Saturday, February 13, 2010

Internal DOI Document; Secret Plan To Create 14 Nat'l Monuments? $Billions For Land Acquisition

So you thought the creation of the NLCS was just so BLM could do a better job of managing special lands already under their control. That's how the program was sold. To better manage 27 million acres.

Well we all better think again. The document I'm about to describe provides for the BLM to have 14 new monuments on existing BLM land and acquire at the very least 2.6 million acres to add to the NLCS.

I am in possession of part of a DOI document marked "Internal Draft - NOT FOR RELEASE".

The part I have is pgs. 15-21, and includes Attachments 4,5 & 6. There is no date.

Attachment 4 is titled Prospective Conservation Designation: National Monument Designations under the Antiquities Act.

The Document then states:

Many nationally significant landscapes are worthy of inclusion in the NLCS. The areas listed below may be good candidates for National Monument designation under the Antiquities Act; however further evaluations should be completed prior to any final determination, including an assessment of public and Congressional support.

The document then lists the following 14 areas, with a paragraph description/justification for each:

San Rafael Swell, UT-- 75 by 40 mile giant dome

Montana's Northern Prairie, MT-- No acreage given (2.5 million acre cross boundary unit)

Lesser Prairie Chicken Preserve, NM-- 58,000 acres

Berryessa Snow Mountains, CA-- 500,000 acres

Heart of the Great Basin, NV-- no acreage given

Otero Mesa, NM-- 1.2 million acres

Northwest Sonoran Desert, AZ-- 500,000 acres

Owyhee Desert, OR/NV-- no acreage given

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, CA (expansion)-- no acreage given

Vermillion Basin, CO

Bodie Hills, CA

The Modoc Plateau, CA

Cedar Mesa region, UT

San Juan Islands, WA

Attachment 5 of the document is titled Conservation Designations: Areas worthy of protection that are ineligible for Monument Designation and unlikely to receive legislative protection in the near term.

The three areas listed are:

Bristol Bay Region, AK
Teshekpuk Lake, AK
Red Desert, WY

Attachment 6 is titled Cost Estimates: High Priority Land-Rationalization Efforts.

The following projects are then listed, with a description section and a cost estimate section:

(i) Checkerboard Consolidation, NV OR CA WY UT-- $5 million/year for 10 years

(ii) Alpine Triangle, CO-- Acquire 25,000 acres-- $37.5 million

(iii) Upper Missouri River, MT-- Acquire 80,000 acres-- $24 million

(iv) Pioneer Range, ID-- Acquire 140,000 acres-- $1,000 to $20,000 per acre

(v) John Day River, OR-- No acreage given-- $67 million

(vi) Upper Green River Valley, WY-- Acquire 397,210 acres-- $2.3 billion

(vii) National Historic and Scenic Trails (multiple states)-- No acreage given-- $7 million/year for 10 years

So what is this document? I'm not sure. Clearly the sections I have were prepared by the BLM. Probably they are part of a larger document that was floated up to the Secretary listing potential conservation initiatives. But again, I just don't know, especially since there is no date.

Stay in touch. This should all see the light of day in the near future.

One final thought for now. How do you like that "Land-Rationalization" title? The checkerboard part indicates land exchanges, purchases and sales. But all the rest is pure, unadulterated land acquisition. "Rationalization" my ass.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Man accused of removing petroglyph from federal land

A 57-year-old Pahrump man was indicted by the federal grand jury today on felony charges that he removed and damaged a large petroglyph on U.S. Forest Service land in the Spring Mountains National Recreational Area near Pahrump. Michael Cook was charged with a single count of violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. If convicted, he faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine, Nevada's U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said. The indictment stated that Cook removed and damaged the petroglyph, which depicts seven sheep, sometime between March and September 2008. The Nye County Sheriff's Department discovered the 200-pound petroglyph in Cook's front yard last more


Not only is he apparently a thief, but a dumb one to boot.
Notice it was the Sheriff, not the FS, who discovered the petroglyph.
The FS was too busy guarding their bulletin board.

Feds seek withdrawal of Yucca Mountain water applications

The Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository got another nail in its coffin today, as the Energy Department formally asked to withdraw its applications for access to water in the area surrounding Yucca Mountain. The request came after state engineer Tracy Taylor twice wrote to the agency to ask whether he should continue with the application, given President Barack Obama's stated plan to kill the planned nuclear waste dump. The Energy Department had sought 116 different water rights for the Yucca Mountain project, but the exact amount of groundwater in question wasn't immediately available from the state Division of Water more

What’s next for Yucca? Restoration

When it was on the drawing boards, the Yucca Mountain radioactive waste dump promised unprecedented challenges to nuclear engineers and physicists: How to safely store nuclear waste underground? Now with the project being killed by President Barack Obama, the site will offer unprecedented challenges to desert ecologists: How to bring vegetation back to the mountain? The task is both simple and overwhelming: Under federal law, the Energy Department has to return the mountain landscape to a state similar to how the agency found it. That’s easier said than done, because fully restoring a desert landscape can take centuries, or millennia. Although desert landscape restoration has been attempted with varying degrees of success in recent years, there has never been a desert reclamation project of this size and more


Do they really think the feds will comply with the law and restore the area?

Restoration will taken money, i.e., Congressional appropriations. It will be very easy for DOE & Congress to find other priorities for the money.

Either that, or they will throw big bucks at the project, most of which will be wasted by the DOE.

Either way, a satisfactory restoration is not likely.

Judge rules against farming permits in preserve

A federal judge has struck down permits that allow two farmers to grow corn and soybeans in a federal nature preserve in western Kentucky and Tennessee because the U.S. Forest Service violated it's own rules in handling the agreements. U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell said it was "unreasonable" for the Forest Service to delegate it's power to issue special use permits to the National Wild Turkey Federation, who in turn signed contracts allowing two farmers to grow row crops in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Russell ruled that, under the intricate web of laws governing national forests and lands, special-use permits issued by the Forest Service are required to allow people to put anything in the area that wouldn't naturally grow or live there. "The delegation of such power by the Forest Service constitutes an unlawful delegation of the agency's duty to protect the environment to a private entity," Russell wrote. However, Russell turned away a challenge by the Eugene, Ore.-based Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics to the use of pesticides on crops grown in the area, saying the Forest Service has experience with the chemicals and can handle them more


Here is the pertinent part of the decision:

The Court finds that the regulations promulgated pursuant to the OAA require the special-use permits to be issued for farming LBL property and the permits must be issued by an authorized officer. An authorized officer is expressly defined as an employee of the Forest Service. The Stewardship Agreement clearly sets out that "any NWTF employees and their volunteers shall not be deemed to be Federal employees for any purposes." The Court finds Forest Services' interpretation of the Stewardship as authorizing delegation to the NWTF of the power to issue special-use permits is an unreasonable interpretation of the Stewardship Act as it is in direct violation of the regulations promulgated under the authority of the OAA. The delegation of such power by the Forest Service constitutes unlawful delegation of the agency's duty to protect the environment to a private entity as in National Park & Conservation Ass'n v. Stanton, 54 F. Supp.2d 7 (D.D.C. 1999). While the Forest Service has provided evidence of Congressional authority to enter into stewardship agreements with private entities, the Forest Service has been unable to show affirmative evidence of Congressional authority to delegate so extensively in direct violation of its regulations. United States Telecom Association v. FCC, 359 F.3d 554, 566 (D.C. Cir. 2004)... The Court finds the Forest Service did not violate NEPA by failing to create an EIS; however, the Forest Services' interpretation of the Stewardship Act as authorizing delegation to the NWTF of the power to issue special-use permits is an unreasonable interpretation of the Stewardship Act as it is in direct violation of the regulations promulgated under the authority of the OAA and such delegation constitutes unlawful delegation.

