Friday, April 23, 2010


Claims violation of NEPA provisions for Endangered Species Act

RESERVE, N.M. Americans for Preservation of the Western Environment, the Gila Livestock Growers Association, the Board of County Commissioners of Catron County, New Mexico and other plaintiffs have jointly sent notification of an intent to file suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of the Interior, and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, for management actions and policies that violate the provisions of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Plan and the Final Rule issued under Section 10(j) of the Endangered Species.

The letter states that instead of following the procedures and process set forth in the Final Rule issued under Section 10(j), the Fish & Wildlife Service, the Department of Interior and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish have embarked on a procedure of developing ad hoc management practices and procedures for dealing with depredations and removals, all of which have been put in place without following appropriate procedures under the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Additionally, the letter states that the agencies' demonstrate intent to continue to violate the express findings in the FEIS and Final Rule.

"The point of this letter is to give the agencies the opportunity to come into compliance," said Ed Wehrheim, Chairman of Americans for Preservation of Western Environment, a citizen-based group claiming overwhelming support throughout New Mexico.

"In a time when we're cutting back on teachers, health care and other vital programs, the Mexican wolf program, which is now costing over $400,000 per wolf, is insane."

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Congressman Seeks to Expand EPA's Control of Water

A Democratic congressman is seeking to strip the word "navigable" from the 1972 Clean Water Act to allow the Environmental Protection Agency to surpass the limits imposed by a 2001 Supreme Court ruling on the kinds of waterways the agency can regulate. That word typically is interpreted to refer to any body of water that is "deep enough and wide enough to afford passage to ships." But Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., who worked on the 1972 legislation as a Capitol Hill staff member, said he is trying to restore the original intent of the law. "I know what it means and it says the purpose of this act is to establish and maintain the chemical, biological and physical integrity of the nation's waters," Oberstar said. Some Republican advocates of land rights are wary, fearing that striking the word "navigable" from the Clean Water Act will bring every lake, pond, creek or mud hole under the EPA's control. "It potentially puts government in charge of all waters, including mud puddles, irrigation ditches," said Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash. "If you take out 'navigable' in this bill, it could potentially lead to the federal government usurping state laws as it relates to water and regulating, therefore, mud puddles. I just think that's bad policy."...more

This is a good example of one of the many things wrong with D.C. today. You'll note he was a staffer in 1972. He actually first went to work for Congress in 1963 and was elected a congressman in 1974.

That's 47 years of toiling away in oinkdom. Oberstar may have been a quality individual when he started, but you can't feed at the Congressional trough for 47 years without it changing you. Believe me I know and I was only there for 5 years.

If you have the stomach for it, go here to see his 7 minute presentation on the introduction of the bill. You will notice he has to read his statement. Other than a few ad libs about the meeting room and a hearing in Chicago, everything of substance about the proposed bill is read from a statement. A statement written by...a staffer.

And the circle continues.

Expansion foes question Coffman offer on Pinon

Opponents of an Army proposal to expand its Southeastern Colorado training base Wednesday rejected a congressman’s attempt to ban the Army’s use of eminent domain to secure additional land. "Mr. Coffman has been attempting to open a door for expansion all along. It looks to us that this bill is not something we need. We've already got eminent domain off the table," said Lon Robertson, a Kim rancher and president of the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition. Robertson said Coffman's bill asks that funding be allowed and if that happens it opens the door to expansion. "The best way to keep eminent domain away is to keep the funding away from the expansion. The funding ban that is in place already takes any threat of condemnation off the table, so this is a redundant bill that Mr. Coffman is offering," Robertson said. The rancher said Coffman’s motives were puzzling. "I guess we are scratching our heads more than anything right now. We are wondering why he is offering something that is already there and why is he trying to open the door to something that is not necessary." Robertson said...more

Coffman defends proposal to ban Pinon land seizures

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman on Thursday defended a bill he is sponsoring that would ban the Army’s use of eminent domain to secure additional land around the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site. The Aurora congressman said the bill was proposed strictly to protect the rights of property owners and nothing else. Coffman challenged claims by members of the Pinon Canyon Expansion opposition coalition that said the measure is a back-door method to remove a ban on funding for the proposed expansion. "This bill does not address that (funding). There is no question in my mind that property rights are a two-way street. "I absolutely don't want ranchers to be forced to sell or lease their property. At the same time, I think that if there is a willing seller out there that they ought to be allowed to do so," Coffman said. Third District U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, and former 4th District U.S. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Fort Morgan, authored a funding ban for the proposed expansion in 2007. They worked with Salazar's brother, former Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, a Democrat, to get the ban in place. John Salazar said Thursday that Coffman is no friend to Pinon Canyon and questions his motive for the proposed bill...more

Feds want full market value for Utah land it bought for $1

The town of Mantua, Box Elder County — population 756 — once sold the federal government 31.5 acres of land for $1. Now, the town would like that unused land back for free. But the Obama administration on Wednesday said it wants full market value for that land instead. Harris Sherman, undersecretary of Agriculture, told a Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on Wednesday that the administration opposes a bill by the Utah delegation that seeks to give Mantua the land for free. "Our concern with the bill is it does not provide for fair market value to the Forest Service, which runs counter to well-established, long-standing policies," he testified. He added, "We are clearly willing to work with the town of Mantua to effectuate this conveyance. We want to do so under the terms of the Townsite Act, which requires us to receive fair market value for the conveyance." That, of course, could create obstacles in the Senate for the bill sponsored by Sens. Bob Bennett and Orrin Hatch, both R-Utah. However, the House already passed last year on a 396-1 vote an identical bill introduced there by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah...more

Secretary Sherman, the Forest Service has a "well-established, long-standing" tradition of screwing the public, a tradition which you are perpetuating.

Appeals court upholds water ruling for tribe

A federal appeals court has upheld most of a ruling that ordered a rural Nevada irrigation district to pay back billions of gallons of water that it took from a tribe decades ago. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday directed a federal judge in Reno to go back and determine how much more water the Pyramid Lake Paiutes are entitled to as a result of the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District illegally diverting flows for its own farmers and ranchers in northern Nevada's high desert during the 1970s and 1980s. The appellate court rejected most of the district's bid to overturn a 2003 decision that determined the water from Lake Tahoe and other reservoirs should have continued down the Truckee River to help bolster a traditional tribal fishery in serious decline. U.S. District Court Judge Howard McKibben in Reno was correct when he determined at that time the irrigation district had "willfully failed to comply" with a 1973 agreement that divided up the water, according to the opinion Judge Mary Schroeder issued on behalf of a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit in San Francisco. Since then, the district has made "several additional attempts to sidestep accountability" under that agreement, she wrote. A lawyer for the tribe who hailed the ruling as a victory said Wednesday that he is certain it will mean additional water for the tribe and perhaps as much as 75 percent more than McKibben ordered in 2003...more

NM Mining Co. Loses Dispute Over Stonewash Pumice

The 10th Circuit rejected a mining company's challenge of the noncompliance notice it received from the U.S. Forest Service for mining too many rare, large pumice pieces and selling them to industries other than the garment industry, which uses the pumice to stonewash jeans. Copar had leased 23 mining claims in New Mexico's Santa Fe National Forest from the Cook family in the 1980s. In 1993, Congress passed a law to create the Jemez National Recreation Area, barring mining on 57,000 acres, including the land mined by Cobar. The Cooks filed, and partially won, a takings claim against the government. The Forest Service conceded that four of the 23 mining claims contained "valuable and marketable" three-quarter-inch pumice, which could be used to stonewash jeans. The remaining claims were deemed null and void, because they contained no valuable mineral deposit. The Forest Service paid $4 million to settle the takings claims, and the Cooks and Copar relinquished the remaining 19 claims, which contained only run-of-the-mill pumice that can't be used for stonewashing. The three-quarter-inch pumice is restricted almost exclusively to the garment industry, which uses it to abrade denim fabric to create a worn or "stonewashed" look...more

