Saturday, November 07, 2009

Bobcat captured at former home of Las Cruces breeder

A bobcat was captured at the former home of an exotic cat breeder Thursday and another large cat is still on the loose, according to Doña Ana Sheriff's Department investigators. The bobcat was isolated in a tree and shot with a tranquilizer dart to capture it without injury, after which it was transported to the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, and is expected to be sent to a sanctuary, said Doña Ana County Animal Control Director Curtis Childress. A second, slightly larger cat - possibly a pregnant bobcat or small mountain lion - may have escaped the residence before investigators arrived. The residence is north of Las Cruces on King Edward Avenue, near the intersection of Doña Ana Road and West Taylor Road. The cat on the loose is not a threat to humans unless cornered or harassed, but anyone who sees it should call 911. Traps have been set, but children and small pets are recommended to be kept indoors until the cat is more

Friday, November 06, 2009

Is the BLM practicing unsafe CX?

No, categorical exclusions are not symptoms of a venereal disease. Rather, CXs, as they’re known, are provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, designed to streamline permitting for relatively harmless, small-scale oil and gas activities — a single new gas well on an existing well-pad, say. But soon after the law passed, the Bureau of Land Management, which administers most oil and gas development in the West, began to use CXs a lot — giving rise to worries that large-scale drilling was moving forward in a scattershot fashion without thorough environmental review. Now, the results of an investigation by the Government Accountability Office suggest that those fears were justified. About 6,100 permits to drill — 28 percent of the total handled by the BLM — were issued with CXs from 2006 through 2008. Partly due to poor oversight and partly because of the law’s confusing language, the GAO found that the CXs were applied inconsistently, and violations were more

Nature Conservancy denies role in aiding Pinon Canyon plan

Ranchers opposed to the Army's planned expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site are charging The Nature Conservancy environmental group with being the Army's silent partner, based on past and continuing agreements with Fort Carson to establish conservation easements around both the Mountain Post and the 238,000-acre Pinon Canyon training range. Using documents obtained by Freedom of Information Act requests, the Not 1 More Acre! group released two Army reports Thursday showing a 2002 cooperative agreement with The Nature Conservancy to acquire easements around both installations - as well as a hefty 2006 confidential report called "Pinon Vision" that outlines step-by-step how the Army intended to acquire up to 1.1 million acres around the training range by 2017. A key part of that expansion plans called for an 80,000-acre conservation zone along the Purgatoire River and the report says, "Based on preliminary discussions with the Nature Conservancy, there is a good possibility that the Conservancy will manage this buffer with appropriate recognition of Army requirements." Mack Louden, a board member of the rancher group, said opponents of the expansion have been suspicious of the conservation group's role in the Army planning during the nearly four-year battle over expanding Pinon Canyon. "They've been silent on the expansion issue and now it seems like they've been working against us all this time," Louden said more

Democrats Push Climate Bill Through Panel Without G.O.P. Debate

In a step that reflected deep partisan divisions in the Senate over the issue of global warming, Democrats on the Environment and Public Works Committee pushed through a climate bill on Thursday without any debate or participation by Republicans. The measure passed by an 11-to-1 vote with the support of all the Democratic committee members except Senator Max Baucus of Montana. The seven Republicans boycotted the committee meetings this week, saying they had not had sufficient time to study the bill and demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency conduct a thorough study of its economic costs and benefits. The move suggests that President Obama and Democratic supporters of the bill will have serious problems assembling the votes needed to enact it when it comes to the Senate floor, probably not before next more

From Lahore to Copenhagen

Last Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Pakistan telling the Pakistanis to burn more coal. Today, President Barack Obama met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House to assure her that the US will stand with the European Union on cutting emissions of carbon dioxide. The juxtaposition of those two events provides a window into the essential conflict at the heart of any workable plan to deal with global carbon dioxide emissions. At the same time that Obama and top Congressional leaders are claiming that they are serious about cutting carbon dioxide emissions, the reality is that in developing countries like China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, and Indonesia, carbon dioxide emissions are soaring. A key reason for those soaring emissions: those countries desperately need electricity. And when it comes to generating electricity, coal usually provides the cheapest option. And make no mistake, there is a direct correlation between electricity use and development. As Peter Huber and Mark Mills declared in their 2005 book, The Bottomless Well, “Economic growth marches hand in hand with increased consumption of electricity–-always, everywhere, without significant exception in the annals of modern industrial history.” So here’s the summary: at about the same time that Obama’s secretary of state is encouraging the Pakistanis to burn more coal, Obama himself is assuring the Germans and the EU that he is serious, really serious, about reducing carbon dioxide emissions. While few people doubt that Obama, Merkel, and their friends in the EU want to do just that, it is worth noting these facts: despite its much-touted embrace of solar power and wind power, Germany’s coal use has not seen a significant more

All cheer water deal

California farm interests gave positive reactions to historic water legislation approved this week by the Legislature. Legislation passed Wednesday, Nov. 4, consisted of five bills, including an infrastructure bond for $11.1 billion to pay for a wide variety of water management, conservation and storage projects. The package also includes the creation of a new governing panel to oversee the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and gives the state the authority to monitor groundwater levels. Legislators want to require California cities to use 20 percent less water by 2020, although large urban areas such as Los Angeles and San Francisco would not have to meet such a high threshold because per capita water use is lower than other parts of the state. It was described as the biggest achievement in California water politics since voters approved the State Water Project in 1960. Legislators have been wrangling over solutions to the state's growing water woes for years. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was expected to sign the five-bill package, which he called a wise investment in the state's more

Rules on Modified Corn Skirted, Study Says

As many as 25 percent of the American farmers growing genetically engineered corn are no longer complying with federal rules intended to maintain the resistance of the crops to damage from insects, according to a report Thursday from an advocacy group. The increase in farmers skirting the rules, from fewer than 10 percent a few years ago, raises the risk that insects will develop resistance to the toxins in the corn that are meant to kill them, the report says. And it raises questions about whether the Environmental Protection Agency and the agricultural biotechnology industry are adequately enforcing the rules. The crops in question, called BT corn, have bacterial genes spliced into their DNA that cause the plants to make toxins that kill certain insects when they feed on the crop. In 2008, about 49 million acres of BT corn was grown, accounting for 57 percent of domestic corn acreage. So far there appears to be little sign that insects are growing resistant to the toxins in the corn. If they were to, however, it would not only render the crops ineffective but would hurt organic farmers who use sprays of bacterial BT toxins as natural more

Horse Market Collapses

Horse prices are "ugly…terrible," says Diane Givan, office manager of Kist Livestock, Mandan, N.D. Colts are bringing as little as $10-$50 per head. They used to sell for $200 to $500. Working horses are selling for about half of what they used to. Owners of older horses sometimes can't sell their horses at all or end up in the hole after paying the auction house's commission and other fees. The horse market fell apart after U.S. processing plants, under pressure from animal rights groups, closed two years ago. "There's no bottom to the market," says Jim Reeves, a Midland, S.D., rancher. Horses used to make up about one-third of their income. They used to run about 200 mares. Now they have just 30 and sell everything by private treaty. "Something's gotta change," says Chase Adams, a Sturgis, S.D. farm broadcaster who formed the American Horse League to lobby Congress. Ranchers have taken a financial hit. Horse abuse and neglect is rising as more and more people – mainly recreational owners – can't afford to feed their horses and can't find anyone to take them off their hands. Rescue farms are full. The real danger, says Adams, is that animal rights will use their horse victory as a springboard to close other types of processing plants. "This is the line in the sand," Adams more

Fainting goats: myotonic goats explained

The most striking characteristic of the myotonic goat is the condition of myotonia congenita, a condition frequently misunderstood by breeders as well as by folks unfamiliar with the breed. Myotonia congenita is a medical condition that is strictly muscular and causes the muscles to become rigid when the goat is startled, moves suddenly or steps over a low barrier. The condition is due to changes in the ion channels in the muscle cell membranes and has nothing to do with the nervous system. The characteristic stiffening has given rise to a number of names for this breed: fainting, nervous, stiff-leg, wooden-leg, scare and myotonic. The myotonia congenita goes hand in glove with heavy muscling. While not truly a faint, the name "fainter" was long ago chosen by some of the registries to indicate the condition and is a name that has stuck. The unique myotonic breed first enters historical note in the 1880s, when a farm labourer arrived in the middle of Tennessee with four of these goats and a zebu cow in tow. The labourer, Tinsley, worked in the area for few years and then moved on. His employer, Dr Mayberry, purchased the goats and their offspring. This is the beginning of the breed, although the ultimate origin of them is likely to always remain a mystery. They don't appear to have surfaced elsewhere in the world, but certainly must have originated more

The Vaquero Life Celebrated

A Santa Ynez cowgirl hall-of-Famer, a sculptor who captures the world of California Vaqueros, and a cowboy who crafts popular tools and saddle hardware for the leather trades are the honorees for the 25th annual Vaquero Show and Sale. The three-day event kicks off Nov. 13 at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Society and Carriage Museum, celebrating the time-honored tradition of the Vaqueros, California’s earliest cowboys. About 50 artisans and collectors from throughout the western United States will showcase and sell cowboy and western memorabilia. “It is a coming together of people who share a love of the West, horses and wide open spaces,” said museum director Chris Bashforth. “This is a community event that keeps the Vaquero traditions alive, along with educational demonstrations and entertainment.” Proceeds from the event’s dinner, live auction and attendance all benefit the museum. The show began 25 years ago when a group of ranchers and collectors began regularly gathering in a barn at the historic El Roblar Ranch in Los Alamos, swapping stories and showing off their collections of antique hand-made bits, spurs and more

Song Of The Day #174

This morning Ranch Radio brings you Johnnie Lee Wills (Bob's brother and one of the six original members of the Texas Playboys) performing Two Step Side Step.

