whether it would even budget for an appeal...TheSpectrum

Taxes - Politicians won't lower them, but prairie dogs will. A nice summary of today's political world.

Local cowboys rope awards at Roswell competition

A team of working cowboys from two Mimbres Valley ranches took second-place honors recently at a sanctioned Working Ranch Cowboys Association rodeo in Roswell. Now they're aiming for first place at the WRCA ranch rodeo in Deming this weekend in conjunction with the Southwest New Mexico State Fair. A first-place finish will assure the Harrington/Diamond E team of a place in the World Championship Ranch Rodeo to be held Nov. 11-15 in Amarillo, Texas. The team consists of brothers Joe Miller, 31, and David Miller, 41, owners of the Harrington Ranch; Harrington Ranch hand Chad Shannon, 44; and Diamond E Ranch manager Brandon Biebelle, 27. In order to belong to the WRCA and compete in sanctioned ranch rodeos, team members must all be working cowhands on a bona fide cattle ranch. The Harrington Ranch was established in 1902 by the Miller brothers' great-grandparents, Paul and Flora Harrington. Ten years later, Brandon Biebelle's great-grandfather, Walter Biebelle Sr., arrived in the Mimbres Valley and founded the Diamond E Ranch. Both families now own second ranches elsewhere in New Mexico, in addition to the original family ranches. The Biebelles' second ranch is in Corona, and is managed by Brandon's father, Randy. The Millers' second ranch is in Separ, just outside Lordsburg, and is managed by David Miller, while Joe manages the original family ranch in the Mimbres Valley. "Our families have worked with each other for years, helping out where needed," Joe Miller said. So it was natural for the two ranch families to join forces and create a combined team to compete in ranch rodeos...SilverCitySunNews

Ranching - A Great Way Of Life

Ranching is a great way of life, but is it sustainable? Can it produce enough income to support a growing family? Can it be passed on from one generation to the next? Will the next generation want to come back to the ranch? In recent years there has been much talk about a concept called "sustainable agriculture" but most of the so-called experts fail to mention the two most important ingredients - profit and enjoyment. Agriculture that is not profitable and enjoyable will never be sustainable. I'm very troubled by the large number of ranches that are struggling to make a profit. I'm troubled by the number of ranchers who are tired and burned out. I'm troubled by the fact that the average age of ranchers continues to increase because the next generation is not coming back to the family ranch - but can you blame them? They spent their entire lives watching their parents work relentlessly, often with off-farm jobs, just to breakeven. If ranching isn't going to be profitable and enjoyable, why ranch? This is a subject I am very passionate about, but since space is limited I'm just going to hit some of the high points...cattlenetwork

Song Of The Day #139

Today's selection is Jimmie Brown, The Newsboy which was recorded in 1951 by Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs & The Foggy Mountain Boys.

Scruggs is famous for his banjo picking, but that's him playing lead guitar on this track. When Flatt complements it with his famous G run, its a beautiful thing to hear. Damn good song too.

The song is available on many of their collections and on their 12 track CD Songs of the Famous Carter Family.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Justice Department investigating former Interior Secretary Gail Norton

The Justice Department is investigating whether former Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton illegally used her position to benefit Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the company that later hired her, according to officials in federal law enforcement and the Interior Department. The criminal investigation centers on the Interior Department's 2006 decision to award a Shell subsidiary three lucrative oil-shale leases on federal land in Colorado. Over the years it would take to extract the oil, according to calculations from Shell and a Rand Corp. expert, the deal could net the company hundreds of billion of dollars. The probe's main focus is whether Norton violated a law that prohibits federal employees from discussing employment with a company if they are involved in dealings with the government that could benefit the firm, law enforcement and Interior officials said. They said investigators also are trying to determine if Norton broke a broader federal "denial of honest services" law, which says a government official can be prosecuted for violating the public trust by, for example, steering government business to favored firms or friends. The Interior Department's Inspector General's office launched the investigation during the waning months of the George W. Bush administration and more recently made a formal criminal referral to Justice. Norton is the first Bush official at the cabinet secretary level to be the subject of a formal political corruption investigation...WTKR-TV

U.N. Climate Summit Leaves Large Carbon Footprint

To hear world leaders and others addressing the United Nations Summit on Climate Change, the threat could not be more real and the need more urgent to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. But in stark contrast to the earnest statements is the carbon footprint associated with their gathering. It happens every autumn: midtown Manhattan becomes the motorcade capital of the world. Each foreign leader in town has a convoy of vehicles. Some of them, like President Obama's motorcade, are 20-to-30 vehicles in length. It's so long - it seems that when the front of it reaches the U.N., the back end is still back at his hotel. Exacerbating the annual exercise in diplomatic gridlock are police actions, blocking intersections and closing streets for security to facilitate motorcade movements. It renders countless other vehicles immobile while waiting for motorcades to pass, their engines idling but still blowing exhaust into the midtown air...CBS

Texas Governor: U.S. climate bill will gouge state economy

A U.S. climate bill will cripple Texas's vital energy sector and damage the state and national economies, Republican Governor Rick Perry said on Tuesday. Instead of enacting the Waxman-Markey bill, the country should follow his example by promoting nuclear power and alternative energy, such as wind and solar, Perry said in a statement. He proposed the United States modernize its electricity grid and find ways to capture and store excess carbon. Texas has diversified its economy away from energy, partly by focusing on technology, but the sector still supplies 20 percent of the United States' oil, 25 percent of its natural gas and refined products, and 60 percent of chemical manufacturing, Perry said. Texas has more wind power than any other U.S. state and is building new transmission lines to carry more than 18,000 megawatts, Perry said. That is nearly as much as the current capacity of all the other 49 states. Conservationists have criticized Texas's rush into wind power because many of the giant windmills lie along migratory bird routes in the Gulf. Perry estimated his state has 200,000 to 300,000 people working in the energy industry, who are paid $35 billion in wages...Reuters

