Friday, July 16, 2010

Third Mexican gray wolf found dead

Federal authorities confirmed Friday they are investigating the death of another endangered Mexican gray wolf that was found shot along the New Mexico-Arizona border. The male wolf is the third to be found dead within the past month. It was a member of the Hawks Nest Pack. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Tom Buckley called the latest death "very troubling." He says that leaves the Hawks Nest Pack with an alpha female and a yearling female to hunt for seven pups. The pack's alpha male was found shot to death last month on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Another alpha male, a member of the San Mateo Pack, was found dead of unknown causes a week later. Buckley says there was a cow found shot to death near where the latest wolf shooting death occurred. AP

Judge allows Nevada wild horse roundup to resume

A government roundup of wild horses can resume in Nevada, a judge ruled Friday, dealing a setback to animal rights activists who had hoped to halt it after 13 mustangs died. Federal land managers hailed U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks' order, warning that more than 500 horses in northern Elko County could die of dehydration in the next week if the roundup didn't continue. On Wednesday, Hicks issued an emergency order stopping the gather. U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Doran Sanchez said the condition of the horses is "deteriorating rapidly," and the roundup will resume Saturday morning. BLM officials blame the deaths on the drought and not the roundup. "We have a major crisis here, and given the critical condition the animals are in, we could lose a lot of animals," Sanchez said. "Our main goal is to save as many animals as possible given the extreme emergency conditions." But activists have expressed outrage over the roundup, saying the deaths were predictable, given the hot summer temperatures and the weakened state of colts and mares that recently gave or were about to give birth. In her lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order halting the roundup, horse advocate and author Laura Leigh of Minden argues the BLM violated its own policy not to conduct helicopter roundups until at least six weeks after peak foaling season ends. She said she has doubts about the BLM's explanation of the situation...more

Do We Need “Alternative Energy” Because of the Oil Spill?

As crude oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico, the politicians are waving the “green energy” shirt again. The logical chain goes as such: (1) crude oil is messy and dirty, especially when it is spilled into water; (2) “green” fuels and energy methods are clean and don’t result in oil spills; (3) therefore, the government should force us to use “green energy.” Throw global warming into the pot, and you have yet another round of government intervention into the energy business, as though there was not “enough” intervention already. To make matters worse, the new plan from President Obama would make gasoline prohibitively expensive, and gasoline price increases no doubt would trigger yet more condemnation of oil and lead to more demands that the government “nationalize” the industry. In reality, government intervention played an important role in the spill’s happening in the first place. As Judge Andrew Napolitano points out, BP originally sought to drill in 500 feet of water, a plan approved by the state of Louisiana but then nixed by the federal government, which demanded the company drill in 5,000 feet depths instead. Judge Napolitano writes: Never mind that no oil company had ever cleaned up a broken well at that depth and never mind that the feds had never monitored a broken well at that depth and never mind that BP only needed to set aside $75 million in case something went wrong. The feds trumped BP’s engineers and the feds trumped the wishes of the folks who live along the Gulf Coast and the feds decided where this oil well would be drilled....more

Injunction on roaming bison takes effect

An injunction to stop roaming bison in their tracks went into effect Thursday in King County. The injunction was issued in a lawsuit involving the January shooting of 51 bison on a ranch in the county northwest of Abilene. The bison are supposed to be at home on the QB Pasture Reserve, better known as the QB Ranch. The 20,000-acre outfit bills itself as a place to hunt not only bison but also Watusi cattle and trophy whitetail deer. In January, several head of bison roamed onto the neighboring Niblo Ranch, where ranch employee Jackie Doyle Hill allegedly shot 51 head of the QB herd. Hill has been charged with felony criminal mischief in the incident. His trial date has yet to be set. Meanwhile, the farming and ranching partnership that leases the Niblo Ranch filed suit against the QB, and the QB has countered with a suit for damages to recover the value of the slaughtered bison. Don Ross Malone, an attorney who practices in Vernon, is representing the 3-S Texas General Partnership in civil proceedings against the QB. “We went to court,” Malone said. “We asked them for an injunction to abate a private nuisance.” Houston attorney Andrew Sher is representing the interests of the QB. A side note in the case is the classification of the bison as wild animals. “The classification of these animals as livestock, that’s how the QB wants to classify them,” Malone said. “Our position is that they’re wild animals. It’s stated in the Texas Agricultural Code. That’s a determinative factor that’s going to decide who has to build the fence.”...more

Luna County wind energy project stokes debate

A proposed wind project in Northeastern Luna County has the Board of Commissioners on the fence. During a Tuesday work session, representatives of the Macho Springs Wind Project, Element Power and locals with deep agricultural roots in Luna County joined the Board of Commissioners to hear details on a proposed industrial revenue bond and potential impacts on the surrounding area, the Nutt Grasslands. A local rancher, Joe Bill Nunn, whose family owns ranches in the area, voiced concerns that wind turbine development could not only hurt the aesthetic value of the grasslands, but the property value as well. "We don't want to sell our property," Nunn told commissioners. "We plan on dying on this land, but we want to preserve the value of these lands, not only for the generations of our family that come after us and the generations of our neighbors' families, but also for the public and the people that enjoy the beautiful views that this area of Northeast Luna County has." On Wednesday, when reached for comment, local resident Jack Harmon expressed concern that some regulations might not be followed, as he has personally experienced when dealing with other large projects...more

"For me, I think they give a really good sales pitch, but it doesn't leave me with a comfortable feeling," he said. "My instincts tell me they are looking at us like other large contractors in the past, like we're a bunch of hicks and they can do what they want."

How Gillette landed the rodeo

Diane Shober hadn’t been on the job long as Cam-plex marketing director when the chairman of the Campbell County Public Land Board began to push the group to think beyond the run-of-the-mill events that so far had defined Cam-plex. “We were getting nowhere and the public didn’t think Cam-plex was worth a damn,” said Jim Anderson, who was chairman of the land board, which governs Cam-plex. “At one board meeting I said, ‘Look, let’s get this straight. You’ve got to get a national event that is going to get this place on the map.’” Some different ideas were tossed around, from RV rallies, to the National College Finals Rodeo. And somehow — neither Anderson nor Shober remember whose idea it was — the idea of the National High School Finals Rodeo came up. t wasn’t long before Shober and Rex Brown, then assistant marketing director at Cam-plex, were in Denver, dropping by the NHSFR office and asking for the specifications to be a host site. They headed back to Gillette with five long pages of criteria. Brown drove home and Shober read the specifications to her, noting those things that already existed at Cam-plex — like the rodeo arena and grandstands at Morningside Park — and circling those things they did not — like stalls for 1,400 horses. Despite the number of circles, the two began to have a glimmer of hope. This was possible. This could be done...more

Remington Museum to unveil bronze of Seabiscuit and jockey

On Saturday, July 17th, Canada’s contribution to America’s ‘Race of the Century’ will be honoured with the unveiling of a spectacular life-size bronze statue of the racehorse Seabiscuit mounted by The Iceman, George Woolf — the Cardston native who rode the horse in the 1938 win over War Admiral. The event was noted as the most famous horse race of the 20th Century. The frenzy was such that one out of every three Americans or 40 million tuned in to the broadcast that pitted Seabiscuit against the aristocratic Triple Crown winner. The immortal story will be commemorated in a life-size bronze capturing a moment from that fabled race. The statue will take pride of place near the stables of the Remington Carriage Museum in Cardston. “I always felt that George needed recognition for what he did. To go from a kid raised in a sod shack with nothing to becoming one of the best jockeys who ever lived; well, that’s quite the achievement,” said Jack Lowe, an area rancher who commissioned the bronze and grew up hearing about Woolf’s exploits. Seabiscuit and his two Canadian jockeys were the perfect story during the hard times of the Great Depression. Stocky and low-slung, the horse looked nothing like a winner despite being descended from the great Man O War. In the beginning of his racing career, Seabiscuit lost an outrageous 35 races as a two-year-old. It took a special trainer and two jockeys from Alberta to turn Seabiscuit into a superstar...more

Wyoming tribe's beef deal with Whole Foods ends

A deal for the Northern Arapaho Tribe in Wyoming to sell organic, grass-fed beef to Whole Foods Market Inc. has fallen through, a beef distributor said Wednesday. Panorama Meats Inc., which bought the beef from the tribe and sold it to Whole Foods, said the agreement ended in March when tribal officials asked for a 29 percent price increase. "That's a heck of a jump in one fell swoop," said Mack Graves, CEO of Vina, Calif.-based Panorama. Graves said the increase was more than Whole Foods wanted to pay. Panorama was buying about 40 head per week from the tribe, Graves said. Whole foods, based in Austin, Texas, was selling the beef at its stores in Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Utah. The deal, struck in April 2009, called for the tribe to get $1,400 per head. Panorama said at the time it was about 25 percent more than conventional beef fetches. Graves said Panorama temporarily bought beef from California ranches to make up for the loss of the Northern Arapaho supply, with Whole Foods' consent. Graves said he found other ranches in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming to supply organic, grass-fed beef and is now selling their products to Whole Foods. Graves said he is also talking with a New Mexico rancher about also supplying beef...more

Rumor has it they've been in contact with NM's most famous producer and advocate for organic beef...Jimmy Bason. Bason markets his cattle as Healthy Hillsboro Herefords and has changed his brand to CO...for Certified Organic.