The song title reminds of a girl I once knew - the two step was one step too many for her.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Bill To Require Bear Spray In Wyo. & Other Bear Spray Stories

Teton County Attorney Steve Weichman says he's working on legislation that would require permitted backcountry users to carry bear spray when they're in grizzly country. Weichman announced the proposal last week during a Yellowstone Grizzly Coordinating Committee meeting. He said the bill would require hunters, anglers, and recreationists overnighting in national parks to carry bear spray when in areas populated by grizzly bears. Weichman said the bill, which does not yet have a sponsor, is needed because human-grizzly conflicts are increasing. While only 44 people have died from grizzly attacks since the beginning of the 20th century, the majority of those attacks have occurred in the last 20 years. Weichman also cited recent studies that show bear spray is more effective than bullets at preventing injury to humans during a bear more

Be interesting to know where those statistics came from. Meantime I'd be packin' more than a can of spray.

UPDATE: A writer at New West looks at the studies and pretty well rips them up and then adds this tidbit:

Bob Wharff, executive director of the Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, told the Jackson Hole News & Guide, “There are some instances, when you’re not surprising the animal, when you may have time to get your pepper spray out,” he said. “[But] when you stumble into a bear, the minimal time you have to respond is not adequate to go through the though process [of getting your bear spray out]. You’re talking milliseconds. It’s illogical that you’re going to set your gun down and get your pepper spray.”

And then I found this article:

Two men who bear-sprayed a woman in the doorway of her Reece Avenue home after asking her to call police are being sought by Chilliwack RCMP. Police said the two men knocked on the door of the home at about 4:30 p.m. Monday claiming they had been assaulted and asking the woman who opened the door to call the police. "Before the resident was able to place the call as requested, she was bear-sprayed by one of the males," Cpl. Lea-Anne Dunlop said. The 35-year-old woman was able to close and lock the front door, and the two suspects fled in an unknown direction...

Now I've know some pretty tough ladies, but if bear spray won't stop a 35 year old woman I'm gonna have some severe doubts about it stopping a grizzly.

But what the hell, if the feds can force you to buy health insurance then I guess a state can force you to buy bear spray. Kind of a "spray to play" type of a scheme.

Forest fire project postponed for grizzly study

The Gallatin National Forest has withdrawn its Lonesome Wood Vegetation Management Project Decision to further analyze the project's effects on grizzly bears given the species' recent relisting as an endangered species. The project is located 12 miles northwest of West Yellowstone along the Hebgen Lake Road. The vegetation removal would reduce fire danger near residences. It would also reduce vegetation along the Hebgen Lake Road evacuation route by thinning trees and removing dead and down fuel. The project would also help maintain and enhance aspen more

This gives you a nice snapshot of where our rulers priorities lay: Bears first, humans second.

Chamber Goes Green?

On Tuesday, the Chamber sent a letter to the chairman and the ranking Republican of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, calling on them “to take steps to bridge the political and geographical divide” that killed legislation to reduce carbon emissions in 2003, 2005, and 2008. The political divide continued on that committee Wednesday, as Republicans once again blocked a markup of that panel’s cap-and-trade bill by boycotting the session. The Chamber’s letter, however, did provide a boost to efforts by Senators John Kerry and Lindsay Graham to negotiate a climate-change bill that could get the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate. It also may help repair the Chamber’s image, which has been battered by the resignations of high-profile members like Apple over its opposition to past proposals to cap carbon emissions. Ideas outlined by Kerry and Graham “can serve as a solid, workable, commonsense foundation on which to craft a bill,” wrote Bruce Josten, the Chamber’s top more

Money for Klamath dam removal included in California water bill

A massive water bill approved by the California legislature includes $250 million dollars for removing four private dams on the Klamath River. That amount represents the bulk of California's tab for a multiparty agreement to tear out the dams to improve conditions for federally protected more

Guess my info was faulty about California having a budget crisis.

Happy Birthday, Will Rogers

Will Rogers, American, would have been 130 years old today, November 4. In 1879 in a place called Dog Iron Ranch near Oologah OK, Will Rogers was born. His mother was part Cherokee and his father was a respected war veteran, judge and rancher. Will took his education and then bummed around in South America and Australia before he landed in New York City, where he tried to break into show business. During one performance an animal broke free and was climbing into the crowd when Will roped it and saved the day. The ensuing publicity launched his career. From the vaudeville stage, he honed down his act. Will Rogers became as American as apple. He was the laconic cow poke speaking plainly, but eloquently on topics of the day. He could reduce complex issues into a simple sentence and by so doing make fun of it. It was something the least educated person could understand and the highly educated person would enjoy. It was basic. It was sublime. During the course of his career Will Rogers’ popularity as the American philosopher cum humorist was evidenced by 71 roles in movies, 4000 syndicated columns and hundreds of radio shows. His death in an airplane crash in 1935 threw the nation into collective mourning. Now 70 years after his death, Will Rogers’ observations have a veracity and gentleness that evoke a mythic image. It is the image of what America would like to believe it is – simple, plain speaking, truth seeking, good natured while poking a not too unsharp elbow in someone’s pompous more

I know, it's a day late, but still wanted to honor him.

3 million acres taken out of conservation program

Surveying undulating grasslands that disappear into the western Kansas horizon, retired farmer Joe Govert pointed out parcel after parcel no longer enrolled in a federal program that pays property owners not to farm environmentally sensitive land. The arid, wind-swept ground stripped of topsoil by Dust Bowl storms has laid undisturbed beneath a protective cover of native grasses that took two decades to re-establish under the Conservation Reserve Program. But millions of those acres are being plowed again after the 2008 Farm Bill capped the program at 32 million acres. More than 3.4 million acres nationwide were taken out of the program in September when the owners' contracts expired. Most of them were in Texas, Colorado and Kansas, but hundreds of thousands of acres also came out in Montana and the Dakotas. The environmental and economic repercussions could extend beyond the nation's Heartland with a greater risk of new dust storms, soil erosion and water pollution. Farmers also worry more grain will mean even lower commodity crop prices. CRP pays landowners not to farm easily eroded land, while splitting with them the cost of establishing vegetative cover. The goal is to reduce soil erosion and sedimentation in streams and lakes, improve water quality and establish wildlife more

Norton opposes condemning additional Pinon Canyon land

Senate candidate Jane Norton said Wednesday that she doesn't want the federal government to condemn land to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. The former lieutenant governor is one of seven Republicans running for their party's nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Michael Bennet. Norton said she would allow ranchers who want to sell their land to the U.S. Army to do so. But, "I wouldn't support condemnation," she said. "I don't think that's the right way to go." Ranchers near the Army training site in Las Animas County have waged a long political war to stop any expansion. Norton didn't say she would oppose an expansion. Expansion should be allowed only if economic benefits from the site are shared with the Southern Colorado region. The Pinon Canyon site was pitched to area leaders in the 1980s as having a great economic impact from spending by soldiers. That hasn't really happened, Norton acknowledged. "The broken promises from the Army have certainly added to the distrust," she more

Landowners request bonds as protection along pipeline

Some landowners want the state Public Utilities Commission to require TransCanada to post additional bonds for the company’s proposed XL oil pipeline in western South Dakota. The bonds would serve as financial protection against damages from oil spills and for removal of the XL pipeline if the company abandons it someday. Paul Seamans of rural Draper and David Niemi of rural Buffalo were among those who called for the bonding Tuesday night, during a public-input meeting held by the PUC as part of the permit hearing that is under way this week. “No property owner wants an abandoned gasoline station on their property,” Niemi said. Seamans, Niemi and others also called for limits on the time which TransCanada can hold the easement. Zona Vig, whose family ranches in northern Meade County, said it’s hard for ranchers to make time for extra meetings. She is secretary for the executive board of Dakota Rural Action, the only party which has actively intervened in the permit hearing. Vig said a foreign company is using American laws against them as landowners. “It is a hurtful thing,” she said. Vig called for an on-site construction inspector, paid for by TransCanada, with the authority to stop work if conditions aren’t being met. “I’m talking about somebody who doesn’t have anything to gain from them; that’s what I’m asking for,” she more

