Friday, August 06, 2010

Mexico confirms car had explosive device aboard; 9 headless bodies found

Investigators said Friday there was an explosive device aboard a car that blew up outside police headquarters in the border state of Tamaulipas, the second car-bomb attack against law enforcement in less than a month. Authorities are still working to determine what explosives were used, who planted the bomb and how it was detonated, according to a state police spokesman who was not authorized to be quoted by name. No one was hurt by Thursday's blast in a parking lot outside a police station near Ciudad Victoria, the state capital, but two police vehicles were damaged. On July 15, a car bomb killed a policeman, a doctor and a kidnap victim used as a decoy in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas. A drug gang has been blamed for that attack. Also Friday, authorities in the western state of Sinaloa announced the discovery of nine bodies in a clandestine grave believed to be linked to drug gangs. The bodies were found in a pit in the coastal city of Mazatlan, said Martin Gastelum, a spokesman for the Sinaloa state prosecutors' office. An anonymous tip led police to the site. Four of the bodies were missing their heads, and the victims appear to have been killed anywhere from a month to a year ago...more

BLM document reveals big change in federal land management

KSL 5 News has obtained a document that outlines a huge change in how the federal government wants to manage federal land in Utah, and one Utah congressman says it makes him furious. Congressman Rob Bishop's office also recently received the document. Bishop said he's angry because it would put virtually all land management power in the hands of the White House. A portion of the document was leaked back in February and led to speculation about a federal land grab in Utah. It talked about the creation of a 12 new national monuments. Now, an outside source provided KSL with the entire document, and it does suggest a dramatically new philosophy for managing federal land. The Bureau of Land Management's document is stamped with "Internal Draft. Not for release." Titled "Treasured Landscapes," it lays out what some consider a sweeping and detailed plan for the next 25 years. It took Bishop months to get the document, which lays out the context for the snippets released a few months ago. "They have clearly been dragging their feet, and they don't want to let us know what they're trying to do," Bishop says. He is especially concerned about portions of the document that recommend using the Antiquities Act "should the legislative process not prove fruitful." The act gives the president power to designate a national monument with no public or legislative input...more

"Of the 264 million acres under BLM management, some 130- to 140-million acres are worthy of consideration as treasured lands. These areas [are] roughly equivalent in size to Colorado and Wyoming combined." -BLM's Treasured Lanscapes paper

50% plus of BLM holdings are treasured lands? That's a howler of the first order.

Wildlife advocates hail Rocky Mountain wolf ruling

Wildlife advocates say a ruling to restore Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves throughout the Northern Rocky Mountains buys time to create a better plan than the one the judge rejected, one that ensures their numbers don't dwindle again. Meanwhile, state wildlife officials in Montana and Idaho were reviewing Thursday's ruling that blocked them from carrying out their wolf management plans and their preparations for wolf hunts this fall. State officials said they were considering their options, including an appeal. U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy's ruling knocked down a U.S. Fish and Wildlife decision last year that kept federal protections in place in Wyoming, where state law is considered hostile to the animals' survival, but turned over to Montana and Idaho wolf management responsibilities within their borders. Molloy said in his ruling that the entire Northern Rocky Mountain wolf population either must be listed as an endangered species or removed from the list, but the protections for the same population can't be different for each state. Separating the protections may solve a tricky political issue, but it does not comply with the Endangered Species Act, Molloy ruled...more

No human advocates were quoted.

El Paso Corp. catches hell over deal with enviros

A settlement between environmental groups and El Paso Corp. over the Ruby Pipeline Project has caused "worry, concern and anger," the president of El Paso Western Pipeline Group told Elko County Commissioners Wednesday. About 30 people attended the commission meeting and heard about two-and-a-half hours of discussion about the Ruby Pipeline Project and, particularly, El Paso Corp.'s agreement with Western Watersheds Project and the Oregon Natural Desert Association. El Paso Corp. didn't expect "the firestorm that has erupted over this deal," said Jim Cleary, president of El Paso Western Pipeline Group. "You guys went into bed with the worst there is," Commissioner John Ellison told El Paso Corp. representatives, referring to the company's $20 million agreement finalized last month with the two groups. "Negotiating with Western Watersheds Project damages your reputation," Commission Chairman Charlie Myers told company representatives. Myers said representatives from El Paso Corp. thought it would be easier to fight individual counties than Western Watersheds Project. "Well, I am the president of Ruby Pipeline and that statement is not true at all," Cleary said. Commissioner Warren Russell said the majority of commissioners probably wouldn't support the project today. Jeff Williams, a member of Elko County's Natural Resources Management Advisory Commission, said a neighbor "who offends another makes a proper restitution." Williams said Elko County has shown a great amount of "western hospitality" to El Paso Corp., but should have also taught them "country ethics." "I want the gas line to go through, but wouldn't want to put up with someone who is a friend one day and stabs you in the back the next day," he said. Elko County Planner Randy Brown said his staff was directed to help El Paso Corp. 28 months ago when the project was proposed. They have spent many hours helping the corporation acquire easements since then. "We feel very slapped in the face," he said about the agreement...more

