Saturday, October 10, 2009

Musician Rusty Wier dies after battle with cancer

Hearing was Rusty Wier's last sense to go, so although he was almost unresponsive when surrounded by relatives and friends, including Jerry Jeff Walker, at his son Coby's house in Driftwood on Thursday night, Wier tried to raise up his head when the group sang "Amazing Grace." By the next morning, the Austin musician, who had a hit when Bonnie Raitt covered his "Don't It Make You Wanna Dance" on the soundtrack to "Urban Cowboy," was dead after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 65. Although Wier got his own chapter in Jan Reid's book "The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock," which chronicled Austin's "cosmic cowboy" scene of the early 1970s, Wier's contribution to Austin music goes back to the mid-1960s. He established himself in the early 1970s as a folk singer with rock 'n' roll eyes and an ever-present, low-crowned black hat. Wier's first three albums — Stoned, Slow, Rugged in 1974, Don't It Make You Wanna Dance in 1975, and Black Hat Saloon in 1976 — came out on three different major labels. But it was in the clubs that he made his more

Northeast dairy farmers sue milk handlers

A group of dairy farmers is suing four milk marketing firms, saying they've engaged in monopolizing the market into which farmers have had to sell milk, fixed prices and created an economic crisis in the Northeast dairy industry. The Washington-based law firm Cohen Milstein says it expects many farmers will join a class action suit against Kansas City-based Dairy Farmers of America and Dallas-based Dean Foods Co. The suit alleges DFA and Dean have seized effective control of the region's dairy industry and are forcing farmers to join DFA or its marketing affiliate Dairy Marketing Services to survive. DMS and HP Hood also were named as defendants. Brown said DFA, the nation's largest dairy cooperative, and Dean, the largest processor in the United States, had worked together to lower prices paid to farmers for their milk "by making DFA and its affiliates the exclusive suppliers of milk to Dean and HP Hood." Dean and Hood bottle about 90 percent of the fluid milk sold in the Northeast, Brown more

Friday, October 09, 2009

Wolves And The Difference In Democrats

The Independen-Record has a story today announcing the wolf hunt near Yellowstone is being called to a halt. Even though the quota hasn't been met they are taking this action. Why? To protect the wolves? No, it’s to protect ranchers. From the article:

Even though the quota of 12 wolves in hunting district 316 hasn't been met, nine have been harvested so far, and state officials fear the quota would have been filled by the time the general hunting season starts on Oct. 25 had the hunt continued. That would mean hunters would only take wolves from the backcountry, instead of near ranches where they might have been preying on livestock. "… We don't want to kill the wilderness wolves and the wolves that don't need some education, (we want to go after) those on the ranch land," Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commissioner Ron Moody said on Thursday.

Montana has a Democrat Governor and a Democrat Game Commission.

New Mexico has a Democrat Governor and a Democrat Game Commission.

But my lord what a difference in their attitudes towards ranchers and wolves.

One of you fine folks in Montana ship me some of your water, and I'll see if I can get someone to slip it in Bill Richardson's drink.

Better send a gallon.

Treemometers: A new scientific scandal

A scientific scandal is casting a shadow over a number of recent peer-reviewed climate papers. At least eight papers purporting to reconstruct the historical temperature record times may need to be revisited, with significant implications for contemporary climate studies, the basis of the IPCC's assessments. A number of these involve senior climatologists at the British climate research centre CRU at the University East Anglia. In every case, peer review failed to pick up the errors. At issue is the use of tree rings as a temperature proxy, or dendrochronology. Using statistical techniques, researchers take the ring data to create a "reconstruction" of historical temperature anomalies. In particular, since 2000, a large number of peer-reviewed climate papers have incorporated data from trees at the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia. This dataset gained favour, curiously superseding a newer and larger data set from nearby. The older Yamal trees indicated pronounced and dramatic uptick in temperatures. How could this be? Scientists have ensured much of the measurement data used in the reconstructions remains a secret - failing to fulfill procedures to archive the raw data. Without the raw data, other scientists could not reproduce the results. The most prestigious peer reviewed journals, including Nature and Science, were reluctant to demand the data from contributors. Until now, that is. At the insistence of editors of the Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions B the data has leaked into the open - and Yamal's mystery is no more. From this we know that the Yamal data set uses just 12 trees from a larger set to produce its dramatic recent trend. Yet many more were cored, and a larger data set (of 34) from the vicinity shows no dramatic recent warming, and warmer temperatures in the middle ages. In all there are 252 cores in the CRU Yamal data set, of which ten were alive 1990. All 12 cores selected show strong growth since the mid-19th century. The implication is clear: the dozen were more

Tree Ring Circus

If anyone is embarrassed in Copenhagen, though, it should be global warming alarmists. The framework of their claims is cracking. As it turns out — and this should be no surprise — the data that have been used to create the global warming bogeyman are flawed. For example, historical temperature patterns extracted from tree rings in Siberia's Yamal Peninsula look increasingly dubious. They indicate warming, but were taken from a sample of only 12 trees. A larger sample (34 trees) in the same area shows no warming. The scientists who compiled the record using the smaller sample are rightfully being accused of cherry-picking their data. But at least they didn't lose their data, as another group of scientists apparently has done. Researchers at Britain's University of East Anglia, entrusted with constructing what's been called the world's first comprehensive history of surface temperature, built a record that showed the Earth is warming. Impossible as it may seem, a good chunk of the raw data that were used to create the "hockey stick" record indicating man is responsible for global warming is suddenly unavailable. It's either been lost or destroyed. This is significant. Scientists who want to use the data to either confirm or dispute the global warming findings can't get them. Then there's the latest news on Arctic ice, which is cited as proof of global warming when it melts and ignored when it grows. Seems that it expanded this summer after shrinking for the previous more

Feds: Grizzlies in more danger on threatened species list

Federal officials said Thursday that a recent court ruling returning Yellowstone grizzly bears to the threatened species list inadvertently puts the animals at greater risk. In September, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy ruled that about 600 grizzlies in and around Yellowstone National Park remained in danger of extinction, despite a two-decade recovery effort. Molloy cited dwindling food supplies due to climate change, increased shootings and problems with federal and state conservation plans meant to shield bears from future decline. Molloy's ruling effectively voided the conservation plans, which had restricted road construction, livestock grazing and development in areas where bears live. Without those restrictions, bears will face new dangers, the government said. On Monday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service submitted court filings asking Molloy to reverse his September ruling and keep bears off the threatened more

Barrasso wants BLM investigated

Bureau of Land Management officials have had inappropriate relationships with advocacy groups such as the National Wildlife Federation, concluded a recent interior inspector general’s report released Tuesday. U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., wrote a letter to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar on Wednesday asking for a full investigation and review of all decisions made by the implicated BLM officials during their tenure at the BLM. A spokesman in Barrasso’s office said as he understands there was some misconduct by officials at Wyoming BLM offices, but could not speak to the specifics. Barrasso’s letter states that BLM officials were serving special interests, not the people. That is an unacceptable situation, he said, adding that the issue must be fully addressed in order to restore the public more

Interior boss says no to drilling on 8 Utah parcels

Eight of the 77 oil and gas lease parcels sold during a December auction that a saboteur wrecked and a federal judge later halted will be off-limits to drilling, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has decided. Allowing development on the 7,670 public acres near Canyonlands and Arches national parks, Desolation Canyon and Nine Mile canyon could harm critical sage-grouse habitat with little obvious benefit to oil and gas development, concluded a 39-page analysis released Thursday. During a Washington news conference, Salazar said 52 parcels would be held back pending further study and 17 would be allowed back at upcoming auctions. Drawing from the report -- compiled by an 11-member team from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and Forest Service who examined more than 103,000 acres from the ground up -- Salazar scolded the Bush administration for allowing the Dec. 19 auction in Salt Lake City to go more

Grazing debate renewed after peppergrass listing

Barring any surprise developments, a desert flower found in parts of southwest Idaho - including the Juniper Butte area of Owyhee County - will receive new federal protections in just less than 60 days. And as is often the case with troubled species in southern Idaho's rangelands, officials are debating the role livestock grazing should play in its protection. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially published its decision to list the slickspot peppergrass as threatened on Thursday, starting the 60-day clock - a timeframe extended to allow the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to finish conferring with Fish and Wildlife about grazing permits set to be issued in the plant's range. The plant was originally proposed to be listed in 2003. But Fish and Wildlife changed its mind in 2005 after a challenge from the U.S. Air Force. But the Hailey-based environmental group Western Watersheds Project sued successfully to force the federal agency to reconsider. Officials announced last week that the plant deserves "threatened" status, primarily because of growing threats from wildfires and invasive species such as cheatgrass. But Western Watersheds' involvement - the group's top priority has always been fighting grazing - led critics of the listing to characterize the listing as less about the plant and more about limiting what ranchers can more

McInnis says Ritter 'in over his head'; Disses Not 1 More Acre

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis on Thursday stopped in Pueblo to tout his campaign plank of job creation and to criticize incumbent Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat. Among his criticisms of Ritter, those involving the U.S. Army's proposed expansion of Fort Carson's Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in Las Animas County were the harshest. McInnis said the law Ritter signed barring land transfers to the Army there was unnecessary, as expansion wasn't imminent. The governor's actions only served to stir the pot of a controversy that McInnis perceived to be mild, he said. McInnis, of Grand Junction, gave little credence to the group Not 1 More Acre, which has vocally opposed Pinon Canyon expansion and has accused the Army of cover-ups and deceit in its effort to grow the site. He said while just one formal “willing seller” has been identified among ranchers in the affected area, others have approached him privately and said their land isn't actively for sale, but that they'd entertain offers. “(Not 1 More Acre's) point of view is one of many down there,” McInnis said. “It's not the majority point of view.” Asked to respond to criticisms that he is pandering to the larger voter base in Colorado Springs, where Fort Carson is based, McInnis fired back that Ritter pandered by signing the bill banning land transfers into law. McInnis claimed he has been steadfast in his support of willing sellers having the right to cash in on their more

Another Republican with a death wish. Sides with military over ranchers, federal over private ownership of land, larger vs. smaller government.

