Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wilderness On The Border? 12 Articles On Border Violence

Go here to see my previous posts on this issue.

Please keep in mind what I previously wrote:

All of this violence is to control routes into the U.S. for human and drug trafficking. So as you read these posts ask yourself: Why would anyone deem it in the public interest to designate Wilderness in close proximity to our southern border? Why limit the use of motorized vehicles and mechanical equipment by federal, state and local law enforcement on over 400 square miles of southern NM?

This series is followed by two additional posts: One about Salazar visiting a wilderness area thoroughly destroyed by illegal trafficking and the other is two video reports where you can actually hear the 911 calls from our citizens on a violent event and the other where you can hear the officers on our side of the border reporting on the event.

It's really a shame I'm having to post about this at all.

Mexican military copter over U.S. neighborhood The Zapata County sheriff Thursday was questioning why a Mexican military helicopter was hovering over homes on the Texas side of the Rio Grande. It was one of the more jarring incidents of the fourth week of border tensions sparked by drug killings, and rumors of such killings, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez said he'd reviewed photos of the chopper flown by armed personnel Tuesday over a residential area known as Falcon Heights-Falcon Village near the binational Falcon Lake, just south of the Starr-Zapata county line. He said the helicopter appeared to have the insignia of the Mexican navy. “It's always been said that the Mexican military does in fact ... that there have been incursions,” Gonzalez said. “But this is not New Mexico or Arizona. Here we've got a river; there's a boundary line. And then of course having Falcon Lake, Falcon Dam, it's a lot wider. It's not just a trickle of a river, it's an actual dam. You know where the boundary's at.” The sighting came amid ongoing fighting between the Gulf Cartel and its former enforcers, Los Zetas. The mounting death toll and crisis of fear in cities across from the Texas border have drawn global attention, as has a news blackout in affected cities due to the kidnappings of eight Mexican journalists, at least one of whom was killed...

Perry: State Looking Into Mexican Border Incursion Gov. Rick Perry said Friday state and federal authorities are trying to get answers about the Mexican military helicopter that crossed the Texas-Mexico border late Wednesday afternoon. U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed that a Mexican military helicopter crossed the border near Falcon Dam in Zapata County before returning to Mexico without landing. The Mexican army and navy are both involved in anti-drug trafficking operations in Mexican border cities. In a prepared statement Friday, Perry called for better communication between U.S. and Mexican authorities along the border. “As violence escalates in Mexican border cities, it’s critically important for Texas, U.S. and Mexican law enforcement to communicate and appropriately coordinate our efforts to combat border crime and protect legitimate cross-border trade and travel,” Perry said...

Photos released of Mexican helicopter flying over Falcon HeightsAuthorities have released photos showing a Mexican military helicopter flying on the American side of the border. Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo “Sigi” Gonzalez said the photos and eyewitness accounts prove helicopter flew unauthorized into American airspace on Tuesday evening. The alleged incursion happened near Falcon Dam in the rural community of Falcon Heights. Witnesses said the chopper had the Mexican navy logo, armed men inside and the cargo ramp down. The chopper reportedly spent at least 15 minutes in the area before crossing back into Mexico.

Mexican Helicopter Flies over S. Texas - US gave permission A Mexican military helicopter which flew low over rural south Texas earlier this week, alarming residents, had permission to be in US air space, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said today. The military helicopter, clearly marked with the insignia of the Mexican Navy, flew over Zapata County Texas Wednesday afternoon, alarming residents and lighting up the switchboard at local law enforcement offices. With the uptick in drug related violence in northern Mexico, and the alleged involvement of Mexican military personnel in some of that drug activity, the appearance of Mexican military aircraft over the U.S. prompts fears. "We were aware of it," Dovalina said of the Mexican helicopter's flight near Falcon Lake. "They notified the liaison between their government and our government, we gave them permission to cross over."...

Shooting linked to smuggling ring, police say A man shot multiple times Thursday evening at a Moreno Valley house where two others were killed may have been a victim of human smugglers' increasing violence against immigrants, authorities said Friday. The two shooting victims who died were found inside the house where police say undocumented immigrants were held while waiting for their families to pay for their release. The wounded man was able to escape and ran to a cell phone store nearly two miles away. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they are seeing a preference among smugglers for holding immigrants in the Inland region rather Los Angeles. The officials say smugglers in general are becoming more violent and are demanding more money once the immigrants have been brought across the border...

U.S. kidnapping cases sheds light on roots of current Gulf-Zeta tensions Imurias Machado TreviƱo allegedly ran with a crew that kidnapped, beat and in at least one case killed drug dealers operating in Hidalgo County. Taking their orders from a top Zeta lieutenant, the group has been linked to seven abductions between August and October 2008, a stockpile of weapons found in Mission and a broad-daylight shootout in a San Juan medical plaza — all part of a campaign to expand the drug trafficking organization’s reach into South Texas...

Kidnapped, smuggled and worse The smuggler threatened to kill 4-year-old Nayli if he didn't receive $11,500 from her parents — immediately. He had sneaked the girl across the Mexican border nearly a month earlier and now was holding her for ransom somewhere near Los Angeles. "Mommy, I don't want to be here anymore," Nayli said through tears when the smuggler put her on the phone. Though Nayli's young age makes her case unique, kidnapping illegal immigrants for ransom is common as they cross the border into Southern California — a harrowing testament to the violent nature of smuggling rings. Smugglers make deals and break them. They hold men, women and children in locked stash houses, while using violence and threats to extort money from their relatives. The kidnapped immigrants have been beaten, starved, raped, even killed, said Miguel Unzueta, who oversees the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Los Angeles. Independent coyotes still operate all along the border, but law enforcement officers say highly sophisticated criminal networks and drug-trafficking cartels have taken over much of the trade...

Six Slain at Wake in Border City Six people were killed and five others were wounded here when gunmen opened fire at the wake for a young man killed three days ago in this northern border city, sources in the Chihuahua state Attorney General’s Office said Friday. The attack occurred shortly after 9:00 p.m. Thursday at a home in southeastern Ciudad Juarez. At the time of the attack, a group of family and friends were paying their final respects to Aaron Alberto Flores, who was killed March 9 while sitting in his vehicle outside a 24-hour convenience store. Authorities have not yet identified the six victims. In statements to Efe, the family members said several gunmen got out of two vehicles and entered the room where the minor’s remains were on view. The assailants fired at the people attending the wake, killing five men and a woman and wounding five others...

Mexico drug cartel uses rogue reporters to intimidate media A powerful drug cartel is buying off journalists in northern Mexico to work as spies and smother coverage of a spike in killings on the U.S. border in the latest attack on the media in Mexico. Hitmen from the Gulf cartel based over the border from Texas are paying reporters around $500 a month and showering them with liquor and prostitutes to intimidate and silence colleagues at radio stations and newspapers in towns near the Laredo-Brownsville area, journalists and editors say. A turf war that has erupted over the past three weeks around the manufacturing city of Reynosa has gone almost completely unreported despite more than 100 deaths, in a news blackout made more notable by the intense media coverage of other drug war flashpoints around the country. "Our newsrooms have been infiltrated by these reporters, they monitor what we write, they know where we live. With this system, the narcos have direct control over us," said a local newspaper editor who declined to be named for safety...

US-born capo, drug lord's brother fight for cartel Authorities say a U.S.-born hitman is fighting the brother of a deceased drug lord for control of the Beltran-Leyva cartel, marking what may be the first time an American has risen to the very top ranks of Mexican gangs. Ramon Pequeno, head of the anti-narcotics division of Mexico's federal police, said Tuesday that Texas-born Edgar Valdez Villarreal, nicknamed "La Barbie," is battling Hector Beltran Leyva for control of the Beltran Leyva cartel. Valdez Villarreal was born in the border city of Laredo, Texas, and has built a reputation as one of the most brutal enforcers employed by Mexican drug gangs. Late last week, the U.S. consulate in the northern city of Monterrey warned Americans to avoid traveling by road between Monterrey and the border cities of Nuevo Laredo and Reynosa, citing a "heightened risk of violence" on those highways...