El Paso, Public Lands Council work on deal

El Paso Corp. and the Public Lands Council are hammering out an agreement that could help resolve the energy company's conflict with the ranching industry and counties along the Ruby Pipeline route. "It's a very positive first step," Public Lands Council President Skye Krebs of Ione, Ore., said Thursday. "It's a real substantial step forward." He said the details were still being worked out, after a meeting Thursday in Salt Lake City. National Cattlemen's Beef Association Federal Lands Committee representatives and other industry representatives also attended the meeting, Krebs said. The conflict is over El Paso Corp.'s $20 million agreement with Western Watersheds Project and the Oregon Natural Desert Association that establishes two conservation funds. The organizations stated one of their goals would be the purchase and retirement of grazing permits. Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, chairman of the Legislative Committee on Public Lands and the Nevada representative and past chairman of the Public Lands Council, said Thursday he had heard only a little about the proposed agreement. "I understand it is in the millions (of dollars)," said Rhoads, who added he expected the Public Lands Council to set up a conference call soon to talk about the proposal...more

Will wait to see the language in the agreement. Hope the cowboys aren't being bought off just like the enviros.

Lawmakers seek broad probe into Forest Service response to Station fire

California's two U.S. senators and several local House members Thursday called on Congress' investigative arm to launch a sweeping probe into the Forest Service's response to last summer's disastrous Station fire. In asking for the investigation by the Government Accountability Office, which typically grants such requests, the lawmakers recommended a broad examination of the Forest Service's decisions and tactics. Those include the use of aircraft early in the fight and the question of whether everything possible was done to protect homes that burned in Big Tujunga Canyon. The legislators also cited the disclosure this week that telephone dispatch recordings made during the fire were withheld from a Forest Service review team and the public. The Times requested the recordings last year and again this year, but Forest Service officials said they did not exist. The late discovery of the recordings "casts a dark cloud over the findings of the review panel and immediately warrants an independent review of the Station fire response," the lawmakers said in a letter to the GAO. "Our purpose for this review is to ensure that all actions in the response to the fire were taken swiftly, properly and competently."...more

Judge allows roundup of wild horses in California

A federal judge is allowing the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to round up more than 2,000 wild horses in California's far northeastern corner, where the animals graze on high desert plains. An animal-rights group had sought a temporary restraining order to postpone the roundup, which is scheduled for next week. It plans to appeal Thursday's ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Morrison C. England Jr. in Sacramento. Wild horses roam 10 Western states. The BLM says the roundups are necessary because overpopulation, combined with drought, has withered rangeland. There are approximately 4,000 wild horses in California, according to Deniz Bolbol, spokeswoman for In Defense of Animals, who says roundup of the Twin Peaks herd would cut the state's population in half...more

UN panel: New taxes needed for a climate fund

Carbon taxes, add-ons to international air fares and a levy on cross-border money movements are among ways being considered by a panel of the world's leading economists to raise a staggering $100 billion a year to fight climate change. British economist Nicholas Stern told international climate negotiators Thursday that government regulation and public money also will be needed to create incentives for private investment in industries that emit fewer greenhouse gases. In short, a new industrial revolution is needed to move the world away from fossil fuels to low carbon growth, he said. "It will be extremely exciting, dynamic and productive," said Stern, one of 18 experts in public finance on an advisory panel appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon...more

Wyoming Considers Grand Teton Sale To Spur Feds

The governor of Wyoming is threatening to sell off state-owned land in Grand Teton National Park to private developers. He wants to pressure the federal government to come up with a good deal for the land. The land inside the park consists of two parcels of roughly a square-mile each. They're known as state school trust lands — they're supposed to generate funds for public schools, and are supposed to be "managed for maximum profit." The problem is that the land is worth over $100 million, but the state is currently only getting about $3,000 a year from grazing leases to a cattle rancher. For more than a decade the state has tried to negotiate with the feds to trade the pristine park land for property of equal value, such as land that could be developed for coal. But Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal says the federal government has not come up with a fair deal. So he decided to send a message...more