Noel, faith leaders stage impromptu wilderness debate

Rep. Mike Noel waded into a circle of interfaith advocates of wilderness protection in the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday and almost immediately began defending his approach to "God's country" and his support of recreational vehicles in the outdoors. "We've now created stacks of regulations," said the Kanab Republican, an outspoken critic of climate-change science and environmental activists. "Whatever you want to do on public lands, it is protested." For more than 20 minutes, he engaged in a civil debate with leaders and members from 11 faiths -- Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Islamic, Jewish, Latter-day Saint, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Quaker, Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ -- who had gathered to showcase 250 images of Utah's beauty and ask their elected leaders to "recognize the spiritual importance of Utah's wild lands and support their preservation." Designating wilderness will not "lock up" the land, insisted Stephen Trimble, a member of Utah's Jewish Reconstructionist congregation Chavurah B' more

SoCal Edison pays $2.8m to settle wildfire lawsuit

Southern California Edison has paid $2.8 million to settle a government claim that it caused a 2002 wildfire that destroyed four square miles of the Inyo National Forest. The U.S. attorney's office announced Thursday that the utility settled a lawsuit claiming it failed to replace broken equipment on a power pole or trim trees that had grown into power lines. The Forest Service determined that sparks from a 12,000-volt power distribution line ignited the blaze about 15 miles north of Bishop in the Sierra more

No change in federal grazing fee in 2010

The federal grazing fee for 2010 will be $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM) for public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and $1.35 per head month (HM) for lands managed by the Forest Service. The 2010 fee is the same as it was in 2009. An AUM or HM – treated as equivalent measures for fee purposes – is the occupancy and use of public lands by one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month. The newly calculated grazing fee, determined by a congressional formula and effective on March 1, applies to nearly 18,000 grazing permits and leases administered by the BLM and more than 8,000 permits administered by the Forest more

Zac Brown Responds To PETA Challenge

The Zac Brown Band has responded to an e-mail they received from People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. After being challenged by the animal rights group to remove the animal products from its pre-show menu, the "Chicken Fried" hit makers made no apologies for their eating habits. "Dear PETA -- Plants are living creatures too . . . Bacon had a mother, but so did Pickle. It takes life to support life -- welcome to the planet," the Grammy-winning group wrote on their Twitter page. The 2010 Best New Artist winners apparently still plan on offering animal products at their pre-show rituals, where they welcome lucky fans backstage to "eat and greet" with the band. The challenge from PETA came last week when the organization sent an open letter to country music website that was addressed to the band, saying, "If PETA has its way, the 'Chicken Fried' singers will be hosting an all-vegan edition of their celebrated 'eat and greets' for fans." RTTNews

Western Alert: Susan Sarandon Circles 'Big Valley'

The Western world is coming back in a big way as cinema's next enormous resurgence. On the heels of news that Brad Pitt and Ryan Reynolds are circling Gunsmoke, The Hollywood Reporter posts that Susan Sarandon is in talks to star in a big-screen remake of the television show The Big Valley. Kate Edelman Johnson, daughter of the show's creator, is producing the project, Daniel Adams wrote the screenplay and will direct, and should Sarandon sign on, she'll play Victoria Barkley, the character originally played by Barbara Stanwyck. Set in the 1870s, Barkley is a widowed matriarch of the Barkley Ranch in California's San Joaquin Valley. Unlike many westerns, and other projects for that matter, Barkley was the woman in charge, holding her own against threats of thieves and ne'er do-wells that might descend upon the ranch in typical Hollywood fashion. But she wasn't alone, having the company of her helpful lawyer son, a rancher son and helper step-son, and a beautiful horse-handy more

Three Guitars & A Tractor

Song Of The Day #240

Ranch Radio presents another western double whammy. We begin with Rex Allen singing Yodelin' Crazy followed by one of my favorites, Gene Autry's recording of Cowboy Blues.

Both selections are available on Tumbling Tumbleweeds: Essential Gold.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Colorado wolves would have protection of Endangered Species Act

Wolves don't have pockets, so they can't carry their legal status around when they travel. That's raised some points to ponder since the controversial predators allegedly arrived in Colorado this week. While authorities in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming argue whether wolves should be hunted or not, stepping across the Colorado state line restores fully protected status for those wolves under the federal Endangered Species Act. Of course, biologists still must confirm wolves have made it to the Centennial State. What does mean something is, literally, where a specific wolf stands. The same animal today would be an out-of-season "species in need of management" in Montana, a huntable "trophy game animal" in Idaho, and a federally protected "experimental species" in Wyoming. Should that wolf wander all the way to Colorado, it would be federally endangered and given full protection of the law. The situation is similar to a pack that lives on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin, Bangs said. On the Minnesota side, the pack is threatened, but on the Wisconsin side it's endangered. That's so humans on either side of the border know exactly what rules more

Arizona Republic Attacks Ranchers

They've gone off the deep end on Mexican wolves.

See their editorial Time for ranchers to stop slaughter.

Judge orders delta pump to be shut down to protect endangered smelt

Farmers last week were celebrating a reprieve from water pumping restrictions in California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Five days later, it's over. A federal judge Wednesday rejected an emergency request by water districts representing cities and San Joaquin Valley farmers to delay a new set of pumping restrictions in the delta. U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger's ruling means one of five delta pumps operated by the federal government will be shut down Thursday morning. The action is being taken to protect the delta smelt, a fish listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Farmers and ranchers who rely on the delta for water - including those in the Westlands Water District - were disappointed by the decision, especially because it came just five days after Wanger put a two-week hold on pumping restrictions that are part of a controversial management plan for endangered winter-run salmon. The delta pumps have been running at full capacity since Wanger's decision. Now only four pumps will be running, which means a loss of 1,700 acre feet of water each day for those who receive federal water, said Westlands spokeswoman Sarah Woolf. If more smelt are found around the pumps, as expected, the water loss for agriculture will increase, she more

Mexican Official Optimistic About Resuming Cross-Border Trucking

Mexico's economy minister predicted this week that the trade spat focusing on cross-border trucking would be resolved this year, as U.S. trade envoy Ron Kirk visited the Mexican capital. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the U.S.-Mexico border was supposed to have been opened to border-state traffic in 1995 and to long-distance traffic in 2000. The opening was stalled until 2007, in part by difficult negotiations with Mexico, but mainly by the legislative and legal tactics of U.S. labor, owner-operator and citizen advocacy groups who fear loss of U.S. jobs to Mexican drivers and argue that Mexican trucks will not be safe. After Congress cut off a cross-border trucking pilot program last March by prohibiting funding for such a program, the Mexican government slapped $2.4 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. According to published reports, Kirk emphasized that the law that originally cancelled the cross-border program is no longer in effect. The language in the 2009 appropriations bill that essentially cut off the funding for the demonstration safety program was not included in the 2010 appropriations bill. "We have the green light to go forward and start those consultations with Congress (and) with our stakeholders in the U.S.," Kirk said during a news conference held jointly with Mexican Economy Minister Gerardo Ruiz Mateos, who said a solution "will surely occur this year." Before heading to Mexico, Kirk told reporters, "I can tell you that those industries in the united states, our farmers, our ranchers, our other exporters that have been subject of the retaliation, have made their displeasure known to congress and so there is a sense of urgency within the united states," according to KOLD TV in southern more

Latest plan to cut farm subsidies in trouble

If history and the political lineup are any guides, President Barack Obama's latest effort to cut subsidies for wealthy farmers likely will fare no better than his first try — or his predecessor's attempt. Congress twice overrode President George W. Bush's veto of the 2008 Farm Bill. When Obama tried reforming the system last year, his proposal was dead on arrival on Capitol Hill, where farm state lawmakers largely control the agriculture committees. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said he'd oppose significant changes to the current Farm Bill. To Peterson, most criticism of subsidies is based more on ideology — whether it be small-farms-are-better or free trade — than sound policy considerations. "We're not smart enough to decide how big a farm should be, even on the ag committee," Peterson said. "And that's really not our job. Our job is to make sure we have an affordable, abundant food supply in this country." Others, though, said as federal deficits soar above $1 trillion a year, it's time to take another look. "Farm subsidies are America's largest corporate welfare program," said Brian Riedl, an analyst at the conservative Heritage more

Hard Times for a Western Icon

A perfect storm has risen over horse country. Prices are plummeting in an oversaturated equine market, people are neglecting or abandoning their horses at a higher rate and more ranchers are trading in four legs for four wheels. Hay prices are through the roof and the economy is hurting. And in Montana, a final frontier of the American West, there is no consensus on what to do. Some horse folks are waiting to see if the economy turns around. Others believe it’s time to bring back horse slaughterhouses – the last one in the United States closed in 2007. Their critics say no way. Many just don’t know what the answer is. The difficulties touch everybody in the horse industry, from breeders and trainers to ranchers and casual riders, and everybody in between. Horses still carry a grand mystique, but they are expensive, and when there’s too many of them, tough decisions have to be made. According to a study published for the American Horse Council, there were 9.2 million horses in the United States in 2005, used for work, racing, show or as more