Farm Bureau upset with EPA blog promoting vegetarianism

The Farm Bureau is none too happy with the EPA today for publishing a blog post urging Americans to give up meat. The post in question was written by an EPA intern and recounts her decision to stop eating meat. The author, Nicole Reising, cites the "environmental effects of meat production" and urges readers to stop eating meat. "Regulations can be made to help prevent the effects of meat production, but the easiest way to lessen the environmental impacts is to become a vegetarian or vegan," Reising writes. The American Farm Bureau Federation issued a statement today decrying the post as disrepectful to ranchers...more

Speed bumps on the road to a greener, more renewable future

The concept sounded good: Find a way to incentivize the production, harvest and delivery of non-food biomass crops to displace fossil-based feedstocks in the supply chain and move our nation toward energy independence. After all, farmers and ranchers in many parts of the country aren't used producing biomass such as algae, switchgrass, vines, trees, and other wood waste materials for renewable energy production. Alas, a new payment program was born that just might just do the trick: the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). However, BCAP gained ground so quickly that some industry observers and members of Congress thought it had grown out of control like a woody vine on steroids. “If we don't kill it now,” Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) warned USDA Under Secretary Jim Miller during a recent hearing, “it will have its own lobbying group, it has a constituency growing.” Kingston, the Subcommittee's Ranking Republican, expressed concerns that the incentive payments for delivering biomass for bioenergy production, means “paying people to do what they did all along” at least in “papermill country.” He also expressed surprise that USDA is defending BCAP. “The projected 10-year cost of this is $2.6 billion,” Kingston said. “We need to kill it.” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, chimed in, telling Miller the program's cost has soared to “30 times more expensive than the original CBO [Congressional Budget Office] scoring for this program.”...more

I guess the DC Deep Thinkers don't understand the market provides all the incentives that are needed and it doesn't need any help from politicians.

Cattle ranchers are some of the world's real environmentalists

In lieu of Earth Day on Thursday, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about some environmentalists in this area and around the country: America’s cattle ranchers. There has been some speculation out there that livestock production is producing a lot of greenhouse gases, particularly cattle production. A new study, “Clearing the Air” published in March by the University of California-Davis, found that the United Nations’ 2006 report titled, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” had many inaccuracies. The main point is that the original report found that “ … livestock production accounts for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas, GHG, emissions.” But during that same time, other organizations, such as the World Resources Institute and the Environmental Protection Agency found that this number was actually between 5 and 6 percent. The study in March found that “In the United States, 2.8 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to livestock production, compared to 26 percent from transportation...more

Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farm, et al. (09-475)

Appealed from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (June 24, 2009)

Oral argument: April 27, 2010


In 2005, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“APHIS”) deregulated RRA, a genetically engineered alfalfa seed developed by Petitioner Monsanto. Respondent Geertson Seed Farm, a grower of conventional alfalfa, alleged that APHIS violated the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) by not conducting an environmental impact statement (“EIS”) before deregulating RRA. A district court found a NEPA violation and enjoined all future use of RRA until AHPIS completed its EIS. The Ninth Circuit affirmed. Monsanto challenges the Ninth Circuit’s ruling, arguing that the standard the district court employed to grant the injunction erroneously equated the NEPA violation with the likelihood of irreparable harm. Geertson maintains that the standard used was correct and that they demonstrated a likelihood of irreparable harm should RRA enter widespread use without further agency review. The Supreme Court’s decision will clarify the standard plaintiffs must meet in order to enjoin federal action that violates NEPA...

For the complete analysis, go here.

Idaho mystery: Who's behind cattle shootings, mutilations?

A $3,000 reward is being offered for information about an outbreak of cattle shootings and mutilations in Idaho's Gem County. Brand Inspector Lynn Gibson called it the state's worst shooting-mutilation case in years. "I don't remember anything like it on this scale," he said. "There have been cattle shot here and there, but just one at a time. It's usually just one incident." Cattle mutilations happen periodically in the West. The worst case was in the 1970s, when hundreds of cows were mutilated in 11 Western states, including Idaho. The killings were alternately blamed on aliens, Satanists and other cults. There have been two incidents so far. The first is thought to have occurred about April 12, southwest of Emmett. Three calves were shot with a small caliber rifle. One of them was run over with a pickup truck. A cow was shot and mutilated. "They cut her hind leg and a shoulder off," Gibson said. "They cut out her lungs and skinned off part of her forehead." The second incident is thought to have happened several days later in the same area. A cow was shot in the face. The bullet broke both of her jawbones. "She couldn't eat or drink or take care of her babies," Gibson said. "Her tongue was infected, she was choking and she could hardly get around. She had to be put down."...more

A cavalcade of calves : 50 sets of twins

Chris Johnson has seen double before during spring calving. But never like this. Of the 300 cows that have given birth so far this spring on his family’s ranch, 50 — or roughly 16 percent — have had twins. Yes, you’re reading that correctly. “It’s 50 sets of twins. Fifty cows, 100 calves; all twins, no triplets. I know it’s probably a little hard to believe,” said Johnson, who ranches with his dad, Keith; uncle, Wayne; and brother, Jeremy. “We’ve had twins here before. But nothing like what we’re seeing this year,” Chris Johnson said. “There have been days we’ve gone out and found (newly born) twins. Then, we go back out a few hours later and there’s another set of twins. You start asking yourself, ‘Is this really happening?’” he said. So, why all the twins for the Johnsons? The upturn might be a one-year fluke with no underlying cause, Johnson said. If there is a reason, “it might be genetics. Or it might be the (excellent) weather last fall,” he said. Another possibility is that the cows are eating dried distiller’s grain from the ethanol plant in Casselton, N.D., Johnson said. “Maybe it’s one of those things or a combination. We just don’t know,” he said...more

Rodeo’s not just a sport

Idaho is home to many traditions that play important roles in the West and there are many ways to engage in Western culture. One sport that runs deep in our heritage is rodeo — it serves as a constant reminder of Western heritage and the traditional Western lifestyle. Rodeo origins can be traced back to the 1700s, when Spanish settlers ruled the West. Spanish cowboys, known as vaqueros, herded cattle for profit, which had a large impact on the culture and lifestyles of Western people. As American ranchers moved westward, they would adapt many of the Spanish methods and styles for running their ranches. While on the cattle drive, cowboys had many duties that included roping, riding, horse breaking and branding. Over the course of time, these duties evolved into competitions seen in modern rodeo today. Rodeo is unique because the sport is directly tied to the lifestyle of Western Americans. It’s more than a sport — it’s an opening to the past...more

Song Of The Day #292

Ranch Radio brings you some early Gene Autry who, like so many in the late 20's and early 30's, got his start by mimicking the singing and yodeling of Jimmie Rodgers. Autry did it better than most and here he is performing Birmingham Daddy.

The tune is available on his 23 track CD Gene Autry: Blues Singer, 1929-1931.

You'll note in the photo he strikes a pose very much like Jimmie Rodgers.