Producers chime in on 'adverse effect' ruling

A lawsuit brought by poultry producers against Pilgrim's Pride is gaining a lot of attention after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a producer does not have to show an adverse effect on competition to take legal action under the Packers and Stockyards Act. That ruling, which upheld the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas court ruling in the case, is in contrast to how other courts have long interpreted the act. Some courts have required that any plaintiff under the act must demonstrate "an adverse effect on competition." The brief argues that these decisions are contrary to the explicit language of the statute and congressional intent. "The current question before this court will have a dramatic effect on key provisions of the Packers and Stockyards Act allowing farmers and ranchers to enforce the act's protections," the brief more

Rabbits Overrun Australian Town

Residents of Aberdeen say the furry marauders are burrowing beneath the foundations of their homes, as well as damaging highways and rail lines. Crops and flowerbeds are also not safe. “You don’t even bother trying to grow anything anymore because the mongrels will just go for it,” farmhand Ken Smith told the Daily Telegraph. Town leaders are drawing up a plan to combat the invasion, but many feel it’s too late to get rid of an infestation that has been growing steadily for 10 more

Mine That Bird and company rise with a region

There are a lot of last places you would ever expect to see a Kentucky Derby ring. One of them has to be Jorge's Cafe on West U.S. Highway 70 in the town of Ruidoso Downs, high in the mountains of New Mexico's Lincoln National Forest. But there it was, all diamond-dotted black onyx, inlaid with delicate golden spires and attached to the right hand Chip Woolley was using to mop up the last of his huevos rancheros with a corn tortilla. "After I got divorced I swore I'd never wear a ring again," Woolley said, sipping an iced tea. "Until this one came along." Maybe it wasn't so unusual after all, a ring like that in this part of the world. For one thing, Ruidoso Downs has been home for half a century to the All American Futurity for Quarter Horses, a race worth a million dollars even before the Thoroughbred game came up with such a number. Win the All American and you've earned Southwestern bragging rights the rest of your life. The Kentucky Derby, though, is a little tougher to put into context. Since that day last May when, in Woolley's words, "some dumbass from New Mexico just won the Kentucky Derby," the legend of Mine That Bird and his people has grown, stanza by more (registration required)

Cowboys beat cops in SASS shooting competition

It seems appropriate that the state where Billy the Kid and his ragtag bunch of outlaws scoffed the law would hold a match to settle who is best with a shooting iron: cops or cowboys. That shootout was held Saturday at the Founders Ranch near Edgewood, and the cowboys won. The Buffalo Range Riders, a local chapter of the Single Action Shooting Society, put the match together and invited SASS members and law enforcement from all over to participate. The cowboys could only use single action pistols and old-fashioned rifles and shotguns against local law enforcement, who used modern weapons. There are also penalties for missed shots, so the winning combination is one of speed and accuracy in loading guns, switching from one weapon to the next and accurately shooting metal targets in order. Torrance County Sheriff Clarence Gibson, who can shoot a rifle with gusto, gave the cowboys credit for their skills. "These guys are very fast and very competitive," he said, adding that they had skills that would make them valuable as sheriff's deputies, if he needed a few good cowboys. "I don't know about their driving skills, but they're handy with weapons." About 30 cops entered the match, coming from departments all over New Mexico, including departments in the East Mountains and the Estancia Valley, and even from California and Texas. They pitted their skills against 55 cowboys from across the more

Song Of The Day #152

Ranch Radio will finish the week with another western swing tune, Betty Ann by Jesse Ashlock.

This cut comes from a Rambler LP album titled Texas Sand: Anthology of Western Swing.

I think Joe Delk and Bobby Jones will like it.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Mayor, The Movie and Roads

The Las Cruces Sun-News has the story about the closing of HWY 70 on Tuesday for the movie set, and all the problems and frustrations that caused.

The article says the state hwy. dept. was controlling and quotes Mayor Miyagishima as saying "We wouldn't have done it."

So do I believe the Mayor?

I have a hard time believing him. After all, just the day before he worked hard to get the City Council to endorse a federal measure (the Bingaman Wilderness bill) that would permanently close hundreds of miles of roads in Dona Ana County. I mean, the Mayor really likes to close roads.

Now if you believe the Mayor, that can only mean one thing. He wants the city folks who vote for him to have open roads to travel for work, business or pleasure. But when it comes to county folks, and the hunters, campers & ranchers who visit or work on our public lands, the Mayor sides with the Acorn-like radical enviro's and supports closing the roads and denying you access.

Kind of two-faced don't you think?

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.

Endangered-species lists may be broadened

From wolverines to black-tailed prairie dogs, dozens of species here and across the nation are being re-evaluated for possible threatened or endangered status. The Obama administration is taking a fresh look, in many cases under court order, at Bush administration rejections of special status. A move to prevent extinction of more plants and animals could limit housing construction and energy development. New species under consideration for protection have "aesthetic, ecological, education, historical, recreational and scientific value," and those facing extinction "could be indicators of bigger ecosystem problems that could hurt us," said Bridget Fahey, regional director of endangered species for the Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service. "Science shows that when you start removing species from our ecosystem, things can start to break down," Fahey more

Threatened Preble's mouse could get 18,462 more acres of protection

A new federal push to protect 18,462 Front Range acres as habitat for the Preble's meadow jumping mouse has set off an endangered-species battle royale. Wildlife conservationists cheered the release Wednesday of the new federal proposal, which could limit development on the land, mostly along 184 miles of rivers and streams. Representatives of developers promised a court challenge, arguing that protecting more habitat isn't necessary because the mouse itself already is protected as a threatened species. Among projects that could be affected: the planned Jeffco Parkway southeast of Rocky Flats, an expansion of Chatfield Reservoir and housing developments in El Paso County along tributaries of Monument Creek. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to nearly double the current 20,680 acres of protected habitat for the mouse — a bug-loving brown omnivore that springs up as high as 3 feet to evade more

Salazar wants to move West's wild horses east

Thousands of mustangs that now roam the West would be moved to preserves in the Midwest and East under a new Interior Department plan to protect wild horse herds and the rangelands that support them. The wild horse program, run by the Bureau of Land Management, cost about $50 million this year, officials said, up from $36 million last year. Costs for the current program are expected to rise to at least $85 million by 2012. In a conference call with reporters, Salazar and bureau director Bob Abbey urged Congress to authorize seven wild horse preserves — including two owned and operated by the BLM. The agency would work with private groups on the remaining reserves, which would be located in states in the Midwest and East. Salazar did not identify where the preserves would be located, but said the two federally owned preserves would cost about $92 million to buy and build. The preserves would reduce taxpayer costs for care of wild horses in the long term, Salazar said. The seven preserves would hold about 25,000 horses. Many of the horses remaining on the range would be neutered and reproduction in Western herds would be strictly limited, Salazar more

29 wolves shot in Idaho this season

Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials say a female wolf with the Phantom Hill pack was killed by a hunter, marking the 29th wolf kill since Idaho's hunting season opened this year. Senior Conservation Officer Lee Garwood says the kill occurred in the Eagle Creek drainage north of Ketchum. The wolf, which had been collared for tracking purposes, was about 2 years old. Garwood told the Idaho Mountain Express that there are at least nine more wolves remaining in the pack. Both Idaho and Montana are holding their first wolf hunts since the animals came off the Endangered Species List. Wolves are still under federal protection in Wyoming. AP