War Vs. Big Oil Goes Beyond Drilling Ban

The White House, along with certain members of Congress, has declared war on Big Oil. This animosity is evidenced not only by the current ban on offshore drilling, which may well force the industry to relocate to other parts of the world, it is also reflected in the myriad of proposals to hike the industry's taxes and use the additional revenues to pursue the administration's green agenda. President Obama's 2011 budget would do away with $4 billion in accelerated depreciation, depletion allowances and other long-established incentives for oil and gas drilling. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., has introduced a bill that would remove another $20 billion of industry "tax breaks." According to the American Petroleum Institute, over the next decade tax hikes on the industry could exceed $80 billion. Without question, hiking the tax burden on America's oil and gas companies will mean less, not more, domestic energy production. And though the "enemy" is Big Oil, according to the Independent Petroleum Association these tax increases will fall disproportionately on small drilling companies and could potentially reduce domestic oil and gas production by 20% to 40%. In exchange for at best a small reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, thousands of jobs will be destroyed, billions of potential investment dollars will flow overseas, imports of fossil fuels will increase, energy prices will rise, and many states and localities that derive revenue from oil and natural gas production will witness further declines in their tax receipts...more

Governor Richardson Proclaims First Annual “Roadless Recreation Week”

Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM) joins other governors and conservation groups from across the country to support America’s first annual Roadless Recreation Week, August 7-15, which will host more than 50 recreation activities in national forest roadless areas in New Mexico and in 12 other states. The weeklong celebration highlights the importance of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, issued to protect nearly 60 million acres of pristine national forests across the country, and encourages the public to go “all out” to enjoy the outdoor opportunities these areas provide. Governor Richardson issued a proclamation today to “recognize the recreational, environmental and economic values” roadless areas provide and calls the national roadless rule “one of the most popular federal policies ever developed.”...more

Song Of The Day #373

Ranch Radio will close out it's Songs About Food Week with How Many Biscuits Can You Eat, a radio transcription by LuLu Belle & Scotty.

A widow's plea

The first time I see Sue Krentz she's riding on a quad bike, a tool as indispensible to the modern rancher as a fleet-footed pony was to the cowboys who used to work the cattle in this part of southern Arizona. Sue is short, compact, burnt by wind and sun, and looks as tough as they come. You have to be to run a huge ranch with around 600 head of cattle ranging over thousands of acres. But this seemingly indomitable woman has become a lost spirit, bravely just about holding herself together. She tells me: "My life has been broken and a piece is missing, Rob was the love of my life. We'd been married 33 years." Rob Krentz was murdered on 28 March. Sue tells me: "I am not bitter, I am frustrated." Then, correcting herself, says: "I am bitter. Yes I am. The violence is increasing and the individuals are becoming more aggressive and more desperate in some cases." She repeatedly makes the point that her family and Rob's family and they themselves have helped many illegal immigrants over the year, whether by giving them water, or jobs, or helping them get paperwork to stay in the US. "We have owned this ranch for 103 years we have probably helped a million people. Why this one? Why now? I just don't understand. This has ruined my safe haven, this has violated my family, this has changed my life forever. It's not fair." Her cousin, standing beside her during the interview for moral support adds that he is 60 years old and he had not locked the front door until he was 40. The level of crime has been getting worse for 20 years and it's rising still. Sue says the government must do more. "Article four section four of the constiution says it is the duty of the government to protect us from invasion, foreign and domestic. All we are asking is to be safe and free and on our own land, on our own property. "We have the right to demand that."...more

U.S. Warns Terrorists May Enter the Country From Mexico as Drug War Rages

Mexico’s drug-related violence is straining local law enforcement in the northern part of the country, making it easier for terrorists to enter the U.S. through the border, the U.S. State Department said. Mexican drug cartels are stepping up attacks on police and the army in the northern swath of the country, as well as marijuana-growing regions, the State Department said today in a report on its website. That’s overwhelming security forces and creating potential vulnerabilities that international terrorists may exploit, the report said. The State Department hasn’t found evidence of links between drug cartels and international terrorists, and there’s no proof that terrorists are operating in the country or have crossed into the U.S. via Mexico. “The violence attributed to organized crime groups on the border continued to strain Mexico’s law enforcement capacities,” the report said...more

People from Countries Tied to Terrorism Stopped in the El Paso Sector

Thousands of illegal immigrants are caught every year in the Borderland, but they're not all from Mexico. News Channel 9 has learned just how many of these illegal are coming from states that sponsor terrorism. It was a new level of violence seen in Juarez just about three weeks ago, car bombs. The sophistication of the attacks raised the question, where are the new weapons and tactics come from? After all, these types of attacks are usually seen in countries struggling with terrorism. So we investigated, and we found out since October more than 800 people, other than Mexicans, have been caught by El Paso Border Patrol. The list goes back about a year and some of the countries are surprising considering their ties to terrorism. Take a look.

