Friday, June 11, 2010

Senate backs Obama on EPA's CO2 authority

President Obama won a big victory Thursday when Democratic senators upheld the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to combat global warming by regulating greenhouse gases. Supporters of the EPA's powers under the Clean Air Act garnered the votes of 53 senators while 47 senators - all 41 Republicans and six Democrats - backed the resolution by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to override the agency. Murkowski contended that the issue was "whether Congress or unelected bureaucrats of EPA should set climate policy for this country." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused the Obama administration of "going around the legislative branch and imposing this massive job-killing tax on Americans through an unaccountable agency." Obama praised the Senate's vote and said it kept the nation from going "backward to the same failed policies that have left our nation increasingly dependent on foreign oil." The White House earlier had threatened to veto the measure if it reached the president's desk...more

The most recent example of a disturbing trend - the legislative branch delegating it's authority to the executive. Whatever happened to the separation of powers? This is one of the dangers when one party controls both branches.

In this case the Dems don't care about such constitutional niceties; they just want to use the threat of EPA regs to force cap and trade legislation on the public.

Lawsuit Targets Harmful Public-lands Livestock Subsidy

Today the Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project, WildEarth Guardians, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, and Oregon Natural Desert Association sued the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to compel them to respond to a 2005 rulemaking petition that seeks to increase the fee for livestock grazing across 258 million acres of federal public land. “The federal grazing program is as fiscally irresponsible as it is ecologically harmful,” said Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaigns director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “In responding to our petition, the government must now choose between correcting and continuing the subsidized destruction of America’s public land.” "Given the massive budget shortfall our country is facing, we can no longer afford to subsidize a small group of ranchers to graze public lands at public expense," said Mark Salvo, director of the Sagebrush Sea Campaign for WildEarth Guardians. Although the Administrative Procedures Act requires the government to respond to rulemaking petitions, the Departments of Interior and Agriculture have not responded to plaintiff’s 2005 petition. Today’s lawsuit seeks that release

A Ban On Truth

The advisory board on offshore drilling says it never endorsed a moratorium, which was added later by the interior secretary. The only thing transparent about this administration is its lies. Experts brought together by the Obama administration to review offshore drilling safety were asked to review recommendations in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. They did not give their blessing to the six-month drilling moratorium announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and have accused him of deliberately appending their report to make it seem like they did. According to the New Orleans Times Picayune, Salazar's May 27 report to the president said the seven experts "peer reviewed" his recommendations, including a six-month ban on drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet. The experts say the report they reviewed suggested stopping only new drilling in waters deeper than 1,000 feet. The reviewers for Salazar's report were provided by the National Academy of Engineering. Their joint letter says that while they agreed with the report's various safety recommendations, "we do not agree with the six-month blanket moratorium on floating drilling. A moratorium was added after the final review and was never agreed to by the contributors."..more

Army to increase troop training at Piñon Canyon

The U.S. Army intends to increase its level of training at the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS), Fort Carson Garrison Commander Col. Robert McLaughlin announced at Tuesday’s meeting of the Las Animas County commissioners. The PCMS is a 237,000-acre Army training site acre with an entrance located about 26 miles to the northeast of Trinidad. The increase in training levels at the PCMS, McLaughlin said, is part of a new training program at Fort Carson called Vision 2020. “Within that visions, we’re balancing what we need to do to train our soldiers for deployment,” he said. “The vision is to use the terrain at PCMS in its current state to get more soldiers and equipment down there to train.” Adding, “As long as I’ve been here, that’s been the focus. There has not been a focus on expansion of PCMS. The focus is completely on using the terrain as it stands to increase our training and community partnership.” Pressed by Commissioner Gary Hill, however, McLaughlin declined to declare future expansion attempts at PCMS “off the table” for the Army...more

Tester to post counter-proposal to forest bill draft that chopped logging

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has dismissed a proposed rewrite of his forest bill as "dead on arrival," and promised to publicly post his counteroffer that is expected next week. "We wanted to make sure they knew if this bill got released to the public, if it got through another channel, they need not be worried," Tester said. "This bill was not my idea. When it comes out of committee as screwed up as this bill was, why release a dead bill to anybody else?" A discussion draft of Tester's Forest Jobs and Recreation Act started making rounds in Montana last week. The new version was written by staff of the Senate Energy Committee, and proposes significant changes to Tester's bill. Tester's staff and an Energy Committee spokesman declined to release the draft to the media. Tester defended that decision, saying he was not authorized to publicize legislation crafted by someone else, including committee staff working on a new version of his own bill. He did pledge to post all his own proposed changes to his bills on his Senate website in the future. The discussion draft isn't signed or attributed to any committee senator or staff member, and committee spokesman Bill Wicker said he works for committee chairman Jeff Bingaman, but would not say who developed the language in the May 24 draft. He did say the committee staff is a bipartisan group overseen by the Democratic and Republican chief legal counsels. "Normally this process happens every day at the staff level," Tester spokesman Aaron Murphy said. "They trade draft legislation back and forth, and none of that is technically public information in the Senate." Putting even Tester's own substitute amendments out to the public would be a significant break with Senate practice, Murphy said. Tester's next counter-proposal should be available in a few days or weeks, he said...more

Groundbreaking grizzlies make it to Missouri

Two young grizzly bears spotted Tuesday evening near Floweree between Great Falls and Fort Benton probably are the first grizzlies in several decades to make it to the Missouri River, where the bears historically lived, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Mike Martin, a FWP game warden captain, said the bears haven't attacked any livestock or caused other problems. "But we want people out recreating or living in the area to be observant," he said. As of Wednesday evening, the bears still were in the area, according to authorities. Mike Madel, a FWP grizzly bear management specialist, said the agency is monitoring the bears' movements but will not take any action unless the bears kill livestock. "They are in a relatively remote stretch of the Missouri between Great Falls and Fort Benton," he said. "It's possible they swim the river and get into the Highwood Mountains." It also is possible the grizzlies could reach the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, which is located on the Missouri River in northcentral Montana...more

Agreement fuels Klamath discord

Don Boyd, a third-generation farm equipment dealer in Merrill, Ore., has watched the water crisis in the Klamath Basin decimate the area's economy. "People that work for me aren't going to movies," he told the Oregon Board of Agriculture at a recent meeting in Klamath Falls. "They aren't eating out as much. "This is devastating to this community," Boyd said. Sales of tractors, balers and windrowers are down 66 percent at Floyd A. Boyd Co., he said. And business in his service department is off 55 percent. In addition, he said, the "can-do" attitude and the unity that once permeated the area is harder to find. "I have two kids and I'm telling them not to come back to Klamath Falls," Boyd said. From a conflicted citizenry to conflicting biological opinions for three endangered fish -- one calling for water managers to keep water in Klamath Lake and another calling for managers to release the water -- the Klamath Basin these days is home to conflict...more

Johnson County Yak War?