Let's work together to ensure the future of Idaho's wolves

Wolf recovery in the West has been the most successful program that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has ever accomplished under the Endangered Species Act. Today there are more than 1,650 wolves in Idaho and Montana, Wyoming, and a couple more in Oregon, Washington and Utah. In 1994, only 15 years ago, there were none. I say this as one who doubted for many years that wolves could ever recover. But now a pack can be found in most of the formerly vacant drainages in central Idaho, filling nearly all of their original home grounds...Each of the environmental groups that has filed a lawsuit should accept that the wolves have recovered. Not to accept that is just disingenuous. Conservationists must be honest or nothing. More to the point, however, is that refusing to accept this remarkable win endangers the law, the ESA, that protects all of the other endangered species. What Defenders of Wildlife has done in filing a lawsuit may serve the narrow legal issues but it fails to serve the wolves, the integrity of the ESA and the people of Idaho and the West. The lawsuit should be negotiated to a conclusion that benefits the more

Groups file suit over bighorn habitat

Environmental groups sued the federal government Wednesday, alleging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's more than 55 percent reduction in protected habitat for the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep was unsupported by the agency's own science and was done to accommodate urban sprawl. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for Southern California, seeks to restore a protected critical habitat status of nearly 845,000 acres for the sheep. The Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking to reduce protected sheep habitat to about 377,000 more

Feds designate southwest Alaska shoreline as protected habitat for threatened sea otters

Four years after being placed on the Endangered Species List, the dwindling sea otters of southwest Alaska on Wednesday were given an important recovery tool. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated nearly 5,900 square miles as critical habitat for sea otters in the Aleutian Islands, Bering Sea and Alaska Peninsula. The designated area includes all nearshore waters. "Critical habitat has a proven record of aiding the recovery of endangered species," said Rebecca Noblin, a lawyer for the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed two lawsuits and engaged in years of litigation to get the animals protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. The otters in southwest Alaska were listed as threatened in more

Eagle killing case belongs in tribal court

The federal government's four-year effort to prosecute an Ethete man, Winslow Friday, for killing a bald eagle for use in his Northern Arapaho tribe's religious Sun Dance ceremony may be almost over. It's high time for it to end. U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson of Cheyenne has ordered the transfer of Friday's case to a tribal court, which should have a special insight about the underlying issue of American Indian religious freedoms. The young man has endured a baffling turn of events as the case has made its way through the federal court system. It all started when Friday made a promise to his dying grandmother to participate in the Sun Dance, a sacred ceremony under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that requires an more

Endangered Snail Delaying Construction

The idea that a snail, half the size of a dime, would delay construction on a new boat ramp might sound silly but it's happening in Idaho Falls. Idaho Falls Power started reconstructing a public access boat ramp at South Tourist Park last year. So far construction hasn't even begun thanks to the Utah Valvata Snail. The Valvata Snail is currently listed as an endangered species, and present in that area of the Snake River. This isn't the first time the Valvata Snail has delayed construction in Eastern Idaho. In 2003 reconstruction of a Firth Bridge was put on hold because of the Valvata more

Discovery of new species in Great Basin Nation Park caves adds fuel to debate

In the past two years alone, staff members have identified at least seven possible new cave species at Nevada's only national park, about 300 miles northeast of Las Vegas. So far only two of the tiny animals have been officially described and given scientific names, but Baker and Roberts expect at least one more of their discoveries to become official this year with the publication of a scientific paper on the critter. Several others are either in the process of being described or are awaiting the collection of additional specimens. This literal unearthing of new critters at Great Basin could do more than thrill entomologists and amateur bug enthusiasts. It could sharpen anxiety about the Southern Nevada Water Authority's plans to pump billions of gallons of groundwater a year from Snake Valley, just east of the park. Snake Valley represents the final leg of the multibillion-dollar pipeline the authority plans to build to tap groundwater across eastern Nevada. The authority is seeking state permission to pump as much as 16 billion gallons of water a year from the vast and sparsely populated watershed on the Nevada-Utah border. The valley is home to many of the authority's harshest critics, including ranch families who have lived in the area for generations. Baker married into one of those families. Her father-in-law is Dean Baker, a longtime Snake Valley rancher who has become the de facto spokesman for pipeline opponents. For their part, though, Gretchen Baker and other staff members at Great Basin National Park are trying to let science do the talking when it comes to the groundwater more

Congress may make it for easier Central Valley water transfers

A measure that would help ease the effects of severe drought in the Central Valley by allowing new voluntary water transfers of roughly 250,000 to 300,000 acre-feet of water, depending on rainfall that year, has been introduced in Congress by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. The legislation would grant new authority to the Bureau of Reclamation to approve water transfers between sellers and buyers in the San Joaquin Valley. The measure also would streamline environmental reviews for Central Valley water transfers by ensuring that they occur on a programmatic basis, instead of project-by-project basis as is current practice. The measure should reduce unnecessary delays in water transfers at a time when Central Valley farmers have been hard hit by a three-year drought, the senators more

Government puts fish above farmers

Finally acknowledging that there is a significant government-created crisis in the San Joaquin Valley, the Interior Department convened a public hearing Sept. 30, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein has announced she has asked her staff to begin assembling a major piece of legislation to address the water crisis facing the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has issued a "memorandum of understanding" that will keep representatives from six federal agencies talking to various interest groups in California. The problem is that it will take months to make such decisions and years for results to be apparent. The crisis is immediate for San Joaquin Valley farmers in the agricultural breadbasket for California and much of the nation. While the search for long-range solutions is worthy, in the short run the best and highest-impact option is to reverse a questionable decision to cut off irrigation water to Central Valley more

EPA to review health risk from popular weed killer

The Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that it will re-evaluate the health effects of a popular weed killer that has been found in drinking water supplies. The EPA will take another look at the science on atrazine, a herbicide commonly used on corn and other crops, and decide whether further restrictions are needed to protect human health. Research has shown that runoff after rain storms can wash the chemical into streams and rivers, where it can enter drinking water supplies. EPA monitoring of 150 drinking water systems in the Midwest, where the chemical is most heavily used, have not detected it at concentrations that would trigger health problems, including cancer. But new studies have shown that even at low levels atrazine in drinking water can cause low birth weights, birth defects and reproductive problems. In 2003, under the Bush administration, the EPA allowed atrazine to continue to be used with few more

Canada requests WTO panel in U.S. labeling dispute

Canada is requesting a World Trade Organization panel to resolve its dispute with the United States over its mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) law, which has greatly reduced Canada's exports of cattle and pigs to the United States. COOL requires companies to track and notify customers of the country of origin of meat and other farm products at each major stage of production, including in grocery stores. That has created new costs for U.S. meat packers to segregate and label livestock supplies, resulting in some refusing to buy Canadian animals. Canada's cattle exports dropped 31.7 percent and hog exports fell 34. Canada's position is that the U.S. regulation is preventing fair trade between the countries, said Dickson, who has been involved in preparing evidence for the panel process. The request for a panel follows two rounds of unsuccessful WTO consultations with the United more

Top Caliber: Horns On A Bull Record Holder

Top Caliber - the all-time record holder for horns on a bull - has horns measuring 82-13/16 inches tip to tip, earning him the top spot in a competition against a field of 300 Texas Longhorns at the 2008 Longhorn World Championship held at Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Yahoo

Song Of The Day #151

Let's give a listen to Webb Pierce's 1954 recording of Even Tho'.

My version comes from the Bear Family 4 disc box set The Wondering Boy (1951-1958).

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Governor Bill Richardson Announces Support for Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act

Governor Bill Richardson announced his support today for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act, which was introduced by New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall. “I applaud the leadership of Senator Bingaman and Senator Udall who introduced this important legislation to protect many of the most important public lands in Southern New Mexico,” said Governor Richardson. “From the jagged spires of the Organ Mountains to the petroglyphs in Broad Canyon, this bill will protect some of the finest ecosystems and vistas that New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert has to offer, while making an important contribution to our country’s wilderness and National Landscape Conservation System.” more

Fund will help ranchers deal with Mexican wolves

Federal wildlife officials and the National Fish and Wildlife Federation have signed an agreement establishing a trust fund to help ranchers deal with the impacts of endangered wolves that have been reintroduced in the Southwest. The Mexican Wolf Interdiction Trust Fund, announced Tuesday, aims to alleviate some of the bitter feelings that have been brewing among ranchers and environmentalists since the endangered Mexican gray wolf returned to the region more than a decade ago. Ranchers have long complained about wolves feeding on their cattle and threatening their livelihood, while environmentalists have criticized ranchers' grazing practices and the federal government's management of wolf recovery efforts. "I am confident the interdiction program will not only advance wolf conservation by addressing the economic impacts of our Mexican wolf reintroduction efforts, it will also improve and conserve Arizona's and New Mexico's unique and important landscape and land use practices," Benjamin Tuggle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southwest region director, said in a written statement. Under the interdiction program, trust fund money will compensate ranchers for livestock kills and finance grazing techniques that prevent depredation by wolves. The fund also can pay for range riders to keep the wolves from livestock. Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association, said ranchers support the program because it offers several options. "We think that anything like this is definitely worth the effort," she said. "We're willing to try most anything." more

