Friday, May 21, 2010

Why The Climate Bill Is Stuck In Neutral

Now that financial reform has passed through the Senate, is energy next? As always, that's… unclear. A big problem right now is that no one actually seems to be at the forefront of shepherding the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act through the chamber. As Darren Samuelsohn reports, Harry Reid was supposed to take charge of the process, but he's still trying to figure out whether to move ahead with a big climate bill or a smaller "energy-only" bill (which, in its current form, is basically a grab bag of subsidies that wouldn't actually accomplish all that much). Reid is waiting to see how a couple different things unfold. First, he wants the White House to get actively involved—the way Obama helped salvage a deal at Copenhagen or stepped in during the intra-party skirmishes over the Waxman-Markey climate bill in the House. But so far, the administration has stayed aloof. The second thing Reid wants is a Republican ally who can help corral a few votes on the other side of the aisle. That point-person used to be Lindsey Graham, until Graham got in a tiff with Reid over immigration and bowed out of the whole process...more

Govt met with environmentalists on land protection

Recently released documents show the Obama administration was getting ideas from environmental groups about setting aside millions of acres in the West, drawing the ire of land users who said discussions were being developed behind their back. In the documents — most of which are e-mail messages — the environmental groups suggest various ways to protect land, such as by creating national monuments, buying private land or through conservation easements. Republicans who submitted an information request to obtain the documents blasted the information as proof that the administration was privately crafting large-scale land use plans. Federal agencies have so far produced only a fraction of the requested documents, they said. The e-mails show detailed discussions that went into brainstorming for the "Treasured Landscapes Initiative."...more

A source who has reviewed the documents says:

Wanted to point you to Rep. Rehberg’s excellent decision to put the (relatively few) documents Interior has turned over related to the Internal National Monument document request, you can pull up the documents here:

I would highly suggest you take a look at them. It is apparent that Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service also had sections with proposals in the Internal Document but the full document is being withheld. CEQ was clearly involved and certain Forest Service and Agriculture people were brought in at a certain point. It was clearly tightly controlled as far as who participated.

Interior is still withholding 2,016 documents.

Jaguar's trapping was criminal act, not just tragedy

The death of Arizona's last known jaguar was cloaked in deception. We don't yet know where the lies began, but the public has a strong interest in finding out. We do know the public was misled. Initially, state and federal officials said the cat accidentally blundered into a snare that had been placed as part of an Arizona Game and Fish Department bear/ mountain-lion study. After being trapped, the jaguar known as Macho B was collared and released only to be subsequently recaptured and put down when he showed signs of distress. It was an ignoble ending for rare and wonderful wild animal. The protection of such endangered animals is a priority of federal law. The recovery of endangered species is national policy. As a careless accident, Macho B's death was a tragedy. But it wasn't an accident. It was a crime. Last week, for-hire biologist Emil McCain, who had been working as a subcontractor for Game and Fish, pleaded guilty to telling a co-worker to put jaguar scat at trapping sites to lure Macho B, an animal previously seen only in photos. McCain, who at first denied the luring the beast, was sentenced to five years' probation and fined $1,000. Former Game and Fish employee Thornton "Thorry" Smith was fired after admitting he helped McCain try to cover up the truth. This isn't over. Game and Fish has an ongoing investigation, as does the federal government. It is important to find out whether higher-ups in Game and Fish knew about this illegal effort...more

Resurgent Pombo Taps Anti-Enviro Vein in Bid for Calif. Seat

Four years after being voted from office, former Rep. Richard Pombo (R) of California is attempting to resurrect his political career in a new district where few voters know his record for seeking to rewrite some of the nation's premier environmental laws. But observers of environmental politics during the 1990s and 2000s are all too familiar with Pombo, whose re-emergence has set off a flurry of opposition from advocacy groups who believe his return to Congress would rekindle the rancorous -- and some say anti-environmental -- debates that defined his tenure as chairman of the House Resources Committee from 2003 to 2008. Now, many of those same groups, led by the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, are pulling out the stops for the June 8 Republican primary election in the nearby 19th District, where Pombo is seeking to replace the retiring Rep. George Radanovich (R). As part of the campaign, environmental groups are running radio ads claiming that while in office Pombo tried to sell national parks to private developers and sponsoring robo-calls accusing him of violating federal bribery laws. "He represents to them the devil incarnate with respect to environmental issues," said Bruce Cain, a political expert at the University of California, Berkeley. But Pombo, 49, who describes himself as a San Joaquin County cattle rancher, has a very real shot at winning the Republican nomination for the District 19 seat, according to Cain and other campaign watchers...more

Authorities Say Mojave Desert Replacement Memorial Cross Must Come Down

Authorities say a Mojave Desert war memorial cross that replaced one that was stolen is illegal and must come down. Linda Slater, a spokeswoman with the Mojave National Preserve, says a maintenance worker spotted the 7½-foot replica cross made of metal pipes on Thursday in a federal park. The original cross was stolen more than a week ago. It had been the subject of a lawsuit arguing that the Christian symbol didn't belong on public land. The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily allowed the old cross to stand, but Slater says the new cross isn't covered by the ruling and will be taken down. The site's caretakers constructed a replacement cross on Saturday. Wanda Sandoz, who has watched over the site with her husband Henry since 1984, said the one put in place Wednesday night is not the one welded by her husband. Sandoz said the cross that went up overnight is white, but their replica has not been painted yet -- indicating that the replacement could be the original stolen cross or someone else's replica. "I'm curious as to how they got it up there," Sandoz said, explaining that erecting the cement-filled pipes was a rigorous and difficult process — and would be much harder by the light of a quarter moon. "It's not like you can dig a hole and put a cross in there. It's solid rock up there," she said. Thieves used bolt cutters to rip through the inch-thick bolts that had kept the cross in place since 1984. That memorial replaced a wooden cross that was put up in the Mojave Desert in 1934 by veterans of World War I to honor troops who died in battle...more

California Water Shortage Exposes Big Government Run Amok

California has many problems these days, including a severe water shortage. Unfortunately, big-government policies at the federal level have made this problem far worse than it needed to be. The natural drought has been exacerbated by a man-made drought: draconian application of the Endangered Species Act that restricts the availability of water for irrigation. Imposed to protect various species of fish, the water restrictions have led to fallowed farmland, unsustainable reliance on groundwater, which can cause land subsidence and environmental damage, and rampant joblessness in California’s Central Valley. A glimmer of hope emerged this week when the U.S. District Court released a ruling finding serious flaws in one of the federal biological opinions that restricted water deliveries. The ruling could lead to increased water supplies for struggling farmers and ranchers in the Central Valley. This is an important victory, but we must not to lose sight of the bigger picture, which is that the root of the problem lies in federal interference with state resources. While I’m glad that the court’s latest ruling could lead to more water for California’s struggling farmers, I cannot forget that it was this same court that two years ago forced the federal government to restrict pumping under the Endangered Species Act...more

Court won't review NM uranium mining permit

A federal appeals court has refused to review a ruling upholding a federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission decision that will allow a company to leach uranium at an aquifer that supplies drinking water for 15,000 Navajos in northwestern New Mexico. The 10th U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday denied the opponents' request for a rehearing on Hydro Resources Inc.'s licenses. The 2-1 opinion said the NRC met NEPA requirements in its consideration of the cumulative impact of airborne radiation and correctly interpreted the Atomic Energy Act to require consideration only of airborne radiation from the licensed operation. The Denver court heard arguments in 2008 in what lawyers called the first-ever challenge to NRC approval of licenses for an in-situ uranium mining operation. Eastern Dine Against Uranium Mining, the Southwest Research and Information Center and ranchers Grace Sam and Marilyn Morris contended the NRC violated federal law in approving permits for Hydro Resources' leach mining near the Navajo communities of Crownpoint and Church Rock...more