Red Cross is latest victim of Mexican drug war Red Cross clinics in some parts of Mexico are refusing to treat people wounded by gunshots after finding themselves caught in the drug war, with cartel hit men intercepting ambulances to seize patients and even killing a Red Cross worker this week. In drug-plagued Sinaloa state on the Pacific coast, police started escorting ambulances and guarding Red Cross clinics after a Red Cross dispatcher was killed Sunday in crossfire by assailants who followed a wounded man to a clinic to finish him off. Maria Genoveva Rogers is believed to be the first Red Cross worker killed since President Felipe Calderon launched his drug war in 2006...

Immigrants Returned Through Presidio to Avoid Violence Beginning today illegal immigrants who are eligible to voluntarily return to Mexico will now go through the Presidio port of entry, instead of El Paso. Border patrol officials hope to prevent the Mexican citizens from being subjected to the violence in Juarez and surrounding areas. Once a day, everyday of the week, a bus will travel from El Paso to Presidio to carry the Mexican citizens who have requested voluntary return to Mexico. Officials say this modified program began today and will continue indefinitely to help reduce the risk for Mexican nationals.

COMMENT: It's not safe enough to return the illegal immigrants but it is safe enough to create a 400 square mile zone where law enforcement may not enter?

100's of emergency 9-1-1 calls follow cartel shootout (watch & listen to two video reports)

We have new information on the violence happening across the border in our sister city. Nuevo Laredo officials have been denying over and over that there is any kind of violence occurring there. We have obtained 911-dispatch audio of the night of Friday, February 26Th. That’s the first night of the major shootouts across the border. Our Noraida Negron has all the details in a story you will only see here on eight. Just that night alone 911 dispatch received hundreds of calls in a matter of three hours. The audio you are about to hear is just from a span of one hour. Residents who live in Laredo along the riverbanks were calling 911 talking about explosions and multiple gunfights. read more





Officials across the border have been very reluctant to admit to the violence, but on Wednesday night we presented you with recordings from the night of February 19th as gunfights broke out in Nuevo Laredo. We have more audio recordings from that night. This time we get to hear what police officers were saying to each other in their radio transmissions. [link]

Salazar to tour dangerous border area

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will tour the U.S.-Mexico border Saturday at a national monument that has been deemed so dangerous more than half is closed to the public. Salazar will spend nearly two hours at the border of Arizona's Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument after chatting with employees at the Kris Eggle Visitor Center, which is named after a park ranger who was killed by drug runners in 2002. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, has argued for public land agencies and Homeland Security to do more to secure the vast stretches of border abutting federally controlled areas. He also has raised concerns about conflicts between Interior officials and border agents. Robert Eggle, whose son was killed on U.S. soil, will accompany Salazar on the trip and said Friday that he hopes to encourage the secretary to take a deeper look at the problems along public lands on the border and to staff up the area to tackle the influx of crossers. Eggle says even eight years after his son's murder, there hasn't been enough done to halt the drug cartels that are increasingly controlling part of the national monument, and he's still sore that federal officials didn't see his son's death as a catalyst to take major action there. "I personally am outraged," Robert Eggle said, "that there was no outrage expressed by any level of government, be it Congress or the president or the secretary of state, never any expression of outrage that an American, a federal law enforcement officer well inside the U.S. could be killed by spillover Mexican violence."...read more

COMMENT: The key here will be who briefs the Secretary. Will they show him the previous studies showing the destruction of the resource by traffickers, the abandoned vehicles, the map showing the traffickers prefer Wilderness area, etc.? For an excellent video presentation on these internal federal studies go here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Note to readers

First, Firefox was fighting with blogger.com and I couldn't save or publish anything. I tried everything I knew and then on the outside chance it was a Firefox problem tried using Internet Explorer. Turned out it worked fine using IE, even though it's awful unhandy for the way I do things. Then just about the time I was getting used to using IE again, my ms flared up and my left leg started firing off. That means I can't get under my desk without getting pretty bruised up. That's fine with me, especially when I'm as mad as I am right now, but Sweet Sharon objects (I tell the docs she beats me and a couple of them actually believed me).

So, you're getting a shortened version of The Westerner this morning, and it's all Sweet Sharon's fault.

Besides, Bert Ancell jumped me out at the Bingaman hearing for not getting the blog up early enough for him to read before he left the house.

So Bert is partly to blame...but it's mostly Sweet Sharon.

Troopers deternine death by "animal attack", "most likely" wolves

Troopers Determine Death in Chignik Lake is from Animal Attack

(CHIGNIK LAKE, Alaska)-- Investigation has determined that Candice Berner's death was non-criminal in nature. An autopsy conducted today confirmed Ms. Berner died from injuries sustained in an animal attack. According to the State Medical Examiner, the manner of death is "accidental" and the cause of death is "multiple injuries due to animal mauling". After conferring with state biologists and the community of Chignik Lake, it has been concluded that the animals most likely responsible for the attack are wolves. The Alaska State Troopers'(AST) death investigation regarding this incident is closed.

AST is providing assistance to the Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) as it addresses public safety concerns regarding wolf activity close to the community of Chignik Lake under the ADF&G Commissioner's statutory authority. A trooper pilot and an R-44 helicopter are en route to Chignik Lake to assist Fish and Game efforts. Barring any weather or logistical issues, a trooper, as well as a representative from ADF&G, will attend a public meeting in Chignik Lake tonight to address ongoing response efforts and concerns of local residents. ADN

Villagers unnerved by fearless wolves after teacher's death

Villagers in Chignik Lake were on patrol Wednesday, hunting for wolves they blame in the death of a 32-year-old schoolteacher while she was jogging on an isolated road this week. Tuesday night and again Wednesday morning, villagers said, an armed group of men was out roaming on snowmachines in search of tracks left by wolves, which people say have been coming too close to town lately. "We approached them last night, but we ended up losing them," said Fred Shangin, 32, who is among the hunters. "They were right by the village again. They started running, we started chasing them but they came up to a creek we couldn't get across." Villagers say people are on edge, concerned with the boldness of wolves in the wake of Berner's death. Four people riding snowmachines along the road came across her body about 6:30 p.m. Monday. Gregory Kalmakoff, 23, said by phone Wednesday he and the others had been out riding at Portage Bay and were on their way back. "There was a blood spot on the road," he said. "I turned around, looked and there was drag marks going down a little hill." There were wolf tracks in the new snow and footprints left by a person, he said. It appeared something had been dragged off the road, said Kalmakoff's cousin, 24-year-old Jacob Kalmakoff, who troopers say was among those who discovered the body. "We seen her gloves on the road where she was running," Kalmakoff said. "She didn't get away too far from them; they took her down pretty fast. You could see a blood trail of her body getting drug down the hill." "After the wolves came back, they took her up to the village," he said. "The wolves weren't scared of nothing. They were just circling them down there, trying to look for an opportunity to get back in there." Alaska State Troopers say there was predation on the body but they haven't concluded whether it was before or after death. Investigators told Berner's family in Pennsylvania that she had been killed in an animal attack, possibly by wolves...read more

Deer, mountain lions the targets of proposed bill

Deer and mountain lions, beware. The Nebraska Legislature is gunning for you. Lawmakers advanced a bill Thursday aimed at reducing the overpopulation of deer in certain parts of the state. They also approved an amendment allowing the shooting of mountain lions that are preying on livestock or threatening humans. Among its controversial provisions, it would have allowed landowners to "spotlight" deer at night with high-powered flashlights and would have granted them a $25 tax credit for shooting deer...read more

COMMENT: It's against the law to spotlight deer?

