Friday, May 28, 2010

Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Found In Horses in Arizona

The Arizona Department of Agriculture has confirmed the diagnosis of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) in horses located in Cochise County in that state. The case-positive premises where VSV was discovered are now under quarantine. VSV causes blister-like lesions to form in the mouth and on the dental pad, tongue, lips, nostrils, hooves (coronet), and teats. These blisters swell and break, leaving raw tissue that is so painful that infected animals generally refuse to eat or drink and show signs of lameness. Severe weight loss usually follows, and in dairy cows, a severe drop in milk production commonly occurs. Affected dairy cattle can appear to be normal and will continue to eat about half of their feed intake. In 2009, Texas and New Mexico reported cases of VSV. In 2010, Arizona is the first state to detect the disease, which occurs sporadically on 5 to 8 year cycles...more

Obama Extends Moratorium; Agency Chief Resigns

President Obama said on Thursday that he is extending the moratorium on permits to drill new deepwater wells for six more months, as the head of the agency that oversees offshore drilling resigned under pressure. S. Elizabeth Birnbaum, who took over as director of the Minerals Management Service last July, disclosed her resignation to colleagues on Thursday morning, just hours before the president was scheduled to hold a news conference to disclose his latest moves to respond to the enormous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This comes amid deepening frustration and criticism of the administration’s handling of the crisis. Mr. Obama’s order is intended to halt further permits for new wells for six months, delay planned exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off the coast of Alaska, cancel an August lease sale in the western Gulf and cancel a lease sale off the coast of Virginia, said a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity before the formal announcement...more

BLM, Colo. Propose Unique Water Flow Regime for New Wilderness

At just over a year old, the Dominguez -- Colorado's newest wilderness area -- is one step closer to securing essential legal rights to both base water flows and seasonal swells that help sustain its diversity of species. In a decision hailed by environmental groups and supported by BLM, the Colorado Water Conservation Board last week advanced an unconventional plan that would be one of the first variable water rights ever granted in the state. The plan -- modeled after a proposal BLM pitched to the board earlier this year -- would protect the seasonally changing flows in the canyon while balancing the needs of upstream landowners who depend on the same source of water to graze cattle. While typical in-stream water rights in Colorado assign fixed flow rates for specific periods of time, the Dominguez proposal would allocate a fixed amount of water for upstream users and send all remaining water -- regardless of volume -- to Big Dominguez and Little Dominguez creeks. If finalized, the water right would be owned by the state and would eliminate the need for the Interior Department to declare its own water right -- a politically contentious move in water-strapped Western states...more

Two wolves roaming Boise Foothills kill 11 sheep

The foothills are the backyards to many bikers and joggers. Mike Sheppard covers several miles of trail daily and was surprised to hear wolves were moving in. "Typically not a whole lot to see as far as animals and wildlife goes," says Sheppard. Idaho Fish and Game found the sheep carcasses near the 8th Street gate known as the Hulls Gulch upslope. After identifying the kills there was no doubt they were wolf killings. These sheep belonged to a rancher from Wilder who says year after year the wolves are killing even more. "We're just moving onto the forest foothills, this of course is a little early to get hit, I think last year we had two kills on the Boise front side and this year I think we've already been hit four times," says Frank Shirts. And like many ranchers they feel the numbers are growing. "We're going to lose 150-200 head this year," says Shirts. He also says keeping track of hundreds of sheep is hard enough without adding wolves to the equation. Losing and replacing sheep could cost ranchers thousands of dollars, but some think curtailing the predators comes at the wolves expense and feel the ranchers are in the wolves territory. Wildlife officials say they can confirm that the sheep were killed by wolves "because of the way that lambs or ewes are killed." Coyotes normally kill sheep in the lower throat area while wolves attack adult sheep by biting their back and around the neck...more

Wolves take toll on cattle during study

Maintaining the wolf population at a level that prevents massive cattle predation is the key to allowing livestock and wolves to co-exist, an Idaho rancher says. In Idaho, that hasn't occurred, said Casey Anderson, manager of the OX Ranch near Council, Idaho. He talked about his experience as 28 wolves took up residence near his ranch. Anderson and other ranchers in Idaho and Oregon took part in a two-year study that tracked cattle and wolf interactions with GPS data. "The way it started for us is cattle behavior started changing, their habits were changing. I jumped on the bandwagon and agreed to participate in this study," Anderson said. Anderson documented the movements of 10 GPS-collared cows out of a herd of 450 and one collared wolf during the summer and fall of 2009. "The researchers were thinking of those 10 collared cows, only two or three would come into contact with the collared wolf, but in fact all 10 cows came into contact with that wolf 784 times during that period," Anderson said. "You can understand how many times all the cows in that herd are coming into contact with wolves, and why we are really noticing cattle behavior patterns and cattle distribution problems." In another herd of 317 mother cows, Anderson weaned only 255 calves in 2009. He attributes most of the missing calves to wolf predation. The ranch had 18 confirmed wolf kills last year, and lost at least 45 calves, five cows and two yearlings...more

Environmental group threatens lawsuit over 100-mile run in bear habitat

Environmentalists are threatening suit if a 100-mile endurance run is allowed in the Swan Mountains east of Kalispell, saying the race might affect protected grizzly bears. U.S. Forest Service officials, meanwhile, have begun collecting information on the race, a process that could push well beyond the scheduled July 29 start date. "Our decision whether or when to allow the race isn't going to be based on the date of the event," said Flathead National Forest spokesman Brandan Schulze. Schulze said a public scoping period likely will last until mid-June, followed by an official assessment of possible environmental impacts. "I think we'll have a better idea of what's going to be required in about a month," he said. That means tight timing for race organizers, who already have collected registration fees but did not submit their permit application to the Forest Service until May 13. Similar races have been held in the past, Schulze said, and were allowed without any formal environmental review. But this year's event covers more miles and involves more runners, he said, "and so the impacts may be different."...more

50 racers have registered. That would be the equivalent of having one runner every two miles. Come on.

Forest Service may end ban on using firefighting aircraft at night

The head of the U.S. Forest Service told a Senate panel Wednesday that water-dropping helicopters would have been deployed during the critical first night of last summer's disastrous Station blaze if they had been available and that the agency is considering ending its decades-long ban on using federal firefighting aircraft after dark. Under sometimes pointed questioning by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D- Burbank), Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell also defended the agency's handling of the fire the next morning, when a heavy aerial assault did not begin until several hours after daylight. He said aircraft alone would not have stopped the flames from racing through the Angeles National Forest. Schiff later expressed doubt that an earlier air attack on Day 2 would have been ineffective because of steep terrain, as the Forest Service determined after an internal review. "The conclusion that it would not have helped anyway is a little too facile," he said. Schiff said he was confident that the Forest Service would resume flying at night, a tactic it abandoned in the 1970s after a fatal crash. "We are moving toward a change in policy," he said...more

Prescribed burn on Ted Turner's NM ranch crosses into Colo.

Originally intended as a controlled burn in Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico about 50 miles west of Raton last weekend, high winds soon expanded the blaze into a two-state firefighting effort as the flames crossed into Las Animas and Costilla counties in Colorado. Smoke from the fire was noticeable Monday afternoon as far to the northeast as Trinidad, though by late Wednesday the blaze, estimated at 55 percent contained, had only spread as far into Las Animas County as the San Francisco Pass, a high-elevation area of rugged terrain in the southwestern corner of the county south of Stonewall and Torres. The fire began Sunday at about 11:20 a.m. when a prescribed burn on Vermejo Park Ranch — a 590,823-acre private ranch owned by media mogul Ted Turner that is mostly in western Colfax County but extends into Colorado — got out of control and spread outside the 600-acre planned area for the prescribed burn...more

The Coming War on Bacon

If the food police get their way, North Carolinians can kiss their country hams, bacon, and fresh Bright Leaf hot dogs goodbye. These Southern specialties might not disappear altogether, but, if the health agency’s crusade against salt is successful, they never will taste the same again. The Washington Post reports that the Food and Drug Administration plans an unprecedented effort to reduce gradually Americans’ salt consumption. In April, the Institute of Medicine advised the FDA to lower the recommended daily intake of sodium for individuals from 2,300 mg to 1,500 mg. It also recommended setting maximum legal limits on salt in all packaged and restaurant foods. The plan is “to slowly ratchet down the sodium level, so people won’t notice the change,” said Christina DeWitt, a food scientist on the IOM advisory panel. Still, critics of the proposal argue that, in isolation, limiting salt in the diet may not improve public health. Jacob Sullum, senior editor at Reason magazine, says there's little evidence linking low-salt diets to a reduced incidence of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease...more

As Ben Domenech notes, this is the only form of pork the Obama Administration opposes.