Global warming propaganda infiltrates schools

Scientists see no temperature increase (on average) in the oceans or on the surface of the Earth over the last decade. That hasn't stopped an activist group from infiltrating high schools with the panicky message that we are on the verge of a "planetary emergency" due to global warming. These alarmists are the recently formed Alliance for Climate Education, an Oakland, Calif., nonprofit created by wealthy wind energy entrepreneur Michael Haas. The organization has targeted five metropolitan areas and now is opening a Washington office. Haas, who donated $24,600 to President Obama's campaign and victory funds last year, stands to reap millions of dollars in government subsidies that climate change-driven energy policies would bring...Examiner

Birds caught in wind-farm push

For years, a huge wind farm in California's San Joaquin Valley was slaughtering thousands of birds, including golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and burrowing owls. The raptors would get sliced up by the blades on the 5,400 turbines in Altamont Pass, or electrocuted by the wind farm's power lines. Scientists, wildlife agencies and turbine experts came together in an attempt to solve the problem. The result? Protective measures put in place in an effort to reduce deaths by 50% failed. Deaths in fact soared for three of four bird species studied, said the Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area Bird Fatality Study. The slaughter at Altamont Pass is being raised by avian scientists who say the drive among environmentalists to rapidly boost U.S. wind-farm power 20 times could lead to massive bird losses and even extinctions. New wind projects "have the potential of killing a lot of migratory birds," said Michael Fry, director of conservation advocacy at the American Bird Conservancy in Washington...USAToday

Crazy Dust Storm Turns Sydney Red (photos)

Story & photos at Wired Science.

GAO report chides BLM's rush to drill

Sloppy wording in the Bush administration's 2005 Energy Policy Act's directives to streamline oil and gas development has led to lawsuits, end runs around environmental laws and dirty air in Vernal, a federal agency says. In a report issued this week, the Government Accountability Office criticized the Bureau of Land Management's "inappropriate" use of so-called categorical exclusions -- exemptions from normal procedures -- in its drilling-permit operations. The exemptions, pushed through to speed energy development in the West, let one broad environmental-impact statement on one drilling application serve for all subsequent requests. The 2005 provision also allows BLM officials under certain conditions to sidestep provisions in the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act requiring analyses of threatened or endangered species, historical or cultural resources, human health and safety of potentially significant cumulative environmental effects of oil and gas drilling on public lands. The Energy Policy Act contains serious gaps and inconsistencies that have led to violations of environmental laws, the GAO found. Cumulative impacts of additional oil or gas development, especially on air quality, have been the most widespread and potentially serious concerns...SaltLakeTribune

Initiative to ban trapping in Montana clears first hurdle en route to ballot

An initiative to ban trapping on public land in Montana has cleared its first hurdle toward appearing on the November 2010 ballot. The Montana Secretary of State's office has concluded that the initiative proposed by Florence-based Footloose Montana can appear on the ballot if backers can get enough signatures to qualify the measure. The group seeks to ban trapping on public lands in the state, save for "scientific, public health and safety activities." Footloose must gather 24,400 signatures from registered Montana voters in order to place the would-be law on the ballot...Missoulian

LA passes law limiting roosters to 1 per household

The chickens have come home to roost for Los Angeles city dwellers who keep roosters. The City Council on Tuesday passed an ordinance that—with few exceptions—allows only one rooster per property. It was spurred by complaints over noise and hygiene and concerns over illegal cockfighting. Janice Hahn, who authored the bill, says it will give residents of her district some peace and quiet. Neighborhoods from the harbor to the San Fernando Valley are sometimes annoyed by concerts from crowing roosters. Real estate developer Michael Mekeel says tenants of his Panorama City development have had to turn up their TVs and wear earplugs. The law takes effect in November and carries fines of up to $250. AP

No mention of chickens and global warming?

Too bad roosters aren't a "keystone" species.

NM legislative committee hears wolf testimony

The Legislative Interim Water and Natural Resources Committee held its monthly meeting at the Grant County business/conference center all day Monday and until noon today. The senators and representatives heard information on various issues, including the wolf program and how it is impacting Catron County. Catron County Commission Chairman Ed Wehrheim said he knows most people have already formed opinions on the wolf program, but wanted to present new developments. “The program has now cost taxpayers about $400,000 per wolf,' Wehrheim said. “We estimate that when the program reaches its goal populationof 100 wolves, we will lose about 7,000 head of cattle over five years. Our state is 48th in the U.S. in per capita income, and Catron County is the third lowest in the state in per capita income.' He reported that since the program went into effect, 1,200 head have been killed and only 72 compensated for by the Defenders of Wildlife. “Clearly this program is stealing our private property,' Wehrheim said. The Center for Biological Diversity has sent a petition to the U.S. secretary of the interior requesting the Mexican graywolf status be changed from an experimental, non-essential program to full endangered status as a subspecies of the gray wolf or as a distinct population segment. “That means there will be road and trail closures, no hunting, no woodcutting, no ranching and the recovery area will be expanded,' Wehrheim alleged...SilverCityDailyPress

Coyote attacks prompt action in LA Park

A man reported being attacked by a coyote in Griffith Park last week, wildlife officials said. The man, who was lying down near the Travel Town area Wednesday night, reported waking up to find a coyote biting his foot, but he was not seriously injured, said Kevin Brennan, a wildlife biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game. The attack was the second reported in less than a month in the 4,210-acre, chaparral-covered park. Wildlife authorities learned from Los Angeles County health officials last week that another person had been bitten in the park in late August. In response, wardens dispatched U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife services trappers, who roved the park Thursday and Sunday, trapping and lethally shooting seven of the animals. The agency's policy is to capture and kill coyotes only if there's an imminent threat to public safety. "Somebody getting bitten is an imminent threat," Brennan said...LATimes