I tried to reach Bason to confirm the contact. I was told he couldn't be reached, that he was travelling with Ted Turner to some secret meeting about organic chupacabras.

'Ugly Beast' Found in Texas: Another Chupacabra?

A rancher in Fort Hood, Texas, southwest of Fort Worth, found a strange-looking animal in his barn. The hairless (or nearly hairless) beast was shot by an animal control officer who described it as "ugly, real ugly." From there, things just get stranger. Samples of the body were taken for DNA analysis, though many people believe it is the blood-sucking beast "el chupacabra," the world's best known monster after Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster. The chupacabra first appeared in Puerto Rico in 1995 and sightings soon spread to other Spanish-speaking countries and areas. No hard evidence of its existence has been found — though about a half-dozen alleged chupacabra carcasses have been found in Texas. In May 2004, a rancher near the Texas town of Elmendorf noticed a strange animal eating mulberries under a tree on his property. The thin creature had large ears and a bluish cast, and was nearly hairless. The rancher shot the beast, which because of its odd look was thought by many to be the chupacabra. Genetic testing later revealed it to be a domestic dog. The most famous Texas chupacabra was found in 2007 when a strange, nearly hairless creature was discovered near a ranch outside the town of Cuero. News spread worldwide, though DNA sequencing revealed it was a Texas coyote that may have been part wolf. In July 2009 a man living near Blanco, Texas, found a strange dead animal. It weighed about 80 pounds, had four legs and a tail, and resembled a coyote except for its dark chocolate color and the fact that it was mostly hairless. It, too, was thought to be a chupacabra, and even exhibited as one in a creationist museum...more

Westwater cattlewoman rode with the Wild Bunch

The country in eastern Utah around Westwater is rugged and not for the faint of heart. But it was not too rugged for Florence Harris Fuller, who became a legend as one of the best-known and highly respected cattlewomen in the West. She owned land in the Westwater area and on the west end of Pinon Mesa. Around 1885 or 1886 she showed up in Utah, which was still a territory. She had acquired several hundred head of cattle and was accompanied by her future husband, trail boss Bob Fuller. It is possible that she had won the cattle in a poker game. Apparently, cattle weren’t the only items of interest that Florence brought with her on her return. In the Journal article, Sylvia told how she enjoyed going through her Aunt Florence’s trunk “full of beautifully beaded dresses, the kind entertainers wore in those days.” “My family was always hush-hush when it came to talking about ‘Aunt Bote,’ Sylvia told Stanton. “This simply added intrigue and made Aunt Bote an even more exciting character.” Indeed, Florence was an interesting character. Dude Larsen remembered a story about the Wild Bunch (which included Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) that Florence told him at the 1921 Cattleman’s Ball in Fruita...more

Song Of The Day #359

Yesterday Ranch Radio played a 1957 tune by George Jones. So for today we picked another song from 1957, Country Boy, by Johnny Cash.

Rep. Bishop Speaks At National Press Club

In this speech he covers:

° The amount of federal lands on the border
° The amount of wilderness on the border
° Why the Border Patrol is effective on private lands
° Why the Border Patrol is not effective on federal lands, esp. wilderness areas
° Why the drug cartels and human traffickers prefer federal lands

You can also view the speech on YouTube by going here.

3 killed in drug gang attack on police in Juarez

Members of a northern Mexico drug gang rammed a car that may have been packed with explosives or inflammable material into two police patrol trucks in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, killing two officers and a medical technician, and wounding nine people. Federal police said the attack Thursday — which may be one of the first uses of an explosive-packed car in Mexico — was in retaliation for the arrest of a top leader of the La Linea drug gang, Jesus Acosta Guerrero, earlier in the day. Seven officers and two civilians were wounded in the attack, said a state police source who was not authorized to be quoted by name. He said the compact passenger car had apparently been carrying some kind of explosive or inflammable device when it rammed the police pickup trucks. The crash left charred wreckage. Federal police confirmed in a statement that the car rammed the patrol vehicles, but were not immediately available to confirm what, if anything the car was carrying...more

Human Head Found in Arizona Fuels Political Debate

A controversy is brewing in Arizona over assertions by advocates of more stringent immigration laws that drug and human traffickers have beheaded illegal immigrants as a warning to rival cartels operating along the Arizona-Mexico border. A cowboy on the Atascosa Ranch in Santa Cruz County found the skull of an undocumented immigrant on June 27, 2008, and the property's owner, J. David Lowell, recounted the grisly discovery in a letter to Gov. Brewer this month. "On that day one of our ranch hands was working horseback and discovered a human head near a trail believed to be used by drug and alien smugglers," the letter read. "Although the head was missing the lower jaw, it was immediately apparent that much of the mass and flesh of the head was still present. The cowboy searched the area in hopes of finding the remainder of the body to no avail." Lowell notified officials at the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, who went to the ranch and took possession of the head. Dr. Bruce Parks, who serves as the chief medical examiner for Pima and Santa Cruz counties, confirmed to that the head was identified through DNA testing as that of 43-year-old Francisco Fuentes Dominguez, who was not a U.S. citizen. Parks said a cause of death was not determined, but there was no evidence of decapitation. Other "badly decomposed" parts of Dominguez's body were found nearby earlier in the year, he said. Another skull, which was never identified, was found by U.S. Border Patrol agents on Sopori Ranch in Tubac, Ariz., on June 9, 2008, said Parks, adding that no evidence was found linking that skull to decapitation. Lowell's letter also recounted a total of "five shooting incidents" on his ranch in the past seven months, most recently on July 2...more

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Obama sticks with clean-energy goals

President Obama is looking again to convince voters that the billions of dollars he has pumped into embryonic clean-energy firms will build a better economy even if they generate only a modest number of jobs before the middle of the decade. The White House compares the effort to the government's investment in the Internet several decades ago, and Obama will highlight startups that make electric batteries for future fleets of zero-emissions cars and trucks. In a report due Wednesday, the president's economists say the loan guarantees and grants extended under the Recovery Act -- matched by billions of dollars in private investment -- have the potential to "stand up" new industries that could employ thousands of Americans by 2015. They estimate that for each dollar in federal investment translates to $3.50 of total investment. But it is too early to say whether early bets on electric vehicles, solar power and "smart" electric grids will create the booming industries the White House envisions. Politically, it is all but certain that the benefits of those efforts will not be visible in time to make voters feel better about the economy before the fall elections. Cars and trucks powered solely by electric batteries remain unproven in the mass market, and efforts to build a smarter power grid are opposed by 11 Northeastern governors, who say they are leery of subsidizing a $160 billion electric transmission line from their states deep into the population centers of the Midwest...more