Song Of The Day #321

Ranch Radio will close out this week of Memorial Day tributes by bringing you the #1 song of 1966: The Ballad Of The Green Berets by SSGT Barry Sadler.

Face of Fear at the Border

This is from the transcript of the Greta Van Sustern show:

GRIFF JENKINS, FOX CORRESPONDENT: This is the U.S.-Mexico border. This is the fence in Arizona. As you can see, it's very easy to get on there. There's trash on the other side. When you get over, you just climb down like this and you hop down. Welcome to America. And you walk out on John Ladd's ranch.

How many people are coming across in the last 10 years onto just your ranch, on this 10-mile southern border?

: Well, there are -- around half a million have been caught on this ranch since 1999.

JENKINS: A half a million?

LADD: A half a million. And if you figure one out of four is what they're catching, that's two million people.

My concern is for my wife, my mom and dad, my boys. You know, my personal self, I can't be looking over my shoulder the whole time I'm doing work on the ranch. And if somebody wants to get me, they're going to get me. But to have to have my wife lock the doors all the time, not be able to do anything when I'm not around, is ridiculous. My mom and dad are in their 80s. Why do I have to have them worry about leaving their house for more than a couple hours or a day without having somebody come babysit the house?

JENKINS: How many times have you been broken into?

LADD: Well, we've had seven, and one house has been broken into four times...

Southern Arizona rancher testifies before Congress

Bill McDonald's the 5th generation on his family's 103 year old ranch that sits near the border. He says for the last 10 years he's been dealing with the serious problem of immigrants crossing his land. He brought those years of experience here to Capitol Hill to tell his story. "Although it's been a difficult place to make a living, it's been a peaceful place," McDonald said in his testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. That peaceful place is now called ground zero for immigrants crossing into the U.S. through Bill McDonald's land illegally. He explained, "Wildfires get started on a regular basis, gates left down, fences cut and trails made by human traffic." And he described to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, when these things happen on his Ranch, he has trouble even calling for help. "Communications are abysmal," Bill testified. "When you're talking about land owner to agents or agent to agent or agent to other law enforcement agencies."...more

Here's the KVOA-TV video report:

Obama's Border Security Plan Falls Short, Ranchers Say

Arizona ranchers – still reeling from the recent murder of a fellow farmer – tell that President Obama's plan to send 1,200 unarmed National Guard troops to the U.S./Mexico border won't provide maximum border security. National Guards will help with intelligence, reconnaissance and drug and human trafficking along the borders, but won't be on the front lines with Border Patrol and local law enforcement detaining illegal immigrants. Rancher Wendy Glenn, whose Malpai Ranch just east of Douglas, Arizona, has roughly 4 miles of border fence, says having guardsmen review statistics isn’t enough. "We need more people on the border," she told "We don't need people sitting at desks. We would rather see more people on a border road." Meanwhile, Roger Barnett, another rancher in the area who knew Krentz, said he has noticed no increase in surveillance near his cattle ranch in Douglas. He doubts that 1,200 troops -- on or off the border -- will make a significant difference. T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing 17,000 agents, agreed with Barnett's assessment. "People shouldn't be surprised if the violence continues," Bonner told the Associated Press. "They shouldn't expect that the announcement of up to 1,200 National Guard members will send a shock wave of fear in the cartels and they will start playing nice."...more

Rehberg wants to unlock gates, allow Border Control vehicles in non-motorized areas

Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Montana), has cosponsored legislation to prohibit the Department of Interior (DOI) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) from preventing the U.S. Border Patrol from fulfilling its congressionally mandated mission to control our borders. Some DOI and USDA policies, including forbidding the use of motorized vehicles on certain lands, have seriously undermined border control efforts on the northern border. “Once again, bungling bureaucrats have put Montana families at risk,” said Rehberg, a co-chair of the House Northern Border Caucus. “As long as we have holes in our border security, they will be exploited by terrorists, drug smugglers and human traffickers. It’s one thing to deal with the logistics of protecting ourselves, but it’s another thing to enact policies that actively prevent controlling the border.” While Americans are demanding border control, inflexible environmental policies instituted on DOI and Forest Service lands have closed off large segments of the border to necessary control efforts. More than 1,000 miles of the U.S.-Canada border are on federal lands, crossing 13 states, 12 National Parks and 4 Indian reservations. Unfortunately, Border Patrol access has been limited by public land managers who have literally locked out Border Patrol vehicles. To address this serious problem, Rehberg joined Western Caucus colleagues in sponsoring H.R. 5016, which would prohibit DOI and USDA from impeding the Border Patrol...more

It's not just bureaucrats and policy. In many cases it is a law passed by Congress, such as the Wilderness Act, which prohibits all motorized traffic. Nothing will change until the law is changed.

Protecting endangered species interfering with border security

A group of Republican lawmakers says policies aimed at protecting the grizzly bear and other cross-boundary species along the U.S.-Canada border are putting wildlife conservation ahead of national security on America's northern frontier. In a statement released this week warning that "the national security threat from the North is real," the Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives committee on natural resources alleged that agents with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Border Patrol "are frequently unable to effectively monitor this land due to environmental regulations." They added: "These protections have enabled criminals to target the areas for illegal and other dangerous activities. This remote Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture land can be targeted by drug smugglers, human traffickers and potential terrorists." The Republican committee members, led by Utah congressman Rob Bishop, are insisting that border agents be permitted unfettered use of trucks or all-terrain vehicles along the Washington-British Columbia border, where some areas are currently deemed off-limits to protect grizzlies moving between the two countries...more

UTEP Students Killed in Juarez Laid to Rest

The violence in Juarez is to blame for the death of a current and former UTEP student. Today, those men were laid to rest in Juarez, with family and friends saying their final goodbyes. The bodies of Alejandro Ruiz and his friend Jorge Gonzalez Quintero were together for the last time. Friends, relatives and members of the Scouts Association showed up to a Juarez church this afternoon to say goodbye. We're told the two men were returning from a scout meeting in Chihuahua City when they were attacked and killed on Sunday. "They were good persons, and very good friends and I feel really bad for these things that happened," Luis Torres said. Friends say they think the shooters got confused and killed the wrong people in the attack...more

Feds Issue Terror Watch for the Texas/Mexico Border

The Department of Homeland Security is alerting Texas authorities to be on the lookout for a suspected member of the Somalia-based Al Shabaab terrorist group who might be attempting to travel to the U.S. through Mexico, a security expert who has seen the memo tells The warning follows an indictment unsealed this month in Texas federal court that accuses a Somali man in Texas of running a “large-scale smuggling enterprise” responsible for bringing hundreds of Somalis from Brazil through South America and eventually across the Mexican border. Many of the illegal immigrants, who court records say were given fake IDs, are alleged to have ties to other now-defunct Somalian terror organizations that have merged with active organizations like Al Shabaab, al-Barakat and Al-Ittihad Al-Islami. In 2008, the U.S. government designated Al Shabaab a terrorist organization. Al Shabaab has said its priority is to impose Sharia, or Islamic law, on Somalia; the group has aligned itself with Al Qaeda and has made statements about its intent to harm the United States. In recent years, American Somalis have been recruited by Al Shabaab to travel to Somalia, where they are often radicalized by more extremist or operational anti-American terror groups, which Al Shabaab supports. The recruiters coming through the Mexican border are the ones who could be the most dangerous, according to law enforcement officials. Security experts tell that the influx of hundreds of Somalis over the U.S. border who allegedly have ties to suspected terror cells is evidence of a porous and unsecured border being exploited by groups intent on wrecking deadly havoc on American soil...more