Be a Cowboy Days guest at a retro Wild West wedding

You're invited to an usual wedding. The groom is an upper-crusty Bostonian with a persnickety Victorian mom visiting New Mexico for the first time. The bride is a Las Cruces rancher's daughter whose widowed Spanish mom wonders if the groom is after her land grant. Save the date: 1895. Get ready to time travel and be a guest at a retro Wild West wedding this weekend during the 11th annual Cowboy Days at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum (NMFRHM), 4100 Dripping Springs Road. Visitors will be able to check out the bridal party and guests in period costumes and ask questions about the matrimonial ceremonies and customs of yesteryear at Living History Reenactments from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the NMFRHM Horse and Cattle Barn. " The idea is to learn what it was like for people living in New Mexico in 1895," said the museum's exhibit designer Megan Walker, who will portray the groom's sister. f you're not in the mood for an old-time marriage, there will be lots more to do, from gunfight reenactments and rodeo-style events to horse shows, cowboy poets, authors and musicians, arts and crafts, demonstrations, cowpoke grub and plant sales during Cowboy Days, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday...read more

Sushi: Endangered whale and horse meat

It's a whale of a legal tale, but no laughing matter for The Hump, a Santa Monica, California sushi restaurant and sushi chef Kiyoshiro Yamamoto who are charged with serving Sei whale to undercover customers investigating the fishy -- actually, mammal -- caper. The Sei whale is a federally protected marine animal. That makes catching and selling sei whale meat against the law. What makes this case so brazen, however, is that Yamamoto is charged (see below) with not simply a single offense of selling whale meat to sushi customers, but that it happened multiple times…sometimes together with horse meat. No, not sea horse meat. Real horse meat. The kind that live on land, run around farms, and have ponies that you or your children may have ridden. That kind of horse meat...read more

Cap 'n Trade device for rich greenies - Cartoon























COMMENT: Would inserting the device in the gas producing area qualify as a green job?

Song Of The Day #259

Ranch Radio will feature two more songs which charted in 1960 and which are a little more to the liking of the head honcho. First is the Buck Owens' recording Above and Beyond, followed by Skeets McDonald performing This Old Heart.

Since the ol' ms and the computer are both acting up this morning, you can do your own search for their collections.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wolf attack may have killed teacher

Authorities were in an Alaska Peninsula village Tuesday investigating whether a 32-year-old schoolteacher, found dead off a road leading out of town, was killed in a wolf attack, according to state and local officials. The body of Candice Berner of Slippery Rock, Pa., was discovered Monday evening off a roughly 7-mile gravel road leading to the Chignik Lake airstrip. Berner's father, Bob Berner, reached in Pennsylvania on Tuesday night, said Alaska State Troopers told the family their daughter had been killed in an "animal attack, possibly a wolf attack." Troopers told him it was highly unusual and still under investigation, with the body on its way to Anchorage for an autopsy, he said. "They wanted to make sure that nothing happened prior to the animal bite," Berner said. Berner described his daughter as "small and mighty," a woman who liked to box, lift weights and run. She was training for a race and could get into a meditative state when running, he said. Troopers would not comment on the cause of death, saying the investigation is ongoing and that they are awaiting the results of the autopsy. Spokeswoman Megan Peters said the body showed signs of predation but declined to provide further details. The body was found on regional corporation land within the borders of the Alaska Peninsula Wildlife Refuge and therefore was not in federal jurisdiction, said Bruce Woods, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service...read more

Senate approves bill to condemn federal land

The Utah Senate has agreed to challenge Washington by condemning federal lands that the state needs to access state school-trust lands for mineral developments. HB143 strikes at what proponents say is an uncaring federal government that's increasingly restrictive on land uses. Lawmakers acknowledged a tough court fight if the state claims federal land, but backers said it's worth the estimated $3 million legal bill for potentially billions in mineral revenues that would help fund education. "There is phenomenal wealth that is in our ground that could be enjoyed by the children of this state if only we could get to it, said Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George. But the Senate also passed a companion bill, HB324, dedicating money from a state land-exchange fund for the legal costs, and some Democrats objected. "That $3 million would be so much better expended at a million dollars a year in our public education now," said Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City. Lawmakers who want to condemn federal land say Congress reneged on a deal at statehood that offered 5 percent of the revenues from sales of federal lands. Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, said that argument won't hold up in court because Utah also agreed to give up any claims to the federal lands as a condition of statehood. Nonetheless, he voted for the bills because, he said, there may be a legitimate constitutional claim that Utah did not come into the Union on equal footing with other states because of land restrictions...read more

BLM acquires more land for prairie chicken

The Bureau of Land Management and The Conservation Fund have protected 7,440 acres of land about 35 miles east of Roswell for key habitat for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken. The land is within a 58,000-acre Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) in Chaves County. “There are few things we do in our professional lives that are as critical and long-lasting as today’s acquisition for the prairie-chicken,” said Doug Burger, Pecos District Manager for the BLM. “The Conservation Fund was extremely helpful in working with the landowner to accomplish the acquisition and we want to express our deepest admiration and thanks for their efforts.” The Conservation Fund negotiated the purchase of the land. When the sale was finalized on March 3, the Fund sold it to the BLM, which received funding from the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to complete the transaction. The LWCF funding was provided to the BLM with strong support from New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall. “We’re especially pleased to partner with the BLM to protect one of the best strongholds for the lesser prairie-chicken in the nation,” said Mike Ford, director of the southwest office of The Conservation Fund. “Senators Bingaman and Udall championed this project in Congress and we greatly appreciate their support and commitment to preserving the state’s natural legacy.”...read more

COMMENT: Let's see, there is a document floating around Interior listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken Preserve as a potential National Monument; the head of the Southwest Region for the Conservation Fund is a former NM BLMer; and NM BLM gets allocated over a million bucks to add acreage to the preserve. I'd say we have a National Monument in the making.

No plans for new national monuments in Montana

In an exchange with U.S. Sen. Jon Tester on Tuesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said his agency has no plans to create a new national monument in Montana or buy up private land in the Missouri Breaks area east of Fort Benton. "There have been no directions from the White House that we move forward on monument designation," Salazar told Tester at a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Interior Subcommittee. The exchange stems from publicity last week over an Interior Department internal memo on potential monument designations and acquisitions, part of which was leaked last week. The leaked memo had a list of areas in the West that "may be good candidates for National Monument designation under the Antiquities Act," which allows the president to establish national monuments...read more

Bishop: Outing memo brought needed denials

Washington Interior Secretary Ken Salazar appeared before Congress again Tuesday to testify on his department's budget request only to face another question about whether President Barack Obama was angling to designate any new national monuments in the West. It has been nearly three weeks since Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, released a memo he says showed the Obama administration may have plans to use a century-old law to unilaterally convert federal lands (including two potential sites in Utah) to national monuments - a claim that has brought repeated denials from Salazar. That may be exactly what Western lawmakers wanted: high-profile denials. "The fact that they said they will not do anything yet and they will confer with local governments, that's a major change, and that's a plus," Bishop said Tuesday. "So, yeah, I think outing them kind of helped out here. I would take that not necessarily as a win, but at least it's something that moves forward the public process." Salazar and his spokeswoman, Kendra Barkoff, repeatedly have said that the document Bishop released - identifying 14 potential Western monuments, including Utah's Cedar Mesa and San Rafael Swell - simply was the result of brainstorming and no action was forthcoming. Now, even if the Obama administration wanted to name a national monument, it would have a hard time doing so using the 1906 Antiquities Act unless it gained the backing of local officials...read more