Ranchers Claim Victory in District Court Ruling

For Immediate Release / October 2, 2009
From the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association
P.O. Box 7517 / Albuquerque, New Mexico 87194

For further information, contact: Caren Cowan
505.247.0584 phone / email

Yesterday’s ruling by United States District Court Judge James O. Browning dismissing a challenge to U.S. Forest Service (USFS) grazing permit renewal from the WildEarth Guardians is welcome news for New Mexico ranchers and will help ranchers across the west.
“Livestock producers across the West are breathing a sigh of relief today,” said Alisa Ogden, New Mexico Cattle Growers Association (NMCGA) President, Loving. “The claims made by the WildEarth Guardians in this case regarding grazing, the livestock industry and the Forest Service were totally without merit, and Judge Browning reinforced that fact with his ruling. This is a huge victory.”
In 2007, the WildEarth Guardians, then known as the Forest Guardians, challenged the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS’s) use of categorical exclusions (CEs) to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for grazing permit renewal in Federal District Court. The case focused on 26 grazing allotments in the Gila National Forest. The NMCGA, the New Mexico Federal Lands Council and the Arizona/New Mexico Coalition of Counties intervened in the case on behalf of the 26 named allotment owners.
“This case was just one more attempt by a radical activist group to eliminate livestock grazing,” Ogden said. “Had it been successful, it would have devastated the livelihoods of the named allotment owners, and the economy of rural Southwestern New Mexico. We are so pleased that the court saw through the claims made by the WildEarth Guardians and ruled on the side of common sense and the will of Congress
NEPA analysis is typically required for major federal actions, but due to policy decisions by the USFS and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is now required for the renewal of 10-year USFS grazing permits, Ogden explained. Now, the agency has a tremendous backlog of analysis and paperwork, because they simply are not equipped to conduct such detailed review on every grazing permit that comes up for renewal. Additionally, the WildEarth Guardians and other such groups tie up the agencies with appeals and lawsuits.
“This has created a lot of uncertainty for ranchers who depend on grazing allotments as part of their operations, and for the institutions, like banks, that they work with on a daily basis,” Ogden noted. “Fortunately, we have had strong Congressional support on this issue.”
Starting in 1995, and most recently in March of 2009, language was included in several appropriations bills by former Senator Pete Domenici directing the USFS to use categorical exclusions to keep the current terms and conditions of grazing permits in effect until the agency is able to complete the environmental analysis required for renewal.
“Through no fault of their own, these ranchers were placed in jeopardy, and we appreciate the court’s ruling. The ironic thing is, every lawsuit filed against the agency by groups like the WildEarth Guardians takes more and more time and resources away from environmental analysis and on-the-ground resource management – making the situation even worse.” Although this ruling pertained to these 26 allotments in New Mexico, it will also have a direct influence on the court challenge that Western Watershed Project has mounted to the remaining 138 Forest Service grazing permit renewal decisions on 386 allotments across the remainder of the Western states. That case is now pending in the Northern District Court of California.
“We are extremely pleased that the USFS chose to defend itself and the ranchers on these allotments in the face of this frivolous litigation. We are also extremely proud of the representation that Karen Budd-Falen and the Budd-Falen Law Office, P.C., Cheyenne, Wyoming, protected the industry through participation in the case on behalf of the livestock industry,” she concluded.

IG Finds BLM Employees Had Improper Ties To Greens

The US Department of Interior’s Office of Inspector General found that a pair of officials may have had improper dealings with environmental groups, according to a new report. Two people working for the Bureau of Land Management on the agency’s National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) improperly shared budget information before it was finalised and worked on a fact sheet about hunting and fishing for The National Wildlife Federation, a US environmental group. “Our investigative efforts revealed that communication between NLCS and a few specific NGOs in these circumstances gave the appearance of federal employees being less than objective and created the potential for conflicts of interest or violations of law,” the report states. “We also uncovered a general disregard for establishing and maintaining boundaries among the various entities.” The investigation by the Inspector General focused on Elena Daly, director of NLCS and community programs, and Jeff Jarvis, NLCS division chief. Several US lawmakers have called for further more

The report states:

We presented our findings to the U.S. Attorney's Office who told us that 18 U.S.C. § 1913, "Lobbying with Appropriated Monies," has no criminal sanctions associated with the it, and thus, declined to prosecute in lieu of administrative action. We are providing this information to you for whatever administrative action you deem appropriate. Please send a written response to this office within 90 days advising us of the results of your review and actions taken.

This occurred under Bush. You can just imagine what's going on now. Go here to read the report.

Global Warming Scandals

One failed resurrection of the old hockey stick prop, one "scientist" using thin data, and one entire research unit destroying what should have been secured are distasteful scandals that couldn’t have erupted at a worst time for global warming alarmists. Cooling temperatures and collapsed economies have already forced this once hot issue of yesteryear to the bottom of anyone’s list of concerns. How embarrassing to have an "official" United Nations Climate Change Science Compendium caught most recently using an unscientific graphic from Wikipedia. The hockey stick graph selected had never been peer-reviewed, so it should not have been used, but it did back the global warming storyline being pushed. A citation to "Hanno 2009" was even made as if the graph had been from a published and peer reviewed work. It wasn’t. Having now been caught out, the United Nations has hurriedly replaced it. Isn’t this all a bit sloppy for science? Then, a UK "scientist" is exposed for having used inexcusably frail studies. This is the same "scientist" whose work has been relied upon to support the Hockey Stick all along. Tree-derived temperature data have long been controversial. Keith Briffa’s Yamal series has been the basis of multiple papers since 1990. But, recent inspection of Briffa’s work has exposed that just a few trees yielded any unusual proxy warming information. Far too few trees and far too-highly-selected trees, at that, were used for any work that could be called science. On top of these two gaffes, it’s been barely a month since an entire government-funded research unit also violated basic scientific principles. It didn’t cherry-pick; it just wholly destroyed original raw data – data behind major studies claiming a global warming crisis. How credible can those studies be now? That’s a scandal. Data are stored and shared for the express purpose of all interested scientists who might work to replicate results. That is the scientific more

Court hears arguments about cross on federal land

The Supreme Court is taking up a long-running legal fight over a cross honoring World War I soldiers that has stood for 75 years on public land in a remote part of California. The cross, on an outcrop known as Sunrise Rock in the Mojave National Preserve, has been covered in plywood for the past several years following federal court rulings that it violates the First Amendment prohibition against government endorsement of religion. The justices were to hear arguments Wednesday in a case the court could use to make an important statement about its view of the separation of church and state. The Obama administration is defending the presence of the cross, which court papers describe as being 5 feet to 8 feet tall. A former National Park Service employee, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued to have the cross removed or covered after the agency refused to allow erection of a Buddhist memorial nearby. Frank Buono describes himself as a practicing Catholic who has no objection to religious symbols, but he took issue with the government's decision to allow the display of only the Christian more

Groups ask BLM to suspend streamlined drilling reviews

Fifteen conservation groups are asking the Bureau of Land Management to suspend use of a streamlined approach to regulating oil and gas drilling, pending an internal review of the practice. The groups’ request comes after the Government Accountability Office said in a September report the BLM’s use of what are called categorical exclusions in Colorado and elsewhere “has frequently been out of compliance with both the law and BLM’s guidance.” Meanwhile, the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States has released a position paper detailing its concerns about the report. These include its contention that the GAO ignored frequent violations of the law involving the BLM’s failure to use the exclusions for drilling projects that qualified for them under criteria mandated by Congress. Congress created the exclusions in 2005 to exempt certain drilling-related activities from the new environmental analyses that normally are more

Shaping the Future of America’s Outdoor Recreational Resources

The nation’s parks, public lands, waterways, and other outdoor recreational assets provide the American public a multitude of benefits, but a new study by Resources for the Future concludes that they face major challenges in funding and maintaining the condition of these lands and associated amenities. This wide-ranging study, The State of the Great Outdoors: America's Parks, Public Lands, and Recreation Resources, delves into the status of America’s outdoor resources, the demand for recreation, and the financing of conservation, parks, and open space. It was carried out in conjunction with the Outdoor Resources Review Group, a bipartisan assemblage of public officials, conservation specialists, and recreation professionals that released its own policy recommendations in a July 2009 report. In the new study, the first comprehensive review of outdoor recreation since the late 1980s, RFF Researchers Margaret Walls, Sarah Darley, and Juha Siikamäki highlight notable trends and identify several emerging issues of concern for policymakers. According to the authors, declining government support for parks and other public lands “have led to maintenance backlogs, deteriorating infrastructure, resource degradation, and overall reductions in the quality of the recreational experience in many locations.” These developments have had consequences for some 655 million acres currently managed by federal agencies, including the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and Bureau of Reclamation. Original surveys by the authors revealed that state and local parks are also more