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fresno judge lifts delta pumping restrictions

A federal judge in Fresno on Tuesday temporarily lifted Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumping restrictions designed to help endangered salmon, siding with urban and agricultural water users who said the move would not harm the fish. The order by U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger will be in place until June 15. For west-side agriculture -- including farmers and ranchers in the Westlands Water District -- that could mean an extra 200,000 acre-feet of water, said Tom Birmingham, Westlands' general manager. In real-world terms, he added, it will mean an additional 75,000 acres of farmland could be put back into production -- and with it more people put to work. "I am thrilled with the ruling," he said. But in the complicated world of water law, whether the increased water deliveries actually happen is still unclear...more

Yellowstone wolf killed near Butte

Montana wildlife officials say a female wolf from a defunct Yellowstone National Park pack was shot by a rancher who spotted the wolf attacking cattle south of Butte. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wolf program director Carolyn Sime says the wolf was shot on the west side of the Highland Mountains, about 150 miles from the park. Yellowstone wolf project biologist Erin Albers says the 2-year-old wolf was the last of the Druid Peak pack still wearing a radio collar. The Druid pack began to fall apart last fall when the alpha female died, the alpha male left and the remaining members were hit by mange, a parasite that causes wolves to lose their hair. The pack had a litter of pups last summer that all died of mange. AP

Bighorns killed after mingling with domestic sheep

State wildlife officials killed two bighorn sheep southeast of Big Timber after the yearling lambs came in close contact with domestic sheep. Fish, Wildlife & Parks biologists worried the lambs could carry disease from the domestic animals back to the wild herd. Biologist Justin Paugh of Big Timber says a rancher saw the bighorn sheep in his herd and contacted the department. After confirming the animals had been in close contact, the bighorns were shot Monday evening and their carcasses taken to the FWP laboratory in Bozeman. The agency says wild sheep cannot fend off some diseases carried by domestic sheep, any potential infections could affect an entire herd. AP

EPA warns county on air quality

Arizona cannot blame dust storms for high pollution readings at a south Phoenix air-quality monitor, federal regulators said Tuesday, a decision that exposes Maricopa County to costly federal sanctions. found that readings at the monitoring station, near 43rd Avenue and Broadway Road, violated federal pollution limits at least four times during 2008. Under a dust-pollution cleanup plan mandated by the EPA in 2007, the county is allowed just three violations within a three-year period. The findings mean federal regulators may reject the entire plan because it is failing to meet the objectives of reducing the county's long-standing problem of unsafe dust levels. Without a plan that satisfies the EPA, the county could lose millions of dollars in future highway-construction funds as early as next year and more than $1 billion in funds in subsequent years. Local governments and businesses could also be forced to spend more money on stricter pollution controls...more

City declares 3,000 acres of ag land "blighted"

The City Council late Tuesday declared blighted more than 3,000 acres of prime land for a new development despite concerns from residents that the process was rushed. On Tuesday, a new law kicks in that, with a few exceptions, prevents local governments from using urban-renewal authority to declare agricultural land blighted. Urban renewal allows cities to create tax increment financing districts so that taxes generated from the authorized area can go toward public improvements within that boundary. "I feel like this process has been rushed," said Tori Willis, one about 70 people who packed a room at the city's community center. "I wish there was more time to talk to the community to see what we wanted." "This plan has been rushed," Resa Labossiere told the council. "It's been rushed for the sole purpose to include the ag land." Critics say governments for years have abused urban-renewal laws, initially designed for cities to use to redevelop rundown urban areas. Many have instead declared as blighted undeveloped parcels of land. That prompted Colorado lawmakers to pass this year's bill, preventing them from doing so in most cases...more

Build it and they will take it.

STD found in southeast NM cattle

A sexually transmitted disease found in cattle has been identified in southeast New Mexico and could have potentially devastating effects on the herds of area ranches, and cattle producers are being called on to join together to combat the problem. Trichomoniasis, or "trich", is a venereal disease of cattle that does not make bulls or cows outwardly sick, but which results in the loss of reproductive efficiency of affected herds, said John Wenzel, New Mexico State University extension veterinarian. "The loss of reproductive efficiency is due to the loss of pregnancy and the lengthening of the calving season," Wenzel said. "Bulls are a mechanical spreader during the breeding season, and the infection is maintained in a herd by infected bulls and chronically infected cows called "carrier cows"." "We're concerned because it has been going around and it has a potential to be a major economic loss to ranchers," said Eddy County Agriculture Agent Woods Houghton. "It's something you can't solve ranch-by-ranch," he said. "The whole community has to come together." Trich has been documented in every state west of the Mississippi River and several states in the southeastern U.S., Houghton said...more

Song Of The Day #320

Ranch Radio continues with it's Memorial Day tribute.

Not too many songs were written about the Korean War, but here is one by the Louvin Brothers: From Mother's Arms To Korea.

You will find the tune on their 8 CD box set Close Harmony.

Mexico tells US how to use troops - US says troops won't be used to stop illegal immigration

Statement from the Embassy of Mexico:

Regarding the Administration’s decision to send 1,200 National Guard servicemen to the US Southern border, the Government of Mexico trusts that this decision will help to channel additional US resources to enhance efforts to prevent the illegal flows of weapons and bulk cash into Mexico, which provide organized crime with its firepower and its ability to corrupt. Additionally, the Government of Mexico expects that National Guard personnel will strengthen US operations in the fight against transnational organized crime that operates on both sides of our common border and that it will not, in accordance to its legal obligations, conduct activities directly linked to the enforcement of immigration laws...

And sure enough...

US troops won't be used to stop illegal immigration

US National Guard troops being sent to the Mexican border will be used to stem the flow of guns and drugs across the frontier and not to enforce US immigration laws, the State Department said Wednesday. The clarification came after the Mexican government urged Washington not to use the additional troops to go after illegal immigrants. President Barack Obama on Tuesday authorized the deployment of up to 1,200 additional troops to border areas but State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters, "It's not about immigration." He said the move was "fully consistent with our efforts to do our part to stem, you know, violence, to interdict the flow of dangerous people and dangerous goods -- drugs, guns, people." He said the extra troops would be used to free up civilians engaged in support functions so that law enforcement personnel can be increased along the 2,000-mile-long (3,200 kilometer) border...

Friends of murdered rancher react to more troops on the border - video

Go here to see the KGUN-TV report.

Rancher Don Kimble says his ranch is being overrun.

NM Guard To Be Part Of Border Effort

Action 7 News has learned National Guards members from New Mexico will be part of the ramped up effort to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. The adjutant general for the New Mexico National Guard weighed in on the recent executive order. General Kenny Montoya did not say exactly how many New Mexico Guard members would be headed to the border, just that it will be less than 300. It is more support for a dangerous area where 100 guardsmen are patrolling right now, he said...more

NMSU rodeo teams finish first in region

The New Mexico State University men's and women's rodeo teams each placed second overall at their host event, the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association rodeo, held April 30 and May 1 in Las Cruces.

"NMSU held their own during the final rodeo of the season. I was proud of the performances by our student-athletes. The rodeo was great, the fans were great, the weather not so great. But it was a solid weekend for us, enabling NMSU to keep hold of our top spot in the region," said Jim Dewey Brown, NMSU rodeo coach.

NMSU's rodeo team will take 10 members to the College National Finals Rodeo June 13-19 in Casper, Wyo.More than 4,000 attended the rodeo throughout the weekend, which was held at the Southern New Mexico State Fairgrounds.

For the men's team, JoDan Mirabal, of Grants, N.M., won first in the tie-down roping, with teammate Johnny Salvo, of Horse Springs, N.M., placing second.

In the team roping, Rodee Walraven, header, of Datil, N.M., and Salvo, heeler, received second.

