Friday, October 30, 2009

In immigration war, environment is a neglected casualty

Keep in mind as you read this that Senator Bingaman (D-NM)has introduced S.1689 which would create 560 square miles of wilderness along our southern border. That's 560 square miles where the Border Patrol cannot enter with their vehicles or low flying aircraft. Use the link to read the entire article.

...Mr. Hawkes says dealing with those groups now takes up most of his time, and it only builds on top of the pile of other pressures — an army of illegal immigrants and drug smugglers, some of them armed, facing off against the U.S. Border Patrol — that have transformed his wildlife sanctuary into ground zero for the nation's immigration wars. Situated in the middle of southern Arizona, Buenos Aires is among the hardest-hit. But the same story is repeated across the U.S.-Mexico border on refuges, Indian reservations, national forests and the rest of the federal lands that make up 40 percent of the boundary between the two countries. The clear losers in the clash are the land, and the plants and animals that live on the edge in this beautiful but precarious environment — innocent bystanders caught up in an escalating, seemingly endless war between the immigrants, smugglers and the drug cartels and the authorities charged with catching them. An estimated 300,000 illegal immigrants traversed Buenos Aires' 118,000 acres in 2007, leaving tons of trash, rusting abandoned cars, biologically hazardous waste and vehicle tracks that reduced parts of the landscape to a dusty wasteland...The cartels' ability to adapt to the changing circumstances north of the border is remarkable. One innovation was to post spotters inside the U.S., oftentimes on federal lands, to keep track of Border Patrol and other law enforcement movements. The one-man rock nest on a ridgeline overlooking Interstate 8 at Milemarker 141 is typical. The spot is well-camouflaged and if it weren't for the pile of empty Bud Light cans and water bottles with Spanish labels, almost impossible to spot unless you knew exactly where to look. The smuggling cartels have thousands of these lookouts stations across southern Arizona, manned by low-level employees or people who owe a debt to the cartel. "They're everywhere. On the smuggling corridors, most of the high points that give a good perspective of the smuggling routes or trails, there are lookouts in those areas," said Patrick Brasington, the chief law enforcement officer for the Bureau of Land Management's Phoenix office, which oversees the land near Milemarker 141...In Ironwood Forest National Monument, haulers used to collect 40,000 to 50,000 pounds of trash a year. But in the fiscal year that just ended that dropped to 30,000 pounds — parts of the monument are just too dangerous for contractors to pick up the trash...Mr. Hawkes said two state game wardens were shot at on his wildlife refuge last year, and law enforcement reports over the years detail other dangerous run-ins, including the death of Park Service Ranger Kris Eggle, gunned down on Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in 2002 by a drug cartel hit man fleeing Mexico. It has gotten so bad that agencies require employees here to take special training, and have issued special rules on how to operate. The U.S. Forest Service warns managers not to send employees out on nighttime assignments, while the Fish and Wildlife Service said a law enforcement escort is required for employees working at night. Despite those rules, hunters, campers, hikers and tourists enjoying the public lands don't see those same warnings. Instead, the most common alert they see is a road sign such as the one near Ironwood Forest National Monument that reads: "Travel caution: smuggling and illegal immigration may be encountered in this area."...But a department employee did collect partial data up until he retired in late 2008. According to his figures, more than 99 percent of all marijuana seized on or near department lands over the last three years was seized along the border. The borderlands also accounted for more than 90 percent of the cocaine and more than 90 percent of vehicles seized and stolen vehicles recovered on Interior Department lands. The border region accounted for about a quarter of the threats or violent incidents recorded in all the country's national parks, wildlife refuges, BLM land and Indian reservations, even though the borderlands account for a minuscule fraction of total department lands...read more

Exaggerated claims undermine drive to cut emissions, scientists warn

Exaggerated and inaccurate claims about the threat from global warming risk undermining efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and contain climate change, senior scientists have told The Times. Environmental lobbyists, politicians, researchers and journalists who distort climate science to support an agenda erode public understanding and play into the hands of sceptics, according to experts including a former government chief scientist. Excessive statements about the decline of Arctic sea ice, severe weather events and the probability of extreme warming in the next century detract from the credibility of robust findings about climate change, they said. Such claims can easily be rebutted by critics of global warming science to cast doubt on the whole field. They also confuse the public about what has been established as fact, and what is conjecture...read more

Democrats have a cow over testimony on global warming topic‏

The Democratic majority objected to my appearing at a House hearing on Thursday morning addressing AstroTurfing in the global-warming-advocacy industry. The majority were not amused by the prospect of a discordant note being struck. As such, the Republicans will have no witnesses. They have agreed to this after being challenged. In Washington, times such as these are called "weekdays." The hearing actually has devolved into something of an effort to rehabilitate certain Members who are now imperiled by their vote for the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, particularly Tom Periello of Central Virginia (my Congressman, who has been hoodwinked by someone into stating, in defense of his vote, that the reason we are losing jobs to India and China is because they’ve already passed Waxman-Markey-type laws. Really. I agree we need to find out who is spreading such scurrilous tales to our lawmakers). Anyhow, it seems that pointing out how, where, and by whom this practice of deceitful industry lobbying in the “global warming” context was invented and is now used, and employing inconvenient words like “Axelrod” and “Enron” was deemed non-germane. The hearing will go on with no need to sully things by allowing you to hear the following. I believe that the Republicans will seek to introduce my written statement into the record. In the event that lightning strikes twice and the grave offense of introducing contrary thought in the form of my written, substantiated testimony is also objected to by the majority, here’s my slightly shorter oral testimony that would have been delivered...read more

EPA Crafting Multiple Air Pollutant Strategy

U.S. EPA is working on a new strategy aimed at providing a clearer road map for industrial investment in air pollution controls, the agency's top air official said yesterday. EPA's air chief, Gina McCarthy, said she wants to implement a more industry-friendly approach to rulemaking that will allow companies to invest in controls that curb multiple pollutants at once rather than using a more expensive piecemeal strategy. The agency is poised to issue a slew of new air pollution rules -- some are Bush-era rules that were tossed out in courts; others are new climate initiatives that the Obama administration has taken on. And McCarthy wants to coordinate those rules under what she calls a "multipollutant" or "sector-based" strategy...read more

$2.2 Billion Allotted for Clean Energy Bonds

The Treasury Department announced on Tuesday the allocation of $2.2 billion in clean renewable energy bonds to 805 public power companies and cooperatives nationwide. The program will help energy developers access lower cost credit and encourage clean renewable energy production, Neal Wolin, a Treasury deputy secretary said in a news release. The department sorted through more than 1,000 applications from companies and cooperatives clamoring to get what is essentially a highly subsidized loan. Because the bonds are tax credit bonds, the companies do not pay full interest on them. Instead, the federal government provides the bondholder with a tax credit that covers 70 percent of the interest earned...read more

Subsidy after subsidy after subsidy.

Report: U.S. water use down

The nation is using less water now than it did in 1975 and 1980, when water use peaked. That figure is based on the U.S. Geological Survey's estimate for U.S. water use in 2005, and the drop comes despite a 30 percent increase in population in the past 25 years. "The declines are attributed to the increased use of more efficient irrigation systems and alternative technologies at power plants," the U.S. Department of Interior said today. In 2005, Americans used 410 billion gallons of water a day, less than in 2000, the report says. And almost half of that water was used for energy production at coal and other power plants...read more

Left high and dry in the Klamath Basin?

The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement has been much celebrated as the solution to decades of conflict over Klamath Basin water. Surely no one can object when competing interests, stakeholders we now call them, reach agreement. Well, at least a few people do object, and for good reason. Roger Nicholson and his neighbors have vested water rights the agreement will likely obliterate, yet they were excluded from the negotiations. Even if he had been allowed to participate, Nicholson would have been a mere stakeholder with rights no better than the guy from Portland who just doesn't like alfalfa where native grasses once grew. Nicholson's family settled in the Klamath Basin in 1891 and acquired water rights under Oregon law. If water rights were cards in a deck, he'd be holding kings, if not aces. Under Oregon law, when water is short, senior rights owners have priority over juniors. But notwithstanding his high cards, Nicholson is at risk of losing everything. He estimates that he and his neighbors have wagered more than a million dollars on litigation, yet now they could be put out of business. Without water, they are doomed. In poker parlance, they are "all in." They had no other choice...read more