Somewhere in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains, a herd of yaks are on the loose -- and are stirring up a political fight. For the past five years or so, a group of the woolly Asian bovines have frequently wandered off of John and Laura DeMatteis' Yak Daddy Ranch, irking neighboring ranchers who worry that they eat their grass and could mate with their cattle. In April, three neighboring ranchers convinced the Johnson County commissioners to pass an ordinance declaring "yaks at large" to be nuisance animals. When the DeMatteises' yaks escaped again late last month, the couple was slapped with a $750 fine. But because of a legal error, that resolution was subsequently pulled and the fine voided. The Johnson County attorney's office is now drawing up a new, corrected resolution. John DeMatteis and his wife Laura, a Republican candidate for state representative, have been raising yaks on their 300-acre ranch for about eight years, selling them for food, wool and to other yak farmers. "I needed an ag exemption on my property, and didn't want to do cattle, and bison are kind of a pain," he said. "So then somebody suggested yaks, and I looked into them, and it made perfect sense with my property."...more

Song Of The Day #332

Ranch Radio will close out it's look at 1962 with the #7 & #15 songs for the year.

It appears 1962 was not a good year for the love life of Porter Wagoner or Burl Ives as they made the charts with Misery Loves Company and A Little Bitty Tear.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cowboy Down: Rob Krentz's Family Talks About the Life and Death of the Murdered Arizona Rancher

Sue Krentz answered the phone about 6 p.m. It was March 27, a Saturday, and she was in Phoenix, tending to her aged parents as a sister attended a conference. Sue usually doesn't stray from her family's venerable cattle ranch in Cochise County for too long at a stretch. But she was planning on staying through the weekend, as another sister was coming into town for a visit. She and Rob, her husband of 32 years, hadn't been on a vacation in years, what with endless tasks on the ranch, about 35 miles northeast of Douglas, Arizona, near the borders of New Mexico and Mexico. The call was from her 27-year-old son, Frank, who also works on Krentz Ranch. "We can't find Daddy," he told his mother. Sue last had spoken to Rob early that morning. He had told her he planned to check on some water lines on the sprawling property, an everyday responsibility to preserve the ranch's lifeblood. Sue packed her bags, jumped into her car, gassed up, and headed for home, trying not to panic. "We'd been shouting for years about the Mexican drug smugglers coming through our land," she tells New Times, the first time she has spoken publicly about that day. "Things are dangerous for ranchers and other residents. But I tried to convince myself that no one would ever hurt Rob, who was the kindest person you'd ever hope to meet." Sue got home just before midnight. Home is at Krentz Ranch headquarters, five bumpy miles up a dirt road off State Route 80, the major north-south route east of Douglas. She and Rob raised their three children in their modest adobe-and-plaster home, built around the turn of the 20th Century and where Rob himself was raised. Sue stepped outside into the chilly night to gather herself. The moon was nearly full, and the sky was flush with stars. A helicopter soon came into view, maybe ten miles away on the south side of Route 80. It circled around briefly before descending. Dread overwhelmed Sue. Within minutes, family members and friends sped up the road in their all-terrain vehicles with grim news. "Rob was dead, and someone had shot our dog Blue too," Sue says. "Blue was alive, but they had to put him down. He was a real good dog. How can I say this? There was evil out there that day."...more

Rancher Krentz was shot multiple times

Rancher Robert Krentz received multiple gunshot wounds when he was killed on his property in Cochise County March 27, according to an autopsy report. The report, by deputy medical examiner Avneesh Gupta, was released in response to a public-records request by the Arizona Daily Star. However, about half of the five pages are redacted. That's because those sections contained information known only to the killer and investigators, said Rod Rothrock, chief deputy of the Cochise County Sheriff's Office. Krentz was shot while checking water lines and fencing on his property. He had radioed that he was stopping on his ATV to assist an illegal immigrant he'd come across. After the shooting, neighbors and law enforcement officials followed tracks, apparently belonging to the killer, 20 miles south into Mexico...more

Wyoming approves 'fracking' disclosure rules

Despite industry opposition, state regulators unanimously approved new rules Tuesday requiring oil and gas companies to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Fracking is a technique used to crack gas-bearing rock formations deep underground to stimulate natural gas production. Environmental and public health advocates hailed the passage of the new reporting rules as a victory of public safety over corporate secrecy. Advocates for more stringent public disclosure of fracking fluids pointed out that not only can the chemicals leak into current and future drinking water sources underground, but the chemicals could spill during handling on the surface. Industry organizations and individual companies argued against the new rules, claiming the industry has a proven track record. That point is often countered by others who say lax reporting requirements prevent the public from knowing whether fracking has ever contaminated drinking water sources. Industry also argued that the chemical mixtures used in fracking are proprietary. In response, the commission provided language in the new rules that would require state regulators not to share certain information with the public if a company can prove it is proprietary...more

Pumping Up Prices

Senate Democrats want a 400% tax hike on offshore oil production. Is this their way of punishing an entire industry for an isolated accident? If it is, they missed their mark. The Senate proposal — increasing the duty that subsidizes an oil spill liability fund — would move the tax from 8 cents to 41 cents a barrel on oil produced offshore. A less-punitive plan, hiking it to 34 cents a barrel, was passed last month in the House. Democrats might think a punitive tax on oil companies will score them points with the voters. And no doubt some will be pleased with the get-tough policy on an industry that has been endlessly demonized for providing products that fueled economies and boosted wealth and living standards worldwide. But a lot of Americans know that it is they who will end up paying the extra tax. It will be passed on to them at the retail level, as will the costs of the inevitable stricter regulations, which could boost the price of each barrel of deep-water crude by 10% to 15%, according to an analyst at Credit Suisse...more

Feds propose extending minerals extraction ban on bighorn habitat

Federal officials will meet in Dubois next week to discuss extending the withdrawal of Bureau of Land Management mineral estate within an important bighorn sheep management area. Officials said a Public Land Order that established the Whiskey Mountain Bighorn Sheep Locatable Mineral Withdrawal will expire soon unless it is extended. In September 1990, the secretary of the interior withdrew 9,610 acres of BLM and federal minerals on private lands from mineral location and entry within the Whiskey Mountain Wildlife Habitat Management Area. BLM officials said approximately 1,000 bighorn sheep utilize the area as winter range. The Whiskey Mountain bighorn herd has been a crown jewel among Wyoming wildlife for more than 50 years. The high-profile bighorn herd is also one of Dubois' main tourist attractions...more

Wilderness Proposal meant to ease concerns

Revisions to a proposal for creating federal wilderness in Do-a Ana County are meant to ease concerns relating to border enforcement, lawmakers said Wednesday. U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, D-N.M., announced they plan to modify a wilderness bill they introduced last year by changing the designation of 30,000 acres in the southernmost part of the county. They said the new proposal would classify the acreage as a restricted-use area, a new designation in which vehicle use by the general public would be banned, but law enforcement would still be able to access the land for routine patrols. Jude McCartin, spokeswoman for Bingaman, said the change would increase the size of a buffer zone between the international border and the southernmost tip of the proposed wilderness, giving border agents "more flexibility" in their work. The initial bill included a three-mile buffer, but the restricted-use area would add another two miles to that...more

Cowboy Dinner and Dance - Bucky's Birthday Bash

Cowboy Dinner and Dance

Honoring Rural Families, Rural Traditions and our Rural Heritage

Glenwood Park - Glenwood, NM

The Gila Livestock Growers Association (GLGA) and the Americans for the Preservation of Western Environment (APWE) are sponsoring a Cowboy Dinner and Dance at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds in Glenwood, New Mexico on June 12, 2010 in honor of Bucky Allred’s birthday. Dinner starts at 6:00 pm and the dance at 8:00 pm. So please try to make Bucky’s annual Birthday Bash.