JBS: industrial meat’s new heavyweight champ

Remember two weeks ago, when I warned that if JBS snapped up Pilgrim’s Pride, four transnational giants would dominate the U.S. meat market? Well, Brazil-based beef behemoth JBS has announced a deal to take a two-thirds stake of struggling U.S. poultry titan Pilgrim’s. JBS also announced a surprise deal to buy one of its biggest Brazilian rivals, the beef processor Bertin. Before the deals, JBS was already the globe’s largest beef processor, with a jaw-dropping 10 percent of the worldwide beef market. If the two deals make it past U.S. and Brazilian antitrust authorities, JBS will leapfrog Tyson as the globe’s largest meat company; it will have about $30 billion in annual revenue, compared to Tyson’s $26.7 billion, Reuters reports. (Cargill has $120 billion in annual revenue, but its interests extend well beyond meat to grain trading, fertilizer, biofuel, and even a hedge fund). And thus, four gigantic companies now dominate meat production here. Well, not quite yet. There is that matter of antitrust. But while the Obama Administration has rattled its sword at unchecked agribiz consolidation, hardly anyone expects it to block this tie-up...Grist

Blogging on the range: Farmers link to consumers via social media

Whether he's strolling through the corral, doing payroll at his desk or checking on a newborn calf, Stanislaus County dairy farmer Ray Prock likes to stop by what he calls his "virtual watercooler" to chat about his favorite topic: agriculture. He does this by logging on to his Twitter account, a social networking Web site that allows users to exchange quick, frequent messages known as tweets. By firing up his computer or turning on his smartphone, Prock can get a glimpse of what people in the global community are saying—and talk back to them. That's important, he said, because with so much misinformation out there about where food comes from and how it's produced, farmers have a responsibility to speak up and set the record straight. And with social media, they now have a tool to help them reach virtually anybody anywhere at any time. It is no wonder that social media tools are gaining use among farmers and ranchers, who are increasingly turning to online networking applications such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to help bridge the gap between them and consumers. The trend is noteworthy considering that 36 percent of U.S. farms currently still don't have computers and 41 percent don't have Internet access, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But where there is access, social media are penetrating the farming community. A recent American Farm Bureau Federation survey of farmers and ranchers aged 18-35 indicates that among the 92 percent who use computers, 46 percent regularly plug in to some form of social media...CFBF

Song Of The Day #138

As you can tell, things are a little slower and a little sadder this week on Ranch Radio as we feel for those local ranchers who are about to be placed in wilderness areas thanks to Senator Bingaman. So don't expect any up-tempo happy type tunes until I recover.

Today's selection is Streamlined Cannonball, a beautiful recording by the "Ol' Pea Picker" Tennessee Ernie Ford accompanied by The Dinning Sisters. It's available on his 3 disc box set Masters 1949-1976 by Capitol Records (just 15 bucks for 50 tracks).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On the Border: Wilderness Causes Degraded Environmental Quality & Security

Representative Rob Bishop’s (R-UT) is concerned about how the Department of the Interior is – or perhaps more appropriately isn’t - working with the Department of Homeland Security to secure our borders, and he let Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar know it at a hearing of the Committee on Natural Resources. As evidence of the issue’s gravity, Bishop points to a 2004 Interior Department report that had never been released to the public. According to the report the vast majority of the Organ National Pipe Monument in Arizona has been so degraded that it has lost its ‘wilderness’ character. Trash, vehicle tracks, foot trails and fire scars from illegal immigration and drug trafficking have severely degraded the Monument. Maps and images in the report (see photo) make a compelling case. The National Park Service’s website for the Monument, although cryptic, is consistent with the report indicating a list of roads and back-country areas simply closed off until further notice - your park lands ceded to coyotes and their human cargo and drug smugglers. The reason these areas are now government sponsored no-man’s lands may be even more troubling. Bishop stated that border patrol agents have been reporting “…that their hands are shackled when dealing with Interior officials on Interior Lands.” It seems that Interior may not be eager to put border security high on the agenda or share data revealing its environmental benefits. If Bishop gets his way, that may change. Bishop, the ranking member of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, lit into Secretary Salazar over Interior’s handling of several of his document requests. In addition to the documents regarding the border, Bishop requested documents regarding communications between the National Park Service and an advocacy group...The Foundry

Please remember that Congress has designated 95% of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument as a wilderness area. The Park Service website gives the following notice and list of closures for "visitor safety." From the website:

Due to our proximity to the International Boundary with Mexico, some areas near the border are closed for construction and visitor safety concerns.

Closed Roads: Conditions at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument periodically lead to closures of some roads and sections of the park. The following roads are closed indefinitely to vehicle traffic until further notice.

* Pozo Nuevo
* Camino de Dos Republicas
* South Puerto Blanco Drive
* North Puerto Blanco past the five-mile gate

Backcountry Areas: The following areas are closed to use until further notice.

* All backcountry areas are closed to overnight use. Many backcountry areas are open for day hiking only. Check at the Kris Eggle Visitor Center for the most current closure information.
* Red Tanks and Lost Cabin Mine trail complex are closed to all visitor use.
* Dripping Springs area from west of Pinkley Peak to North Puerto Blanco Drive is closed to all visitor use.
* Bates Mountains, Kino Peak and all areas south of the Bates Well Road, including areas along the Pozo Nuevo Road are closed to all visitor use.
* Sweetwater Pass area is closed to all visitor use.

Congress created a wilderness area which is now being trashed by illegal human smuggling and drug traffickers. The Park Service study referred to says that permitted back country visitors are outnumbered by illegal aliens trekking north by a ratio of ten to one, they are finding 150 abandoned vehicles per year, and that 130 deaths had occurred in the corridor.