Carlsbad, N.M., native Brooke Hughes placed second in the breakaway roping event. Staci Stanbrough, of Capitan, N.M., received second in the goat tying.

Salvo was named the men's all-around champion for the weekend.

The men's and women's teams each won first in the final NIRA Grand Canyon Region standings, enabling NMSU to take full teams to the College National Finals Rodeo June 13-19 in Casper, Wyo.

Stanbrough, Jessica Silva of Tularosa, N.M., Carleigh Marr of Belen, N.M., and Jordan Bassett of Dewey, Ariz., will compete for the women's team, while Salvo, Walraven, Mirabal, Steve Hacker of Battle Mountain, Nev., Bo Simpson of Las Cruces, and Corban Livingston, of El Paso, Texas, round out the men's team.

Written by Margaret Kovar.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Interior Probe Finds Fraternizing, Porn and Drugs at MMS Office in La.

Federal officials who oversaw drilling in the Gulf of Mexico accepted gifts from oil companies, viewed pornography at work and even considered themselves part of industry, the Interior Department inspector general says in a new report (pdf). Those revelations, sure to intensify criticism of federal oversight of offshore drilling as the massive Gulf leak continues, will take a starring role at a congressional hearing tomorrow. The investigation uncovered violations of federal regulations and ethics rules by employees of the Lake Charles, La., office of the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling...more

Prison shuts down $8.8 million green project

An $8 million wood-burning power plant constructed to save energy costs at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City probably will be closed in the next several months. “It loses money every day,” says Howard Skolnik, director of the state Department of Corrections. “We’ll see if we can get a buyer or another agency or just shut it down.” The director said the plant was constructed smaller than it should have been, and prison inmates were supposed to operate it. But that didn’t work out. Having state workers run the plant was much more expensive than having inmates on the job, he said. Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said the operation has “not been successful from day one.” The state provided $6.5 million for construction and the U.S. Forest Service and federal stimulus money brought the project to $8.8 million...more

Most of these green projects would pencil long as you use cost free slave labor.

"It was initially estimated that it would save the prison system about $40,000 a month."

The estimator(s) should be pilloried in front of the state capitol. Perhaps they would receive more accurate information in the future.

"Skolnik said, however, that a study showed the plant could not be operated profitably, even with energy grants."

You've got a really sorry project when a government employee says that even more subsidies won't save it.

"Mohlenkamp said a study would be conducted 'on the lessons learned'.”

I'm left speechless, but just have to ask: how much will the study cost? Never mind, it would just be another estimate.

Obama’s ‘Great Outdoors Initiative’ listening session

People interested in helping to develop a new, nationwide conservation policy and finding better ways to connect the public to the great outdoors are invited to attend a meeting June 2 in Helena. The meeting is one of many taking place throughout the United States as part of President Barack Obama’s “America’s Great Outdoors Initiative,” which was unveiled in April. Obama directed representatives of the Department of Interior, the Department of Agriculture and the White House Council on Environmental Quality to go to communities like Helena and learn from the public what is happening on the ground and what needs to happen. They’re hoping to hear from tribal leaders, farmers, ranchers, sportsmen and women, community park groups, foresters, youth groups, business people, educators, state and local government and recreation and conservation groups — and just about anyone else with an opinion or idea — at the sessions. Generally, four topics will be included at the sessions: what are new land conservation strategies and obstacles; how to better connect people with the outdoors and obstacles; how the federal government can work better with local public and private recreation groups; and what can make current efforts more successful...more

Salazar announces designation of 31 new national recreation trails

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced the designation of 31 trails in 15 states as national recreation trails, adding more than 716 miles of trails to the National Trails System. The announcement comes in anticipation of National Trails Day on June 5, when trail dedications and other activities will take place at new and existing trails. In announcing the new designations, Salazar highlighted two important initiatives established by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to encourage Americans to enjoy the great outdoors as part of a healthier lifestyle. Last month, President Obama launched the “America’s Great Outdoors Initiative” to protect special places and to help Americans reconnect to the outdoors. Under his leadership, the administration is reaching out to communities across the country to hear good ideas about conservation and to learn about the efforts that ordinary Americans are making to conserve our land, water, and wildlife. More information on the initiative can be found at Meanwhile, the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative is promoting a healthier lifestyle for children by encouraging them to eat healthier foods and become more physically active...more

Forest Service no longer serves public

I have a new name for the Forest Service, and the agency is probably not going to like it. It seems the agency has adopted Nancy Reagan's 1980s mantra of "Just Say No," so let's change its name to The Department of No. I've been dealing with the Forest Service as a recreationist and a reporter for nearly 20 years. It used to do a pretty good job of serving the public and managing public lands. But attitudes within the agency appear to have changed, and recent decisions make me wonder whether Forest Service officials care what the public wants. It seems like there is someone in a dusty back office at the Department of No scouring every federal law, code, policy, plan, order or directive to find new and creative ways to deny people the use of public lands. Here are a few recent examples...more

Monument concerns prompt meeting

Tuesday afternoon, May 18, Josephine County Commissioner Sandi Cassanelli traveled to Yreka, Calif. to attend a five-hour meeting regarding a proposal to create the Siskiyou Crest National Monument. The monument, being promoted by the Ashland-based Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center environmental group, would encompass more than 600,000 acres in Josephine and Jackson counties in Oregon, and Del Norte and Siskiyou counties in California. Siskiyou County officials are concerned that designation of a monument would limit various activities on public land in the area, Cassanelli said. They could include grazing, logging, mining and riding all-terrain vehicles. Fire suppression issues also are important to county officials, she added. Another fear, Cassanelli said, is that President Obama possibly could use the American Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish the monument without an open public process...more

Giddyup for the robot rodeo

Hazardous devices teams from around the Southwest will wrangle their bomb squad robots at the fourth annual Robot Rodeo beginning Wednesday at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The rodeo gets under way at 8 a.m. at Technical Area 49, a remote section of laboratory property near the entrance to Bandelier National Monument. Six teams are scheduled to participate in the three-day competition. “The Robot Rodeo gives bomb squad teams the ability to practice and hone their skills in a fun setting,” said Chris Ory of the Laboratory’s Emergency Response Group and a member of the Lab’s Hazardous Devices team. Teams compete in events and simulations that may include having their robots remove bombs from the inside of aircraft, rescuing injured first responders, navigating obstacle courses, responding to a roadside bombing, operating in smoke-filled buildings, troubleshooting equipment problems, attacking and rendering safe large vehicle bombs and dealing with suicide bombers...more

Wonder if these events are timed or judged?

Song Of The Day #319

Ranch Radio will continue with it's Memorial Day tribute.

You will note that classic country took a slightly different approach to our enemies than the more politically correct upstarts of today.

As a moderate example of this I offer you Carson Robison performing We're Gonna Have To Slap That Dirty Little Jap.

Consulate warns of bogus checkpoints in Mexico

The U.S. Consulate in Nogales has issued a travel warning for Americans headed to Rocky Point, a popular destination for college students in New Mexico and Arizona. The consulate said Monday that U.S. drivers should be aware of unauthorized checkpoints on Highway 8. The road links Arizona to the Mexican resort town. Criminal gangs sometimes are behind the non-police checkpoints. The warning said those at the checkpoints have thus far only asked to see identification. The U.S. Consulate tells motorists to comply at the checkpoints and to alert the monitors that children are in the car. There have been instances in other parts of Mexico where people trying to evade these checkpoints are shot or pursued. The warning comes as northern Mexico continues to see drug and gang-related violence in cities such as Nogales, Tijuana and Juárez. Juárez is 50 miles from Las Cruces, N.M. American consulate personnel in Nogales also were instructed Monday to only travel within Mexico in armored vehicles...more

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Obama to Send 1,200 Guard Troops to Mexico Border