PETA protests Oregon wildlife park's car-washing elephants - video

The car-washing elephants at an Oregon wildlife park don't really get your car very clean -- but that's not the reason PETA wants the park to stop using them. Wildlife Safari's website jokes that the spring and summer attraction, at which the park's African elephants "wash" the cars of visitors under the supervision of trainers, is "guaranteed not to get your car clean!" The animal rights group wrote a letter Oct. 22 that called the elephant carwash "a gimmick that does nothing to foster respect for endangered species," according to the Associated Press. The group is particularly concerned with the elephant training tool known as a bullhook, or ankus, which is a metal rod with a hook at one end. In an interview with Roseburg's News-Review newspaper, the park's general curator, Dan Brands, said the trainers use the bullhooks only as guides. And the car washing, he says, is a modification of a behavior the elephants do naturally and have been trained to do using positive reinforcement with carrots or yams. "These are 2-ton animals," Brands said. "You can't force them to do anything they wouldn't want to do."...read more

Saskatchewan farmers who trace livestock to get rebate from government

Saskatchewan farmers who voluntarily trace their livestock will get money from the government to help cover their costs. Agriculture Minister Bob Bjornerud says the province has set aside $5 million so it can provide a rebate of up to 70 per cent. The rebate is intended to help pay for the purchase or lease of identification devices and computer software. Cattle, bison, sheep, goat, hog and cervid producers will be eligible, as will feedlot operators, auction marts, veterinary clinics and meat processors. There will be a cap of between $50,000 and $100,000, depending on the facility. The rebate is retroactive to April 1 and the deadline for applications is Jan. 31, 2013. [link]

Freestyle Bullfight Headlines the Electrifying Thunder EquiGames

World Series of Team Roping Finale paying $3 Million

The “X-Games for cowboys,” better known as the Thunder EquiGames, storms into Las Vegas, NV this December at the South Point Equestrian and Events Center. Featuring daily events throughout the NFR (December 2nd-4th; December 8th-12th) the Thunder Equigames is sure to light up the day as a great compliment to the NFR evening activities.

The Thunder EquiGames (TEG) is the perfect combination of cowboy recreation plus exhilarating entertainment. The TEG was born in 2008 with one event but has already multiplied to feature two edge-of-your-seat performances: Friday, December 4th and Saturday, December 12th, both show times at 1pm.

Highlighted by the Freestyle Bullfight, the TEG also showcases the World Series of Team Roping Finale, The World Series Mounted Shoot-Out, The Open Barrel Race and introducing the Professional Team Bronc Riding Finals.

Freestyle Bullfight- The best bullfight event in the business boasts 12 of the top fighters in the sport, in a head-to-head tournament style bracket format. Says promoter and legendary bull fighter Rob Smets, “This is as good as a bullfight as you can hope to see. Any time you can get this many former world champions in the same building, (Mike Matt 4x, Lance Britton, Wacey Munsell & Andy Burrel) you know it’s going to be a fight. We’ve attracted the best to compete because of the big money involved (highest paying Freestyle ever) and the overall magnitude of this event.”
Team Roping- The World Series of Team Roping Finale, is the heartbeat of the EquiGames bringing over Three Million in Winnings and who’s who in the cowboy world to the Casino. Each of its three divisions (Lo-Amateur, Amateur and Pro-Am) will pay $1,000,000. The World Series has become the year end Grand Finale for the team roping industry each year.
Mounted Shooting- The World Series Mounted Shoot-Out, presented by Outlaw Annie, features Hall of Famer Annie Elliot breaking ground with a tournament style event and a second year target purse of $100,000.
Barrel Racing- The Open Barrel Race, presented by PRCA Hall of Famer Charmayne James, has accelerated the payout in its second year from a $15,000 winners check to an astonishing $50,000 guaranteed. In addition, Charmayne James has added a $10,000 bonus payout for racers riding two horses on four total runs. This will not only showcase the excellent horses, but will also reward consistent riding.
Team Bronc Riding- The Professional Team Bronc Riding Association Finals will be showcased at the TEG, giving this relatively new sport a world-wide audience through a partnership with the EquiGames. You’ve watched this event at all of the major Rodeos during the year, now witness the Association finals in Las Vegas.

All events will be hosted at the South Point Equestrian and Events Center in Las Vegas, NV, show times at 1pm WST. $20 Thunder EquiGames tickets are now on sale at www.southpointeventscenter.com for the 12/4 & 12/12 performances. All other daily qualifying events are free to the public.

For more information and detailed events schedule, please visit www.equigames.com .


Press Contact: Drew Stuart
Communications Director
505.898.1755
drew@equigames.com

Once again, New Mexico's Denny Gentry is proving he's the best there is at putting on these kind of events. He founded the USTRC on a shoestring, built it into a huge success and sold it. He waited until his non-compete clause expired and now he's kicking their butts all over again. Got to admire that kind of guts and talent all rolled into one package.

Song Of The Day #168

Ranch Radio brings you Gene Autry this morning, singing Way Out West In Texas.

You'll find this song on his 25 track CD Goin' Back to Texas



Thursday, October 29, 2009

Coyotes Kill Musician In Canadian National Park

Two coyotes attacked a promising young musician as she was hiking alone in a national park in eastern Canada, and authorities said she died Wednesday of her injuries. The victim was identified as Taylor Mitchell, 19, a singer-songwriter from Toronto who was touring to promote her new album on the East Coast. She was hiking solo on a trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia on Tuesday when the attack occurred. She was airlifted to a Halifax hospital in critical condition and died Wednesday morning, authorities said. Coyotes, which also are known as prairie wolves, are found from Central America to the United States and Canada. Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokeswoman Brigdit Leger said other hikers heard Mitchell's screams for help on Tuesday and called emergency police dispatchers. Police who were in the area reached the scene quickly and shot one of the animals, apparently wounding it. But the wounded animal and a companion coyote managed to get away...Read more

Obama administration inches away from 'time out' for roadless forest logging

Environmental groups in May hailed the Obama administration's decision to effectively pause development in about 58 million acres of road-free federal forests. Any logging in those forests, about 2 million acres of which are in Oregon, would have to be approved by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the administration said. Now it appears the administration is backing away from that directive, if only a little. This month, the Agriculture Department returned to the Forest Service the authority to undertake certain projects in roadless forests without the secretary's approval. Specifically, local land managers are now free to approve the "cutting, sale, or removal of generally small diameter timber when needed for one of the following purposes: * To improve threatened, endangered, proposed, or sensitive species habitat; or * To maintain or restore the characteristics of ecosystem composition and structure, such as to reduce the risk of uncharacteristic wildfire effects within the range of variability that would be expected to occur under natural disturbance regimes of the current climatic period; or * For administrative and personal use, as provided for in Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations 223, where personal use includes activities such as Christmas trees and firewood cutting and where administrative use includes providing materials for activities such as construction of trails, footbridges, and fences."...read more

The memo referred to can be seen here.

New ad promotes wolves to Times Square audience

Defenders of Wildlife says people in New York City are in the dark about the wolf hunts taking place in Montana and Idaho and has launched a Times Square ad campaign to raise their awareness. From now through New Year’s Day, the conservation group, which opposes the wolf hunt, is buying time on the 520-square-foot CBS superscreen on 42nd Street for a 15-second video spot showing - among other things - a wolf pup howling in tall grass. “They are being killed,” is written at the bottom of the screen, along with a number people can text to donate $5 to the group. Defenders of Wildlife is one of more than a dozen groups suing the Obama administration over its decision to take the gray wolf off the Endangered Species List. Revenue from the ad will go toward the legal battle, along with compensating and working with ranchers who raise livestock near wolf populations...read more

Feds to release endangered minnows in Big Bend

Thousands of endangered Rio Grande silvery minnows reared at a national hatchery in New Mexico were being prepared Wednesday to be trucked to Texas, where the tiny fish will be released into the Rio Grande near Big Bend National Park. The release is part of a five-year experiment by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish a population of minnows in the river's southern reaches. More than 400,000 silvery minnows were released at Big Bend last year and surveys have shown that there are still minnows in the area. "It's a little early to really say that this is a successful program, but we're definitely learning and we're hopeful," Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Aimee Roberson said. Hatchery staff members on Wednesday were loading 500,000 minnows into several trucks for the overnight drive from southeastern New Mexico to Big Bend. About 60,000 minnows bound for Texas came from the city of Albuquerque's breeding facility...read more

Wind Power Generates Green Economy In West Texas

The dust has barely settled here after the completion of the world's largest wind farm, but the sprouts of a "green" economy are already emerging among the cotton fields that have long been the staple of this West Texas rural community. Wind energy-service companies now sit on the same street as the old grocery store, and so do the headquarters of German-based E.ON Climate and Renewables, a subsidiary of the world's largest utility, E.ON AG (EOAN.XE), which owns the Roscoe wind farm. The project has 627 turbines--one for every two inhabitants of Roscoe--and employs about 70 technicians, including contractors and staffers. "It's helped the city kind of reinvent itself," said city manager Cody Thompson, who was helping put the finishing touches to the West Texas Wind Harvest Festival, featuring live music and helicopter tours of the 100,0000-acre project. Roscoe is situated in Nolan County, which has a population of about 17,000 and contains nearly 10% of all U.S. wind power-generating capacity--built at breakneck speed over the last decade. The financial crisis and bottlenecks in transmission capacity have slowed down the proliferation of wind turbines for now, but the area has established itself as a powerhouse for an emerging technology that could help reduce U.S. emissions of the heat-trapping gases blamed for climate change. This development occurs as critics of the Obama administration--including top Texas leaders--say that the number of "green" jobs won't replace the number of oil and gas jobs destroyed by U.S. policies to stem global warming...read more