The Green-Economy Mirage

If you got an email offering you the chance to invest in a business that would create new profitable industries, employ millions of people, reduce energy consumption without reducing quality of life, and improve environmental quality, would you be skeptical? And if the email went on to claim that the technologies to do all this exist now and could save existing businesses billions of dollars in just a few years by reducing waste and energy use, would you wonder why no one was already implementing all these “common sense” ideas? If the email went on to promise that you could do this all at no risk by investing borrowed money, you’d likely be reaching for the delete key. If we substitute “the federal government” or “the United Nations Environment Programme” or “the European Union” for “you” and change the email to a proposed law, however, we discover that politicians from Washington to Brussels are embracing measures to “green” the economy and create “green jobs” with an almost religious fervor, despite weak empirical support for these proposals. The Obama administration included billions of spending and tax incentives for green initiatives in its budget, and last spring’s “stimulus” bill poured $62 billion in transfers plus $20 billion in tax cuts into “green initiatives.” Unfortunately, the rhetoric about “greening the economy” or creating “green jobs” is just political window-dressing for some of the same central-planning measures proposed by the left for years. Behind that rhetoric are proposals built around government subsidies for favored technologies, measures to limit trade, and a great deal of wishful thinking about alternative energy measures not quite ready for prime time...more

FBI, ATF join probe into big Forest Service blaze

The site of district headquarters of the U.S. Forest Service in Enterprise has been declared a crime scene following a spectacular, fast-growing fire that destroyed the two-story log building. Local firefighters were informed of the crime-scene declaration about 9 p.m. Sunday, July 11, four hours after the blaze was first reported. Yellow "crime scene" tape surrounded the property and a reserve sheriff's deputy was stationed at the bottom of the driveway to restrict access. Investigators from the state fire marshal's office arrived to join a probe that was expected to include agents from the FBI and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives plus Oregon State Police arson investigators, said Rich Hoover, spokesman for the fire marshal...more

12 horses now dead from Nev. roundup; hearing set

Twelve wild horses have now died in a Nevada roundup directed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, half of them colts and mares. The BLM on Wednesday said four more animals died or were put down because of dehydration or water intoxication. The agency also announced emergency measures to truck water to large bands of mustangs still on the range in the roundup area. A federal judge scheduled a hearing for Thursday in Reno on a temporary restraining order sought by animal rights advocates to halt the roundup in northern Elko County. Late Wednesday U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks issued an emergency order that prohibits the BLM from further roundups until after that hearing. The order followed word that the BLM planned a 6 a.m. roundup. The BLM suspended the gather over the weekend when seven horses died of dehydration and water intoxication after being herded by helicopter on the first day of the roundup. Another horse broke a leg and was put down. Two more animals died Monday and two others were euthanized "because of complications related to water starvation and water intoxication," the agency said...more

Forest Service begins opening trails to vehicles

A Lewis and Clark National Forest official said Monday the forest has begun opening gates and modifying travel signs on 140 miles of roads and trails in the Little Belt Mountains that once again are open to travel by motorcycle and four-wheelers. A 2007 forest travel plan had banned motorized travel on the trails, leaving access to only hikers and skiers. The 140 miles is a portion of the roads that were closed by the Forest Service in a 2007 travel plan. The plan remains in force, except for the 140 miles. On July 2, U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon, overseeing a legal battle between motorized users and the U.S. Forest Service over the plan, ordered that the 140 miles be opened again. The Forest Service had closed the areas to protect habitat and wildlife, but Haddon said, in effect, that the agency went too far and also made some legal errors in crafting the plan. "We're encouraged this is going forward," said John Borgreen of the Russell Country Sportsmen. Russell Country Sportsmen is one of the groups that sued over the reduction in motorized access...more

Report: Climate change to have major impacts on Western water

Of all the current and future impacts of climate change, threats to water resources may be the most painful in the American West, according to a new report published Monday. “Protecting the lifeline of the West,” written by Western Resource Advocates, a Boulder-based environmental law and policy organization, brings together dozens of studies by climate and water experts, detailing the ways in which water, energy and climate are deeply entwined in states like Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Arizona. “Of all the implications of a hotter climate, the water implications are the most dramatic or long-term,” said Bart Miller, the organization's water-program director. “There's no way to adjust by making more water.” The report's release coincides with the U.S. Senate's return to Washington to take up energy and climate legislation this week. Scientists have already documented trends in declining snowpack and earlier spring runoff across the West. Even if precipitation levels hold steady in places like Colorado's north-central mountains, snow will continue to melt sooner and faster, winter will be shorter, and less water will be stored in the peaks, according to Miller. And those changes in the water cycle can have negative implications for reservoir storage, aquatic habitat, ski seasons, rafting seasons and water quality...more

You can view the report here.

Forest Service chief upholds rejection of ski resort’s expansion plan

A representative of U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell upheld a local supervisor’s decision rejecting a proposal by Crested Butte Mountain Resort to develop lift-served skiing on Snodgrass Mountain. The decision was delivered Wednesday to the ski resort and the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison national forests. Gloria Manning, reviewing officer for Tidwell, affirmed the findings of an appeal reviewing officer, clarified some points made in the findings, and agreed Forest Supervisor Charlie Richmond’s determination to reject the proposal was consistent with policy, law and regulation. Manning’s decision is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final administrative determination on the ski resort’s appeal, the Forest Service said...more

Corrupt BLM official sentenced to three years in federal prison

A former U.S. Bureau of Land Management official has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for schemes that cost the government nearly half a million dollars. U.S. District Judge Owen Panner on Monday ordered Luis Ramirez to repay the BLM the money he swindled while working as a contract administrator in the agency’s Medford office. Ramirez, 57, pleaded guilty last month to wire fraud, personal financial conflict of interest and making a false tax return statement. The government said Ramirez manipulated contracts, funneled subcontractor work to his son Evan and used a series of wire transactions to send money to himself. He used the proceeds for travel abroad, a condo in the Bahamas, the remodeling of his Medford home and a college education for his son. An anonymous tip to the FBI led to the unraveling of the crimes, the government said. As investigators closed in, Ramirez retired in July 2007 after 31 years with the agency...more

Timberline Lodge proposes lift-assisted mountain biking but faces opposition

Lift-assisted mountain biking could be coming to Mount Hood if a proposal by the operators of Timberline Lodge to develop a trail system for it wins approval from the Forest Service – and if environmentalist groups opposed to the plan don’t puncture Timberline’s tire. Lift-assisted mountain biking is what it sounds like: Bikers take ski lifts to the top of a system of trails and then ride down. Other ski resorts – most notably Whistler Blackcomb – have developed lift-assisted mountain biking areas to attract visitors in the skiing off-season. “Mountain biking is a very good complement to our winter and summer skiing,” said Jon Tullis, Timberline’s director of marketing and public affairs. Less positive was the response of a coalition of environmentalist groups led by Bark, a Mount Hood-focused organization. Bark staff attorney Lori Ann Burd said lift-assisted mountain biking is substantively different from what most people think of when they think of mountain biking – the bikes are heavier, the speeds are faster and the activity has more overall impact, she said. Bark and its partner organizations fear that lift-assisted mountain biking will negatively affect Timberline’s quiet summer character...more

So now we have to protect an area's "quiet summer character".

N.M. Oil and Gas Association names new president

Steve Henke, the former manager of the Bureau of Land Management's Farmington field office, will take the helm as president of New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, the industry advocacy group announced Wednesday. Henke, 56, starts work as NMOGA president Aug. 1. Henke replaces longtime association president Bob Gallagher, who was fired by the organization in January for reportedly damaging the group's credibility among state lawmakers. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association is composed of rotating representatives of its member companies. NMOGA serves as an advocacy group for its members' collective concerns. Henke, a lifelong New Mexican and current Farmington resident, was an ideal choice for the job because his work with the Bureau of Land Management balancing environmental protection with new energy development built positive relationships with many of the companies the association represents, NMOGA Executive Committee Chairman Leland Gould said...more

Outside species threaten Arizona's native wildlife

At night on the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge southwest of Tucson, a low, insistent bellow drowns out the chaotic insect symphony under way along the edge of small ponds. At times, it's a solo, at others a raspy chorus. Bullfrogs own this pond. All other aquatic creatures take notice and don't make any long-term plans. But this is not the natural soundtrack for a pond in the southern Arizona desert. Bullfrogs are not native to these waters, and they do not play well with the local fauna. At 8 inches long, or longer, they eat smaller native frogs, fish and snakes, among other things, and have wiped out communities of Chiricahua leopard frogs and northern Mexican garter snakes. Arizona is losing its native wildlife in part because non-native species are thriving on landscapes that have been altered by development, water loss and climate change. Non-native species threaten Arizona's native wildlife in more insidious ways than people do. A road or a structure can be removed and the landscape restored, but most of the invading plants and animals dig in and hang on, damaging habitat and edging out the native species...more