Burglary suspect may have info in Krentz killing

There are new details in the search for the person responsible for killing Cochise County rancher Robert Krentz. Cochise County Sheriff's Deputies are looking for Alejandro Chavez-Vasquez in connection with a series of burglaries. Cochise County officials say he may have information about the death of Krentz. Chavez-Vasquez is neither a suspect nor a person of interest in the case at this time. Robert Krentz was found dead last month on his ranch near Douglas. Investigators say the killer was likely a drug cartel scout and ran back into Mexico after shooting Krentz. Anyone with information about Chavez-Vasquez is asked to call the Cochise County Sheriff's Office at 520-432-9500 or 1-800-362-0812. You can also call 9-1-1 or 88-Crime. KOLD

Arizona gov. calls for more border protection

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer again called for more troops along the state's border with Mexico on Thursday, two days before a deadline for her to approve or strike down the nation's toughest legislation on illegal immigration. The Republican governor ordered a reallocation of state National Guard and law enforcement resources and called on the federal government to deploy National Guard troops as hundreds of Hispanics protested the bill at the State Capitol complex. Part of the plan requires approval from the federal government, including funding for an additional 250 National Guard troops to support anti-drug measures on the border. Brewer said the price tag is too high for the cash-strapped state to cover. Brewer's border security plan follows others released by Arizona politicians over the past two weeks in the wake of the death last month of a rancher on his property in southeastern Arizona. Authorities believe he was killed by an illegal border crosser...more

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Senate Republicans Move to Bar NEPA Analysis of Climate Change Impacts

Republican senators introduced legislation today that would block White House efforts to require federal agencies to consider climate change in environmental analyses of proposed projects. The bill says the National Environmental Policy Act should not be used to document, predict or mitigate the climate effects of specific federal actions. Under the measure, NEPA reviews could not consider the greenhouse gas emissions of a proposed federal project nor climate change effects as related to the proposal's design, environmental impacts, or mitigation or adaptation measures. The measure comes after the White House in February issued draft guidance (pdf) that will require federal agencies to consider greenhouse gas emissions and climate change when carrying out NEPA reviews. The White House Council on Environmental Quality, or CEQ, is accepting public comment on the proposal through May 24. The senators say assessing the climate change impacts of individual projects would provide no meaningful information for the public but instead would encourage more bureaucratic delays and litigation "designed to change NEPA into a global warming prevention statute." They claim the guidance could block road construction, delay domestic energy production and hurt job creation, while their bill would ensure federal agencies won't engage in "costly, and ultimately useless" reviews...more

Go here to view the NEPA Certainty Act.

New front in animal rights war

A recent legal dispute between the University of South Dakota and an animal rights group represents a new front to the battle between scientists and animal rights groups: state open records laws. Specifically, activists have turned to state open records laws to obtain information about biomedical research happening at state institutions. "In addition to the federal [Freedom of Information Act], animal rights groups are also using state open records laws," Frankie Trull, president of the National Association for Biomedical Research, told The Scientist. "[Animal rights activists] have done this all over the country." The fear, said Trull, is that activists will distribute information in a way that invites violence or harassment of scientists who conduct animal research. "The question is, 'What are you going to do with the information?'" she asked. "If the intention on receiving the information was pure, there wouldn't be a problem at all. But if the information about you or your research is FOIAed and you get some threatening emails, it's not so good anymore." Although open records laws vary widely from state to state, most allow for the release of information held at state agencies and institutions...more

Song Of The Day #291

This morning Ranch Radio brings you some early Tommy Sands. Yes, take a look, THAT Tommy Sands. The movie and recording star who was married to Nancy Sinatra.

While born in Chicago, he was raised in Louisiana and taught himself to play the guitar at 7, and by 8 he had his first gig performing twice a week on radio station KWKH (the Louisiana Hayride station). At 15 he had a recording contract with RCA. His big break came in 1957 when he got the part of a rock singer on the Kraft Television Theater.

But he got started as a hillbilly singer and we've got two of his earliest recordings for you: A Dime and a Dollar and I Know About Bees. Both are on his 28 track CD Early Hillbilly and Rockabilly Days.

Napolitano cites actions since death of Robert Krentz

According to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Arizona’s former governor, there are 100 additional Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement agencies in the San Bernardino Valley near where Krentz was shot. She also deployed Customs and Border Protection helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles...more

How many of those 100 additional BP agents have been in the San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge or any of the designated Wilderness areas along the border? How many of those helicopters have flown over or landed in any of these areas? Have the fixed-wing aircraft been utilized over these areas?

They just don't get it.

Here's my previous post (January) on aircraft and wilderness areas.

Bingaman, Raptors & Wilderness

Oops. We should have told you. That was the admission Friday of Holloman Air Force Base officials following Thursday's night window-rattling, wall-shaking sonic booms in the Las Cruces area. The aerial exercise involved "a number of" F-22 Raptors, according to Holloman officials. "We had hoped to provide everyone with as much advanced notice as possible," Holloman spokesman Arlen Ponder said. "However, we realize our information didn't make it as far as we had hoped." In the future "... as much advanced notice as possible" will be given. That would be a good idea, Las Cruces police said. "Central Dispatch said they easily received more than 200 calls," Thursday night, police spokesman Dan Trujillo said...According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a sonic boom "is a sound resembling an explosion produced when a shock wave formed at the nose of an aircraft traveling at supersonic speed reaches the ground -- called also sonic bang." Bang, indeed. "I almost jumped out of my chair when I heard the first one," said Julie Delgado, a Las Cruces homemaker. "I didn't know what it was, and it sounded so close. I went outside to see if I could find out what was happening and all of my neighbors were out there, too, asking the same thing. It scared us pretty good." Trujillo said reports of as many as three sonic booms came from all areas of the city and as far away as Radium Springs, about 20 miles north of Las Cruces...The aircraft will conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground training in airspace designated by the FAA...

So now you know why Jeff Bingaman has the following language in his wilderness bill:

(e) Military Overflights- Nothing in this section restricts or precludes--
(1) low-level overflights of military aircraft over the wilderness areas designated by subsection (a), including military overflights that can be seen or heard within the wilderness areas;
(2) flight testing and evaluation; or
(3) the designation or creation of new units of special use airspace, or the establishment of military flight training routes, over the wilderness areas.

In other words, according to Senator Bingaman, it's ok to have low-flying military aircraft and sonic booms in wilderness areas that cause people to "jump out of their chair" and results in "more than 200 calls" to the police.

But campers, don't you dare drive your vehicle or camper into the wilderness. And hunters, don't you dare drive your vehicle in to scout for or remove game. Border patrol, forget about using vehicles or mechanical equipment to track or intercept illegal immigrants or drug traffickers. After all, those things would ruin someone's wilderness experience.

Low-flying military aircraft and "sound resembling an explosion" are ok, everyone else either walk in or stay out.

That's a Bingaman wilderness area.

Arizona Sheriff Says Cops Are Being Killed by Illegal Aliens; Joins Call for U.S. Troops at Border

Law enforcement officials from the Arizona counties hardest hit by illegal immigration say they want U.S. troops to help secure the border, to prevent the deaths of more officers at the hands of criminals who enter the country illegally. “We’ve had numerous officers that have been killed by illegal immigrants in Arizona,” Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said Monday at a Capitol Hill news conference. “And that shouldn’t happen one time.” Babeu said the violence in Arizona has reached “epidemic proportions” and must be stopped. “In just one patrol area, we’ve had 64 pursuits -- failure to yield for an officer -- in one month,” Babeu said. “That’s out of control.” The recent murder of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz, who was shot to death last month on his own property, apparently by an illegal alien, also has fueled public outrage...more

Why ranchers fear for their safety, and what lawmakers want

Tuesday, Arizona Cattle Growers Association members and ranchers from across the state painted a picture of crime gone wild on the lands they depend on for their livelihood. In memory of slain rancher Robert Krentz, they named their proposal ROB (Restore Our Border). Association spokesperson Patrick Bray said Wednesday the meeting with the Senate Appropriations Committee went well and the speakers who told their experiences were well-received. State Sen. Russell Pearce was one who listened to the stories of families afraid to go out after dark, of cattle found slaughtered and partially eaten, of beloved pets and ranch dogs shot, of thousands of dollars in destroyed fences; and numerous home burglaries and invasions. “I was personally taken aback by the stories of our ranchers who live in fear every day of their lives. All across this state the stories are similar,” Pearce said in an interview. “People just didn’t know how bad it was.”...more

Wilderness On The Border? (9 Articles On Mexican Border Violence)

Border Patrol Prevented From Securing U.S. Under the current administration of President Barack Obama, national security and public safety are taking a backseat to so-called environmental preservation, a policy that led to the recent murder of an Arizona rancher. The U.S. Interior Department prohibits routine patrols and operations conducted by Border Patrol agents along the Mexican border on roads labeled “land managed.” The Mexican national entered the U.S. through the 2,300-acre San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge and subsequently escaped through it after gunning down rancher Robert Krentz a few weeks ago, according to the report. For years, Border Patrol agents have been prohibited by the U.S. Interior Department and the U.S. Forest Service from actively patrolling such areas because it threatens natural resources, according to GOP members of the Natural Resources Committee Republicans. House National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee Ranking Member Rob Bishop (R-UT) announced that Republican Committee staff have confirmed with both Border Patrol and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the criminal who killed Arizona Rancher Robert Krentz both entered and exited the U.S. through federal land on the San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge...