Ailing planet seen as bad for human health

Climate change will make Americans more vulnerable to diseases, disasters and heat waves, but governments have done little to plan for the added burden on the health system, according to a new study by a nonprofit group. The study, released Monday by the Trust for America's Health, an advocacy group focused on disease prevention, examines the public-health implications of climate change. In addition to pushing up sea levels and shrinking Arctic ice, the report says, a warming planet is likely to leave more people sick, short of breath or underfed. Experts involved with the study said that these threats might be reduced if the federal government adopts a cap on greenhouse-gas emissions. But no legislation could stop them altogether, they said. Emissions already in the atmosphere are expected to increase warming -- and the problems that come with it -- for years to come...read more

Land trust groups urge tax incentive renewal

Once Congress wraps up the health care reform debate, representatives of two land trust groups said Wednesday they want the Senate and House to turn to extending federal conservation tax incentives by Dec. 31. The current incentives expire this year and must be extended by year's end. The bill has 252 cosponsors in the 435-member House, while 34 of the 100 senators are cosponsors, he said. What's more, President Barack Obama supports reauthorization of the tax incentives, and President George W. Bush supported the initial legislation. Marx said the incentives enhance the opportunities for "land rich, cash poor" farmers and ranchers to obtain federal income tax benefits for placing land in conservation easements. These voluntary easements are agreements between a landowner and a land trust that generally limit residential development, protect open lands, manage forests and continue farm and ranch operations. Participants can deduct up to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income from their federal income taxes, and it extends the carry-forward period for the deductions to 16 years. Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is the sponsor of the bill as he was in 2006. Marx said the rate of private land conservation increased by 36 percent nationally during the first two years the tax incentives were in place...read more

Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative Bets on Western Venue to Link Ranchers and Conservationists

Ranchers and conservationists share an interest in managing grazing lands for optimum ecologic health. They, and others interested in the environmental and economic implications of range management are invited to a national conference of the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) being held in Reno, Nevada, December 13-16, 2009. In bringing its national conference west for the first time, GLCI will in 2009 will give increased focus to western grazing issues. However, the conference will continue its past format of providing information along four "tracks" that will also include Eastern, Midwestern and dairy grazing issues. Some of the issues to be highlighted include the value of rotational grazing and of riparian habitat, carbon sequestration, and the flexibility within grazing systems. One thing that sets GLCI apart from other conferences is its focus on ranchers as presenters. "We know experts come from academia, government, and the non-profit world and we welcome them all, but we also look for the 'cowboy expert' who has gained his--or her--expertise through long hours with livestock and first-hand exposure to all sorts of elements--natural, economic and political," says Drake...read more

Beleaguered Navajo leader assails critics

Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr., in the throes of a fierce power struggle with the Dine' nation's Tribal Council, repeated Wednesday night that the effort against him is politically motivated because he's trying to crack down on council spending. Speaking at Arizona State University's College of Law, Shirley said he was placed on administrative leave earlier this week because the Tribal Council disagrees with his efforts to shrink the number of council delegates. "It's turned personal. . . . I don't know why I'm on administrative leave," he said. "I've asked for the allegations. I've ask for the investigative report. Nothing has been given to me. It's atrocious." Shirley was stripped of his authority one week after the council received investigative reports that implicate him and key members of his staff in possible ethical, criminal or civil violations, according to Joshua Lavar Butler, a spokesman in the Navajo Nation Speaker's Office...read more

TV: 'Chupacabra' caught on tape in The Woodlands

Paul Stuart drives down Gosling Road near Woodlands Parkway almost every day, but it’s not every day that he encounters a legendary beast. But Stuart says it happened, and it was so unbelievable that immediately pulled out his video camera and began to record. “When I rolled down the window and looked at it, it was very unusual,” he said. “Boys, that’s a chupacabra right there.” That was, at least, his first reaction. Stuart said he had no idea what the nearly hairless, four- legged creature could have been. In fact, he’d never seen anything like it. Biologists and wildlife experts dismiss the chupacabra as nothing more than an urban legend. But what makes Stuart’s story unique is that chupacabra sightings usually happen in Mexico or other parts of Texas—not here in the Houston area...read more

The TV report can be seen at the link provided.

Cow Burps OK: House, Senate Block EPA From Regulating Livestock Emissions

Farmers can breath a little easier now — cows can burp and fart without fear of the Environmental Protection Agency regulating their methane emissions. You may remember the “cow tax” rumors that floated around late last year and caused an uproar among farmers and ranchers worried the EPA planned to regulate methane gas emitted from livestock. The EPA has said — repeatedly — it has no plans to impose a cow tax. But the idea was still worrisome for ranchers and farmers. House and Senate conferees made it official Tuesday and approved an amendment to block agency efforts to require Clean Air Act permits for greenhouse gases emitted by livestock, according to reports from Greenwire and Scientific American. Under the amendment, the EPA can not use funds to implement rules requiring livestock producers to obtain Clean Air Act operating permits for the biological emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases, according to the Scientific American report...read more

Eating Animals

You can agree wholeheartedly with huge chunks of novelist Jonathan Safran Foer's sprawling and stirring new pro-vegetarian polemic, Eating Animals, and at the same time find it pompous and annoying. A few years ago, humbled by the birth of his first child (this alone causes a twinge of readerly alarm), Foer began an exhaustive investigation into the morality of eating meat. He interviewed cattle ranchers and PETA activists, visited an industrial poultry plant, and then poured the results of his research into this compelling, earnest, overly cerebral, and endlessly debatable opus. First, the compelling: Foer is outraged by industrial farming practices that produce 99 percent of the meat in the United States...read more

Can USDA's NIFA be ag's NIH?

Historically short-shrifted by federal funding bodies, academic agricultural research was recently promised redemption: a federal funding agency of its very own that will award competitive grants in a fashion similar to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But will the new agency, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), be able to put public-sector agricultural science on an equal footing with biomedical research? NIFA, to be administrated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), was modeled after the government's other large science funding agencies -- the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy, and especially the NIH. Its mission is to fund research addressing several pressing issues ranging from increasing sustainable food production to bioenergy, food safety, and global climate change while encouraging a renaissance in agricultural research at universities across the country. Unlike university-based biomedical research, however, which in general has enjoyed robust funding in the recent past, academic agricultural research has withered under a USDA that has traditionally meted out small, non-competitive grants to land grant universities, often at the behest of US legislators trying to direct funds to their home districts or states. The result is an intellectual landscape where much of the knowledge surrounding plant science and agriculture resides not in universities but in industry, locked behind the walls of large agribusinesses...read more

Family blog puts a face on animal ag

Anyone who has ever wanted to learn about the everyday life of a farm and ranch family can go to the Kansas Beef Council Web site, www.Kansasbeef.org, where a new blog is posted by Kim Harms of Harms Plainview Ranch, Lincolnville. A link to “Ranch Family Blog” is provided on the home page. In words and pictures, Harms portrays normal day-to-day family activities as well as those related to production of beef cattle. The ranching enterprise, operated by Kim and her husband, Mark, is headquartered at 2528 250th St. It maintains a cowherd that produces purebred Angus, Red Angus, and Charolais bulls and heifers for sale to other farmers and ranchers. Harms said she was approached by the council to create the blog after it was advised that one of the fastest ways to reach people and promote a product is through personal stories. “We were asked to put a face on animal agriculture in Kansas,” she said...read more

A Gift For Our Leader

Song Of The Day #167



Ranch Radio's selection today is by Wilf Carter, aka Montana Slim. The tune is Pete Knight The King Of The Cowboys and was recorded in 1935. Pete Knight was the 4-time world champion saddle bronc rider, 1932, '33, '35 and '36. He was also the 3-time Calgary Stampede champion. He was killed in 1937 at the Hayward, California rodeo. So note the song was recorded two years prior to his death.