Forest Rangers Protected Payson

A close relationship between forest rangers and the people of Payson existed from March of 1907 when the Tonto National Forest was established. The ranger’s station and house, along with a barn for horses and mules, were the center for the Payson Administrative District, and the first ranger assigned here was Fletcher Beard, a cowboy turned forest ranger. The primary purpose of the Tonto National Forest has always been to protect the watersheds of the Salt and Verde Rivers, but a primary concern for the residents of Payson has always been fire protection. In the late 1930s the District Ranger in charge was Clyde Moose, and his assistant was Ed Fuel. Clyde was over six feet tall with short, sandy hair, very friendly with town folks, and was usually in uniform, neat and trim. Ed was short, bow-legged and bald; he was also a local rancher who had raised cattle south of Jake’s Corner and owned the 3-V brand. The cattle ranchers felt he was one of their own, with whom they could easily communicate. He talked their language and knew their problems first hand. The dedication of the rangers was demonstrated when a fire was reported in the Mazatzals. It was off-season and no trail crew was available. Ed was away, so Clyde had to go and fight the fire alone. He loaded his horse, drove to the Bar-T-Bar ranch on Deer Creek, and then rode up the mountain trail to within a half-mile of the fire. The trail became too difficult for the horse, so he tied it and walked the rest of the way carrying his more

Cox, 95, remembers every show, rodeo

XB Cox Jr., who turns 95 on Friday, can remember something about every San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo since the stellar event started 78 years ago. Cox, who was born in San Angelo, showed champion calves in the stock show when he was a teenager. As an adult, he served as assistant county agent in Coke County and as county agent in Scurry County. Since he had worked with the youth in their 4-H clubs, he was a natural for the job. He was superintendent of the steer show in 1954. “I started working with the sheep and steer divisions of the stock show in 1949, after H.C. Noelke, who was sheep superintendent at the time, asked me for help,” Cox told me earlier this week. Although Cox served as president of the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo from 1964 through 1966, he gives credit to the many volunteers for its success. “Clovis Olsak (stock show president in 1971-72) and I dug all the post holes for the pens in the old sheep and goat barn,” he said. Cox learned about building fences at a young age. His father, XB “Mage” Cox Sr., was in the fence-building business at Mertzon around 1900, contracting with area more

Song Of The Day #239

Ranch Radio presents a western double whammy this morning, featuring Roy Rogers and The Sons Of The Pioneers singing Blue Shadows On The Trail and Gene Autry performing South Of The Border.

Both are available on the 3 CD box set Tumbling Tumbleweeds: Essential Gold.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Forest Service: Doo-doo a no-no

Bridger-Teton National Forest will step up enforcement efforts to address the problem of dog waste after a recent survey counted 173 piles of poop left behind in the Cache Creek trailhead area. The Jackson Ranger District will issue $175 tickets for violations. Officials will focus on the Cache Creek, Game Creek and Trail Creek trailheads because of the proximity of creeks in those areas, according to a news release. “In order to reward those who are being responsible, it is necessary to hold individuals accountable who are not doing their part,” said Dale Deiter, Jackson District ranger, in the release. “The amount of dog waste in trailhead areas is simply not acceptable.” more


FS employees are too busy enforcing their bulletin board policy and so the forests are going to the dogs.

And who did that "survey"?

Smokey says only bears can shit in the woods.

Smokey says only you can prevent dog shit on the trail.

Smokey says he also wants to know who did the "survey"?

Parollee struck by moving BLM ranger vehicle, spokesman says

An investigation is continuing in connection with a Bureau of Land Management ranger whose vehicle struck a parolee over the weekend in the desert, a spokesman said today. BLM spokesman Steve Razo said the ranger was on routine patrol early Sunday when he spotted a pickup truck with expired reg tags. The moment the ranger went to inspect the vehicle, the suspect, identififed as 46-year-old Richard Rusk Orman, sped off in the truck only to abandon it later at an unspecified distance, Razo said. Orman, who took off his boots to avoid leaving foot print impression on the sand, was struck by a moving BLM ranger vehicle during the search and was flown out to a trauma center in Palm Springs, Razo more


The Forest Service handcuffs and throws to the ground an asthmatic for violating bulletin board policy and the BLM runs over a man whose state vehicle registration has expired. Meanwhile the federal lands are either a depository for dog shit or a marijuana plantation.

Udall, Salazar seek harsher penalties for public-land damage

The destruction of public lands by off-road vehicles and fires caused by carelessness has prompted legislation that could result in stronger penalties for those responsible. U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and U.S. Rep. John Salazar, both Colorado Democrats, have introduced legislation designed to deter damage to public lands caused by illegal or reckless activities. The legislation would amend the 1976 Federal Lands Policy and Management Act to allow the secretary of the interior and the secretary of agriculture to impose fines up to $100,000 and up to 12 months in jail or both. Federal law now prevents the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from assessing a fine greater than $1, more

Group to Rename Iconic Hollywood Sign With "Save The Peak"

The Hollywood sign might look different Thursday -- as in, completely covered. Trust For Public Lands, a nature conservation group, said it has reached a deal that would protect a huge swath of land above the Hollywood sign from being developed into luxury homes. The group's president, Will Rogers, said Monday that the Trust secured an option to buy the rugged 138-acre parcel for about $12 million from Chicago-based Fox River Financial Resources. As part of its initiative to save land near the sign from development, Trust for Public Lands wants to cover the sign with a shroud that reads, "Save the Peak." more

DOI Budget: $12.2 Billion, Down 0.3 %, But Big Increases For Global Warming & Land Purchases

Here is their budget info for global warming and land acquisition:

Climate Change Adaptation – This initiative will examine the causes and formulate solutions to mitigate climate impacts to lands, waters, natural and cultural resources. Interior's Climate Science Centers and Landscape Conservation Cooperatives will conduct and communicate research and monitoring to improve understanding and forecasting of which elements of our land, water, marine, fish and wildlife and cultural heritage resources are most vulnerable to climate change impacts and make them more resilient. The budget includes $8.0 million for continued investments in the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, which will serve as the nexus for the eight Interior Climate Science Centers; $1.0 million for expanded monitoring by USGS and $8.0 million for FWS monitoring that will be integrated, standardized, and accessible to Interior bureaus, partners, and the public; $2.0 million for expansion of the USGS carbon sequestration project; $8.8 million to expand FWS science and planning capacity in support of additional Landscape Conservation Cooperatives; and $2.5 million for BLM and $2.0 Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) adaptive management activities on private lands. In the 2011 budget, the Bureau of Reclamation and BIA also include climate change funding, including $3.5 million for Reclamation basin studies and scientific support and $200,000 for BIA participation in a Landscape Conservation Cooperative.

The 2011 budget calls for $445.4 million, an increase of $106.2 million, for Department of the Interior Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) programs to acquire new park, refuge, and public lands, protect endangered species habitat, and promote outdoor recreation. Total LWCF funding in 2011 for Interior and the U.S. Forest Service is 619.2 million, a 29 percent increase over the 2010 enacted level and a 104 percent increase over the 2009 level. With these consecutive increases, appropriations from the LWCF are on track to reach the full funding level of $900 million in 2014.

Obama's proposed budget slashes off-highway trail funding

Many off-highway motorized trails in America's national forests could deteriorate dramatically or even disappear under the new federal budget for 2011 proposed by President Barack Obama to Congress on Feb. 1. Under the proposal, which must by accepted by Congress before it becomes law, funding for the U.S. Agriculture Department's Capital Improvement and Maintenance (CIM) program would be slashed by $100 million from the $538 million appropriated for the current fiscal year, which began October 1, to $438 million for the next fiscal year. "This could be disastrous for off-highway motorcycle riders because CIM program money is used for the improvement, maintenance and operation of U.S. Forest Service roads, trails and recreational support," said Ed Moreland, the AMA's vice president for government relations. Moreland notes that in explaining the reduction, President Obama's administration says that it wants to focus the Forest Service on "road decommissioning, erosion control, watershed health and forest restoration." The administration's budget proposal is also disturbing because it comes at a time when the Forest Service is creating a new planning rule to manage the 193 million acres it controls nationwide. The Forest Service says it is starting the process guided by the principles of restoration, conservation and protection of ecosystems. This proposal could shut out off-highway more

