Friday, May 07, 2010

Jaguar whistle-blower faces charges

The woman who said she planted female jaguar scat at the trap where jaguar Macho B was caught last year said she was told Thursday by federal investigators to prepare to face prosecution for her actions in the case. "They told me to be prepared to be charged for a violation of the Endangered Species Act" and that "now's a good time to get a lawyer," said Janay Brun, 38, of Arivaca. Brun said investigators told her she could be charged with the "take" of an endangered species. That's a legal term meaning killing, harming or harassing an endangered animal or plant. The jaguar is listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Macho B was the last jaguar known to be living in the wild in the United States. Brun sparked a federal criminal investigation when she told the Arizona Daily Star more than a year ago that she had placed the scat at the eventual Macho B trap site at the direction of Emil McCain. McCain was a biologist for the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project, where Brun also worked as a research technician. Until her statement that the jaguar was intentionally lured by the scat, Arizona Game and Fish Department officials had said the capture was accidental, occurring during a state study of black bears and mountain lions, for which McCain was setting snares. At the time of Brun's allegations, McCain vehemently denied them. Macho B was captured in a snare trap and radio-collared by Game and Fish biologists on Feb. 18, 2009, then released back into the wild. On March 2, 2009, after he slowed down dramatically, he was recaptured and euthanized at the Phoenix Zoo after veterinarians determined he had kidney failure...more

BP spill may kill hopes for climate deal

When John Kerry addressed environmental groups about the need to pass his comprehensive energy reform bill this year, he did not mention the disastrous oil spill now threatening the Gulf of Mexico and Florida's west coast. Kerry focused his Wednesday speech on "green" jobs, but he and his bill are in a perilous position when it comes to oil drilling. The legislation is expected to call for an expansion of drilling in coastal waters, a provision needed to lure enough votes from Republicans and moderate Democrats to pass the bill. The bill will also call for steep reductions in carbon emissions and potentially a gas tax, which many Republicans oppose. But the drilling provision inserted to draw support on the right has now caused a collapse in support on the left, as Democrats lined up to denounce any plans to widen drilling...more

Patents: Greenies get the fast track

Today the office still struggles with a major backlog. But inventors of green technology may have a leg up. Under a program that started in December, they can request that their patents be put through an accelerated queue. The purpose of the program is to help them raise money, start up businesses and bring products to the market more rapidly. On Tuesday, Skyline Solar, a solar panel builder in Silicon Valley, was awarded one of the first patents to emerge from the queue. “When a company says a patent is pending, things are uncertain. This gives us certainty,” said Bob MacDonald, the chief executive officer of Skyline. “And it helps get new investors comfortable with the intellectual property,” he added. Skyline filed its patent application in April 2008 and petitioned to move it into the accelerated queue in December. It’s a remarkable speed-up: it had typically taken two to three years for a green technology patent application to be reviewed...more

I guess the subsides weren't enough. Meanwhile, everyone else faces delays and "uncertainty."

I say clear-cut the regulatory jungle for everybody.

U.S. facing 'grievous harm' from chemicals in air, food, water, panel says

An expert panel that advises the president on cancer said Thursday that Americans are facing "grievous harm" from chemicals in the air, food and water that have largely gone unregulated and ignored. The President's Cancer Panel called for a new national strategy that focuses on such threats in the environment and workplaces. Epidemiologists have long maintained that tobacco use, diet and other factors are responsible for most cancers, and that chemicals and pollutants cause only a small portion -- perhaps 5 percent. The presidential panel said that figure has been "grossly underestimated" but it did not provide a new estimate. Federal chemical laws are weak, funding for research and enforcement is inadequate, and regulatory responsibilities are split among too many agencies, the panel found...more

In a surprise development a panel appointed by Obama recommends more and stronger laws, increased appropriations and more centralization of authority.

President’s Cancer Panel’s Alarming Alarmism

The President’s Cancer Panel has caused quite a stir with its release of a report imputing cancer to environmental chemicals. The report practically plagiarizes the work of anti-chemical activist groups, including the Environmental Working Group’s catchphrase that babies are “pre-polluted” with chemicals, and in its frequent homage to the precautionary principle. “This so-called Presidential Cancer Panel, which consists of two physicians, has obviously been politically pressured by the activists running the EPA,” says ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross. “When they mention babies being ‘pre-polluted’ and the alleged dangers of all of these chemicals, they not only sign their name to activist screeds, they neglect to mention that the dose makes the poison, and that finding traces of chemicals at levels of parts-per-billion does not imply a health hazard. And of course they do not address the potential health hazards of banning important chemicals from consumer products.” Despite all of the alarmism, some news sources are bringing balance to the narrative. The L.A. Times quotes our own Dr. Whelan pointing out that, despite what Nicholas Kristof says, “cancer death rates are going down. The so-called environmental trace levels of chemicals play no role whatsoever in the etiology of cancer.” And both the L.A. Times and Reuters Health quote Dr. Michael Thun, emeritus vice president of epidemiology at the American Cancer Society. “We agree that there are many important issues here … but a reader would come away from this report believing that pollutants cause most cancer,” Dr. Thun tells the L.A. Times. The article continues: “In fact, he said, most cancers are caused by tobacco, alcohol, overexposure to ultraviolet light, radiation and sexually transmitted infections. The report ‘presents an unbalanced perspective’ of the relative importance of these various factors, he said.”...more

Calf killed by wolf on private property in Wallowa County

Federal and Oregon state wildlife officials say one or more wolves has killed a calf on private property in the Zumwalt area of northeast Oregon's Wallowa County. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy says a state wildlife employee found the dead calf Wednesday. Agents examined tracks and bite marks to determine what happened. Under Oregon's wolf management plan, nonlethal measures to avoid future problems are the first response to such attacks. Oregon wildlife officials are working with area landowners to consider such measures. Wolves are federally protected as an endangered species in the western two-thirds of Oregon and are also listed as a state endangered species. AP

Organic Farming Shows Limited Benefit to Wildlife

Organic farms may be seen as wildlife friendly, but the benefits to birds, bees and butterflies don't compensate for the lower yields produced, according to new research from the University of Leeds. In the most detailed, like-for-like comparisons of organic and conventional farming to date, researchers from Leeds' Faculty of Biological Science found that the benefits to wildlife and increases in biodiversity from organic farming are much lower than previously thought -- averaging just over 12 percent more than conventional farming. The organic farms in the study produced less than half of the yield of their conventional counterparts, so the research -- published online in Ecology Letters -- raises serious questions about how we can use agricultural land to maximise food production and still protect our wildlife. "Over the next forty years, we're going to have to double food production worldwide to keep pace with population increases," says Professor Tim Benton, who led the project. "Our results show that to produce the same amount of food in the UK using organic rather than conventional means, we'd need to use twice the amount of land for agriculture."...more

Air Force making its case for bomber training

The Air Force will release a report next month outlining the impacts of its plan to train bomber pilots over massive stretches of Montana and neighboring states. Meantime, Ellsworth Air Force Base brass is selectively making its case to critics of the proposed Powder River Training Complex, which would set aside 20.3 million acres of airspace across Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming for military exercises. The training area, stretching roughly 300 miles between Billings and Bismarck, N.D., would be used by B-1B and B-52 pilots occupying the skies for several hours at a time on weekdays and flying within 500 feet off the ground. With miles of ranches and 66 small airports in or around the flight zone, opponents aren’t in short supply. “We were kind of a practice run for the B-52s and others years ago, and it really disturbs cattle a lot,” said Pat Goggins, owner of the Vermillion Ranch, which has properties throughout the area. “It’s a rough deal trying to get good (weight) gain on them.”...more

AQHA, WRCA Create Ranch Rodeo Award

The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) has teamed with the Working Ranch Cowboys Association (WRCA) to recognize top horses at WRCA rodeos across the nation. To honor the contributions ranch horses have made to the heritage of the American Quarter Horse, AQHA will sponsor a special recognition award to the top horse at every WRCA-sanctioned rodeo. The special achievement by these top horses will be placed on the horse's permanent AQHA record. The AQHA Top Horse Award will be presented at each sanctioned WRCA rodeo to the best all-around registered American Quarter Horse. The first presentation of this new award was at the Green Country Classic Ranch Rodeo, which took place in Claremore, Okla., in March. Little Tronas Will, owned and exhibited by Jeff Heaton of Alva, Okla., was the inaugural award recipient...more