Genome project to sequence DNA from 10,000 species

After charting the human genome, scientists have moved on to other species, mapping the genes of about 60 animals, from the familiar cat, dog and lab mouse, to the lesser known pufferfish, sloth, and tree shrew. Now, scientists including an Oregon State University researcher are launching a project to push the number to 10,000 complete genomes from vertebrate animals. Organizers of the Genome 10K project say it will give biologists the means to answer questions they couldn't tackle before. The data, for instance, could help researchers measure the genetic diversity of endangered animal populations, and make it possible to retrace detailed steps in the evolution of vertebrates. Journal of Heredity will publish a scientific report on the project this more

Chinese invasion underway in Arizona

In a stunning example of history repeating itself, an invasion of Chinese illegal immigrants is underway in the American Southwest and the authorities are doing everything they can to stop it. In the Nogales Sector of Arizona, 78 Chinese nationals were apprehended while trying to enter the US illegally through Mexico in October of this year alone. Between October 2008 and the end of August 2009, the Tucson Sector arrested 261 Chinese nationals according to Patrol Agent Colleen Agle. In the previous year only 30 had been captured. That is an 1100% increase in one year for Arizona. Texas has also seen a major increase in illegal Chinese traffic. What is fueling this increase today has much to do with political persecution in China and the relaxation of Visa laws in places like Ecuador,where they are seeing upwards of 75 Chinese emigrating to that country each day. It is not for the cuisine. Chinese organized crime is said to charge $70,000 per person to smuggle these Chinese refugees into the US and estimates are it has become a BILLION dollar business for them. In 2006 alone, DHS reported that 39,000 Chinese nationals were awaiting deportation in the US back to China. Of those only 300 remained in custody and the rest were released on their own recognizance awaiting legal more

Navajo trying to rebuild after 40 frozen years

This is the land where Larry Gordy was destined to live, until it was made unlivable. The Navajo believe that a person will always be tied to the place where his or her umbilical cord is buried. When Gordy was born in 1968, his father put his in this rust-colored dirt. It was here on the family's ranch on the edge of the Painted Desert that his father dreamed of one day building homes for his children, and of tilling a field where watermelon and corn could grow. But the Gordys were forced to put their dreams on hold. In 1966, the commissioner of Indian Affairs, Robert Bennett, halted development on 1.6 million acres of tribal land in northeastern Arizona that was claimed by both the Navajo nation and the Hopi tribe. Bennett imposed the ban to stop either tribe from taking advantage of the other while they negotiated ownership. The ban became known as the Bennett Freeze. It meant the Gordys and the 8,000 or so other Navajos living on the land couldn't erect homes, open businesses or even repair their roofs. No roads or schools were built, no electric, gas or water lines were permitted. The land dispute dragged on for 40 years, paralyzing residents in a state of poverty rarely seen in more

EPA expanding regulation of pesticide drift from farms, lawns

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stepped up efforts to reduce pesticide drift today, proposing additional warning labels for herbicides and insecticides applied on everything from farms to golf courses to residential lawns. The agency also says it plans to impose much tighter conditions on when high-risk pesticides can be applied, with labels that may require no-spray zones and application in low wind speeds, at low release heights and in larger droplet size -- all aimed at cutting pesticide drift. The EPA is also requesting comment on a petition filed recently by environmental and farm worker organizations. The petitioners asked the agency to evaluate children's exposure to pesticide drift and to adopt interim requirements for "no-spray" buffer zones near homes, schools, day-care centers and parks. Oregonian

Song Of The Day #173

A coupla weeks ago Ranch Radio dedicated a song to me and a feller named Tick. The song was Sinner. Tick objected, claiming he was a boy scout "choir boy."

Ranch Radio is always happy to correct the record if we have erred. We do so today by offering a song which is much more reflective of Tick's character. The tune is Don't Call My Name by Red River Dave.

The song is available on his 27 track CD The Yodelling Cowboy Sings "Amelia Earhart's Last Flight".

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Climate debate has rocky start for US Senate panel

European leaders pressed Congress and the White House on Tuesday to unite on a plan to combat global warming, even as a Republican boycott forced a delay of votes in a key Senate committee, demonstrating the deep partisan rift. An emotional plea for action by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an address before Congress was met with silence from most Republicans, while Democrats stood and applauded. The Europeans as well as the U.S. were pressured in turn by African nations to do more, at a conference in Spain leading up to next month's international climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. In Washington, shortly before Merkel spoke in the House chamber, GOP senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee shunned the planned startup of voting on amendments to a 959-page Democratic bill that would curb greenhouse gases from power plants and large industrial facilities. They protested that the bill's cost to the economy — in the form of more expensive energy and the impact on jobs — had not been fully more

Report: Barbed wire fences deadly to sage grouse

An ongoing study found that collisions with a relatively short section of barbed-wire fence killed dozens of sage grouse over a seven-month period, research that could affect a decision on whether to protect the bird under the Endangered Species Act. In the results released last week, researchers with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department documented 146 instances of finding sage grouse feathers and/or carcasses on or near a 4.7-mile section of barbed-wire fence near Farson in western Wyoming. Placing colored tags on the fence to make the wire more visible seemed to reduce the number of birds killed by about 60 percent, the study also found. However, the research suggests that quite a few sage grouse are dying as a result of colliding with the thousands of miles of barbed-wire fence crisscrossing the West, biologists said. "It's probably indicative of other fences that we're just not watching," Pat Deibert, lead U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist for the sage grouse listing decision, said more

No problem. Just knock down your fences and hobble all your cattle. Make sure those hobbles are made with organic fiber.

Forest Service accused of polluting Yakima air

The Forest Service is in trouble for a controlled burn that filled the Yakima Valley with thick smoke for five hours in late September. The 2,000-acre burn in the Bethel Ridge area west of Yakima violated state clean air laws, according to the Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency, which for the first time has issued a violation notice to the Forest Service. No penalties were attached to the notice, but the Naches Ranger District must present a detailed plan for preventing future violations or face penalties as much as $12,000 per day. District Ranger Randy Shepard declined to comment about the violation notice, sent last Wednesday. State law requires the ranger district to respond within 10 days of the notice with plans on preventing future more

Forest Service hit with violations at Tahoe projects

The U.S. Forest Service has been cited for water quality violations at five Lake Tahoe projects, including a controversial logging operation in the 2007 Angora fire burn area. Several violations caused significant erosion into Lake Tahoe streams, according to the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, which issued the notices. Erosion is a key cause of declining clarity in the storied alpine lake. The Forest Service disputes some of the findings by the water board. Any projects at Tahoe that disturb the soil are required to maintain erosion-control devices and to stop work at project sites by Oct. 15. They're also required to ensure erosion-control measures are in place when a storm is forecast. Those things allegedly didn't happen in the five projects that received violation notices, issued between Oct. 19 and 26 after inspections by water board more

Man was mining gold illegally, judge rules

A federal judge determined Monday that a Gold Hill man digging for gold on Forest Service land on Sucker Creek in Josephine County was guilty of illegal mining and will be responsible for costs to remedy his road-building and mining. The miner, Clifford R. Tracy, 37, was cited, then finally arrested in September on charges that he was mining illegally. He spent 12 days in jail when he refused to sign a release agreement promising he wouldn't continue mining, becoming the latest center in an ongoing controversy over mining on public land. On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Owen M. Panner found Tracy guilty of mining without an operating plan approved by forest officials and sentenced him to one year on probation. Panner didn't impose any fine or additional jail time, although the misdemeanor violation can be punished with fines of up to $5,000 and jail sentences of up to 6 months. He noted that Tracy is seeking bankruptcy protection and the government had asked for reparations in a civil suit, also heard on Monday afternoon. "I don't want you violating the law even though you think you have rights to the minerals," Panner said to Tracy. Tracy reiterated his contention that the Forest Service is against miners and mining and said he would continue to work claims on Bureau of Land Management-controlled property in the same drainage. "This has been a complete violation of due process," he told Panner. "My right to minerals can't be circumscribed by any agency." Assistant U.S. Attorney Neil J. Evans said Tracy's "contention about the rights of miners ignores the right of the Forest Service to manage public land." more

So we see what the Forest Service does to an individual who violates one of their laws. They file criminal and civil suits against him. Will be interesting to see how the Forest Service reacts to being charged with violating clean air and clean water laws.