Justice Department Reports 60 Percent Increase in Number of Drug-Smuggling Tunnels at U.S.-Mexican Border The number of tunnels being used to smuggle illegal drugs across the Southwestern border grew by more than half from 2008 to 2009, according to a March 25 report from the National Drug Intelligence Center. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents stationed along U.S.-Mexico border discovered 26 illegal tunnels – a 60 percent increase over the 16 tunnels that authorities discovered in 2008. Most of the subterranean routes were discovered in Arizona, with 20 found in the “Tucson Sector” – a 262-mile long section of the border from the New Mexico state line to Yuma County, Ariz., the NDIC reported in its 2010 annual drug assessment...

Is Hemet the first skirmish? Our neighbors in Hemet have made the national news again following the burning of a trailer at a Police Department firing range. This comes after three attacks on the Hemet/San Jacinto Gang Task Force and the torching of city code-enforcement trucks in March, days after a threat to burn a police car. As of this writing it has not been determined if the latest incident is linked to the other four. One thing for sure, attacking cops is a trademark of Mexican gangs. Back in November, Adrian Rios, 17, was shot, allegedly by Jose Manuel Campos, 18, at Campo's home in Hemet. It is further alleged that Campos butchered Rios and burned his body in the backyard with the help of his 17-year-old sweetie. Kinda sounds Mexican gangish. If he did it, perhaps he was taking a page from the thugs operating in Mexico. Or perhaps there is a link to a Mexican gang operating here and the attacks are a warning. Remember, Campos and his girlfriend fled to Mexico whereupon Hemet police, federal marshals, a fugitive task force and Mexican federal police began hunting them down. It has been stated that they had help evading authorities. Slightly more than a month later the attacks began on the Hemet police. Coincidence or not, when you look at what's going on ---- an Arizona rancher murdered on his border property by an illegal immigrant, a Texas sheriff urging citizens to arm themselves in preparation for war, and reports that the drug cartels are using vehicles disguised as Border Patrol cars ---- it is clear the war is here...

Gunmen abduct 6 from Mexican hotels near Texas More than 20 gunmen burst into a Holiday Inn and another hotel in the northern city of Monterrey on Wednesday and abducted at least six people, a prosecutor said. Nuevo León state Attorney General Alejandro Garza y Garza said that 20 to 30 gunmen abducted four guests and a receptionist from the Holiday Inn, then went to the nearby Hotel Mision, where they abducted a receptionist, he said. Local media reported that the gunmen hijacked several trucks and used them to block streets near the hotels during the raid...

Senators call for scrapping 'virtual fence' Two senators said Tuesday it's time to consider ending a contract for a "virtual fence" along the U.S.-Mexico border, contending it doesn't stop illegal immigration. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., even suggested an old-fashioned, real fence may work better than the electronic one designed by Boeing Co. "We're counting on you to give us a direct assessment and take action to either terminate the contract or take from it what may work," Lieberman told Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin. Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said at a hearing on border security: "The best answer to this continuing crisis and continued flow of illegal immigrants into the U.S. is to go back to the old-style fences, double- and triple-tiered, and layered." The virtual fence is a network of cameras, ground sensors and radars designed to let a small number of dispatchers watch the border on a computer monitor, zoom in with cameras to see people crossing, and decide whether to send Border Patrol agents to the scene...

Virtual Fence Integration 'a Complete Failure,' Bersin Says During a Senate hearing on border security Tuesday, the new commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) declared that the goal of constructing a fully integrated virtual fence as originally envisioned by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is not possible at present. CBP chief Alan Bersin told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that building the complete system for the Secure Border Initiative-Network (SBInet), as originally envisioned, was not possible in the near future. "What has not worked is the total integration of technology from each of the areas along the border into an overall system that would permit a central monitoring and control--that technology integration at the very broadest level has been the complete failure the committee described," Bersin stated. However, in its first 23-mile block along the Arizona border with Mexico, SBInet has provided some capabilities that fulfill the goal of using a combination of video and radar to detect incursions into the United States from Mexico, Bersin added. As such, an option being considered by the Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in her review of the system is to use pieces of the system but not in the fully integrated fashion originally imagined...

Public invited to testify at border violence hearing
State lawmakers are inviting area residents to attend and testify at a special hearing in McAllen to address recent drug violence south of the border. The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, April 29th at the McAllen Convention Center. Texas State Rep. Veronica Gonzales (D-McAllen) told Action 4 News that local, state and federal law enforcement officials are expected to testify. But Gonzales said the public is welcome to come listen and add their own testimony. Drug cartel violence has left dozens dead on the Mexican side of the border since February. Mexican authorities blame a bitter fight between former allies the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas. Gonzales is chair of the House Border & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, which is co-sponsoring the hearing. She said the violence in Mexico is making daily headlines and Texas state lawmakers will meet again in January 2011 but want to gather information to address the issue appropriately...

Ariz. Sens. McCain, Kyl call for Guard on border
After the shooting death of a rancher, Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain once again called Monday for National Guard troops to be deployed along Arizona's border with Mexico. The request for 3,000 troops was part of a 10-point plan that also includes hiring 3,000 more Customs and Border Protection agents for Arizona, building new fences along the border and increasing aerial surveillance. The Arizona senators, both Republicans, said in a conference call with reporters that they would introduce federal legislation to implement their plan. Gov. Jan Brewer requested a year ago that President Barack Obama deploy National Guard troops along the border. The senators supported her request at the time, but the Obama administration has not acted. The latest proposal followed the death last month of rancher Rob Krentz on his land north of Douglas. Authorities believe he was fatally shot by an illegal immigrant possibly connected to a drug smuggling cartel. "While we have the nation's attention, it's important that we strike now and we get these suggestions implemented now, because I really feel the window of opportunity will close very quickly," said Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever, whose office is investigating the killing...

Border panel: Money now Members of the Congressional Border Caucus are asking the Appropriations Committee for more than $500 million in federal money to combat narcotics and organized crime along the U.S.-Mexico border. The members sent a letter to U.S House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Friday in which they requested that the Appropriations Committee include the funding as it drafts the fiscal year 2010 emergency supplemental spending measure. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, a Border Caucus member and contributor to the letter, said he is optimistic that the Border Caucus will get the funding it has requested from the Appropriations Committee and actually has "two shots" at the money...

Is the current budget being spent in a way that provides for the most effective and efficient border security program? Are existing personnel appropriately deployed and given the equipment they need to carry out their mission? Have current impediments to effective enforcement, such as land-use designations, been addressed and resolved?

Forget it. These political "leaders" are running for cover. Throw money at it and hope it sticks until November.

Notice this is an "emergency" appropriation. That means they don't have to take the money away from some existing program. Just pile it on an already huge deficit.

Is this a serious look at addressing our border security problems? Certainly not. These "leaders" view it as just another opportunity to bring federal $$ to their district.