Pasco ranchers share memories, history

The smell of cooking barbecue was complemented by the sound of fireworks. Or, were those bullets being fired? Those entering the Back Forty Pavilion at Starkey Ranch, quickly realized that the crackling pops they heard involved not pyrotechnics or gunpowder, but handmade whips slung by the hands of 16-year-old Chase Kiefer of Bushnell. The event drew a crowd of more than 200 people, many of them from ranching families around Pasco County. The event, hosted by SCENIC, a nonprofit organization, was attended by families who brought cattle brands from yesteryear, old pictures, plenty of stories and an appetite for barbecue and live country music, which was performed by Kissimmee-based Kenyon Lockry. The cattle brands are part of SCENIC's Living Legacy Project, which works to preserve the area's rich ranching history with photos, video and written stories on the organization's Web site. At a booth under the pavilion, historian and author Jeff Cannon of Hudson displayed several brands from families around the region. His oldest was an 1845 brand used by John S. Taylor, a Civil War veteran who lived in Hernando County. There was an 1883 brand made by Constantine "Bud" Stevenson, a blacksmith killed during a "family feud" with the Whidden family, Cannon said. Cannon explained that ranching was prevalent throughout Pasco during the Civil War, when the area's "Cow Calvary" rounded up beef cattle for Confederate soldiers fighting up north...more

Barbed-wire pitch posts preserve forest history

At old ranches and on some remaining farms near the foothills, one can see old barbed-wire-fence "pitch posts." These relics of a bygone era artistically reveal some Colorado history and provide an interesting forestry lesson. Pitch posts were cut and split from the dense and heavy wood of live pitchy trees. Pitch is a resin found in evergreen trees and it forms when trees are injured. When the injury is caused by heat from ground-surface, low-intensity forest fires, and the fire has not killed the tree, more sap is made. This resin then concentrates in outer layers of sap-wood. Long ago, forest fires were started from lightning and often times by indigenous people. Native Americans knew that a flush of new and tender vegetation that sprouts after fire meant well-nourished game and thus better hunting. With no human effort to suppress forest fires, they were frequent, and trees were often injured by fire. In those conditions, a "relatively young," 150-year-old tree may have received fire damage three, four, five or more times in its lifetime. A living tree exposed to that many fires accumulates high concentrations of pitch all the way from its heartwood center out to the bark. Many fire-injured trees had a portion of their lower bark burned off. Exposed and charcoaled wood made inverted V-shaped black areas called "cat faces," usually on the uphill side. Often, the cat-faced trees healed over the charred surface with new wood, which can be seen in cross-sections of old pitch posts. Fire events can sometimes be dated by annual tree rings of wood that grew over the black fire scar or surround it...more

Song Of The Day #304

Ranch Radio will close out the week of honoring those who "stick with tradition" with a tripple whammy.

Rayna Gellert practices the old time type of fiddling and today we feature three of her songs: Old Yeller Dog Come Trotting Through The Meetinghouse, Swannanoa Waltz and Wagoner One-Step.

All three selections are available on her 20 track CD Ways Of The World.

Today's program goes out to Joe Delk, Bobby Jones and Junior Daugherty.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

While Oil Slick Spread, Interior Dept Chief of Staff Rafted with Wife in Grand Canyon

Though his agency was charged with coordinating the federal response to the major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Department of the Interior chief of staff Tom Strickland was in the Grand Canyon with his wife last week participating in activities that included white-water rafting, ABC News has learned. Other leaders of the Interior Department were focused on the Gulf, joined by other agencies and literally thousands of other employees. But Strickland’s participation in a trip that administration officials insisted was “work-focused” raised eyebrows among other Obama administration officials and even within even his own department, sources told ABC News. Strickland, who also serves as Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, was in the Grand Canyon with his wife Beth for a total of three days, including one day of rafting. Beth Strickland paid her own way, Obama administration officials said...more

How Cronyism Is Infesting Cap-And-Trade

In January, investigative reporter John Stossel, now with Fox Business, reported on an exceptionally cozy relationship between Serious Materials, an energy-efficient building materials company, and an Obama administration pushing what was dubbed "cash for caulkers" as part of its failing stimulus package. As Julia A. Seymour of the Business and Media Institute reports, Stossel showed video clips of a Serious Materials representative introducing President Obama and CEO Kevin Surace and thanking Vice President Biden for his "unwavering support."So unwavering has this support been that when a list of such companies receiving tax credits was released in January, only one window manufacturer, Serious Materials, was a recipient. This attracted the attention of Annette Meeks of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, a much-colder state that also has manufacturers of energy-efficient windows. Meeks asked: "How does it come about that repeatedly — at least six times last year — executives from one window manufacturer, one small California company, appeared with the president and vice president and no other company even gets a mention?" As it turns out, according to Meeks' colleague Jonathan Blake, the company's policy director is married to Cathy Zoi, the administration's assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy. In that position, Zoi has control of $16.8 billion in stimulus funds. Environmental guru and reporter Christopher Horner, writing for Pajamas Media, also notes that Zoi, formerly CEO of the Alliance for Climate Protection (founded by, you guessed it, Al Gore) and her husband hold 120,000 shares in Serious Materials, as well as stock options. Zoi and her husband also have a substantial stake in a Swiss firm, Landis+Gyr, that makes the "smart meters" that are a central component of the administration's plans to reduce electricity consumption as part of a national "smart grid." Can anyone say "conflict of interest"?...more

Democrats thwart Rep. Rob Bishop's move to obtain 'national monument' documents

Democrats on Wednesday narrowly beat back a Republican attempt co-led by Rep. Rob Bishop to force the Obama administration to turn over the still secret portions of a partially leaked document that showed the administration was considering creating 14 new national monuments, including two in Utah. However, Bishop said the administration did turn over 383 out of 2,399 pages Republicans have been seeking, but that means its batting average is only .149 in providing the documents. "By refusing to turn over thousands of pages of documents to Congress about this administration's potential plans to lock up millions of acres of lands, they have destroyed any remaining illusion about being transparent," Bishop said. Bishop and Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., tried to push through the House Natural Resources Committee a "resolution of inquiry" to force the release of the full document. However, the committee on Wednesday killed a motion to favorably report it on a 22-20 vote. Instead, it reported the resolution by voice vote without recommendation, a sign that it has small chance of making it to the House floor...more

So what happened to the most transparent administration in history?

As Rep. Doc Hastings pointed out, Interior "is withholding over five times as much information as they are disclosing to Congress and the American people."

This has to be an embarrassment to the Committee Democrats who voted against the resolution. They really fell on their sword for Obama and the enviros and in the process kicked the separation of powers into the ditch.

Here is the video of Rep. Hastings' presentation to the Committee:

Monument expanded, grazing permits retired

A bill expanding protection of the Oregon Caves National Monument moved a step closer to becoming law following approval in the House Natural Resources Committee Wednesday morning. HR 2889, introduced last year by U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, calls for the 480-acre monument to be expanded by some 4,070 acres. Supporters say it would protect the monument's water source, improve forest health and increase tourism in the area. But a local timber industry spokesman worries it reflects an effort to continue to whittle away at the potential local harvest from public land. The expanded area, now part of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, would be known as the Oregon Caves National Preserve and would allow continued fishing, hunting and trapping in the area. A provision in the bill allows thinning to promote forest health and reduce the potential for catastrophic wildfires that would threaten the monument's historic chateau. The legislation provides for the retirement of grazing permits within the monument by the National Park Service. Applegate Valley rancher Phil Krouse, whose family has grazed cattle in the area each summer for three generations, has agreed to sell his grazing privileges within the monument. In addition, the bill also designates the River Styx, the underground stream running out of the caves, as the first subterranean Wild and Scenic River in the nation...more

Kane takes its road fight to court -- again

Kane County's legal wrangling with environmental groups over access to and ownership of roadways in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument made a return trip Tuesday to a federal appeals court. In 2005, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and The Wilderness Society sued the county after it ordered the removal of more than 30 road-closure signs posted by the Bureau of Land Management and then dumped the markers at a BLM office in Kanab. The county then posted its own signs, indicating the roads were public and open to motorized vehicles. Kane's unilateral action triggered a host of lawsuits, most of which the county has lost. Last September, a three-judge panel of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld U.S. District Judge Teena Campbell's 2008 ruling that the county's actions created conflicting management plans for the area. The federal government, she said, pre-empted local authority. But the appellate court agreed to revisit several issues surrounding the case, setting the stage for Tuesday's review by the full circuit court. Among the issues is whether the environmental groups -- as private entities -- had legal standing to challenge the county's actions. Kane County's attorney, Mike Lee, who is running against Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, argued Tuesday before the 11-judge panel that for decades the county has maintained and regulated the area's roads and that locals use them to get to and from their homes...more