Forest service plans prescribed fires in the Gila

Forest managers on the Gila National Forest plan to conduct a prescribed fire on Signal Peak North in the Silver City Ranger District. The fire will be about 12 miles northeast of Silver City and north of Signal Peak Lookout - east of NM State Highway 15. Fire managers plan to treat up to 1,000 acres, over a period of two to three days, when optimum conditions are present in November and/or December. It is one of several fire activities that are planned during the upcoming fall and winter months. Several projects have been identified for treatment with prescribed fire. Weather conditions will be a primary factor in determining the best times to conduct the burns. The Eckleberger prescribed fire, projected to be 4,000 acres, will be on the Reserve Ranger District along the west side of Forest Road 28 and Forest Road 141, adjacent to Negrito Fire Base. Fire managers estimate that they will need about two weeks to complete the fire operations associated with this project and are planning to begin during the first part of more

Let's speculate a moment and ask what would happen if the Forest Service violated our clean air laws. Would the NM Environment Dept. enforce our law against the feds? I doubt it. After all, under Bill Richardson the NM Livestock Board caved in to the feds and refused to enforce state law when it came to rancher Kit Laney. So why would this be any different?

Forest Service Despoils River, Groups Say

The U.S. Forest Service violated environmental laws by allowing motor vehicles on trails along Idaho's Rapid River, which is home to three threatened species of fish, environmental groups say in Federal Court. The Idaho Conservation League, The Wilderness Society and the Hells Canyon Preservation Society say the Forest Service has no right to allow motorized dirt bikes and ATVs on "wild" scenic rivers. The groups say the Forest Service is violating the National Forest Management Act and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Rapid River provides habitat to spring and summer Chinook salmon, Snake River Basin steelhead trout and Columbia River bull trout, all of which are listed as threatened. The Forest Service's own assessment of the Rapid River remarked on its scenic fisheries and water quality and cultural more

Quivira Coalition event celebrates Aldo Leopold

The Quivira Coalition will celebrate the centennial of conservationist Aldo Leopold at its eighth annual conference this week in Albuquerque. Leopold, whose arrived in the Southwest 100 years ago as a ranger with the fledgling U.S. Forest Service, called for a land ethic that today is called a “new agrarianism.” It focuses on an intermixing of ranchers, farmers, conservationists, scientists and others to create an economy that works in harmony with nature. pre-conference symposium starts Nov. 4 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Albuquerque and features sessions on water and range management. There will also be readings that evening by authors Gary Nabhan, Bill DeBuys and Linda Hasselstrom and others of their favorite passages by Leopold. Thursday sessions focus on land health, conservation and sustainable agriculture. Friday will feature sessions on restoration, beauty and the land ethic. Jeff Eisenberg of the Public Lands Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association will be a featured speaker. The two organizations are part of a new coalition to enhance ranching practices that consider important conservation issues in the West called the Coalition for Conservation through more

Angler suspected of cheating in Texas bass tournament

During an hourly weigh in at the BLT Ray Hubbard Big Bass Tournament an angler brought a large fish to the weigh in check point. The fish was transferred from the weigh bag containing the fish to the official weigh bag. The BLT Tournament Director, after weighing the fish, asked that the fish be put in a holding tank behind the weigh in stage. This fish would have been the largest fish of the hour. After the hourly weigh in was completed the angler was asked to take a polygraph. This is required for all participants who catch the biggest bass of the hour. During inspection of the fish, by the fish handler and the tournament director, irregularities were discovered. A decision was made by tournament officials to interrupt the polygraph and have the angler and polygraph examiner witness an inspection of the bass. The angler was asked to remove the contents in the stomach of the bass or the contents would be inspected by BLT officials by whatever means possible. The angler chose to remove the contents and a lead weight was removed from inside the fish and handed to a tournament official. The angler then apologized to all who witnessed the removal of the lead weight. He was notified by the tournament director that he was more

NM calf fitted with prosthetic legs

Meadow the yearling Black Angus calf spends her days frolicking in northeastern New Mexico's cattle country, all with her prosthetic hind legs. The bucolic scene seemed impossible just a few months ago, when rancher Nancy Dickenson and her stepdaughter, Martha, found Meadow on a neighbor's property. The 11-month-old calf had lost her back hooves and half of her ears to severe frostbite. The Dickensons have rescued dozens of animals and wanted to give Meadow a chance to walk normally again. They located the calf's owner and bought Meadow, and convinced veterinarians and students at Colorado State University to help her. Doctors amputated a portion of Meadow's hind legs in August and fitted her with the prosthetics, a rare procedure done on livestock typically destined for the food supply. Meadow is believed to be the first bovine calf fitted with double prosthetics, Colorado State veterinarian Dr. Robert Callan said. He based his claim on discussions with other veterinarian clinics and more

Song Of The Day #172

Ranch Radio is in the mood for some Leon Rausch this morning. Here he is performing I'm A Music Man.

You will find this song on his Close To You : A 20 Song Salute To The Music Of Cindy Walker / Volume #1

We send this song out to A-10 Etcheverry who loves this western swing music as much as I do and who illustrated all 15 volumes of Tommy Morrel's How The West Was Swung.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Gore’s Dual Role in Spotlight: Advocate and Investor

Former Vice President Al Gore thought he had spotted a winner last year when a small California firm sought financing for an energy-saving technology from the venture capital firm where Mr. Gore is a partner. The company, Silver Spring Networks, produces hardware and software to make the electricity grid more efficient. It came to Mr. Gore’s firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of Silicon Valley’s top venture capital providers, looking for $75 million to expand its partnerships with utilities seeking to install millions of so-called smart meters in homes and businesses. Mr. Gore and his partners decided to back the company, and in gratitude Silver Spring retained him and John Doerr, another Kleiner Perkins partner, as unpaid corporate advisers. The deal appeared to pay off in a big way last week, when the Energy Department announced $3.4 billion in smart grid grants. Of the total, more than $560 million went to utilities with which Silver Spring has contracts. Kleiner Perkins and its partners, including Mr. Gore, could recoup their investment many times over in coming more

What's The Real Cost Of Global Warming?

The leftish Brookings Institution and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce basically agree that the energy taxes in the House Waxman-Markey bill could total $9 trillion over ten years. As an economist, I look at these forecasts and wonder "How can we possibly know?" These estimates cover only the costs of the "user permits" that companies will have to buy. They don't even try to measure the massive reduction in our economic output as energy costs double and triple with scarcity. Let's look at a couple of "case studies": First, we use a lot of natural gas to make fertilizer, pulling 90 million tons per year of natural nitrogen from the air (which is 78% N). The world has only about one-third of the cow manure needed to nourish today's crops, so nitrogen fertilizer is feeding 2 billion of the world's 6.5 billion people through higher food yields per acre. Imagine that ten years from now the carbon taxes have eliminated half of the nitrogen fertilizer: global food production has fallen massively— say by 25–30 percent; world food prices have tripled; and storage bins are empty. What price would we pay to keep the other half of the nitrogen fertilizer so our kids won't starve? more

UN: International Guidelines On Land Tenure

FAO has begun widespread consultations over the first ever international guidelines on governance of tenure to land and other natural resources such as water supplies, fisheries and forests. The consultations and negotiations, responding to requests from the international community and from governments, will take more than a year to complete. They will involve governments, the private sector, poor farmers, indigenous groups, local authorities, academia and independent experts and will be led by a secretariat based at FAO headquarters. “Secure access to land is seen as a key condition to improving food security of some of the world’s poorest people,” said Paul Munro-Faure, the Chief of the Land Tenure and Management Unit of more

WWP expands bighorn sheep protection to BLM lands

Today Chief Judge Lynn B. Winmill of the Federal District Court for Idaho ruled in favor of Western Watersheds Project and WWP’s two co-plaintiffs, the Hells Canyon Preservation Council and the Wilderness Society, and halted domestic sheep grazing on the Bureau of Land Management’s Partridge Creek sheep grazing allotment east of Riggins, Idaho. The Judge’s Order is in response to WWP’s legal filings to protect bighorn sheep within the Salmon River Canyon from deadly disease that is transmitted to bighorns from domestic sheep. Previously WWP was successful with similar litigation that stopped domestic sheep grazing on allotments adjacent to the Partridge Creek BLM allotment administered by the U.S. Forest Service. Judge Winmill’s ruling marks the first successful effort to protect Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep from disease spread by domestic sheep grazing on Bureau of Land Management administered public more

Josh Penry, Mike Coffman Butt Heads Over Pinon Canyon

Long a hot-button political issue in Colorado, the proposed Pinon Canyon Army Base expansion seems now to be dividing Republicans heading into the 2010 election cycle. Don Bendell, a supporter of Gubernatorial Candidate Josh Penry, penned an op-ed piece in the Colorado Springs Gazette defending Penry from criticism he's faced for opposing Pinon Canyon expansion. The article was a direct response to an article written in the Colorado Statesman by Republican Congressman Mike Coffman (CD-6), who accused Penry of putting politics above the interest of the military. Penry's opponent for the Republican nomination, Scott McInnis, who supports expansion of the Army base, was recently criticized by Republican State Senator Ken Kester for his position. Kester told the Pueblo Chieftain "I understand where McInnis is coming from, but I also know that he's on the wrong side of that issue," Kester said. "It absolutely is a property-rights issue, whether Scott wants to admit it nor not." more