President Obama will send up to 1,200 National Guard troops to the Southwest border and increase spending on law enforcement, yielding to demands from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers there that border security be tightened, administration officials said. Mr. Obama is expected to make the announcement Tuesday, the officials said, after a meeting with lawmakers. Homeland Security officials said that the troops would provide support to law enforcement officers already working along the border by helping observe and monitor traffic between official crossing points, and would help analyze trafficking patterns in hopes of intercepting illegal drug shipments. They performed similar tasks in an earlier deployment along the border from 2006 to 2008, when they also assisted with road and fence construction. The troops have not been involved directly in intercepting border crossers. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat from southern Arizona, praised the decision. Ms. Giffords is expecting a strong challenge for reelection, and was an early proponent of sending troops to the border. In addition to the soldiers, the White House said it would request $500 million in supplemental funds to pay for more federal agents, prosecutors, investigators and technology at the border...more

Bishop: More border troops won't work if they're blocked

A Utah congressman said Tuesday that President Barack Obama's plan to send 1,200 troops to the U.S-Mexico border won't make much difference if public land managers won't allow enforcement in wilderness areas. Rep. Rob Bishop, the ranking Republican on the Natural Resources subcommittee over national parks and public lands, said Obama's aim may be more about beefing up his poll numbers than beefing up border security. "It is not a problem of not having enough personnel down there. It's not a problem of the Border Patrol not being able to do the job," Bishop said. The problem as he sees it is the inability of the Border Patrol to access some areas in protected lands overseen by the Interior Department. Bishop has made border security along America's public lands a personal mission and spent time in the uninhabited areas in Arizona abutting Mexico earlier this year...more

Senate GOP: Border troops could lead to immigration compromise

I wrote earlier about how today's surprising immigration politics were good for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), but I was struck by the seeming readiness for compromise from Republicans who, at the start of the day, were beseeching the Obama administration to send troops to the border. "It wasn't a good idea to try to hold hostage the securing of the border in order to get comprehensive immigration reform passed," said Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) at the GOP leadership's news conference. "I know there's feeling on the other side that if the border is secure, conservatives might be less likely to support comprehensive reform. But even if that's the case, and I don't think it is, it's important to secure the border." Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) took a tougher line when talking about the GOP's proposal -- $2 billion, as many as 6,000 troops -- but ended up in the same place. "I think as we discuss the issue of immigration reform," said Cornyn, "which we all agree is very important, we ought to talk about credible -- credible! -- immigration reform. If we do that, I think we can do the job that we all want to get done." This is basically where hopeful immigration reform advocates have thought the issue was going -- aggressive action from the White House, a quieter border and then an immigration compromise...more
A shorter version today...Sharon and I celebrated 37 years of marriage last night.

79% of Stimulus Renewal Energy Money Going Overseas

Money from the 2009 stimulus bill to help support the renewable energy industry continues to flow overseas, despite Congressional criticism and calls for change, according to a new analysis of the program by the Investigative Reporting Workshop. The Workshop was the first to report last October that more than 80 percent of the first $1 billion in grants to wind energy companies went to foreign firms. Since then, the administration has stopped making announcements of new grants to wind, solar and geothermal companies, but has handed out another $1 billion, bringing the total given out to $2.1 billion and the total that went to companies based overseas to more than 79 percent. In fact, the largest grant made under the program so far, a $178 million payment on Dec. 29, went to Babcock & Brown, a bankrupt Australian company that built a Texas wind farm using turbines made by a Japanese company. The same day the Workshop’s first reported on this story a consortium of American and Chinese companies announced a deal to build a $1.5 billion wind farm in Texas, using imported Chinese turbines. Company officials said they planned to collect $450 million in stimulus grants for the project. The deal would create dozens of jobs in the U.S. and thousands in China. The news provoked outrage among lawmakers, particularly after the Energy Department seemed to take a neutral stance, declining to say whether it would reject such an application...more

The Nature Conservancy-BP ties: $10 million in donations

In the days after the immensity of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico became clear, some Nature Conservancy supporters took to the organization's Web site to vent their anger. The first thing I did was sell my shares in BP, not wanting anything to do with a company that is so careless," wrote one. Another added: "I would like to force all the BP executives, the secretaries and the shareholders out to the shore to mop up oil and wash the birds." Reagan De Leon of Hawaii called for a boycott of "everything BP has their hands in." What De Leon didn't know was that the Nature Conservancy lists BP as one of its business partners. The Conservancy also has given BP a seat on its International Leadership Council and has accepted nearly $10 million in cash and land contributions from BP and affiliated corporations over the years...more

Mountain goats threaten bighorn sheep

Bighorn sheep once just about posed for Barb Day when she crept across their high-country habitat with her camera. Now, in the latest twist of an ecological saga, non-native mountain goats are displacing the sheep along the road from Echo Lake Lodge to Mount Evans' 14,264-foot summit. The long-term survival of bighorn sheep — Colorado's curly-horned state animal — is far from assured, with the sheep facing heavy threats here and across the West. Federal biologists contend that competition from mountain goats — introduced in 1948 by Colorado wildlife managers — could push bighorns over the brink...more

Utah: Latest spring snow ever recorded

Many Utahns woke up to a blanket of snow Monday morning. The wet and slushy weather caused a few problems throughout the day, but the late storm was mostly an inconvenience. The storm produced the latest spring snow ever recorded at Salt Lake City International Airport. It arrived late Sunday night and produced huge, heavy snowflakes as Salt Lake City commuters arrived for work Monday morning. The Wasatch Mountains got significant snow for this time of year. Nine inches were reported at Brighton. At the Salt Lake City airport, .2 inches fell. Before Monday, the latest measurable spring snow at the airport was May 18 when half an inch fell in 1977 and one inch fell in 1960...more

Song Of The Day #318

Memorial Day weekend is coming up so patriotic songs will be featured on Ranch Radio this week.

First up will be Elton Britt's 1942 hit There's A Star Bangled Banner Waving Somewhere.

The tune is available on his 23 track CD Ridin' With Elton.

Monday, May 24, 2010

They're after my blog and my ketchup

The Obama administration has announced plans to regulate the Internet through the Federal Communications Commission, extending its authority over broadband providers to police web traffic, enforcing “net neutrality.” Last week, a congressional hearing exposed an effort to give another agency—the Federal Election Commission—unprecedented power to regulate political speech online. At a House Administration Committee hearing last Tuesday, Patton Boggs attorney William McGinley explained that the sloppy statutory language in the “DISCLOSE Act” would extend the FEC’s control over broadcast communications to all “covered communications,” including the blogosphere. The DISCLOSE Act’s purpose, according to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Chris Van Hollen and other “reformers,” is simply to require disclosure of corporate and union political speech after the Supreme Court’s January decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission held that the government could not ban political expenditures by companies, nonprofit groups, and labor unions. The bill, however, would radically redefine how the FEC regulates political commentary...more

You may find the coming summer months taste a little...different. Just after the FDA announced its plans to limit salt in processed foods, Heinz has given word that it's tweaking the recipe for its iconic ketchup -- and the new bottles will hit stores this summer. The company, which has not changed this ketchup recipe in 40 years, believes the new formula -- which contains 15 percent less sodium -- will be as popular as the old version, according to the AP. And that's very popular indeed -- the brand corners about 60 percent of the ketchup market. But some customers are expressing doubt...more

Other than not being able to say what I want or eat what I want, I'll still be a pretty free hombre.

But wait. If they control my food, and they already control the size of my toilet, they've got me coming and going.

Now you know why all free men grow their own food and shit outside.