The Wrong Kind of Green

Why did America's leading environmental groups jet to Copenhagen and lobby for policies that will lead to the faster death of the rainforests--and runaway global warming? Why are their lobbyists on Capitol Hill dismissing the only real solutions to climate change as "unworkable" and "unrealistic," as though they were just another sooty tentacle of Big Coal? At first glance, these questions will seem bizarre. Yet as we confront the biggest ecological crisis in human history, many of the green organizations meant to be leading the fight are busy shoveling up hard cash from the world's worst polluters--and burying science-based environmentalism in return. Sometimes the corruption is subtle; sometimes it is blatant. In the middle of a swirl of bogus climate scandals trumped up by deniers, here is the real Climategate, waiting to be exposed. Environmental groups used to be funded largely by their members and wealthy individual supporters. They had only one goal: to prevent environmental destruction. Their funds were small, but they played a crucial role in saving vast tracts of wilderness and in pushing into law strict rules forbidding air and water pollution. But Jay Hair--president of the National Wildlife Federation from 1981 to 1995--was dissatisfied. He identified a huge new source of revenue: the worst polluters. Hair found that the big oil and gas companies were happy to give money to conservation groups...read more

Forest Service assesses effects of Wilderness on firefighting

Turning Basalt Mountain into Wilderness wouldn't prohibit firefighting there but it would eliminate opportunities to reduce dead trees and fuels that have built up for decades, the top official in the White River National Forest said Wednesday. Basalt firefighters and Wilderness activists disagreed with parts of the assessment made by Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams, showing how difficult it is to sort through some implications of the Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign. In a location like Basalt Mountain, the decision to fight a fire will be made most of the time, Fitzwilliams said. “Whether that's Wilderness or not, the response is probably going to be the same,” he said. Fire Chief Scott Thompson said that, with all due respect to the Forest Service, the written rules and the application of rules aren't always the same. Written rules that appear to provide flexibility can actually provide an extra hurdle. The fire department typically handles the first response to wild land fires on Basalt Mountain. Requiring an extra step of approval to fight a fire in a Wilderness area might take “hours or days,” Thompson said. He said his assessment comes from practical, in the field experience in dealing with the Forest Service on Wilderness issues for 15 years as a former Pitkin County deputy sheriff and for 10 years as the fire chief. That experience indicates it won't always be a speedy process to get approval to fight a fire in Wilderness. And that, he said, could result in a catastrophic fire for the homeowners of Basalt...read more

Bush Interior secretary discusses transformation to enthusiastic environmentalist

In 2000, Lynn Scarlett left the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank, to serve eight years in the Bush administration as assistant secretary of the Interior, steward for 500 million acres in public land. She later led the department after the resignation of Secretary Gale Norton, amid tumult over land policy and science's role. Scarlett, 60, recently sat down in a Santa Barbara office to discuss her transformation from conservative conservationist to enthusiastic environmentalist. On President George W. Bush's interest in environmental issues. . . .All my interaction with the president was seeing a person who really cared about conservation. The public image is very different from my personal perception. Now, having said that, I don't want to be making the comment -- because I think it would be . . . foolish -- to say that conservation was a priority for the administration. There certainly were many players for whom environmental matters and conservation were somewhere lower along the totem pole. Or not just low on the totem pole, but even antithetical to their interests. This gets to an observation I have about modern conservatives and Republicans. Conservatives -- with four decades of relentless critique of environmental laws, what they call "command and control" -- have come to conflate a critique of the tools for a critique of the value set. And so I had people on the Hill say to me, "I don't do environment." I think it's something that conservatives have not grappled with and must grapple with to be relevant in the 21st century. . . . Environment is about human health as much as it's about ecological health, it's about spiritual well-being, it's about physical well-being. And right now very few -- not all -- but very few conservatives have much constructive to say on that topic...read more

New Green Curriculum Unveiled for USDA Forest Service Job Corps

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled a new direction for the USDA Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers (CCCs) that will train underserved youth for jobs in the emerging green economy. The green curriculum announced today will expand opportunities and pathways out of poverty through the promotion of public service, sustainable lifestyles, and vocational skills that will enable young people to compete for green jobs. USDA operates 28 CCCs across 18 states with a capacity of 6,200 students...read more

COMMENT: These poor kids. They already have two strikes against them and then the FS fills them full of this green jobs bunk. Take their carpentry course on "green construction". The carpenters around here are glad to find work of any kind, no matter the color. Tell them to "go green" and they will laugh in your face. They just want "green" in their pocket and that is mighty hard to come by right now.

I always figured the FS could do a better job than most in working with these urban kids. I'll have to rethink that if they keep up with this politically correct crap.

CDC taps into shopper card data to track food-borne illness

As they scrambled recently to trace the source of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened hundreds around the country, investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention successfully used a new tool for the first time -- the shopper cards that millions of Americans swipe every time they buy groceries. With permission from the patients, investigators followed the trail of grocery purchases to a Rhode Island company that makes salami, then zeroed in on the pepper used to season the meat. Never before had the CDC successfully mined the mountain of data that supermarket chains compile. Shopper cards have been around for more than a decade, offering customers discounts in exchange for letting supermarkets track their buying habits. The cards are used to build customer loyalty and help stores market their products. Some privacy advocates, though, are troubled. Longtime shopper-card critic Katherine Albrecht, director of a group called Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, said she worries that the practice could lead to a switch from a voluntary system to mandatory use of such cards. "That sends chills down my spine," she said...read more

Molly, the Three Legged Pony (Video)

Baxter Black: Modern ranchers retain early pioneer qualities

One of the qualities that characterizes dedicated ranchers and farmers is a joyous commitment to hard work. It's sort of an odd combination of curiosity, independence and bravado. They actually crave the struggle, like long-distance runners crave the race. They love their job. Ranching is not a sport. It pits man against all that nature can throw at him year after year. It takes a hardheaded person to keep pushing back. That's how frontiers were conquered and the West was won. Today's ranchers possess the same qualities exemplified by the 18th- and 19th-century pioneers. The origin of the word pioneer comes from the Native American language Pi, as in "pie in the sky," and "near," meaning "it's just over the next hill, Mother!" g guns or toting regulations. Ranchers battle the same obstacles encountered by the early settlers - drought, blizzard, disease, despair, and predators, including wild ones and those packing guns or toting regulations...read more

Song Of The Day #258

Ranch Radio figures there must have been a whole herd of Honky Tonk Girls around in 1960. Two of the top songs that year were I'm Just A Honky Tonk Girl by Lorreta Lynn and Honky Tonk Girl by Johnny Cash. Lynn's self-penned song was the first released by Zero records and the one which sent her on her way in the music industry.

Lynn's song is available on her 3 disc box set Honky Tonk Girl: The Loretta Lynn Collection and the Cash tune is on his 12 track CD Now, There Was a Song!.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

2010 International Property Rights Index (IRPI) Released

The Property Rights Alliance is proud to announce the release of the 2010 International Property Rights Index (IRPI), which measures the intellectual and physical property rights of 125 nations from around the world. This year, sixty-two international organizations partnered with the Property Rights Alliance and its Hernando de Soto Fellowship program to produce the fourth annual IPRI. To view the report in its entirety visit www.internationalpropertyrightsindex.org.
The IPRI uses three primary areas of property rights to create a composite score: Legal and Political Environment (LP), Physical Property Rights (PPR), and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Most importantly, the IPRI emphasizes the great economic differences between countries with strong property rights and those without. Nations falling in the first quintile enjoy an average national GDP per capita of $35, 676; almost double that of the second quintile with an average of $20, 087. The third, fourth, and fifth quintiles average $9,375, $4,699, and $4,437 respectively. “With regard to private property rights, PRA continues to champion the idea that physical and intellectual property are equally important in nature, and must be protected” states Kelsey Zahourek, PRA executive director. “Property rights contribute to increased levels of stability and provide people with the knowledge and comfort that their property will remain theirs.”...read more

COMMENT: Sadly, 14 countries rank higher than the US when it comes to protecting property rights.