Military Progresses on Alternative Fuels

On track to certify its aircraft fleet to use synthetic Fisher-Tropsch (F-T) fuel by 2011, the U.S. Air Force has launched a similar certification effort for hydrotreated renewable jet (HRJ) biofuels and is now becoming interested in fuels from cellulosic feedstocks. The Defense Energy Support Center (DESC), which buys fuel for the services, has awarded contracts to supply almost 600,000 gallons of renewable jet fuel for testing and certification. "That's an unprecedented amount," says Kim Huntley, DESC commander. Sustainable Oils, Solazyme and Honeywell company UOP will supply 400,000 gallons of fuel to the Air Force and 190,000 to the Navy. Sustainable Oils will use camelina as the feedstock, Solazyme will use algae and UOP will use animal fat, or tallow, supplied by food producer Cargill. All three will use UOP's processing more

Airline asks passengers to use the toilet before boarding... so they will weigh less and help cut carbon emissions

A Japanese airline has started asking passengers to go to the toilet before boarding in a bid to reduce carbon emissions. All Nippon Airways (ANA) claims that empty bladders mean lighter passengers, a lighter aircraft and thus lower fuel use. Airline staff will be present at boarding gates in terminals to ask passengers waiting to fly to relieve themselves before boarding, The Independent reported. ANA hopes the weight saved will lead to a five-tonne reduction in carbon emissions over the course of 30 days. The airline began the policy on October 1, according to Japan’s NHK television...Read more

Groups Challenge Route in Utah Off-Road Plan

The Forest Service snuck a 220-mile route for off-road vehicle use into a designated trail system for national forest land near Ogden, Utah, four environmental groups say in Federal Court. The Sierra Club and three other groups claim the agency "hastily designated" the Shoshone Trail system for off-road vehicle use in 2007, in what they deem an administrative action to avoid environmental analysis. The travel plan revision added 16 miles of new off-road vehicle trails while disregarding the impacts of 54 miles of unauthorized routes, the lawsuit states. The upland plateau, rugged mountains and canyons in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest are important for wildlife, the groups say, and the snow that covers the trees is the main water source for the neighboring town of Ogden. The Forest Service has allegedly promoted and built facilities for the Shoshone Trail system, actions that require environmental analysis. The revised travel plan failed to consider cumulative effects such as dispersed camping and neglected to analyze mitigation measures or give due consideration to alternatives, the lawsuit more

Public Citizen Sues Texas Over Greenhouse Gases

Public Citizen opened up a new front today in a battle to toughen the way Texas regulators administer the Clean Air Act, this time trying to force them to regulate greenhouse gases. Texas was already under fire from the EPA, which last month threatened to yank approval for several key aspects of the state's clean-air permitting programs for failing to meet standards of the federal Clean Air Act. Now, the public advocacy group Public Citizen has filed a lawsuit arguing that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is required by state law to consider climate change when approving new coal-fired power plants – and that it is refusing to do so. The lawsuit asks the Travis County District Court to declare that interpretive rules the commission uses to avoid regulating CO2 emissions are unlawful. The group's members are worried about their land and livelihoods as the climate changes, and they need to be heard, the lawsuit says. For example, one member is a pecan farmer near Bay City who would be unable to use the Colorado River to irrigate crops if sea levels rose and saltwater intruded further up the river. Another is a rancher who has noticed species disappearing and ponds that used to freeze staying ice-free all winter. Gulf Coast residents also worry about more intense more

Texas pulling final plug on corridor

The Texas Department of Transportation is pulling the last plug on the Trans-Texas Corridor, Gov. Rick Perry's embattled plan to build a toll-road network across the state. The agency said earlier this year it was scaling down the project and dropping the name "Trans-Texas Corridor." Now, transportation officials say it's fully dead. Transportation Commissioner Bill Meadows told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram of the decision in a report posted online Tuesday. The news comes a day after Perry's Republican primary opponent, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, secured the coveted endorsement of the powerful Texas Farm Bureau — a vocal opponent of the corridor and a group that has been at odds with Perry over eminent domain and private property rights. Farmers and ranchers did not like the corridor plan because of the private land it threatened to take. On Wednesday, transportation officials are expected to announce they have decided against building the TTC-35, a key part of the corridor that was to parallel Interstate 35 between Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio. The development contract with a private company is being terminated. "The reason that's being given for the no-build option is that people don't want it," Meadows said. "They said 'Hell no.' " more

House Proposes Bill to Ban Traps in Wildlife Refuges

Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey of New York introduced the bill, calling the continued use of the traps in federally protected wildlife areas "inexcusable" and "shameful." More than half of the country's 550 federal refuges allow steel jaw leg-hold traps, Conibear traps and snares, which will be made illegal under the proposed legislation. Among the traps that fall under the proposed ban are Conibear traps, which are designed to collapse on an animal's spinal column but can catch the chest or pelvis, prolonging the animal's death. If approved, the law would be called the Refuge From Cruel Trapping Act, which Animal Welfare Institute President Cathy Liss called a "critical step toward reducing the suffering inflicted on our nation's wildlife." more

E. Coli Path Shows Flaws in Beef Inspection

Meat companies and grocers have been barred from selling ground beef tainted by the virulent strain of E. coli known as O157:H7 since 1994, after an outbreak at Jack in the Box restaurants left four children dead. Yet tens of thousands of people are still sickened annually by this pathogen, federal health officials estimate, with hamburger being the biggest culprit. Ground beef has been blamed for 16 outbreaks in the last three years alone, including the one that left Ms. Smith paralyzed from the waist down. This summer, contamination led to the recall of beef from nearly 3,000 grocers in 41 states. Ms. Smith’s reaction to the virulent strain of E. coli was extreme, but tracing the story of her burger, through interviews and government and corporate records obtained by The New York Times, shows why eating ground beef is still a gamble. Neither the system meant to make the meat safe, nor the meat itself, is what consumers have been led to believe. Ground beef is usually not simply a chunk of meat run through a grinder. Instead, records and interviews show, a single portion of hamburger meat is often an amalgam of various grades of meat from different parts of cows and even from different slaughterhouses. These cuts of meat are particularly vulnerable to E. coli contamination, food experts and officials more

A lodge's last days: Recession hits Bear Mountain Lodge hard

Bear Mountain Lodge, a local guest lodge owned by the Nature Conservancy, is the latest victim of a struggling economy. After being willed to the conservancy 10 years ago, the lodge will close and the conservancy plans to put the property on the market. The last guests of the lodge will check out today, said Esther Scherf, kitchen manager at the lodge for the past four years. Until mid-June, Scherf said, the lodge served dinner and was popular with locals, as well as guests. But because of budget cuts within the organization, the lodge had to cut back, and the dinners were one of the things to go, along with two other cooks who helped with the operation. The lodge also phased out its staff naturalist position and relied on volunteers to fill in. At its peak, the lodge had about 12 employees during her tenure, Scherf said. Now there are eight, and pretty soon there will just be one to stay on and take care of the place while the property is readied for the market. Terry Sullivan, state director for the Nature Conservancy, which is based in Santa Fe, said the property, which he said encompasses 190 acres, will not be more

Jeff Witte receives honor from National Association of State Departments of Agriculture

Jeff Witte, New Mexico Department of Agriculture’s director of agricultural biosecurity, received the James A. Graham Award for Outstanding Service to Agriculture during the annual meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture in Montgomery, Ala., Sept. 20. Witte was honored for his work with the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center (SWBFSDC), which is housed at New Mexico State University, where he has worked closely with various private entities, state and federal agencies, and research institutions on issues related to agriculture and homeland security. “I am extremely honored that Miley Gonzalez, New Mexico’s secretary of agriculture, nominated me, and I am very humbled to receive this award,” Witte said. “We have a great team at NMDA and NMSU, and I have a great team at home. This work could not be accomplished without support from them all.” The award is presented annually to honor an individual who provides outstanding services to agricultural producers. Witte is co-founder and co-director of the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center, a partnership between NMDA and NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. The New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has charged the Center with administering all programs related to agro-security in the more

I have no idea what Witte does over there, but I do know this: whatever Witte does he does damn well.