BLM delays eastern Nevada wild horse roundup

Federal land managers said Monday they'll delay a roundup of most of the nearly 600 wild horses in a range in eastern Nevada, at least until after the herd's spring foaling season. Advocates fighting to stop mustang roundups in the West said they think their threat to file a lawsuit stopped the U.S. Bureau of Land Management from beginning a roundup next week of almost 500 wild horses in the Eagle Herd Management Area. "We're pleased that the BLM has postponed another ill-conceived, illegal and inhumane wild horse roundup," said William Spriggs, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer for In Defense of Animals based in San Rafael, Calif. Spriggs said by telephone that he's seeking a moratorium on roundups until Congress reviews whether the government should continue removing horses from the range. But Chris Hanefeld, spokesman for the BLM office in Ely, wouldn't link Spriggs' threat to sue in Washington with the bureau decision in Nevada to postpone the Eagle herd area gather. It had been scheduled to begin Feb. 14. "We're responding to the many comments we've received," Hanefeld said, citing some 9,000 public comments submitted after the BLM announced that it planned to collect more than 80 percent of the animals in the Eagle herd more

Environmentalists to lose land linked to preserve

An environmental group stands to lose land linked to its signature Idaho wildlife preserve because federal land managers contend they've been misled over how the site would be managed. Western Watersheds Project oversees three BLM grazing allotments totaling about 7,000 acres, or 11 square miles, connected to its Greenfire Preserve near the East Fork of the Salmon River. Valley Sun LLC, a company headed by Gordon Younger, a Seattle environmentalist and a financial supporter of Western Watersheds, has a permit for the allotments but doesn't graze cattle there. BLM officials from Challis, located 280 miles north of Boise in the mountains, this month told Younger he "knowingly or willfully made false statements or representations" about his plans for the allotments. As a result, they were canceling his permit "in its entirety." more

The Thinning Trap

There is a circular logic going on around the issue of fuel buildup and fire suppression. Currently the major federal agencies including the Forest Service and BLM generally attempt to suppress fires, except in a few special locations like designated wilderness. Despite the fact that most agencies now recognize that wildfires have a very important ecological role to play, we are told by managing agencies that they must continue to suppress fires or face “catastrophic” blazes—which they consider to be “uncharacteristic”. The problem is that thinning won’t solve the “problem” of large blazes because the problem isn’t fuels. By allowing the timber industry to define the problem and propose a solution we have a circular situation whereby the land management agencies continue to suppress fires, thereby presumably permitting fuels to build up, which they assert thus drives large blazes, creating a need for more logging and fire suppression. This cycle of fire suppression, logging, grazing, and more fire suppression has no end. In addition, since thinning reduces completion, opens up the forest floor to more light, thus new plant growth, thinning can often lead to creation of even more of the flashy fine fuels that sustain forest fires. Unless these thinned stands are repeatedly treated, they can actually acerbate fire hazard by increasing the overall abundance of the very fuels which are most problematic—the smaller shrubs, grasses, and small trees that sustain fire spread. In addition, thinning can increase solar penetration leading to more rapid drying and greater penetration of wind—both factors that aid fire more

Coyotes in New York City

Wile E. Coyote and friends are invading Manhattan. Three coyotes turned up on the Columbia University campus on Sunday morning, prompting an e-mail alert to students and faculty. A few hours later, a coyote was spotted darting around bushes and across a frozen lake in Central Park. Columbia's public-safety officials said the coyotes were spotted in front of a campus building near 119th Street and Broadway. Someone called 911, and police saw one of the coyotes before it left the campus, apparently near 120th Street. Later, in Central Park, photographer Neill Engler was walking along the 72nd Street transverse when he spotted a coyote running back and forth near The Lake and a more

Bobcats Seen Roaming Beach City

Several bobcat sightings in residential areas have a New Smyrna Beach community on edge. Some residents said they are nervous about walking at night, while others are concerned that the wild cats may get into their homes. The cats wouldn’t have far to go. The bobcats have been seen prowling an empty piece of property off the A1A, and all they would have to do is cross the street to the neighboring high-rises, which are full of people like the Schoenbergers. Gary and Flory Schoenberger said they often walk in the area and were amazed by the size of the more

Predators Prowling into Panhandle Community

Living just at the edge of town, Janice Gibson has had seven cats killed now by coyotes. She's not the only one. Several others have reported their small pets missing -- and one rancher says a pack of wild coyotes killed a 350 pound calf. A local vet says people shouldn't panic, but they should take a few steps to protect themselves. Keep trash and pet food up and don't let your pets out at night. Steps Janice is now taking too - in hopes that the coyotes won't come back. As of tonight, three of the coyotes have been killed, but reports of several others around town are still coming in.

See a video report here.

Proposed initiative concerns hunting outfitters in Montana

The sponsor of a possible state initiative wants nonresident licenses to be available to more people instead of having outfitters enjoying an inside track. Kurt Kephart, the initiative’s sponsor, explains I-161 would open hunting up to more nonresident hunters. Proponents say the problem is current law provides hunting outfitters approximately 5,500 “nonresident outfitter-sponsored big game combination licenses” each year. There is no drawing for outfitter clients. All who apply automatically receive the license. The remaining 11,500 nonresident big game combination licenses are put into a drawing, giving those who apply a 60 percent chance for success. Kephart asks, “Why should outfitter clients be given a 100 percent guaranteed license while all other nonresidents only receive a 60 percent chance to draw?” Opponents of a possible initiative that would eliminate guaranteed hunting licenses used by outfitters say rural Montana would suffer if the system were more

The Greening of Theodore Roosevelt

Historian Douglas Brinkley isn’t one to place a historical figure into a contemporary context. Still, asked how he thought Theodore Roosevelt would have responded to the climate-change debate, Brinkley says he believes the 26th President would have been on the side of science. “He would have been on top of the latest science,” Brinkley said in a recent phone interview with The Valdosta Daily Times. “He was always up with that crowd. He’d be looking at the reports today. He would have championed the ‘let it be’ philosophy in Alaska. With ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), he would have likely said, leave it all alone.” Brinkley makes this estimation based on his extensive research into the green side of Theodore Roosevelt. Brinkley is the author of the 2009 national bestseller “The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.” This week, Brinkley is scheduled to speak on Roosevelt’s life and environmentalism at Valdosta State more

Groups split over ag secretary election proposal

South Dakota agriculture groups are split over a legislative proposal to make the state secretary of agriculture an elected position. Under the legislation, awaiting a committee hearing in the South Dakota House of Representatives, the state agriculture secretary would be up for election every four years. The agriculture secretary is a cabinet position appointed by the governor. That gives residents no recourse if someone is doing a poor job, said state Sen. Jim Bradford, R-Pine Ridge, one of the bill's sponsors. "If I don't do my job, (voters) get a shot at me every two years," said Bradford. "For a job of that importance in the state of South Dakota, I think it would be nice to have it go on the ballot." The legislation’s aim would be to make the job nonpolitical. Candidates would run without party affiliation and not as a party more

100 years after deadly avalanche, abandoned Washington town still haunts trail

This railroad town wasn't much to begin with and now no longer exists. Too many ghosts. All you'll find at the town site just west of Stevens Pass in Washington's Cascade Range are a parking lot, a restroom and some odd concrete ruins, including a tunnel's slowly eroding mouth and the tall pillars of an abandoned snowshed curving off into the distance. But especially on a grey, wet day, Wellington still has an unsettling story to tell. "Whenever I'm hiking through that old concrete snowshed I always think about what happened there in 1910," says Tom Davis, a trails co-ordinator for the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. "Just to me, it's little spooky." A short walk inside the shed cut into the steep hillside, there's a sheltered place to reflect on a mostly forgotten but terrible March night a century ago, when a massive wall of snow swept two Great Northern passenger trains into the Tye River, killing 96 people - the deadliest avalanche in the nation's history...

Song Of The Day #238

Ranch Radio's selection today is Gene Autry's 1941 recording of Maria Elena.

The tune is available on his 18 track CD The Essential Gene Autry: 1933-1946.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Colorado rancher hopes for wolves

A western Colorado rancher is testing scat found on his land to determine whether wolves finally have returned to the state, and he's eager to get them back. "It seemed logical to me, based on what happened in Yellowstone National Park, that keystone species like wolves might have a positive effect on biodiversity and restoring the health of aspens on this property," said Paul Vahldiek in a statement released by the Wildlands Network. Vahldiek has already spotted wolf tracks on his 300-square-mile High Lonesome Ranch, but the DNA tests would be the first concrete evidence the species has reestablished itself in Colorado. It's safe to say ranchers and wolves haven't gotten along in recent years, not in Idaho, Montana or Wyoming, where the predators were reintroduced in the 1990s, or New Mexico and Arizona, where rural residents have fought against the reintroduction of the Mexican gray wolf. The canines are blamed by some for devastating livestock herds and threatening people. Vahldiek clearly doesn't share all those concerns. The release from the Wildlands Network, a strong advocate of the predator returning to the Rocky Mountain region, says he became interested in wolves during a talk at a conservation meeting at the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial more


This seemed a little fishy to me. Then I found a Wildlands Network release at New West which describes Mr. Vahldiek as "majority shareholder and CEO of The High Lonesome Ranch". Doesn't sound like a typical rancher to me.