Music by Joe Delk, Bucky Allred and The Delk Band featuring Neal, Mark and Byron Delk, Robert Flowers, Roswell; Roy Garcia, Las Cruces; Dee Ford, Alma; Ty Martin, Silver City; and a special appearance by Jacy Yarbrough, Winston, NM.

Not too long ago, Saturday-night dances were a common occurrence at many rural locations throughout New Mexico. Families, friends and neighbors coming together to share a meal, visit with one another and enjoy an evening of dancing. We can certainly refer to those days as “the good ole days” and we want to show our younger generation what it was like and allow our older generation to remember the way it was.

All are welcome. This is a fundraising event and we ask that you contribute what you can at the door but we don’t set an amount so in spite of economic circumstances, all can afford to attend. All monies raised in this effort will be utilized to help end the impacts of the Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Program and preserve our rural heritage. We have had camp cowboys and young couples dancing with babies between them to older couples on our dance floor. Cattlemen to CPA’s to youngsters with tattoos all are welcome.

The Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Program has evolved into an assault on our rural way-of-life by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) with the help and support of extremist environmental groups like the Center for Biological Diversity, Wild-Earth Guardians and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. Today, the people and communities in and around the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area, which encompasses the Gila and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, are bearing the brunt of the physical impacts and the economic and social cost the wolf reintroduction program is having on the people and communities that are forced to live with wolves on their ranches, in their yards and in their communities.

The Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Program has been grossly mismanaged by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local residents are paying the price. The program is a bust. Ranches have been lost, local businesses are suffering, elk hunting in the Gila may never be what it once was and families are being put in danger every day.

For contributions, please make checks payable to Gila Livestock Grower’s Association for “Preserving our Rural Heritage”. Bring your check to the Cowboy Dinner and Dance or mail to Gila Livestock Grower’s Association (GLGA), HC 64, Box 30, Magdalena, NM 87825.
Credit Card contributions can be made at

Song Of The Day #331

Ranch Radio offers up two songs which charted in 1962: Little Black Book by Jimmy Dean and Wynn Stewart singing Another Day, Another Dollar.

Hope these versions are ok cuz I'm shooting blind. The power sources for my computer were changed this evening but now my speakers aren't working, and I can't reach where they are supposed to be plugged in.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Report says FDA struggles to keep food safe

A new report says the Food and Drug Administration is stretched thin and needs to reorganize to better keep the nation's food safe. The report released by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council Tuesday says the agency needs to become more efficient and better target its limited dollars to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks. The 500-page report says the FDA lacks the vision necessary to protect consumers. Robert Wallace, chairman of the committee that authored the report, said the FDA is too often reactive and not focused enough on prevention. The report recommends the agency focus on preventing outbreaks in the riskiest foods rather than tackling problems on a case-by-case basis...more

So another federal agency is inefficient and under performs.

And the Congressional reaction is? Why give them more authority of course.

Many of the report's recommendations would be met under food safety legislation passed by the House last year. That includes giving the agency greater authority in many areas...

Rest assured that with the new authority will come more dollars.

Finally, there is the sure-fired cure for inefficiency: centralization.

The report recommends that the government improve coordination with state food safety agencies and move toward creating a single food safety agency to combine all of those efforts...

Centralization of power has been so conducive to efficiency and liberty throughout history. Yes, I'm sure that's why they recommend it.

I'm sure we are all surprised, though, that an entity like the Institute of Medicine - which is so dependent on federal funding - would actually recommend that a provider of such funding should receive more power and more money.

Besides, the FDA has only been around for 104 years. Surely we should grant them some more time to get it right.

Judge: Cattle grazing on half a million acres of Forest damages fish habitat

A federal judge has ruled that grazing on public land in the Malheur National Forest has led to degradation of steelhead streams that the U.S. Forest Service failed to protect. Conservation groups said the ruling by U.S. District Judge Ancer Haggerty showed the Forest Service grazing plan allowed livestock to damage steelhead habitat over nearly half a million acres along more than 300 miles of streams in the John Day River Basin in eastern Oregon. Livestock can damage stream banks and muddy the clear, cool water needed for steelhead, a Pacific Northwest native trout listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Brent Fenty, executive director of the Oregon Natural Desert Association, said the decision will lead to long-term improvements for managing environmentally sensitive streams. The judge said in the ruling that damage done to stream banks in 2007 and 2008 was "particularly deplorable" and noted "this court has repeatedly found the grazing program to be insufficiently protective of listed fish species."...more

The article goes on to quote rancher Ken Holliday:

But a rancher and spokesman for other ranchers in the area said the ruling was also a win for them because it showed the agency must tell them when they need to move their cattle away from critical stream banks. "The key is when you get to the point the cows need to be moved, they need to be moved," Ken Holliday said. "It's really the Forest Service's job to do monitoring and be watching everything. They're the ones with all the science on their side."

Mr. Holliday may someday regret those words. What's he going to do when the Forest Service, after "watching everything" and with "all the science on their side" tells him to permanently remove his cattle from the streambanks?

Idaho Police Use Planes to Locate 'Keggers'

Boise police coordinated a multi law enforcement agency "kegger patrol" Saturday night where officers broke up about half a dozen parties in the desert and gave out 67 tickets for consumption of alcohol by minors. Boise police have been coordinating the multi-agency "kegger patrol" for graduation weekend for the past three years but this was the first time they were able to use the Civil Air Patrol to help out, Officer Jermain Galloway said Monday. Officers busted keg parties in the Swan Falls area south of Boise and in the Foothills near Idaho City and Arrowrock Reservoir area east of Idaho 21, Galloway said. Boise police coordinated it and partnered with the Ada and Boise county sheriff's offices, Idaho State Police, the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, The Boise City Attorney's office, Ada County Juvenile Probation, and Civil Air Patrol. Galloway said he got the idea to see if the Civil Air Patrol, the volunteer Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, would be available to help and began talking with the BLM about it a month ago...more

Nice to see the BLM & FS law enforcement folks, who are supposedly so undermanned and underfunded, are staying busy handing out tickets while on "kegger patrol".

Their new logo should be a picture of Smokey Bear with his foot on the neck of a teenager and high school diplomas scattered around on the ground.

Amish Farming Draws Rare Government Scrutiny - EPA

With simplicity as their credo, Amish farmers consume so little that some might consider them model environmental citizens. “We are supposed to be stewards of the land,” said Matthew Stoltzfus, a 34-year-old dairy farmer and father of seven whose family, like many other Amish, shuns cars in favor of horse and buggy and lives without electricity. “It is our Christian duty.” But farmers like Mr. Stoltzfus are facing growing scrutiny for agricultural practices that the federal government sees as environmentally destructive. Their cows generate heaps of manure that easily washes into streams and flows onward into the Chesapeake Bay. And the Environmental Protection Agency, charged by President Obama with restoring the bay to health, is determined to crack down. The farmers have a choice: change the way they farm or face stiff penalties...more

The feds couldn't find any "keggers" amongst the Amish, but happened to notice their cows defecate, so....