Finance Overhaul Casts Long Shadow on the Plains

Farmer Jim Kreutz uses derivatives to soften the blow should the price of feed corn drop before harvest. His brother-in-law, feedlot owner Jon Reeson, turns to them to hedge the price of his steer. The local farmers' co-op uses derivatives to finance fixed-price diesel for truckers who carry cattle to slaughter. And the packing plant employs derivatives to stabilize costs from natural gas to foreign currencies. Far from Wall Street, President Barack Obama's financial regulatory overhaul, which may pass Congress as early as Thursday, will leave tracks across the wide-open landscape of American industry. Mr. Kreutz's brokerage, AgWest, thinks the new finance law will hurt both firm and farm. If big investors and dealers have to keep more cash on hand, there will be less liquidity in the market and therefore the cost of derivatives will increase, Mr. Hoelscher, the broker said. A few minutes from the Kreutz family farm are the corrals of Jon Reeson's feedlot. Mr. Reeson, 43, is married to Mr. Kreutz's sister Jane. His feedlot holds as many as 1,500 steer, mostly Black Angus, which grow from 600-lb. calves into 1,300 pounders ready for slaughter. Mr. Reeson uses derivatives to hedge both the price he pays for feed and the price he gets for selling his steer. The fattening takes about 7,000 pounds of food for each animal. Mr. Reeson can't count on a favorable price from his brother-in-law's farm, in which he has a stake, so when he sees a feed price he likes, he seals it with a futures contract. In April, he called AgWest and locked in a price with a futures contract for $95 per hundredweight of cattle. Since then the market price has dropped to $90. If the price stays there until October, he'll have made the right call, earning a higher price than if he'd relied on the market alone. If the price spikes higher, though, he'll miss out on potential gains...more

In making food safer, will Congress make farming harder?

For years now, American consumers have been drawn in bigger numbers to local producers like McKinzey and Paskin-Flerlage in hopes of becoming better connected to their food sources. Yet at the same time, there is a growing chorus of health advocates who say the government needs to keep better tabs on the food Americans eat, and are pressing for an act of Congress that could, among other things, regulate how spinach is grown at Solana Farm. And while both movements hope to put healthier foods on the table, many wonder whether the country is big enough for the both of them. The Food Safety Modernization Act aims to shore up what has been long considered a dearth of funding and authority at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It would increase the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's scrutiny of food production and processing and give that department more latitude in ordering recalls. Small-scale farmers like McKinzey and Paskin-Flerlage, however, worry that more government regulations could bring added costs to a business already running on tight margins. Local-food advocates often attribute the "globalized" food system to government fees and regulations that favor large producers with the capital to overcome them. "They are just making it more and more difficult," said Jenny Sabo, a Harrison cattle rancher and outspoken local-food advocate. "They are making higher and higher costs to entry that (big producers) can cover. It is just more regulations, more paperwork and more costly infrastructure."...more

Chupacabra - Video Report and Pictures

Here's a video report on recent Chupacabra kills, from KXAN-TV.

Here's some Chupacabra pictures from TODAY24NEWS

Song Of The Day #358

Ranch Radio presents George Jones' 1957 recording of Nothing Can Stop My Love.

Jones' stuff is widely available, as you can see by going here.

Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce Board Reaffirms its Stance on Wilderness Bill

Las Cruces, NM, July 13, 2010 – The Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors’ voted unanimously to re-confirm its prior position on SB 1689; especially as it pertains to homeland security. A review of the legislation, by the Chamber Board, was conducted following Senator Bingaman’s recent modifications to the legislation. His modifications were made after a field hearing of the United States Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was held in Las Cruces this past February.

Kiel Hoffman, Chairman, states, “While the Chamber commends the Senator for listening to concerns raised by the public and making modifications, we remain concerned that complete border security and law enforcement access are being denied unencumbered access by this legislation.”

We commend the Las Cruces Sun News Editorial Board, which stated, on June 27th, the following: “We urge Senator Bingaman to go as far as necessary to ensure that the Border Patrol will have complete and unfettered access to all areas along the border before putting the bill (SB 1689) up for final action.” Complete and unfettered access means zero conditions. Unfortunately, SB 1689 still has conditions placed upon border security.

We strongly encourage the Senator to further modify the language that removes any and all barriers to entry, in all protected lands in Doña Ana County, for routine surveillance by our United States Border Patrol, United States Armed Forces and any local, state or federal law enforcement agency. Anything short of removing all conditions and barriers only serves to increase risks to our citizens and further create a negative image for those considering relocation to Doña Ana County to live, work and/or retire.

We further encourage the consideration of designating the Potrillos Mountain Complex as a National Conservation Area, still prohibiting development, versus Wilderness Designation. Attached is copy of stated position on all other aspects of SB 1689.

We know that other organizations in our community have taken an opposite view. We respect all viewpoints; however, we are deeply troubled by one local organization’s apparent acceptance of significant funds from special interests groups to promote their position without full disclosure of doing so to its members. For the record, the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce has not taken any money from any special interest groups to promote our position.


Endangered Animal Horning In on Arizona Border Security

If not for an elusive, antelope-like creature in the Arizona desert, the Department of Homeland Security might have a much easier time cracking down on illegal immigration in hotbeds along the border. The Sonoran Pronghorn, which roams in Arizona, is an endangered species on the verge of extinction. As a result, environmentalists and governmental stewards have been repeatedly blocking Customs and Border Protection from expanding border technology in their habitat -- despite complaints that illegal immigrants are taking advantage of the security gap and doing plenty of harm to the environment in the process. Concerns about a host of species for decades have prompted standoffs between border and environmental officials. Border officers have limited access to federal lands in some of the most heavily trafficked areas because of the harm the patrols could do to the environment. But pronghorn preservation is popping up more and more as a barrier to Border Patrol and catching the attention of some on Capitol Hill. A 2008 letter from the Fish and Wildlife Service obtained by showed that the agency rejected a CBP plan to install seven towers throughout the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge because of concerns it would lead to Sonoran Pronghorn extinction. The towers would have been part of the virtual border fence project that was partially suspended this year but is still underway in the area surrounding Cabeza...more

About those decapitations in the Arizona desert

By Joan Neuhas Schaan
OpEd Contributor
July 13, 2010

With some concern and disbelief, I have been astounded at the lack of understanding of the severity of the situation in Mexico and the possibility that it has crossed the border.

Last week, Dana Milbank of The Washington Post severely ridiculed reports from Arizona of decapitated heads found in the desert. This comment was made within a day or two of the discovery of two decapitated bodies in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, just south of El Paso, Texas.

While I cannot comment on the veracity of specific reports of headless bodies in the Arizona desert, the occurrence of headless bodies in Mexico has been epidemic. It is only a matter of time until the phenomenon is regularly encountered in the U.S.

Let me suggest the general public familiarize themselves with press reports since the first of this year. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the decapitation incidents, as many, if not most, incidents do not go reported.

* July 6, 2010: Two decapitate bodies found in Chihuahua, Chihuahua.

* Junue 30, 2010: A severed head was found on the doorstep of Ciudad Juarez mayoral candidate Hector Murguia. (Wall Street Journal)

* June 16, 2010: A police officer is found decapitated in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon. (Expresion Libre)

* June 2, 2010: Six human heads found in two Durango cities, Lerdo and Gomez Palacio. (EFE)

* May 10, 2010: Two decapitated bodies found in Cancun. (El Universal)

* May 4, 2010: Three decapitated bodies found in Costa Chica region, Guerrero. (Proceso.)

* April 12, 2010: Dismembered body found in Cuernavaca. (El Universal)

* April 11, 2010: Decapitated body found on Morelos highway between Cuernavaca and Acapulco. (El Universal)

* April 9, 2010: Report on December 2009 Reynosa dismemberment. (The Washington Times)

* April 3, 2010: Decapitated body of a female found in Chihuahua, Chihuahua. (El Diario Chihuahua.) Spring 2010: Police Chief of Aguascalientes, Nuevo Leon found decapitated.