The song is available on his 8 disc box set Wilf Carter - Cowboy Songs.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Judge kills water ruling

For the moment at least, the Southern Nevada Water Authority has lost the water it hoped to pump to Las Vegas in the first phase of its proposed pipeline across eastern Nevada. In a strongly worded order issued last week, a district judge overturned a 2008 state ruling that granted the authority permission to tap groundwater from three valleys in central Lincoln County. Judge Norman Robison ruled that State Engineer Tracy Taylor "abused his discretion" and "acted arbitrarily, capriciously and oppressively" when he cleared the authority to pump more than 6 billion gallons of groundwater a year from Cave, Delamar and Dry Lake valleys. The senior judge from Gardnerville wrote that the state's chief water regulator traditionally requires "specific empirical data" before allowing groundwater to be transferred out of a basin. This time, though, the state engineer is "simply hoping for the best while committing to undo his decision if the worst occurs," Robison wrote. New Mexico-based attorney Simeon Herskovits represents many of those pipeline opponents. In a statement Tuesday, he applauded Robison for reversing "an obviously unsound decision by the state engineer."...read more

White House Steps Up Climate Efforts

The Obama administration and some Senate Democrats expressed fresh urgency on Tuesday about the need to address climate change and refashion the nation’s energy economy. But they faced determined opposition from Republicans, new concerns from some Democrats and reminders of the financial, technological and political hurdles in remaking the way the nation produces and consumes power. In a Senate hearing on a new climate change and energy bill and in coordinated appearances by President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the administration promoted measures to cap greenhouse gas emissions and support new means of fueling homes and vehicles with far less carbon dioxide intensity. Mr. Obama appeared at a solar energy installation in Florida and Mr. Biden at an auto plant in Delaware that will produce electric vehicles, talking about the potential of alternative energy to create jobs...read more

Dems seek home-state exemptions from environmental law

Taking a page from the Republican playbook, House Democrats are using an annual spending bill to exempt home state interests from new environmental rules that the party typically supports. At issue is the treatment of Great Lakes freight vessels affected by proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations designed to reduce harmful emissions. The rules are scheduled to take effect in December, but House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.) appeared Monday night to have won an exemption for at least 13 older U.S. vessels threatened by the regulations. Another 13 ships would be eligible for waivers from EPA, but in the case of the first 13, Congress would be taking the decision out of the hands of the regulator...read more

Association Marks 20 Years of Greening Hollywood

With local, organic food, minimal electricity use and on-site composting, the Environmental Media Association's 20th anniversary party might be the green standard for future Hollywood awards shows. The awards-show dinner, held Sunday on the Paramount lot, modeled its message - recognizing the industry's efforts to go green with an organic, low-waste, environmentally friendly event. Founded by Norman and Lyn Lear and Alan and Cindy Horn, the Environmental Media Association encourages Hollywood to spread the word about going green. Twenty years later, the group counts the Endangered Species Coalition, the Alaska Rainforest Campaign, the Sierra Club and the World Wildlife Fund among its partners. It has been honored by the White House and praised by Al Gore - years before "An Inconvenient Truth." The group has met with hundreds of Hollywood writers, directors and producers, helping them incorporate green themes into their films and TV shows and encouraging them to make those productions more environmentally friendly...read more

So that's where the propaganda comes from...

Energy Dept. Aid for Scientists on the Edge

The federal Energy Department will make good on a pledge for a bolder technology strategy on Monday, awarding research grants for ideas like bacteria that will make gasoline, enzymes that will capture carbon dioxide to counter global warming and batteries so cheap that they will allow the use of solar power all night long. A new agency within the department will nurture these and other radical proposals, most of which will probably fail but a few of which could have “a transformative impact,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in an interview on Friday. The money will go for projects at all stages of development, including some that exist simply as a smart idea, Dr. Chu said. The department will announce 37 grants totaling $151 million, mostly going to small businesses and educational institutions but also to a few corporations...read more

Wolf hunt ends in southern Montana

Montana's statewide wolf hunting season on Monday came to an abrupt halt in the southern portion of the state, only one day after it started. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks ordered hunting closed in Wolf Management Unit 3 a half-hour after sunset Monday. The hunting closure in WMU 3 was prompted by four wolves that were reportedly killed from that unit, which pushed the total number taken from the area to 13. A pre-established quota called for taking only 12 wolves from that area. Ron Aasheim, FWP community education administrator, said there is no need to adjust the quotas in the other wolf management units because they went over in WMU 3. However, all wolf hunting will end if the entire 75-wolf harvest level in Montana is reached. If it's not, the wolf season ends with the rest of the general big game season on Nov. 29. It can be extended through December, however, if the quota isn't reached. As of Monday afternoon, 23 of Montana's 500 wolves were reported killed by hunters. Six came from WMU 1, which has a quota of 41, and four came from WM2, which has a quota of 22. Twelve of the wolves were taken in a special backcountry hunt offered prior to the general wolf season...read more

Study finds quake risk at Los Alamos

A big earthquake and resultant fire could trigger potentially deadly releases of radioactive materials from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico due to "major deficiencies" in the nuclear weapons lab's safety planning, federal safety experts warned Tuesday. The warning from the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board was sent to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, urging him to "execute both immediate and long-term actions." The lab, atop a mesa west of Santa Fe, is the nation's primary plutonium fabrication facility for nuclear weapons and is believed to house thousands of pounds of plutonium at a complex known as TA-55. In the course of designing a new building near the plutonium facility, engineers discovered that a previously known fault has the potential for causing far greater ground movement than they had calculated...read more

Why the Range War In the West Matters

Almost 30 years ago, with the best of intentions Congress passed the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). Simply stated the EAJA said that if the government had done wrong against small businesses, including farms and ranches, and they challenged the government in federal court, they would not have to go bankrupt awash in legal fees from protecting their rights. Call it a leveling of the playing field. If they were victorious in court, the government would have to pay their legal fees. Sounds fair right? But as with all good intentions, there are some radical environmentalists who have figured out a way to use EAJA against those same small businesses in order to further their radical environmental goals. And even though they aren't being sued directly the ranchers must hire lawyers to give them a seat at the table. -- That's kind of like paying to watch your own hangin'. In the last 10 years in one Federal District Court in Boise, Idaho, Western Watersheds Project has received $1,150,528.00 of your tax dollars for their jihad against the ranchers and sheep men. They have a found judge in that particular court who has been particularly accommodating to them and who seems to have his thumb on the scales of justice in their favor. And that is just one organization. It is estimated that in that same time frame billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent settling these ridiculous legal claims. Here's how it works. WWP sues the government challenging the rancher's public land use permits on trumped up charges over water use or endangered species that aren't really endangered, in the hope of having the permit rescinded. They tie up the ranchers in court and financially bleed them. They don't have to win the case to be given your taxpayer money. The government which is a font of useless legal mumbo jumbo says they only have to "prevail" in the case. And guess who makes the decision whether they "prevail" or not? The federal government! And it's not just Idaho. This group has offices in Arizona, California, Nevada, Montana, Utah, Washington and Wyoming dedicated to the same goal of no commercial development on the vast public lands of the West. That means no cattle, sheep, solar farms, wind farms, natural gas or oil development or vitally needed new transmission lines to bring electricity to the cities of America. This ain't just about cowboys folks...read more

Low Milk Prices Have Dairy Farmers Killing Cows

After burning through $1 million in savings and seeing no end to their losses, dairy farmers Jake and Lori Slegers figured they didn't have much choice -- they had to kill the cows. So one day last summer their sons tagged all 1,571 cows, loaded them onto trailers at their farm south of Fresno, Calif., and watched them rumble away to a slaughterhouse. Lori Slegers said her husband came into the house and broke down. "He said it was the hardest thing he ever had to do," she said. "Luckily, my boys could do it." Growing demand in developing nations drove up milk prices when times were good, and dairy farmers expanded their herds. But the global recession hurt exports and left farmers with too much milk on their hands. Milk processors cut the price they were willing to pay farmers, in many cases below what it cost to produce milk. In the past year, hundreds of farmers have come to the same conclusion as the Slegers: The only way to raise prices is to reduce the supply, and that means killing cows...read more

From the headline I thought they were shooting them, not sending them to slaughter.