Navigating "Navigable"

Congress is known for having arcane battles, but the biggest fight these days in water law is over a single word — and Texas environmentalists and ranchers are anxiously awaiting the outcome. At stake is the future of the Clean Water Act, a 1977 law designed to reduce pollution in America's waterways. The law, which was built on a 1972 law of a different name, refers to "the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters" of the United States. But what does "navigable" mean? The Supreme Court has weighed in on the question twice in the last 10 years, and while appearing to narrow the term's definition, it has also left everybody confused. Now Congress is considering whether to remove the word "navigable" altogether, leaving the phrase to read, simply, the "waters of the United States." The Senate passed a bill out of committee a year ago that would strike "navigable," and a similar bill was introduced last month in the House. Landowners and farmers hate the idea; they describe it as government overreach, certain to lead to needless regulation and extra costs. Environmentalists say the opposite: that many of the small, non-"navigable" streams that currently escape regulation are an essential part of the nation's drinking supply and need oversight. Ranchers fear that the drainage ditches and stock tanks will be subject to regulation if "navigable" is struck from the law. "Ranchers would have to go get a permit from federal government before they could build any sort of livestock watering tank," said Jason Skaggs, the executive director for government and public affairs at the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Kirby Brown, the vice president for public policy for the Texas Wildlife Association, which represents many private landowners, argues that striking the term navigable would "remove the basis of the law itself, which is the Interstate Commerce Clause." Brown emphasized that his group wants to see wetlands protected. But he thinks there are other ways to achieve this...more

A Forest Fire's Price Tag

...* 5,921,786: The number of acres that burned in wildfires in 2009, and represents 115% of the 20-year average for acres burned. There were 78,792 reported wildfires across the country in 2009. In the past 20 years, the number of wildfires has not increased dramatically, but the size of the fires has. A report from the Pew Center For Global Climate Change says since snow melts earlier resulting in a longer fire season, and warmer summer creates dryer soil, climate change has been a contributing factor to higher fire activity.

* 50: The percentage of the U.S. Fire Service's budget spent on suppressing wildfires in 2008. Since 2000, the cost of fighting wildfires every year has exceeded $1 billion, according to the National Association of State Foresters. Last fall, senate passed the FLAME Act (Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act) which sets aside separate funds for wildfire suppression so that money isn't taken away from other programs at the U.S. Fire Service and the Department of the Interior as demands increase.

* $135,548,834: The total direct cost of the Hayman fire of 2002, which burned 137,759 acres south of Denver, CO, as estimated by the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition. The fire was the largest in the state's history. (Learn more about nature's impact on economics, read The Real Cost of Natural Disasters.)

* $1.6 billion: The amount the Insurance Information Institute estimates insurers paid out to policyholders in 2007 after the devastating California wildfires, offsetting the costs of what was called the one of the most expensive wildfire seasons in U.S. history. Approximately 4,087 buildings were destroyed or damaged in the fires and close to 63% of them were residential, the institute says. That money funded a boost to the local economy, where jobs were created rebuilding cities, according to the Employment Development Department.

* 18: The number of wildfires currently burning in U.S. forests at the time of publication. Forest fires are part of the natural course of the ecosystem, and forest administrators face the tricky task of managing fires without putting them out entirely. A build up of vegetation only creates more fuel for fire.

The Bottom Line

The price tag of a single fire goes way beyond the cost of suppressing it. Property damage can lead to business closures which can lead to fewer tourism dollars which translate to lower tax revenues. Some of these costs are offset by insurance companies and government agencies, and some fires have created jobs in the short-term as communities rebuild after suffering damage. But the cons outweigh the pros, particularly when long-term concerns like health care, tourism and forest-dependent local industries are taken into account...more

Study: Climate change altering Tahoe forest

Worldwide, the most recognizable symbol of global climate change may be the polar bear: As polar ice caps recede, the giant bears retreat farther into the Arctic. In the Northern Sierra Nevada, the symbol could be the massive red fir tree. As the Sierra Nevada warms, the cold-weather giants are dying off in their lower-altitude stands, making way for trees such as oaks, which prefer the heat, said a researcher from the University of California, Berkeley. The trees generally grow above 4,200 feet. Ecologist Patrick Gonzalez recently completed a fives year study in the Tahoe National Forest on how climate change affects vegetation along with researchers from the United States Forest Service. “The study found when one type of forest dies off, another type of forest starts,” Gonzalez said. “We expect, with the warming of the Earth, that vegetation zones like oak woodland would start to appear at higher elevations.” Researchers studied a tract of the national forest at different elevations north of Downieville. Cold-weather trees such as red firs started dying off at a higher rate than in the previous 75 years, and as they died, oaks and the douglas firs began to take root at higher altitudes. The vegetation shift could increase wildfires in the Tahoe National Forest, Gonzalez said...more

Song Of The Day #330

Ranch Radio continues with a look at 1962.

We all know what happened in the 60's, and sex was in the air on the country charts too. (I'm still trying to figure out how the Sexual Revolution just seemed to pass me by. I know that during the American Revolution I'd a been right there with ol' George and that during the Industrial Revolution I'd a had dollar signs all over my saddle blankets. But during the Sexual Revolution somebody must have locked me in the barn. Actually, now that I really think about it, I tried like hell to be a participant in the revolution!)

Anyway, the #1 & #2 songs in 1962 were about cheatin' and riskin' your life to get a little lovin'.

#1 was Carl & Pearl Butler's Don't Let Me Cross Over and #2 was Claude King performing Wolverton Mountain.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

NM Supreme Court rules state may continue work on greenhouse gas emissions cap

The state Environmental Improvement Board can resume consideration of state regulations that would cap greenhouse gas emissions, The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Monday. The decision reverses an earlier Lovington District Court decision that halted the Board’s consideration of a 2008 petition by environmental group New Energy Economy (NEE) to regulate carbon emissions in New Mexico. Chief Justice Charles W. Daniels reportedly cautioned judges not to violate the separation of powers doctrine by interfering in administrative processes. “It’s great news,” NEE and New Mexico Environmental Law Center lead attorney Bruce Frederick told The Independent. Now that the state’s right to consider a carbon cap has been affirmed, work will begin again on the Board’s consideration of the NEE petition, Frederick said. He anticipates a public hearing this summer. PNM, three Republican state lawmakers and oil and gas industry groups filed a lawsuit in January to halt consideration of a cap, arguing the Board lacks authority under state law to regulate air quality without first establishing the specific air quality standards...more

Tapping public lands and pockets

THE BP SPILL has exposed more than oil. A century-old practice of allowing larceny off the public's lands - the exploitation of valuable natural resources - has gotten serious attention by the Obama administration. Every American owns over two acres of federal lands, while revenues of over $100 billion a year go uncollected.The largest gold strike in history is happening right now on public lands in Nevada. The mostly foreign operators pay no royalties for extracting millions of dollars in gold. Timber and water theft from the public is widespread, too. The violation that bothers me the most is a fee not paid for grazing on public lands. We needn't look far to find an example: The grazing and oyster farming on the public's Point Reyes National Seashore. While the market rate for grazing a cow on land one rents is $26 a month, those cow owners at Point Reyes pay $7, one third of the market value. President Obama is doing what no other administration has had the courage to do - crack down on Big Oil's theft of oil. The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service has finally been split in three, with one arm collecting fair rents. Our hope is that with this, the toughest correction made, the management of the other resources being exploited will be correctly as well...more

Huey Johnson, the founder of Trust For Public Land, goes on to say:

As to Point Reyes and other examples on the more than 650 million aces of our publicly owned land, redirecting all cattle raised there would only amount to three percent of U.S. beef. The cost is more than money - it's a loss of recreation value. Cattle constantly break down the banks of streams, ruining streams and fishing. The cow pie is an ugly symbol spread across the American west...