Wolf recovery target has changed, feds acknowledge

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official answered allegations from hunters and outfitters Tuesday by acknowledging that the agency has changed the goal for wolf recovery in the northern Rocky Mountains to keep up with the best available science. The statement from Ed Bangs, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf recovery coordinator, comes before U.S. District Judge from Montana Donald Molloy is scheduled to hear arguments June 15 in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups over taking wolves off the Endangered Species List. Under the Endangered Species Act, a species that is in trouble can be restored and removed from federal protection once biological criteria are met. Sixty-six wolves were transplanted from Canada to Idaho and Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and 1996. The recovery goal has changed several times since the original 1987 proposal for a total of 30 breeding pairs in three locations in the northern Rocky Mountains – central Idaho, Greater Yellowstone and northwest Montana. Those changes include a more stringent definition of a breeding pair and a buffer, implemented by Bangs, that requires 15 breeding pairs and 150 wolves in each of the three states to ensure that populations don’t fall below the recovery goal of 30 breeding pairs and 300 wolves in the entire region. Today there are an estimated 1,702 wolves in 242 wolf packs and 115 breeding pairs in the central Idaho and Greater Yellowstone areas and in northern Montana, where they recolonized naturally...more

Aerial wolf kill to protect caribou

A collective of Canadian environmental groups has written an open letter to Premier Gordon Campbell decrying the provincial government's proposal for an aerial wolf kill in efforts to protect the dwindling mountain caribou population. In the letter, sent Monday, 16 environmental groups state they are strongly opposed to the killing of wolves — as well as other carnivorous animals including cougars and bears — arguing human activities such as the logging of old-growth forests and snowmobiling are the main causes of mountain caribou population decline. The provincial goal is to increase the mountain caribou population — now estimated at 1,800 to 1,900 animals — to the pre-1995 level of 2,500 animals within 20 years. The proposal for the aerial wolf kill first surfaced in February...more

Suit: USFS skirted law on timber sale

Two environmental groups are claiming in a lawsuit that officials with the Helena National Forest coaxed a state agency into changing the designation of an area as elk winter range in order to get a timber sale near Elliston under way. In the complaint filed this week in U.S. District Court, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council say they have copies of e-mails that show the federal agency pressured Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials to “help them evade the law” by changing the elk designation from winter range to summer range. The two groups claim that with the change by FWP, the Forest Service won’t have to comply with its own requirements for projects on elk winter range, and it will allow the federal agency to move forward more easily with the 763-acre tree-thinning project...more

Environmental agency, Gov. Christie discuss privatizing N.J. forests, parks

The state Department of Environmental Protection and Gov. Chris Christie’s administration are in discussions about having private vendors, rather than state personnel, manage state forests and parks. "We are barely getting by this year with enough funding to run the parks, so we are looking for ways to ensure that our parks stay open and that all residents of New Jersey have an opportunity to be able to use the parks and recreation sites," said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin today. The Garden State is not the first state to consider the idea, which the DEP stressed was only in the talking stage and part of a larger effort to figure out efficient ways to manage state parks and forests. The DEP also offered no specifics on which, if any, of the 50 state parks and dozens of other forests would be eligible for private management. Several environmentalists said they fear the consequences of privatization, including whether fast-food chains would be allowed. Privatizing public parks and forests is not new. Private firms have managed many federal, county and local lands for years, such as Ocala National Forest in Florida. Vendors charge entrance and other user fees and pay government a percentage as they handle all maintenance and park operations. State parks, however, have been slow to catch on, said Warren Meyer, owner of Recreation Resource Management, an Arizona firm that operates 175 federal, county and local park and forest facilities in 13 states...more

Automakers Seek to Delay Ethanol Blending Raise

Citing new test data, the auto industry says the federal government’s plan to raise the amount of ethanol mixed into gasoline will damage cars and increase the amount of pollution they emit. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to issue a rule in the next few weeks that would permit oil companies to increase the percentage of ethanol in automotive fuel to 15 percent, up from the current level of 10 percent, so they can meet E.P.A. quotas for renewable fuels. Automakers have opposed the change since the E.P.A. first signaled it last year. But now the industry says it has conducted tests that confirm the higher-ethanol blend will cause problems in many cars. Half of the engines tested so far have had some problems, said C. Coleman Jones, the biofuel implementation manager at General Motors, who spoke on behalf of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers...more

Racetrack Developer Loses Gaming License In New Mexico

The state of New Mexico was looking forward to the tax revenue that would come from a new racetrack and casino in Raton. On Tuesday, however, the plans for that facility were put on hold by the New Mexico Gaming Control Board. The Board voted to revoke the license issued to racino owner Michael Moldenhauer because the developer missed a deadline to have a temporary casino up and running. Moldenhauer claims the casino was set to open in a tent in less than a month. In addition to the Control Boards decision, the New Mexico Racing Commission is expected to revoke the racing license at a meeting on May 19th. In New Mexico, it is not legal to operate a racetrack without a casino. Moldenhauer is planning on appealing the ruling...more

Last American Cowboy to air on Animal Planet

Hidden amid the mammoth- Montana landscape are three family-owned and operated cattle ranches and the setting of Animal Planet's newest original series, LAST AMERICAN COWBOY. This epic adventure follows three families of tough, tenacious and headstrong cowboys through freak storms, deadly outbreaks of disease, hungry predators and forest fires that threaten their livelihood. Each ranch will need to rely on family bonds and personal strength to keep this tradition of the American West alive. Premiering Monday, June 7, at 10 PM (ET/PT), LAST AMERICAN COWBOY shares the highs and lows of life on a ranch for the Hughes, Galt and Stucky families. From the multi-generational ranch family committed to working only on horseback to the modern rancher who uses high-tech equipment, all-terrain vehicles and even a helicopter to manage his massive operation to the small nuclear family determined to persevere against all odds, all must struggle to make ends meet and all are deeply committed to this classic way of life lived close to the land. The Hughes family, the smallest of the three ranches, is as close to "Little House on the Prairie" as you can get. Scott and Stacey Hughes, along with their three-year old son and nine-year-old daughter, live on a 12,000-acre ranch and manage their herd of 500 Black Angus all alone. Comparatively, the Galt Ranch is one of the largest cattle ranches in Montana with over 100,000 acres, 5,500 cattle and 100 horses. It is so vast that owner Bill Galt manages it from the sky in his own helicopter. Bill and the rest of the Galt family believe technology is the future of ranching and necessary to efficiently run a ranch of this size and caliber. Contrary to the Galt family, the Stuckys are traditional ranchers choosing horseback over ATVs and doing most of the work by hand. Keeping these traditions alive is deeply important to the entire clan, and as the ranch continues to grow and expand, the Stuckys hope it will be passed down through generations...more

White Sands Festival Honours 'Nokota Heart'

'Nokota Heart', a feature documentary by Irish writer/director Sean Garland, walked away from this year’s White Sand’s International Film Festival with the title of Best Feature Documentary. The Awards Ceremony, held recently in New Mexico, USA, was attended by ‘Nokota Heart’ producer Lawrence Fee from Yard Ireland who also edited the piece. Lawrence collected the Best Feature Documentary Award on behalf of himself and Sean Garland who is the film’s director and director of photography. The feature doc tells the true story of Leo Kuntz, Vietnam vet turned horse rancher, his life and loves out on the Great Plains of North America and his fight to save the legendary Nokota horse of Sitting Bull from extinction in the inexorable onslaught of the 21st century. Lawrence describes the project for IFTN saying: “Intimate and raw, grand and daring, this is W.B.Yeats meets Sam Shepard, the vanishing American frontier through the prism of an Irish storyteller, suffused with the quiet mysticism and unassuming humanity of an everyman, humble onto himself yet unquestionably an unsung hero left behind by time.”...more

The Clanton Gang’s Former New Mexico Stomping Ground to Be Sold at Auction May 25

A piece of our nation’s history will be sold at auction this month. Land frequented by the notorious Clanton Gang as they ran their cattle across the west, and located just 15 miles from the site of Geronimo’s 1886 surrender, will be offered with no starting bids on Tuesday, May 25. The sale of New Mexico’s 680-acre Painted Pony Ranch offers a rare opportunity to own part of America’s history. The Painted Pony Ranch is situated between the Chiracahua and Peloncillo mountains, former home to the Chiracahua Apache Indians and their most prominent leader, Geronimo. During that time, the land now known as the Painted Pony Ranch, was part of the area then referred to as the Robber’s Path due to its frequent use by the infamous Clanton Gang (The Cowboys), outlaws who used the land throughout the 1870s and 1880s leading up to the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in 1881. Painted Pony Ranch is located in Rodeo, N.M., a quiet community located between Tucson, Ariz., and El Paso, Texas...more

Song Of The Day #304

Ranch Radio continues the week with modern artists who are "sticking with tradition."