Caution: Goats at work

A herd of about 250 goats was recruited as weed whackers around the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery earlier this week. They’ll be back for another three- or four-day job in July. Like the weeds, the goats are perennial visitors to the fish hatchery, although their work schedule there gets shorter each year, a testament to their efficiency. “It’s such a natural way to eradicate the problem,” said Corky Broaddus, hatchery spokeswoman. The problem she speaks of has been acres of diffuse knapweed and dalmatian toadflax, two of the most noxious of noxious weeds. Healing Hooves LLC, an Edwall business owned by Craig and Sue Lani Madsen that uses goats and sheep for natural vegetation management, has contracted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for weed removal at the fish hatchery for six or seven years, Broaddus said. Herbicides can’t be used near the fish hatchery because of their toxicity to fish. Mowers don’t cut low enough to keep weed seeds from spreading...more

Prehistoric Fish Extinction Paved the Way for Modern Vertebrates

A mass extinction of fish 360 million years ago hit the reset button on Earth's life, setting the stage for modern vertebrate biodiversity, a new study reports. The mass extinction scrambled the species pool near the time at which the first vertebrates crawled from water towards land, University of Chicago scientists report. Those few species that survived the bottleneck were the evolutionary starting point for all vertebrates – including humans – that exist today, according to a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Everything was hit, the extinction was global," said Lauren Sallan, University of Chicago graduate student and lead author of the paper. "It reset vertebrate diversity in every single environment, both freshwater and marine, and created a completely different world."...more

Strategies for Sustainable Livestock Grazing: Ecological, Economic and Social Implications

For conservationists and rangeland professionals, conventional wisdom has long held that grazing livestock on rangeland in good to excellent condition rather than in a lesser condition is the most productive, both ecologically and economically. Heavy grazing can lead to changes in the plant species present and a decline in range condition. Yet, ranchers generally maintain a lower level of range condition and neither profitability nor sustainability have been negatively affected. Results from this 34 year record show that profit actually increased for the good and low-fair condition range through time , while it remained steady in excellent condition range. Range in low-fair condition supported a higher stocking rate indicating that ranchers are acting in a manner that is both sustainable and profitable over the long term. However, this practice may not be the most beneficial to the environment and society at large, and incentives may be needed to take ranchers in a different direction...more

China now top U.S. ag export market

China bought more than $10 billion in U.S. farm goods in the first six months of the year to become the country's No 1 agricultural export market, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Thursday. China is the world's largest importer of cotton and soybeans. It roiled the grain market with a purchase of 369,000 tonnes of U.S. corn on May 13, its largest purchase since 2001, and creating hopes of steady, large sales to Beijing. The world's most populous nation and a dynamic economy, China has shot to prominence as a U.S. farm export market over the past few years...more

Leavin’ your cows in good hands ... or so you thought!

After you’ve spent a lifetime putting a cow herd together that you’re kinda proud of, hauling them to town when you’re out of grass is about the last option most cowboys will pick. Most of us will hang on to the old girls a lot longer than is practical. Sometimes it works ... and then again, sometimes it doesn’t. The biggest problem with a long drought is if you don’t have any grass, chances are there isn’t anyone very close that has any extra either. That usually means you either lock ’em up and feed ’em a lot of high priced hay, or you put wheels under them and haul them someplace where it’s actually been raining. That’s more than likely quite a distance. Such were the rotten choices facing Gordon a few years ago. He just couldn’t stand the thought of selling his cows, and so he put his heart into finding them some grass ... no matter what it cost. He finally did. Perusing a farm paper one morning, he found a ranch with grass to lease in the west river country of North Dakota. He got right on the phone with Malcolm Weatherly, the man who’d placed the ad, and the deal didn’t sound too bad. The price was terribly high, but at least Malcolm assured him they’d have feed. It had been raining for a month and the Dakota rancher was badly under stocked for some reason. The guy appeared honest enough on the phone, so they made a deal right on the spot. Gordon wired the money to Malcolm’s bank in Dakota to tie up the deal, and immediately hired the Poodie brothers to haul a couple loads of cow-calf pairs to their new home. It was none too soon either. They were completely out of grass and the hay pile had long since disappeared. Unfortunately, sometimes things aren’t all they appear ... especially on the telephone...more

Baxter Black: Rancher uses feminine wiles to lure bull

Most inventions or new ideas result from a problem for which there is no commonly prescribed answer. Women often have more need to find an alternative solution because, unlike their macho counterparts, “brute force” is not usually a choice. Which brings me to Kristy and her pet cow Jers. Jers, pronounced Jerz, belonged to Kristy and her husband who lived on an Oklahoma quarter section. Kristy kept horses and did some training to supplement her income as a school teacher. Jers was a practical hobby and had recently calved. It was one of those nasty, soggy, shivering, chilly-to-the-bone early spring mornings where the sky looked like a glass ceiling painted battleship gray. The rain had turned the corrals and fields into soup. A perfect time for Jers to come back in heat. On prior occasions Kristy had borrowed one of neighbor Tom’s bulls, but her husband said it would be useless to ask until the ground dried out. Not discouraged in the least, Kristy drove down to the local café the next morning where Coffee Shop Communion was held daily. There, drinking coffee and playing cards, was neighbor Tom dispensing wisdom...more

Song Of The Day #315

Ranch Radio has a classic country song for all you weekend warriors, I've Got Five Dollars And It's Saturday Night, recorded by Faron Young in 1956.

I hope those who wanted to got to play 301-314, because I just accidentally deleted every damn one of them.

Sheriff Dever believes suspect will be identified in Krentz murder

Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever told News 4 Wednesday, he is much more confident today that his department will solve the murder of Douglas rancher Rob Krentz, than he was the day of the crime. Krentz was riding his all-terrain vehicle, checking water lines and fencing on his 35,000 acre ranch when he was shot to death March 27th. Sheriff Dever says this is the most difficult case he's ever worked on. He said at this point there is no timeline for an arrest. But Dever told News 4, he is maintaining his theory that the suspect was a border crosser. KVOA

Officials say drug, immigrant smuggling surging at NM border

Drug and illegal immigrant smuggling is surging in New Mexico's Bootheel, according to the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Department. Eyewitness News 4 tagged along with deputies in Southwestern New Mexico to see the trend for ourselves. Investigators say they found $100,000 worth of marijuana on Wednesday in the trunk of a car, after the driver refused to show his photo identification or vehicle registration. Officials said a suspected illegal immigrant who had been deported 10 times was behind the wheel. Deputies also executed a search warrant on a suspicious truck that had been pulled over Wednesday night. Officials said about $50,000 worth of marijuana was stashed in the gas tank. The license plate appeared to be from Chihuahua, Mexico. The driver, who officials say had a US Visa, told deputies he was on his way to Albuquerque. "We get a lot of marijuana and alien smuggling loads going toward Albuquerque. We get a lot of vehicles registered out of Los Lunas, Belen and Albuquerque," Cpl. Gary Lassiter of the Hidalgo Co. Sheriff's Dept.

Here is the KOB-TV video report:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Representative Bishop On Wilderness And The Border

This is an almost hour long video of floor statements of Rep. John Carter of Texas and Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah. Both are discussing border security, or the lack thereof.

For those of us from public lands states, Rep. Bishop's comments start at 17:57. His primary topic is wilderness and how it is keeping the Border Patrol from securing the border. Bishop points out that 40% of the land along our southern border is owned by the federal government and that 4.3 million acres of that has been designated as wilderness. For those of you who may not know, the Wilderness Act prohibits the use of motor vehicles and mechanized equipment in wilderness areas. Needless to say, that puts our Border Patrol at a great disadvantage when trying to combat the drug runners and human traffickers, which is why they are using wilderness areas to illegaly enter the U.S. Bishop does an admiral job laying this all out. His presentation ends at around 33 minutes, and the rest is a colloquy between him and Rep. Carter, also with some interesting info.