'Rut nuts' hunt for traces of old wagon trail

Members of the Utah chapter of the Oregon-California Trails Association got a little taste Saturday of what early travelers experienced as they traversed the Virgin Valley on their way to and from California. The history buffs followed Leo Lyman, a historian who has written two books on the overland trail, or the Southern Route, between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. It is one of the toughest of western trails, Lyman said, and the Virgin Valley section is the most difficult part of the journey. Travelers came from Cedar City to Mountain Meadows, then down the Utah Hill to Beaver Dam, following the winding course of the Virgin River. It was a treacherous route along the river, Lyman told about 30 members of OCTA and half-dozen people from Mesquite. “The wagons crossed the river 12 times between here and Littlefield,” he said, as the group (they call themselves “rut nuts”) looked over the valley about six miles downstream from Bunkerville. “Quicksand was a huge problem, and wagons were lost. There are still wagons under that mud.” more

For these cowgirls, rodeo skills come naturally

Eight teams will compete Friday and Saturday in the 2009 Women's Ranch Rodeo Finals at the Bar K Bar Arena at Celebration Centre. "In this competition, it's the luck of the draw," said WRR special agent Billie Franks. "A bad cow can put you down pretty quick in more ways than one." The rodeo will feature two competitions daily, at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. The eight teams, with four women to a team, will compete in calf branding, roping, sorting, doctoring, trailer loading and tie-down/mugging, which involves roping a calf, dogging it down and tying three legs. "Not to take away from the girls who ride barrels and pole bending, but ranch-based competition makes people aware of the ranching end of riding," Franks said. "A lot of the girls who are there are out on the ranch every day. It's a part of our heritage." more

Book offers "cowboy" recipes

"Cooking the Cowboy Way" is subtitled "Recipes Inspired by Campfires, Chuck Wagons and Ranch Kitchens." From the rural life in Florida to Texas to Alberta, author-restaurateur and chef Grady Spears has gathered recipes that take hearty ranch and trail fare and kicked them up to a delectable sophistication with the use of authentic ingredients with a twist. Many are the specialties of inns and ranch restaurants around the country. The book is more than a recipe collection; it is a celebration of a life lived in harmony with nature and the outdoors and the active life of ranchers and rural folks, celebrating the myths and realities of what Grady calls "the Cowboy Way." From "Cooking the Cowboy Way" by Grady Spears and June Naylor (Andrews McMeel Publishing, October 2009)

Song Of The Day #150

Song of The Day #150! That calls for a double dose.

Let's stay with the western swing genre. Anyone who has followed Tommy Duncan's career knows he was a big fan of Jimmie Rodgers. Here he is with Bob Wills and their 1934 recording of Rodger's Mean Mama Blues. We'll follow that up with a good Ocie Stockard fiddle tune Crafton Blues, recorded in 1937 by Jimmie Revard & His Oklahoma Playboys

Both tunes are available on the 4 CD box set Stompin' Singers & Western Swingers: More from the Golden Age of Western Swing.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Other Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis in Global Land Use

Although I’m a climate scientist by training, I worry about this collective fixation on global warming as the mother of all environmental problems. Learning from the research my colleagues and I have done over the past decade, I fear we are neglecting another, equally inconvenient truth: that we now face a global crisis in land use and agriculture that could undermine the health, security, and sustainability of our civilization. Our use of land, particularly for agriculture, is absolutely essential to the success of the human race. We depend on agriculture to supply us with food, feed, fiber, and, increasingly, biofuels. Without a highly efficient, productive, and resilient agricultural system, our society would collapse almost overnight. But we are demanding more and more from our global agricultural systems, pushing them to their very limits. Continued population growth (adding more than 70 million people to the world every year), changing dietary preferences (including more meat and dairy consumption), rising energy prices, and increasing needs for bioenergy sources are putting tremendous pressure on the world’s resources. And, if we want any hope of keeping up with these demands, we’ll need to double, perhaps triple, the agricultural production of the planet in the next 30 to 40 years. Meeting these huge new agricultural demands will be one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. At present, it is completely unclear how (and if) we can do more

Here they come directly after ag with a new "crisis". Guess global warming wasn't getting the job done.

Vegas forges ahead on pipeline plan

The hoopla over the most recent development in the groundwater saga obscures a larger reality. Patricia Mulroy has tackled the groundwater project with far less secrecy than William Mulholland would have used. Still, over the past three years, she has moved to lock in the water she needs for the project with remarkable finesse. The Southern Nevada Water Authority now has at least 37 billion gallons of water lined up for the project, which will span seven valleys on the east side of Nevada, from Coyote Springs Valley to Spring Valley, and Snake Valley on the Nevada-Utah line. "We already have the necessary water rights to go all the way to Spring Valley," says Mulroy. But even as the Water Authority has amassed the permits it needs to fill the pipeline with water, unsettling questions have emerged regarding the project's impacts on desert springs ecosystems. And one of Mulroy's own scientists says her agency is hiding the effects that groundwater pumping will have on the Great more

Exile for Non-Believers

The price for speaking out against global warming is exile from your peers, even if you are at the top of your field. What follows is an example of a scientific group that not only stopped a leading researcher from attending a meeting, but then—withoutdiscussing the evidence—applauds the IPCC and recommends urgent policies to reduce greenhouse gases. What has science been reduced to if bear biologists feel they can effectively issue ad hoc recommendations on worldwide energy use? How low have standards sunk if informed opinion is censored, while uninformed opinion is elevated to official policy? If a leading researcher can’t speak his mind without punishment by exile, what chance would any up-and-coming researcher have? As Mitchell Taylor points out “It’s a good way to maintain consensus”. And so it is. But it’s not more (pdf)

Agencies Told To Reduce Emissions

The federal government will require each agency to measure its greenhouse-gas emissions for the first time and set targets to reduce them by 2020, under an executive order signed by President Obama Monday. The measure affects such things as the electricity federal buildings consume and the carbon output of federal workers' commutes. "As the largest consumer of energy in the U.S. economy, the federal government can and should lead by example when it comes to creating innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, conserve water, reduce waste, and use environmentally-responsible products and technologies," Obama said in a statement. Each agency must report its 2020 emission targets to the Council on Environmental Quality within 90 days. Administration officials said they could not estimate the federal government's carbon footprint, since it has never been measured before, but the government ranks as the nation's largest energy consumer. It occupies nearly 500,000 buildings, operates more than 600,000 vehicles and employs more than 1.8 million civilian workers...full story

That last sentence doesn't come close to measuring the fed's carbon footprint. Think of all the road and other construction projects funded by the feds. Think of all the private contractors doing work directly for the feds. Think of all the gov't grants, etc.

“Advanced” biofuels lag behind mandate

EISA mandates the sale of 100 million gallons of advanced biofuel in 2009 and 200 million gallons in 2010 (see p. 6 of this presentation). For years, biofuel lobbyists have been telling us that advanced biofuels are “just around the corner.” But, Matt Carr of the Biotechnology Industry Organization estimated last month that in 2010 volumes will, optimistically, reach only 12 million gallons, Leber reports. In a sop to the corn lobby, the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill would suspend for five years the EISA requirement for life-cycle analysis to determine whether biofuels qualify as “advanced” or even as “renewable.” Several life-cycle analyses indicate that corn ethanol produces more greenhouse gases than the gasoline it replaces, once emissions from land use changes are taken into account. The Kerry-Boxer cap-and-trade bill does not contain the five-year hold on life-cycle analysis, and the uncertainty as to which biofuels will qualify under future EPA implementing rules ”chills the investment community,” Carr complains. I’d put the point differently: Strong evidence that corn ethanol is not “climate friendly” jeopardizes the political rents that corn growers and ethanol distillers hoped to extract from climate hysteria. Leber also notes that, “the industry is also concerned about ambiguous language in both the Senate and House versions of the bill that does not clearly exempt the biofuels component of blended petroleum fuels, such as E10 and E85, from an economy-wide carbon cap.” Did you get that? The corn-ethanol lobby invoked climate doom to sell biofuel mandates to Congress and the public. But now they say the centerpiece of regulatory climate policy — the cap in “cap and trade” — should not apply to biofuels, even though biofuels emit CO2, and even though several life-cycle analyses indicate that corn-ethanol is more carbon-intensive than gasoline. One law for me, another for thee! more

Ethanol May Not Need Its U.S. Tax Credit, GAO Finds

Congress should consider revising or ending the 45 cent-a-gallon tax credit for blending corn ethanol with gasoline, the Government Accountability Office said. The credit “may no longer be needed to stimulate conventional corn ethanol production because the domestic industry has matured,” GAO said in an Aug. 25 report posted on the investigative agency’s Web site today. Ethanol production “is well understood, and its capacity is already near” a 15 billion gallon-a-year congressional requirement for conventional ethanol, the report found. GAO estimated the tax credit supporting conventional corn ethanol production could cost the U.S. $6.75 billion in lost revenue by 2015, up from $4 billion last more