Now comes Senator Bingaman who has introduced legislation to designate 259,000 acres as wilderness in southern New Mexico, much of it along the U.S.-Mexico border, and thus potentially creating the same situation in New Mexico. Does the Senator really believe a small corridor at the southern end of his proposal will really solve this problem for all 259,000 acres or 405 square miles of wilderness?

One can only hope the Senator will reconsider his position on this issue, especially since other designations are available which will protect the land while still allowing access to the Border Patrol and other law enforcement officials.

NOTE: I've served as an advisor to a western heritage group on this issue and am involved in natural resource issues across the west. The views expressed here are strictly my own and should not be attributed to any group or organization with whom I am or have been affiliated.

Obama to shift focus to climate change

After months of almost single-minded focus on healthcare, President Obama is about to shift the White House spotlight to global warming -- first with a speech to the United Nations in New York on Tuesday, then later in the week at the G-20 economic conference in Pittsburgh. The renewed emphasis on climate change and reducing carbon dioxide emissions comes at a crucial time: Negotiators are entering the home stretch in a drive to unveil a comprehensive international agreement to curb rising temperatures at a December conference in Copenhagen. With key divisions remaining among the major industrialized nations, as well as with developing industrial powers and poorer nations, there is concern that negotiations leading up to Copenhagen could be bogging down. Obama administration officials, while admitting the seriousness of the challenges, hold out hope for a deal...LATimes

US-EU rift clouds climate summit

A growing rift between the US and Europe is overshadowing Tuesday’s United Nations climate change summit in New York, further damping hopes for a breakthrough at the Copenhagen talks in December. Connie Hedegaard, the Danish environment minister, lowered expectations, saying: “Things are looking difficult and too slow, that is the fact.” The downgrading of expectations comes as relations between the US and Europe, which started the year of talks as allies, near breakdown. In Brussels, European Union officials have grown increasingly frustrated at the US stance, saying it has fallen short on both its level of ambition to reduce emissions and on offering aid to developing

Green groups open 'climate war room'

The cap-and-trade movement, spooked by the pounding health care reform took over the August break, is scrambling to persuade nervous Democrats they won’t suffer politically for taking another tough vote this year. “When you get your butt kicked, like we did [after the House energy vote], it focuses the mind,” said Steve Cochran, director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s National Climate Campaign. “We found out that this is not something to hide from but something to lean on — even in places where coal is king and Blue Dogs were perceived to be running for cover.” Climate bill supporters say they have spent the summer building precisely the kind of grass-roots network that health care didn’t have, with grass-roots operations in more than 20 states. A “climate war room” — funded by more than 60 labor, business, faith, agriculture and environmental groups — has been set up to coordinate ad dollars and communications...Politico

Fed judge says grizzlies still threatened

Facing the combined pressures of climate change, hunters and lax protections, 600 grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park are going back on the threatened species list under a federal court order issued Monday. The ruling highlighted climate change's devastation to whitebark pine forests, which produce nuts that some grizzlies rely upon as a mainstay. With hundreds of thousands of the trees dead or dying over the last two decades, bears striking out in search of new food sources increasingly are being shot in conflicts with humans. "There is a connection between whitebark pine and grizzly survival," U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy wrote in Monday's ruling. The greater Yellowstone area of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming has one of the densest concentrations of grizzlies in the lower 48 states. The animals were declared recovered in March 2007 after bouncing back from near-extermination last century. At the time, the grizzly bear program was touted by the Bush administration as a model framework for restoring at-risk species, successfully balancing conservation and the pressures of human development. But in his ruling, Molloy sharply criticized the rationale behind the decision and ordered the Obama administration to immediately restore the animal's threatened status...AP

California's Man-Made Drought

California has a new endangered species on its hands in the San Joaquin Valley—farmers. Thanks to environmental regulations designed to protect the likes of the three-inch long delta smelt, one of America's premier agricultural regions is suffering in a drought made worse by federal regulations. The state's water emergency is unfolding thanks to the latest mishandling of the Endangered Species Act. Last December, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued what is known as a "biological opinion" imposing water reductions on the San Joaquin Valley and environs to safeguard the federally protected hypomesus transpacificus, a.k.a., the delta smelt. As a result, tens of billions of gallons of water from mountains east and north of Sacramento have been channelled away from farmers and into the ocean, leaving hundreds of thousands of acres of arable land fallow or scorched. For this, Californians can thank the usual environmental suspects, er, lawyers. Last year's government ruling was the result of a 2006 lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other outfits objecting to increased water pumping in the smelt vicinity. In June, things got even dustier when the National Marine Fisheries Service concluded that local salmon and steelhead also needed to be defended from the valley's water pumps. Those additional restrictions will begin to effect pumping operations next year. The result has already been devastating for the state's farm economy. In the inland areas affected by the court-ordered water restrictions, the jobless rate has hit 14.3%, with some farming towns like Mendota seeing unemployment numbers near 40%. Statewide, the rate reached 11.6% in July, higher than it has been in 30 years. In August, 50 mayors from the San Joaquin Valley signed a letter asking President Obama to observe the impact of the draconian water rules firsthand...WSJ

HT: ESABlawg

Emptying Reservoirs in the Middle of a Drought

ANYONE DOUBTING THAT OUR nation's environmental and economic policies can get seriously out of whack from time to time need only look to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Located in California's Central Valley, between the state's capital city and Stockton, it is where the American, Mokelumne, Cosumnes, and Calaveras Rivers flow into the larger Sacramento and San Joaquin. It is also where the saddest agricultural saga since the Depression-era Dust Bowl is now playing, as the waters from those rivers flow beneath San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge and out to sea. As they flow unimpeded to the Pacific, those waters are also washing out to sea the livelihoods of tens of thousands of farm workers and agricultural business owners. It is an economic as well as human tragedy. This is a story about water, about its lack as well as its abundance. But it is also a story about the price we pay to protect the environment, and whether we are striking the right balance between nature and mankind. In the end, the question is whether people should exercise dominion over nature, or whether nature should lord over man. To most Americans, the answer is obvious: our capacity to make nature subservient to our needs justifies doing so, insomuch as we act as responsible stewards of the environment. But however obvious that might be to most people, the countervailing idea—that nature should take precedence over mankind—is being sown into a series of laws and regulations that are causing undue torment and distress. The American West was created, it is fair to say, by mankind taming nature and using it for his own purpose. That is how the San Joaquin Valley over time became the most productive agricultural region in the world...AmericanSpectator