If you want to see a picture of a vehicle barrier fence put up by the US Fish & Wildlife Service to keep the Border Patrol out, go to 21:20.

If you want to find out about rape trees go to 36:30.

Thanks to both gentlemen for once again bringing these issues to the attention of the House and the public.

Below is the complete video presentation.

Gov. Otter takes on feds over wilderness filming

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter on Wednesday chastised the U.S. Forest Service for forbidding the state's educational broadcasting network from sending a cameraman into a central Idaho wilderness area. Idaho Public Television, licensed by the federal government as a noncommercial TV station, wanted to film students doing conservation work in the 2.3-million-acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area for its "Outdoor Idaho" show, which has filmed in wilderness areas in the past. But Frank Guzman, the Salmon-Challis National Forest supervisor, told the station this month that "this sort of filming is commercial, and thus not allowed in the wilderness." Otter urged Guzman to reconsider what he termed an "ill-advised decision." "The claim that IPTV is a commercial entity is patently absurd and defies common sense," Otter wrote Guzman. "IPTV is owned by the state of Idaho and is an agency of the State Board of Education. IPTV is a noncommercial entity." The federal 1964 Wilderness Act forbids most motorized and mechanized transportation inside wilderness preserves, aiming to keep them pristine as possible. According to Forest Service rules, however, camera crews aren't excluded during breaking news events, in order to protect 1st Amendment free-speech rights. But National Forest managers are instructed not to issue authorization for commercial filming "unless clearly necessary for realizing wilderness purposes," according to Forest Service guidelines. Idaho Public Television wanted to send a lone cameraman down a wilderness trail for several hours on Monday to film 15 participants in a Student Conservation Association program meant to train future land managers...more

Its ok to keep the Border Patrol out, but all hell breaks lose when you deny access to the greenie media types.

Panel to Forest Service: national park option still on table

The U.S. Forest Service has two years to make good on requests for more funding for Mount St. Helens or a local advisory committee will recommend making the volcano a national park, one of the committee co-chairman said Tuesday on the 30th anniversary of the famous eruption. Skamania County Commissioner Paul Pearce is going to deliver that message directly to Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell when he meets with him next month in Washington, D.C. "I hope to impress upon him how important it is to make every effort to find ways to live up to the recommendations," Pearce said. Pearce was one of three co-chairmen of the Congressional Mount St. Helens Advisory Committee, which last month turned over to federal lawmakers its recommendations for the future of the 110,000-acre Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. Among the committee's dozens of recommendations, it said the monument should remain under Forest Service management, but only if more money is allocated to the area and recreational access is improved. No official time line has been established before, but Pearce said Tuesday he believes two years is plenty of time for Forest Service officials to show they've dedicated more funds for the monument. The committee recommended the volcano get specific, line-item funding that can't be diverted to other Forest Service projects or forest fires. The committee also suggested a separate management area be created that includes the current monument and some adjacent Forest Service land. Committee members also would like to see the manager of that area elevated so he or she would have more pull within the agency...more

Classic bureaucratic moves.

1. Demand more appropriations, of course.
2. Line item funding. This means they don't think they should have to compete for money with other FS programs.
3. Raise the classification and therefor the pay of the manager.
4. Threaten FS headquarters with taking the monument away from the agency. Play our little game or we'll pick up our marbles and play elsewhere.

Nothing about which agency has the appropriate expertise. Nothing about which agency would be the most efficient manager. Nothing about which agency has the best record of listening to the public during the planning process. Not even anything about which agency works best with advisory committees. Just give us more money, cement the amount from any change and pay our guy more, or we'll run to the parkies.

All classic bureaucratic moves to get more dinero.

Now who do you think thought all this up: the members of the advisory committee or persons in the local FS office?

Looks to me like an advisory committee doing the bidding of an appropriation-hungry local office.

Salazar: Abolish energy agency, divide in 3 parts

The Obama administration moved on Wednesday to abolish the beleaguered agency that oversees offshore drilling and replace it with three separate entities. The plan by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar would eliminate the Minerals Management Service and replace it with two bureaus and a revenue collection office. The name Minerals Management Service would no longer exist, a spokeswoman said. Members of Congress and President Barack Obama have criticized what they call the cozy relationship between regulators and oil companies and have vowed to reform MMS, which both regulates the industry and collects billions in royalties from it. The latest plan is the second proposed restructuring of the drilling agency since the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last month. Salazar last week proposed splitting the agency in two. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management would oversee leasing and development of offshore drilling. And the Office of Natural Resources Revenue would collect billions of dollars in royalties for onshore and offshore drilling. The enforcement and energy bureaus would report to an assistant Interior secretary for land and minerals management, while the revenue office would report to a policy, management and budget official, Salazar said. Former Interior Secretary James Watt created the Minerals Management Service by secretarial order in 1982, consolidating several functions that had been performed by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs...more

Hey Perry, I'll bet you remember this too.

Chaffetz: BLM should sell extra acreage

The Bureau of Land Management would have to sell off some 132,000 acres of public land in Utah and more than 3 million acres total in the West under legislation Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced Wednesday. The Utah Republican's measure orders the Interior secretary to sell all lands identified as excess in a 1997 study by the Clinton administration and sets up a process for 10 states to recoup those parcels for private development. "There's no doubt in my mind there are certain areas worth saving and protecting and designating as wilderness," Chaffetz said, "but there are some parts of the land that really serve no public purpose, so let's sell them back to private hands." All money from the sale of the public lands would be used to pay off the national debt under Chaffetz's bill...more

New designation would protect an ancient site

Every 18.6 years, the moon rises between ancient twin pinnacles in an event known as the Northern Lunar Standstill, inspiring awe among those who witness it in southwestern Colorado’s San Juan National Forest near the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. During the lunar event, at high latitudes the moon appears to move in a short time period from high in the sky to low on the horizon, marking a time significant to Bronze Age cultures in Europe and probably to other ancient cultures, including those represented at Chimney Rock. Although the Colorado landmark was earlier designated a federal Archaeological Area and National Historic Site, it would be further protected as a National Monument under legislation introduced May 3 by U.S. Rep. John Salazar and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, both Democratic legislators from Colorado...more

State and federal officials set up habitat fund to compensate for energy development

State and federal officials overseeing the push to build solar and wind plants in California's desert signed an agreement Wednesday that they say will streamline project approvals. The agreement allows energy developers to compensate for destruction of wildlife habitat by paying into a special fund to be managed by the nonprofit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, according to news releases from the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Representatives of the wildlife service, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the state Department of Fish and Game and the Energy Commission will decide how to spend the money, according to the agencies. The money could be used to acquire and protect land inhabited by desert tortoises, which are threatened with extinction. It also could be used to restore or enhance habitat. Energy company officials have said recently that they support the idea, as long as it doesn't make their projects more costly. Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said pooling money from projects could allow for larger, more meaningful conservation efforts...more

Otero Mesa National Monument up for discussion

Thursday's regular meeting of the Otero County Commission will be held in the commission's old chambers in the county courthouse to accommodate the large crowd expected for the hearing on an ordinance opposing any designation of Otero Mesa as a national monument. A news release issued from Gov. Bill Richardson's office March 18 states the Obama administration may be considering 14 sites across the West for national monument status, including Otero Mesa. National monuments are created by a president's signature, while national parks are created by an act of Congress. During an interview Monday, county Commissioner Ronny Rardin said the rumor is that the president may exercise his powers under the Antiquities Act to make 1.2 million acres of Otero Mesa a national monument. Rardin said the county's ordinance opposing a national monument on the mesa has changed, and the version posted on the county's Web site has not yet been updated. At the end of the ordinance, a statement was added that the ordinance opposes designating the national monument "without the express written consent of the Board of County Commissioners of Otero County after local public hearings and appropriate consultation, coordination and development of appropriate social and scientific data demonstrating the effects on the local community, including the county's custom, culture and history." "That's the law," Rardin said. "That's what the federal government has to follow under NEPA National Environmental Protection Act. But if the president signs an executive order, we're thinking he may just totally skip all of this."...more