Saudi Arabia 1
Pakistan 1
Libya 1
Iraq 2
Iran 2
Cuba 4

For the complete article and a video report go to KTSM-TV.

The Five Most Crime-Ridden U.S. Judicial Districts Are All on the Mexican Border

When measured by the number of criminal defendants charged with federal crimes by U.S. attorneys, the top five U.S. judicial districts for fiscal 2009 were all on the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, these five judicial districts are the only five on the U.S.-Mexico border—covering its entire expanse from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. There are 94 federal judicial districts covering the area of all 50 states, plus Guam, the North Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. In the Southern District of Texas, which covers a stretch of border from Brownsville past Laredo, the U.S. attorney’s office filed criminal charges against 8,801 defendants in fiscal 2009. That gave that district the nation’s No. 1 ranking for most criminal defendants charged in 2009, according to data published in Table 1 of the United States Attorneys’ Annual Statistical Report for Fiscal Year 2009. The United States Attorneys’ Annual Statistical Report for Fiscal Year 2009, compiled and released by President Barack Obama’s Justice Department, is just more evidence that our government is not doing its job of defending our nation’s border with Mexico. According to the Justice Department’s own numbers, federal crime is dramatically disproportionate along that border compared to the rest of the United States...more

Body armour, helmets advised for Northern Mexico reporters

Mexico's journalist association has adopted a new " security protocol" for Chihuahua state, including recommended measures such as body armour and helmets, in the wake of attacks on media workers by drug cartels. The measures recommended by the State Human Rights Commission for reporters in the US border region is included in a new guide handbook, which details other safety advice such as waiting for security forces to arrive at a crime scene first, and to devise escape routes by car for when situations deteriorate. At least nine journalists have been killed or gone missing this year, and more than 30 have died since President Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown on organized crime three-and-a-half years ago, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)...more

Car bomb rocks government offices in Tamaulipas, Mexico

A car bomb rocked the headquarters of the Tamaulipas State Public Safety complex in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, the agency said Thursday. No one was hurt; two police cars were damaged, it said in a news release. Authorities said the explosion, which occurred at 5:20 p.m., appeared to have emanated from inside a white compact car in a parking lot behind the building, near the offices of the Rural Police. Agents with the Mexican federal police are investigating the blast, which was felt inside the building. Thursday's incident marks at least the third recent incident involving explosives near the Mexico-U.S. border. Last month, a car bomb killed four people in Juarez, where police and rescuers had responded to assist an injured person dressed in a police uniform. Last Friday, an explosion rocked the parking lot of a TV station in Nuevo Laredo on the night that Televisa TV network faded its signal to black for almost an hour to call attention to the escalating violence in Mexico. CNN

Mexico drug cartels use gory videos to spread fear

Powerful drug cartels are increasingly using gruesome videos of executions and interrogations to intimidate their rivals, police and an already terrified public in Mexico's vicious drug war. The drug gangs, battling for control of lucrative smuggling routes into the United States, have long attached handwritten notes to victims they dump in public as a way to scare rival gangs and pesky state officials. But they are now airing more and more of their dirty work and threats on blogs or Web sites like YouTube, and bullying Mexican media into putting their gory tapes on television for wider play. The format of the tapes is often the same: captives, many bloodied from beatings, are tied up, blindfolded and posed in front of a draped sheet in an anonymous setting. Surrounded by heavily armed captors in ski-masks and guided by questioning from an off-camera voice, the captives are forced to confess allegiances to cartels or corrupt officials. Many are then murdered on-camera...more

The Violent New Face of Border Smuggling

Border Patrol Agent Jose Morales has patrolled the same stretch of no-man’s-land in his unmarked SUV between Tijuana, Mexico and San Ysidro, Calif., hundreds of times. But the world seemed to stop around 9 a.m. one morning last month when a dispatcher broke through the radio chatter with a solemn announcement, “Border Patrol Agent Robert Rosas, you will never be forgotten.” That morning―July 23―was the anniversary of the first on-duty death of a Border Patrol agent by gunfire in 12 years. Rosas was gunned down in a remote area some 60 miles east of San Diego by Christian Daniel Castro-Alvarez, then a 16-year-old Mexican citizen who was working with others to lure the 30-year-old father of two out of his patrol vehicle to rob him. Alvarez who pleaded guilty to the agent’s murder, was sentenced in San Diego Federal Court this May as an adult to 40 years in prison. His accomplices remain at large. Chillingly, Rosas is not likely to be the last fatal victim. As the debate over securing U.S. borders heats up once again following Arizona’s controversial immigration law, one key element has been overlooked. Over the past four years there has been a significant increase in assaults against agents, primarily in the southwest sectors. Officials are concerned enough to call for a re-examination of Border Patrol tactics, in the wake of the escalating violence along the U.S.-Mexican border...more