The release goes on to state:

Committed to conservation of private lands and wildlife, Vahldiek has been working for several years to determine the baseline ecology of the ranch. To further that work, the rancher hired landscape ecologist and large carnivore specialist Cristina Eisenberg to study predator-prey relationships on the land...His interest in the ecological benefits of keystone species led him to attend further meetings on large landscape-scale conservation convened by the international conservation group Wildlands Network, and he recently became a member of that organization’s board of directors...While he remains committed to conserving his ranch and abiding by the laws and regulations pertaining to any new wolf inhabitants, Vahldiek also is committed to conserving this landscape as a key wildlife linkage within what Wildlands Network calls the “Western Wildway,” a 5,000-mile-long stretch of plateaus, canyons and mountains between Alaska’s Brooks Range and northern Mexico’s Sierra Madre...

Turns out Mr. Vahldiek is President of Amene Investments "a closely held Texas based company."

Climate bill backers pick up jobs theme

Backers of climate-change legislation are making an extra push to link clean energy with job growth as the administration and congressional Democrats look for ways to lower unemployment. One group released a study on Thursday that found mandating more renewable energy use, a provision included in climate legislation in Congress, would create thousands of jobs. The study, conducted by Navigant Consulting for the Renewable Electricity Standard Alliance, said a renewable electricity standard (RES) that required 25 percent of electricity come from renewable sources like wind and solar power would create 274,000 jobs. The RES-Alliance is a group of businesses and trade groups in support of a renewable energy more


If you can't sell it as an environmental scare, then sell it as a jobs creation program.

There's just one problem: government can't create jobs.

Daniel Mitchell writes in The Fallacy That Government Creates Jobs:

The theory of government-instigated job creation overlooks the loss of resources available to the productive sector of the economy. Frederic Bastiat, the great French economist (yes, there were admirable French economists, albeit all of them lived in the 1800s), is well known for many reasons, including his explanation of the "seen" and the "unseen." If the government decides to build a "Bridge to Nowhere," it is very easy to see the workers who are employed on that project. This is the "seen." But what is less obvious is that the resources to build that bridge are taken from the private sector and thus are no longer available for other uses. This is the "unseen."

And if they are government jobs, Allen Reynolds writes in Governments Can't Create Jobs :

The fact that 10 million more people work for government than work in manufacturing highlights an important point. When government officials talk about "creating jobs," they usually mean creating government jobs. The trouble is that those in "public service" expect to be paid well, and their perks are fabulous. Unfortunately, any method of paying salaries and benefits in the government sector has to destroy jobs in the private sector. Governments have only three ways of paying employees — taxes, borrowing and printing money. Each of those reduces income and wealth among those paying taxes, servicing debts or stuck with shrinking greenbacks. In short, governments can't "create jobs." Adding government jobs is never a net addition to employment opportunities, because it means a heavier burden on private employers and employees.

Read Bastiat's The Broken Window and the next time you here a politician talk about creating jobs, hear that broken glass hit the floor, and then make fast and frequent tracks away from that lying critter.

U.N. Climate Panel and Chief Face Credibility Siege

Just over two years ago, Rajendra K. Pachauri seemed destined for a scientist’s version of sainthood: A vegetarian economist-engineer who leads the United Nations’ climate change panel, he accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the panel, sharing the honor with former Vice President Al Gore. But Dr. Pachauri and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are now under intense scrutiny, facing accusations of scientific sloppiness and potential financial conflicts of interest from climate skeptics, right-leaning politicians and even some mainstream scientists. Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, called for Dr. Pachauri’s resignation last week...Read more

Fraud Besets E.U. Carbon Trade System

Carbon markets have had a rocky ride since trading began five years ago in the European Union. The latest bump came last month, when swindlers used faked e-mail messages to obtain access codes for individual accounts on national registries that make up the bloc’s Emission Trading System. Traders and companies who fell for the ploy on Jan. 28 were directed to a rogue Web site and invited to enter their security codes — a practice known as “phishing” in the jargon of the Internet. The swindlers used the stolen codes to gain access to electronic certificates that represent quantities of greenhouse gases. They then sold the certificates through trading accounts registered in Denmark and Britain. The attack on the German national registry, which appears to have been among the hardest hit, could have netted the swindlers as much as $4 million. But since the start of the system in Europe, coal-burning utilities have earned windfall profits, while the prices of credits have never been high enough for long enough to force utilities and businesses to replace conventional power with significant amounts of renewable energy or other clean sources. Other forms of shady trades have beset the carbon markets in Europe. Last summer, the police confirmed that swindlers had been adding value-added tax to the price of carbon permits sold to businesses — and then disappearing before turning the tax over to more

NOAA to Form Climate Service

The Obama administration is forming a new agency to study and report on the changing climate. Also known as global warming, climate change has drawn widespread concern in recent years as temperatures around the world rise, threatening to harm crops, spread disease, increase sea levels, change storm and drought patterns and cause polar melting. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, planned to announce Monday that NOAA will set up the new Climate Service to operate in tandem with NOAA's National Weather Service and National Ocean Service. Portions of the Weather Service that have been studying climate, as well as offices from some other NOAA agencies, will be transferred to the new NOAA Climate Service. The new agency will initially be led by Thomas Karl, director of the current National Climatic Data Center. The Climate Service will be headquartered in Washington and will have six regional directors across the country. Lubchenco also announced a new NOAA climate portal on the Internet to collect a vast array of climatic data from NOAA and other sources. It will be "one-stop shopping into a world of climate information," she more

What's really causing Himalayan glaciers to melt?

More than a billion people in Asia rely on glacial meltwater for a steady, year-round supply of fresh water. If the glaciers disappear, the region's water supply might be threatened. Now, a new study by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and NCAR, finds that human-emitted aerosols are the single major contributor to glacial melt in the Himalayas. In this case, increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide are not melting the mountain glaciers, say the authors. Particulate matter, particularly black carbon from cooking fires and coal-fired plants in India, is the real more

Call it the Liberty Storm

The Senate has delayed its first votes of the week until Tuesday evening, as Washington attempts to dig out from nearly two feet of snow that brought the city and federal agencies to a standstill. All federal government offices will also be closed more

A small moment of freedom.

Here's a twist: southern Oregon man sues Forest Service for not cutting a tree

The government is accustomed to being sued for cutting down trees on its national forests. But this week, a southern Oregon man filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service and a logging company for not cutting a tree. Bert M. Fernandez, of Prospect, says that on Feb. 3, 2008, he was driving on Crater Lake Highway when a 32-foot white fir fell from the Rogue River National Forest and smashed into his work truck. The tree crushed the truck's cab, causing permanent injuries to Fernandez's head, clavicle, spine, neck and shoulders, he alleges in a personal injury lawsuit filed Monday in Medford's U.S. District Court. The suit says the government marked the tree for removal, because it was either diseased or presented a danger to passing more

The horse slaughterhouse debate

This past week, the Canadian Government approved a law that makes it more difficult for people to sell their horses specifically for slaughter. Beginning July 31, the so-called kill buyers will have to provide complete medical and adoption records for every horse they're sending to slaughter to be turned into food. The legislation comes at a time when a Wyoming congresswoman and other federal lawmakers are trying to bring horse slaughterhouses back to the United States. The last known horse slaughterhouse in the United States was shut down in 2007. Since then, kill buyers have sent their horses to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. "Do we sell horses in poorer condition or abandoned horses more now? Yeah, yeah we do," Kruse said. According to Kruse, more people are abandoning their horses because of the economy. They can't afford to keep them or get them euthanized. Instead, they're ending up at auction houses. Some states, like Wyoming, are trying to pre-empt the Federal Legislation and bring it down to the state level. "It needs to be done," said Mary Ownes, a rancher from Wyoming. "These animals are being left to die and suffer and that's wrong,". More than 100,000 horses are sent to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico from the United States each more