Groups: County should wait on decision on Otero Mesa

People who are against a proposed ordinance opposing the designation of Otero Mesa as a national monument plan to attend tonight's public hearing before the Otero County Commission. The county's proposed ordinance opposes the designation of Otero Mesa as a national monument, stating the county has the duty and jurisdiction to manage public lands within county boundaries while protecting private rights held on the lands. The ordinance says the county opposes the designation without express written consent of the Otero County Commission after local public hearings and appropriate data of the effects of such a designation on the local community. Nathan Newcomer, associate director of New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, said a U.S. Department of the Interior memo was leaked in February listing 14 areas, including Otero Mesa, that the department was looking at for potential national monument status. "And of course when that leaked, a lot of people went crazy," Newcomer said. Newcomer said the department was brainstorming possible monuments, and they want to go out to the different communities and have dialogue with locals. "I'm positive the Department of Interior would want to sit down and talk with people here in Otero County ... and get their feedback," Newcomer said...more

Song Of The Day #314

Today Ranch Radio brings you a duet by Ernest Tubb & Red Foley. This is their 1953 tune about what it's like to be friends with the government title You're A Real Good Friend.

The song is available on several of Tubb's collection albums which you can view here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Salazar Says Regulatory Oversight of Industry Is Lax

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday that federal regulation of offshore drilling had been too lax but that it was premature to say watchdogs underestimated the risks when they approved such projects. The testimony, his first on Capitol Hill since a deadly Gulf of Mexico oil-rig explosion on April 20, came amid the release of a video suggesting that BP PLC's latest effort to control a leaking underwater pipe didn't meet expectations. The disclosure of the video added fuel to lawmakers' questions about whether the Minerals Management Service, a unit of the Interior Department, has delegated too much responsibility for setting safety policies to the industry it regulates. "The conclusion that this is an unregulated industry is not correct," Mr. Salazar told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "It is a very highly regulated industry. That doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement."...more

Interior adopts new rules for onshore drilling

Federal land agencies Monday finalized reforms for oil and gas drilling, reforms triggered by development proposals in Utah near sensitive lands close to national parks and archeological treasures. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey said the changes were needed to restore balance to onshore drilling. "The BLM reforms we are finalizing today establish a more orderly, open, and environmentally sound process for developing oil and gas resources on public lands," said Salazar, who proposed the reforms in January. But critics attacked the changes as bureaucracy that will stifle energy development and new jobs. U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop said Salazar had "once again chosen his anti-energy allies over the interests of the people and nation." "Not only will these new regulations add multiple layers of redundant red tape and significantly reduce America's ability to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, they will also hinder job creation in communities and regions already experiencing severe job loss," said Bishop, a Utah Republican and chairman of the congressional Western Caucus. U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, called the reforms "exactly the wrong thing to do and exactly the wrong time."...more

Ferrets' status remains unchanged

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that it has denied a petition by environmental groups to give the black-footed ferret more protection as an endangered species. It's unclear whether the ruling will resurrect efforts by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to reintroduce the animal, among the rarest in North America, on private land in southern Albany County. The petition, filed last fall by the groups WildEarth Guardians, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance and Center for Native Ecosystems, sought to give full federal endangered species protection to black-footed ferrets on public lands. The 500 or so wild ferrets currently living in southeast Wyoming's Shirley Basin are listed as "nonessential, experimental" populations, giving private landowners and wildlife managers more flexibility than if the animals had full endangered species protection. The environmental groups held that stricter protection was needed, saying the Shirley Basin ferret population is at risk because of widespread shooting and poisoning of prairie dogs, the ferrets' only prey. However, Fish and Wildlife said in a media release Monday the current regulation level was "appropriate" and said that retracting the "nonessential, experimental" designation "would have extremely detrimental effects" to both ferrets and the human private-public partnerships that work to sustain them...more

Former Forest Service officials want a wider probe of the Station fire

A group of former U.S. Forest Service officials is calling for a new and independent investigation into the agency's handling of last year's devastating Station fire, with many contending that an internal inquiry completed in November ignored critical missteps. That probe by the Forest Service's Washington, D.C., headquarters found no tactical errors in the initial attack on the fire. And in a key conclusion, it blamed hazardous terrain for the lack of a heavy air assault early on the fateful second day, when the blaze began to race across the Angeles National Forest. "I didn't think that conclusion was even close to being correct," said Larry Boggs, a former fire management officer who worked for the Forest Service for 31 years, 13 of them in the Angeles. "It was a whitewash. Aircraft would have been quite effective on the fire that day." After learning of the calls for another inquiry, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) told The Times that he plans to convene a panel of Los Angeles-area House members to take testimony here, including from the retirees. "We can have a full airing of the issues that have been raised," said Schiff, who also has urged Congress to require the Forest Service to consider ending a practice that bars its firefighting aircraft from flying night missions...more

Time's up for wolves

The time for symposia is over. The question of whether ranchers and wolves can coexist has been discussed at length. Confirmation by state biologists that Wallowa County rancher Bob Lathrop's calf was killed by a wolf or wolves last week provided the answer. Indeed, ranchers throughout Eastern Oregon have known the answer for some time. This wasn't the first area wolf kill, just the first confirmed by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The other kills were so thorough that the remains of the victimized livestock didn't provide enough evidence of wolf bite marks. Let's be clear: We aren't anti-wolf. We think the animals are beautiful and have a rightful spot in the environment. We also respect the presence of cougars, rattlesnakes, alligators and bears - in the wild. But we're not enamored of them. If they invade our property, that's reality intervening. Canadian gray wolves are large predatory animals. It's their nature to kill others. We aren't anti-wolf. We're anti-B.S....more

El Paso County Uses Eminent Domain On Tornillo Farmland

Quiet farmland owned by the Lettunich family along the U.S./Mexico border in Tornillo will soon turn into a very loud construction site. "It's been in the family history since about the early 20s, 1922," said Robert Lettunich, who in one court decision saw one-fifth of his family's farmland go to the government. "It's been a long, messy process." For the past eight years he's been in a fight with the county. The county wanted the land for the new Tornillo-Guadalupe Port of Entry, which is expected to ease congestion at other crossings in the Borderland. Last Thursday, through eminent domain, the county took 137 acres from Lettunich. "I don't think they took into consideration the damages for what they took; this farm is worth less than it was Thursday," Lettunich told KFOX. The county said most of the land will go to the federal government for a massive inspection station at the new port of entry...more

Group takes greenhouse gas battle to NM Supreme Court

The New Mexico Supreme Court has been asked to weigh in on a legal battle brewing over an effort by an environmental group to establish a cap on greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center has filed a petition with the court, asking it to order a state judge in Lovington to reverse an earlier decision. The judge had granted a preliminary injunction in April that prohibited a state regulatory panel from continuing proceedings on New Energy Economy's petition for the emissions cap. New Mexico's largest utility, four state lawmakers and other groups had sued in January to stop the panel from considering the petition. Petition supporters argue that if allowed to stand, the judge's ruling would cripple state agencies' ability to carry out their appointed responsibilities. AP

A Backyard Battleground to Save the Honeybee

Ms. Reeves is part of a fast-growing trend, a result of consumers' increased concern about the environment and where their food comes from. These backyard beekeepers, or apiarists, are swarming in to help fill a void left by more commercial beekeepers, many of whom have exited the industry in recent decades. At beekeepers meetings, "now, it's professional people, doctors, lawyers, teachers," says Paul Jackson, chief apiary inspector in Texas. In years past, attendance was mostly farmers, ranchers and 4-H kids, he says. Roughly one-third of what we eat depends on honeybees for pollination. As bees collect pollen for food, they spread it from one flower to another, which helps plants reproduce. Recently, honeybees have received considerable attention because of a mysterious affliction known as "colony collapse disorder," in which much of a colony suddenly disappears, leaving the queen behind. So far, scientists have not been able to determine the cause—or come up with a solution...more