Clearly he's trying to tap into the public disgust with the oil spill and use that to attack grazing. Seems like a stretch to me, but its something we better keep an eye on.

Bison hazing continues near West Yellowstone

Three weeks since a May 15 deadline to haze wild bison out of Montana and into Yellowstone National Park has passed, government agents are still running operations to clear bison out of the state. Officials point to the large number of bison that left the park over the winter to explain hazing continuing with less than a week before cattle begin to be grazed on ranches in the area. But others say it is a sign that the park is not yet lush enough to sustain bison and that the animals should have been left alone until later in the year. "We've had bison come out repeatedly since May 15," said state veterinarian Marty Zaluski with the Department of Livestock. "One of the things that we're coming to recognize is what a logistical challenge it is to return 600 to 700 bison back into the park in an organized and speedy, responsible manner." Starting last year, state and federal agencies have allowed more bison to cross Yellowstone's western border and graze on pasture around Hebgen Lake. The policy won praise from environmentalists and irked ranchers, but Zaluski declined to say what or whether officials will do anything different next year given the current challenges...more

Forest Service issues new wilderness filming rules

The U.S. Forest Service has issued temporary new guidelines on commercial filming that cover some 439 wilderness areas it oversees nationwide, kicking off a fresh round of debate over how best to manage these federally protected preserves. Some pro-wilderness groups now contend the agency is caving in to political pressure, not basing its decisions on appropriate stewardship of wilderness where mechanized transportation and most commercial enterprise is banned. Idaho Public Television’s “Outdoor Idaho” program was allowed to film student conservation efforts in the 2.3-million-acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness late last month — but only after Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, complained the Forest Service had inappropriately barred cameras from crossing into the area. Amid this pressure, National Forest managers are being directed to consider, among other criteria, how a proposed project would spread information about the “enjoyment of wilderness” before issuing a commercial filming permit. They hope this will clarify confusion about when filming is appropriate, and when it isn’t. Andy Stahl, who heads Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, an advocacy group, fears the new guidelines will mean more and more intrusive filming in areas set aside starting nearly a half-century ago to prevent America’s untrammeled spaces from vanishing...more

Canada & Mexico challenge COOL

The World Trade Organization has assigned three members to review whether or not U.S. legislation requiring Country of Origin Labeling violates international trade rules. Canada requested the panel along with Mexico back in October 2009. "We launched the WTO trade challenge to defend Canadian farmers and ranchers against unfair discrimination under US COOL legislation and so we welcome the creation of this dispute panel as a step in the right direction," said Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture. "We took the time to work with Canadian ranchers and farmers to put together a rock-solid case and we're absolutely confident that we're going to win this challenge." COOL requires Canadian meat to be labeled at each major stage of production, including at retail. The Canadian government's complaint is that this provides a disincentive for processors to deal with Canadian animals because of the extra cost and effort. "The U.S. COOL requirements are so onerous that they affect the ability of our cattle and hog exporters to compete fairly in the U.S. market," said Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade when the panel was requested. "This request demonstrates our ongoing commitment to resolving this issue and defending the interests of Canadian producers."...more

Record meat exports

Fiscal 2010 agricultural exports are now forecast at $104.5 billion, up $4.5 billion from the February forecast and $7.9 billion above final FY 2009 exports, according to the most recent Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade for fiscal year 2010. Dairy, livestock and poultry exports are forecast up only slightly as gains in broiler meat and hides and skins outweigh smaller exports of beef and pork variety meats. Asia is forecast to surpass the Western Hemisphere as the largest regional market for U.S. exports. Fiscal 2010 agricultural imports are forecast at $76.5 billion, down $1 billion from the previous forecast due mostly to declining values of imported vegetable oils. Although forecast values of vegetable oils, bulk grains, dairy products, and beef are lowered, projections for horticultural crops and tropical products are up from both the recent forecasts and 2009 values...more

Saddle Up With Five Comic Book Westerns

With Jonah Hex about to hit theaters, moviegoers will be introduced to the weird, gritty world of Western comics. Scarred outlaw Jonah Hex has taken on many forms over the years, from the supernatural demon fighter depicted in the movie (which takes inspiration from the Vertigo series of the nineties) to a more straightforward gunslinger in DC's current ongoing comic. If Hex is a success on the big screen, he could open the doors for other cowboys to push the boundaries of the modern-day comic-book movie. With Westerns in a bit of a cinematic rut, comics could be just the ticket. Let's take a look at a few of the dark, violent, and often crazy Western comics that should follow Josh Brolin's gruff bounty hunter to the big screen. "Loveless" The Vertigo comic series by Brian Azzarello ("100 Bullets") has a classic Western premise: a former soldier and outlaw takes over as sheriff of a wayward town. Much gunfighting and horse wrangling ensues. With gritty, evocative art, Azzarello uses the town to create a vast tapestry of characters and delves into America's growing pains with issues of race and class...more

Song Of The Day #329

Ranch Radio has received a request from the Crayola Cowboy to spin Playboy by Wynn Stewart and some Buck Owens. A-10 pretty much gets what he wants around here, and since Playboy was recorded in 1962, we will feature songs from that year this week.

Buck Owens' highest charting song that year was Kickin' Our Hearts Around.

So here's some Buck & Wynn from 1962.

Mexican prez slams death of migrant at US border

President Felipe Calderon said Monday that the death of a Mexican migrant after being shot with a stun gun by a U.S. immigration officer was an unacceptable human rights violation. Migrant Anastasio Hernandez was shocked by a Customs and Border Protection agent May 31 at the San Ysidro border crossing between Tijuana and San Diego. A U.S. coroner has ruled the death a homicide. Calderon said he wanted to repeat Mexico's "energetic protest of the torture and death of Anastasio Hernandez, a Mexico who died at the hands of North American migration authorities." He later added that authorities would have to clarify whether the death involved torture or took place while bringing Hernandez under submission. "But a death with that degree of violence is a truly unacceptable violation," Calderon said. "We need to raise all our voices, not only for Mexico but for human rights, because the cause of migrants is a cause that affects us all."...more

Mexico mass grave in abandoned mine has 55 bodies

Mexican police say 55 bodies have been recovered from an abandoned mine that appears to have been used as a mass grave by drugs gangs. Human remains were first discovered in the silver mine near Taxco in Guerrero state at the end of May. The bodies appeared to have been thrown down a 200m (650ft) ventilation shaft over a period of time, police said. Earlier reports that 77 bodies had been recovered were mistaken, officials said. Only six have so far been identified - one was the director of a local prison. Guerrero state is a focal point for drug-related violence that has claimed more than 22,000 lives in Mexico since 2006. Police are now checking other mineshafts in the area to see if bodies have also been dumped there...more