Video: The Valley Hope Forgot

Audit Finds Waste in 'Green' Projects

The four drafty buildings had been fixtures of the Energy Department complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., for more than half a century. They burned energy like 1950s sedans. The buildings seemed like perfect candidates for a federal conservation retrofit program that relies on private contractors that receive a percentage of the money they save. A deal was struck in 2001. The contractors reworked lighting and heating systems, among other things, and began collecting payments. The project was counted among the department's "green" successes -- until auditors discovered that the buildings had been torn down several years ago, and the government had paid $850,000 for energy savings at facilities that no longer existed. The auditors, from the department's inspector general's office, also determined that $565,000 had been paid over six years under the same arrangement to a contractor in Texas for a high-efficiency laundry that was no longer in use. The department also paid out $3.4 million on another project without checking whether the conservation measures worked -- and $160,000 for measurements that were never taken...WPost

California plans to levy greenhouse gas fees

More than a year after Bay Area air pollution regulators became the first in the nation to charge businesses for pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the program has raked in close to $1.7 million. And as early as this week, the state may follow suit by imposing similar fees on large California polluters as part of an ongoing effort to cut greenhouse gases 20 percent by 2020. The proposed program from the California Air Resources Board and the fledgling regional effort are designed to use the fees to pay for measuring, monitoring and studying the emissions blamed for global climate change. While health and environmental advocates say tracking greenhouse gases is an important step in the state's plan to battle climate change, big emitters say there is a risk of creating an unfair hodgepodge of regulations and fees...SFChronicle

Second group of prairie dogs released

After being caged, dusted and inspected, 27 New Mexico natives were introduced Monday to new homes in Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, about 50 miles southeast of Tucson. Apart from being a little homesick, the black-tailed prairie dogs, released by the Arizona Game and Fish Department, have a bright future, Kristen Lenhardt said. This is the second of six planned prairie dog releases by Game and Fish and the BLM. The reintroduction is aimed at restoring the native species that was wiped out in Arizona by the 1960s. Last year the department released 74 prairie dogs on land adjacent to the conservation area. The reintroduction number this year was significantly less due to poor weather conditions during the trapping in New Mexico. The organizations plan to add more to the site in the next couple of weeks...AzDailyStar

It's All Trew: Animal stories

Recently, my neighbor Burl Stubbs called offering me the deal of a lifetime. Seems he had a cat worth $500 that he would sell me for 25 cents. If that price was too high he was open to negotiation and would deliver the animal to my home, free. In spite of the bargain, I turned down the offer as we live out in the boondocks with coyotes and bobcats visiting nightly awaiting the arrival of our next domestic pet. Though ridiculous in content and certainly not the norm for judging horseflesh, my father and untold numbers of old timers used the following verse in buying or trading a horse: "One white foot - eye him, Two white feet - try him. Three white feet - buy him and four white feet and a white nose - feed him to the crows." Unfortunately, during my lifetime of owning, riding and working many horses and observing many more, the old adage is true more times than not. Grandma Trew once owned a "broody hen." In explanation to the unlearned, a broody hen is a fowl that exhibits a perpetual, super-motherly instinct, and is always wanting to sit on and hatch a setting of eggs. Once hatched, she raises, protects and nourishes her brood in high fashion, making her a valuable asset to the usual farm menagerie. Of course, during the cold winter season, baby chicks are susceptible to the cold climate and not desired. However, the broody hen still desires to be a mother. To keep her satisfied, Grandma used "fooler-eggs" that were actually white glass door knobs. It seemed to make no difference to the motherly hen as she faithfully attended her

Song Of The Day #137

Today's selection is a pretty ballad by Faron Young - his 1952 recording of Tattle Tale Tears.

It's available on his 24 track CD Live Fast, Love Hard: Original Capitol Recordings, 1952-1962 and the wonderful 5 disc box set The Classic Years 1952-62.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack To Visit Las Cruces

The USDA website has the following announcement:

September 30 - Secretary Tom Vilsack will travel to Las Cruces, NM, to discuss rural infrastructure.

It's part of USDA's Rural Tour and that's all the info I have at this time.

Condoms & Climate Change

What's the connection you ask?

Never fear, Time Magazine will tell you all about it.

Prophet of climate doom a scientific black sheep

Researchers from a broad swathe of disciplines are strangely ill at ease when asked about fellow scientist James Lovelock, whose improbable career has just entered its seventh decade. Chemists, biologists, climatologists and physicists are all quick to reach for superlatives: "brilliant", "ahead of his time", a "renaissance scientist" in an age of ultra-specialisation. But even as the scientific community sings Lovelock's praises, one waits for the other shoe to drop. When it comes to climate change -- the issue that has consumed Lovelock's interest more than any other over the last decade -- the old man has got it wrong, they say. At least they hope he is wrong. Five years ago, Lovelock's "The Revenge of Gaia" issued a terrifying warning: if humankind didn't radically curtail greenhouse-gas emissions, there would, quite literally, be hell to pay. His new book out this year, "The Vanishing Face of Gaia," says it has now become bleakly apparent that we blew our chance. "We have left it far, far too late to save the planet as we know it," Lovelock said. Lovelock's grim conviction that we cannot prevent a global warming apocalypse in which billions of people will perish is rooted not in what we will fail to do in the future, but what we have already done in the past. For even if we stop spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere tomorrow, he says, the carbon dioxide (CO2) already there has triggered natural events -- the shrinking Arctic ice cap, the decay of the Greenland ice sheet, methane release from permafrost -- that will continue to drive global warming on their own...EconomicTimes