Firefighters burn 1830s farmhouse so family can save on property taxes

Right on schedule, the firemen arrived to burn down a much older and abandoned farmhouse about 100 feet away, a brick structure dating from the 1830s, with a large, wood frame addition from the 1850s. Until Saturday, it sat about 50 yards from the couple's current home. Ruby Widicus was born Ruby Seibert in the old farmhouse 83 years ago and grew up in it. The familiar old building loomed just behind a knot of firemen, busy laying hose. Their decision to destroy the old home, where Ruby's earliest memories were born, didn't come easy to the couple. It was based on unrepairable termite damage and property tax bills that never went away. Just this fall, a county assessor visited the property and spent more than an hour measuring the old homestead, which has been vacant for years. "It didn't matter to him that nobody has lived there since my mother died 20 years ago. You still have to pay taxes on it," Ruby Widicus said...more

Cattle sorting: a sport that’s true to ranching

This competition, sometimes referred to as “the most family-friendly rodeo event,” involves two riders working together to quickly sort a group of cattle and place them one at a time in a corral. Unlike some rodeo events like bullriding or bulldogging, which have almost no real basis in actual ranch work, cattle sorting is something that ranchers and cowboys do on a daily basis. Also known as “ranch sorting” or “team sorting,” the event typically involves two 50-foot by 50-foot pens with a 12-foot opening between them. Ten head of cattle (typically young steers or heifers) are placed in one pen and a team of two riders enters. The cattle wear collars marked with numbers from 0 to 9. An announcer calls out a random number, and the riders must then separate that animal from the others and place it into the adjacent corral first. The riders continue to place one animal at a time in the corral in sequence — 6, then 7, then 8, etc. — as quickly as they can. Teams are disqualified if two cattle enter at the same time or out of sequence. Variations involve adding one or two animals that aren’t numbered but serve as extras to add complexity, or teams of three riders instead of two...more

Cowboys, Horses and Haciendas: Photographing the Old West

he Eloquent Light Photography Workshops, offering exceptional photography workshops since 1986, is offering "Ranchers, Ramblers & Renegades: Portraits of the Old West", July 7 - 11, 2010. During this workshop, participants will be photographing people who make their living ranching, training horses, raising cattle — these individuals aren't models “pretending” to be Ranchers, Ramblers and Renegades — they're the real deal. Because we have established personal relationships with the owners of ranches and haciendas where we will be photographing, participants will be able to have unique experiences unavailable to “tourists”. The workshop will focus on environmental portraiture and understanding how to make great images utilizing the quality and direction of natural light...more

“Art of the Western Saddle” Exhibit in AQHA Hall of Fame and Museum

Running from Jan. 22-July 31, 2010, the north Texas museum offers fans of the West a one-of-a-kind chance to view 16 gorgeous Western saddles dating from the 1800s to the present. The exhibit is titled, “Art of the Western Saddle — A Celebration of Design, Style and Grace” and is based upon an award-winning book of the same name by William C. Reynolds, published in 2004. Including a rare and elegant Sherman Loomis saddle of the 1800s, a few gold and silver adorned Visalia Stock Saddle Company's offerings and numerous highly detailed Edward H. Bohlin Company productions from the 1920s, the saddles in the exhibit are cumulatively valued in excess of $1 million. Despite the impressive figure, the financial amount is not the main draw; the exquisite beauty of every saddle is what captures a viewer's attention. The leather of each saddle in the exhibit is fully tooled, with most also bearing intricate silverwork hand-engraved and chased from horn to cantle to long tapaderos. Some adornments include gold and/or semi-precious stones. From movie stars to wealthy ranchers, the saddles were customized to fit their owners' styles, interests and personalities. One saddle bore silver designs of numerous California Missions. Another showed off hand-chased silver and gold embellishments depicting the history of the oil industry. Suffice it to say, every piece is unique and worthy of long consideration from all sides and angles. It is that quality of workmanship and art that modern saddle makers strive to emulate and even surpass...more

Two legendary ropers head Pendleton Hall of Fame induction class

Legendary ropers Roy Cooper and King Merritt, dedicated volunteer Tom Currin and Mac McCormack, the man credited with saving the 1940 Round-Up, comprise the newest class of inductees into the Pendleton (Ore.) Round-Up and Happy Canyon Hall of Fame. In celebration of the Round-Up’s 100 years in existence, the board decided on May 16 to induct four new members this year instead of the usual three. Cooper started off his career as the 1976 PRCA Rookie of the Year and broke every roping record in the books in the years that followed. The roper earned eight world championships and has won every large rodeo in the country, said board member Tom Forth. Merritt, one of Cooper’s predecessors, traveled by train from his Wyoming home to his first Round-Up in 1925 and attended annually for 26 years. Merritt won the steer roping in 1925 and 1935 and the calf roping in 1936...more

Song Of The Day #313

Ranch Radio wasn't able to post yesterday, so today we bring you a double dose of Eddy Arnold with his tunes A Heart Full Of Love and Texarkana Baby.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Montana wolf hunt quota to double

Good news for hunters worries environmentalists. The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission voted on Thursday, May 13, to more than double the number of wolves that hunters can kill this season. The decision to thin out the once endanger gray wolf has been debated since the first ever wolf hunting season in 2009. Many ranchers and residents are eager to cut down on the wolves looming about their property. However, many environmental groups object that the doubling of the quota is just too fast and too soon. The Fish and Wildlife Commission says the wolf population is two high, posing a threat to the areas elk population and livestock. Ranchers lost 200 sheep and 100 cattle to wolves last year. In addition to increasing the quota, the Commission has opened up an archery season to complement the rifle season started last year...more

Joseph rancher reports another wolf attack

Joseph rancher Tom Schaafsma discovered a slaughtered calf in his cow-calf pasture Thursday, May 13, and has reported it as a wolf attack. The calf has been examined by wolf program coordinator Russ Morgan of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, but the agency has not yet confirmed the kill as wolf predation. Wallowa County Sheriff Fred Steen reported that wolves were back out near the calves that same evening and ranchers who had come to assist Schaafsma were able to haze the wolves back into the timber. The wolves were back again within a few hours. Schaafsma, who had been provided with a radio receiver to monitor the collared wolves was able to identify one of the wolves as the alpha male of the Imnaha pack, Steen said. Given the fact that the wolves were seen in the area for three days preceding the kill and continued to enter the pasture after the kill, Steen said he was surprised by the agency's reluctance to confirm the kill. "We don't need this nonsense," he said. "They're right in the middle of the damn herd of cows. They've obviously found a food source. This is something our producers don't need."...more

Video: Could Hay Clean Up The Oil Spill?

Here's the video from AP.

Whisky Dick Grazing Peters Out Again

For the second straight year, the state has withdrawn its livestock grazing plans on state wildlife lands in eastern Kittitas County. Facing the loss of its sole range ecologist and ongoing litigation from Western Watersheds Project, an Idaho-based conservation group, the state says there will be no cattle grazing this year on the Whisky Dick and Quilomene wildlife areas. Opponents of the grazing plan, the primary issue being the use of state wildlife lands for livestock, celebrated the state's decision. But Kittitas cattle rancher Russ Stingley must continue to graze his cattle on already well-thinned pastures. His only alternative is to sell some of his livestock. "We'll possibly have to sell off some cattle -- probably 100 or so if we can't find a home for them," said Stingley, who has about 500 head. "Depends on if this is a drought year -- if they shut off our (irrigation) water earlier than usual, we won't have much choice." Stingley's grazing permit on the Whisky Dick and Quilomene, part of a regional, multi-partner conservation plan, has been off-again, on-again...more

Sorry, but every once in awhile I've got to have a little fun with the titles.