Scientists use conservation lands as 'outdoor lab'

The monument contains some of the most scientifically significant early Permian trackways in the world. It's one of dozens of units within the National Landscape Conservation System that scientists are using as a vast outdoor laboratory. The National Landscape Conservation System, or NLCS, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Officials have planned a weeklong symposium in Albuquerque to highlight discoveries made within the system - from the prehistoric tracks in southern New Mexico to the fossils of new dinosaur species at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. "We're trying to get the word out and hopefully get people to start thinking about these lands in a different way," said Marietta Eaton, science coordinator for NLCS in Washington, D.C. "They're not just out there so you can go out and recreate. They have some amazing, amazing resources and discoveries left to be made." Covering more than 27 million acres, the system includes 886 federally recognized areas in 12 Western states - national monuments, national conservation areas, wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, scenic and historic trails and conservation lands. It's all managed by the Bureau of Land Management...more

County passes ordinance opposing designation of Otero Mesa as a national monument

After about two hours of spirited discussion during a public hearing Thursday night, the Otero County Commission passed an ordinance opposing the designation of Otero Mesa as a national monument. The commission moved the meeting from its usual place in the county administrative building to the commission's larger former chambers in the county courthouse to accommodate the crowd that was expected. The room was full, with most people standing along the walls because there weren't enough chairs. Commission Chairman Doug Moore opened discussion at the regular meeting Thursday by saying he was opposed to the process that could be used to create the monument, a presidential signature without any local input or due process. "I think that is at the heart of my opposition to the creation," Moore said. "There may very well be some well-founded reasons for that area to be considered. I believe it inappropriate to do that consideration without local process and consideration of local custom and culture." Denny Berkstrom, general manager and vice president of Dell Telephone Cooperative out of Dell City, Texas, said the cooperative supports the county ordinance. He said the cooperative brings broadband and telephone service to ranchers, is the only company that was willing to serve Timberon and has miles of cables buried in the county. He said Dell is against having a national monument as the cooperative needs to maintain access to the Otero Mesa area to service lines. Bobby Jones, who lives on the mesa and is a fourth-generation rancher, said Otero Mesa is pristine because of the ranchers who have kept it that way for generations. He said he thinks if the mesa becomes a national monument, its availability for multiple use will disappear. He also pointed out on maps he brought that the mesa is not all federal Bureau of Land Management land. He called it a "checkerboard situation," with some private land, some state land and some BLM land...more

Backers of Klamath dam-removal plan fail at polls

That combination of political stances on Klamath County commission candidate Dennis Linthicum's website was a winning combination -- particularly the part about opposing the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement, which calls for removing four dams on the Klamath River. Opposition to dam removal helped the political newcomer win nearly 63 percent of the vote in the May 18 Klamath County Republican primary to unseat long-time commissioner John Elliott. Elliott has been a supporter of the dam agreement. Linthicum now faces Democrat Kirk Oakes in the general election. Rep. Bill Garrard, R-Klamath Falls, who also opposes the agreement and dam removal, scored a convincing win May 18, securing 64 percent of the vote in the Republican primary for House District 56. His opponent, wheat farmer Karl Scronce, supports the agreement. "The people have spoken," said Tom Mallams, a Klamath County rancher and vocal opponent of dam removal...more

The Green Jobs Myth

A Spanish economics professor said attempts by his country to create a green economy would fail. Now a Spanish government report confirms his findings, blunting claims that the professor's report was biased. The professor, Gabriel Calzada Alvarez of Juan Carlos University in Madrid, produced a 41-page study last year on the European experiment of going full bore on the conservation front. He found that "the Spanish/EU-style 'green jobs' agenda now being promoted in the U.S. in fact destroys jobs." For every green job created by the Spanish government, Alvarez found that 2.2 jobs were destroyed elsewhere in the economy because resources were directed politically and not rationally, as in a market economy. But inconveniently for the eco-conscious, his results have been backed up by Carlo Stagnaro and Luciano Lavecchia, a couple of researchers from the Italian think tank Istituto Bruno Leoni. They found that in Italy, the losses were worse than they were in Spain: Each green job cost 6.9 jobs in the industrial sector and 4.8 jobs across the entire economy. Even more inconvenient for the environmental left is a study by the Spanish government. This leaked document supports the Alvarez report. The green lobby can't claim bias in this analysis because the Zapatero administration that compiled it is a socialist government that sees windmills when more rational people see dragons...more

Officials disagree on whether bison brucellosis program has been successful

In the decade since five state and federal agencies came up with a plan to manage bison in and around Yellowstone National Park, no confirmed cases of cattle being infected with brucellosis from bison carrying the disease have been reported. Many people involved in the effort say that’s proof the Interagency Bison Management Plan, or IBMP, is a success. However, that success has come at a cost. Since the agreement was signed in 2000, more than 3,500 bison have been killed to stop the potential transmission of the disease. It’s estimated that more than $20 million has been spent on bison management by the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Montana Department of Livestock and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. That doesn’t include a 30-year, $3.3 million lease agreement for private land north of Yellowstone that removed cattle and allowed some bison to graze there. And the plan has some critics...more

GE crops get clean bill of health

According to a report released in April by the National Research Council, GE crops lower production costs, reduce pesticide use and improve yields. And GE crops enhance the environment because they reduce soil erosion and improve water quality, the report says. Of course, GE opponents would like to scream bloody murder that somehow the panel that performed this study is biased, self-serving and conflicted by special interests. But none of that will stick to the wall. They targeted crops such as corn, soybeans and cotton that had been genetically engineered to be glyphosate-tolerant or produce Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins that are lethal to the larvae of some insects. Overall, the report was an affirmation of the experience farmers have had with genetically engineered crops since they went commercial in 1996. The research drilled down on the effect that plant technology has had on farmers, and that impact has been dramatic. The study’s key conclusions:

• Farmers who have adopted GE crops have experienced lower costs of production and higher yields, including in some areas where insect populations were hard to treat without such crops.

• Increased worker safety and greater flexibility of farm management have resulted.

• “The adoption of herbicide-resistant crops complements conservation tillage practices, which in turn reduces the adverse effects of tillage on soil and water quality,” the scientists wrote.

• “Insecticide use has decreased with the adoption of insect-resistant crops,” they wrote, noting that insect resistance to the technology has been low.

• For the three major genetically engineered crops – corn, soybeans and cotton – cross-breeding into wild or weedy relatives hasn’t been a problem.

Pigs fly? Cattle beat them to it

The first breeding cattle imported into England by air in decades have arrived safely from an Edmonton farm. The 10 Lowline heifers will help popularize the breed more than a century after its ancestors arrived in Canada. They will be bred using semen imported from Australia. Big Island Lowlines owner Paul Gotaas was first contacted last November by a breeder in Salisbury, southwest of London, interested in the super-efficiency of the smaller Lowlines compared with more popular breeds. Big Island's herd is certified Leukosis-free herd -- the first in Canada -- which is now a requirement to export cattle to the EU. In a note to the Gotaas family, Clouds Park Farm owner Michael Brooke said the heifers had arrived in superb shape. "The staff at Heathrow were thrilled to see the first cattle imported by air for some 15 to 20 years." Getting the cattle to their destination involved trucking them to Calgary, an eight-hour flight on Air Canada Cargo in two specially made crates, then another two-hour road trip to Clouds Park. "It went well on this end, and I know there was quite a bit of excitement when they were unloaded at Heathrow," Gotaas said. "Last I heard they were grazing contentedly on English grass."...more

UFO expert investigating Colo. cow mutilations

Authorities in Colorado's San Luis Valley are trying to solve a series of bizarre, gruesome slaying: cows, mutilated, carved up, left to die in the fields. Police are stumped. But rancher Mike Duran, who lost two of his cows to mutilation last December, has a theory that is literally out of this world. He says it was aliens. "It's almost like the animal was taken away, killed, surgically manipulated and brought back," Duran told us. Some of the wounds on a female cow were "like laser cuts," he said. "There was no blood. No tracks. No witnesses at all." "Some people say it was a cult. But even if it was a cult, we would find tracks or something like that." In Duran's mind, that leaves only one other option. "I believe there are aliens. People may laugh at me for thinking that," Duran said. "(The aliens) do what they have to, and then they bring (the cows) back and they drop them back in the field. And that's why there are no tracks." Duran is not alone. "The (female cow's) sexual organs were removed, the eyes were removed, a tongue was removed," said Chuck Zukowski, a self-described UFO investigator and reserve El Paso County Sheriff's deputy, who is trying to solve Duran's case. "The pattern is that of surgical cuts. There are no bite marks. There are no scratch marks. There's no carnage on the ground...It's as if it was under surgery." The Colorado Department of Agriculture, however, doesn't buy the extraterrestrial theory...more