Revisiting the Roswell UFO Crash

His new book is the closest thing to jumping in a time machine and witnessing first-hand the alleged 1947 crash of an unidentified flying object near Roswell, New Mexico, says author Noe Torres, a UFO researcher and member of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON). Torres’s book, "Ultimate Guide to the Roswell UFO Crash," uses maps, photographs, and eyewitness accounts to direct Roswell enthusiasts on an exhaustive, self-guided tour of more than 35 places that have been linked to the world’s foremost UFO case. With this book in hand, travelers can locate and visit some of Roswell’s most mysterious and infamous places, including the military aircraft hangar south of town where, allegedly, the flying saucer and the bodies of its unearthly occupants were taken by the U.S. Army following the crash. Torres’s book also blazes a path to the site of the old Roswell Army Air Field hospital, where a witness reported seeing military doctors conducting a bizarre autopsy on the strange beings. Allegedly, the autopsy attempt was abandoned when a foul stench from the creatures’ bodily fluids caused everyone within smelling distance to become intensely ill. A short distance away from where the hospital stood, Roswell visitors can sit in the very room where one of the nurses present during the alien autopsy allegedly drew sketches of the creatures for Roswell mortician Glenn more

Poem of the week: Twenty-Sixth Winter by John Dofflemyer

If you find the term "cowboy poetry" impossibly paradoxical, you might need to think again. Last month, Elko, Nevada, saw the 26th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, an annual event that began with a small group of writers, folklorists and musicians, coming together to celebrate and regenerate an increasingly threatened way of life. Among the participants was the author of this week's poem, John Dofflemyer, whose first full-length collection, Poems from Dry Creek was the winner of the 2008 Western Heritage award for outstanding poetry book. John Dofflemyer's poetry draws fruitfully on his life as a cattle-rancher on the southern edge of the Sierra Nevada. In a note to the collection, he describes the setting: "steep ground my family has learned to work with for generations … Our grass is strong feed, our native cattle hearty – the character of the land shapes all." more

Green Police Super Bowl Ad

Song Of The Day #237

Ranch Radio will stay with the western theme this week. Here is Jimmy Wakely's 1949 recording of 'Neath The Purple Of The Hills. In addition to his recording career (which started in 1942) Wakely made 28 western movies.

The tune is available on his 28 track CD The Melody Kid.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Forest Service officer drives miles to issue warning about bulletin board ad

A U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer made a miles-long journey off federal property this week to warn a Chico man not to post advertisements for his business on a Forest Service bulletin board. He then detained him after the man allegedly slammed a door in the officer's face. Forest Service officer Paul Zohovetz asked for Chico police backup Wednesday when the man he was contacting, identified as Jeff Newman, 53, reportedly slammed a door in his face and allegedly refused to come out of his residence. Officials said Newman had violated Forest Service rules by posting a flier on a bulletin board near Colby Mountain in Lassen National Forest, offering a cross-country ski tuneup service. Newman is a painter by trade and told Zohovetz he was just trying to earn a little extra money to make ends meet. Newman, reportedly a diabetic, began to shake and convulse, then tried to pull away from Zohovetz and a Chico officer, who were forced to put him on the ground. Zohovetz' supervisor, Capt. Mike Zunino, said he couldn't comment on why the officer issued a warning to Newman in more

A FS employee in his government-issued costume shows up at your private residence without a warrant and demands you exit the residence. If you refuse you are breaking the law? Someone please show me the federal statute he has violated.

I'm also curious if there is a "Don't Slam The Door" statute.

All this over violating a bulletin board policy? Please remember this the next time you read a story about the FS not having enough personnel to protect the federal lands.

Mayor blames Forest Service for slides

Officials are scrambling to avoid a repeat of the weekend's hillside mudslides that damaged 43 homes in La Cañada Flintridge and La Crescenta and left many scratching their heads over the apparent lack of emergency preparations. Workers hurried Sunday to empty debris basins once filled with mud in anticipation of mid-week rains feared to further endanger homes on hillsides denuded by last summer's wildfires. Earlier Sunday, evacuation orders were lifted for residents in the mudslide area where at least nine of the mud-damaged homes were uninhabitable - possibly permanently. Some 540 residences had been evacuated in the foothill areas of La Crescenta, Acton, Altadena and La Cañada Flintridge. Some local officials on Sunday demanded that the federal government pay for mud removal, blaming the mudslide damage on the U.S. Forest Service for scaling back firefighting efforts too early after the Station Fire broke out in late August. La Cañada Flintridge Mayor Laura Olhasso blasted the U.S. Forest Service for allowing mud to flow from "I call on the federal government to take the responsibility to help our residents pay for cleaning up the mud," Olhasso said at a news conference in her mud-ravaged community. "The federal government must take responsibility for their mud that is coming out of their hills." more

Come on Mayor. Surely you're aware they are too busy enforcing their bulletin board policy and can't handle little things like the destruction of property and threats to public health and safety.

Mexican wolf population dipping

The Mexican wolf population in Arizona and New Mexico plunged to its lowest level in seven years in 2009, with eight wolves including four pups found dead last year, officials said Friday. Last year's total of 42 wolves found in the wild was down nearly 20 percent from 52 wolves in 2008. Since the wolf recovery plan began back in 1998, the U.S. government has spent about $20 million trying to restore wolves in Eastern Arizona and southwest New Mexico, federal records show. Ninety-two total wolves have been released into the wild. The decline is "tremendously disconcerting and very disturbing," said Benjamin Tuggle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's regional director for the Southwest. Officials thought this would be a good year for wolf pups. Also, the service didn't permanently remove any wolves from the wild last year, as it usually does after ranchers complain the wolves are eating cattle, he said. "I am determined to identify the reasons for this decline and turn the situation around so we can see more Mexican wolves in the wild during 2010," Tuggle said in a news conference by telephone Friday. Two wolves were confirmed to have been shot to death last year. Tuggle said he is not ruling out the possibility that the other six dead wolves were shot. Those deaths are under law enforcement investigation. "I don't think we can make any assumptions," Tuggle said. "It has a lot to do with the condition of carcasses. I think the two that we can clearly say were shot were fresh enough" carcasses to make such a determination, he said. An unusually poor survival rate among wolf pups appeared to play a key role in last year's population decline, officials indicated. Thirty-one pups were born last year in seven wolf packs. Seven survived, the wildlife service more

Mexico to place 5 wolves near AZ

The government of Mexico is planning to reintroduce five endangered Mexican gray wolves in northeastern Sonora - within a wolf's walking distance of Arizona. The reintroduction, scheduled to occur as early as this month, has forced U.S. state and federal agencies to scramble. Their problem is to figure out what to do if a wolf wanders north into the United States. So far, their answer isn't pleasing ranchers: They'll treat any wolves from Mexico as fully endangered and therefore largely untouchable. "For one (wolf) to go 80 miles in one week is nothing," said Laura Schneberger of the Gila Livestock Growers Association in New Mexico. "Once they're managed as fully endangered species, you won't be able to remove them for any reason." She called Mexico's plan, made in concert with some U.S. and allied Mexican environmental groups, an "end around" to bring wolves into the U.S. from the south. That possible result sounds like a good thing to some environmentalists from Arizona and New Mexico. They view the troubled wolf reintroduction straddling those U.S. states, in a place called the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, as weakened by rules that allow easy removals of wolves. "We do eventually want connectivity between the Blue Range wolves and wolves in Mexico," said Michael Robinson of the Tucson-based Center for Biological more

Tester announces changes to Montana jobs, wilderness bill

Reacting to both criticism and constructive advice, Sen. Jon Tester revealed a thick list of changes to his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act during a visit to Missoula on Friday. In all, Tester proposed 21 changes to S. 1470. Many involve assurances that 10,000 acres a year of timber would be cut, with proper scientific monitoring and protection from excessive litigation. Litigation also got some makeovers in the amendments released Friday. The bill now calls for mediation of disputes before anyone can go to court. And it applies a "balance of harms" rule to judges, who must consider not only the short-term damage of a project but the long-term damage of doing nothing. In the recreation department, Tester clarified that snowmobiles aren't restricted to trails or roads, and therefore can continue to travel in areas they're using currently. He moved some wilderness boundaries that criss-crossed the Continental Divide Trail, so mountain bikers could use the route without violating the prohibition on wheeled vehicles. And he dropped a plan to allow motorized access of Tendoy Lake in the East Pioneer Mountains, after getting confirmation the route was falling apart and would create management headaches for the rest of the wilderness area. One high-profile change switches the Highlands area near Butte from wilderness to "special management area" designation. That's partially to allow military contractors to land helicopters there for special forces more