Wind Energy The Future Of NM?

Is wind energy is it the wave of the future for New Mexico? Members of the Caprock Wind Project spoke about some of the hopes and obstacles for wind power. East of Tucumcari 80 gigantic wind turbines spin along the eastern New Mexico horizon. The turbines create a total of 80 megawatts of power and are the beginning of what could be the future of the state's energy. "They assume that one mega watt for the year could produce electricity for about 350 homes so 80 times 350 homes, yeah you could power a town," said James Phipps, with Caprock Wind Project. Rancher Bob Frost is one of many ranchers who is leasing his land to the wind energy project. He said the extra funds don't hurt, but that he's happy to be part of something that could positively impact the future. "This is something that will not just go from this generation to the next generation and it's clean," said Frost...more

Video report at the link provided.

Family ranching legacy comes to an end after man outbid for land

Time moves slowly on the gentle slopes of land in this ranching community 75 miles south of Farmington. It's a place where rumors of rain spread like wildfire among ranchers and where bulging, promising thunderclouds too often don't deliver. Ranchers battle harsh conditions, unforgiving landscapes and natural foes like lightning and coyotes to produce calves that sell for a meager $1 per pound, according to estimates quote from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Five generations of ranchers have tended their herds and cared for the land, and the hard work is more a part of life than a means of profit, rancher Justin Yazzie said. "The reason we do this, it's in our blood," he said Wednesday as he stood on the 4,800-acre ranch he leases from the Navajo Nation. Yazzie, 55, knows the land like an old friend. He measures time by seasons, keeping track of the moisture and height of the grass. "Thirty-two years ago, the grass was up to my knees," he said. "That was 1978, the year I had to take time off work to help my dad with the branding." The experience is one Yazzie, who lives in Farmington, had hoped to pass on to his 16-year-old son, but the ranching tradition is being threatened by a new competitive bid process introduced by the Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture...more

Ranching, Dairy Industries Drive NM Economy

Ranching and dairy industries are driving New Mexico's economy. "If you cannot feed your people you simply lose your country," said state representative Janice Arnold-Jones. The two industries are major players in the state's economy making up roughly one third of the tax revenue. At the Clovis livestock auction, more than 125,000 head of cattle are auctioned off each year amounting to almost $55 million in sales. The auction is one of the largest in the state and brings people from miles away that generate tax revenue on more than just the auctions. Many ranchers said that the profit margins are shrinking and several dairy farms in New Mexico have packed up and moved to other states or shut-down completely due to frequently changing environmental guidelines brought on by the state. Arnold-Jones said the loss of the cattle and dairy industry would be nothing short of devastating to the New Mexico economy and that the state needs to stick to an old rancher's saying "You take care of the land and the animals and they'll take care of you."...more

Go to the link provided to see the KOAT-TV video report.

Time to chew the cud: Dentist invents dentures for cows

Millions of cows around the world suffer from a common problem. When they reach eight years of age, their teeth have been worn down to the point where they can no longer eat properly. They are then deemed unproductive and are sent to the slaughterhouse. On average, a cow bites down 15 times per minute and spends a whopping 15 hours a day chewing. First they feed on pasture, then they masticate the food a second time in a process call rumination , where the pre-chewed food comes back out of their stomach so they can gnaw it again for better digestion. A dentist in Argentina, the world's biggest per capita consumer of beef, has invented a cost-effective way of helping their cows chew long: they have given them new teeth. Osvaldo Errobidart, a semi-retired dentist, started welding cow teeth prostheses 20 years ago, but only in recent years he convinced some farmers in the Buenos Aires province area of Laprida to try out his invention on a large scale. So far they have had animals that would have been sent to market live for three years past their expiration date...more

This is the CBS video that goes with the report:

It's All Trew: Cow feed, from slab to sack

Today as I pass by the towering feed bins on ranches and observe the automatic feeders in ranch pickups, I shake my head remembering the good old days. Like all progress, the evolution of ranch livestock feeding has changed greatly, and for the better. Our former ranch owner, Charlie McMurtry, great uncle of Larry McMurtry of "Lonesome Dove" fame, told of his earliest efforts at winter-feeding range cattle. It seems the cotton gins of the area were seeking more profit from processing cotton and began compressing cotton seed and gin trash retracted from the cotton into slabs with the seed oil tying it all together like glue. The slabs came out from rollers like sheets of plywood about two inches in thickness. Gin employees broke the hot slabs into large chunks and stacked them on edge in boxcars for shipment. When a rancher purchased a carload of slabs he unloaded them into his wagons and hauled them to his cake house all the while standing the slabs on edge. In order to feed the cattle, ranch employees reloaded their wagons, making sure they had axes and hatchets along to break up the slabs into smaller pieces to distribute the feed more evenly among the cows. McMurtry would laugh and tell how on the feed grounds, each cow would pick up the biggest chunk of feed she could carry in her mouth, run off to the plum bushes and gnaw around the edges maybe all day until the piece was finally devoured, just like a coyote with a bone...more

Song Of The Day #312

Ranch Radio continues with Swing Monday to get your heart pumpin' just right.

Today the Quebe Sisters swing out on two classics, So Long To The Red River Valley and the Spade Cooley & Tex Williams hit Shame On You.

You'll find both tunes on their 14 track CD Timeless.

Mexico Shaken by Abduction and Feared Murder of Top Politician

The white SUV was found on an unpaved country road with bloodstains on the seats. Within hours, hundreds of soldiers and police poured across ranches and fields looking for possible clues to the whereabouts of former Mexican presidential candidate Diego Fernández de Cevallos, who disappeared last Friday. As the search got under way, frantic politicians and media reported that the victim's body had been found, then said that he was in hospital with a bullet wound and then that he was still missing. Even in a nation numbed by escalating drug-related mayhem, the abduction and feared murder of the leading conservative politician sent shock waves through the political establishment. Fernández, a 69-year-old lawyer with penetrating eyes and a trademark white beard, has been one of the most colorful, controversial and influential figures in Mexican politics...more

Small mobile units emerge as potent border-watch tool

A trail of red dots appears on the computer radar screen. Border Patrol Agent Orlando Rocafort, whose flatbed truck sits atop a peak overlooking a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, leans in for a closer look. He slides his computer's mouse over the red dots near the border between Naco and Douglas, and clicks. A whizzing sound comes from the bed of the truck. A pair of mounted cameras rotates, facing southeast. Inside the truck, black-and-white images come into focus on a monitor at Rocafort's right. The thermal night camera shows what appears to be several people carrying backpacks near the border fence. Rocafort picks up his radio and tells agents where to find the suspected illegal immigrants. On this windy and cool May evening in Southeastern Arizona, Rocafort is running one of 38 "mobile surveillance systems" the Border Patrol uses on the Southwest border. The truck-mounted systems give agents the ability to scan at least six miles of border using ground surveillance radar, Doppler radar and infrared day-night cameras...more

And they can't be used in Wilderness areas.