Coyote Goes For A Wild Ride

A coyote struck by a fast-moving car near the Nevada-Utah border apparently got trapped by the vehicle's grill and rode for several hours all the way west to the foothills east of Sacramento. Daniel East and his sister, Tevyn, were travelling at about 75 mph along Interstate 80 when they saw some coyotes running nearby. One of the coyotes ran in front of the car. "Right off the bat, we knew it was bad," Daniel East said. They said they kept driving because they thought they had killed the animal, so there was no point in stopping. After they arrived -- eight to 10 hours later -- they found the trapped animal and called Penn Valley-based Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release. "No broken bones, no internal injuries -- nothing," Daniel East said, adding that the animal only had a few scrapes on one of his paws...read more

HT: Outdoor Press Room

Farm states may copy Ohio vote on livestock rules

Ohio voters will decide next week whether to create a board overseeing livestock care in a move that could give farmers in rural America a blueprint for battling animal rights groups intent on outlawing cramped cages for chickens and hogs. Agriculture industry leaders pushed the issue onto the state ballot, hoping to thwart an attempt by animal rights activists who were threatening to force farmers to change how they house livestock. Voters in California, Florida and Arizona already have approved measures that require more space for confined farm animals. Lawmakers in Colorado, Maine, Michigan and Oregon have adopted similar rules. Supporters of the changes say animals raised for food deserve humane treatment. Opponents argue the regulations will force farmers to make costly changes that could put them out of business and drive up the price of eggs, chicken, pork and beef. That's why Ohio's agriculture leaders decided to take a shot at creating a livestock board that would include farmers and animal care experts. Voters in Ohio — often a crucial swing state in national elections — will decide Tuesday whether to approve Issue 2 in what could be a significant decision for farmers nationwide...read more

Hard years for Corpus Christi

80 years ago tomorrow — the stock market crashed. Shares lost half their value, then dropped to pennies on the dollar. Within days, $30 billion in paper value was lost. Then banks closed, jobs vanished, families lost homes and were put on the road, farms were repossessed. The financial depression became the Great Depression. Farm laborers lucky enough to get work made about 40 cents a day. Bank tellers made $17.50 a week. A fireman in Corpus Christi made $2 a day, and he was on call 24 hours a day. But steak was 15 cents a pound, pork chops 10 cents a pound; you could get a room at the Riggan Hotel for $3 a week; you could buy a new Erskine automobile at Winerich Motors for $895. Prohibition crime — bootlegging, smuggling, making whiskey — was big news. Pint bottles of “Old Hospitality” were sealed in flat tin cans to resemble insect spray and brought in by the shipload. Corpus Christi was the headquarters of cotton country. In cotton-picking time, fields of white stretched to the horizon. But in 1931, cotton prices fell from 18 cents to five cents a pound. Farm workers on Chapman Ranch west of Corpus Christi were let go. The first farmer in the country to get paid for plowing under his cotton crop was a Nueces County farmer, W.E. Morris. He went to Washington and was presented the “plow-up” check by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Ranchers were hit hard when calf prices dropped from 9.3 cents a pound in 1929 to 3.6 cents a pound in 1933. On Armstrong Ranch, Charlie Armstrong cut his salary almost in half and laid off most of the hands. On King Ranch, Robert J. Kleberg Jr. ordered 250 head of cattle rounded up to furnish meat for hungry families. The meat was distributed from the King Ranch warehouse in Kingsville...read more

Song Of The Day #166

Today's Ranch Radio tune is Cowboy Jack recorded in 1935 by the Sons Of The Pioneers.

It's available on their 4 disc box set Down Memory Trail with the Sons of the Pioneers.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Environmental staffers let go

In yet another sign that economic tough times continue to plague Lane County, a public interest environmental law firm will lay off four staff members by the end of the month. The Eugene-based Western Environmental Law Center has laid off two administrative staff members and attorney Charlie Tebbutt. Attorney Dave Bahr will also be let go sometime in the next few weeks. Tebbutt has specialized in federal Clean Water Act cases, while Dave Bahr’s expertise is in federal Freedom of Information Act work. He also recently represented local groups in a suit filed against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management over its plan to increase logging on Western Oregon forests. “It was a very unfortunate situation to find ourselves in,” said the law center Executive Director Greg Costello. Together, Bahr and Tebbutt represent more than 40 years of legal experience. The Western Environmental Law Center also has offices in Montana, New Mexico and Colorado, It employs nine attorneys. WELC isn’t the only local environmental nonprofit group struggling with the bottom line. Eugene-based Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics saw its revenues for the first nine months of 2009 decrease by 26 percent compared with the same period last year, said Executive Director Andy Stahl. Stahl’s nonprofit group opted to take 15 percent across-the-board pay cuts and eliminated matching retirement contributions to avoid layoffs, he said. “Those cuts kept us from closing our doors,” he said...read more

Save the planet: eat a dog?

The eco-pawprint of a pet dog is twice that of a 4.6-litre Land Cruiser driven 10,000 kilometres a year, researchers have found. Victoria University professors Brenda and Robert Vale, architects who specialise in sustainable living, say pet owners should swap cats and dogs for creatures they can eat, such as chickens or rabbits, in their provocative new book Time to Eat the Dog: The real guide to sustainable living. The couple have assessed the carbon emissions created by popular pets, taking into account the ingredients of pet food and the land needed to create them. "If you have a German shepherd or similar-sized dog, for example, its impact every year is exactly the same as driving a large car around," Brenda Vale said. In a study published in New Scientist, they calculated a medium dog eats 164 kilograms of meat and 95kg of cereals every year. It takes 43.3 square metres of land to produce 1kg of chicken a year. This means it takes 0.84 hectares to feed Fido. They compared this with the footprint of a Toyota Land Cruiser, driven 10,000km a year, which uses 55.1 gigajoules (the energy used to build and fuel it). One hectare of land can produce 135 gigajoules a year, which means the vehicle's eco-footprint is 0.41ha – less than half of the dog's...read more

HT: Paul Gessing

Agriculture nomination steams greens

When the Obama administration announced that it was nominating a former pesticide lobbyist to be the chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative, it sparked more than the usual Internet chatter. “Obama’s Chief Agricultural Negotiator Nominee Is a Pesticide Pusher;” screamed one website. ‘Obama’s Ag Policy Is Giving Me Whiplash,” lamented another. “Obama Backtreads,” scolded a third. The nomination of Islam Siddiqui, vice president for science and regulatory affairs at CropLife America, struck an off-key note among environmentalists — and not just because they think pesticides and chemicals are unsafe for humans and detrimental to the environment. Perhaps more important was the sense of betrayal. After all, it was Michelle Obama herself who had demanded a pesticide-free garden for the first family at the White House, suggesting — environmentalists thought — that the Obama administration was sympathetic to their cause...read more

CO Ranchers, Communities Applaud Slow Approach for Oil Shale

The Obama administration says they'll be taking a closer look at some Bush-era deals to promote the development of oil shale in Colorado, and now local ranchers and communities say the "go-it-slower" approach has them breathing a sigh of relief. Doug Monger, a Routt County Commissioner, says it's good news that research into oil shale development will move forward, but he's glad that the potential effects on water, wildlife and the larger environment will be more seriously considered. Reed Kelley is a cattle rancher near Meeker, who sits on the board of the Colorado Independent Cattlegrowers Association, and who says some of his neighbors would have been directly affected by oil shale development as it was proposed under the last administration. "Water taken off of irrigated hay pastures would be a tremendous impact, and that's what some of these companies have already applied for." Kelley says people in the area also rely heavily on hunting big game locally, both for personal use and as a source of income through guiding. He worries oil shale development could take those opportunities away...read more

Forest Service Withdraws Five-year Permit for Off-road "Enduro" Races

The Eldorado National Forest has withdrawn its approval of a five-year special event permit for dirt bike “enduro” races in the Rock Creek Recreational Trails Area in response to an appeal by the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation and the Center for Biological Diversity. Advocates for quiet recreation, clean water, and wildlife habitat challenged the permit for failing to provide adequate environmental review of impacts to soil, water and air quality, riparian habitats, and imperiled species, including the California red-legged frog and western pond turtle. “The Forest Service cannot continue to ignore the significant impacts off-road vehicle events have on the forest – tearing up soils, damaging creek banks and beds, and polluting the air,” said Lisa Belenky, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Soils loosened by these events wash into creeks and rivers as soon as rain comes, reducing water quality for downstream users and hurting important riparian and aquatic habitat for many species.”...read more

‘Rabid' rangers or a routine traffic stop?