This tactic has politically worked in the past. We'll find out in less than 7 months if it continues to work.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

White House Will Not Say Where It Gets Its Meat

First Lady Michelle Obama is on a laudable food crusade in America -- promoting the healthful benefits of fresh, local and sustainably grown nutrition, including produce raised in the world's most famous vegetable garden: that photogenic patch of organic land on the White House South Lawn. But her office does not want you to know what the Obamas had for dinner last night. Soon after the inauguration, The New York Times gushed that "the White House gets fresh fruits and vegetables from farms in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey," and that Michelle Obama had served organic wine at her first big White House meal, a governors' dinner in February, 2009. And she planted that garden heard 'round the world. Suggested by Alice Waters, the plot consists of raised beds of rich soil amended with official White House compost, crab meal, lime and local sand, instead of commercial fertilizer, and ladybugs and praying mantises in lieu of pesticides. There are even two beehives that produce organic honey for the Obamas, their staff and guests. And so, when I wrote to the White House to inquire about the meat, dairy and eggs that are served up on site -- and how much of it is produced in industrial-style concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs, or factory farms) -- I thought they would be pleased to share the information...more

So why won't they say? Is it because a huge chunk passes through a CAFO, or is it because they don't eat meat at all?

As for the "official White House compost", it's served up to the public on a daily basis.

Vilsack helps dedicate $464 million USDA facility

U.S. Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack led a delegation of Iowa congressional members from both parties Monday at the dedication of the final component of the $464 million National Centers for Animal Health in Ames. Jointly serving the U.S. livestock industry from a single campus, the center provides laboratories, offices and space for administration and animals, consolidating three USDA units that previously operated separately in Ames. The consolidated units include the National Animal Disease Center (operated by the USDA Agricultural Research Service), the National Veterinary Services Laboratory and the Center for Veterinary Biologics (operated by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service). The ceremony took place in the atrium of the 500,000-square-foot NCAH Consolidated Laboratory and administrative facilities, completed in April 2009...more

The bureaucrats seem to be doing fine, don't they.

Head out to your pasture tomorrow and just watch as your animals grow healthier, thanks to the deep thinkers in DC and politicians in Iowa.

Wolf controversy polarizes wildlife groups

The controversy over wolf management in Greater Yellowstone is polarizing conservation groups that might normally work together to protect the region’s wildlife. The rift recently manifested itself in a series of letters and statements in which the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation expressed frustration with Defenders of Wildlife and the Western Wildlife Conservancy, and vice versa. In the letters, the groups accuse each other of misrepresenting elk population data to serve their own political ends. The groups further accuse each other of using the wolf controversy to spur donations from supporters. The hard-line approach comes as outfitters in Wyoming continue to organize rallies that call for wolf hunts because, they say, the predators have killed too many elk and moose in the state. Conservation groups and outfitters say the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, in particular, has moved toward tougher language against wolves in recent years. “The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, they’re getting some pressure from their members big-time,” said B.J. Hill, a Kelly outfitter who has helped organize some of the wolf rallies. “It’s definitely coming from people like me. They’re also looking at the data. It’s starting to show ... that these populations are falling. We outfitters are pro-wildlife. We like some predators. It’s about management. [The environmental groups] have got to quit suing and help us out.”...more

Congressman proposes condemnation ban to help Piñon expand

A Colorado congressman is trying to help the Army get training land in Las Animas County by banning the service from seizing it. GOP Rep. Mike Coffman’s HR5067, introduced Tuesday, would forbid the use of condemnation for expansion of Fort Carson’s Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site. By doing that, the bill would set in stone the Army’s pledge that it won’t seize land to add 100,000 acres to the 235,000-acre training site near Trinidad. But the measure, by allaying land-seizure fears, could also avert an all-out expansion ban that Congress has placed on the project annually as part of the Pentagon budget bill, a Coffman spokesman said. “We must respect the private property rights of those who own ranch lands in the proposed 100,000 acre expansion area,” Coffman, of Aurora, said in a statement. “They should neither have to fear that the government will take their land nor the worry that government, at any level, will restrict their rights by making it difficult for them to sell or lease their land to the U.S. Army should they choose to do so.” But even if a law passes banning condemnation proceedings, opponents to the expansion say they won’t shrink from the fight. “There’s no way to acquire that much land without condemning somebody,” said Piñon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition President Lon Robertson of Kim, a nearby town. Robertson said opponents will still seek a funding ban for the fiscal year that starts Oct.1, using a tried-and-true argument. “They have enough land already,” he said...more

Robertson is right. As I've posted before:

"The Base Structure Report(pdf) for FY 2008 contains the land profile for the Department of Defense. The introduction to the report states, "The Depart of Defense remains one of the world's largest 'landlords' with a physical plant consisting of more than 545,700 facilities (buildings, structures and linear structures) located on more than 5400 sites, on approximately 30 million acres."

The land profile further refines that to 29.8 million acres owned or controlled by DOD. More than 98% of the land is in the US, with the Army managing 52% and the Air Force 33%.

29.8 million acres equals 46,562.5 square miles. How do you put that in perspective? Let's try this: Of the Thirteen Original Colonies, six of them (Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire & Massachusetts) would fit into the land mass controlled by DOD, with 8359 square miles or 5.3 million acres left over. In other words, you could add another New Jersey.

29.8 million acres and they don't have enough land to practice? They may have a turf problem or a setting of priorities problem, but they don't have a lack of land problem."

Colorado River water policy faces an age of limits

Change comes hard to Western water policy. The Prior Appropriation Doctrine, interstate compacts, groundwater law, the "law of the river" -- all of these seem set in stone in the minds of the region's policymakers. Of course, the West's rivers aren't bound by such a static existence. Indeed, they are changing in fundamental ways, opening a wide chasm between our water policy and our water sources. This is particularly true for the Colorado River Basin. Climate scientists are predicting a 10-to-30 percent reduction in flow for the Colorado -- a stark contrast to the rosy assumptions that underlay the Colorado River Compact when it was signed 88 years ago. It is time for a new era in water management. The first step requires dispensing with the absurd notion that infinite growth can take place in a region with severely constrained resources. The second step is to realize that agriculture, which uses the lion's share of the river, is going to take a big hit. Many of the crops grown in the basin are low value, such as hay, or are commodity crops that are already over-produced in the United States. And the third step requires improving the quality of the water by forcing all polluters to clean up their mess. That includes agriculture, mining and municipalities with inadequate urban treatment. These changes will not be easy -- it's like prescribing a root canal for an entire region without offering nitrous oxide. But the longer we wait, the more difficult it will be to make the transition to a policy that meets the reasonable needs of cities, a service economy and the age of limits...more

Pickens wants Texas agency to nix water plan

Billionaire T. Boone Pickens wants a court to derail state approval of a water management plan that he claims would take $10 million off the value of his groundwater rights in the Texas Panhandle. Pickens' attorney, Marty Jones, said Tuesday that the oilman filed a lawsuit against the Texas Water Development Board last month. The suit came after the board endorsed a plan that Pickens claims will take as many as 18,000 acre feet of water a year from the Ogallala Aquifer under land belonging to him and another rancher. One acre foot equals about 326,000 gallons. The lawsuit says the combined plans of three groundwater conservation districts in the Panhandle management area will devalue Mesa Water LP's rights and those of a nearby rancher. Pickens, who has been trying for years to sell water from the Panhandle to thirsty cities to the south, wants a Travis County court to declare the plan unreasonable. That would force the districts to revise their proposals. The Texas Attorney General's Office, which is representing the water board, filed a response to Pickens' suit denying each claim...more

He needs the money so his wife can build a wild horse refuge.