NY Supreme Court Votes to Evict Residents and Close Businesses

In summary, a private developer in New York wants to build a $4.9 billion dollar pro-basketball arena smack in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Brooklyn. In order to do so, residents of that neighborhood are being evicted on grounds that the neighborhood has been “blighted”, a precedent set by the infamous case Kelo v. The City of New London (2005). Needless to say, the residents of the neighborhood believe they are being unfairly evicted and took their complaints to the New York Supreme Court. After nearly six years of battling developer Bruce Ratner, the neighbors received a final hit this week as the Supreme Court handed down its decision. As was reported in the New York Daily News, judges gave the Atlantic Yards arena project the go-ahead on Monday (March 1). Though the tenants technically have a few months before they have to be out of their apartments and condos, Ratner announced that he plans on breaking ground as early as March 11. But the residents refuse to go quietly. One tenant exclaimed, “It feels like I live in a state run by crooks!” To some New Yorkers, however, the greatest loss is not the residential property, but Freddy’s Bar and Backroom – rated one of the Best Bars in Brooklyn by the New York Times and Esquire – which also sits smack in the middle of Ratner’s targeted area for development...read more

Obama may limit fishing

The Obama administration will accept no more public input for a federal strategy that could prohibit U.S. citizens from fishing the nation's oceans, coastal areas, Great Lakes, and even inland waters. This announcement comes at the time when the situation supposedly still is "fluid" and the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force still hasn't issued its final report on zoning uses of these waters. That's a disappointment, but not really a surprise for fishing industry insiders who have negotiated for months with officials at the Council on Environmental Quality and bureaucrats on the task force. These angling advocates have come to suspect that public input into the process was a charade from the beginning. "Now we see NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the administration planning the future of recreational fishing access in America based on a similar agenda of these same groups and other Big Green anti-use organizations, through an Executive Order by the President. The current U.S. direction with fishing is a direct parallel to what happened in Canada with hunting: The negative economic impacts on hard working American families and small businesses are being ignored. Consequently, unless anglers speak up and convince their Congressional representatives to stop this bureaucratic freight train, it appears that the task force will issue a final report for "marine spatial planning" by late March, with President Barack Obama then issuing an Executive Order to implement its recommendations — whatever they may be...read more

UN to review errors made by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The United Nations is to announce an independent review of errors made by its climate change advisory body in an attempt to restore its credibility. A team of the world’s leading scientists will investigate the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and ask why its supposedly rigorous procedures failed to detect at least three serious overstatements of the risk from global warming. The review will be overseen by the InterAcademy Council, whose members are drawn from the world’s leading national science academies, including Britain’s Royal Society, the United States National Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The review will be led by Robbert Dijkgraaf, co-chairman of the Interacademy Council and president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been asked to investigate the internal processes of the IPCC and will not consider the overarching question of whether it was right to claim that human activities were very likely to be causing global warming...read more

COMMENT: It's just a process problem, don't ya see.

The Heat is On: Desert Tortoises and Survival

Though the Mojave Desert tortoise has thrived in the southwestern United States for thousands of years, its population has severely declined over the last four decades. A new USGS documentary, titled The Heat is On: Desert Tortoises and Survival, explains why this important indicator of desert ecosystem health is declining and what scientists are doing to save them. Mojave tortoises were first listed as a threatened species in 1990. Widespread and rapid declines in tortoise numbers have made them a top priority for federal research and are driving efforts to recover the species. The desert tortoise will not be removed from the endangered species list until its population stabilizes or increases over 25 years. “Scientific research about the tortoise population across the entire Mojave Desert allows us to put together a more complete picture of the tortoise’s habitat needs and reasons for its decline,” said Todd Esque, USGS research ecologist, who is featured in the documentary. “Researching the decline of this reptile can tell us a lot about the overall health of the desert.” Declines are due to habitat loss associated with urban development, utility corridors, highway mortality, off-road vehicle use and recreational activities. Also, populations of predators like coyotes and ravens have grown exponentially, subsidized by human food sources. Power lines provide artificial nesting perches for ravens, and invasive plant species compete for scarce resources and fuel fires that destroy the habitat. Diseases, such as upper respiratory tract disease, have also played a major role in tortoise declines...read more

Trial dates set in southern Utah Indian artifacts cases

Trial dates were set Monday for a number of defendants facing charges of stealing and selling artifacts from federal and protected lands, with the government resolving to move its case forward in spite of the death of its confidential source. The future of the case and the 20-plus defendants who are looking for resolutions was questioned after the suicide death of the government's confidential source, Ted Gardiner, whose recordings are believed to have made up the bulk of the prosecution's case. Prosecutors would not identify Gardiner as their source during Monday's hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Samuel Alba, but prosecutor Richard McKelvie said the man known as "the source" was "deceased as of last week" and that the death was not "fatal to any of our cases." "We plan to go forward with the case," McKelvie said. "The only difference is the manner in which we proffer the evidence."...read more

Tribe seeks 37 acres of Olympic National Park

Just ask members of the Hoh Tribe: The river that carries their name is shoving them right out of their reservation. The Hoh are a tiny tribe of fewer than 300 members, with an even smaller reservation — only a mile square when it was created in 1893. And the reservation is besieged by water from three directions: Storm surges barrel in from the Pacific. The river floods nearly every winter. And then there's the torrential rain: The Hoh live in one of the rainiest places in the lower forty-eight. The tribe's community center and many members' homes on the reservation are encircled by sandbags to hold back the water that is too often at their doors. Some homes have even been abandoned. As chunks of their reservation wash away, the Hoh have turned to Congress for help, seeking legislation to deed a chunk of Olympic National Park to the tribe to move the remote, isolated reservation to higher ground. The tribe has worked for several years to acquire a safe homeland for its people and a viable land base for economic development. The tribe has purchased about 260 acres to move some of its reservation out of the flood zone, and has taken title to 160 acres transferred to the tribe from the state Department of Natural Resources. The tribe now is seeking 37 acres of national-park land, to be deeded into trust as part of its reservation, through an act of Congress...read more

The Stimulus Bill’s Hidden Attack on What We Eat, Drink, and Smoke

One of the more extreme proposals floated early in the national health care debate was the idea of taxing soda and other sugary beverages. That trial balloon was almost immediately shot down by the American public, but the Obama administration is attempting to achieve, by subterfuge, soda taxes and a lot of other ways to micromanage our lives in the name of public health—whether or not ObamaCare passes. The mechanism is buried in last year’s $862-billion-and-counting stimulus bill, and works by diverting hundreds of millions of dollars that should be promoting economic growth to instead pay lobbyists to push for higher taxes and nanny-state controls over our lives. It’s on pages 66 and 67 on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which created a $1 billion “Prevention and Wellness Fund.” In a 14-page guidance for grant applicants, the CDC details tactics that grant applicants should include in their plans. It includes “counter-advertising” against targeted products, complete tobacco usage bans, limiting “unhealthy food availability” (the really bad stuff like “whole milk, sugar sweetened beverages, high-fat snacks”), and of course taxes (or in CDC lingo: “changing relative prices of healthy vs. unhealthy items”). A supplemental document explains in more detail what the targets are, including restricting availability of soft drinks “in homes, schools, work sites, and communities.” It also recommends local zoning changes to put fast food restaurants out of business, trans-fat bans, salt regulation, and food taxes. They even suggest a TV ban of sorts, recommending: “specific regulations/policies that limit television and other screen media.”...read more

Amid tough times, poaching is on rise in Arizona

The nation's crummy economy may be claiming a new class of victims: Arizona's wildlife. State Game and Fish agents are not certain of the reason, but they've seen a dramatic spike in complaints about wildlife violations and poaching in the past year, and they think an unfavorable economy may have something to do with it. Their theory: At a time when many Arizonans find themselves in a financial squeeze, some have resorted to the illegal taking of edible game for food, while others are killing for profit. A third group actually may be reporting violators in hopes of getting financial rewards, which also could help explain the notable increase in reports of violations. Whatever the culprit, this much is clear: There were 768 reports of Game and Fish violations in 2009, up 70 percent from 2008 and more than double the year before that. In 2009, the state also paid a record amount in rewards to people who tipped investigators to violations...read more