Financial Issues Weigh on Climate-Change Debate

U.S. President Barack Obama promised strong action on climate change from his first day in office, but he is heading into a series of meetings with other world leaders this month under growing pressure to deliver on his rhetoric. More than 100 world leaders, including Mr. Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, are scheduled to meet Tuesday at the 64th United Nations General Assembly to talk about fighting climate change, in a prelude to the Pittsburgh Group of 20 meetings starting Thursday. While the talk will be about the environment, the substance will be about money. Poor nations say that if rich nations want them to stop burning coal or cutting down forests, they should be willing to pay. China has proposed that developed nations contribute 1% of gross domestic product to subsidize efforts by poorer nations to cut carbon-dioxide emissions. That translates to more than $140 billion for the U.S. alone. U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern says the Chinese proposal is "untethered from reality."...WSJ

As droughts expand and water supplies shrivel, is a world water war inevitable?

If your neighbor had plenty of water but you hadn’t enough to keep your family, your livestock and your crops alive, would you fight for it? Would you go to war? Lots of people – from multi-degreed behavioral psychologists to barroom philosophers – believe you would. To those whose wells are dry, it doesn’t matter whether the water shortage is caused by climate change or not. Politicians and government leaders can forever squabble about the cause, but those who are thirsty want water. Environmentalists in Europe claim the credit for first coining the phrase “World Water War” in the late 90s. But for almost half a century, the U.S. military has been planning for conflicts spawned by an acute shortage of water for drinking and farming. A world water war is no longer a question of if, but rather when, explains a Marine colonel who studied the potential for H2O-triggered battles at the U.S. Army War College. According to water experts at the United Nations, more than 45 percent of the world’s populations – more than 3 billion people – are already in need of more clean water. They cite research from The World Bank that shows that more than 80 countries now have water shortages that threaten their health and economies...coldtruth

Wolves: majestic symbol or bloodthirsty predator? Debate divides Oregonians

Jack London probably never expected "The Call of the Wild," the title of his classic novel and his term for a wolf's mournful howl, to become a fracture zone in the urban-rural divide. But now Oregon and the West have two kinds of people: those who see wolves as symbols of the wilderness and enjoy hearing their cries echo through the mountains -- and those who regard them as bloodthirsty predators that need to be kept away from livestock, with guns if necessary. Hearing wolves "just raises the hair on the back of your neck," says retired schoolteacher Mary McCracken, 66, of La Grande, who loves listening to them tune up. "It is just a real top-of-the-the-food chain creature." Ed Bangs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's wolf recovery coordinator for the northern Rockies, agrees. In the backcountry, "having big predators around is what makes it wild," he says of wolves, cougars and bears. "Otherwise, it's just scenery." But La Grande area rancher Sharon Beck says wolves are a threat to cattle, her family's livelihood. "The only way we are going to make these wolves afraid to come around human beings and livestock," says Beck, 71, "is (for wolves) to be shot at." The issue has come to a head in three states...Oregonian

Socialized Nature!

Ken Burns has a knack for making documentaries about some of the most contentious episodes in American history without saying anything that will tick anyone off. Over two decades, his PBS films have taken on the Civil War, feminism, World War II and, above all, race. They've been criticized for omissions: Hispanics in The War, modern artists in Jazz. But on the whole, they're substantive without being polarizing, passionately arguing positions almost everyone agrees with: Racism is bad, democracy is good, war is hell. His latest, six-part PBS series — The National Parks: America's Best Idea, which debuts Sept. 27 — does not sound like an exception. Who's going to argue with a tree? And the opening minutes — luxuriating in dramatic shots of lava flows, stalactites and waterfalls — promise plenty of unobjectionable, pledge-drive-friendly nature porn. But in a way he couldn't have planned, Burns has ended up making his most topical and political film yet. With America frothing over the role of government — should it save banks? should it expand health coverage? — The National Parks makes a simple case for an idea that is wildly controversial in the year of the tea party: That we need government to do things the private sector can't or won't...Time

It's interesting that the author of this review has to resort to the national parks to defend Big Government and attack the TEA Party movement. He may think he is cute, and doesn't realize he is wrong. Both he and Ken Burns need to spend some time at the Property & Environment Research Center website.

Conservation easements are a sustainable development land grab

Are you about to sign a conservation easement contract? Please hold off until you read this. Your signature will, in essence, split the estate on your property. You are releasing to a land trust, the controlled "use" of the land and development rights, while you retain title to the "land" and remain responsible for all costs of ownership . . forever. It will be virtually impossible for you, your heirs or a purchaser, regardless of circumstance, to over-ride this contract agreement. Differences of opinion with the land trust concerning interpretation of contract terms may eventually lead you to seek court settlement. Unfortunately you, the owner of the land, are committed to bearing all court costs if you lose, which in all likelihood you will. Furthermore, they you can take you to court if they decide you are not adequately meeting contract obligations. You will bear all legal costs including their high priced attorneys. And if your current friendly land trust shows too much leniency, another more demanding third party agency can step in, take over and rule with a firmer hand possibly in the interests of "the environment". For various reasons including financial difficulty or family disagreements, you or your heirs may attempt to sell all or part of the property. The contract prevents dividing or selling off portions. Prospective buyers are limited for easement encumbered land; the larger the acreage the more limited. Basically it is hard to get rid of...ESR