In today's selection Justin Townes Earle gives us the traditional sound and instrumentation in his Ain't Glad I'm Leaving.

The tune is available on his 2008, 10 track CD The Good Life.

Click on the music player and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Forest Service to fight obesity

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Tuesday that the U.S. Forest Service will contribute $500,000 this year to the “More Kids in the Woods” program for projects that promote active lifestyles and connect kids to nature. “If we are going to put an end to childhood obesity, we must promote healthy, active lifestyles and encourage our kids to get off the couch and go outside,” Vilsack said. “Our More Kids in the Woods challenge not only promotes physical activity, it fosters environmental awareness and stewardship among young people as we face critical environmental challenges, such as the effects of climate change.” Vilsack said the initiatives supported by the program will help children make a connection among “healthy forests, healthy communities and their own healthy lifestyles.”...More

All you parents step back - the Forest Service is taking over teaching your kids how to eat, how to enjoy nature and how to be more "active". Yes sir, your kids will grow up buff and as good little greenies who support larger budgets for the Forest Service.

If anything is obese its the Forest Service and I don't remember Smokey being all that slim either. However, we should all get ready for "ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT OBESITY".

So I consulted with Gus & Woodrow and they said the parents should do their job without the help of any federal agents and that the real trimming needs to be done at the federal table. I got them to back off on the dally and drag thing, but it was clear they don't want the federales messin' with our kids.

Beetle outbreak may close forests

Some national forests in Colorado and Wyoming may have to be closed if the U.S. Forest Service cannot hasten cleanup of beetle-infested trees, Regional Forester Rick Cables said Tuesday. Testifying here before the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, Cables said he expects 100,000 trees a day to fall in the national forests in the two states over the next 10 years. "The trees are falling," Cables said. "We've had several near misses already where falling trees have come close to hurting people."...more

I can't figure out how those trees missed all those fat folks out there.

On the other hand, what a great way to get exercise. Just round up all those tubbly teens, turn 'em loose in the forest and let them dodge 100,000 trees a day. They'd also learn pretty damn quick about healthy forests.

Collaboration Leads to Protection of Colorado's James Peak Wilderness

The Wilderness Land Trust, in partnership with the Colorado Conservation Trust, has protected approximately 320-acres of private land located in the stunning glacial cirque on the edge of the James Peak Wilderness, the partners announced today. The protected area, which includes Little Echo Lake, riparian areas along Mammoth Gulch, and a broad ridge extending from James Peak, was not included in the 2002 James Peak Wilderness Area designation due to potential conflicts between management of the public and private lands. Eventually the partners plan to transfer ownership to the U.S. Forest Service for an eventual addition to the wilderness so that the entire region can be managed together for public benefit. The $725,000 purchase was made possible in part due to a $600,000 loan from the Colorado Conservation Trust. The Wilderness Land Trust works with willing sellers to eliminate private lands within the National Wilderness Preservation System. More than 400,000 acres of privately held lands remain within designated Wilderness areas which can lead to fragmentation of pristine ecosystems, degradation of the wilderness experience for visitors, and more costly and time consuming challenges for public land management agencies. The Trust is the national leader in securing Wilderness Areas for future generations to enjoy...more

Another example of the land trusts working as stalking horses for federal land acquisition.

All that "collaborating" brought us was less private property.

Gus & Woodrow say we need a land trust with the same tax breaks to work on disposing of federal property. I'm thinking they're gonna have to do a big bunch of dallyin' and draggin' before that can happen.

Federal Judge Upholds Drilling In SW Colorado

A federal judge has upheld approval of gas wells in parts of the southwestern Colorado mountains, rejecting arguments by environmentalists that the plan doesn't adequately protect sensitive areas and wildlife. U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch said in his ruling, issued Monday, that any flaws in the plan authorizing about 140 natural gas wells in the San Juan National Forest are "minor in proportion to the full context of the agency action under review." Environmental groups contend the project conflicts with the forest management plan. They say federal agencies' pledges to avoid old growth forests and protect key wildlife habitat and waterways on the public land have been ignored. Of special interest are the HD Mountains, which include roadless areas and make up roughly 45,000 acres of the 125,000-acre project area. Environmentalists also argued in a December hearing that the environmental assessment of the project didn't adequately consider the potential effects on air quality, particularly on nearby federal wilderness areas and national parks in Colorado and New Mexico...more

Court upholds timber sales in Tongass Nat'l Forest

Two conservation groups have failed to stop four timber sale offerings they say threaten a rare species of wolf that lives in the Tongass National Forest. Greenpeace and Cascadia Wildlands Project filed a lawsuit two years ago accusing the U.S. Forest Service of violating federal environmental laws when planning for the sales. Together, the timber sales amount to 30 million board-feet of Tongass timber — about the same as was harvested last year from the nation's largest national forest. U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline found no wrongdoing on the part of the Forest Service, describing the problem as more of a "scientific disagreement" rather than an error by the agency. He said the Forest Service conducted an extensive environmental analysis of the four projects in the national forest that covers about 26,500 square miles — more than the entire state of West Virginia...more

Capitan residents remember Smokey Bear

It was 60 years ago this week that his dad brought home in a shoebox a tiny black bear cub that would become the incarnation of a national icon - but Donald Bell still remembers it vividly. A typical 15-year-old, Donald wasn't much impressed by the arrival of the injured bear at his Santa Fe home; his father, Ray Bell, was a game warden, and routinely brought home injured animals, got them medical care and found homes for them at area zoos. It wasn't until some photos of the bear, his blistered feet bandaged, made their way into newspapers across the country that little Hotfoot Teddy, as he had been named, caught the attention of the U.S. Forest Service and became Smokey Bear - the living symbol of the fire prevention mascot that debuted in 1944. Nowadays, Smokey Bear, in his dungarees and ranger's hat, is one of the most recognizable characters in the U.S. But in May of 1950, he was just a 5-pound cub that frolicked around the Bell home in the evenings with their cocker spaniel puppy...more

Song Of The Day #303

Continuing to honor those who "stick with tradition", Ranch Radio offers you Dang These Texas Honky Tonks performed by Bill Green.

You can find the tune on his 11 track CD Dang These Texas Honky Tonks.