6 Bodies Found in Cave, 3 With Hearts Cut Out

A gruesome discovery near the resort town of Cancun, where police discovered six dead bodies, three of them cut open and their hearts removed. Authorities are investigating the identities of the four men and two women found dead in the natural cave, said Francisco Alor, the Quintana Roo state attorney general. "They were apparently tortured and their chests were opened to remove the hearts," Alor's office said later in a statement. Three of the bodies had the letter "Z" carved on their abdomens -- a possible reference to the Zeta drug gang, though officials did not make an explicit connection to cartel violence that has plagued many parts of Mexico. Also Sunday, armed men in two cars barged into a girl's coming-out party in the southwestern town of Coyuca de Catalan, sparking a deadly gun battle...more

2 Found Shot Dead Near Illegal Border Crossing in Arizona

Arizona authorities found two bodies near a common illegal border crossing Sunday, not far from where a deputy was shot last April, reports. Emergency dispatchers in Pinal County reportedly received a 911 call Sunday night from a man saying he and his friend had been shot before the cell phone signal was lost. Officials later found the bodies and two weapons, described as a long gun and handgun, according to the station. Police said it's not clear whether the victims were illegal immigrants -- adding that the pair had tattoos indicating that they were from the area. The location where the murders occurred is a well-known smuggling corridor for drugs and illegal immigrants headed from Mexico to Phoenix and the U.S. interior. It is also near where Pinal County Deputy Louie Puroll, 53, was shot and wounded April 30 allegedly by drug smugglers...more

FBI investigates shooting of 2 by border agents

The FBI is investigating a Saturday incident in which two suspected drug smugglers were wounded after they allegedly threw rocks at a pair of Border Patrol agents. Manuel Johnson, an FBI spokesman, said the violence occurred about 1:30 p.m. on the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation about 40 miles west of Nogales, Ariz. He said border agents intercepted two men who were hauling backpacks containing drugs. The agents opened fire after the suspects hurled rocks at them. "We're looking at this as an assault-on-federal-officers investigation," Johnson said. The wounded men, whose names were not released, were transported to a Tucson hospital. Johnson said he was told neither suffered life-threatening injuries...more

From guns to butter in Juárez

If 5,000 soldiers couldn’t stop the violence in Juárez, will a small army of teachers, doctors and economists be able to do the job? The U.S. Agency for International Development is betting $1.53 million that they can at least make a difference. USAID, the development assistance arm of the U.S. State Department, is asking the Paso del Norte Group to find ways to seed economic development, education and other social programs in Juárez. The private business group, with members in both El Paso and Juárez, will lead the first-of-its-kind program that’s expected to be a model for similar programs along the U.S.-Mexico border. “If people don’t have jobs, they become ripe for being targeted by sicaros (hitmen) and narco traffickers,” said Lisa Colquitt-Muñoz, regional coordinator for the Paso del Norte Group. Among the plans under consideration so far: • Studying the potential for cross-border health insurance and the development of a medical zone in Juárez that would attract Americans to travel to México for treatment. • Creating an agency modeled on the U.S. Small Business Administration to encourage the growth of small businesses with loans and other assistance. • A fund-raising extravaganza featuring performances by world-renowned names in opera and popular music, to be held in El Paso and Juárez next fall...more

Monday, June 07, 2010

Governor assails species litigation

Gov. Dave Freudenthal on Friday called for changes in both the federal Endangered Species Act and in the law that allows environmental groups to search for friendly venues to file lawsuits under the act. Speaking at the summer convention of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association in Casper, the Democrat said litigation in recent years concerning wolves and sage grouse should have been handled in federal court in Wyoming, not in Montana and Idaho. “I lost my shirt” in rulings in those cases, Freudenthal lamented, because environmental groups’ lawsuits were handled by judges “who rule how environmental groups want them to.” The governor was referring to U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Montana and U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill in Idaho. Speaking to the livestock producers, Freudenthal reiterated his view that the Endangered Species Act should be changed but said neither Republican nor Democratic presidential administrations have been willing “to touch” the issue...more

The Western Watersheds Project’s Assault on Family Ranchers

Another Earth Day has come and gone. Earth Day has become a holy day of obligation for America’s secular religion, the environmentalist movement. But hidden behind the facade of planting trees or discussing the virtues of “paper or plastic” is a well-financed global group of dedicated radicals who are bent on changing the way we live whether we like it or not. They are funded by a vast network of wealthy individuals, trust funds, and foundations who selectively give money to organizations they can control like puppets on a string (think George Soros). One such organization has dedicated its entire existence to the warped dream of one man who says that his ultimate goal in life is to destroy families and a way of life with absolutely no regard for the economic or human cost. Meet Jon Marvel and the Western Watersheds Project. This is an organization that bills itself, according to its mission statement, as a group dedicated “to protect and restore western watersheds and wildlife through public education, public policy initiatives and litigation” That last word “litigation” is the key, because in truth they are nothing more than a group of professional plaintiffs who have filed hundreds of lawsuits against the government and individuals to accomplish their goals. Between 2000 and 2009 they have filed 91 lawsuits and 31 appeals in Idaho alone and hundreds more throughout the West...more

Wolf-recovery program now 'at risk of failure'

Twelve years after Mexican gray wolves were reintroduced in Eastern Arizona, their dwindling numbers are putting the population "at risk of failure," says a recent report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Factors such as the rigid borders of the endangered wolves' recovery area, removal of wolves to protect livestock, and illegal shooting of wolves are keeping the only wild population of Mexican gray wolves from growing, says the "conservation assessment" released last month. The project has cost taxpayers $20 million or more since 1998. Now officials and others are seeking a way to move the wolf program further from its origin as a way to rescue the subspecies, and instead create a viable wild population. Among the initiatives under way is a proposed release of eight captive wolves into the area, which would be the most wolves released since 2003. The regional head of the Fish and Wildlife Service discussed the possible release with the directors of Arizona's and New Mexico's game and fish departments Wednesday. Much of what the service and environmentalists are proposing, Schneberger sees as threatening to her livelihood and that of her neighbors. The truth about the project, Schneberger said, is it's doomed by genetic limitations. Just seven wolves trapped in the 1970s are ancestors of the entire population of Mexican gray wolves, including the 42 in the project and more than 300 in captive breeding sites. "They have plenty of space. They just can't breed," Schneberger said...more

Ex-BLM chief backs wild-horse preserve plan in NV

A former U.S. Bureau of Land Management director has endorsed a proposed wild-horse preserve in Nevada, saying it makes more sense than Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's plan to send mustangs to the Midwest. Jim Baca, who served under President Bill Clinton in 1993 and 1994, said horses should remain in the West to spare the cost of land purchases and leases associated with government-funded, long-term holding facilities in the Midwest. He noted the West has abundant BLM-managed land. "It doesn't make sense to send them to the Midwest when you already own the land you already need," Baca told The Associated Press on Friday. "The BLM should try something different. What they do now doesn't work and has never worked." Under the proposal by the horse advocacy group Return to Freedom and the Soldier Meadows Ranch, about 1,700 captive horses would be sent to the ranch for short-term holding before their eventual release back to the range...more

GASLAND to debut June 21 on HBO

What a fascinating story. Filmmaker Josh Fox is offered $100,000 for the natural gas drilling rights to his property in the Delaware River Basin on the border of New York and Pennsylvania. Drill, baby, drill? Many would be tempted to take the money and run. Not Fox. He just ran. Or rather, set off on a cross-country trip to do a little investigating about what it would have meant if he signed on the dotted line and let the gas company drill away. "Gasland" is Fox's urgent, cautionary, and sometimes darkly comic look at the largest domestic natural gas drilling campaign in history, which is currently sweeping the country and promising landowners a quick payoff. Part verité road trip, part exposé, part mystery and part showdown, "Gasland" follows director Fox on a 24-state investigation of the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing. What he uncovers is mind-boggling: tap water so contaminated it can be set on fire right out of the tap; chronically ill residents with similar symptoms in drilling areas across the country; and huge pools of toxic waste that kill livestock and vegetation...more