The great global warming collapse

In 2007, the most comprehensive report to date on global warming, issued by the respected United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, made a shocking claim: The Himalayan glaciers could melt away as soon as 2035. These glaciers provide the headwaters for Asia's nine largest rivers and lifelines for the more than one billion people who live downstream. Melting ice and snow would create mass flooding, followed by mass drought. The glacier story was reported around the world. Last December, a spokesman for the World Wildlife Fund, an environmental pressure group, warned, “The deal reached at Copenhagen will have huge ramifications for the lives of hundreds of millions of people who are already highly vulnerable due to widespread poverty.” To dramatize their country's plight, Nepal's top politicians strapped on oxygen tanks and held a cabinet meeting on Mount Everest. But the claim was rubbish, and the world's top glaciologists knew it. It was based not on rigorously peer-reviewed science but on an anecdotal report by the WWF itself. When its background came to light on the eve of Copenhagen, Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC, shrugged it off. But now, even leading scientists and environmental groups admit the IPCC is facing a crisis of credibility that makes the Climategate affair look like small more

I thought of killing myself, says climate scandal professor Phil Jones

THE scientist at the centre of the “climategate” email scandal has revealed that he was so traumatised by the global backlash against him that he contemplated suicide. Professor Phil Jones said in an exclusive interview with The Sunday Times that he had thought about killing himself “several times”. He acknowledged similarities to Dr David Kelly, the scientist who committed suicide after being exposed as the source for a BBC report that alleged the government had “sexed up” evidence to justify the invasion of Iraq. In emails that were hacked into and seized upon by global-warming sceptics before the Copenhagen climate summit in December, Jones appeared to call upon his colleagues to destroy scientific data rather than release it to people intent on discrediting their work monitoring climate more

IPCC Chair Seeks Asbestos Bath for Critics

Raj Pachauri, the embattled head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), shocked global warming analysts yesterday when he told reporters he wished IPCC critics would rub asbestos on their faces every day. “They are the same people who deny the link between smoking and cancer,” said Pachauri. “They are people who say that asbestos is as good as talcum powder – and I hope they put it on their faces every day.” IPCC is supposed to be a dispassionate, highly professional organization of global warming experts examining scientific data with the highest possible objectivity. Pachauri’s stated desire to see IPCC critics suffer bodily harm is yet another in a long list of IPCC scandals and appalling behavior that have come to light in recent months. In the wake of climategate, glaciergate, Amazongate, fundinggate, and other recent IPCC scandals, Pachauri’s position is now clearly untenable. Replacing Pachauri, however, will do nothing to change the scandalous and biased IPCC culture if deep, fundamental reforms do not take place. Indeed, it could well be argued that IPCC itself is no longer more

Did EPA check global-warming claims?

Two members of Congress have written to the Environmental Protection Agency demanding answers about scientific documentation that was used to support the agency's determination that "greenhouse gases threaten the public health and welfare of the American people." The letter is from U.S. Reps. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Greg Walden, R-Ore., and follows by just a day a recommendation from officials at Penn State University that the work of one of their own – Michael Mann – regarding climate change documentation be investigated further. The developments follow a tsunami that was triggered shortly before Christmas when a cache of e-mails sent among global warming proponents was hacked from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, one of the world's premier global warming investigative organizations.. It revealed there were references to a "trick" to "hide the [temperature] decline," suggestions that other e-mails were being purged to prevent their revelations and indicated scientists who did not agree deliberately were being excluded from the discussion. Barton, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Walden, ranking member of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, addressed their concerns to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson because the agency has based much of its work on information from the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which worked closely with the officials East more

Global Warming Update

John Coleman, founder of the Weather Channel, in an hour-long television documentary titled "Global Warming: The Other Side," presents evidence that our National Climatic Data Center has been manipulating weather data just as the now disgraced and under investigation British University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit. The NCDC is a division of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Its manipulated climate data is used by the Goddard Institute of Space Studies, which is a division of the National Aeronautical and Space Administration. John Coleman's blockbuster five-part series can be seen here. The Coleman documentary presents research by computer expert E. Michael Smith and Certified Consulting Meteorologist Joseph D'Aleo. During the 1960s and into the 1980s, the number of stations used for calculating global surface temperatures was about 6,000. By 1990, the number of stations dropped rapidly to about 1,500. Most of the stations lost were in the colder regions of the Earth. Not adjusting for their lost made temperatures appear to be higher than was in fact the case. According to Science & Environmental Policy Project, Russia reported that CRU was ignoring data from colder regions of Russia, even though these stations were still reporting data. That means data loss was not simply the result of station closings but deliberate decisions by CRU to ignore them in order to hype their global warming claims. D'Aleo and Smith report that our NCDC engaged in similar deceptive activity where they have dropped stations, particularly in colder climates, higher elevations or closer to the polar regions. Temperatures are now simply projected for these colder stations from other stations, usually in warmer climates. Mounting evidence of scientific fraud might make little difference in terms of the response to manmade global warming hysteria. Why? Vested economic and political interests have emerged where trillions of dollars and social control are at more

Netherlands adds to UN climate report controversy

The Netherlands has asked the UN climate change panel to explain an inaccurate claim in a landmark 2007 report that more than half the country was below sea level, the Dutch government said Friday. According to the Dutch authorities, only 26 percent of the country is below sea level, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be asked to account for its figures, environment ministry spokesman Trimo Vallaart told AFP. The incident could cause further embarrassment for the IPCC, which recently admitted a claim in the same report that global warming could melt Himalayan glaciers by 2035 was more

Arizona project gives pronghorns second chance

In 2002, there were only about 21 Sonoran pronghorn left in the United States. But their numbers are rising as researchers have collaborated to carve out a home on a wildlife refuge, expand the herd with a captive-breeding program and help the animals reclaim their range. Today, there are only three Sonoran pronghorn populations in the world: two in northern Mexico and one in the United States. The U.S. herd lives on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, a vast stretch of desert wilderness southwest of Phoenix, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge's 860,000 acres has no paved roads and, more importantly, no fences. Pronghorn will reluctantly cross roads, but they don't jump well. Pronghorn habitat spills across lands managed by the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife, and all four branches of the military, which train in the area and employ their own biologists. The Border Patrol works in the area as well. Hervert said there were frequent disagreements among the different agencies in the past. His personal strategy for dealing with people he didn't get along with was to outlive them. Not anymore. The population crash changed people. Different agencies came more

Solar Roads: Energy Plus For the Future?

Imagine driving down a road made of giant solar panels. White strips of LED lights in the road brightly mark the lanes - especially helpful in the early morning darkness. Additional lights in the road suddenly blink on to warn, "Caution. Deer crossing." Sure enough, two hundred yards later, four deer hop across the road and bound into the snow on the other side. Thick white flakes still pour down, but they melt as they hit the road surface because the road is self-heated. Welcome to a solar road. Scott Brusaw of Sagle, Idaho hopes to make solar roadways a reality. Last summer, he received a $100,000 small business contract from the US Department of Transportation to develop prototypes of his invention. Working with Pennsylvania State University's Materials Research Institute, Brusaw has been spending the past five months getting his product ready for testing. He's scheduled to deliver the panels to the DOT by February 12, 2010. The positives? Thousands of miles of roads would not only get us from here to there, but would provide for all our energy needs. Solar energy from the roads would power the LED strips, as well as all houses and businesses in the vicinity. Not only could this technology eliminate the need for other power plants, but gas guzzling cars could also get phased out. Brusaw imagines a series of recharge stations for electric cars along the new solar highways. The self-warming roads would save states millions of dollars per year in snow-plows, sand and cinders, not to mention the added wear and tear on more

Cabinet secretaries announce conservation advisory group

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have announced the creation of the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council advisory group. "Today's conservation challenges demand that we all step forward and embrace the work necessary to conserve the wildlife habitat and water resources important to America's hunting and angling heritage," Vilsack said Thursday. The advisory council will also provide a forum for citizens to advise the government on policies related to wildlife and habitats that: • Benefit recreational hunting; • Benefit wildlife resources; and • Encourage cooperation among the public, conservationists, hunters, wildlife conservation organizations, states, Native American organizations and the federal more

Song Of The Day #236

Ranch Radio will get things started this week with A Dollar Down by Andy Parker & The Plainsmen.