Pitkin County Commissioner Patti Clapper and her daughter Traci are teaming to try to stop what they claim are overbearing tactics by “rabid rangers” in the U.S. Forest Service. Traci, 20, is seeking a written apology from the Forest Service's law enforcement branch for what she considers an illegal search and seizure on Highway 82 up Independence Pass last Labor Day weekend. Clapper said there is a “bigger issue” that needs to be investigated regarding the conduct of Forest Service law enforcement officers' actions around Aspen. She estimated she has heard of 20 incidents where young adults and their property were searched under allegedly questionable circumstances. Forest Service officials said they haven't received other complaints about their law officers. “A lot of things have happened to the kids in the community,” Clapper said. She questioned if the Forest Service officers who stopped her daughter had the authority to pull her over on Highway 82, a state road. Two spokesmen for the Colorado State Patrol's public information office in Denver said the Forest Service could well contend jurisdiction on a state highway that goes through a national forest. There are numerous cases where police in a municipality or county have authority on a state road where it travels through their jurisdiction, the troopers noted. Any challenge to venue would need to be made in court, the troopers said...read more

Hidden Gems wilderness plan spurs formidable opposition

A group fighting to preserve access for all users of public lands has collected roughly 700 signatures on a petition opposing the Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign, an organizer said Friday. The White River Forest Alliance plans to keep collecting signatures and then present its petition to local governments and Colorado's congressional delegation in an effort to stop the campaign to add 450,000 acres of Wilderness, according to Jack Albright, vice president of the organization. “We'll fight it at the national level if that's what we need to do,” he said. The alliance emerged in late August to provide a powerful counterpoint to Wilderness Workshop, a Carbondale-based environmental group heading a coalition that is promoting the Hidden Gems proposal. Albright said the alliance's goal is to make sure all forest users are aware of the Hidden Gems proposal and how it affects them, then provide foes of the Wilderness proposal with a voice. Among alliance members are snowmobilers, dirt bikers and four-wheeling enthusiasts. But Albright said its not just for motorized users. Its members also include mountain bikers, ranchers and even hikers...read more

We need to review legal system

Budd-Fallon documented three tax-exempt, non-profit groups that filed more than 700 cases against the Feds between 2007 and 2009. "Ranchers and other citizens are being forced to expend millions of their own money to protect their way of life (they have no chance of the same attorney fee recovery if they prevail)." In one 15 month long case the Earth Justice Legal Foundation and the Western Environmental Law Center filed for $500,000 in attorney fees. (Earth Justice said they count on those fees in part because it represents groups free of charge). "They're not filing these suits to protect the environment they're filing them to make money," she said. These attorneys are part of the same group that filed law suit after law suit, bankrupting a lumber company in Quincy putting 150 people out of work. Any legal system that allows this to happen is both morally and ethically corrupt. To their shame the California State Bar condones this activity! In order to receive millions in legal fees, all a group has to do is show a government body changed some policy or program as a result of their suit. The cash to cover these legal costs comes from our taxes through the Natural Resource Agency, the group charged with protecting our natural resources. Environmental attorneys get rich off our tax dollars, while the environment suffers because cash to clean it up is no longer available The reported salary of the president of the Environmental Defense fund is $446,000. The President of the World Wildlife Fund gets just under $440,000...read more

Wild horse debate gallops on

The Obama administration's first try at resolving the debate over the wild horses of the West has not gone over well with some. Animal rights groups say that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's proposal to relocate thousands of mustangs to preserves in the East and Midwest would compound years of federal mismanagement of the horses. They want the 37,000 horses now roaming federal lands in the West to remain despite the risk of starvation and conflicts with cattle. In response to Salazar's proposal, they reiterated their stand during the Bush administration: let the mustangs run loose on millions of acres of federal land where beef cattle are raised. "Why are we, a cowboy nation, destroying the horse we rode in on?" asks Deanne Stillman, author of Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West. "We may be heading toward the point where we only have wild horses in zoos."...read more

The graze divide: domestic sheep and bighorns separated for safety reasons

The bighorns weren't far from where the Martinez sheep-ranching operation would soon be herding out roughly 1,000 ewes and their lambs on a section of the Wenatchee National Forest. And bighorns and domestic sheep simply cannot mingle. The latter are often carriers of bacterial parasites, such as pasteurella, that have minimal effect on domestic sheep but in bighorns can cause pneumonia virulent enough to decimate a herd. So state wildlife biologists were called. They phoned officials at the Naches Ranger District, who contacted the Martinez family, which in turn delayed and then redirected its sheep, skipping some slopes they might have grazed simply to prevent even the faintest possibility of crossing paths with the bighorns. It was a typically proactive response by Nick and Mark Martinez, brothers who run a third-generation family business in Moxee that was begun by their grandfather nearly nine decades ago. Forest Service and state wildlife officials are highly complimentary of the Martinez family's can-do adaptability when bighorn issues arise. Soon, though, the game will be played with different rules. The people who manage Washington's wildlife and public lands are awaiting an Idaho plan that may lead to sweeping changes in how best to maintain a safe distance between bighorns and domestic sheep -- and just how big that buffer zone will have to be...read more

Delta water plan emerges for public to view

Strict conservation, new dams and a peripheral canal are all on the table after six weeks of closed-door negotiations to solve the state's water crisis and restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta ecosystem. Leaders in the state Senate and Assembly are still discussing how to pay for the plan, which could cost $9.4 billion. The Legislature could vote on the plan as soon as the end of the week. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said that he did not want the proposal to "linger" and that the overhaul that has been decades in the making has a "momentum that did not exist before." Water for 24 million people in California - about two-thirds of the state's population - flows through the delta system, which has a series of levees and canals at great risk of failing in a natural disaster such as an earthquake. The plan has several parts, including the creation of a Delta Stewardship Council that would have broad oversight of the delta and the ability to approve a peripheral canal. It would lead the effort to restore the delta and improve the state's water supply. Additionally, the plan would mandate a 20 percent reduction in urban per capita water use by 2020, though there may be exceptions for cities including San Francisco that have aggressive conservation practices. Also included are groundwater monitoring and increased penalties for illegal water diversion...read more

Congress Passes Legislation Protecting Pocketknives

Back in June, we reported on a proposed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) rule change that would have expanded the Switchblade Knife Act of 1958 to include spring-assisted or one-handed-opening knives, and would have directly targeted the importation of “assisted opening” folding knives. Assisted opening knives are frequently used by hunters, anglers, farmers, ranchers, firefighters, law enforcement and emergency personnel and anyone else who may need to open a knife with only one hand. The proposed regulations would have designated all such knives as “switchblades” — despite the fact they do not fall under the federal definition of “switchblades” — and would have made them illegal for import into the United States. Fortunately, in July, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed an amendment to the Federal Switchblade Act as part of the Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2010. This NRA-supported amendment then headed to a House-Senate conference committee. Last week, the U.S. House passed the amendment. We are happy to report that this week, the U. S. Senate passed the measure as well...read more

Climate chief Lord Stern: give up meat to save the planet

People will need to consider turning vegetarian if the world is to conquer climate change, according to a leading authority on global warming. In an interview with The Times, Lord Stern of Brentford said: “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.” Lord Stern, the author of the influential 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, said that a successful deal at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December would lead to soaring costs for meat and other foods that generate large quantities of greenhouse gases. He predicted that people’s attitudes would evolve until meat eating became unacceptable. “I think it’s important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating,” he said. “I am 61 now and attitudes towards drinking and driving have changed radically since I was a student. People change their notion of what is responsible. They will increasingly ask about the carbon content of their food.”...read more

Cracking the Shell of Animal Rights Activism

It’s flu season, and as The New York Times reports today, President Obama has declared the H1N1 flu outbreak a national emergency while supplies of H1N1 flu vaccines are lagging. People have even been camping out in front of doctors’ offices to get the in-demand injections. So what would happen if this shortage faced additional pressures -- from animal rights groups? The possibility isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. Scientists produce vaccines for the flu by using chicken eggs. It takes 3 eggs to make a single dose of flu vaccine. So with over 307 million people in the US, somewhere in the neighborhood of 920 million eggs would be required to make a vaccine for every American man, woman, and child. Why is this important? Because as we’re telling readers of the Cleveland Plain Dealer today, animal rights activists like those who run the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are pushing efforts like across the U.S. (like California’s Proposition 2 last year) that threaten domestic egg production and our ability to respond to vaccine demand...read more

Mountain Meadow Wool Mill First U.S. Wool Company to Provide Full Traceability

Mountain Meadow Wool, as an American mill using American merino is championing the sustainability of the North American wool industry by producing full traceback accredited wool fibre products by using the ScoringAg traceback database. The Mountain Meadow Wool Mill, LP Company has scored a first with an agreement with ScoringAg for supplying trace-back records to prove MMWC quality-branded traceable wool. For over 100 years, Basque* sheepherders have grazed sheep on the plains and mountains of Wyoming. Carrying on this rural tradition, two women established Mountain Meadow Wool Company in 2002. Surrounded by the culture of ranching and of sheep, Valerie Spanos and Karen Hostetler searched for products made from the area wool. They built their own mill and have now moved into full traceable wool. ScoringAg's President, William Kanitz said with the new supply traceability online database system, Mountain Meadow Wool Company hopes to become the premier wool processing facility in Wyoming and unique to the country. They now have a working wool mill not only creating yarn from the fine wool of the area but also custom processing for growers. Mountain Meadow wool returns 10% of the sale of finished products back to their select group of ranchers. These ranchers are compensated at or above the current auction price of equivalent wool types...read more

NMSU scientists to study horse saddles

New Mexico State University is using science to give cowboys and cowgirls a smoother ride. The school is conducting the first scientific study of western saddles. Researchers are using a pad with sensors to map out the pressure levels different parts of the saddle put on the horse. They’re studying several hundred horse and rider combinations with the goal of improving the comfort and health of both horse and rider while challenging traditional ideas about saddle fit. KOB-TV