Oklahoma anglers find dead alligator

Terry Walser of Edmond was crappie fishing with some friends Saturday on Broken Bow Lake when they came upon a startling discovery: a dead alligator. State wildlife officials think the alligator — which had been shot twice in the side with a high-powered rifle — is the same one they have received numerous reports about for several years at the lake. Fishermen even reported two or three years ago that an alligator in the lake acted very aggressively toward them, said Mike Virgin, chief of law enforcement in southeastern Oklahoma for the Wildlife Department. "They said it looked bigger than a bass boat, hissing and acting like it was going to ram their boat,” Virgin said. "I bet this was the perpetrator.” The alligator found by Walser in the Otter Creek area of Broken Bow Lake appeared to have been dead a few days, Virgin said. It measured 11½ feet long. "That’s a big alligator,” he said...more

Joe's Boot Shop calf roping set

The 6th Annual Joe’s Boot Shop Calf Roping will be held Thursday, April 22nd through Sunday, April 25th, at the Curry County Events Center. Thursday, Friday and Saturday’s events are open to the public, Sunday afternoon’s events will require a $10 ticket. The Annual Joe’s Boot Shop Calf Roping is now considered to the largest in the nation. This year, the event promises to be even bigger and better! The four-day program includes roping competitions for all skill levels; two match events; the double muggin’; a dummy ropin’; foot races; a chuck wagon cook-off; a Desert Cruzers Classic Car show and People’s Choice contest; a New Mexico High School Rodeo and pie auction; a chuck wagon breakfast, a cowboy church service, and many other surprises! Highlights of Sunday’s events include: The Joe’s Boot Shop and ARIAT Boots Open Roping, where 10 National Finals Rodeo veterans are among the 90 ropers already entered, Monty Lewis, Ryan Jarrett, Blair Burk, Doug Pharr, Hunter Herrin, Clint Cooper and Jerome Schneeberger are among the featured ropers in the Open field, as are Josh Peek, Cade Swor and Stran Smith. The Open Roping is slated to begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 25th, with $500 fees and $10,000 added money, and a prize Stran Smith Ultimate Saddle from Cactus Saddlery...more

Flat cat in a sack: Cautionary tale about felines

I've always believed that cats are an acquired taste. No, no, PETA people, don't get me wrong, when I say "taste" I am not talking about eating the poor things, as they do in some protein-deficient places. I am only saying that some people grow to love felines, while other people put them in the same category as the vermin they chase. Mark Twain and my Grandmother, two of my idols, grew to love cats, while Julius Caesar, Napolean Bonaparte and Benito Mussolini are said to have hated the furry creatures. Which I think speaks well of them. The cats I mean, not the dictators. In Tudor times cats were burned as symbols of heresy, they are said to bring bad luck, and those who've read the entire book say that cats are not mentioned once in the Bible. As for me, I can take or leave them, but I get really irritated at cat lovers who insist that cats are smarter than dogs. When was the last time you saw a Siamese herd a flock of sheep or sniff out a victim trapped underneath rubble? The cats of Mrs. Flickenfloss were composed of two regiments, the inside and the outside cats. Loafer was an outside cat. Don't let his lack of access mislead you, Loafer was loved as much as any inside cat by Cat Woman, he just refused to go indoors. Loafer was what some people call a "feral" cat, although Mister Flickenfloss had other, less complimentary, names for the cat who was always underfoot. On a monthly trip to the Flickenfloss ranch the liquid supplement salesman had just finished filling up the tubs for the cattle and was on his way out the gate when he saw a cat zip across the road...more

Song Of The Day #290

Ranch Radio will continue with its "early" series, as I enjoy finding out how these artists sounded when they first went into a recording studio. We have two selections by Jim Reeves today. The first Chicken Hearted, was recorded in 1950. The second, Beating On The Ding Dong, is from 1954 and is one I'll bet he wished he had never recorded...for several reasons.

His stuff is widely available.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Conservative Blogs Take on EPA with Anti-Regulation Video Contests, a conservative blog published by Salem Communications and NetRightNation have each launched a video contest searching for the video that best exhibits the unintended negative consequences of federal regulations. Launched in response to a federal contest run by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that seeks homemade videos touting the benefits of federal regulations, the anti-regulation video contests seek to demonstrate “the danger and damage” that can be caused by federal regulation. “[W]e’re pleased to announce the launch of a new contest for video submissions that show the danger and damage that existing federal regulation already does,” the HotAir announcement reads. The NetRightNation contest encourages contestants to “get creative” in looking for instances when federal regulations have done more harm than good...more

For background, see my post EPA Contest Seeks Videos Promoting Government Regulations

Supreme court crushes law against animal cruelty videos and photos

The Supreme Court struck down on free-speech grounds Tuesday a federal law that makes it a crime to sell videos or photos of animals being illegally killed or tortured. In a 8-1 ruling, the justices overturned the conviction of a Virginia man who sold dog-fighting videos. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., speaking for the court, said the First Amendment does not allow the government to criminalize whole categories of speech and expression that are deemed undesirable. Roberts also said the law was too broad and could allow prosecutions for selling photos of out-of-season hunting, for example. Only Justice Samuel Alito dissented. Congress passed the law a decade ago to halt the practice of selling videos that depicted tiny animals being crushed to death. It had been rarely used, however, and came under challenge when prosecutors used it against the dog-fighting industry...more

US climate report publicized in runup to Senate bill

An environmental coalition publicized a new U.S. draft report on climate change on Monday, one week before the expected unveiling of a compromise U.S. Senate bill that aims to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The Project on Climate Science, a coalition of environmental groups, publicized the report in advance of Earth Day on April 22, a spokeswoman said. The report was released with little fanfare on April 7 and posted on the Federal Register on April 8. The report, a draft of the Fifth U.S. Climate Action Report that will be sent to the United Nations, says bluntly: "Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced ... Global temperature has increased over the past 50 years. This observed increase is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases." The effects of climate change are already evident, the draft said: warming air and oceans, vanishing mountain glaciers, thawing permafrost, signs of instability in the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica and rising sea levels...more

Gallup says Americans are not behaving greener

Americans are today no more environmentally friendly in their actions than they were at the turn of the century. While more than three in four recycle, have reduced household energy use, and buy environmentally friendly products, these numbers have barely budged since 2000. The stability of these findings stands in juxtaposition to the political and media attention paid to global warming and climate change over the past decade, particularly since Al Gore's 2006 documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." Gallup also finds Americans no more worried about the threat posed by global warming than they were at the start of the decade and that very few Americans name the environment as the most important problem facing the country. In fact, Gallup recently found Americans' level of concern about many environmental problems at a 20-year low, and environmental quality ratings rebounding to where they were at the start of the decade...more

EPA Contest Seeks Videos Promoting Government Regulations

President Obama's Environmental Protection Agency is encouraging the public to create video advertisements that explain why federal regulations are "important to everyone." The contest, which ends May 17, will award $2,500 to the makers of the video that best explains why federal regulations are good and how ordinary citizens can become more involved in making regulations. The videos must be posted on YouTube and can be no more than 60-90 seconds in length. In the current contest, each video must include the slogan “Let your voice be heard,” and it must direct viewers to the government’s regulatory website The winning video will then be used by the entire federal government to promote the regulatory process and enhance the public’s participation in it...more

This seems awfully blatant, but truth be known we've been funding the government to promote itself for a long time. It's one of the few things they do well.

President Obama Launches Initiative to Develop a 21st Century Strategy for America's Great Outdoors

President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum today establishing the America's Great Outdoors Initiative to promote and support innovative community-level efforts to conserve outdoor spaces and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors. The President spoke before leaders representing the conservation, farming, ranching, sporting, recreation, forestry, private industry, local parks and academia communities from all 53 states and territories. The Presidential Memorandum calls on the Secretaries of the Interior and of Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to lead the Initiative, in coordination with the Departments of Defense, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Labor, Transportation, Education, and the Office of Management and Budget. The Initiative will support a 21st century conservation agenda that builds on successes in communities across the country, and will start a national dialogue about conservation that supports the efforts of private citizens and local communities...more

Go here to view the Presidential Memorandum.