Shooting of cougar by 14 -year- old justified

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks has determined that the shooting of a cougar by a 14-year-old elk hunter from Anacondawas justified. Game warden Shane Yaskus said the cougar measured about 7 feet long from nose to tail. Eric Boyd was waiting at an outcropping last week while his father tried to drive an elk past him that they had been tracking. Boyd said he heard a twig snap behind him and when he turned he saw the cougar about 25 yards away. He said the two stared at each other for about 20 seconds before the cat started moving forward, and Boyd fired his rifle, hitting the cougar four times. Boyd said he's still hunting but that he's not going to hunt by himself for a while. [link]

Farm Bureau Opposes Cap & Trade Legislation

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman testified today before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on S. 1733, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. Noting AFBF’s opposition to the House companion, bill H.R. 2454, Stallman said the group is similarly opposed to the Senate version. “One of the major failings of H.R. 2454 was that the measure failed to provide a cost-effective blueprint to transition to a clean energy economy,” said Stallman. “S. 1733 exhibits the same shortcoming.” Stallman stressed that cap and trade legislation would result in higher fuel, fertilizer and energy costs to farmers and ranchers. Cost increases incurred by utilities and other providers resulting from climate change legislation would ultimately be borne by consumers. “The impacts of the legislation go far beyond just the farm and ranch community,” said Stallman. “Families will be hit hard with higher energy costs under any cap-and-trade program, an amount that could total up to $200 billion a year for American taxpayers. That will put enormous strain on family budgets.” more

U.S. advanced biofuel sector finds lenders wary

U.S. lenders are leery of putting money into cellulosic ethanol and other new-generation biofuels due to the recession and an industry shakeout, Agriculture Department and biofuel leaders said on Thursday. That is one reason near-term production of advanced biofuels is unlikely to meet targets set by a 2007 energy law, said William Roe of Coskata Inc, which has a demonstration-size biomass plant in Pennsylvania. Several witnesses at a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on the future of new-generation biofuels pointed to difficulties in securing credit. "Given the current recession and the banking sector's financial difficulties, lending has become scarce in the biofuels space," said Susan Ellerbusch, president of BP Biofuels North more

Classifying Carbon Subsidies in Trade

One area of focus related to agriculture and climate change will come after the United Nations meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, but likely to generate a great deal of debate in coming years: How are carbon incentives or "subsidies" going to be classified under the World Trade Organization? Given that these incentives are going to be far more lucrative in developed countries, carbon incentives are going to a whole new area of fodder for possible WTO disputes and challenges in coming decades, said Tim Josling, a professor emeritus of agricultural policy at Stanford University. Among the first major possible challenges would be likely for any government program involving a direct payment to a producer. Direct payments for carbon sequestration, for instance, would fit there. There are vagaries about the idea of a government certification program that would allow a producer to qualify for a payment on the open market, however. Selling offsets to a non-farm seller may not be a subsidy. There have been no rules spelled out regarding whether free allocation of greenhouse-gas emissions would qualify as a subsidy. Research on climate change could be considered a subsidy if the research is targeted to benefit a specific sector. Classifying a subsidy may be the critical part. Are they "green box" under WTO rules, meaning they are not trade distorting, but providing a public environmental benefit? Josling said farmers may need incentives to join a carbon program, so that would exclude such payments from being green more

More than $18 million in CRP payments going to New Mexico farmers

Salomon Ramirez, State Executive Director for USDA’s Farm Service Agency in New Mexico today announced that USDA has almost completed issuing over $18 million in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) payments to eligible producers in New Mexico. More than $1.7 billion in CRP payments are being made on 31 million acres across the country. The payments announced today are annual rental payments earned on the 568,253 acres enrolled in the CRP, including the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and Continuous Sign-Up Program fiscal year 2009. Producer’s holding 2,493 contracts on 1,577 farms will receive an average of $11,813 per farm or $32.78 per acre. The number of contracts is higher than the number of farms because producers may have multiple contracts on a single more

Measure Seeks to Thwart Possible Humane Society Campaign

Ohio voters will cast ballots Tuesday on whether to create a state livestock care board -- a proposal backed by major agricultural groups -- to define animal care standards in the state. The Ohio constitutional amendment Issue 2 will be watched closely by all sides of the animal rights debate, considering that it was backed by Ohio farmer groups as a pre-emptive attempt to head off the Humane Society of the United States. With a simple majority passage, Issue 2 would create a 13-member Livestock Care Standards board specifically to define animal-care standards in the state. The state Department of Agriculture would implement those standards. Unlike Humane Society-backed ballot measures in states such as Arizona and California that won large voter support, Issue 2 does not ban or target any specific livestock practices such as sow gestation more

Tainted ground beef may be linked to 2 deaths

Contaminated fresh ground beef caused a possible E. coli outbreak that killed two people and sent 16 others to hospitals, federal health officials said Monday. Twenty-eight people may have become ill after eating beef produced by Fairbank Farms of Ashville, N.Y., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. All but three of the suspected infections are in the northeastern U.S. and 18 are in New England, said CDC spokeswoman Lola Scott Russell. Fairbank Farms recalled almost 546,000 pounds of fresh ground beef that had been distributed in September to stores from North Carolina to Maine. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's recall notice, dated Saturday, said the possibly tainted meat had been sold in numerous ways, from meatloaf and meatball mix to hamburger more

USDA Probing Animal-Abuse Allegations at Beef Plant

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating allegations of animal abuse at Bushways Packing Inc., a Grand Isle, Vermont, beef plant. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he has called on the USDA’s Inspector General to conduct a criminal probe of the alleged abuse captured on video by the Humane Society of the United States. The scenes depict apparent violations of USDA animal-handling regulations, Vilsack said today in an e-mailed statement. “The deplorable scenes recorded in the video” are “unequivocally unacceptable,” he said. The plant is closed pending the investigation, USDA spokesman Justin DeJong more

Shaping the Western tradition

Outdoor types wear the sportsman-style hat. Ranchers don the "Gus," just like the character in "Lonesome Dove." And children like the buckaroo. No matter the style, if it's a custom, Utah-made hat, Jim Whittington of Salt Lake City probably had a hand in making it. For more than two decades, Whittington and his employees at J.W. Hats have made hats for cowboys, ranchers, musicians, poets, tourists and anyone else interested in this classic Western accessory. Each year the business makes between 1,000 and 1,500 new hats, while it cleans or restores hundreds more. Whittington, a native of New Mexico, has worn hats all his life. He didn't make it his livelihood until 1986, when he purchased one of the oldest hat-making businesses in the country. Whittington said the business was started in 1853 by Brigham Young and his personal hat-maker, known only as Mr. more

Horse trainer Jennifer Cunningham facing life’s challenges head-on

Jennifer Cunningham takes her joy from family, her passion from horses and her strength from her faith. But she takes her creed from a children’s film. "One simple motto I like to live by is from the movie ‘Nemo’ — ‘just keep swimming!’” Cunningham said. "I like to say that on tough days — just keep swimming — because that’s all any of us can do. Just keeping moving, just keep trying.” Cunningham has had her share of tough days. Between the births of 6-year-old Keaton and 6-month-old Falyn, Cunningham and husband Ty lost a set of twins and another baby. When Keaton was a toddler Jennifer Cunningham suffered a devastating leg injury while playing softball that required several surgeries. "That took me out for 21/2 years,” she said of the August 2004 injury and ensuing ordeal. "I wasn’t even walking normally again until the middle of 2006.” More than a bit inconvenient for the woman who with her husband supervises Oklahoma State University’s Spirit Riders team. They also are caretakers and trainers of Bullet, the American quarter horse gelding that charges onto the field at Boone Pickens Stadium with every Oklahoma State Cowboy more

Are you livin' the PC way?

Song Of The Day #171

Ranch Radio's tune this morning was recorded by Lefty Frizzel in the early 50's. Here he is singing his classic Always Late.