Wyo. plan seeks slaughter of some unwanted horses

The state representative behind a new law allowing the Wyoming Livestock Board to slaughter unwanted horses says the plan could include using a Cheyenne stockyard as a holding bin for the animals. State Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Recluse, is executive director of the United Organizations of the Horse, the nonprofit group pursuing the plan. She sponsored House Bill 122, which passed during this winter's legislative session to make the plan possible. Wallis said United Organizations of the Horse is discussing the plan with the Wyoming Livestock Board. Under the plan, horses would be screened and then rehabilitated, trained or slaughtered, depending on their condition. "Many of us believe that the best and responsible solution is humane slaughter and good use of that meat,'' said Wallis, a rancher. Wallis said the group would take horses either from people who couldn't sell or keep their horses for some reason, or from brand inspectors and law enforcement officers who find starving horses with clear titles. Horses in reasonably good condition would be rehabilitated, while horses that are old, untrainable or dangerous would be slaughtered. Wallis said slaughtering could potentially be conducted with a mobile operation that could be taken to different areas of the state. The meat would be primarily marketed for zoo feed and pets, but could also be sold for human consumption in the state...more

Rebuilt farmhouse to be reflection of pioneer past

A 140-year-old adobe farmhouse that burned in the 2007 wildfires is not only rising from the ashes, but will offer more insight into the lives of farmers in the post-Gold Rush era. The Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead in Escondido, which only had walls left after the fires, will reopen June 26. The structure that was destroyed had a few articles of furniture in it. But the $700,000 rebuilt version will be almost fully furnished with period tables, a parlor stove, a platform rocking chair that operates on springs, a pie safe used for storing pies and a hutch for dishes. All were bought from various sources with a $12,000 grant from the county, said Anne Cooper, manager of the museum. The new house is being built according to measurements taken of the old one in 2004, when it was restored by architectural historian Ione Stiegler. Stiegler is the architect for the rebuilding, and contractor Mark Sauer is doing the reconstruction. Visitors will now see an exact replica of the old house, down to the dimensions of the logs, the thickness of the walls, the details of molding and siding, even the whitewash, Sauer said...more

Nice, but a $700,000 farmhouse?

Like a scene from a Hollywood Western

f you've ever wondered what it was like to grow up in a pioneer town, the Homestead Village is about as close as it gets. Begun in 1988 by the Fort Rock Valley Historical Society, the village has grown to more than 10 buildings that sit on a dry and windy prairie, rivaling anything seen in a Clint Eastwood Western. The village began with two abandoned buildings that were about to be burned down because ranchers believed they were a danger to cattle that wandered the open range. First was Britt Webster's hand-hewn log cabin, only a roof, four walls, five windows and a door. It was the family home from homesteader days until the death of Webster's only son, Carl, in 1988. Next was Dr. James Thom's tiny two-room medical office, its shelves stocked with medicine bottles. Thom was the only physician in the Fort Rock Valley during the influenza pandemic of 1918, but he kept his neighbors safe and only lost one patient. Almost every pioneer town had at least one church, and in the Fort Rock Valley, built entirely of wood in 1918, it was St. Rose's Catholic Church. If you stand on its porch and look toward the Webster cabin you'll see the town's vintage windmill...more

It's all Trew: Photos serve as reminder of boundaries' importance (John Prather)

In our modern times when eminent domain and development arrogance often dominate the evening news, we received the story and photos of John Prather, a rancher who lived in Otero County, N.M. Prather garnered national attention in the 1950s by taking a heroic stand against the U.S. government's attempt to condemn his ranch in order to add it to the nearby McGregor Missile Range, a part of Fort Bliss, near El Paso. Although the Devil's Rope Museum in McLean has a huge library about barbed wire, some 6,000 related artifacts and a section dedicated to ranches and brands, we still welcome true stories about the uses and history of these subjects. The story of John Prather fit our requirements as it told of early-day fence building, the importance of defining our boundaries and protecting our right to own land until death, if need be. The package contained photos and published documents plus eight livestock brands used by the family, all registered with the New Mexico State Brand Records dating from 1888 to modern times. A special display has been constructed to house and show this information. Brothers John and Owen Prather traveled from Van Zandt County in Texas to the Prather Ranch in New Mexico in 1883 to begin homesteading. There was no surface water on the vast semi-desert grasslands, so the brothers took work teams and fresnos and began damming up the arroyos and watersheds where possible. In good years, larger equipment was used to build larger lakes and finally a water well some 1,015 feet deep was drilled. Eventually, John Prather built his ranch to include 27,000 acres grazing approximately 1,000 cows...more

Song Of The Day #328

It's another Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio.

Today's selection is Down The Line by Elana James. James is the former fiddle player for the group Hot Club of Cowtown and this is from her first solo album, titled Elana James.

Stats don’t reflect border fear

Federal statistics may show a drop in violence for big cities in border states, but they don’t reflect the reality of rural areas along the border, local experts say. While the studies may be truthful, they don’t capture the reality of life along the border, said Palominas-based veterinarian Gary Thrasher. “Douglas is safer than it ever was, but go out into the San Bernardino Valley and it’s a different story,” Thrasher said. While larger cities are receiving federal dollars and beefing up efforts, they’re forcing border-related crime into the rural areas, said Thrasher, whose work with cattle ranchers takes him to both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. “They have those reports, and they certainly look good, but in fact they don’t tell the whole story,” he said. “They’re leaving us out.” Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever said residents of the rural areas along the border would come to a different conclusion. “You tell that to the people in the eastern part of the county who’ve experienced home invasions and multiple crimes,” Dever said. “Ask them if those statistics have any meaning.”...more

Border ranchers react to White House meeting

All eyes and ears were on Governor Brewer and President Obama on Thursday as the two met at the White House to discuss securing the border, including sending National Guard troops. Arguably, few have more at stake than the ranching community of southern Arizona who spend their days and nights keeping watch over their property. In late March of this year, one of their own, Robert Krentz was shot to death on his ranch near Douglas. The killer's identity is unknown, as is the killer's immigration status. But investigators have said they suspect the murder was the work of an illegal border crosser. Even after the senseless murder, border crimes against Kentz' family and the close-knit ranching community haven't stopped. KGUN9 talked to Gary Thrasher, a friend of the Krentz family and also a rancher. Thrasher explained what has been happening in the areas closest to the border. "People are breaking into homes, intimidating women to lock themselves into bedrooms. There have been 2 or 3 threats since Rob's been killed," Thrasher said. For a family that was already devastated by the loss of a loved one, more acts of crime are terrifying and push them to a breaking point. Thrasher told KGUN9 that shortly after Krentz' murder, someone broke into the home belonging to Krentz' sister. Thrasher said he's hoping all this won't result in another shooting. President Obama has promised Governor Brewer that in two weeks' time, his staffers will come down to assess the situation for themselves...more