* March 25, 2010: Decapitation victim found at shopping center in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. (El Agora de Chihuahua)

* March 22, 2010: Two dismembered bodies found in Acapulco. (Reforma)

* March 10, 2010: Police find five heads in ice coolers in Guadalajara, Jalisco. (BBC News)

* Janaury 28, 2010: A head is found in an ice cooler in Quiroga, Michoacan.

* January 25, 2010: Decapitated head found on grave in Altamira, Tamaulipas. (El Universal)

As an example of those incidents that go unreported, in 2009 an acquaintance shared a story from Juarez. While transiting a major road or highway out of town, there were more than two dozen decapitated heads atop a series of fence posts along the road. Certain such an event would make the news, press reporting was scoured for days. The incident was never reported.

Does this mean the event never occurred? Clearly that is a possibility, though I consider my acquaintance reliable and credible. The Mexican press is under severe pressure to self-censor reporting of violence and drug cartels or suffer the consequences.

On July 6, 2010 the body of Mexican journalist Hugo Alfredo Oliveras Cartas of the "La Voz de Michoacan" was found. He had been reported as missing the day before and is the fourth journalist to be killed this year in Mexico. Since 2000, 61 journalists have been killed in Mexico. Twelve were killed in 2009.

To suggest that those on the front lines who are most aware of the rampant phenomenon of decapitations are delirious or untruthful would indicate the author does not have an understanding of the truth on the ground.

Joan Neuhaus Schaan is a fellow in homeland security at the James A. Baker III Institute on Public Policy at Rice University in Houson, Texas.

From the Washington Examiner

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

UK won't let Iroquois lacrosse team go to tourney

An American Indian lacrosse team will not be allowed entry into England for the world championship of the sport the Iroquois helped invent unless members accept U.S. or Canadian passports, the British government said Wednesday. The Iroquois Nationals team won't be attending the world championship in Manchester unless the British government reverses its decision and allows them to use passports issued by the Iroquois Confederacy, said Tonya Gonnella Frichner, a lawyer for the team. "They're telling us: 'Go get U.S. passports or Canadian passports,'" Frichner said Wednesday shortly after getting the news. "It's pretty devastating." The team's 23 players — who are all eligible for passports issued by those nations — say that accepting them would be a strike against their identity. The British government's decision was announced hours after the U.S. cleared the team for travel on a one-time waiver at the behest of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. U.S. authorities initially had refused to accept the passports issued by the Iroquois Confederacy, which lack new security features now required for border crossings because of post-Sept. 11 crackdowns on document fraud and illegal immigration. Asked why the State Department had dropped its opposition, spokesman P.J. Crowley said: "There was flexibility there to grant this kind of one-time waiver given the unique circumstances of this particular trip."...more

Don't you think Hillary had a pretty good idea, if not advanced information, that the British would reject the Iroquois-issued passports?
Mucho wilderness activity, so this is a shortened version of The Westerner.

If you want to know how we got to where we are today on border issues, be sure and check out the essay by Ham & Wilmeth. A piece of that length is not normally published on a blog, but the importance of the issue and the quality of the information is such that we are publishing it here first.

Solar wells displacing windmills on Western range

The pump installer toppled the old windmill in about an hour, first climbing up the wobbly 27-foot tower to stop the broken mill's whirling blade and then pulling the underground pipe to make way for a new solar-powered electric pump. Iconic mechanical windmills of metal and wood have pumped life into American ranches and farms for 150 years, their function withstanding rural electrification in remote locations beyond the reach of power lines. These days, however, an increasing number of Western ranchers are pulling down their old windmills and converting to solar-powered systems. "They are displacing windmills everyday," said Scott Blakeley, owner of Pronghorn Pump and Repair in Glenrock, as he traveled to a July installation job on a ranch southwest of Casper. "Primarily because of the mechanical problems that you have. You fix one issue on a windmill today, something else is broke tomorrow. And in August, when you need water the most, the wind blows the least in Wyoming, and in most Western states." Solar-powered pumps have been available for more than 20 years, but their efficiency and durability have recently improved to the point that many ranchers are at least considering the solar option when they need to replace an old windmill or drill a new well...more

Billy the Kid: a pardon at long last?

"I expect you have forgotten what you promised me," Billy the Kid wrote to New Mexico Territory's governor, Lew Wallace, in 1881. The Kid was writing from a Santa Fe jail cell. He was there because of the dogged efforts of Pat Garrett, who had been elected sheriff of Lincoln County, which comprised the southeastern part of the territory, on the promise that he would put a stop to Billy and his gang of rustlers. Now Billy was waiting to be transported to Mesilla, where he would be tried for the murder of another Lincoln County lawman, Sheriff William Brady. Billy's pointed reminder to Wallace referred to a deal the two had made two years earlier. Wallace had promised to grant Billy amnesty for his role in shooting Brady and other misdeeds if the Kid agreed to testify before a grand jury investigating another Lincoln County murder. Billy held up his end of the bargain, but the governor failed to follow through with his. The Kid's letter went unanswered, as did all the others he sent to the Palace of the Governors on Santa Fe Plaza. In 2003, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced that he would consider making good on Wallace's promise and issue a pardon for Billy. Richardson's announcement came in the midst of international media attention over a modern-day forensic investigation looking into the circumstances of the Kid's death. But as the hoopla subsided, so did the talk of a pardon. Now the governor, whose term expires in January, is reportedly again giving serious consideration to Billy's pardon. Just what would a pardon for Billy the Kid mean? It can no longer help the Kid, of course, whose body lies buried beneath a stark metal cage at Ft. Sumner. Richardson would certainly make headlines, but after that would Billy lose some of his outlaw mystique? Would Garrett's obsession be made ridiculous? Would the two deputies killed during Billy's sensational daylight jailbreak have died in vain?...more

"Billy" Bonney and "Billy" Richardson...hmmmm

Are Bizarre Canines Really Goat- Sucking Chupacabras?

Is the legendary "goat sucker" stalking Hood County? Two strange, coyote-like creatures have been killed with in 10 miles of each other, and locals say the animals could be chupacabras. Hood County Animal Control Officer Frank Hackett killed the first creature last week. He found it in an old barn. When it growled at him, he put the animal down. "It was ugly, real ugly, I'm not going to tell no lie on that one," he said. A few days later, a rancher killed a similar creature. Jack Farr, who owns the property where the first coyote-canine-cross was spotted said he thinks more of the strange animals are out there. "I have heard of a chupacabra before, but I thought it was some sort of mythological thing," he said. But after seeing firsthand the creature killed on his property, he doesn't know what it was. Hood County Animal Control sent the animal to Texas A&M for testing. Until DNA tests are returned Doctors at Texas A&M would only say it's some kind of coyote hybrid...more

You see, there's nothing like sittin' under a windmill, eating some freshly grilled Chupacabra with plenty of home made salsa all over it.

To hell with the solar folks, the vets and the FDA.

That's my kind of West.

The Arizona Smuggling Corridors

A Profile of Government in Disarray

By David B. Ham and Stephen L. Wilmeth

Perhaps the greatest threat to the security of the United States today is the 2045 miles of Mexican border. It is there that the drug war in Mexico can be heard at night. It is there that the politics of environmental radicalism has breached the independent thinking of conservation minded leaders. It is there that the very existence of the American experiment may face its toughest challenge.

Prior to 1924, border conflicts were handled by the states or various military operations depending on actions from Washington. The most violent border conflict in the history of the United States occurred in Texas. That conflict was not a single event. Rather, it was a conflict that began before statehood and continued following the Mexican American War when the United States government largely removed its military presence from south Texas.

Texas mounted its own protective service in what it called its Ranger force. Over time, the Texas Rangers evolved from a largely Indian fighting force to a special assignment and border protective service in the days and times up to 1904. During World War I, a United States contingent called “Mounted Inspectors” was put afield due to concerns of national security. Texas also responded to the war effort by beefing up its own security and sent additional Rangers to the border.

The United States Border Patrol was established by Congress in 1924 in response to the demand by Border States to halt illegal immigration. The first offices were established in Detroit and El Paso. Subsequent offices were established on the basis of what is now called “corridor development”. That was also extended to maritime locations where illegal entry expansion was occurring. The early Border Patrol was an organization that hired its officer force largely from candidates that had roots in the border region. They were men with a common background to the American citizens whose security they pledged to protect.