It's available on the Lefty Frizzel - 16 Biggest Hits CD.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Congress provides Forest Service & BLM with a 17% budget increase

After eight years coming up on the short end of Halloween-like pranks, the Interior Department and Forest Service are getting a treat this year - a $4.6 billion funding increase for 2010. The 16.8-percent increase passed by both the U.S. House and Senate today will provide a much needed boost for a wide range of initiatives including wildfire suppression, climate change research and the National Wildlife Refuge System. The measure now moves to the desk of President Obama, who is expected to sign the measure before the clock strikes midnight on Saturday evening. One of the most important components of the Interior funding bill is the creation of new funds the Department of the Interior and Forest Service will use to cover the wildly escalating costs of fire suppression. The bill also provides approximately $385 million for research and development that will examine the effects of climate change on the U.S. and what else can be done to help the country respond to the problems it poses. The bill also provides: # $90 million for the Legacy Road and Trail Remediation Program, a program that restores healthy watersheds and improves recreational opportunities by decommissioning obsolete roads and maintaining trails. # $75 million for the National Landscape Conservation System, which protects some of the most spectacular scenery managed by the Bureau of Land Management. # $306 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that takes revenues from offshore oil and gas drilling to support the conservation of America's lands and waters. "This improved funding level is a step in the right direction, but we do want to see LWCF get the $900 million it is meant to receive each year," Rowsome more

Study: Grazing mitigates fire damage

A 14-year study by federal researchers in Eastern Oregon determined that cattle grazing can protect and help rangelands recover more effectively from fires. Three scientists at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, in Burns, found that grazing can check the growth of native grasses that can fuel more intense wildfires. Grazing can thus impede the spread of cheatgrass and medusahead, invasive non-native grasses that can infect landscapes when fires devastate existing vegetation. These rangelands historically were burned by wildfires every 50 to 100 years, but fire suppression practices in the past century have allowed more dead plant litter to accumulate. In grazed areas, cattle consumed about 40 percent of the available forage, which removed much of the potential litter, according to a news release. The scientists worked with portions of an experimental range, including plots that had not been grazed since 1937. In 1993 they did a controlled burn of a strip of land that included both grazed and ungrazed segments. They then measured vegetation cover, density and biomass production in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and found that cheatgrass had infested a large portion of the ungrazed sites, leaving them more vulnerable to future fires. However, cheatgrass wasn't a problem on the sites that had been grazed. Instead, native bunchgrass cover was almost twice as dense as that on the ungrazed more

As solar panels proliferate, so do legal questions

Is creating renewable energy more important than saving a tree or an open field? That question and others concerning the environmental-trumping power of solar energy has only recently begun to surface in legal disputes. Though the courts have not yet made a definitive decision on the subject, two decades-old California laws currently tip the odds. The Solar Rights Act and Solar Shade Act both enacted more than 30 years ago were meant to promote the installation of renewable energy systems by removing red tape and obstructions to sun. The Rights Act prohibits cities, counties and other entities from barring or mitigating solar panel installation, and the Shade Act restricts the growing or planting of trees that interfere with access to sunlight. The legislation passed in 1978 has been essentially dormant until recently as more and more incentives to install solar panels come online. Only now are the courts beginning to test the limits of the law, primarily concerning large solar plants. The acts, for example, do not account for impact on natural habitat by photovoltaic panel farms or the CO2-reducing capabilities of trees and other more

Debate Flares on Limits of Nature and Commerce in Parks

It seems a perfect marriage of nature and commerce. As boats ferry oysters to the shore, pelicans swoop by and seals pop their heads out of the water. But this spot on the Point Reyes National Seashore has become a flashpoint for a bitter debate over the limits of wilderness and commercial interest within America’s national parks. The National Park Service has said it cannot renew the permit to farm oysters in a tidal estuary here, which lapses in 2012, because federal law requires it to return the area to wilderness by eliminating intrusive commercial activity. Kevin Lunny, the owner of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company, says he feels persecuted by the National Park Service and has sought legislation that could allow him to continue operating. He argues that the 70-year-old oyster farm, which predates the park, is part of the historical working landscape of the area — and every bit as in need of protection as the harbor seals and eelgrass that share the bay. Mr. Lunny and his allies also accuse the park service’s regional office of issuing faulty scientific reports exaggerating the threat that the oyster farm poses to baby seals and flora in the estuary — accusations given credence last spring by the National Academy of Sciences. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, has thrown her support behind the oyster farm. A provision she attached to the fiscal year 2010 appropriations bill for the Interior Department, passed by Congress recently, would give Interior Secretary Ken Salazar the option to extend the oyster farm’s lease for 10 more years. By siding with the oyster farm, Ms. Feinstein has symbolically crossed swords with the Obama administration: Jon Jarvis, President Obama’s new director of the National Park Service, supported ending Mr. Lunny’s lease when he oversaw Point Reyes as a regional parks more

Forest Service and BLM Asked to Protect Public Lands in Eastern Arizona From ORV Damage

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Sky Island Alliance asked the Bureau of Land Management Friday to protect the Gila Box in eastern Arizona from continued off-road vehicle damage. The Gila Unit of the Safford Field Office of the Bureau is seeking public input for its travel-management plan in the Gila Box area, which includes the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area. The conservation groups’ main concerns include the protection of threatened and endangered species, including the Gila chub, southwestern willow flycatcher, loach minnow, Chiracahua leopard frog, as well as desert bighorn sheep and the lowland leopard frog. The area also contains one of the most significant riparian zones in the Southwest and is home to several species of vulnerable native fish. Erosion caused by poorly designed roads and off-road vehicle use is a major threat to species, and one that is not adequately addressed in the travel-management plan. The agency used what is known as the Route Evaluation Tree to develop its proposal. A recent court case held that by using the Route Evaluation Tree, the Bureau didn’t comply with legal requirements to minimize damage from off-road vehicle uses. The Center and Sky Island Alliance are concerned that the Gila Box plan, which also uses the Route Evaluation Tree, is similarly flawed and fails to comply with the law or protect water quality, species habitat, and riparian more

Tribe's environmental fight

A green controversy fueled by coal-fired power plants is raging on America's largest Indian reservation. On one side is Joe Shirley Jr., president of the Navajo Nation, who rejects the notion of climate change even though he recently won an international award for environmentalism. On the other are environmentalists opposed to power plants in Indian Country and to the coal mines that provide their fuel. Caught in the middle are tribal members concerned with economic survival and the protection of sacred lands. The dispute centers on fundamental questions of religion and heritage, as well as tribal finances. The Environmental Protection Agency wants the Navajo Generating Station to install costly air-scrubbing equipment, an expense the tribe and some Arizona utility companies say could lead to the plant's closure. Environmental groups, which have targeted the plant for years because of the emissions-related haze that builds up over the Grand Canyon, applaud the more

Southern Nevada lands off limits to new mining for another 20 years

The Bureau of Land Management will publish a notice today in the Federal Register which immediately withdraws 1,500 square miles of federal land in southern Nevada for 20 years from mining to protect endangered species. The order does not affect existing mining operations, but blocks new mining claims. The area has hosted historical gold mining, and the U.S. Geological Survey says more mineral deposits remain in the region, which encompasses 945,343 acres of Clark and Nye Counties. The BLM identified 24 separate sites as Areas of Critical Environmental Concern in 1998 for the protection of the Mojave Desert Tortoise, the southwestern willow flycatcher, the Woundfin Minnow and the Virgin River Chub, and other species. The lands have been temporarily set side since the Clark County Conservation of Public Land and Natural Resources Act of 2002 was enacted by the U.S. Congress. The BLM extended that act in 2007. The Center for Biological Diversity, which has already successfully sued to ban uranium mining and exploration on one million acres near the Grand Canyon in Arizona, has advocated the permanent withdrawal of the southern Nevada land to more

BLM plans to remove 2,500 wild horses in Nevada

Federal land managers are seeking public comment on their plan to remove about 2,500 wild horses in northern Nevada. Bureau of Land Management officials say the proposed gather north of Gerlach in Washoe and Humboldt counties is needed to achieve the "appropriate management level" for mustangs in the area. They maintain it also is needed to prevent further range deterioration stemming from the current horse overpopulation in the areas. Plans call for the gather to begin about Dec. 1 and continue through the end of February more

Colorado county copes with methane in water

Bernice and Jerry Angely like to show visitors the singed T-shirt a friend was wearing when their water well exploded and shot flames 30 feet high. The friend wasn't hurt. But that and an explosion at another home weeks earlier forced Colorado to suspend natural gas drilling around this southern plains town until someone could find out why dangerous levels of methane were getting into the groundwater. Two years later, Walsenburg and surrounding Huerfano County are still waiting, its residents caught in a collision between two of the West's vital resources: Water and natural gas. "The water is so saturated with methane and other chemicals it is not to be used for human consumption," said Bernice Angely, who's had water trucked to her home 10 miles west of town since her well blew up in July 2007. Petroglyph Energy Inc., a Boise, Idaho-based firm that has worked the rolling plains of the Raton Basin since 1999, suspended drilling until it can stem the methane. Colorado also is rewriting rules that had allowed Petroglyph to discharge water runoff from its drilling into streams and more