Mountain lion invades home, mother and two children rescued

An apparently malnourished young mountain lion invaded a Chaffee County residence Thursday afternoon, killing one dog and briefly trapping a mother and her two children inside the house until sheriffs deputies could evacuate them. The incident began just after 4 p.m. The lion chased a small dog through a pet door into the home, which is located about 9 miles northwest of Salida. Homeowner Michelle Bese and two children, ages 2 and 5, were in the house when the lion entered. Bese said at first she did not know if it was a coyote or lion until another dog confronted the lion and she could tell what it was. She grabbed her 5-year-old and ran to the back bedroom where the 2-year-old was sleeping, and called 911. Chaffee County Sheriff's deputies helped Bese and her children escape through a bedroom window. They also opened the home's front and rear doors to provide the lion with an opportunity to leave...read more

HT: Outdoor Press Room

Coyote sneaks up on girls playing in backyard

Two 10-year-old girls were startled by a coyote that apparently sneaked up on them while they were playing in a backyard. One girl ran and the other climbed a tree. They were even more startled when the coyote briefly chased one girl, then sniffed around the base of the tree before ambling off into the nearby woods. No one was hurt, but the girls were shaken up. "It was pretty scary for them," said Janet Sahni, one girl's mother. "I get it that we live with them, that we coexist and share space. But it seems like an incident that could have turned out worse." Sahni's daughter, Juliana, was playing in the backyard of their home in the Westlake neighborhood, with her friend, Sarah May-Varas, around 5 p.m. Friday. They were "giving a pine tree a haircut" with a pair of scissors when they heard rustling in the greenspace adjacent to their yard. "When Juliana turned around, a coyote was standing only about two feet away," Sahni said. "So she ran toward the house -- and he chased her for about five feet."...read more

Camels thrived in South Texas

When Jefferson Davis was Secretary of War in the 1850s, before he became president of the Confederacy, he had a novel idea to use camels to carry supplies to frontier forts in the Southwest, between Texas and California. Davis convinced Congress in 1855 to spend $30,000 to study using Arabian camels. Maj. Henry Wayne was sent to the Middle East to buy the camels. They would be brought to Texas on the ship “Supply” commanded by Navy Lt. David Dixon Porter. Wayne and Dixon made their way around the Middle East buying camels. They bought 34 one-humped and two-humped camels and hired five handlers to make the trip. After the animals were loaded, Lt. Porter wrote Washington that the camel deck was scrubbed daily and the whitewash brush kept going. The camels liked the salty taste of the whitewash. They arrived at Indianola on Matagorda Bay on May 14, 1856. There were Arabic handlers in flowing robes and 34 two-hump Bactrians, one-hump Arabians, and the crossbred mule camels called “booghdee.” Maj. Wayne demonstrated the camel’s strength. A camel was made to kneel and two bales of hay were placed on his back. They weighed 600 pounds. People expected the camel to fall over, but then two more bales were strapped on the camel’s back for a load of 1,200 pounds. To the crowd’s amazement, the camel rose and trotted off. “Lord almighty,” said a man. “That would take two mules and a wagon, easy.” “Hell, four,” said another...read more

Tragic story inspires record price for goat

A boy from the heart of Texas with a fifth-place show goat and a tragic story inspired one of the most emotional and lucrative outcomes ever witnessed at a San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo auction, participants said. Dustin Mangus, 10, of Mills County was injured in a December wreck that killed his father, who helped care for the goat. As word of the boy's hardship spread in the Saturday auction crowd, dozens of bidders rallied the sale price to a record $150,000. The outcome wowed the clean-cut youth and his family from Mullin, along with stock show officials. The sale price surpassed the $80,000 fetched by this year's grand champion steer, and it topped the amount paid for any other animal ever sold at the Junior Livestock Auction, livestock director Jeff Thayne said. A fifth-place goat typically would fetch about $3,000, said Ronnie Urbanczyk, chairman of the auction. Instead, 70 or so bidders heard the boy's story and pitched in during the emotionally charged auction, which reminded some of what it means to be a part of the agricultural community. In early December, Dustin lost his father, David Mangus, 33, in a vehicle wreck, said John Carl Smith, the boy's grandfather. David Mangus was driving Dustin and two younger children to school on a foggy morning when he lost control of his pickup and crashed into a tree, Smith said. Dustin still is healing from three facial-reconstruction surgeries. He also broke his left arm and a finger, Smith said...read more

COMMENT: You might want to take the time to read this one.

Song Of The Day #257

Ranch Radio usually tries to bring you rare or hard to find recordings from a bygone era. However, it seems some of you want the big hits too. So, staying in 1960, here are the #1 and #2 songs of the year. Coming in at #1 is Please Help Me I'm Falling by Hank Locklin and at #2 He'll Have To Go by Jim Reeves.

Both tunes are widely available on the respective artist's collections, seen here and here.


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Defenders of Wildlife General Counsel Appointed to US Justice Dept.

Bob Dreher, the General Counsel of the Defenders of Wildlife, a litigious lobbying group that has sued the US Government hundreds of times, has been appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General to oversee the Natural Resources and Wildlife and Marine Resources sections of the US Dept. of Justice. Dreher has also previously served as co-managing director of the Washington, D.C. office of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (now Earthjustice). Defenders and Earthjustice are among the groups that have bled the American taxpayer for $4.7 billion in legal fees through the Equal Opportunity to Justice Act [here]. Defenders has ongoing lawsuits currently in Federal courts regarding wolves, plovers, turtles, caribou, wolverines, right whales, jaguars, sage-grouse, and who knows what else. Now the Obama Administration has hired the Defenders General Counsel to oppose the very lawsuits he brought against the government...read more

COMMENT: Make no mistake, this puts Dreher in a key position to do much damage to the West. There is not the traditional lawyer-client relationship between the DOJ and the federal agencies. DOJ can ignore the position of their clients (the federal agencies) and take whatever position they want in a court case. Expect a return to the Clinton years: Enviros sue, DOJ settles, enviros take their legal fees and go sue somewhere else.

Mike D., the blogger of this story, likens it to putting Bernie Madoff over the Federal Reserve System!

Forest Service officer, mistaken for coyote, shot and killed

A U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer was shot and killed in middle Georgia by a hunter who apparently mistook the ranger for a coyote. Officer Christoper Arby Upton, 37, was on routine patrol in the Ocmulgee Bluff Equestrian Recreation Area in Jasper County on Friday when he was shot by Norman Clinton Hale, 40, of McDonough. The incident happened about 11 p.m. in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest near Monticello, according to a statement from the USDA Forest Service. Hale and another man were hunting coyote in the area. Hale and his hunting partner called 911 and reported the incident, but Upton died at the scene. The Forest Service and the state Department of Natural Resources are investigating the incident. No charges have been filed...read more

The meltdown of the climate campaign

It is increasingly clear that the leak of the internal emails and documents of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in November has done for the climate change debate what the Pentagon Papers did for the Vietnam war debate 40 years ago—changed the narrative decisively. Additional revelations of unethical behavior, errors, and serial exaggeration in climate science are rolling out on an almost daily basis, and there is good reason to expect more. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), hitherto the gold standard in climate science, is under fire for shoddy work and facing calls for a serious shakeup. The U.S. Climate Action Partnership, the self-serving coalition of environmentalists and big business hoping to create a carbon cartel, is falling apart in the wake of the collapse of any prospect of enacting cap and trade in Congress. Meanwhile, the climate campaign’s fallback plan to have the EPA regulate greenhouse gas emissions through the cumbersome Clean Air Act is generating bipartisan opposition. The British media—even the left-leaning, climate alarmists of the Guardian and BBC—are turning on the climate campaign with a vengeance. The somnolent American media, which have done as poor a job reporting about climate change as they did on John Edwards, have largely averted their gaze from the inconvenient meltdown of the climate campaign, but the rock solid edifice in the newsrooms is cracking...read more