Debate over US Badlands site designation

The fate of about 12,000 acres (5,000 hectares) of scenic North Dakota Badlands on the National Register of Historic Places is at the center of a debate over recognizing an area that inspired Theodore Roosevelt. The U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service are pushing for the designation to highlight the significance of the region, where Roosevelt ran his cattle more than a century ago. Ranchers and state officials, though, fear it would hinder development and say local residents were not consulted. "Our view is that it's benign," said Dave Pieper, the Forest Service's Dakota Prairie Grasslands supervisor. "It's just an acknowledgment." The National Register of Historic Places is the federal government's list of properties it considers worthy of preservation and recognition. "It doesn't pose any restrictions," said Valerie Naylor, the superintendent of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in southwestern North Dakota. "It's a nice recognition of its historical significance." "If it's just a title, then why do we need it?" counters Jim Arthaud, a rancher and Billings County commissioner. "This is about locking the land up. So for them to say it will not do anything is completely bogus. The people in this county are nervous." Arthaud said the historic designation could prevent oil and gas development in the area and lessen the amount of land open for grazing. He said it also could hinder plans for a bridge over the Little Missouri River, which local residents say is a key to travel. For the purchase of the private ranch two years ago, the federal government paid $4.8 million and conservation groups contributed $500,000. The Forest Service promised to keep allowing grazing and other activities, including oil and gas development, on the land. A historic designation would restrict land use as outlined in that agreement, said Gov. John Hoeven's staff attorney, Ryan Bernstein. "We believe the status change would add different layers of bureaucracy," Bernstein said. "We feel this is contrary to the original agreement."...AP

N. Idaho kennel owners win legal fight with forest

A federal judge has ruled there are circumstances when dogs can be defined as livestock, a decision that clears the way for a northern Idaho kennel business to continue operating on land where federal Wild and Scenic River rules apply. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge is a victory for Ron and Mary Park, owners of Wild River Kennels, and a legal blow to the U.S. Forest Service. It also ends, for now, a 10-year-old legal dispute for the kennel, which is built along the Clearwater River near Kooskia. The kennel property is along private land subject to an easement under the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. While the easement allows for livestock farming, the forest service claimed dogs and commercial kennels didn't qualify and that the business should not be allowed to operate. "Under the facts of this case, the court finds that the dogs being used on the easement property for breeding, hunting and boarding are dogs being used for work and/or profit and can be considered livestock under the plain meaning of the term livestock," Lodge wrote. Later, he spelled out circumstances when dogs don't meet the livestock definition. "A family dog that does not work on the farm, is not bred, or is not used to help produce food when a person hunts, is just a family pet and is not livestock," he wrote...AP


Moths put cactuses in prickly situation

The moths are coming. The cactus moth (Cactoblastis cactorum) is on its way to Texas, and it’s only a matter of time. According to a report by The Associated Press, the cactus-eating moth has established itself in Mississippi and Louisiana, and officials are trying to keep it from invading Texas by introducing sterile male moths and destroying infested cactuses. The biggest questions: when and where? And maybe: Can a moth that eats prickly pear, which is abundant in some pastures, be a bad thing? “If everyone hated prickly pear, this wouldn’t be an issue,” said Robert Pritz, Taylor County agricultural extension agent. “But it is a complex issue because cattle producers in our area consider it a pest, while the wildlife enthusiasts like the cover it provides for quail.”...ReporterNews

Idaho farmers regroup after pesticide mishap

When a federal agency sprayed a powerful herbicide that eventually wiped out crops worth millions of dollars for 118 local farmers, some of them lost more than money. Brad Rogers of Paul was one of the farmers. He lost his entire 1,100-acre farm, his only means of recouping the $1.5 million in losses he incurred from the misapplied herbicide. "Three years into my losses the bank just said 'you're done,'" said Rogers, who farmed sugar beets, beans, wheat and hay for 22 years before he sold the farm to pay off his creditors. Almost a full decade has passed since the Bureau of Land Management sprayed the chemical - called Oust - on wildfire-scorched public lands to control weeds. Eventually the wind blew the chemical onto surrounding farms, causing widespread damage to thousands of acres. Now, although traces of the herbicide have disappeared from the land it once stripped, the legal dust has yet to settle. On Aug. 24, a jury in U.S. District Court in Boise presided over by Judge B. Lynn Winmill found the BLM and chemical manufacturer E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. negligent in four sample cases of the mass lawsuit filed by a coalition of farmers. The jury awarded the four plaintiffs more than $17.5 million, said Peter Houtsma, an attorney with Holland and Hart of Boise, the plaintiffs' attorney. With more than 100 more plaintiffs still to prove their damages during the next phase of the proceedings, Houtsma said, the total damages could exceed $200 million...AP

Rochester hog farmer entitled to damages because of lawsuit, court rules

A Rochester hog farmer is entitled to damages stemming from a lawsuit filed by opponents of his large-scale hog operation that delayed its construction, the Illinois 4th District Appellate Court decided this week. Robert Young had appealed a ruling of Sangamon Circuit Judge Leslie Graves that he was not entitled to damages. Young previously successfully challenged an injunction request by the Rochester-Buckhart Action Group, which wanted to block expansion of his hog farm. “The court ruled that we were right, and RBAG was wrong. Now, we will be asking RBAG to pay for the harm that was done,” Tom Immel, Young’s attorney, said Friday. A hearing in Sangamon County court regarding the amount of damages will be scheduled later. Immel said Young will seek more than $300,000, including legal expenses and income Young and his wife, Sandra, lost while fighting the lawsuit. The appellate court, in a ruling Tuesday, said Young was “engaged in a lawful business, and the planned expansion of his hog farm was put on hold at plaintiff’s (RBAG’s) behest. “A party should not be able to throw up a legal roadblock in the path of another’s business without the adversely affected party having the opportunity to seek financial recourse if it is found to have been wrongfully impacted,” the court said...StateJournalRegister