Old West echoes in battle between Fountain Creek ranchers, mining firm

There’s a stretch of land along Fountain Creek where the Old West lives on. Cattle move across the brown hills and the cottonwood trees are black against the sky. To motorists speeding on Interstate 25 between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, the land seems peaceful. In actuality, it’s a battleground. For six decades, the Frosts and Hannas, two of the ranching families who own land next to Fountain Creek, have been fending off efforts by people who want what’s above, below, or runs through their property. They’ve fought land speculators, developers, oil companies, utilities and toll-road firms. In the process, they’ve lost some ground to the guys in tassel loafers who wheel documents into court in luggage carriers. They’ve also lost ground to the flash floods that have periodically rampaged down Fountain Creek. Now they’re battling Lafarge, a multinational company headquartered in Paris that wants to erect a 745-acre operation adjacent to their ranchlands that will include an asphalt plant, a concrete plant and the extraction of 30 million tons of sand and gravel over 15 more

Toxic waste trickles toward New Mexico's water sources

More than 60 years after scientists assembled the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, lethal waste is seeping from mountain burial sites and moving toward aquifers, springs and streams that provide water to 250,000 residents of northern New Mexico. Isolated on a high plateau, the Los Alamos National Laboratory seemed an ideal place to store a bomb factory's deadly debris. But the heavily fractured mountains haven't contained the waste, some of which has trickled down hundreds of feet to the edge of the Rio Grande, one of the most important water sources in the Southwest. So far, the level of contamination in the Rio Grande has not been high enough to raise health concerns. But the monitoring of runoff in canyons that drain into the river has found unsafe concentrations of organic compounds such as perchlorate, an ingredient in rocket propellent, and various radioactive byproducts of nuclear fission. Much surface contamination, however, becomes embedded in sediment or moves down into groundwater. That subterranean migration poses the greatest long-term danger to drinking-water wells and ultimately the Rio more

China to supply turbines and funding for $1.5bn Texas wind farm

A Sino-US consortium yesterday announced plans for a US$1.5bn, 600MW wind farm in Texas, with China supplying all the turbines and most of the funding. The 36,000-acre wind farm, set to be one of the largest in America, is a joint venture between state-backed Chinese firm Shenyang Power Group, US wind farm developer Cielo Wind Power and private equity firm US Renewable Energy Group. Most of the funding for the project will come from Chinese banks, with loan guarantees and grants provided by the US federal government’s economic stimulus package, the consortium said. The wind farm will comprise 240 2.5MW wind turbines that will be manufactured in the Chinese city of Shenyang by Nasdaq-listed turbine maker A-Power Energy. The company, which uses licensed foreign technology, including a turbine patented by Germany's Fuhrländer and General Electric-designed gear box, said that shipments to the US were expected to begin in March next more

Beijing's first snow of season 'artificially induced'

Chinese meteorologists covered Beijing in snow Sunday after seeding clouds to bring winter weather to the capital in an effort to combat a lingering drought, state media reported. The unusually early snow blanketed the capital from Sunday morning and kept falling for half the day, helped by temperatures as low as minus 2 Celsius (29 Fahrenheit) and strong winds from the north, Xinhua news agency reported. Besides falling in the northeastern provinces of Liaoning and Jilin and the northern province of Hebei, the eastern port city of Tianjin also got its first snow of the autumn, the report said. "We wont miss any opportunity of artificial precipitation since Beijing is suffering from the lingering drought," the report quoted Zhang Qiang, head of the Beijing Weather Modification Office, as saying. Chinese meteorologists have for years sought to make rain by injecting special chemicals into more

Second Clawless Grizzly Found

Federal wildlife officials say a second dead grizzly bear that had its claws removed has been found along the Rocky Mountain Front. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Special Agent Brian Lakes said the body of a female grizzly was found Oct. 18 on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Lakes said the bear was shot and its claws had been removed, prompting concerns that it was connected to the Oct. 1 discovery of another dead grizzly, also found with claws missing, in the Lewis and Clark National Forest. Lewis says there's a black market for grizzly more

Opponents ask lawmakers to stop Pa. deer hunts

Opponents of a plan to kill hundreds of deer at Valley Forge National Historical Park are asking members of Congress to halt the effort before the shooting starts. Officials at the park, the site of the Continental Army's 1777-78 encampment, want to reduce a deer population now estimated at 1,277 to between 165 and 185 over four years. They say the herd is eating so many plants, shrubs and saplings that the forest cannot regenerate. Under the plan, the animals would be lured to areas baited with apples and grain, and federal employees or contractors would hunt them with high-powered rifles equipped with silencers. Officials have said that the first hunt will take place between November and March but have refused to say exactly when. Opponents, who say the park is ignoring more humane and less costly options such as contraception, have petitioned members of Congress representing the more

Range Wars Over the Lands of the American West

For those of us who had the privilege of growing up and living most of our formative years west of the hundredth meridian, a realization forms pretty early in life that a lot of folks out East fundamentally will never understand the West — and we’re fine with that. Oh, on occasion the West will win a ‘convert’ from the East (Paleoconservative author Chilton Williamson comes to mind, for example), but such individuals really are the exception that proves the rule. Ignoring, for the moment, the further divisions within the broader region (differences with the West are also very real, and rooted in the same realities as the larger divisions), you understand that Easterners will view your land as something in between a theme park and game preserve, which has somehow become infested by undesirables. The federal obsession with locking up so much land out West arises from this sort of mentality; they view the West as essentially a really big Central Park — a nice place to visit, perhaps, but someplace that needs to be protected from the folks who would have the audacity to live there. An experience I’ve enjoyed on several occasions is showing an Easterner the ‘pristine’ forests of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington — you can really get them going with pictures of ‘virgin forests’: “Surely this land must never be despoiled by man!” And then you show them the picture of the sign which identifies when that land was last clearcut. It is a case in point of the theme: “Yes, we know it’s beautiful; we live here. We’re even more interested in taking care of it than you are.” more

Cattle tales connect with consumers

Cattlemen tell stories in a lot of ways--across a fence gate, over coffee at the feed store, through the pickup window or atop a good horse in the back of the ropin' pen. Now, producers focused on quality can also tell their stories on the internet's World Wide Web. Ranchers from nearly every state grace the Certified Angus Beef brand's consumer site ( right next to the product they work to create. "It comes down to consumers making that connection to the stories behind the brand," says Christy Johnson, CAB special projects manager. "This is one way we can help." The site features a diverse set of ranches, from sprawling hundred-thousand-acre Southwestern spreads to quaint New England farmsteads. Despite differences, each producer shares a desire to grow something consumers enjoy and more

Border Patrol agents thwart cattle theft

U.S. Border Patrol agents, using a mobile surveillance system, recently spotted cattle rustlers trying to steal livestock in a remote location near Ajo, according to a Wednesday report. Agents assigned to the Papago Camp, quickly responded and were able to prevent the theft. The suspected thieves, who were on horseback, reportedly escaped to Mexico. Border Patrol officials say use of Forward Operating Bases, like Papago Camp, allows agents to swiftly disrupt illegal activity in remote areas along the U.S./Mexico Border. ABC

November is National American Indian & Alaska Native Heritage Month

The accomplishments and traditions of American Indian and Alaska natives are celebrated during November, recognized as National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. American Indian Heritage Month was officially recognized in 1990 when Pres. George Herbert Walker Bush signed it into Public Law. Though, its roots can be traced much further. An early proponent for an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian and director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the "First Americans.” In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call for an official day of recognition. Coolidge issued a proclamation which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens. The year before, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented endorsements from 24 state governments at the White more

Texas Ranger series by Kelton continues

Elmer Kelton, the masterful Western author from San Angelo who passed away in August, completed two more novels in his Texas Ranger series before he died. The first one, “Other Men’s Horses” (Forge, $24.99 hardcover), has just hit the bookstores. It is the eighth novel in the Ranger series. One more is due next year, which should in turn lead to a third repackaged trilogy the following year. Andy Pickard is back as the lead character, still serving as a Texas Ranger in the 1880s but wishing he could retire from the force and spend more time with his young wife, Bethel, on their farm. But rangering provides a more stable income than farming, and at this stage in their marriage they need the money. He is assigned to track down a man who killed a horse thief, which he does in short order only to find the man’s associates ready to kill him. The wanted man saves Pickard’s life and then hightails it, but Pickard warns him that he will still have to hunt him down and bring him to more

Vaquero Show to ride Nov. 13 to 15

The 25th annual Vaquero Show, planned for Nov. 13 to 15, kicked off earlier this month with an exhibit at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum, featuring photos and memorabilia of its past and present Honored Vaqueros. The popular Vaquero Show, which has been held at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum for 15 years, had its roots at the historic El Roblar Ranch in Los Alamos, where in 1984 a group of ranchers and collectors gathered to swap tall tales and show off their collections of antique hand-made bits, spurs and gear. After several years, the annual gathering outgrew the barn at the El Roblar and moved for a short time south to Santa Paula. Then, in 1994, the Vaquero Show found its home at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum in downtown Santa Ynez. Today, the Vaquero Show attracts artisans and collectors of Western gear, memorabilia, apparel and art in the spirit of honoring the heritage and tradition of the California more