Senate Democrats Push N.M., Ore. Wilderness Bills

The Senate Public Lands and Forests Subcommittee plans will meet Thursday to review bills that would put land in New Mexico and Oregon off-limits to energy developers and timber companies. S. 1689 (pdf), would designate approximately 250,000 acres in the Organ Mountains of New Mexico as federally protected wilderness and incorporate an additional 100,000 acres as national conservation areas. "The Organ Mountains are the backdrop for one of the most breathtaking scenic views in our state. Doña Ana County residents have been working for years to develop plans that would ensure these views are protected," said Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), the bill's sponsor. "I'm very glad that we now have a bill that will do just that, even while ensuring the public continues to have access to this extraordinary space." Not everyone is sure the public would continue to have enough access. Wilderness designations prohibit almost all motorized equipment and transportation on public lands, with some exceptions made to allow ranchers to use motorized vehicles to maintain grazing facilities. But some ranchers are concerned those exceptions are too narrow to get the job done, and instead want to create a new land-management designation that preserves the area from energy development but maintains their access. "Not all lands need to be completely locked up like under the Wilderness Act," said Jerry Schickedanz, chairman of People for Preserving Our Western Heritage, who is scheduled to testify at the hearing. The group is also concerned that restrictions on law enforcement within a wilderness designation would complicate the U.S. Border Patrol's efforts to battle drug cartels. Under the bill, lands necessary for effective law enforcement would be exempted from the designation, according to a fact sheet on Bingaman's Web more

Ag groups unhappy with Senate climate bill

The Senate climate bill is receiving critical reviews from agriculture groups who have powerful friends on Capitol Hill. Groups like The American Farm Bureau and the National Corn Growers Association say one of their biggest problems with the bill is how it addresses carbon offsets, which could be a boon to farmers that switch to farm methods that lower carbon emissions. The ag lobbies say, however, that the Senate bill does not guarantee farm practices would qualify. Rick Krause, a lobbyist at the Farm Bureau, said the Senate bill only encourages that agricultural practices be considered as offsets, whereas the House bill authored by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) guarantees they do. The Senate bill “is a step backward from the House bill,” said Krause, whose group also opposed the House measure. Another area of concern is what federal agency should define an offset – the Environmental Protection Agency or the United States Department of Agriculture. The issue held up the House climate bill too. Eventually Waxman and Markey yielded to farm state concerns expressed by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and gave the authority to the USDA. The Senate bill, though, tries to split the difference, giving the president the power to decide which agency will have ultimate more

The ag groups should be ashamed of themselves. They should oppose this bill on scientific, economic and constitutional grounds, not some bureacratic nitpicking.

Downstream from dam, valley residents and businesses prepare for worst

The Green River snakes out of the Cascades into southwest King County, where wary residents watch it like a fuse. Since a January storm damaged the Howard Hanson Dam, the valley has been readying for the possibility that this thin, lazy stream might swell into that area's worst flood in nearly half a century. Apartment renters have broken leases and paid penalties to move away, while some homeowners have designed scaffolding to hoist possessions to keep them dry. Businesses have trucked in dirt and pallets of sandbags, and stacked 4,300-pound concrete blocks around their doorways. The dramatic and sometimes expensive precautions come amid a recession that already has many businesses and individuals teetering toward financial ruin. And some fear the safeguards won't even more

Raccoons attack woman

A 74-year-old woman is recovering from injuries she received after being attacked by five raccoons at her front door Saturday evening, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said. Gretchen Whitted of Lakeland was seriously injured in the attack that happened about 5:30 p.m. at her home at 1210 Waterford Drive, the sheriff's office said. "She was gashed open around her legs," said Sheriff Grady Judd. "We're not talking about a lot of little bites here. "She was filleted," he said. Whitted heard a noise outside her house and saw five raccoons in her back yard. They then migrated to her front yard. She opened the front door of her home to wave the critters away, but when she did, they attacked her, biting and scratching her legs. Whitted fell and the animals continued to attack more

HT: Outdoor Pressroom

FTC to Regulate Blogging

The Federal Trade Commission will try to regulate blogging for the first time, requiring writers on the Web to clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products. The FTC said Monday its commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the final Web guidelines, which had been expected. Violating the rules, which take effect Dec. 1, could bring fines up to $11,000 per violation. Bloggers or advertisers also could face injunctions and be ordered to reimburse consumers for financial losses stemming from inappropriate product reviews. The commission stopped short of specifying how bloggers must disclose conflicts of interest. Rich Cleland, assistant director of the FTC's advertising practices division, said the disclosure must be "clear and conspicuous," no matter what form it will more

Ag. secretary: Dairy industry must restructure

The struggling U.S. dairy industry must be restructured to avoid cycles of boom and bust, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday, less than a week after Congress announced a $350 million dairy bailout. Dairy farmers benefited in recent years from higher milk prices and growing demand in countries such as China. But demand fell off with the economic downturn, and wholesale milk prices began plummeting last fall. At the same time, feed and other costs remained high. Many farmers now say they can't sell their milk for what it costs to produce. "I think really what will be next in line is a longer term discussion about whether or not we need to make structural changes in the way the dairy industry is currently operated so we no longer have these rather stark contrasts between boom and bust," Vilsack said during a visit to South Dakota. Vilsack said he would like to get federal aid into farmers' hands as soon as more

If anything needs to be restructured, its USDA.

Vilsack, give me a holler and I will share with you my restructure plan.

Here's a hint: you'll be able to return to Iowa.

Animal Guardianship and Horses

Imagine that overnight a new state law goes into effect declaring that from now on you do not own your animals but rather you are their "guardian." Does this sound farfetched? Some local communities have already made this change The first legal step on this road has been the addition of "owner-guardian" language to local ordinances, then changing the wording to "guardian" only. One state now has "owner-guardian" as a part of its law, and various federal agencies are using the word “guardian” in conjunction with "owner" whenever the latter appears in their regulations. Animal guardianship advocates suggest that referring to the human-animal relationship as one of guardianship rather than ownership will lead to better animal care. There is little basis for this assertion; an abusive animal owner would likely be an abusive animal "guardian." While local ordinances to date have generally applied only to dogs, cats, and other companion animals, a next step would be to expand such laws to include all domestic animals. With the groundwork in place, guardianship advocates could then move to the state level. "Ownership" and "guardianship" are two distinct legal terms. The first is an expression and protection of the property owner’s legal rights, while the second imposes numerous legal duties and obligations on the guardian. Today as an animal owner, you can decide the animals' care and future as long as you are not abusive, cruel, or neglectful: what to feed or where to house them; which animals to breed them with; what veterinary care to provide; whether to sell them, put them down, or include them in your Will. If the law changes and you no longer own your horses but instead become their "guardian," you will always have to act in the horses’ best interest. As you can well imagine, there will be many times when your horses’ best interests are not yours: euthanizing a horse to avoid a substantial veterinary bill could be prohibited, as could using horses in endeavors like racing and showing. A guardian would be unable to sell horses, as they are no longer property. If you no longer own your horses, property insurance policies might not cover the loss of your horses or injury to them. Expenses, write-offs, and other deductions under federal and state tax laws, which are predicated upon horses being property and assets belonging to their owners, might no longer be available. A successor-guardian could be appointed to sue you on behalf of your horses for not having taken care of them properly, for their injuries, and even for their deaths. The list of legal repercussions that could befall horse owners should the law be changed from ownership to "guardianship" is extensive, and it behooves the horse industry to remain vigilant about pending legislation. The Horse

Study: Horse Whinnies Packed with Information

Through their whinnies, horses convey specific information about their identities, including sex, height, and weight, according to French researchers. Acoustic analyses of whinnies and the reactions of horses to various recorded whinnies also suggest that the vocal calls play an important social role and appear to be unique to each horse. This is the first study of its kind in horses, which are historically considered to be dependent on sight as opposed to hearing for their social communication, the researchers more

Cowgirl Museum to honor five

Former first lady Laura Bush will receive the Gloria Lupton Tennison Pioneer Award, which recognizes the development of new avenues of community service. Hall of Fame inductee and Idaho native Deborah Copenhaver Fellows barrel-raced professionally before sculpting became her passion, inspired by strong, pioneering women and the challenging life of ranchers. Kay Whittaker Young is also a barrel-racing diva, a five-time National Finals Rodeo finalist and mentor to many women. Today, she trains more than 75 horses annually at her Oklahoma ranch. Cornelia Wadsworth Ritchie, fourth-generation owner of the JA Ranch, maintains the 130-year history of the ranch begun by her great-grandfather JohnAdair and the legendary trailblazer Charles Goodnight. A rarity in her day, Mary Jane Colter (1869-1958) was a female architect whose structures were noted for their harmony with nature, a style now known as National Park Service Rustic. With five buildings listed as national historic landmarks, Colter completed over 20 projects for FredHarvey, famous for his Harvey more

Exploring 'Gettysburg of the West'

The plan was to march up the Rio Grande, capture the city of Santa Fe and seize the thousands of rifles, dozens of cannons and other supplies at Fort Union for a campaign that would expand the Confederacy's borders all the way to the California Coast. But Union soldiers stood their ground at a pinch along the Santa Fe Trail known as Glorieta Pass, resulting in a battle that historians often refer to as "the Gettysburg of the West." Until recently, public access to the Civil War battlefield was limited. But earlier this year, the National Park Service opened a new trail that allows visitors to explore the area. The Glorieta Battlefield Trail — more than 2 miles through the wooded and rocky hills southeast of Santa Fe — has been in the planning stages for several years. It's aimed at educating people about the decisive 1862 more