Climategate: This Time It's NASA

The "Climategate" scandal, which broke in November 2009, revealed what many skeptics had privately suspected. Prominent climate scientists at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) had collaborated to keep data out of skeptics' hands, subverted the peer review process, and used questionable methods to construct the temperature record on which the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel Climate Change (IPCC) based its recommendations. Now a new "Climategate" scandal is emerging, this time based on documents released by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in response to several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suits filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). The newly released emails further demonstrate the politicized nature of climate science, revealing a number of questionable practices that cast doubt on the credibility of scientific data provided by NASA...read more

Forest Service slowly embraces Tester plan to log 10,000 acres a year for 10 years

One of the most contested parts of Sen. Jon Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act is the plan to log 10,000 acres a year for 10 years. When he testified on Tester's bill on Dec. 17, Agriculture Undersecretary Harris Sherman told a congressional subcommittee "the bill would create unrealistic expectations on the part of communities and forest products stakeholders that the agency would accomplish the quantity of mechanical treatments required." He also said the bill "in particular includes levels of mechanical treatment that are likely unachievable and perhaps unsustainable. The levels of mechanical treatment called for in the bill far exceed historic treatment levels on these forests." In a visit to Missoula Feb. 5, Tester acknowledged that demand was causing some "heartburn" in the U.S. Forest Service. But he insisted the agency needs to change how it manages timber. Now, the agency appears to be listening. On Feb. 24, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell told Congress he wanted "approximately 20 10-year stewardship contracts offered in targeted areas around the country that could provide a steady supply of forest products." He advocated "landscape-scale" projects developed "though multi-stakeholder collaborative planning" that sounded a lot like Tester's draft legislation. And on Saturday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack endorsed Tester's approach as a "pilot project."...read more

EPA Set to Give Ethanol a Big Boost?

In the midst of a drive by Washington’s powerful ethanol lobby to expand what critics often deride as an artificially created, and government aided and promoted market for “fuel made from food,” the top administrator from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Wednesday testified before the Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, telling lawmakers the agency will make a final determination late summer on allowing higher levels of ethanol to be blended into gasoline. The ethanol industry is currently petitioning the EPA for a waiver to increase ethanol blends in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent, in order to create a larger market–and artificial demand–for the fuel source. Administrator Lisa Jackson said the agency’s decision awaits completion of Department of Energy (DOE) tests on ethanol—namely, how higher ethanol blends might adversely affect vehicle engines, a long-running concern of automakers and the marine leisure industry, among others—which she expects to receive by May...read more

BLM cites Western Watersheds Project chief

The founder of Western Watersheds Project, a Hailey-based organization that seeks to end grazing on public lands in the West, has been cited by the Bureau of Land Management for allegedly providing a false statement on a grazing permit application. As a result of the alleged violation, the BLM has proposed canceling the permit, which covers three grazing allotments tied to property near Clayton. The nonprofit conservation group was originally founded by Jon Marvel in 1993 to bid for expiring grazing leases on Idaho state school endowment lands. Groups that represent ranchers say the development marks the unraveling of Western Watersheds. The organization has been so successful in its efforts to curtail public lands grazing that many ranchers refer to Marvel as “the most hated man in the West.” “This could unravel everything they’ve done over the past 15 years,” said Jake Putnam, broadcast services manager for Idaho Farm Bureau Federation. Western Watersheds attorney Laird Lucas said the claims by the BLM and ranching groups are false and defamatory. “We are vigorously contending it,” Lucas said of the violation notice and proposed cancellation of the grazing allotments...read more

White House Easter Egg Roll to Be Environmentally Friendly

This year’s White House Easter Egg roll will be eggs-actly what the bunny ordered. The environmentally concerned bunny, that is. A White House announcement Monday said the eggs at this year’s April 5 roll will be made from paperboard that contains no wood fibers from endangered forests, is recyclable and features vegetable-oil based inks and a water-based coating. What’s more, they’ll come in purple, pink, green and yellow and feature the stamped signatures of both President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama...read more

COMMENT: And Peter Cottontail better be a "free range" bunny.

But those poor chickens, having to lay those cardboard eggs. Where is HSUS when you need them?

Forest Service Proposes to Close 83% of Roads in Manzano & Gallinas Mountains

The Mountainair Ranger District revealed its Travel Management proposal today, which would ban the use of all motor vehicles on over 80% of the roads in the Manzano and Gallinas Mountains. This will affect all vehicles includes motorcycles, ATVs, and 4WDs. It also affects all members of the public, including hunters. According to the proposal, there are currently 471 miles of unpaved roads legally open to vehicles, 411 miles of which are ‘Jeep’ roads. The proposal would ban motor vehicles from all but 179 miles. The proposal also virtually eliminates using a motor vehicle for camping alongside roads. Known as ‘dispersed camping’, motor vehicle camping would be allowed on less than 15 miles of road. This is a reduction of 97% of the currently allowed vehicle camping. The public has 30 days to comment on these issues by submitting letters or emails. These proposals are in the Draft Environmental Assessment for Travel Management on the Mountainair Ranger District. The 30 day comment period will end on April 3, 2010. Those who provide comments during this comment period will be eligible to appeal the final decision...read more

Gov. Richardson signs bill to allow conservation easements

A new law will allow the state to acquire conservation easements from farmers, ranchers and other landowners to ensure that the property is not developed. Gov. Bill Richardson on Monday signed legislation into law that supporters say can help protect land in New Mexico, improve wildlife habitat and provide for open space for communities or recreation. "New Mexicans want their land preserved. They are committed to conservation, to wildlife," Richardson said at a news conference at ranch south of Santa Fe, which is protected by a conservation easement with a nonprofit group. The agreement prevents the ranch from being broken up into smaller parcels for real estate development. The new law, which takes effect May 19, also establishes a fund for the state to make grants for conservation and land restoration projects. The legislation was approved by lawmakers during a 30-day session, which ended in February. Lawmakers allocated $5 million for conservation easements during a special session of the Legislature, which ended last week...read more

COMMENT: Only one out of every three acres in NM is privately owned, and they can't keep their grubby paws off it.

Nevada Reno To Close College of Agriculture

The University of Nevada, Reno announced plans Monday to close its College of Agriculture and eliminate some departments and degree programs to reduce its budget by $11 million to meet about a 7 percent cut higher education must shoulder under the agreement reached during the Legislature’s special session. UNR President Milt Glick said the proposals will cut $11 million from the university’s base spending budget for the next fiscal year, but an additional $3 million to $4 million still must be trimmed. The university budget has already been cut by 15.5 percent, or $33 million, bringing the total annual reduction to $44 million. The proposals, if approved at a June meeting by the Nevada Board of Regents, would result in the layoffs of more than 75 faculty and staff members, Glick said. Among the major changes proposed are closing the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources and reorganizing remaining programs under the College of Science. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences would merge into College of Science’s Department of Biology in College of Science, and the Department of Nutrition would merge into the college’s Department of Biology and Molecular Biology, retaining Agricultural Experiment Station and extension programs...read more

Rabid Otter Attacks Two Florida Men

A three-foot rabid otter attacked and bit a 96-year-old man and one of his rescuers Friday reports The Sarasota (Fla.) Herald Tribune. Morrell Denton, a Venice, Fla. resident, was taking his morning walk when an otter emerged from the woods and attacked him unprovoked. The otter bit Denton’s leg and brought him to the ground. He tried to fend off the otter by pulling on the otter’s ears and head, but the animal would not stop. Denton said, “I kept trying to get him off me. It's like nothing I've heard of." Raymond Duval was driving by when he spotted Denton on the ground and called 911. Then Christopher Janssen came to Denton’s aid while Duval stayed on the phone with 911. The otter then bit Janssen too. Duval told the operator, “This otter is nonstop. Please hurry.”...read more