From the inception until the Bracero Program in the ‘50s, the Border Patrol did its work without a great deal of fanfare. If there was conflict it was largely with landowners who employed illegals. Thousands of miles of fence and other infrastructure were built by Mexican labor at that time. That conflict ultimately prompted the idea of the Bracero Program, whereby Mexican workers were allowed conditional entry into the United States in exchange for legal employment. The plan required the Border Patrol to enforce the conditions of the program as well as to oversee the return of the same workers following their temporary visits.

The demand for labor across a wider segment of American business accelerated in the ‘60s. As a result, the country experienced a dramatic expansion in illegal immigration. Interaction with the Border Patrol and a broader profile of American business spectrum took place.

By the ‘70s, the number and the profile of illegal aliens were changing. The border was becoming a more intense and the motives of illegals were changing. Drugs, and the war on drugs, were starting to shape a new and dangerous challenge.

By 1986, the Border Patrol had to start shifting its focus from the border to areas more inland. This change in the mission of the Border Patrol was largely the result of Congressional action. The Immigration Control and Reform Act (IRCA) was passed. It mandated that an amnesty program be implemented, and it authorized the prosecution of American employers who hired illegals. Congress was putting the burden of proof on American business to determine the legal status of aliens. The Congressional mandate to secure the border was being passed to American businesses.

By the early ‘90s, Americans living in urban border centers were in near revolt as the hordes of illegal immigrants swarmed across the largely open borders and quickly disappeared into the mass of humanity on the American side. Something had to be done, and the Border Patrol figured out a plan that worked.

Starting in El Paso, the idea of going back to the actual border, making eye contact with illegals, and pinching off the flows was started. The operation was instituted and the horde of illegal border crossings was stopped. The numbers went down in El Paso, and the Border Patrol was able to reduce the numbers crossing in the Sector as a whole.

The next operation was instituted in the urban centers of southern California. This operation made use of what was learned in El Paso but it also incorporated higher tech ideas. It brought to the border increased agent numbers, border fencing, stadium lighting, and ideas in high tech monitoring. This more sophisticated approach also worked. Numbers of illegals entering San Diego went down and the San Diego Sector numbers were down as well. The idea of putting pressure on the border at the point of corridor entry was working. It only needed to be expanded.

Following the success at El Paso and the urban centers of southern California, the Border Patrol was intent on expanding the idea into southern Arizona. Nogales and the greater Tucson Sector was the target. That operation brought the factors learned at El Paso and San Diego to the Arizona border at Nogales. The operation failed.

What the illegals found in Arizona was exactly what made the efforts in El Paso and southern California work. The immense and harsh conditions of the open desert outside of the Nogales entry became a major entry into the United States. Unlike the urban centers of southern California and El Paso, the Arizona lands outside of the preferred entry points were not fully patrolled and controlled by the Border Patrol. Much of the Arizona border allowed the Border Patrol only conditional and limited access.

The hordes of illegals found the American invention of federally designated Wilderness, and the United States has been at an ever increasing risk ever since. The powerful United States Border Patrol couldn’t access the millions of acres of wilderness, but the human and drug smugglers certainly could, and they did.

A Closer Look at the Corridor Concept

The Border Patrol first started using the corridor concept as a method of controlling illegal immigration in the late ‘80s. The concept was developed by David Aguilar and his staff at the Border Patrol’s Southern Region office in Dallas. The purpose was to control the heavy influx of illegal aliens from Central American entering illegally through the McAllen Sector. There were a lot of factors that led to the heavy influx including natural disasters, protected status for certain aliens from El Salvador, and a policy of releasing the other than Mexicans (OTMs) from detention facilities because of absence of funding to detain them. Regardless of the reason, the McAllen Sector of the Border Patrol was inundated by OTMs from Central America.

To combat this problem, Aguilar created the McAllen Corridor and soon resources and manpower began to flow into the Sector. Agents were pulled from other Border Patrol Sectors to implement the staffing in the Sector on a temporary basis. Anti-smuggling agents and resources, including operational funding, were taken away from different Sectors all over the nation to reinforce the McAllen corridor.

Eventually, the OTM invasion slowed and resources were returned to their respective Border Patrol Sectors, but the corridor concept was established. To determine what might qualify for the creation of a corridor, Border Patrol Stations were required to report a whole new set of metrics that were created to measure what was going on in their respective station areas. Line watch stations, stations whose area of responsibility were adjacent to the Mexican border, were instructed to divide their areas of responsibility into zones and report the activity that occurred in a respective zone. “Zone Reports”, “Got aways”, and “turn backs” were examples of the new metrics.

With the amnesty and employer sanction provisions of IRCA, apprehensions in the late ‘80s dropped. The lull didn’t last long, though, when it became apparent that the Clinton administration wasn’t serious about enforcing employer sanctions. By the early ‘90s, apprehensions across the southern border were again increasing.

In 1991, El Paso, Texas was approaching chaos. Crime had increased dramatically, auto theft was rampant, beggars and windshield cleaners were at almost every intersection in the city. To combat this problem, El Paso Sector Border Patrol Chief Sylvestre Reyes and his staff created Operation “Hold the Line”. The idea was simple. Instead of chasing illegal aliens after they entered the United States, the Agents would prevent them from entering illegally by deploying right on the border. Interestingly, this plan wasn’t approved by the regional hierarchy because El Paso was not an approved corridor.

Although it was a struggle, the plan worked. Gradually the illegal aliens began to realize that things had changed and the days of being able to cross whenever and wherever they wanted in El Paso had changed. Reyes’s idea had been to close the urban border and force the aliens out into the desert where it would be easier to apprehend them. The success of “Hold the Line” soon led the San Diego Sector to adopt a similar strategy with the implementation of Operation “Gatekeeper”. At that time, the San Diego Sector had been the consistent leader nationwide in apprehensions (McAllen and El Paso battled for second). The Tucson Sector was still considered a Sector where nothing much happened. Its harsh, isolated border expanses were not yet seen as a pathway into the United States.

As anticipated, the illegals began to move out of the El Paso/ Juarez metro area and seek easier ways to cross into the United States. Apprehensions in the Deming, New Mexico station area 100 miles to the west began to skyrocket. In the far western reaches of the Sector area at Lordsburg, New Mexico large increases in apprehensions occurred as well. The Deming corridor was created and by the late ‘90s other stations in the El Paso Sector were being asked to detail agents and equipment to Deming to try and stem the flow. Deming tried to emulate the El Paso strategy of forward deployment of its agents, but the aliens would continually outflank them. The farming area west of Columbus, New Mexico was soon overrun by illegal aliens entering on foot and in vehicles headed north. The chaos that had been happening in El Paso was now pushed into the Deming corridor.

The chaos would soon hit the Tucson Sector as well. Douglas and Nogales, Arizona soon experienced the effects of increased illegal entry. By then, David Aguilar was in Tucson as the Sector Chief and he had brought many of his staff officers from the Southern Region to help gain control in that Sector.

In 2003, Chief Aguilar was sent to Washington D.C. to take the place of retiring Chief of the Border Patrol Gustavo De La Vina. The Tucson Corridor had been created and accordingly extra manpower and technology had been poured into the area. Zones and special enforcement areas were created, and different strategies were created almost monthly, but nothing seemed to work as entries continued to soar.

In 2004, a new theory of border control began to evolve and it became the Border Patrol mantra for achieving control of the border. It was believed, and ultimately shown, that with the right mixture of personnel, technology, mobility, and infrastructure control of the border could be achieved. This strategy was developed in conjunction with the pending implementation of the Secure Border Initiative (SBInet). Using this strategy Deming began to gain control of its area of responsibility. With increased numbers of agents, camera surveillance technology, improved infrastructure, and the authority to go anywhere without constraint, the Border Patrol was able to develop a plan that was effective in the farming area west of Columbus. Apprehensions dropped and a more orderly operational control of the area was returned.

By 2009, apprehensions were down all across the nation largely because of the economy. The El Paso Sector, once among the top two most active Sectors in the nation, had experienced a whopping 51% decrease in apprehensions. That was the largest decrease in the nation. Meanwhile, Tucson’s share of illegal apprehensions soared as a percent of the whole. That year, nearly half (241,673) of the 540,865 apprehensions caught nationwide occurred in the Tucson Sector.