Warnings Ignored as Arizona Sheriff Deputy Shot by Drug Smugglers on Federal Wilderness Lands

Only weeks after Republican Committee Ranking Members introduced legislation to ensure Border Patrol agents’ operational control of the border isn’t compromised by Department of Interior environmental policies, a shooting occurred on public lands near the border. On Friday, April 30, Pinal County Sheriff Deputy Louie Puroll was ambushed and shot by five drug smugglers in the Table Top Wilderness Area, federal land just south of Phoenix, Arizona. Puroll, on foot patrol for drug smugglers, was forced to abandon his vehicle as he entered Table Top due to the prohibition of motorized vehicles in Wilderness Areas. This is the latest violent crime to occur on federal Wilderness areas along the U.S. border where Border Patrol is unable to effectively monitor the land due to environmental policies enforced by Department of Interior (DOI) land managers. According to Bureau of Land Management sources there have been 11 shooting incidents in Table Top Wilderness Area in 2010. Action needs to be taken by the Department and Congress before another incident occurs...more

Border Patrol Agent Union Strongly Supports Bill to Improve Border Security on Public Lands

he National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), a professional union representing more than 17,000 Border Patrol Agents and support staff, sent a letter yesterday in support of H.R. 5016, a bill to prevent the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture from implementing policies that restrict or impede Border Patrol from carrying out their mission to secure the U.S. border on public lands. The need for this legislation has recently been highlighted by the tragic murder of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz and the non-fatal shooting of Arizona’s Pinal County Sheriff Deputy Louie Puroll. The suspects in both incidents are believed to have entered the U.S. on federal lands near the border. The President of the NBPC, T.J. Bonner wrote the following in support of the legislation: “Achieving the elusive goal of securing our Nation’s borders is complicated by numerous obstacles, including rugged, terrain, extreme climatic conditions, an overwhelming amount of illegal traffic, and escalation violence perpetrated by smugglers and other criminals. Bureaucratic regulations that prevent Border Patrol agents from utilizing vehicles and technology on public lands should be the least of their concerns, but unfortunately are not....more

Border policies continue to jeopardize national security

by Congressman Mike Coffman

The March 27 murder of Arizona rancher Rob Krentz in Cochise County, 20 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border made headlines in Arizona, sparked significant unrest in border communities, and, in part, led to the enactment of the new controversial illegal immigration law in that state.

Although catalyzed by the killing of Mr. Krentz, Arizona’s rebellion has its roots in failed federal policies and a woeful neglect of federal responsibilities. The new Arizona law aimed at controlling illegal immigration is an understandable response to the failures of the federal government to secure our borders and protect our national security.

What has incensed so many is the baffling reality that our porous borders are not the result of neglect or lack of resources. Rather, they’re unsecured because the federal government currently prioritizes protecting ecosystems and wildlife along the border over controlling access and preventing illegal entry. In effect, current policy allows other federal agencies to obstruct the Department of Homeland Security’s mission.

The Mexican drug smuggler who shot Mr. Krentz on his ranchlands entered the U.S. from Mexico using a heavily trafficked trail in the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge (SBNWR), which sits 25 miles east of border town of Douglas. Everyone in Cochise County knows smugglers, many of whom are armed, use that route regularly. What angers and instills fear in local residents as much as the murder itself is the harsh reality that residents are powerless to do anything about the situation.

At the highest levels our federal government is jeopardizing out national security by not adequately resolving the well documented disputes between federal agencies over the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ability to patrol the border on federally owned lands. Essentially, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is encouraging and assisting illegal entry by restricting and obstructing DHS Customs and Border Patrol access to federal lands – as a matter of official policy.

By law, Customs and Border Patrol has unrestricted access to private lands within 25 miles of the border with the exception of private dwellings. However, on public lands managed by the National Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, or the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Border Patrol must negotiate access agreements with those “sister agencies.”

The SBNWR has no pedestrian fence barring smugglers from entering the U.S. across its international border. The reason there is no barrier is that DOI continues to assert the priority of its mission of protecting wildlife as a priority over the need to prevent unlawful entry.

Not only is there no barrier on the international border, Border Patrol is expressly prohibited from doing routine patrols within designated wildlife areas including the SBNWR and may only enter for certain limited purposes, such as “life threatening circumstances.” Pursuing or apprehending unauthorized border trespassers is not one of the approved purposes.

Appallingly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently spent over $200,000 of “stimulus funding” to upgrade 11 miles of perimeter fencing to keep Border Patrol out of the SBNWR. Just this past month, a high-ranking Border Patrol officer told a local rancher that their access to the area has never been worse.

Similar policies and interagency agreements restrict Border Patrol access to other federal lands across the southern border. Drug smugglers, human traffickers, and even potentially terrorists have free entry into a hundred square miles of national forest land—and the towns and cities beyond.

This problem is not new. In 2002, an internal DOI report, “Public Lands Threat Assessment,” documented the dangers and degradation to the public lands caused by unlawful traffic by drug smugglers and tens of thousands of unlawful entrants. The report was buried, never distributed to agency managers, and never acted upon.

To address this stunning problem of misaligned federal priorities, I have co-sponsored legislation recently introduced by Congressman Rob Bishop of Utah. The bill, H.R. 5016, would prohibit the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture from taking actions on public lands, which would impede the activities of the Department of Homeland Security to secure the border on such lands.

It is up to the federal government to prioritize securing our homeland and protecting our borders. The federal government is failing to secure our borders, failing to protect our national security, and failing to pick the right priorities. Congress needs to act and pass H.R.5016 to ensure securing our borders is a top priority. The killing of Mr. Krentz and the subsequent enactment of Arizona’s new law are but two consequences of those federal government failures. [link]

Congressman Mike Coffman represents the 6th District of Colorado. A small business owner for more than 17 years and Marine Corps combat veteran, he is the only member of Congress to have served in both the first Gulf War and the Iraq War. Coffman serves on the House Armed Services Committee, House Natural Resources Committee, and the House Committee on Small Business.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Legal battle brews over protection of jaguars in southwest

A conservation group is threatening to go another round in court over whether the federal government is doing enough to keep the endangered jaguar safe in the Southwest. The Center for Biological Diversity is targeting the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services division, alleging that the traps, snares and poisons used by the agency to deal with unwanted predators and invasive species could injure or kill jaguars and smaller endangered cats known as ocelots. The group claims Wildlife Services and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to consult with each other on activities that might affect the jaguar and ocelot. The group sent a notice of intent to sue to the agencies on Friday. The 18-page notice points to a 1999 biological opinion that authorizes predator-control efforts in the Southwest as long as Wildlife Services minimizes the use of traps and snares in occupied jaguar habitat. Robinson argues that the opinion is outdated and data collected in recent years shows jaguar habitat stretches beyond the areas highlighted on the decade-old maps and the measures outlined in the opinion for minimizing the take of jaguars are no long enough to avoid risk to the cats. Wildlife Services had not received the group's notice by late Friday, but spokeswoman Carol Bannerman said the agency always takes precautions whenever conducting projects in areas where there are threatened or endangered species. She said Wildlife Services has consulted with the Fish and Wildlife Service about impacts to jaguars and that neither a jaguar nor ocelot has been inadvertently killed by the agency in many years. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Tom Buckley acknowledged that the two agencies have not consulted about potential impacts to ocelots because there have been no confirmed sightings of the small cats in Arizona in more than 40 years...more

Nev. Rancher Loses Bid to Reinstate Grazing Permit

The 9th Circuit upheld the U.S. Forest Service's decision to cancel the grazing permit of a Nevada cattle rancher who repeatedly violated boundary regulations and ignored warnings and suspensions. The judges rejected the rancher's claim that the agency never gave him a fair hearing. Kenneth Buckingham sued the Forest Service in federal court in Nevada after it canceled his grazing permit in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest for repeatedly letting his cattle graze on allotments that were off-limits. Buckingham was first issued a grazing permit in 1983. Five years later, he began repeatedly violating the terms of the permit and ignoring numerous warnings and suspensions, according to the ruling. The Forest Service eventually canceled Buckingham's permit altogether, prompting him to sue the agency for allegedly denying him a fair hearing. Buckingham also argued that the agency failed to issue a permit that clearly defined the boundaries of the off-limit allotments. The district court ruled that Buckingham failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and that his due process rights had not been violated. The three-judge panel in Portland, Ore., agreed. The panel acknowledged that "Buckingham's livelihood depends, at least in part, upon the right to graze his livestock on national forest lands," but said protecting those lands and their resources trumps Buckingham's claims. "Cattle control is a vital aspect of protecting that governmental interest," Judge Milan Smith wrote. The judges agreed that "by the time the administrative appeal process concluded, the Forest Service had given Buckingham sufficient pre- and post-deprivation procedures to satisfy any due process concerns." Courthouse News