Saddle up for high art

A saddle is the connection between horse and rider, but it can be much more. Sixteen saddles on display at the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum also are exquisite works of art. "These are historic saddles - they're all unique and valuable," said museum Director Ross Middleton. "The craftsmanship that went into making them is really unmatched." The exhibit, titled "The Art of the Western Saddle," opened on Jan. 22. It shows through July 31. The 16 pieces were assembled by the museum from private and public collections across the U.S. The museum collaborated with western historian and author William C. Reynolds, who serves as guest curator of the exhibit. Reynolds' 2004 book, "The Art of the Western Saddle: A Celebration of Style and Embellishment," inspired the collection. The selections include an assortment of saddle styles from various eras. Most have been ridden at some point in their history. Most of the saddles feature elaborate leather and silversmith detailing. The Mission Saddle by Edward H. Hohlin, for example, includes etchings on 21 silver medallions of scenes depicting Spanish missions in California. The saddle, which dates to the 1930s, is on loan from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo. "There's no question these saddles exemplify leather work at its finest," Reynolds said. "Then merge that with the silver work and it's something really excellent." The oldest saddle in the exhibit is a Sherman Loomis saddle, dating to the 1890s. The saddle, on loan from the Carriage and Western Art Museum in Santa Barbara, Ca., features ornate hand leatherwork. It is one of only a few of its model in existence. The saddle is considered a "using" saddle because of its popularity among 19th century riders, Middleton said. "The cowboys loved this saddle. It's the one everyone wanted," he said...read more

The Cowboy & The FEMA Genie

A modern day cowboy has spent many days crossing the Texas plains without water.

His horse has already died of thirst.

He's crawling through the sand, certain that he is breathing his last breath, when all of a sudden he sees an object sticking out of the sand several yards ahead of him.

He crawls to the object, pulls it out of the sand and discovers what looks to be an old briefcase.

He opens it and out pops a genie. But this is no ordinary genie.

She is wearing a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) ID badge and a dull gray dress.

There's a calculator in her pocketbook. She has a pencil tucked behind one ear. 'Well, cowboy,' says the genie..You know how I work....you have three wishes.'

'I'm not falling for this.' said the cowboy... 'I'm not going to trust a FEMA genie.'

'What do you have to lose? You've got no transportation and it looks like you're a goner anyway!'

The cowboy thinks about this for a minute and decides that the genie is right.

'OK!, I wish I were in a lush oasis with plenty of food and drink.'

***POOF***

The cowboy finds himself in the most beautiful oasis he has ever seen and he is surrounded with jugs of wine and platters of delicacies.

'OK, cowpoke, what's your second wish?'

'My second wish is that I was rich beyond my wildest dreams.'

** *POOF***

The cowboy finds himself surrounded by treasure chests filled with rare gold coins and precious gems.

'OK, cowpuncher, you have just one more wish. Better make it a good one!'

After thinking for a few minutes, the cowboy says... 'I wish that no matter where I go, beautiful women will want and need me.'

***POOF***

He was turned into a tampon.

Moral of the story: IF THE GOVERNMENT OFFERS TO HELP YOU , THERE'S GOING TO BE A STRING ATTACHED.

Song Of The Day #256

Ranch Radio will stick with 1960, offering Cowboy Copas - Alabam which was the #3 song for the year, and Roy Drusky - Another which clocked in at #7.

The Cowboy Copas collections are here and the Roy Drusky collections are here.


Monday, March 08, 2010

Farmers & Ranchers & Astrophysics

In 2008, the world's largest array for detecting ultra-high energy cosmic rays -- the most energetic particles in the universe -- was completed in Argentina by the Pierre Auger Observatory. Now the Observatory is hoping to build a new array in the northern hemisphere: a tremendous undertaking. To be based in Colorado, the array would consist of a network of 4400 tanks, each 12 feet in diameter, placed 1.4 miles apart to cover 8,000 square miles (20,000 square kilometers). “As far as size goes, it’s really amazing,” says Angela Olinto, an astrophysicist who is part of that consortium, as well as a member of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics. “You have to drive for hours to cross from one side to the other.” Size, however, is only one key to its success; the network of tanks will also crisscross farms and ranches. This means scientists need more than ingenuity; also important is recruiting communities -- including farmers and ranchers more interested in agriculture than astrophysics -- to become partners in exploring the sky. In Colorado, along with organizing and participating in a range of community meetings, scientists have set up tanks at community centers around southeastern Colorado so farmers and ranchers could actually see what the scientists plan to build. This way “they can kick it and they can see that it is smooth and it won’t hurt their livestock,” says John Harton, an Auger Observatory scientist at Colorado State University who serves as a liaison with the local community...read more

This Land Ain’t your Land; this Land Is my Land

Since the Kelo decision, the debate over eminent domain has only grown more heated. Proponents of eminent domain claim that its use for economic redevelopment is a valuable tool for local policy makers and that a blanket ban on using eminent domain to foster economic growth would tie the hands of government officials in their ongoing battle against blight. Opponents argue that economic redevelopment does not constitute “public use,” which the Constitution requires governments to show in order to justify takings. They argue that increased takings weaken private property rights due in part to the lack of a bright-line standard on what specifically constitutes “public use.” They also note that eminent domain takings are inherently politicized, so local governments may be biased in favor of larger, politically connected property owners and interests, at the expense of small business owners, entrepreneurs, and homeowners—particularly those at the lower end of the income scale. Moreover, use of eminent domain circumvents market processes that could better promote economic development...read more

Montana eases wolf-killing regulations

Montana’s top wildlife official acknowledged Friday that the state has too many wolves on the landscape, so he’s implementing a new strategy that will allow problem wolves to be killed more quickly by federal agents. In a hearing before the Environmental Quality Council, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Joe Maurier said federal Wildlife Services agents no longer need FWP authorization to kill wolves at or near confirmed livestock depredation sites. The agents also will be able to immediately kill any wolves that are trapped when they return to those sites to feed on dead livestock. “For the amount of conflict we have in all sectors today, we probably have too many wolves on the landscape,” Maurier told the council. “We had tolerable conflict on the landscape; now it’s intolerable. Now we have to go back to the point where it’s tolerable at all levels but we still have a viable population.” He noted that Montana’s wolf management plan allows them to make revisions when needed, as long as the state meets certain population levels. Maurier added that he expects the wolf hunting quota to be increased next season from the initial statewide quota of 75 as another way to lower the wolf population. Initial estimates put Montana’s wolf population at 500 animals this year, which is about the same as last year...read more

Rumors of wolves have some in Colorado howling

The news had scarcely gotten out that a western Colorado rancher suspected he had wolves on his land when the phone started ringing at state wildlife offices. "Get rid of them, and do it quietly," one caller said. "You need to make sure no one is trying to shoot these wolves," another offered. No one has confirmed yet whether a pack of wolves has taken up residence at the High Lonesome Ranch in De Beque, nearly 200 miles west of Denver, but even the prospect has created a stir in a state that hasn't seen a regular wolf population in 70 years. Wildlife officials say both sides are reacting prematurely to a claim that could prove groundless. Wolves were exterminated from Colorado by the 1940s, although in recent years, lone wolves occasionally have forayed into the state from the Northern Rockies. Two years ago, High Lonesome Ranch owner Paul R. Vahldiek Jr. hired biologists to survey his land for, among other things, evidence of decline in aspen stands. What they found was evidence of what he believes to be more than one wolf: droppings, sightings and howls...read more