Rancher has close-up view of immigration debate

Rancher Chip Johns calls a spacious, hacienda-style house in southwestern Doña Ana County home. He's lived there about 25 years, ever since selling the food processing plant he used to own in Santa Teresa and jumping into the ranching business. The 66-year-old said he's the nearest full-time county resident to the Mexican border, outside the urban center of El Paso. He said he doesn't feel extremely threatened by the undocumented immigrant traffic that crosses his ranch on a daily basis. He admitted the situation has its risks, but seemed resigned to accepting them. While Johns said the immigration problem doesn't seem especially bad at the moment in the county, he's concerned about what will happen because of the renewed focus on Arizona's border. He said he's worried immigrant traffic will shift toward New Mexico. "When they close the border at Arizona, like they're going to do, all those people are going to start coming this way," he said. Johns said he's concerned that a proposal for creating federally designated wilderness on acreage he ranches near the Potrillo Mountains, in the southwest corner of the county, would create an immigrant smuggling corridor because of prohibitions against vehicle travel in wilderness...more

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Luck is in the jeans

by Julie Carter

Every cowboy has a "secret weapon" that gives them a competing edge. Their arsenal for the illusion, or delusion, of luck runs the gamut of superstitions.

With rodeo and roping season moving into the heat of the year, both by thermometer and by calendar, cowboys are plotting, planning, driving and surviving while taking their best shots at making the finals.

A cowboy's belief in what brings him success, while often falling short on factual verification, will never lack in creativity.

Jim was a calf roper who carried a gallon jug of water in his camper in which to wash his lucky rodeo shirt, never pouring the water out all summer.

"Don't want to wash out the luck so you have to keep it in the water," he'd say.

By the end of a long rodeo season he was noticeably a loner. Apparently, the smell of luck was not as socially rewarding as the possession of it.

As a team roper, Walker always believed that hard work paid off and he endorsed the theory that "perfect practice makes perfect." But lately, he'd begun to wonder if he wasn't standing in the wrong line.

A similar "wrong line" feeling had occurred to him when he was in college. Walker recalled that incident landed him erroneously in the military corps. Repeating that lesson, even hypothetically, was not a good plan.Walker had spent his entire adult life pasture roping in all kinds of weather, most often riding a green colt with no one around to help. Every loop had to count.

When he reached a point in life where he could rope for fun, he built a good arena, kept a supply of fresh Corriente steers, bought exceptional horses and ropes by the boxcar full. And, he practiced non-stop.

He was dedicated to eating right, exercising, regular strength training and of course, took his vitamins. He was selective about the ropings he entered and even more discriminating in choosing his roping partners.

Most of the time, the results were as favorable as the game of team roping ever allows. Win some, lose some.

In his good-natured way, Walker made a lot of friends and was gradually making his way into that elite club of the ropers labeled as "wolves."

Wolves are just ropers too, but ones with impressive, inarguable winning records.

Walker's new partner, Les, drives down the highway in the proof of his skill with a rope.

Les' trophy truck has advertising on all four corners that declares him to be a champion. He proves his dedication to the sport by practicing late into the night and would stay at it until it was time to go to work if needed.

Les consistently catches two feet on his end of the steer, keeping his success percentage impressively high. On the rare occasion that he misses, you hear none of the usual litany of excuses --bad cattle, bad flagger, bad barrier, the header's fault, it rained in Brazil, the neighbor's mother's cousin's dog died - you've heard them before.

After watching the duo stop the clock time after time in the practice pen in 100 degree heat with humidity to match, Walker's wife thought she'd ask Les what his secret to success was.

Too late to take it back, Les' answer made her wish she hadn't been so inquisitive.
Proudly Les told her, "Absolutely every bit of ability and success I have, I attribute to my lucky polka dot under drawers."

With that tidbit of information out to the general population, there is likely to be a run on polka dotted BVDs down at the mercantile. A particular color wasn't detailed as necessary.

Although, I do wonder if a trendy zebra stripe or leopard print would be as effective.

Julie can be reached for comment at

It's The Pitts

The Run Around

by Lee Pitts

Many years ago in our area two brothers took a bank for many millions by tricking the loan officer into thinking they owned a lot more cattle than they really did. In the morning they showed the loan officer a set of cattle and then they took him to lunch and force fed him martinis for two hours. In the afternoon their cowboys ran the same cattle around a hill a second time as a supposed new bunch of cattle. That evening they shipped the same cattle to another ranch where they were shown to the same loan arranger a third and fourth time as even more collateral. The loan officer should have been tipped off by the fact that a couple thousand head were supposedly subsisting on a 500 acre ranch that was so devoid of grass it looked like a moonscape.

I’m not sure but the brothers may have gotten the idea from the Germans who, in World War II, captured a few Americans at El Guettar in Tunisia. They marched those American prisoners up the main street of Tunis to impress the natives with their military superiority and then they trucked the same prisoners back to the start of the parade where they marched them down the street again. This went on several times until the natives must have thought the Germans had captured our entire Army.

Or the brothers may have gotten the idea by reading about Moreton Frewen. This pioneer businessman was so stupid he failed on three different continents. In the late 1800’s Moreton bought a large herd of cattle and liked them so much he bought the same set a second time when they too were run around a hill and shown to him again.

I don’t advise anyone to follow a life of crime but if you are going to try this trick at home there are a couple potential pitfalls. First, make sure that there are no “marker cattle” in the bunch. If the rest of your herd is healthy and all black or red, a white one, or an animal with a runny nose and frozen tail, is going to stick out like a wart on the face of a supermodel. Even a soft-shoed urban banker might recognize a Longhorn steer with long horns and a distinctly marked hide if he sees the same animal more than five times in a row amongst a set of straight blacks or reds.

I hate to admit this but even I, your humble correspondent, have unknowingly helped cattle buyers see double. Many years ago, when cows were worth about 60% less than they are now, I worked ringside at a commercial cow sale that was held on a ranch out in the country. In many ways it was unlike any other sale I’ve ever participated in. For one thing, the sale started at ten o’clock in the morning. Most auctioneers and ring men work bankers hours and the sales usually start at one. We cranked up the sale and the cattle were coming through the ring in big bunches to make nice even loads. But the buyers weren’t interested in even buying a pickup truck load. Anticipating a wreck, the savvy owner had pre-weighed the cattle and he protected the cows to the price they’d fetch at the sale barn in town.

We weren’t getting any cows sold and I’m sure the owner was ready to call off the sale when a big buyer showed up at noon to eat lunch before what he thought would be a one o’clock sale. When he saw we were already selling cows he waded right into them. The ranch owner, who had more sand than the Hawaiian Islands, went out back, had the cattle he’d already caught back resorted into smaller bunches and, because they were all the same color and without ear tags, no one was the wiser when we resold them. I thought the cattle began to look familiar and kept thinking we’d be running out of cattle soon but the ranchers, who’d been sitting on their hands before, now suddenly came alive. They started bidding on the same cows they could have bought $300 cheaper just hours before. We ended up having a great sale, although it was a long day because we sold twice as many cattle as were advertised.

It was the only time in my life I’ve worked the same sale twice in one day.

Song Of The Day #327

Ranch Radio's Gospel tune this Sunday morning is Precious Lord Take My Hand performed by Merle Haggard.

You will find the tune on his 10 track CD Cabin In The Hills.