While alien apprehensions were down nation wide, narcotic seizures increased by 57%. As with human smuggling numbers, the Tucson Sector led the way with 1,204,702 pounds of narcotics seized. That was a nearly 48% of all marijuana interdiction along all United States borders.

Another measurement suggests the extent of the problem. The Tucson Sector represents about 13% of the entire Mexican border, but, in 2009, the rate of human apprehensions occurred at about 920 per mile of border for the year. The southern border as a whole experienced a rate of 167 per mile of border, but the El Paso Sector had an apprehension rate of just fewer than 6% of the Tucson result, or just 54 per mile. Those results would suggest that El Paso still has pressure, but Tucson is out of control.

The Tucson Sector has received more manpower and technology in the past ten years than any Sector, yet it has not achieved control of its border. The question must be asked, “Why”? The answer is access to the border. Prohibitions against accessing border wilderness areas, wildlife management areas, wilderness study areas, a large Indian reservation on the border and Department of Agriculture forest lands have dramatically hampered the Border Patrol’s ability to patrol and control that segment of the border. At the same time, illegal aliens and drug smugglers aren’t constrained by the prohibitions and are accessing and abusing those areas.

Corridor profile

The most violent and explosive growth of the Arizona human and drug smuggling corridors is a fact of life in the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector. It is ground zero where the unexpected circumstances of Operation “Safeguard” and the displacement of illegals from “Hold the Line” and “Gate Keeper” took root and flourished. What is unique about the Tucson Sector that has created such danger even with the presence of increased manpower and technology?

Starting at the New Mexico/Arizona line and running west, that stretch of border is dominated by federal land holdings. The corridor entry points discovered by illegals following Operation “Safeguard” were expanded from the east into designated Wilderness dominated lands of Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Coronado National Forest, and other Departments of Interior and Agriculture managed lands. These lands all have some common characteristics. Those similarities are:

1. The corridors have wilderness/de facto wilderness safe havens.
2. They have east /west highway access north and south of the corridors.
3. They have rugged and complex north/south mountain and drainage orientation which provides channels of movement.
4. They are almost entirely or heavily dominated by federal land agency management.
5. The concentration of American private property rights at risk is limited as is the presence of resident American habitation.
6. All corridors have high, strategically located points of observation.

The First Step toward Solution

The lessons from history in Texas and in the urban centers now indicate that success of controlling the border will come only by taking the fight back to the border itself. Success cannot be achieved by dropping back and focusing on peripheral issues. Silvestre Reyes’ simplistic order to his officers in the Operation Hold the Line to “go to the border and make eye contact with illegals” is more valid today than it has ever been. The problem is the Border Patrol cannot do that in Arizona. They are constrained in the wilderness and de facto wilderness areas as discussed, but the federal government has also created a loop hole whereby they can be blocked from entry to other federal lands.

By statutory authority, the Border Patrol has the right to enter into any private property for any reason and without announcement within 25 miles of the Mexican border. That authority was granted years ago in order to defend the sovereignty of our nation. Nothing was deemed more important than the need to protect American citizenry.

The Border Patrol, however, has no similar access authority to federal land holdings. An individual American cannot lock his or her gate and keep the Border Patrol off private property, but the United States can do the same thing and preclude the Border Patrol from entering. At the time the private entry authorization was done, nobody dreamed that a federal agent would ever be restricted from accessing federal lands. The federal land management agencies and the converging Wilderness and Rewilding agenda of the environmental movement have changed that situation. That agenda is trumping national security, they have done much to confound Border Patrol activity, and they have created havoc on the Arizona border.

Implications of that double standard played into the March, 2010, murder of rancher Rob Krentz. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Regional Manager, Benjamin Tuggle, wrote three letters to the Border Patrol in 2009 detailing how, henceforth, they would have only conditional access to the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge directly on the border east from Douglas, Arizona. The stipulations were that the Border Patrol would only be allowed onto the refuge in the event of life or death (human) conditions. Normal, mechanical access for patrolling and illegal interdiction would be denied and if the Border Patrol did not abide by the demand all access would be removed and future access would take place only on the basis of a special use permit.

Money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was used to rebuild fences and barriers around the refuge on the condition of National Security enhancement. The majority of the money was spent on fencing that blocks Border Patrol mechanical access. The actual portion of the work that blocks illegal alien entry was the lesser amount of the total project. The Krentz murderer used the sanctuary of the refuge both for accessing the United States as well as for his escape back into Mexico. Based on the conditions set forth by Tuggle and his staff, the Border Patrol could not have interdicted the murderer with mechanical means even if they had known the exact location of the murderer.

The blind insistence that more and more lands be protected for the purposes of creating an environment largely “untrammeled by man” has made it dangerous for traditional and legal activities in those lands. The void that is being created is being filled by drug and human smugglers. The Border Patrol cannot fully accomplish its mission, few Americans now want to visit those areas, and far too few productive endeavors that maintain a presence of Americans with property rights at risk are allowed and cultured by the federal agencies managing those lands. In the place of a protective and historical American presence, the proliferation of corridor expansion and the escalation of the war to control that growth have exploded.

At a minimum, the Border Patrol must have the same rights and authority to enter federal lands within 25 miles of the border as they do on private land holdings. That organization cannot be encumbered and denied access in order to attempt to carry out its mission while at the same time drug and human smugglers make full use of the lands where that access is conditional or denied. The universal message to Congress should be, “Start defending this country by installing the full rights and authority of the Border Patrol by allowing full and unencumbered access to any and all lands, at any and all times, without any time or conditional constraints to the 25 mile buffer along the entire Mexican border from Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean”. The Border Patrol has demonstrated in the El Paso Sector that, if it has such authority, it can control the border and the human and drug smuggling corridors. Without it, it is a defensive war that America is losing.

David B. Ham served the United States 31 years as a Border Patrol Officer. He was instrumental in establishing the Anti-smuggling team in the El Paso Sector. At the time of his retirement in 2003, he was the El Paso Sector Assistant Chief. He has extensive experience in the areas of southern New Mexico being considered for federal wilderness designation. He is adamantly opposed the any restriction to Border Patrol activities within 25 miles of the Mexican border. He is the current President of the Board of Governors of the National Border Patrol Museum. Mr. Ham is a native of Andrews, Texas and resides in El Paso.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. He believes that long established desert ranches are ecosystems within the greater landscape of the Southwest. Any disruption in best management practices affects the balance of those stewardship units, and the designation of wilderness poses the highest risk of all artificially imposed restrictions. The disruption of established water systems, the curtailment of turf improvement projects, the elimination of brush control, and the elimination of land stewards are threats to wildlife, and, in the case of border ranches, outright threats to the security of the United States.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Report disputes Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's claims of 'rushed' energy leases in Utah

An investigative report by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's own Office of Inspector General disputes his claims that oil and gas parcels offered for lease at a controversial December 2008 auction in Salt Lake City were "rushed." Salazar used that reason to justify pulling 77 parcels that had been bid on in the Bureau of Land Management auction, asserting that they were offered as a result of a rushed midnight decision by the Bush administration. The report released Monday said an investigation "found no evidence to support the allegation that undue pressure was exerted on BLM personnel" to complete the resource management plans so the parcels could be offered prior to a change in the White House administration. It did note, however, that the BLM contributed to the "perception" that the lease-sale was rushed because the agency failed to notify the National Park Service in advance, as is standard, and refused to defer parcels on which the service sought additional reviews for their eligibility. Arguing that too many of the parcels were located on the doorsteps of national treasures such as Arches National Park, Salazar rescinded the leases, leading to an uproar in Utah by county officials and state policymakers, who said the move cost millions in lost revenue and usurped a lengthy review process...more

Nation’s New Drilling Chief Plans to ‘Jump on Evidence of Violations’

The former federal prosecutor who now heads the government agency that oversees offshore drilling says he is not afraid to fine lawbreaking oil companies or even put some executives in jail. But Michael Bromwich says he is not an anti-drilling zealot and will probably take actions that upset both industry groups and those who oppose drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and other sites. Bromwich, 56, had no previous experience in the oil and gas industry before taking over the 1,700 employee agency three weeks ago. Still, he said he understands that offshore drilling is "an energy reality for us for the foreseeable future. Anybody who tries to stop that dead in its tracks is, I think, blinding themselves to the realities of what we need in order to make this country run and keep our economy going." At the same time, he added, "We've just seen the incredible economic and human tragedy that's caused when the values of safety and regulation and environmental protection are not observed adequately, and when there is too much of a rush to drill, even when it is not safe."...more