Here is KOB-TV's video report


It's All Trew: Old-timers' tales - true or not

When old-timers gather and talk about the good old days, you never know whether the story is the real truth or exaggerated nonsense. Here are a few samples I remember or have heard lately. # Some old men were comparing notes about their early years. One man said his family ran down jack rabbits for meat, as they were too poor to buy ammunition for their .22-caliber rifle. Another man said their family also ate jack rabbits for meat, and he and his little brother also ran down rabbits. Since he was older and wiser, he ran alongside the rabbits, feeling their ribs to see if they were fat enough to eat. When a rabbit passed inspection, he signaled his little brother to bring it in to eat. # This last story is true, so help me, as my father told it many times down through the years. During the early 1940s, after the dust quit blowing, the blessed rains came and the Great Depression ended, there was an abundance of wheat pasture on the Great Plains. My father placed hundreds of cattle on wheat in and around Perryton, Texas. One day, while in town on business, an out-of-work cowboy approached Dad for a job, saying he was broke and his family was hungry. There was an empty farmhouse out east of town on the Shuster farm where Dad had cattle, so he hired the man, gave him $20 for groceries and told him to move into the house. The man's family consisted of a tall, slender wife, two tall, skinny teen boys and a slender wisp of a girl about 10 years old. The next morning, Dad hauled the man two horses and a milk cow with a sucking calf weighing about 300 pounds. About three days later, Dad returned to the place to check cattle and saw the remains of the big calf hanging in the windmill tower with half the carcass gone. When he asked the man about the calf, it seems there was a strange accident. The man had tied the calf to the fence in order to milk the cow. The calf got loose, and when the man shooed the calf with the milk bucket, it struck the animal in the head and he fell over dead. To prevent waste, the calf was butchered and hung in the windmill tower to keep. Dad laughed about the story and noticed the wife and family had already gained considerable weight in three days...read more

Song Of The Day #165

Ranch Radio is heading out west this week. We'll start with Patsy Montana's 1939 recording of My Song Of The West.

It's available on her 24 track CD The Best of Patsy Montana.



Monday, October 26, 2009

The greatest good for the greatest number

Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the Forest Service, said that our public lands should provide for " the greatest good for the greatest number". He came up with this vision for our national forests over a hundred years ago. Today, Pinchot's goal is as meaningful as it was at the turn of the last century. Tens of thousands of Americans across the country and here in Colorado took up his cause this past Saturday, National Public Lands Day, by helping to plant trees, repair trails, clean campsites and pick trash out of rivers and wetlands. While it's always inspiring to see people take an interest in our public lands, it is important to consider how our view of public lands has changed over the last 104 years. The land-use practices on our public lands that bring the greatest good to the greatest number are different than they were a century ago. In Colorado and around the country, our public lands are of increasing relevance to us because of the accelerating rate at which we are losing our land and water to development. At this time, the available scientific evidence suggests that all major ecosystems are dominated by humans. That is, humans have altered the landscape so much that we're impacting the diversity of fish, plants and wildlife -- we are changing the very processes of life essential for human welfare...read more

The problem with "the greatest good for the greatest number" is who determines what "good" is. In a free society you determine what is best for you through the choices and purchases you make. In today's society too many of those choices about what is "good" are made by 536 people - The President and the Congress. In other words 536 ignorant government creatures are telling 308 million people what is "good" for them and it has been a prescription for disaster. So spare me the "greatest good for the greatest number" bunk.

Environmental Lawsuits: Follow The Money

I made a mistake in last week's blog when I said the tax-exempt environmental industry collected $4.7 billion dollars between 2004 and 2007 using the Equal Access to Justice Act. The funds were paid by the "Judgment Fund." My fault for quoting a secondary source. An alert reader sent a more original source document, a research memo from the Budd-Falen Law Offices LLC dated September 29, 2009, digging into attorney fees paid by the federal government to plaintiffs who prevail or reach a settlement in lawsuits or appeals. The memo lists 937 lawsuits filed by three of the most active environmental industry corporations* for the years 2000 to 2009, then goes on to state: One source of funding is called the "Judgment Fund." The Judgment Fund is a Congressional line-item appropriation and is used for Endangered Species Act cases, Clean Water Act cases, and with other statutes that directly allow a plaintiff to recover attorney fees. There is no central data base for tracking the payment of these fees, thus neither the taxpayers, members of Congress nor the federal government knows the total amount of taxpayer dollars spent from the Judgment Fund on individual cases. The only information regarding these fees that is available is: The memo goes on to detail statistics for the years 2003 thru 2007 by listing the number of payments and total dollars, then continues with the following: In total, $4,716,264,730.00 (that is billion with a "b") in total payments were paid in taxpayer dollars from the Judgment Fund from 2003 through July 2007 for attorney fees and costs in cases against the federal government. A careful reading of the memo indicates the researcher was not able to determine to whom the $4.7 billion was paid (i.e. whether the plaintiffs were environmental or non-environmental groups) since no system is in place to provide transparency and tracking of the funds...read more

A new demand for uranium power brings concerns for Navajo groups

Uranium from the Grants Mineral Belt running under rugged peaks and Indian pueblos of New Mexico was a source of electric power and military might in decades past, providing fuel for reactors and atomic bombs. Now, interest in carbon-free nuclear power is fueling a potential resurgence of uranium mining. But Indian people gathered in Acoma, N.M., for the Indigenous Uranium Forum over the weekend decried future uranium extraction, especially from nearby Mount Taylor, considered sacred by many tribes. Native people from Alaska, Canada, the Western United States and South America discussed the severe health problems uranium mining has caused their communities, including high rates of cancer and kidney disease. Uranium companies and government authorities do not dispute this, and federal environmental remediation and workers' compensation programs related to past uranium mining are ongoing. But mining companies say today's methods and regulations have improved so much that locals have nothing to fear...read more

Park Service says Gettysburg chief has been reassigned

The National Park Service announced Friday that it has removed its superintendent at Gettysburg National Military Park and reassigned him to work in a cultural resources office as an assistant to the associate director. His job duties have not yet been determined. John A. Latschar said Thursday that his demotion was in response to the public disclosure of Internet activity in which he viewed more than 3,400 "sexually-explicit" images over a two-year period on his government computer -- a violation of department policy. The misconduct, which Latschar acknowledged in a sworn statement, was found during a year-long investigation by the Interior Department's inspector general and was documented in an internal Aug. 7 report obtained by The Washington Post. The reassignment came after a Post report Monday about the results of the investigator's forensic analysis of Latschar's computer hard drive, which showed "significant inappropriate user activity" and numbered the "most sexually-explicit" images at 3,456...read more

Reactions mixed on appointment

Environmental and industry groups in Wyoming are both waiting to see how Harris Sherman, the new leader of the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, will affect Wyoming. Sherman, a former Colorado Department of Natural Resources executive director, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's undersecretary for natural resources and the environment. That makes Sherman the new head of the USFS and the NRCS, meaning he'll oversee millions of acres of land in Wyoming and influence the state's largest industries, from agriculture to energy exploration. "It's a very important position," said Jim Magagna, president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association. Environmental groups cheered news of Sherman's confirmation - in part because they reviled Sherman's predecessor, former timber industry lobbyist Mark Rey, for stopping or slowing new environmental rules, among other actions. However, Sherman was criticized by some environmental groups last year for his work on proposed state roadless area rules. The groups claimed that the proposed rules contained too many road-building exceptions for logging and oil and gas production and said Sherman didn't do enough to make the proposed rules tougher...read more

Forest Service misses 'red flag'

U.S. Forest Service administrator Bevan Killpack defends the choices made in fighting the Mill Flat fire in southern Utah this summer, but acknowledges that officials should have seen the fire growing quickly days before it reached New Harmony. "We weren't focusing on the acreage as much as where the fire was," said Killpack, a Pine Valley District ranger who oversaw the benefit resource fire. "We were looking at 100 acres growing every day, but it was staying on the mountain." The resource benefit fire started small in July but began to consume 100 acres a day around Aug. 26, according to a fire behavior analyst who reviewed the forest service's daily communications and papers in late September. The blaze was burning 40 acres or less a day prior to that, Killpack said. "That should have told us something," he said Thursday. "We should have realized 100 acres was substantial. That should have been a red flag and we missed it." An updated fire plan was put in place Aug. 26 and hand crews and engines were ordered to clear fuel breaks west of New Harmony "to hold the fire if it moves toward town," according to U.S. State Department of Agriculture documents obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune...read more