Lawmakers expect revised border violence plan from Calderon visit

Lawmakers are expecting the White House and Mexican President Felipe Calderon to announce a revised two-country plan aimed at addressing the increasing drug violence along the border region when the two heads of state meet next week. The meeting comes as several members of Congress also say they’ve heard rumblings that President Barack Obama is inching closer to sending National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border region, though none could confirm that to definitely be the case. A spokesman for the White House said Obama was still considering whether to send National Guard troops. In the midst of a renewed focus by Congress on the issue of border violence, a bipartisan group of 17 House lawmakers from the southwest region sent a letter late last month to Obama calling on him to deploy National Guard troops to their home states to combat the growing violence. Next week Congress is planning to continue its heavy focus on the escalating levels of violence, drug smuggling and illegal gun running along the U.S.-Mexico border with hearings flanking Wednesday's state dinner in honor of Calderon...more

Radios meant for ranchers are still in storage

Stacked in a storage shed west of Las Cruces are more than 230 radios that were meant to boost safety for southern New Mexico ranchers and other remote residents who frequently encounter illegal border-crossers. About five years ago, around the time the devices were purchased, officials said they expected the radios to be in the hands of ranchers by the summer of 2005 to improve communication where cell phone service is spotty or nonexistent. But the hand-held and vehicle-mounted radios and related equipment — valued initially at $250,000 — have yet to be put to use by anyone in Doña Ana County because a number of problems have cropped up, county officials said. At least one hurdle stemmed from some ranchers not wanting their vehicles to be modified to install the radio and antenna equipment, said Larry Bleimeyer Sr., Doña Ana County radio communications supervisor. But the larger problem is a lack of radio towers, especially in the southwestern part of the county, that are needed to relay transmissions to emergency responders, said Doña Ana County Sheriff's Cpl. Jim Hash. He noted that even sheriff's department personnel aren't able to talk to the county dispatch center in places along N.M. Hwy. 9, which parallels the international border. He said he often must rely on car-to-car transmissions with Border Patrol agents or the Border Patrol's El Paso-based dispatch center. Dudley Williams, who ranches a large acreage in southwest Doña Ana County, said he spoke with sheriff personnel a few times about the radio program in its early stages but never heard anything further...more

LaPierre speech reminiscent of earlier effort to ‘control borders, not guns’

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre delivered a bare-knuckles address to thousands of NRA members here Saturday, challenging the Obama administration over its criticism of a new Arizona statute that cracks down on illegal aliens. To underscore his fury, LaPierre introduced to the audience the family of NRA member Robert Krentz, the Arizona rancher who was gunned down earlier this year by a suspected illegal alien. Krentz’ tearful family, all NRA members, stood to a thunderous applause, and LaPierre promised that “the NRA will not forget Rob, and we will not forget you.” “Robert Krentz was one of the good guys,” LaPierre stated. “Robert Krentz was one of us.” “They killed one of us,” he told the audience. “They attacked an NRA family.” LaPierre's remarks clearly hit a raw nerve with his NRA audience, and he went on to define what he believes is the ‘real’ problem: Too many politicians in Washington would rather prevent a criminal from being caught than prevent a law-abiding citizen from being killed...more

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

My parents were lawbreakers before their time

by Julie Carter

For once, it is good I'm as old as I am, or my parents would have criminal records.

Last week I heard a word of caution about possible legal ramifications of paddling your child. What I need warned about is my frequent temptation to paddle other people's children, oh say, while standing in line at the grocery store.

Don't call or write me about child abuse statistics. That's not what I'm talking about here.

I grew up in the periphery of the pioneer years when most families still believed that to spare the rod was to spoil the child. With that as a measure, I assure you I wasn't spoiled nor were my siblings.

That wasn't the only thing about life that current regulatory agencies, planning commissions and zoning laws would never have allowed.

We had an outhouse! Yes, the hole-in-the-ground, wood shed-over-the-top, splinters-in-your-hiney outhouse. And furthermore, you had to walk across a little plank bridge over an irrigation ditch with rushing ice-cold water to get to it. It was truly down the garden path.

There were no EPA and Hazmat permits posted at the outhouse and there was no code enforcement or engineering on the bridge.

We ate hunks of smoked ham that came directly from hanging in the rafters of the smokehouse and washed it down with cold, raw milk. We ate eggs fresh from the chicken's effort and processed our own meats that included pork, beef, assorted fowl, trout and venison of various kinds.

We had open-air fires and slept in flood plains as we camped along the creek, again without permit and worse yet, without adult supervision. (Mother's x-ray, telephoto vision not withstanding as she kept an eye on us from the ranch house on the hill.)

We rode horses with reckless abandon. We shoveled out barns and weeded gardens fertilized with the byproduct. We assisted dad with veterinarian jobs that involved blood, bodily fluids and sharp objects.

Child labor laws were just that. If you were a child and big enough, you labored.

We climbed hills, rocks, trees, haystacks and barns. We used ropes, boards, canvas, blankets and anything we could find to create forts and cabins for our imaginary games.

Since the beginning of time, children had been made to work along side their parents. The government would eventfully regulate that and more, but in our neck of the woods, child protective services existed only in the form of my grandmother.

She established her credentials as such on many occasions. For example, my brother who was maybe 3, and I, the older, wiser sister at 5, decided to leave home and walk to grandma's house a couple miles away.

My parents watched us amble up the road and out of sight. My dad, before following discreetly behind, phoned my grandmother and told her we were on the way and to watch for us. He instructed that when we arrived, she was to "paddle our butts and send us back home."

Of course, that didn't happen. She gave us milk and homemade cookies and then drove us back home.

My parents' have a perfect criminal record. We four siblings survived childhood under those deplorable, dangerous conditions. I recall only the occasional need for stitches and no broken bones.

We were all reasonably civilized when integrated into polite society. My brother Lon even learned to keep his shoes on and not leave them lying in the field. Bruce and I finally gave up running off and trying to lose him in the hills. Like a pound puppy, he always found his way home.

I may have breached the mental cruelty laws when at the age of 8, I dressed my baby brother Jim like a girl to soothe my disappointment that he was not born a sister. Instead of seeking therapy for him, my parents sent him to Army boot camp when he was old enough, which to him was preferable to working for my Dad. So it turned out fine.

I'm thankful for a childhood without many rules except those enforced by my dad's leather strap.

The freedom of living with nature's laws next to those of God and my parents, created a generation of self-sufficient, dependable, hard-working adults who don't expect life to be delivered to them.

I'm thinking that is the process that should have been written into law.

Julie can be reached for comment at See her two books on her website at

Song Of The Day #311

Ranch Radio featured instrumentals all week, and will continue that form of music in today's Gospel tune. Our selection is Jeff Murray pickin' the Merle Travis creation I Am A Pilgrim.

This version is on the various artists compilation Blue Ridge Mountain Gospel: 26 All-Time Favorite Gospel Melodies.

At Least 18 Killed in Northern Mexico

A total of 18 people were killed and 15 were wounded in several drug-related attacks over the past 12 hours in the northern Mexican states of Durango and Coahuila, officials said Saturday. The Coahuila state Attorney General’s Office said that in Torreon a group of cartel hit men killed at least eight people early Saturday and wounded 15 who were taking part in the inauguration of a bar in that city. The border state AG’s office said that massacre occurred at around 1:00 a.m. at the “Juanas” bar. Authorities said that a group of men armed with automatic rifles arrived at the scene on board four late-model SUVs and opened fire from outside the establishment. It was the second attack in that city on a nighttime establishment after another armed group killed eight people at the “Ferrie” bar on Jan. 31. Elsewhere, in the northwestern state of Durango, authorities said they found at least 10 people who had been killed in various violent incidents over the past 12 hours...more

Former Mexican presidential candidate goes missing

A former presidential candidate in Mexico's ruling party has gone missing, authorities said Saturday, the latest in a spate of political violence presumably linked to drug cartels. The empty vehicle of Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, a former federal deputy, senator and presidential candidate from the conservative National Action Party, was found at his ranch in the state of Queretaro, the federal Attorney General's Office said in a statement. The site contained "evidence of violence," it added. Fernandez ran for president on his party's ticket in 1994 but lost to Ernesto Zedillo, a candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled Mexico for 71 years until 2000. A news website based in Queretaro, Plaza de Armas, cited unnamed friends of Fernandez saying that bloodstains were found in the bullet-riddled vehicle, abandoned at his La Cabana ranch. The Milenio television network said a body was found near the scene but it was not immediately identified...more

Drug violence hits Mexican candidates - Gangs kidnap, kill to control elections

One candidate was gunned down with his son. Another is missing after assailants torched her home. In some towns near the U.S. border, parties can't find anyone to run for mayor. The violence is intensifying fear that Mexico's drug cartels could control the July 4 local elections in 10 states by supporting candidates who cooperate with them and killing or intimidating those who don't. The intimidation is the worst in the border state of Tamaulipas, where Mexican soldiers are trying to control an intensifying turf battle between the Gulf cartel and its former ally, the Zetas gang. Gunmen burst into the farm supplies business of José Guajardo Varela on Thursday and killed him and his son, after he ignored warnings to drop his bid for mayor of Valle Hermosa, a town about 30 miles south of Brownsville, Texas. "Organized crime wants to have total control over local elections," said Carlos Alberto Perez, a federal lawmaker for the conservative National Action Party...more

Former Mexican Governor said to help get drugs to U.S.