Obama Announces "No American Left Inside"

President Obama released a memorandum that urges federal and state lawmakers to fund outdoor recreation programs. The memorandum has been referred to as "No American Left Inside," and is specifically focused on finding ways for Americans to connect with the great outdoors at a low cost. Obama specifically focused on urban environments where such programs do not currently exist. This covers everything from the public acquisition of private land for parks and preserves, as well as integrating outdoor activity and wildlife exposure into public school classrooms. Critics of Obama's plan point out that no specific enforcement or money has been committed to the presidential memorandum. To some critics, Obama's announcement is an appeal to moderates and Republicans who have been wary of the president's stance on gun control and fair use of public land. If the America's Great Outdoors Initiative passes muster, it could mean a swell in government jobs related to conservation and outdoor recreation. An outreach program will be put in place to ascertain where services are needed the most and what wild areas require more protection...more

Colorado Seeks Roads in Wilderness

A proposal by Colorado's Gov. Bill Ritter that would allow industries to build roads on some protected national forest land to expand coal mining, oil drilling and other controversial activities is putting the Obama Administration in a tricky spot. The Democratic governor of this politically important swing state is asking the administration for an exemption to certain protection laws, in part to boost the local economy, but environmentalists are balking. The proposal, which requires federal approval, addresses land designated as "roadless" wilderness under a national forest-management plan issued a decade ago. The national plan, which aimed to protect from development nearly 60 million acres of forest from coast to coast, has been challenged in court repeatedly by industries upset that it puts so much land off-limits. Just this spring, the Obama Administration was in federal court in Denver, defending the plan's validity. That case is still pending. The governor's plan would allow the development of more ski runs in 14 areas, expansion of three existing coal mines and drilling at more than 100 unexplored oil and natural-gas leases in Western Colorado. It would also allow road building to log trees afflicted by a bark-beetle infestation to reduce the fire hazard they pose to rural communities. Colorado officials say their proposal strengthens protections for all but a few swaths of the state's 4.2 million acres of roadless forest land, as it would put other conservation measures in place...more

Lawmakers urge road access in forest to vent methane from mine

Colorado lawmakers on Friday weighed into the Obama administration's deliberations over a proposal submitted by Gov. Bill Ritter for managing national forest roadless areas in the state. A bipartisan group of 15 state legislators asked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to grant the U.S. Forest Service authority to allow temporary roads in a roadless area in western Colorado for the purpose of venting gas from a coal mine. The lawmakers' letter points out that "the Colorado Roadless Rule Petition (recently submitted to your office) specifically authorized these venting operations" in roadless areas. State lawmakers "request that you immediately re-delegate your authority in this matter to the Forest Service so that consultations with the State of Colorado can be completed as quickly as possible," said the letter circulated and signed Friday morning. At stake is how much recreation, mining, logging and other activities the federal government will allow on 4.2 million roadless acres of Colorado's 14.4 million national forest acres...more

Are Rosemont mining claims valid?

Dig, baby, dig? Or wait, baby, wait? Those questions loom large for the proposed Rosemont Mine in the Santa Ritas as officials debate whether the federal government must check out the validity of claims before deciding on a mining application - and if so, whether that means, contrary to more than a century of tradition, that the feds can say "no" to a mine. A January 2010 letter from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack promised Pima County officials that the feds wouldn't decide on Rosemont until they did a "thorough review" of whether its nearly 900 mining claims are valid. That process, rarely done, can cost tens of thousands of dollars and take up to five years, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said. And it could significantly delay the Rosemont project at a time when it hopes to win federal approval and start construction by the end of this year and begin mining by 2012. In a court filing in late March, the Obama administration seemed to take the opposite tack. Responding to an environmentalist lawsuit, the administration said on March 30 that it would defend rules handed down in the waning days of the Bush administration that said the feds don't need to review the validity of claims. But in an interview last week, Vilsack deputy Jay Jensen indicated that the court filing and the letter don't mean what they seem on the surface...more

Power Grab - New Book On Obama's Green Policies

Here is Christopher Horner's interview on Hannity:

California considers easing rules on black bear hunting

As outdoor activities in California go, bear hunting is not particularly popular. Officials estimate that, at most, 1% of the state's population hunts black bears. Many of the other 99% are appalled that anyone does. "I think most people think of it as an anachronism," said state Fish and Game Commissioner Michael Sutton, who speculates that the state's voters may soon ban the practice. So Sutton and his fellow commissioners — hunters all — weren't surprised when proposals to expand black bear hunting drew protest. Nearly 70 environmental, community and animal welfare organizations have lined up against the proposals, most notably the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and various chapters of the Sierra Club. In San Luis Obispo County, the board of supervisors passed a resolution last month opposing expansion of hunting into their area. "We find the totality of the proposal to be unsporting, unfair, inhumane and reckless," said Jennifer Fearing, the Humane Society's Sacramento lobbyist. But officials at the state Department of Fish and Game say they proposed the changes because California's black bear population is flourishing and spreading...more

Grasshopper Plague Could Mean Spectacular Fishing in Western States This Summer

It seems like ranchers and farmers in the West can't get a break. From drought, to hail, to floods, and fires, they're always dealing with some natural disaster. In 2010, the impending plague involves grasshoppers. Leave it to fly fishers, however, to find a silver lining in all of this. I'm not a grasshopper entomologist, but I think I can safely assume that the swarming insects will flutter en masse into rivers like the Bighorn, the Yellowstone, and The Snake. In other words, the trout don't know it yet, but a veritable smorgasbord of protein is about to rain from the sky. In fact, we're already seeing hoppers popping along some Colorado rivers right now, months earlier than normal. There is nothing I like better than watching the slow, deliberate rise of a trout eating a grasshopper fly...more

Running Fence: Christo and Jeanne-Claude

...the success of Running Fence, an older Christo Jeanne-Claude collaboration, shows us that The Gates was not nearly ambitious enough. An exhibit at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, “Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Remembering Running Fence“ revisits this extraordinary work. In 1976, the artists completed the construction of a 24.5 mile-long ‘fence’ that stretched across Northern California’s gentle hills before disappearing into the ocean. The fence consisted of an endless ribbon of white nylon secured by intermittent steel posts. In the wind, it swelled gently, like an engorged sail or white sheets hung up on a clothes line. Running Fence’s visual success did not lie in the structure itself, but in its interaction with the monotonously beautiful surrounding landscape. A gallery of photographs in the SAAM exhibit shows us that the piece looked different depending on the time of day and where one stood. Ultimately, it is Running Fence’s use of nature as an artistic tool that made it a great artwork, unlike The Gates which remained a mere curiosity. Running Fence forced viewers to contemplate man’s relationship to nature and our own smallness...more

I've posted here about the couples "Over The River" project, but I'd never seen any of their work. Now I have and so have you. What do you think of this?

Callous, uncaring death tax's impact

Gary Walker and his family built a 60,000-acre cattle ranch, and he stands to lose it all to the death tax. Walker’s Turkey Creek Ranch borders Fort Carson in Pueblo County. Part of the ranch is under conservation easement bought by Fort Carson as a buffer. Like most family ranches, Walker’s is partly owned by his aging parents. After they die, Walker will owe a death tax calculated on their share of ownership. Estate tax is calculated on the “fair market value” of the item at the time the owner died. Walker’s land, like many rural properties, is being appraised at an inflated value so the government can collect more death tax. An ordinary land transaction involves a willing buyer and seller, each having an interest in the valuation of the property. The owner wants the highest possible appraisal; the buyer wants the lowest. The rational compromise, long established by the appraisal industry, has been to assign the fair market value based on the “highest and best use” that’s legally permissible. When it comes to the estate tax, the system of appraisal is grossly unfair. It typically involves an owner with no desire to sell or develop the property, and motivation to see the property valued as low as possible. The federal government has all the power and wants the property valued as high as possible in order to collect more taxes. The government additionally controls the appraisal process and assumes the right to dictate to the property owner what the land is worth. This fundamentally transforms the buyer/seller relationship into a coercive, involuntary transaction that’s rife with conflict of interest...more

Ranch rodeo has 24 teams compete

A total of $7,000 was awarded to rodeo winners at Spring Creek’s 25th annual Ranch Hand Rodeo Saturday and Sunday. Ranchers came from places as far as Utah and Wyoming to compete in this year’s ranch rodeo events. A total of 24 ranch teams competed in five categories, including branding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, ranch doctoring and wild cow milking. The Jim Ranch won first place overall with 37 points which included honorary buckles and $700 per team member. “If I die tomorrow I don’t even care,” said the Jim Ranch team captain Dirk Jim. “This was my dream right here.” The Jim Ranch — which includes Jim and his three sons Daxton, Dalton and Steven — also won first in the saddle bronc riding category. Jim said his sons have been ranching since they were little boys...more

Looks like a wreck to me.