Military installations make amends to endangered species

When on-the-ground soldiers, supported by Apache helicopters overhead, creep and clamber through the live-fire area of Fort Hood, they needn't worry about the fate of the endangered golden-cheeked warblers that like to roost there. That's because the Department of Defense, working with researchers from nonprofits and Texas A&M University, has paid off nearby landowners to build up their own nesting grounds to offset the ones lost on Fort Hood. The Fort Hood pilot program, which just got positive marks in a three-year review, is one way that military installations in Central Texas are coping with endangered species on their territory. Military officials say that besides paying for the landowner program, they are reducing the number of trees they cut down to better replicate forest conditions in conflict zones. In the early 1990s, Congress directed the military to obey endangered species laws. Suddenly, large and frequently remote installations found themselves having to figure out how to offset the killing or harassment of endangered species. Camp Bullis, in Bexar County, is also home to the endangered warbler and the black-capped vireo, another songbird, as well as three endangered invertebrates. Last year, the Nature Conservancy announced that it was partnering with the Army to conserve important undeveloped areas of habitat outside of Camp Bullis for the golden-cheeked warbler. Across the country, 420 endangered or threatened species can be found on military installations, according to L. Peter Boice, the Pentagon's deputy director of natural resources. The Department of Defense spent $306 million between 2004 and 2008 on protecting the species, he said...more

A grolar? A pizzly? Scientists confirm grizzly-polar bear cross

An odd-looking bear shot a few weeks ago by an Inuit hunter in the High Arctic is a rare grizzly-polar bear cross, scientists have confirmed. Moreover, the animal -- with the creamy white fur of a polar bear, but with the big head, long claws and ring of brown hair around its hind common to the grizzly -- may be the first recorded second-generation "grolar bear" found in the wild, said the N.W.T. Environment and Natural Resources Department in a news release. "A wildlife genetics laboratory has since conducted DNA testing on the samples, and the results of the testing point to the animal being a second generation hybrid bear which resulted from the mating of a polar/grizzly bear female with a male grizzly bear," said the release. Hunter David Kuptana shot the bear on April 8 while it roamed the sea ice just west of Ulukhaktok, on Victoria Island. Polar bear-grizzly hybrids -- known as either "pizzly" or "grolar" bears -- are very rare. Although several suspected sightings have been made in that past few years, only one hybrid -- shot by a U.S. hunter in 2006 -- had been confirmed in the wild...more

Sixth Wright brother earns championship check

Saddle bronc rider Spencer Wright, competing on his permit, won his first PRCA rodeo April 30-May 1, sharing first place with Frank McKay at the Kern County Sheriff Reserve Stampede Days Rodeo in Bakersfield, Calif., to become the sixth of seven Wright brothers to have secured at least a share of a PRCA rodeo title. Wright, a 19-year-old who goes by the nickname “Red,” won his first PRCA paycheck (for $661) a week earlier at the Auburn (Calif.) Wild West Stampede – at the second professional rodeo he entered. In Bakersfield, Wright scored 76 points on Salt River Rodeo’s Good Night Irene to equal McKay’s effort on JK Rodeo Company’s Jingle Bob, and each man earned $1,157. Red will compete part time this year because he is a senior at Milford (Utah) High School. Cal Wright, a 29-year-old rancher, also competes part time, and it is possible this summer that rodeo fans may see as many as six Wright brothers at the same rodeo. Cody, 33, Alex, 22, and twins Jake and Jesse, 20, are competing full time in saddle bronc riding. Jake leads the PRCA Rookie Standings, while Jesse, the reigning PRCA Rookie of the Year, leads the brothers in the PRCA World Standings in 10th place. Stuart, the youngest Wright brother, is just 13...more

Three Telluride sisters keeping family history alive

When Angie, Pam and Crissy Aldasoro were growing up in the family's single-wide trailer on a mesa outside Telluride, they likened it to being in Antarctica. Peering into the dark in the mid-1960s, they could never see lights. There were no neighbors near the 5,000-acre Aldasoro Brothers Ranch where herds of sheep made the mountain valleys look snow-covered in July. Their outside links were a radio station from faraway Oklahoma City and one TV station that would fade when an antenna was turned in the down-on-its- luck town of Telluride. Fast forward. The Aldasoro girls — now Pam Bennett, Angie Petersen and Cristine Mitchell, or "the sisters," as they are known around Telluride — are the executives in a slew of commercial property-management corporations. Part of their ranch is now the largest star-studded subdivision in this high- dollar region. Another piece is the highest commercial airport in the country. But the sisters are most proud of being the keepers of an agricultural legacy. The 735-acre heart of the ranch that their Basque grandfather bought as prime sheep pasture is still theirs, treasured for its colorful history. The sisters named the roads in homage to Basque ancestors. Joaquin Road refers to Jose Joaquin Aldasoro, who came to the United States from the Pyrenees Mountains of Spain in 1913 to work for a Utah rancher. The family's immigration story nearly ended there. Joaquin was dropped off outside Green River, Utah, and told to walk to his sheep camp 18 miles away. He walked until exhaustion prompted him to bed down in the dark. In the morning, he discovered that if he had kept walking another 200 feet, he would have fallen over a cliff. Joaquin did not just survive. He thrived. He married Cristina Aguirre, another Basque immigrant, and, with his brother Prudencio and cousin Serapio, started buying up homesteads on Deep Creek Mesa, near Telluride, in 1926. By the mid-1950s, they had acquired 12 homesteads and pastured 5,000 head of sheep there...more

Song Of The Day #301

Ranch Radio will continue the week with modern artists that stick with tradition.

Today's selection will slow things down with a western swing ballad, Don't Cry Baby, by the Red Stick Ramblers, a band from southwest Louisiana.

The tune is available on their 12 track CD Made in the Shade from Sugarhill Records.

Latest violence spasm claims 25 lives near Mexico-US border

Mexico's bloody drug wars saw a new spasm of killings late Saturday into Sunday, with 25 people fatally shot in the northern state of Chihuahua bordering the United States. Seven of the deaths occurred in violence-plagued Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's murder capital, bringing to 62 the number of people killed in the city over the past week. The 18 other slayings overnight included four people fatally shot by automatic weapons fire in a bar in the town of Camargo, near the state capital Chihuahua City, and two women whose bodies were found stuffed in the trunk of an abandoned car in the same town, prosecutors said. So far this year, more than 850 people have been killed in Ciudad Juarez, a city of 1.3 million, while more than 2,660 were killed there in 2009, according to official figures...more

News report on rancher's killer irks Cochise sheriff

Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever on Monday denounced a news report that said the March murder of southern Arizona rancher Robert Krentz was not random and was committed by an American or a person recently in the United States. Carol Capas, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office, said Dever characterized the story in Monday's Arizona Daily Star as "inaccurate and irresponsible." The newspaper, quoting unnamed, "high-ranking government officials," at first reported that the killer is believed to be an American. That was corrected with an editor's note saying that the nationality of the shooter remains unknown. A subsequent Associated Press story, also based on an unidentified source, said the killer is a Mexican citizen. Still, the Star's report appears to conflict with statements by Dever and others who have speculated that the assailant was an undocumented immigrant working for Mexican drug cartels. Capas said detectives have no leads on a suspect - not even the person's nationality or gender. "The information that we have is still the same as what we released early on," she added. "The investigation is active and ongoing." She said the Sheriff's Office continues working on leads, some of which were generated by a $45,000 reward for information leading to a suspect's arrest and conviction...more

Update From Cochise County, Arizona

Saturday morning the headlines in all the area papers covered the shooting of a Pinal County Deputy by drug smugglers. The reports indicated the officer was ambushed by drug smugglers using AK-47 rifles. How do we know these things? This time the ambush failed and the officer survived. But there is a lot of news in this report that destroys the liberal reports of those grandmothers crossing the border so they can make beds in cheap hotels. First, the Sheriff called it an ambush. This destroys the idea that drug violence has not crossed the border. Next, the drug runners used AK-47s. Last time I checked (and my military training confirmed this), the AK-47 was made in Russia by Kalashnikov. But what happened to all those reports of American guns going south to the drug cartels? Perhaps that is another bit of mass media misinformation...more

Mexico's illegals laws tougher than Arizona's

Mexican President Felipe Calderon denounced as "racial discrimination" an Arizona law giving state and local police the authority to arrest suspected illegal immigrants and vowed to use all means at his disposal to defend Mexican nationals against a law he called a "violation of human rights." But the legislation, signed April 23 by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, is similar to Reglamento de la Ley General de Poblacion — the General Law on Population enacted in Mexico in April 2000, which mandates that federal, local and municipal police cooperate with federal immigration authorities in that country in the arrests of illegal immigrants. Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Immigrants who are deported and attempt to re-enter can be imprisoned for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six-year terms. Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals. The law also says Mexico can deport foreigners who are deemed detrimental to "economic or national interests," violate Mexican law, are not "physically or mentally healthy" or lack the "necessary funds for their sustenance" and for their dependents...more