The tune is available on his 27 track CD Texas Belle.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The high price of 'free'

by Julie Carter

An alarm went off in Jenna's head. Not a ringing bell kind of alarm, but the one that starts out in your gut, crawls up your spine and sends involuntary shivers to your body.

It was the same alarm you might feel when you realize your mother-in-law is coming to spend a week and the main ranch well just conked out or the sewer backed up again for the third time in a month.

Jenna had just come home from her honest job in town where she made a valiant attempt to support her husband's ranching habit.

On this day, his welcome home news was that their trusty insurance agent had come by and made him a deal he couldn't refuse.

The agent had talked Rusty into "trying out" a $1 million accidental death policy with Jenna the insured and Rusty the beneficiary. Not quite sure how one would "try-out" a pay-on-death accident policy, Jenna mentally listed other options including cancellation of the policy in 60 days if it wasn't used.

It was the "if not used" part that caused her the most concern. Her mind quickly went to all the times, when in the course of helping him on the ranch, her close calls with danger would warrant such a policy.

There were those days of helping him sort cattle in the alley afoot while he was horseback and the subsequent stampedes of cattle she was expected to stop, cut, turn or control.

And the days she had gone alone through brushy, snake-infested canyons riding colts that "needed the miles." Or those long days in the branding pen when calves were drug to the fire and not infrequently over the top of her.

There was the tractor with the cranky clutch that she sometimes drove and the feed truck with no brakes that was hers to use in the pastures with steep hillsides.
She distinctly remembered helping at the chute by giving shots and thanks to a fighting cow, gave herself the vaccination instead.

The more she considered the insurance "try out" idea, the more her level of anxiety rose.

Jenna recalled the years of their marriage and working together. It was her belief that 99.4 percent of the time it had been good.

She allowed that a time or two - surely no more than that - she had inadvertently and innocently gotten something slightly wrong.

At the time she thought Rusty, with his normal good humor, had just let it slide. However, just to be safe, she decided that during this policy "try out" period, she needed to watch her back.

A week or so later, when the policy discussion had faded somewhat, she began to relax again. Then one day, coming into the house through the back door, Rusty jumped out, hollered and scared her.

She screamed as she fell away from him and into the closed door that led to the basement stairs. The impact caused the door to pop open and instantly her life and a $1-million check passed before her eyes.

She managed to catch herself (without his help) before she took the plunge into the depths. Quite contrite, Rusty apologized profusely and told her it was just a joke.
He helped her sit down to catch her breath, re-claim her composure and hopefully, not get a gun. Many times over the years, he pulled similar practical jokes and she laughed with him.

But this time Jenna began telling her friends about Rusty's free $1-million policy on her and the subsequent "trying out" period. Collectively they began keeping an eye on Rusty and counting down the days. Several offered to hang Rusty should anything happen to her.

Rusty is typical of someone who had spent his life in cattle and ranching. His business sense simply would not let him pass up any good deal offered for free.

However, this time his reasonable intelligence overruled the monetary pressure. He called the insurance agent and gave him back 45 days of the "trying out" period.

He also requested written notification of the termination to be sent by registered mail, addressed to his wife. It was to be accompanied by a dozen roses.

Julie can be reached for comment at

It's The Pitts: Cattle Feeders Anonymous

by Lee Pitts

My name is Lee Pitts and I was once a cattle feeder. Yes, I was addicted to cattle feeding. I have seen firsthand the impact this can have on families and their net worth so I am proud to say that I have been clean now for 20 years.

Since there is no Betty Ford Clinic for helping cattle feeding addicts I had to cure my own addiction by developing a 12 step program like those used in Alcoholics Anonymous, Sexual Compulsive Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and over 200 other such programs. (It may not have been just the 12 step program that enabled me to quit cold turkey; a 58 cent fat market and a balky banker also contributed.) I offer my 12 step program in hopes that it may help others become cattle-feeding-sober.

Step 1: Stand up in a gathering of fellow cattlemen, in a bar or at a convention, and admit you are an addict and your behavior is unmanageable. Admit that when you see a pen of green feeders enter an auction ring and hear the auctioneer’s chant you are powerless in the face of your addiction and your hand automatically goes up.

Step 2: Because no one has yet developed a patch, drug, or chewing gum to rein in your cattle feeding addiction chew on alfalfa stems. You’ve already paid for them and you might as well put the hay to a better use than feeding it to cattle.

Step 3: If you absolutely must go to an auction take a person of higher authority with you, such as your wife, banker or Cattle Feeders Anonymous (CFA) sponsor to stop you when you try to bid on a cheap set of preggy Corriente feeding heifers.

Step 4: Remove the enablers; those people or things that are enabling you to feed cattle. These would include your banker, order buyer and futures trader. Sell your cattle truck and airplane. Cancel your membership in the Texas Cattle Feeders.

Step 5: Sell your calves at auction and don’t even consider retaining ownership. Let someone else have all the fun.

Step 6: Rediscover the other days in the week besides Thursdays when the price of fat cattle is usually established. Quit living solely for that 30 minute period when prices are set by the Big Three and admit that there is a higher power in this universe than Tyson, JBS and Cargill.

Step 7: Remove the temptation to be a farmer as well as a rancher. It is a short slippery step from growing your own hay or grain to building a set of corrals and having 3,500 head on feed.

Step 8: Cleanse your mind of the obsession. Quit reading articles authored by university professors or economists that advise that you are leaving $50 per head on the table by selling your calves instead of feeding them. Ask yourself, where are the teacher's and economist's feedlots?

Step 9: Break old habits. Don’t check the DTN machine first thing when you get up in the morning and every ten minutes thereafter until the markets close. Don’t let the price of corn ruin your day and rediscover a new life without margin calls, feed bills, mad cows, dairy buyouts and e coli outbreaks.

Step 10: Remove defects in your character. Become a CFA sponsor and don’t enable anyone to become an addict by financing them. Help wives and children who have been hurt by your fellow cattle feeding addicts by forming a CFA-anon group in your area.

Step 11: Pay your taxes. Stop buying trainloads of grain in December just to avoid paying taxes. Burn the money instead and save yourself a lot of grief.

Step 12: Replace the risk-taking behavior and euphoria you feel when feeding cattle with other activities. You may find you get the same rush from less risky activities such as hang gliding, sword juggling, car racing or bull riding.

Song Of The Day #235

Our Gospel tune this morning is by the bluegrass duo Beth & April Stevens and is titled In My Time Of Dying.

You will find it on their 12 track CD Sisters.

FBI wants records kept of Web sites visited

The FBI is pressing Internet service providers to record which Web sites customers visit and retain those logs for two years, a requirement that law enforcement believes could help it in investigations of child pornography and other serious crimes. FBI Director Robert Mueller supports storing Internet users' "origin and destination information," a bureau attorney said at a federal task force meeting on Thursday. As far back as a 2006 speech, Mueller had called for data retention on the part of Internet providers, and emphasized the point two years later when explicitly asking Congress to enact a law making it mandatory. But it had not been clear before that the FBI was asking companies to begin to keep logs of what Web sites are visited, which few if any currently do. The FBI is not alone in renewing its push for data retention. As CNET reported earlier this week, a survey of state computer crime investigators found them to be nearly unanimous in supporting the idea. Matt Dunn, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in the Department of Homeland Security, also expressed support for the idea during the task force meeting. Greg Motta, the chief of the FBI's digital evidence section, said that the bureau was trying to preserve its existing ability to conduct criminal investigations. Federal regulations in place since at least 1986 require phone companies that offer toll service to "retain for a period of 18 months" records including "the name, address, and telephone number of the caller, telephone number called, date, time and length of the call." more

Courts, Congress Shun Addressing Legality of Warrantless Eavesdropping

Heads spun four years ago this weekend, when AT&T was accused of funneling every one of its customers’ electronic communications to the National Security Agency — without warrants. A Jan. 31, 2006, lawsuit alleged major violations of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from warrantless searches and seizures. Such a sweeping breach seemed far-fetched. Yet months after the lawsuit was lodged, the Electronic Frontier Foundation produced internal AT&T documents allegedly outlining secret rooms in AT&T offices connected to the NSA, which was siphoning all internet traffic, from e-mails to Voice Over Internet Protocol phone conversations. But four years and a mountain of court briefs and rulings later, the legal system has never addressed the merits of the allegations — and likely never will. Even Congress has weighed in and passed legislation to prevent the allegations from being heard. And many — including the former AT&T technician who produced the documents in the case and the EFF — believe the alleged dragnet surveillance program continues unabated more