Hunters being given chance to manage wolves

The trial run was interesting but inconclusive. The real Montana wolf hunt begins this Sunday, and a lot rides on its results. Ranchers, hunters, wolf advocates and wolf biologists all want to see how effective citizen hunters can be against the state's newest predator. Whether Montana's quota of 75 wolves is met or missed, the 2009 hunting season will be an important piece of evidence in the federal lawsuit over the predator's endangered species status. "A big question everybody had was: Will it be just like Alaska and Canada" where wolf hunting has low success? wondered Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wolf program coordinator Carolyn Sime. "Here, Montanans know the field and know their hunting areas, and will be present where wolves are. We have a lot more to learn." Sime wants to know if hunters can be as effective as state and federal damage control officers in keeping wolf populations in check. Ranchers want to know if the hunt will discourage wolves from attacking domestic livestock. Hunters want to know if wolves are truly cutting into their big-game opportunities, and if they can push back. And wolf advocates wonder if the hunt will set back their hopes for a Montana landscape with all its natural wildlife intact...read more

Biologists interested in wolf hunt results

Montana's early wolf season in four remote hunting districts produced a puzzle. Hunters in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness around Cooke City shot nine wolves, nearly swallowing the 12-wolf quota for most of the southern half of the state. But in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, hunters in an area three times the size shot only three wolves. Granted, there are lots of complicating factors when comparing the two areas. The Beartooth has lots of open vistas on the edge of Yellowstone National Park, giving lots of wolves little cover. The Bob Marshall has thicker forests next to Glacier National Park, where wolves are more dispersed. What will happen Sunday, when roughly 12,000 hunters with wolf tags have almost the entire state in which to shoot? "We're real interested in finding out how successful hunters are going to be," said Ron Aasheim, spokesman for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. "We really want to learn what is this going to do, affecting wolf distribution and wolf behavior. Will we be effective in taking some wolves that are livestock predators? Will they avoid livestock?"...read more

BLM memo upsets some environment organizations

Environmentalists are pointing to a Bureau of Land Management memo as evidence of their complaints about management plans for national monuments like the Missouri River Breaks, but officials in the agency said it's more of a clarification than a change in policy. The memo, sent out at the end of September, will apply to future land-use plans by emphasizing that the resource and environmental values for which the monument was created are the primary issues driving planning and management of the area, according to Doug Herrema, BLM's management and program analyst for the National Lands Conservation System. "This is not a change of policy," he said. One former member of the BLM's recreation advisory council said the agency went too far in catering to multiple use in the Breaks. But multiple-use advocates argue that they lost too much access and would like to have seen more roads left open to the public...read more

BLM Rounds Up 300 Wild Horses In Northern Wyoming

Federal officials captured and removed about 300 wild horses in northern Wyoming this week in a continuing effort to reduce the animals' numbers to more manageable levels. Bureau of Land Management managers conducted the gathering operation in the remote Fifteenmile Herd Management Area near Worland. The 83,000-acre area is located within Washakie, Big Horn and Park counties in north central Wyoming and includes rolling hills, rugged canyons and badlands, and a portion of the Bobcat Draw Wilderness Area. The BLM left another 85 animals in the wild to maintain the herd. The captured horses will be put up for adoption. Horses were last gathered in the area in 2004. The bureau removed a total of 906 wild horses from the same area during five roundups dating back to 1984. The gathering operations include use of a helicopter and wranglers on the ground to herd wild horses into a temporary trap...read more

Lidar sensing gives researchers clearer view of forests

For years, aerial photography has aided researchers in surveying the density of forests. However, a recent Texas AgriLife Research study shows that infrared detection allows for a more comprehensive measurement for trees and other plant life. Lidar technology, which can be applied both on the ground, air and space, uses intensive pulses of light to capture information and give researchers a more comprehensive look at a surveyed area. “Lidar creates the premise for 3-D modeling of vegetation structure, providing a three-dimensional look versus regular aerial photos that provide only a two-dimensional view,” said Dr. Sorin Popescu, AgriLife Research scientist, in the Spatial Sciences in Laboratory at Texas A&M University . “It gives us a more clear picture of what’s there.” Many of the conference presenters touted the merits of lidar technology, saying lidar applications, if adopted broadly by foresters, would cut down on the hundreds of hours of fieldwork required for surveying forests. According to Popescu, field collection yields only an estimate of tree and plant population and gives only a snapshot view of larger areas. The infrared laser technology can be used on the ground, air and in space. It can be applied in various aspects of forestry research, including carbon sequestration analysis and forest fire risk prediction. A separate project funded through the AgriLife Research Bioenergy Initiative is using ground-based lidar and remote-sensing imagery for assessing brushland biomass in Vernon in the Rolling Plains region...read more

Let’s conserve an endangered species: The heritage rancher

Here are my core Badlands principles, which I believe are shared by the overwhelming majority of the people of North Dakota. One - the Badlands are North Dakota's greatest scenic asset, the crown jewel of our 70,762-square-mile rectangle of prairie and Great Plains landscape. Two -the Badlands are our most important tourist destination and marketing resource, the main reason that the least visited state in the union gets visited. What makes the Badlands so attractive to everyone is some combination of the stark, broken landscape through which that whimsical improbable river flows and the palpable sense - felt by all visitors - that somehow the district has escaped the kinds of development that have compromised the heritage, the openness, the loneliness, and the spiritual possibilities of other remarkable landscapes of the American West. Three - the highest and best use of the North Dakota Badlands is traditional cattle ranching, which, of all human enterprises, pays the most respect to the fact that the Badlands are really grasslands.Traditional ranching represents the lightest human footprint on the Badlands. Ranching erects a minimal, unintrusive, and aesthetically pleasing infrastructure on the landscape. It supports the most attractive (and quintessentially American) human culture: the laconic cowboy in chaps, bold belt buckle and hat, riding the ridge alone against an endless horizon, saddle leather creaking, rifle ready. It is impossible to be a good rancher without developing an intimate, loving and subtle understanding of the rhythms of land and grass and season...read more

How They Are Turning Off the Lights in America

On October 31, 2009, the once largest aluminum plant in the world will shut down. With it goes another American industry and more American jobs. The Columbia Falls Aluminum Company in Montana will shut down its aluminum production because it cannot purchase the necessary electrical power to continue its operations. How did this happen in America? Columbia Falls Aluminum negotiated a contract with Bonneville Power Administration in 2006 for Bonneville to supply electrical power until September 30, 2011. But, responding to lawsuits, the 9th US Circuit Court ruled the contract was invalid because it was incompatible with the Northwest Power Act. Therefore, the combination of the Northwest Power Act and a US Circuit Court were the final villains that caused the shutdown of Columbia Falls Aluminum. But the real reasons are much more complicated. Why was it not possible for Columbia Falls Aluminum to find sources of electricity other than Bonneville? We need to look no further than the many environmental groups like the Sierra Club and to America's elected officials who turned their backs on American citizens and in essence themselves, for they too are citizens of this country. These officials bought into the green agenda promoted by the heavily funded environmental groups. Caving to pressure, they passed laws and the environmental groups filed lawsuits that began turning off the lights in America. The dominos stated to fall. They began stopping nuclear power plants in the 1970's. They locked up much of our coal and oil resources with land laws. They passed tax credits, which forces taxpayers foot the bill for billionaire investors to save taxes by investing in less productive wind and solar energy projects...read more

EPA to limit mercury emissions from power plants by 2011

The Environmental Protection Agency will put controls on the emissions of hazardous pollutants such as mercury from coal-fired power plants for the first time by November 2011, according to an agreement announced Friday to settle a lawsuit against the agency. Many other polluters were forced to reduce emissions of toxic material such as mercury, arsenic and lead after the Clean Air Act was strengthened in 1990. Power plants, however, the largest source of mercury pollution, aren't subject to nationwide rules. The tougher rules will clean up more than just heavy metals because some kinds of pollution controls -- scrubbers, for example -- also remove other pollutants, such as soot...read more

Carefully Cleaning Up the Garbage at Los Alamos

No one knows for sure what is buried in the Manhattan Project-era dump here. At the very least, there is probably a truck down there that was contaminated in 1945 at the Trinity test site, where the world’s first nuclear explosion seared the sky and melted the desert sand 200 miles south of here during World War II. But now a team of workers is using $212 million in federal stimulus money to clean up the 65-year-old, six-acre dump, which was used by the scientists who built the world’s first atomic bomb. They are approaching the job like an archeological dig — only with even greater care, since some of the things they unearth are likely to be radioactive, while others may be explosive. The dump has become part of the $6 billion stimulus program to clean up the toxic legacy of the arms race, which is one of the biggest sources of direct federal contracts in the $787 billion stimulus act. They also noted that the money was only a down payment on what is still a staggering task: the Department of Energy is responsible for cleaning up 107 sites, with as much acreage as Delaware and Rhode Island combined, in work that could take decades and cost up to $260 billion to complete...read more

There are people who've been fined and spent time in jail because the feds have gone after them, and yet the feds are held harmless for not cleaning up their own environmental mess.