Scientists discover low-methane sheep

Scientists have proven not all sheep are created equal, at least when it comes to belching greenhouse gases. Researchers working for a Government partnership with the farming industry have discovered that some sheep naturally make less methane digesting their food than others - potentially opening the way for a low-methane breeding programme. When fed grass, the difference in emissions between a low-methane flock and a high-methane flock was about 20 per cent. The difference varied depending on what the sheep ate - but it was always there. "For the first time we have opened up the possibility we could breed animals with lower greenhouse gas emissions," said Harry Clark, the scientist heading the study at Agresearch...NZHerald

HT: climate_change

Ohio Livestock Decision Is up to the Voters

The decision on how Ohio farmers and ranchers can “treat” their livestock is about to be decided by Buckeye state voters. According to an article by Dave Elias in the State Journal online, while the vote is not until November, the debate on the issue is boiling over. The basic situation is this: Ohio farmers do care about their livestock and they do want to protect this food supply as it is how they make their living. However, when it comes down to the laws and regulations they have to follow to protect their animals, they would prefer those laws be set at the state level and not in Washington, DC. Additionally, after witnessing what has happened with ballot initiatives in states like California, they also fear a stream of activists pushing for changes in raising standards at the state level and doing so like they did in California—through a ballot initiative. To circumvent such action, advocates for the farmers and ranchers took proactive steps, came up with their own ballot initiative (called Issue 2), and got Issue 2 on the ballot. According to Elias’s article, “Issue two calls for bringing together a group of animal care experts to set standards when it comes to caring for farm animals and local farmers tell me they support the idea.” While such a standard setting board could still require changes in how farm animals are cared for, farmers tend to think their voice will carry a little more weight this way in affecting what changes are ultimately made. Or as beef farmer Bob Morrison states in the article, ‘"There is an out of state entity that is trying to force regulations upon us by their wishes and this will help protect local producers to produce food in a safe effective way for consumers under local control."’...AALA

Mich. House approves farm animal care standards

The Michigan House has voted to require farms to comply with rules phased in over the next decade against confining and tethering some animals. Some lawmakers say the measure passed 87-20 Wednesday is designed to avert possible animal treatment ballot initiatives such as those passed in Arizona, California and Florida. The Humane Society of the United States says it now supports the Michigan bill after changes were made...AP

Bring Dutch oven to fall hunting camps

Fall is rolling around fast. That means hunting season, the time for serious camping, is at hand. Aside from a coffee pot, cooking in hunting camp demands only one thing: a good Dutch oven. The first time I saw anybody cook with a Dutch oven was 25 years ago, when a friend's father let me tag along on a deer hunt on the sagebrush flats of northern Taos County, N.M. After hunting for the first few hours of the day, we returned to the trucks. One of the men took his cherished Dutch oven out of its burlap sack. He lighted a large, fast-burning, smoky fire from dead, gnarled, silver-gray sagebrush. He then dug a hole in the ground just big enough so he could bury his Dutch oven. He shoveled half the ashes into the hole and put the Dutch oven in to heat up. Next, he spooned in a generous dollop of lard that quickly liquefied and started to smoke. From his cooler he withdrew a plastic bag holding strips of meat marinated in red chili sauce. Those spattered and popped when they hit the hot grease and delicious smells started to rise. He tossed in a few potatoes that he had peeled and cubed. After mixing the potatoes with the meat, he put the lid on the oven and shoveled the rest of the coals on top. The buried pot soon baked the chili to perfection...AP

Cattle dog show draws top canine

The annual Wellfleet Fall Festival is quickly becoming much more than a place to gather for free watermelon, mud volleyball and great food. For the second straight year, the festival was the location for a sanctioned U.S. Border Collies Handlers Association cattle dog trial, which is a qualifier for the national event that takes place at the stock show in Denver after the first of the year. Wellfleet's Outback Stock Dog Association sponsored the event, which drew more than 40 dogs, including the top ranked dog in the nation. Small, but growing dramatically, the Outback sponsored event drew close to 200 spectators and it's a direction that Outback president Dennis McDaniel hopes to continue. "We called ourselves Outback because we are kind of out back of nowhere," he joked. "But this is something significant and is growing in popularity and growing fast." Border collies have been used for centuries to herd sheep and are extremely skilled at what they do. In the same fashion, the dogs are becoming more popular than ever for ranchers who are finding it harder and harder to find good old-fashioned cowboys. "This day and age, where can you find four or five cowboys at the drop of a hat?" asked McDaniel. "You can't. It's getting harder and harder to find cowboys and while it's not easy to admit, that age is almost over."...Telegraph

Out of harm's way

The best description of a pickup man, like many things in rodeo, can be found in a country and western song. In this case, from the cowboy poet and musician Gared Baker. "But there's someone out there watching, He knows when things are wrong, There's someone out there waiting, And it don't take him long, To move in and take over, When a cowboy needs a hand, There's someone looking after things, The pickup man." The pickup men are the rescue squad. At the Round-Up, in their signature red shirts and flowing white neckerchiefs, they assist in virtually every event, helping cowboys to the ground after bronc rides or ushering animals out of the arena. To the cowboy entangled in his rigging on a bucking bronco, the pickup man is an angel from heaven. "They're cowboy lifesavers," said Sonny Hansen, a Round-Up volunteer and one-time pickup man. As talented as the men they rescue, pickup men usually train their own horses and are proficient in a variety of cowboy skills. And they know how to act fast. On the Round-Up's large grass arena, their job is just a little harder. The grass is slick, and, in all that open space, the action even more unpredictable than usual. "Things go fast, and there's a lot of different things that can go wrong," said Bob Marriott, who's been a pickup man for 20 years. Nevertheless, he said, he looks forward to the Round-Up. "There's no rodeo in the world that gives you the same rush as when you first walk out on that grass," he said...Oregonian