The ex-governor of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo took "millions of dollars" in bribes to order his state police to serve as armed guards for smugglers as they off-loaded and transported more than 200 tons of cocaine from Colombian speedboats that eventually found their way to the U.S., court records show. Mario Villanueva Madrid, extradited to this country late Sunday to stand trial on charges of accepting bribes from the infamous Juarez drug cartel, also is accused of laundering nearly $19 million in illicit drug profits through accounts at Lehman Brothers in New York and elsewhere. Two separate indictments in the case say Villanueva was paid $400,000 to $500,000 for each cocaine shipment transported through his state over a five-year period ending in 1998. The indictments say state police provided armed protection for cartel boat crews as they off-loaded the cocaine and then escorted the shipments hidden inside tanker trucks as they traveled through the state...more

Death on the border But Washington refuses to act

A war is raging in Mexico, yet Washington still refuses to make securing the border a priority: It's more interested in bashing Arizona's immigration-enforcement law. Yet it's not hard to see why Arizonans are afraid. No, the ongoing Mexican drug wars haven't crossed seriously into the United States yet. But Mexico has seen some 22,743 people killed in drug-related violence since December 2006. And things aren't dying down. After one recent bloody attack, Mexico City's La Reforma newspaper reported, "The situation is becoming more and more like all-out urban warfare." The violence is getting closer to us, too. Three people linked to the US Consulate in Ciudad Juarez (just over the border from El Paso, Texas) were shot to death on March 13. An explosive device was used in an attack on the US consulate in Nuevo Laredo earlier this year. Cartel gunmen have stepped up direct assaults on Mexican military squads sent to police the border. And on March 27, an American rancher, Robert Krentz, was murdered on his Arizona property by someone local law enforcement describes as "a scout for a [Mexican] drug-smuggling organization." The FBI now calls the Mexican drug cartels the most important organized-crime threat to the United States. The feds can't even promise to secure the border. At a recent Senate hearing, the best Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin could say was, "We are geared to deter the impact of the increased violence in Mexico."...more

US Embassy confirms Arizona man found dead in northern Mexico; 3 detained in case

U.S. officials confirmed Monday that an American citizen was found dead in northern Mexico. The U.S. Embassy said the body of Ronald C. Ryan was recovered in Sonora state, across from Arizona, but gave no other details. Jose Larrinaga, spokesman for Sonora state prosecutors, told reporters Sunday that Ryan's body was found the previous day partially buried near a creek on the outskirts of Santa Ana, a city 60 miles south of Nogales, Arizona. A cause of death had not been determined and the body was taken to the border city of Nogales, Mexico, for an autopsy, he said. Larrinaga said Ryan, 67, of Phoenix, Arizona, had been reported missing May 3. State police had reported detaining three men the following day who had left Ryan's pickup truck at a carwash in Santa Ana. Officers seized several automatic rifles, dozens of bullets and marijuana from the men, ages 18, 20 and 21, state police said. Local media said two of the men are the son and a nephew of Jose Vasquez Villagrana, an alleged key operator of the Sinaloa cartel who was arrested in February. AP

Channel 2 Investigates U.S. Border Security

Channel 2 Investigates U.S. Border Security Part 1

Channel 2 Investigates U.S. Border Security Part 2

Homeland Security: Drones to help track US border in summer

An unarmed surveillance drone will soon be monitoring the borderland for criminals and illegal activity. The Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday that it authorized a drone to fly back and forth between Fort Huachuca, an Army installation near Sierra Vista, Ariz., and Big Bend National Park beginning June 1, said Vincent Perez, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas. It is the first of two drones the Department of Homeland Security wants to assign to the Texas border region. The drone is certified to fly over the area starting June 1, but its missions might not begin until after that, pending operator training, Perez said. It will provide an extra layer of protection for the U.S., he said. According to a 2008 Department of Homeland Security report, the department has been testing the use of drones for border surveillance since June 2004. The Department of Homeland Security inspector general noted that based on limited tests, the drones were less effective than manned aircraft in assisting with the apprehension of undocumented immigrants. In most cases where the drones were used to help law enforcement officers, the officers had already detected the undocumented immigrants by other means, the report said...more

More horses needed to secure the border

In the midst of highly publicized efforts to expand the Border Patrol check point on Interstate 19 into a $27 million permanent facility (temporarily on hold), and millions spent on the electronic towers around Arivaca that don’t work, there is a quiet initiative going on that does work. Horses. The Border Patrol has been establishing what are called “Forward Observation Bases” or FOBs along the border. There are several of them on the border around Nogales. Border Patrol agents are stationed 24/7 at the FOBs and operate from the bases to patrol the border, instead of driving around the countryside from their offices in Tucson or Nogales. The FOBs have successfully throttled illegal entry in the surrounding area according to area ranchers. An interesting issue about the use of an FOB. The areas west of Nogales are extremely rugged, and the effort to stop illegal entry and smuggling can’t be done with vehicles because there are few roads in the area. There is what is called the “fence line trial” running along the border which cowboys use. Most of the area is only accessible by horseback. Thus the Border Patrol is now using horse mounted agents to patrol the area. And this works. With all the publicity about the Secure Border Initiative and the hugely expensive Boeing electronic towers, it is ironic that a 19th century technology is still one of the best solutions to illegal entry and smuggling. Horseback riders. There are interesting logistical problems in setting up an FOB, such as getting water for the horses. Area ranchers have cooperated and are willing to assist...more

O'odham police bust coke-smuggling ring

Tohono O'odham police arrested nine tribal members and one other person Saturday in connection with a cocaine smuggling ring. Officials are calling it the largest drug enforcement operation in the Tohono O'odham Nation's history. The early Saturday morning sweep of seven homes in Sells marked the culmination of a five-month, multiagency investigation that was led by the Tohono O'odham Police Department, said U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle. It was the first time tribal police officers have executed federal warrants on the Tohono O'odham Nation, said Dennis Burke, U.S. attorney for Arizona. Tribal police recently completed training given by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Bureau of Indian Affairs that certified officers to investigate and make arrests on federal charges, which are stiffer than tribal charges. Burke called it a watershed moment for drug enforcement on the Tohono O'odham Nation, which stretches across 75 miles of U.S.-Mexico border and is one of the busiest drug smuggling corridors in the country...more

A Forceful Call For Change From El Paso

El Paso, TX is one of the safest cities in the country, but its residents are strongly identified with the human tragedy affecting their Mexican neighbors across the Rio Grande. El Paso shares a metropolitan area with Ciudad Juárez, México, arguably one of the most dangerous cities in the world, where over 4,000 people have been killed in the last couple of years. This situation is something that the communities of El Paso and Las Cruces, NM want to change. On Monday, politicians, academics, civic and business leaders of both cities will hold an event calling for a “comprehensive revamping of the failed War on Drugs waged by the United States and other countries.” You can read the press release here. Among other things, they: …advocate, as an important first step in drug reform, the repeal of the ineffective U.S. marijuana drug laws in favor of regulating, controlling and taxing the production, distribution, sale and consumption of marijuana by adults. The sale of marijuana in the U.S. black market contributes 50 to 70 percent of Mexico’s cartel revenues....more