Sheep's Crossing: Annual drive hits valley this weekend

If you happen to have seen an inordinate amount of sheep passing through the valley this week, don't be too concerned -- it is a tradition that has gone on for more than 100 years. Every May since 1884, sheepherders from the desert valleys have driven their herds north for the summer to pastures atop the Mogollon Rim, along a corridor that has become known simply as the sheep driveway. In the 1960s as many as 60,000 sheep passed down Grief Hill and on across the Verde River at a place known as sheep crossing, just downstream of the river's confluence with Oak Creek. Today, though, only two sheep ranchers, Joe Monterola and Joe Auza, both from Casa Grande, still make the trek. Like so many things it has become cheaper to ship them north by truck. According to Kelli Spleiss, rangeland management specialist for the Prescott National Forest, 2,020 sheep will be in the valley this weekend. "I know how many are coming. I just got back from counting them," Spleiss said on Thursday. The count, which is done at a large holding pen on Ahs Creek, is necessary because the Forest Service charges the sheep companies a grazing fee for each sheep on the trail. On Sunday, Spleiss said, valley residents will have an opportunity to see a spectacle that hasn't changed in more than a century. "If you haven't seen the sheep swim the river, you should consider doing so. It is a piece of living history," Spleiss said...more

Song Of The Day #317

This is Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio where we play uptempo swinging tunes, old and new, to get your blood properly pumping for the week.

Today's selection is Cowboy Mardis Gra by Tommy Alverson.

You'll find the tune on his 11 track CD Me On The Jukebox. Based on the prices on Amazon this has become a collector's item.

Trash On The Border - Video

This video, by Truth On The Border, provides all you need to see and know on how Wilderness areas are being trashed by illegal aliens and drug traffickers. You can't imagine the resource damage and the amount of trash until you see it with your own eyes.

I would encourage you to see the full-size version by going here.

Phil Krentz: 'I Just Don't Know What's Around the Next Bend'

Phil Krentz, younger brother of murdered rancher Rob Krentz, called the other night and talked at length to a reporter for the first time since March 27. He opened up about his life on the ranch now, the impact that terrible day has had on him, and the support he and other family members have been getting. “Unless something is done about it, I think people's lives in the United States are really in jeopardy.” How so? “Because there’ll be no recourse. The cartels can do what they want, and they know it. “You know, this whole deal is not an immigration issue. This whole issue is about people's safety and securing the border. You just don't know what is crossing the border, and we've been saying that for years. And Rob and whoever else you talk to who has lived around here and seen what we've seen, it's not a safe place anymore. Some of the people you see, it just makes you wonder, and the things that you find. I know some people who have found prayer rugs and stuff like that in various locations, so you really wonder.” I mentioned the story of Terrie and Glen Stoller, winter visitors whose home is north of the Krentz ranch, near Apache. They recently sold their home and fled to California because of the growing danger. “But my roots are here,” Krentz said...more

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Sharp knives and whittle wisdom

by Julie Carter

Long ago, the silver screen warped the image of the cowboy in the minds of the general public. Western wear catalogs and country music singers haven't helped much with the real picture of the cowboy.

No, Virginia, cowboys don't dress like Buffalo Bill.

In lives dictated by work, wind and weather, not necessarily in that order, function trumps fashion every time.

Cowboys and their female counterparts dress to get the work done and wear as many of the necessary tools of the trade as possible.

One of those necessary tools is a knife. These are used daily to cut hay strings, change the minds and attitudes of bulls, cut the rattles off a dead snake, perform tack repairs and traditionally, give the fingernails a trim.

For decades, the pocket knife, sleek in form, was transported by simply slipping it into a front jean pocket for safekeeping.

As it became more of a tool than just a blade for cutting, knives were worn in a scabbard or sheath in a surprising variety of places: attached to the belt, vertical above their back pocket, horizontally on the belt, in a cross draw position in the front or simply in the pocket of their leggings.

Scabbards can be a personal fashion statement. Often adept at leather work, rawhide stitching, knot tying and tooling, cowboys' workday knives are usually cased in sturdy proof of their skill.

Their Sunday-go-to-meeting knife scabbards may even have tooling to match their saddles and gear.

Knives come in a variety of personal choice brands. We're not talking Swiss Army here - these knives are as practical as the cowboys who wear them.

You see everything from working knives to seasonal hunting knives to the finest Damascus steel, fancy inlaid-handled knife for church.

Special folding knives made popular by the ropers come with a clip to hold them in a back pocket for quick access in the case of a tangled endangerment. Sometimes it is necessary to cut a perfectly good rope to save the life of a roper or the leg of a horse.

Panhandle punchers who receive load after load of 400-weight steers and bulls swear that in Louisiana knives are used exclusively for peeling pecans because 99 percent of the male cattle that come from that area are still bulls.

"Steer" is apparently not a Cajun word.

Ranch cowboys are forever using their knives at cattle working time and a measure of pride is taken in just how sharp their knife is, frequently drawing blood just to prove the point as they lightly graze it across their forearm shaving a few hairs as it goes.

However, clean and sanitary is optional. It's not unusual for cowboys to castrate calves all morning and use the same knife to cut their meat at the meal afterward.
Careful ranch wives make sure there is a clean knife strategically placed by the cake plate.

Not often thought of but definitely one historical use of a knife is in horse trading.

Many traders whittle during the often lengthy discussions involved in the bartering.
I'm told that if the trade is going the trader's way, his knife will pull the whittle toward him.

If the trade is going the other way, slivers are driven off the piece of wood toward the buyer.

That's a good point to know. Probably Buffalo Bill was the first to establish that principle.

Julie can be reached for comment at Visit her website at

Song Of The Day #316

Ranch Radio's Gospel tune this Sunday morning is Who Said God Is Dead, recorded in 1967 by Loretta Lynn.

Foreign 'terrorists' breach U.S. border

Almost nine years after terrorists murdered 2,751 people on Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. is still facing a major threat as hundreds of illegal aliens from countries known to support and sponsor terrorism sneak across the U.S.-Mexico border. Thousands of illegal aliens apprehended along the 2,000 mile border stretching through California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas aren't even from Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol calls them "Other Than Mexicans," or OTMs, and many are citizens of countries that are sponsors of terrorism. A 2006 congressional report on border threats, titled "A Line in the Sand: Confronting the Threat at the Southwest Border" and prepared by the House Committee on Homeland Security Subcommittee on Investigations, indicated that 1.2 million illegal aliens were apprehended in 2005 alone, and 165,000 of those were from countries other than Mexico. Approximately 650 were from "special interest countries," or nations the Border Patrol defines as "designated by the intelligence community as countries that could export individuals that could bring harm to our country in the way of terrorism." Illegal aliens from Central America ride atop a freight train leaving Arriaga, Mexico, en route to the U.S. (photo: Hogar de la Misericordia, or Home of Mercy) Atlanta's WSB-TV2 aired a segment on U.S. border security after it obtained records from a federal detention center near Phoenix, Ariz., and found current listings for illegal aliens from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan and Yemen. WSB-TV 2 published a population breakdown from an Immigration and Customs Enforcement staging facility in Florence, Ariz., dated April 15, 2010, which includes detainees from as far away as Afghanistan, Armenia, Bosnia, Egypt, Ghana, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, Pakistan, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Botswana, Turkey and many other countries. Based on U.S. Border Patrol statistics, there were 30,147 OTMs apprehended in fiscal year 2003; 44, 614 in fiscal year 2004; 165,178 in fiscal year 2005; and 108,025 in fiscal year 2006. Most were caught along the U.S. Southwest border...more