Obama's Border Breakdown

“The border security implications are frightening,” said T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union for the front-line officers. Rep. Lamar Smith (R.-Tex.), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, criticized the administration’s spending priorities for next year which he says includes no funding for new detention beds, no increase to find and deport immigration fugitives or criminal aliens, no additional special agents to investigate workplace immigration violations, no funding to expand the visa security program, and no funding for new border-fence construction. The administration is looking to eliminate 180 administrative border patrol jobs in the coming year even as violence along the Southwest border continues to escalate -- an Arizona sheriff’s deputy was shot by drug suspects last week, following the murder weeks earlier of an American rancher by border crossers on his own property. “The Border Patrol catches about one-third (of illegal aliens) that come across, that is not border security, that is a joke,” Bonner said. “But to say we are just going to maintain that level of control is unacceptable.” The administration has also proposed cuts for border agents to work overtime, Bonner said. “Weekends and holidays are peak smuggling periods. And if we’re in the middle of a pursuit at the end of a shift, are we just supposed to stop?” Bonner asked. “America deserves and needs far better.”...more

Hearings revive border violence debate as troops requested

Drug violence in Mexico is expected to get a renewed focus in the Senate this week as a bevy of House members from the southwest region push to send more troops to the border. The Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control takes the lead on Wednesday as it holds a long-awaited hearing on the drug trafficking violence in Mexico and the immediate implications for the U.S. At the same time, the Senate Homeland Security Committee is set to examine the government’s crackdown on gun smuggling operations between the U.S. and Mexico during its Wednesday hearing on terrorists and guns. The renewed attention from the upper chamber comes as a bipartisan group of 17 House lawmakers from the southwest region sent a letter last week to President Barack Obama calling on him to deploy National Guard troops to their home states as part of the “swift and decisive” action needed to combat the violence along the U.S.-Mexico border, which “continues to increase at an alarming rate.”...more

Armed Narco-Terrorists Caught on Tape Where Arizona Deputy Shot on Friday

Hidden camera footage captures armed scouts leading a group of drug “mules” toting bales of marijuana through a desert wash 50 miles southwest of Phoenix, Ariz. This stunning video was recently captured in the very area where an Arizona sheriff’s deputy was shot by narco-terrorists last Friday -- about 70 miles north of the border in a well-known drug and human trafficking corridor...more

Here's the video:

A border-area home invasion has forced residents to take action

Howard and Rosie Hunt might be the luckiest people in Arizona—and that's saying something for an elderly couple who lived through a home invasion on Jan. 20. Two young men from Chihuahua, Mexico, one carrying a machete, allegedly pushed their way into the Hunts' home, bound them and searched for valuables. The Hunts live right off State Highway 80, 15 miles south of the Chiricahua Mountains town of Portal, along the notorious smuggling route known as the Chiricahua Corridor. For some time, residents here have been fighting to keep themselves and their property safe from cross-border smugglers and illegal aliens, who—cut off from their groups, lost and desperate—often break into homes. Life around Portal and its sister town of Rodeo, N.M., 12 miles away across the state line, has become a grim litany of cut phone lines, roof vents removed to get inside, barking dogs at night, trucks stolen, half-eaten food in the kitchen and men peering in windows. "Thirty years ago, we had workers moving through, and they'd ask for water and a sandwich," says Nancy Cloudt, who runs Rodeo Grocery and Cafe. "Then they started demanding water and a sandwich. Then they didn't like peanut butter. Then they wanted to use your phone to call New York. "Now, if you hear something at night, you don't even go out to check. It gets worse all the time." On Friday, Jan. 22, Cloudt says, Border Patrol arrested 63 illegals near her store in one shift. Lousy weather brought them out of hiding places in the mountains and washes. They wanted to be captured and sent home. But the Hunt episode has left people here really shaken. Rosie Hunt, 74, was cooking supper at about 5 p.m. when she heard a knock at the front door. When she responded, she saw two men, one an English speaker, who asked if Rosie would drive them to town. Through his booking photo, she later identified the suspect as 21-year-old Eriberto Marquez. She said no to the request, and so did Howard, who'd joined her at the door. Marquez kept asking, and Howard kept saying no. "I says, 'It's only two miles up the road. You can walk.'" When Rosie moved to return to the kitchen, Marquez pushed her into the house. Howard turned to protect his wife and felt a sharp object poking his back. The object was an 18-inch machete held by the second suspect, identified as 19-year-old Martin Chavira-Morquecho...more

Monday, May 03, 2010

Common ground

Ken Salazar was in the neighborhood last week and dropped in to visit with Utah officials and Gov. Gary Herbert's Balanced Resource Council. By all accounts, the Interior secretary, representing President Barack Obama, got along just fine with the Republicans who are so dominant in Utah government. Some might have predicted there could be no such meeting of the minds after the spectacle some Utahns were making a few weeks ago when an Interior Department memo was leaked that included some parts of Utah on a list of possible future national monuments. Some might have been surprised that Salazar would venture into the country's reddest state when anti-government, anti-Democratic feelings have been running so high. The Legislature in March passed a law allowing the state to use eminent domain to take federal land and secure state access to coal and other resources. But Salazar said he got the message from this "message legislation" and will work to open dialogue about access. And he promised to listen to Utahns "on the ground" before designating more national monuments. He said he is willing to collaborate to resolve the question of whether the feds or Utah counties have authority over roads on public lands. "Maybe we can figure out a way to move forward," Salazar said, pointing out he is not only a former Colorado Democratic senator but also a Colorado rancher. Collaboration aside, current law requires local governments to prove their right-of-way claims in court, and that law should stand. It seems Salazar did much to soothe the anger and lay groundwork for Utah and federal agencies to work together on the myriad issues of public-land management. Or, at least, to talk to one another...more

Salazar was doing pretty good till I got to the "collaborate" part. Then to top it off The Salt Lake Tribune editorial pulls out the old "build consensus" pablum, but then shows their true colors by closing with, "Salazar has an obligation to tip the scales back toward environmental preservation."

Wiktionary gives us two definitions for collaborate:

1. To work together with others to achieve a common goal.

Let's collaborate on this dictionary, and get it finished faster.

2. To cooperate treasonably as with an enemy occupation force in one's country.

If you collaborate with the occupying forces, you will be shot.

Wikipedia further instructs us:

Since the Second World War the term "Collaboration" acquired a very negative meaning as referring to persons and groups which help a foreign occupier of their country—due to actual use by people in European countries who worked with and for the Nazi German occupiers. Linguistically, "collaboration" implies more or less equal partners who work together—which is obviously not the case when one party is an army of occupation and the other are people of the occupied country living under the power of this army.

Since the feds occupy 57% of Utah, I'll just let you guess which definition me, Gus and Woodrow would apply in this case.

The primary actor for the state is the Governor. Will Utah's Herbert become a "collaborator"?

Probably so.

I'll have the bullshit detector ready for the next time Herbert & Salazar get together, and for any Trib editorial about it.

Idaho at forefront of collaboration on public land use

Similar collaborations have changed the dynamics of public land management across the American West, speakers said at a conference Saturday convened by the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University. Successes in the Owyhees and in the Henrys Fork of the Snake River basin, along with ongoing efforts in the Payette and Clearwater national forests and in Lemhi County, are putting Idaho at the forefront of a national shift from confrontational conservation to collaboration. It comes at a time when climate change is causing rapid changes on the land, increasing the call for restoring forests, range and watershed health, said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "This may be the best opportunity for conservation since (Theodore Roosevelt's) time," Tidwell said. Tidwell was joined Saturday by U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey. Ideas included a state incentive program to help ranchers and other large landowners protect habitat; more funding sources for wildlife management beyond hunters and anglers; and turning federal lands over to the state to manage...more

Lt. Governor Little brought a little caution to the table:

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little pointed to the state's unsuccessful effort to draft a conservation plan to prevent the listing of the desert plant slickspot peppergrass -- evidence, he said, that collaboration doesn't always work. But in that case, no environmental groups were on board. Little also cited a state and federal agreement with wool growers as part of reintroducing bighorn sheep to Hells Canyon. The Forest Service later reversed itself and forced ranchers to remove domestic flocks from public land. "For collaboration to work," Little said, "people need to know the rules aren't going to change." Little cautioned that the federal conservation dollars that have made collaborative programs possible are drying up because of a rising federal deficit. The Land and Water Conservation Fund, a major source of land protection money, is dependent on offshore oil drilling, which may slow instead of grow after the recent Gulf oil spill...