Baxter Black: Homegrown vets are harder to find

Typically, smaller, more rural communities have no veterinarian, or at least none who will take a calving call or a horse colic emergency. Veterinary schools, veterinary associations, concerned farmers and isolated ranchers continue their search for new veterinarians interested in practicing large animal or equine medicine. While we are searching in our front yard, it is possible that the answer is sneaking up behind us. If we look to our fellow professionals in human medicine, it is not uncommon to find yourself being examined and treated by a foreign-born physician. They may have graduated in their native country and/or received a degree in the U.S. Of the 22,500 doctorates in the natural sciences and engineering awarded by U.S. universities in 2007, more than half were to foreign-born students. According to statistics, 60 percent remain in the U.S. to work. The Irish and Chinese came and built our railroads. The Germans built our bomb. The Mexicans are building our skyscrapers. The Japanese came here and made our cars better. Dr. Sudesna Bose was Grandpa Tommy's Parkinson's doctor. They did not think that the work was too hard and the pay too little. I can't say if it's too soon, but the next time you've got a wounded horse in the middle of the night, and the nearest capable large-animal veterinarian is two hours away, you might give it some thought...more

Song Of The Day #289

Ranch Radio invites you to listen to some really early Hank Thompson as he performs Playin' Possum.

His stuff is widely available, as you can see here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wind resistance

Wyoming may be the best place in the U.S. to generate electricity from wind. Thanks to a dip in the Continental Divide as it wends through the state, it has about half of all the top-quality wind in the country. A turbine here can crank out as much as 30 percent more juice than one in, say, Texas or California. With a population of just half a million, the state has plenty of uninhabited spaces for turbines, and it is famous for welcoming energy development. So companies have stampeded into the Cowboy State, reaching for every gust they can. Wyoming's governor compares the frenzy to a gold rush. That rush, however, is faltering. Today, Wyoming has just 1,100 megawatts of wind capacity, one-eighth of what Texas has. Facing regulatory and political uncertainty, at least one wind-farm proposal has been yanked off the table, and the future of others is in doubt. Legislators, wildlife officials and the governor's office have sent out increasingly mixed messages about the wind rush. It is, indeed, confusing. Because most of the objections to wind farms cite environmental problems, it might appear that Wyoming has finally gone green — standing up to energy developers in hopes of preserving its wild lands. And many environmentalists do see wind as yet another "clean" energy source with a dark side, like hydroelectric dams or coalbed methane, which has transformed swaths of the state into drill-rig pin cushions. Much of the resistance to wind actually comes from the fossil fuel industry and the politics it bankrolls. Wyoming is the largest coal producer in the nation and the third-largest producer of natural gas. Severance taxes and royalties from these industries keep the state's government, schools and other services afloat. In a sometimes convoluted way, wind threatens that old-school energy dynamic...more

Dispute threatens Colorado’s rafters

For years, Mark Schumacher has guided white-water rafts up and down the Taylor, a swift-moving river that cuts through the canyons and cliffs outside Gunnison. So when a wealthy developer who had bought a swath of nearby ranchland told local rafting outfitters last year that they could no longer float through his property, Schumacher was aghast. “Locals have been running this river since the ’40s,” he said, “and here was this guy who was going to use every legal means to shut us down.” Now, the dispute over the Taylor is reviving an old battle in Colorado, long a mecca for white-water rafting. At issue are the state’s water and property laws, which say that while the water in local rivers and streams is public, the beds and banks belong to whoever owns the adjacent land. “The problem is that they want unlimited rights,” Dick Bratton, a lawyer for the developer, Lewis Shaw II, said of commercial rafting companies. “We’re saying they need to modify this and take into consideration the landowner’s rights also.” Among Shaw’s concerns, Bratton said, is a fear that rafters will interfere with the fishing he wants to offer as an incentive for people who are thinking of buying lots and building homes on his land. Lee Spann, a cattle rancher whose land abuts a number of Colorado rivers, worried that expanding access for rafters would limit his ability to protect his property and would disrupt his private fishing business. “Until now, we’ve had virtually no problems,” Spann said. “They come and talk to me and say, ‘We’d like to float through.’ I say, ‘Fine, as long as you stay off the bank and stay off the bottom.’”...more

On a Dusty Mesa, No Water or Electricity, but Boundless Space

Fermin Roman knew he was a pioneer when he bought his homestead on the Pajarito Mesa, a treeless plateau outside Albuquerque. But the seller assured him that water and power would arrive in a year or two. “I’m still waiting,” he said the other day, nearly 20 years later. Now home to more than 400 families, the mesa is one of the largest communities, other than some along the Mexican border, to survive entirely off the grid — without running water, electricity, streets or mail. Here is a maze of unnamed dirt roads, with nary a grocery store or barbershop in sight. Adding to the sense of dislocation, Albuquerque’s skyline shimmers, Oz-like, on the horizon, a half-hour’s drive away. Mr. Roman, like many of the hardy residents of the mesa, has improvised a frugal kind of comfort. Working evenings after his construction job, he wore out three wheelbarrows leveling an arroyo to build his cinder-block house. He hauls purchased water to elevated tanks that feed the kitchen sink, showers and flush toilets. Four solar panels run lights and television, while the refrigerator, stove and even his wife’s hair curler run on propane. The Pajarito Mesa community, scattered over 28 square miles, is 90 percent Hispanic and mostly poor, and includes an uncounted but large number of illegal immigrants. But they are not squatters: residents buy or rent their plots, and the owners pay property taxes, one of the many oddities of a community that is isolated in plain sight...more

Court favours rancher over energy giant

A southern Alberta ranching family won another victory in its fight with Imperial Oil after Alberta's highest court dismissed an appeal launched by the energy giant. Bragg Creek rancher Agnes Ball filed the lawsuit in 2004, arguing a sour gas leak in an Imperial Oil pipeline had contaminated a patch of her family's land and sickened some of their cattle. Her family won the initial ruling -- a decision Imperial Oil appealed last April. That appeal was dismissed in a 2-1 decision in favour of the ranching family this week. "We're relieved, we're happy that the appeal was dismissed," said Susan Graham, Ball's daughter. She said it's been a frustrating few years, but also empowering as the family successfully faced off with the major energy company. It's too soon to say whether Imperial Oil will try to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada, said spokesman Pius Rolheiser...more

Goldman Prize honors activists working to save land, animals

Lynn Henning, a small farmer, exposed the water pollution caused in her Michigan county by concentrated animal feeding operations. In Costa Rica, biologist Randall Arauz forced his government to enforce its laws to protect endangered shark species from slaughter just for their fins. They're just two winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize being presented today in San Francisco. The prize, the largest for grass-roots activists in the world, comes with a $150,000 check for each of six recipients, one for each inhabited continent. Henning and her husband farm 300 acres of corn and soybeans. But in the past decade, 12 large-scale CAFOs — concentrated animal feeding operations — have opened within 12 miles of their farm, 10 for cows and two for pigs. "There are 60 lagoons with over 400 million gallons of untreated waste in them," she says of the manure ponds the operations create to deal with the excrement of their animals. The stench is so overwhelming she can't hang her laundry when it's warm, and the ponds are emitting odor and gases. To force the operations to abide by local laws, she helped to found the Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan ( It hasn't made her popular. "I've had dead animals on my car, in my mailbox on my farm, we've had stuff put into the tank of our combine, I've been chased to the police department. It's divided the community."...more