Northern Mexico shootouts kill 2 police, 7 gunmen

Gunbattles between security forces and armed attackers have killed nine people in two states along the U.S. border, Mexican authorities said Thursday. The Navy says four attackers died in a gunbattle between marines and members of the Zetas drug gang in the town of San Carlos, in the border state of Tamaulipas. The Navy said in a press statement that a convoy of vehicles opened fire on a marine patrol. Marines detained four suspected gunmen — three of them Guatemalan citizens — and seized 14 rifles and over 3,600 weapons after the clash. And in the state of Coahuila, two police officers and three gunmen are dead in a shootout in Torreon, prosecutors said. In Ciudad Juarez, federal police detained an alleged gang member accused of participating in 11 killings. Suspect Luis Humberto Hernandez allegedly belonged to the "La Linea" gang allied with the Juarez drug cartel. Police said Hernandez relied on a network of lookouts to locate his victims, usually members of rival gangs...more

4 decapitated bodies found in northern Mexico

Four young men have been found decapitated in northern Mexico. Durango state police say the heads were found on the hood of a pickup truck left in a shopping center parking lot in the city of Gomez Palacio late Saturday. A Durango state police officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to discuss the case. He says the bodies were found in the truck bed. A message on the windshield allegedly signed by the Zetas gang said the victims were involved in an attack at a bar in the neighboring city of Torreon that killed eight people earlier Saturday. The officer said Sunday that relatives told authorities the four men killed, ages 18 to 20, were university students in Gomez Palacio. AP

U.S. applauds record extraditions from Mexico, but drug war violence continues

In the cross-border war against narco-trafficking, Mexico is sending a record number of criminal suspects to the United States for prosecution, a point of pride for President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who met in Washington this week for their first formal state visit. But the sharp rise in extraditions has not been matched by broader success in breaking the violent crime syndicates that control much of the border. In fact, the extraditions might be responsible for a surge in brutality, say experts in and out of government. Mexico extradited 107 alleged criminal offenders last year, far more than in any previous year, and is on pace to top that number in 2010, according to Justice Department statistics. A dozen high-level traffickers have been convicted in the past two years in U.S. cities that include Houston, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago...more

Mexican Students Enrolling in U.S. Schools to Escape Violence

Students from south of the border are fleeing to the United States and enrolling in U.S. schools. They’re trying to escape the violence, but they can’t escape the suffering. Tornillo Independent School District Superintendent Paul Vranish is leading his district through a crisis. CHANNEL 5 NEWS traveled to the West Texas school district. We learned a school counselor had to break some devastating news. “She's gotta go over there one morning and tell a 15-year-old freshman girl, ‘Your mother was killed today on the way to work,’" explains the superintendent. Schools in nearby Fort Hancock are facing the same issues. Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West says students have fled the violence in Mexico and enrolled in U.S. schools. “Well the number one concern is somebody being kidnapped,” he tells us. Lt. Robert Wilson of Hudspeth County says suspicious vehicles were spotted following Fort Hancock school buses. “The suspicions are that they were checking school routes and maybe where certain children were getting off,” Wilson explains. Now officers are patrolling the schools. The lieutenant says, “There have been some threats on some students and some teachers and people in the community." Other school districts are alarmed at what's happening along the border. In nearby Culberson County, sheriff's deputies now escort school buses to all sporting events in Fort Hancock. Another district chose to cancel its games. “It will be a common practice if this thing doesn't get resolved,” says Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carillo...more

Brewer says stimulus will be used on the border

Federal dollars may be used to secure Arizona's border after all. Gov. Jan Brewer announced program guidelines for her Border Security Enhancement Program Wednesday. The program was announced in April and would provide $10 million in federal stimulus dollars to the four counties that border Mexico (Cochise, Pima, Santa Cruz and Yuma), incorporated areas within those counties and the Cocopah, Fort Yuma-Quechen and Tohono O'odham tribes. According to the guidelines, the grant money must be used to increase the capacity of county, local and tribal law enforcement to combat illegal drug and human smuggling and illegal immigration along the border, with an emphasis on protecting Arizona residents and businesses. It cannot be used to pay for administrative, construction or renovation costs. It can be used to pay for overtime, part-time employees and travel expenses. It can also be used to hire new officers and pay for some new equipment, but the departments have to show how they will be able to continue funding the new positions or equipment after the grant runs out in 16 months...more

Calderon's shot at American guns

Over four minutes of his Thursday address to Congress was spent lecturing Americans to renew the federal Assault Weapons Ban that sunset in September 2004. His justifications for the ban were all garbage. Mr. Calderon claimed that guns covered by the federal ban were particularly "powerful weapons." While the term "assault weapons" may conjure up visions of military hardware, the inside guts of these feared guns are essentially the same as deer hunting rifles. The firing mechanisms in semiautomatics and machine guns are completely different. The entire firing mechanism of a semi-automatic gun has to be removed and replaced to turn it into a military weapon like an AK-47. Mr. Calderon's propaganda aside, Mexican drug gangs are getting real military weapons from within Mexico, countries south of his border and other places around the world. Reports indicate that grenades and rocket launchers in use in Mexico aren't even available for sale in the United States and come from places like South Korea, Israel and Spain. Between 2007 and 2009, 2,239 grenades were seized by the Mexican government, and those weren't from here. Markings similarly show that machine guns in Mexico largely originate from China, Israel and South Africa. "If you look carefully, you will notice that the violence in Mexico started to grow a couple of years before I took office in 2006," Mr. Calderon said. "This coincides, at least, with the lifting of the [U.S.] assault weapons ban in 2004." He also patronized Americans by warning that our own gun ownership endangers the United States. The problem with these talking points is that murder rates dropped in America and Mexico between the 2004 expiration of the ban and 2008, when the latest data is available...more

In Mexico, a drug war of choice?

There is another version of history, which goes as follows: Calderon won elections in 2006 with a margin so thin (0.58 percent) that it prompted cries of fraud, persuaded his left-wing opponent Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to declare himself the real winner, and gave Mexico the unusual and embarrassing spectacle, for weeks on end, of two men claiming they were the legitimate president. So, ten days after eventually being sworn in, Calderon announced that he had ordered the army into his home state of Michoacan to make war on Mexico's drug cartels. One of Calderon's most vocal critics, former foreign minister Jorge Castaneda, loses no opportunity to say this was a war of choice, not prompted by any specific outrage but by a perceived need to legitimize a contested presidency. Calderon badly misjudged the strength of the criminal mafias, the alternative version goes, and now is stuck with a war he cannot win, not even with U.S. support. Nobody knows just how many people are involved in the drug trade -- as foot soldiers, runners, lookouts, accountants, money launderers, communications experts and a wide variety of other functions. Another estimate on the strength of the trafficking organizations has come from the Washington Times, a conservative newspaper with good contacts in the military that last year quoted an unnamed senior defense official as saying the Pentagon believed the number of cartel foot soldiers matched that of the Mexican army - about 130,000...more

Why is it so hard to flee Mexico’s drug war?

It was one of the first cases of extortion since a deadly drug war had erupted in Juárez in 2008, and Kuchle didn’t cave in. The result was the end of his business. When the threats continued, Kuchle moved to El Paso, Tex. Now Aroma sits on a popular strip of Mesa St., not far from downtown. Same restaurant, except on the other side of the Rio Grande. “There’s no way I would go back,” Kuchle says. “Only crazy people can live over there.” More than 5,100 homicides later, the drug war has changed the way almost everyone lives in this city of 1.3 million. The poor hide behind closed doors. The wealthy have fled. Pharmacist José Monsiváis is sitting in a wooden chair facing the sidewalk doing, well, nothing. He says half of the businesses on the strip, many of them cantinas, bars and restaurants, have closed. There are no customers, especially American ones, anymore. The local chamber of commerce says 6,000 businesses have closed in the past nine months, many of them because of extortion. This city has gone from zero to 20 per cent unemployment in two years. Part of the reason is the global recession. But, Monsiváis insists, “the main reason is the violence in Juárez. A lot of people are afraid to come here.” Monsiváis says business is down 50 per cent. “I can’t pay the bills, food, gasoline.” De la Rosa says that more than 70,000 homes in Juárez have been abandoned, with more than 100,000 people having left for Texas or other cities in Mexico. (Other estimates suggest 250,000 have left.)El Paso’s police chief, Greg Allen, estimates 30,000 Juárenses have legally crossed and are now living in his city. Many say that’s a low...more