We're really gonna need Gus and Woodrow's help on this collaboration stuff. It's getting way out of hand. Dally and drag, dally and drag.

Chief Tidwell may be right about this being "the best opportunity" since Roosevelt for the enviros. After all, it was Roosevelt who ripped millions of acres out of the public domain and created 150 national forests. It was also Roosevelt who with the stroke of a pen created 18 national monuments. Kinda makes you see why Tidwell makes the comparison.

Wolves kill horse, calf

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say wolves northwest of Pinedale killed a cow calf and one horse, and injured another horse, marking the first livestock deaths by wolves in 2010 in Wyoming. Wolves from the Black Butte pack killed the cow calf at a ranch in mid-March. Agents with Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services subsequently killed three wolves from the group, a radio collared adult wolf, a pup and a yearling. Black Butte wolves then attacked horses at another ranch last week. “We think there are probably two [wolves] left in this group,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Wyoming wolf management project leader Mike Jimenez said. “We will go back in and take those out.” According to Jimenez, the Black Butte pack is the same pack that was responsible for killing roughly 37 sheep and one steer last summer. The area is prone to wolf attacks. “In this ... area in Pinedale, there’s been a ton of work,” he said. “These ranchers have cleaned up their operations and they don’t leave dead livestock around. But, a lot of these ranchers have had repeated problems.” “In this area [livestock depredations have] been chronic,” Jimenez continued. “All the packs that have been in there have come to the same fate: They’ve killed livestock and we’ve removed them.” This aggressive management of wolves that chronically feed on domesticated animals is a tactic that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wolf managers said works to keep both livestock deaths and wolf removals down. Jimenez said tough management of chronic livestock killers has the added benefit of maintaining public tolerance for wolves...more

This is what happens when livestock "collaborate" with wolves.

Wyoming GOP Candidates For Governor Square Off

Several speakers at Saturday's Wyoming State Republican Convention in Sheridan emphasized that they would be happy to see any of the current four GOP candidates for governor win the seat. The four GOP candidates for governor this year are: Matt Mead, former U.S Attorney for Wyoming; State Auditor Rita Meyer; Ron Micheli, a former state legislator and former head of the state agricultural department; and House Speaker Colin Simpson. Micheli, of Fort Bridger, stressed the need to reduce the size of state government. Although he didn't mention the abortion issue in his speech, his campaign signs posted in the auditorium stated that he's "Pro-Life & Proud of it." Micheli drew applause from the audience when he quoted former president Ronald Reagan about the need for smaller government. Micheli said the state needs to fight federal intrusion into the state's business on issues such as health care and regulation of carbon emissions...more

Don't know the other three, but do know Micheli is a quality guy. We both served as Secretary of Agriculture for our respective states. When you'd go to a national meeting, Micheli was one of the few "real ones" there. Not just a political appointee, but a bonafide cattlemen. Plenty smart too.

Besides, it would sure stroke my ego. I also served with Rick Perry when he was the Commissioner of Ag in Texas. Would be cool to be friends with two Governors.

Of course, the Governor of NM knows me, but harbors a dislike of the kid. Perhaps that will change in November too.

Judge rules coal bed methane wastewater ponds unconstitutional

State District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock of Helena, Mont., this week affirmed that dumping wastewater from coal bed methane development into evaporation pits violates the Montana Constitution. He said such “water impoundments” are not a beneficial use of the billions of gallons of water that are brought to the surface and dumped into pits or into rivers and streams, calling such practices “a waste of one of Montana’s natural resources.” In 2003, the Northern Plains Resource Council, the Tongue and Yellowstone Irrigation District, and other allies sued the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation and Fidelity Exploration and Production Company. The suit alleged that allowing ground water to be wasted by dumping it into evaporation pits violates Article IX, Section 3 of the Montana Constitution. The suit did not challenge legitimate beneficial uses of the water, such as stock watering, wildlife habitat, dust suppression and other uses. In affirming that evaporation pits are unconstitutional, Shylock said, “This Court has no choice but to conclude that such use is not beneficial and, therefore, a waste of one of Montana’s natural resources,” Sherlock said in his decision. “No party to this action has presented any beneficial use that might be gained from causing water to evaporate and be lost from any and all beneficial use.” Fidelity had argued that public trust duties to protect water enshrined in the Constitution only applied to recreational use of surface waters. Shylock rejected that saying, “The constitutional provision specifically refers to all waters of the state.”...more

Grijalva Declines to Answer, Walks Away When Asked If He’s Committed to Sealing Border Against Drug Traffic

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who represents a congressional district that includes 300 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, turned and walked away and did not answer when asked him whether he was committed to sealing the border against the influx of illegal drugs. “Are you committed to sealing the border against the influx of illegal drugs?” asked Grijalva, who had stopped for an interview. Rather than answer, Grijalva walked away, eventually shouting back at the reporter that it was “punkish” to ask the question. interviewed Grijalva as he left a press conference that had been called by a group of congressmen to protest a new Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officers to check whether someone is legally in the United States when they legally come into contact with a person and there is a reasonable basis to suspect the person is an illegal alien. Grijalva has called for a targeted boycott of his own state. “I have not called for a general ‘boycott’ of Arizona,” he said Wednesday, while answering online questions from readers of The Washington Post. “I have called for a targeted ban on conventions and conferences in the state for a limited time. The idea is to send a message, not grind down the state economy...more

Grijalva has actually introduced legislation which would strip the Border Patrol of their authority to waive environmental laws to construct barriers and roads in a limited area along the border.

Tax on Oil May Help Pay for Cleanup

The federal government has a large rainy day fund on hand to help mitigate the expanding damage on the Gulf Coast, generated by a tax on oil for use in cases like the Deepwater Horizon spill. Up to $1 billion of the $1.6 billion reserve could be used to compensate for losses from the accident, as much as half of it for what is sometimes a major category of costs: damage to natural resources like fisheries and other wildlife habitats. Under the law that established the reserve, called the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, the operators of the offshore rig face no more than $75 million in liability for the damages that might be claimed by individuals, companies or the government, although they are responsible for the cost of containing and cleaning up the spill. The fund was set up by Congress in 1986 but not financed until after the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska in 1989. In exchange for the limits on liability, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 imposed a tax on oil companies, currently 8 cents for every barrel they produce in this country or import...more

Effects of grazing on grouse habitat

ARS rangeland scientists David Ganskopp (now retired) and Chad Boyd studied cattle grazing patterns on sagebrush communities. They found that cattle first preferred to graze on perennial grass growing between sagebrush plants. These grasses between sagebrush plants were called "interspace" tussocks, which are the individual grass plants. When cattle consumed around 40 percent of the interspace tussocks, they then began to graze on the tussocks growing beneath sagebrush itself. The researchers also noted that grass tussocks under spreading, umbrella-shaped shrub canopies were less likely to be grazed than tussocks beneath erect, narrow canopies. Boyd and Ganskopp concluded that ranchers could preserve grouse habitat by monitoring the rate at which cattle were consuming interspace tussocks and moving them to new grazing lands when 40 percent of the interspace tussock had been consumed. Their findings also suggest that cattle impacts on grouse nesting habitats may be affected by site factors like sagebrush shape and stature that are not readily controlled with grazing management...more

Feds doing 1st investigation of major meatpackers

The federal government is conducting its first investigation into whether the handful of large meatpackers that slaughter most of the nation's cattle are illegally or unfairly driving down cattle prices, according to an official representing independent beef producers nationwide. The investigation is under way as the Justice and Agriculture Departments hold a series of antitrust hearings on competition in agriculture, and the USDA is expected to release sweeping antitrust rules covering the meat industry this spring. Many ranchers and critics of the meatpacking industry are cautiously hopeful the investigation and more aggressive action by a little-known federal agency will force meatpackers to competitively bid for more cattle. That, they say, could help slow a 15-year trend in which several thousand ranchers are forced out of business every year, resulting in the smallest U.S. cow herd in several decades and threatening a way of life that has kept the nation supplied with beef for more than a century. Bill Bullard, chief executive officer of R-CALF USA, said the federal Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration has been speaking with his group's members for months and is "clearly asking questions in the context of an investigation."...more