Calf is branded with 'murder' in 1890s

One of the most intriguing stories to come out of the Texas mountain country is one that took place more than 100 years ago near Marathon. I visited with Carl Williams in Midland the other day and he has done some research on the story. Carl is a former sheriff of Brewster County where the incident occurred and is writing a book about some of the lawmen, crimes and criminals of the Big Bend. In the 1890s the Indians had pretty much left the Big Bend and ranchers had moved in, along with an occasional outlaw or two. There were few lawmen in this vast country and many times disputes were settled with gunfire. Sometimes the shooting incidents went unreported. The range was open then -- no fences. Ranchers helped each other round up cattle. Once the herds were separated, the calves were identified and branded before they were sold. This story took place in the Glass Mountains of northeastern Brewster County during January 1890. A rancher named Henry Harrison Powe owned a small herd and joined other ranchers in rounding up calves that were missed in the fall roundup. During these roundups, owners of large ranches sent representatives to make sure their calves didn't end up with someone else's brand. Powe's young son, R.M. Powe, is the one who has given the most accurate account of what happened that day. He was helping with the roundup of several thousand cattle. His father selected a calf he thought was his and got it ready to brand. But a representative of one of the larger ranches, Finus Gillilland, thought it belonged to his employers, Dubois and Wentworth Ranches. The calf was moved back and forth while each man claimed ownership. Anger turned to rage and finally Powe went to a nearby horse and removed a gun from the saddlebag. He fired a shot at Gilliland, but missed. Gilliland fired back and shot Powe to death. He mounted his horse and fled the scene...Read more

It's All Trew: For goodness sakes: Seems I'm done being rattled

The Trew Ranch has always been a bit "snaky." We have miles of caprock ledges and canyons that provide many homes for snakes. From 1949 to about 1960, we had three resident prairie dog towns located on the ranch. Between the dog towns and the canyons, we would harvest a quart jar full of rattlesnake rattles each summer. No person was ever snakebit that I remember, but cattle, horses and dogs became victims each year. Snake sightings dropped drastically after the demise of the dog towns. The Rana Ranch in New Mexico continued to produce more than its share of rattlers, even though no dog towns were present. A day's ride in summertime always harvested a rattling souvenir or two, some more than 2 inches long as displayed in a memory box in our home. We can tell stories for hours about snakes and snaky experiences. In 2003, I killed two large, almost black diamondback coon-tail rattlers in our backyard at Alanreed. It had been years since we had seen this type of snake, especially in our yards. In 2004, I killed three more, the same size, color and type. I began to suspect they were littermates from a nearby den. We began looking for snake holes each time we left the yards. In 2005, I found three more of the same type and markings, but maybe a little larger and longer than the more

Song Of The Day #149

Today Ranch Radio brings you a western swing tune, Make Up You Mind, by the Saddle Tramps. You'll find it on the multiple artist, 27 track CD Swinging West, Vol. 2

Monday, October 05, 2009

Navajos, Hopi stand in opposition to environmental groups

Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., said Wednesday that he strongly supports the Hopi Tribe’s resolution to declare local and national environmental groups unwelcome on Hopi land. “I stand with the Hopi Nation,” President Shirley said. “Unlike ever before, environmental activists and organizations are among the greatest threat to tribal sovereignty, tribal self-determination, and our quest for independence.” “By their actions, environmentalists would have tribes remain dependent on the federal government, and that is not our choice. I want the leaders of all Native American nations to know this is our position, and I would ask for their support of our solidarity with the Hopi Nation in the protection of their sovereignty and self-determination, as well as ours.” On Monday, the Hopi Tribal Council unanimously approved a resolution that stated environmentalists have worked to deprive the tribe of markets for its coal resources and the revenue it brings to sustain governmental services, provide jobs for Hopis, and secure the survival of Hopi culture and tradition. As a result, the Hopi Council stated that the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the Grand Canyon Trust and organizations affiliated with them are no longer welcome on Hopi more

The Biggest Flaw in Cap-And-Trade? Follow the Power Lines.

The problem goes well beyond energy recycling. Right now, Congress is crafting legislation to curb U.S. greenhouse gases in order to avert a climate catastrophe. The centerpiece of that bill is a cap-and-trade system that would place an economy-wide limit on carbon-dioxide emissions and let companies trade permits among themselves--in essence, letting the free market decide how best to make cuts. But the electricity sector, which is responsible for roughly 40 percent of the country’s emissions, is anything but free or flexible. Instead, it’s governed by a bewildering patchwork of regulations that depress innovation, thwart efficiency improvements, and hinder the adoption of cleaner forms of energy. That means our best efforts to solve the climate crisis could fall short, unless we revamp the rules that shape the way we get electricity. If health care reform seems nightmarish, just wait for the fight over the grid. To grasp why we have the system we do, you have to travel back to the 1920s. At the time, the U.S. electric industry was dominated by just 16 large "power trusts" that controlled 85 percent of the nation’s electricity. The trusts were infamous for charging bloated rates and providing uneven service. Consumer protections were unheard of. "Nothing like this gigantic monopoly has ever appeared in the history of the world," fumed Gifford Pinchot, who railed against the oligarchs as governor of Pennsylvania in the 1920s and ’ more

Court orders government to pay for water losses

The federal government must compensate two regional water authorities for water diverted to preserve the environment, a federal appeals court ruled this week in a landmark decision that could open the floodgates for agencies who contend the government is taking water from them for fish. After a 16-year legal battle, the 2-1 decision came down as California is coping with a drought and new environmental rules that are cutting into the water supplies of farmers and cities across the state. The ruling appears to create an opening for San Joaquin Valley farm districts that are lashing out at environmental regulations to seek payment for water lost to environmental needs. Whether the districts are entitled to recover damages from the government will depend on language in their water contracts, why specifically water was not delivered and issues beyond the scope of the decision handed down this week, lawyers said. The ruling, by the U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Federal Circuit, appears to be the first in which an appeals court has concluded the government has breached a water contract when water is diverted from contractors to environmental more

Aquacalypse Now: The End of Fish

Our oceans have been the victims of a giant Ponzi scheme, waged with Bernie Madoff–like callousness by the world’s fisheries. Beginning in the 1950s, as their operations became increasingly industrialized--with onboard refrigeration, acoustic fish-finders, and, later, GPS--they first depleted stocks of cod, hake, flounder, sole, and halibut in the Northern Hemisphere. As those stocks disappeared, the fleets moved southward, to the coasts of developing nations and, ultimately, all the way to the shores of Antarctica, searching for icefishes and rockcods, and, more recently, for small, shrimplike krill. The scheme was carried out by nothing less than a fishing-industrial complex--an alliance of corporate fishing fleets, lobbyists, parliamentary representatives, and fisheries economists. By hiding behind the romantic image of the small-scale, independent fisherman, they secured political influence and government subsidies far in excess of what would be expected, given their minuscule contribution to the GDP of advanced economies...Beginning in the early 1980s, the United States, which had not traditionally been much of a fishing country, began heavily subsidizing U.S. fleets, producing its own fishing-industrial complex, dominated by large processors and retail chains. Today, governments provide nearly $30 billion in subsidies each year--about one-third of the value of the global catch--that keep fisheries going, even when they have overexploited their resource base. As a result, there are between two and four times as many boats as the annual catch requires, and yet, the funds to “build capacity” keep more

In Search of Wildlife-friendly Biofuels: Could Native Prairie Plants Be the Answer

When society jumps on a bandwagon, even for a good cause, there may be unintended consequences. The unintended consequence of crop-based biofuels may be the loss of wildlife habitat, particularly that of the birds who call this country’s grasslands home, say researchers from Michigan Technological University and The Nature Conservancy. In a paper published in the latest issue of the journal BioScience, David Flaspohler, Joseph Fargione and colleagues analyze the impacts on wildlife of the burgeoning conversion of grasslands to corn for ethanol production is posing a very real threat to the wildlife whose habitat is being transformed. One potential solution: Use diverse native prairie plants to produce bioenergy instead of a single agricultural crop like corn. The rapidly growing demand for corn ethanol, fueled by a government mandate to produce 136 billion liters of biofuel by 2022—more than 740 percent more than was produced in 2006—and federal subsidies to farmers to grow corn, is causing a land-use change on a scale not seen since virgin prairies were plowed and enormous swaths of the country’s forests were first cut down to grow food crops, the researchers say. “Bioenergy is the most land-intensive way to produce energy, so we need to consider the land use implications of our energy policies,” said Fargione, lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy’s North America more