On the edge of common sense: When it comes to teeth, stories abound

I lost a tooth today. It was the molar on the northwest side, next to the only wisdom tooth of mine that ever came in. Which explains why sometimes I go over the edge of common sense. I mean, how many wise men would pass a policeman on a double yellow line, pass up an opportunity to invest in USTRC at its beginning, and put big-as-boxcars brown Swiss bulls in with a pen of replacement heifers? I was born with no teeth ... really. And four of the permanents never came in. It's genetic, because my father and uncles were missing lateral incisors. We were born to take a bit. I asked my dentist if I was evolving up or down the food chain - he said people's jaws were getting smaller and we don't need as many teeth as Adam and Eve, therefore I was in the fast lane! Which reminds me, I also got a ticket for going too slow in the fast lane in more

Bear Vegan Diet

Song Of The Day #170

Ranch Radio will get your heart pumpin' and your feet tappin' this Monday am with Chicken Don't Roost Too High by Grandpa Jones

It's available on the Grandpa Jones - 28 Greatest Hits CD.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The ghost stallion of Llano Estacado

Julie Carter

The white stallion was sky-lighted on the ridge top, his proud head held high. Poised, his beautiful body stood still for a fleeting moment before he took one mighty jump and landed fully 25 feet away in an alkali bog that would become his grave.

It is an old story told around campfires for 100 years. Its origins came about in 1879 when some cowpunchers rode into the camp of a buffalo hunter who was known to be quite the spinner of tales.

That night around the campfire the grizzled hunter pointed a roughened finger in the direction of a heavily loaded wagon of buffalo hides he was preparing to freight to market and said, "I would gladly give every hide for the 3-year-old white stallion I have seen upon these plains. He's as fleet as the wind and is a purebred, not a native mustang."

"I've been trying to catch him for two years without any luck. He ranges from here to the Black Water Draw, south, and as far as the Tierra Blanco on the north.
I first saw him when he was a yearling running with his mother. Both were pure white."

The hunter went on to say he didn't see the mare and colt for a year and when he caught sight of them, the mare had a filly by her side and the young stallion, now a yearling , was still running with her, wilder than ever and fast as an antelope.

After a failed attempt to capture the mare and colts, the stallion disappeared, "as if a mirage."

The hunter never saw him again.

The tale of this ghost-white stallion held the cowboys spellbound and they knew they'd never be satisfied until they could ride the plains and hunt the white mirage.
After the fall works were done, they traveled to Fort Sumner to meet with the Trujillo brothers, Pedro and Soledad.

The brothers said they had often seen the white stallion on the plains "He is too fast to catch; we have all tried and failed," they said. When we get close to him, he vanishes, so we have named him "The Ghost."

Agreeing to help hunt the stallion, the brothers told the cowboys to meet them at Gato Montes Spring on the Blackwater Draw in March. "We'll find him if he's still alive."

True to their word, when the cowboys got to the spring, the brothers were not only there, but they had learned where the white stallion was watering with his band of heavy-bred mares.

The next morning they saw the horses out ahead of them feeding on lush grass but quickly scattering as the men approached.

Pedro took in after them while Soledad marked the grazing spot with a long pole with a red flag on the end.

In the distance, "The Ghost" dashed over the plains, his white mane and tail blowing in the breeze.

Pedro was away all day and said he must have chased the horses 70 miles. They made a huge circle, eventually returning to their home range. The following day, one of the cowboys chased them all day, returning late to say the band was now near Spring Lake.

The cowboys, Trujillo brothers, two other vaqueros and a half-blood Apache with a reputation for his ability to rope, headed out the next day.

When they spotted the horses, they didn't crowd them, but struck a long lope and followed behind.

They ran by the old buffalo hunter's camp near Running Water and headed north. By noon, they had reached Tule Draw, the south prong of the Red River, and headed west. Sometimes they'd slacken down to a trot and then return to a lope or a run. The mares began to fall out as they tired, but The Ghost never weakened.

By sundown, all but 10 mares had dropped out, soon to be only three and then none. The Ghost was headed south to Yellow House Lake and just when they thought they had him headed off, he turned south.

Yellow House Lake is a big alkali sink on the Llano Estacado. Its water, not fit for man or beast, covered a bottomless bog by a bare few inches. A large animal could never conquer the horror that loomed below the deceivingly tranquil surface.

For four days, The Ghost had been running in the lead, but when he headed down the backbone of the ridge that lead to the lake, cold chills ran up the spines of his pursuers.

They turned back from the chase, hoping that perhaps then the stallion would turn as well.

The animal's free, intelligent, noble spirit preferred death to capture, and the stallion knew as well as his men, that death lay in Yellow House Lake.

He floundered briefly as the bog sucked him under. The bitter water filled his nostrils and oozed into his mouth. A few bubbles was all that was left on the surface and The Ghost of Llano Estacado was no more.

A tragic end to a free spirit, but even ghosts should have their freedom.

This story in it's original telling appears in Frank Collinson's "Life in the Saddle."

Julie can be reached for comment at

It's The Pitts: A Can Of Worms

Lee Pitts

If one goose is a geese shouldn't a gang of geese be geeses? Definitely, but somewhere in the corruption of the King's English a group of geese on the ground became a gaggle and a skein in the air. Besides devotees of crossword puzzles and the game Trivial Pursuit who knows that? If I had my way a muster of mongeese would be mongooses and a family of fish would be trouts or salmons.

Phrases for farm animals are okay to a point. A collection of cattle or horses is a herd and a group of sheep is a flock. Everyone knows that. But who knew that a group of pigs is a passel or a sounder of swine? Poetic sure, but hard to remember.

This naming of animal plurality is confusing. Besides cattle, the term herd can refer to deer, elephants, seals and whales, despite the fact they have little in common. When we speak of a colony we could be referring to ants, penguins, gulls, rabbits, bats or a group of nudists. And why should we attribute warlike tendencies to "armies" of herons, caterpillars, frogs, and herring? Sure, caterpillars have declared war on farmers in the past, but what country have frogs ever invaded?

I must admit that some of the words we use to describe groups of animals are perfect. A group of giraffes is known as a tower, two porcupines are a prickle, a faction of hippopotamuses are a bloat, and multiple rhinoceroses are a crash. All excellent names. Cockroaches are an intrusion, lions a pride, sharks a shiver, apes a shrewdness, hyenas a cackle, jays a scold, otters are a romp, gnats a cloud, and a contingent of moles are a labor. You'll agree, if you ever try getting rid of them.

Then there are the terrible terms we've adopted. I'm sure that groups of foxes don't appreciate being called a skulk, we slander crows by calling them a murder, and I'm sure that a sloth of bears would change their name in a heartbeat if they could.

A society of parrots, flies or widgeons is known as a company. I don't even know what a widgeon is, nor do I know what business these companies are in. And speaking of company, a group of ferrets is known as one. Some of the worst terms are a smack of jellyfish, a troop of monkeys, a knot of toads, a barren of mules, a building of rooks and a bale of turtles. A bale of turtles? That's gonna make PETA mad.

For some reason birds have incited excessively flowery speech. We have an unkindness of ravens, an exaltation of larks, a murmuration of starlings, a richness of martens, congregation of plovers, convocation of eagles, watch of nightingales, charm of finches and a mustering of storks or peacocks. One wonders why these birds have wonderful sounding names while a group of lapwings is a deceit and a throng of hawks is known as a kettle, cast or boil. And I think calling a group of owls a parliament is not very complimentary at all. To the owls, that is.

If I were in charge of the English language I'd change some of the terminology we use when referring to groups of animals. A herd of elephants would be a trunk, a wake of buzzards would become a stench, a descent of woodpeckers would be a headache, a sord or brace of mallards would be a quack, a dray or scurry of squirrels would henceforth be a plague, and a pack of wolves would be a disaster. A warren of rabbits would be a multiplication, a troop of kangaroos would be a jump, a school or hover of fish would be a limit, a grist of bees would be a stinger, a clowder of cats would become a nuisance, a gang of buffalo would be a Ted (as in Turner), a chain of bobolinks would be a Bobby or a Robert, a kindle of kittens would be a burden, a brood of chickens would be a bucket (as in KFC), a tribe of goats would become a kindergarten (for the kids), and a rafter of turkeys would be a stupid. All these new names would be much easier to remember.

The term I hate most of all is a "pace" of asses. What does that mean? From now on I think a group of asses should be known as a congress. Perfect, don't you think?