Moratorium on Offshore Deepwater Oil Drilling Wrong Move

Not only does the president's moratorium on deepwater drilling fail to stop the oil leak, it costs jobs on the offshore rigs that he has shut down; reduces the amount of crude oil available for refining into gasoline, diesel fuel and heating oil; and penalizes BP's competitors, who have been pumping oil from offshore wells responsibly for decades. Until BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, no oil had been spilled as a result of offshore drilling in U.S. waters since an accident off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969. Without energy production from deepwater areas, a vital source of jobs and tax revenue will be lost. And if offshore rigs remain idle for long, the Gulf's economy will wither. Yes, BP bears all responsibility for the explosion that killed 11 workers and caused staggering economic and environmental damage that is still ongoing. BP must be held accountable for its mismanagement. Among industry insiders, the fact that an "accident" occurred at a BP offshore drilling site was no surprise. BP has a reputation for cutting corners and disregarding risk. If President Obama truly wanted to supply incentives for trading off risk and reward optimally, he would press for legislation that holds oil companies strictly liable for the economic and environmental damages they cause. Because such damages may exceed the responsible company's ability to pay, the sanctions for wrong-doing also should include jail time and fines for the executives responsible for business decisions that harm others...more

Dash for Gas Raises Environmental Worries

American politicians often extol natural gas as abundant, cleaner-burning than other fossil fuels, and domestically produced, unlike Middle Eastern oil. But the process of extracting it is raising concerns among people with wells in their backyards. Anger and fear were on display last week at a public meeting convened by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Fort Worth, a gas-drilling hub. Dozens of local residents took turns at the microphone to voice concerns about potential contamination of drinking water. A film called “Gasland,” released last month on the cable channel HBO, showed people in drilling areas lighting their tap water on fire, as gas found its way into their water supply. “I am frustrated and angry,” said State Representative Lon Burnam, Democrat of Fort Worth, who spoke at the meeting and decried the “inadequacies” of state regulators. At issue is a procedure known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which has been adopted widely in the United States over the past 10 years to extract gas trapped in shale formations. It is just starting to spread to other parts of the world, including Europe, China and Australia. More than 20,000 wells of this nature have been drilled in the past 10 years, according to a study of natural gas released last month by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...more

A Green Retreat

Just three years ago the politics of global warming was enjoying its golden moment. The release in 2006 of Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, had riveted global audiences with its predictions of New York and Miami under 20 feet of water. Within 12 months, leading politicians with real power were on board. Following two of the harshest winters on record in the Northern Hemisphere—not to mention an epic economic crisis—voters no longer consider global warming a priority. Just 42 percent of Germans now worry about climate change, down from 62 percent in 2006. In Australia, only 53 percent still consider it a pressing issue, down from 75 percent in 2007. Americans rank climate change dead last of 21 problems that concern them most, according to a January Pew poll. Last month Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, blasting climate change as a “sideshow” to global economic issues, canceled the meeting of environment ministers that has preceded the G8 or G20 summit every year but one since 1994. What has turned the fight against global warming from vote getter to political hot potato in so many places at once?...more

Greenhouse Protection Racket

Climate policymaking in our Nation’s capital often resembles the heavy-handed dialogue of old-time mobster films. “Are you gonna come along quietly, or do I have let the California Air Resources Board (CARB) muss ya up?” That was pretty much the line White House Environment Czarina Carol Browner took to obtain the auto industry’s support for the joint EPA/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSHA) greenhouse gas (GHG) emission/fuel economy standards rule. EPA is now in a position both to determine the stringency of fuel economy standards for the auto industry and to set climate policy for the nation. Yet the Clean Air Act provides no authority to regulate fuel economy and says nothing about greenhouse gases or global climate change. ”Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges.” Here’s how the regulatory mugging went down...more

Oh No! Guacamole, Salsa Are "Hazardous"

Hot or mild, the salsa and guacamole Americans love to order in restaurants may be packing an unexpected kick, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The dishes were blamed for one in 25 identified outbreaks of food poisoning at restaurants between 1998 and 2008—more than twice the rate of the previous decade, the CDC said. Often, the outbreaks were traced to raw hot peppers, tomatoes and cilantro—common ingredients in salsa and guacamole. Uncooked foods, such as salsa and guacamole, are risky because there is no heat to wipe out bad bacteria, says Lisa McBeth, who supervises food safety for the Qdoba Mexican Grill chain, based in Wheat Ridge, Colo. Magdalena Kendall, one of the researchers on the study at the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, in Oak Ridge, Tenn., says salsa and guacamole sometimes aren't refrigerated appropriately and often are made up in large batches, so even a small amount of contamination can affect many customers. "Awareness that salsa and guacamole can transmit food-borne illness, particularly in restaurants, is key to preventing future outbreaks," the researcher said in a CDC statement...more

I say give CDC a "salsa salute"...with your middle finger.

10-foot gator bites off man's hand in Fla. canal

Florida wildlife officials say a 10-foot alligator bit off a man's hand while he was swimming in a canal with friends. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Gabriella Ferraro says 18-year-old Timothy Delano of Naples is recovering at a hospital. Officials managed to catch the gator and retrieve the hand from its stomach, and doctors may be able to reattach the hand. Ferraro says Delano was swimming with three friends around 9:30 p.m. Sunday when the alligator attacked. The men swam to shore and drove to a gas station, where they called 911. Delano was flown by helicopter to a hospital. Wildlife officials say people should stay out of freshwater canals and lakes this time of year because alligators are more active, especially around dawn and dusk. AP

Talk about putting a crimp in your skinny dipping.

Tough new Chicago gun law takes effect today

An ordinance that Chicago officials say is the strictest handgun regulation in the country takes effect today. The restrictions were approved by the City Council July 2 in response to a Supreme Court ruling that local lawmakers say will put more guns in people's hands. The new ordinance bans gun shops in Chicago and prohibits gun owners from stepping outside their homes, even onto their porches or in their garages, with a handgun. Suits have already been filed by a man who wants to open a gun shop in the city and four residents along with a gun sellers group. They claim the ordinance is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled in June that Americans have the right to have handguns for self-defense. The ruling effectively made the city's 28-year-old gun ban unenforceable. AP

They need to take those Chicago officials to Florida and introduce them to some of the native wildlife. Like in canals.

The Great Horse-Manure Crisis of 1894

Nineteenth-century cities depended on thousands of horses for their daily functioning. All transport, whether of goods or people, was drawn by horses. London in 1900 had 11,000 cabs, all horse-powered. There were also several thousand buses, each of which required 12 horses per day, a total of more than 50,000 horses. In addition, there were countless carts, drays, and wains, all working constantly to deliver the goods needed by the rapidly growing population of what was then the largest city in the world. Similar figures could be produced for any great city of the time. The problem of course was that all these horses produced huge amounts of manure. A horse will on average produce between 15 and 35 pounds of manure per day. Consequently, the streets of nineteenth-century cities were covered by horse manure. This in turn attracted huge numbers of flies, and the dried and ground-up manure was blown everywhere. In New York in 1900, the population of 100,000 horses produced 2.5 million pounds of horse manure per day, which all had to be swept up and disposed of. (See Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 [New York: Oxford University Press, 1999]). In 1898 the first international urban-planning conference convened in New York. It was abandoned after three days, instead of the scheduled ten, because none of the delegates could see any solution to the growing crisis posed by urban horses and their output. The problem did indeed seem intractable. The larger and richer that cities became, the more horses they needed to function. The more horses, the more manure. Writing in the Times of London in 1894, one writer estimated that in 50 years every street in London would be buried under nine feet of manure. Moreover, all these horses had to be stabled, which used up ever-larger areas of increasingly valuable land. And as the number of horses grew, ever-more land had to be devoted to producing hay to feed them (rather than producing food for people), and this had to be brought into cities and distributed—by horse-drawn vehicles. It seemed that urban civilization was doomed...more