Mexican cardinals endorse idea of debating legalization of drugs

Two Mexican cardinals have endorsed a proposal by President Felipe Calderon to open a debate on the merits of drug legalization in a country beset with violence attributed to narcotics-trafficking cartels. Cardinals Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City and Juan Sandoval Iniguez of Guadalajara did not express support for drug legalization but called for the issue to be studied and for Mexico to learn from the experiences of other countries. Calderon made his proposal to debate legalizing drugs Aug. 3. He later clarified he did not favor legalization, but he was open to the debate. Mexico decriminalized the possession of small quantities of drugs in 2009 in an effort to focus enforcement activities on detaining drug dealers instead of drug users. Some political observers interpreted Calderon floating the legalization idea as a potential backup plan for dealing with an ever-growing wave of organized crime violence that has claimed 28,000 lives since he took office in December 2006...more

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Activists, Lawmakers Push to end Drilling Moratorium

The Obama Administration is tinkering with pulling the plug on its temporarily moratorium on deepwater drilling in light of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But for some in Congress and energy advocacy groups, that might not be soon enough. "I believe the Obama Administration is choking the American economy," said former-Rep. John Peterson (R-PA), who used to represent one of the richest oil patches in the Keystone State. "If we don't produce (oil), OPEC will." Peterson joined Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) at a Capitol Hill rally held by the American Energy Alliance (AEA). AEA argues that the six-month moratorium could cost the country $2.7 billion in lost commerce and puts thousands of jobs at risk. "If that oil exploration does not occur in the Gulf of Mexico, those companies will move to other parts of the world that are far-less rigorous (when it comes to environmental protection)," Cornyn said...more

Drilling czar sees possibility of lifting ban early

The nation's top drilling regulator Tuesday raised the possibility that the Obama administration could lift its deep-water exploration ban before it expires in November — if the industry boosts its ability to clean up and contain oil spills. "I think it's everybody's hope that we will feel comfortable enough that the moratorium can be lifted significantly in advance of Nov. 30," said Michael Bromwich, the newly tapped director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement - formerly the Minerals Management Service. Bromwich is embarking today on an eight-city listening tour with public meetings designed to shed light on drilling and workplace safety, spill containment and disaster response technology...more

BLM: 34 horses dead in roundup in northeast Nevada

Federal officials confirmed Wednesday that 34 wild horses died or were euthanized during a roundup of animals from parched rangeland in Nevada, sparking fresh criticism from horse protection advocates pressing the Obama administration to suspend such operations. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman JoLynn Worley said 1,224 wild horses were collected in pens during the Tuscarora wild horse gather that concluded Monday outside the Rock Creek Herd Management Area, or HMA, in northeastern Nevada's Elko County. In addition to the 34 horses that died, two more were put down after they were found injured by a contractor herding more than two dozen wild horses away from a steep cliff, Worley said Wednesday. The BLM characterizes its ongoing horse and burro roundups as emergency operations made necessary by drought and overpopulation on public and private lands. For a week in mid-July, the agency hauled 46,000 gallons of water to dehydrated herds in a neighboring HMA...more

BLM announces extension for horse, burro plan

Today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced it is extending the public comment period on its Wild Horse and Burro Program Strategy Development Document to September 3, 2010. The extension will provide members of the public with an interest in the management of America’s wild horses and burros an additional 30 days to comment on the document, which outlines possible management actions under consideration by the BLM to implement Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s Wild Horse and Burro Initiative. The bureau will also accept comments submitted via e-mail. The BLM’s Strategy Development Document was initially released to the public for a 60-day review and comment period on June 3. The extension announced today will increase the public's opportunity to provide input for the BLM as it prepares a long-term strategy for the management of America’s wild horses and burros. The BLM’s strategy will be presented in a detailed report to Congress...more


HUGH B. McKEEN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE, an Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture; TOM VILSACK, in his official capacity as Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture; TOM TIDWELL, in his official capacity as Chief of the Forest Service; CORBIN L. NEWMAN, in his official capacity as Regional Forester for the Southwest Region, State of New Mexico; RICHARD E. MARKLEY, in his official capacity as Forest Supervisor of the Gila National Forest, State of New Mexico; PAT MORRISON, in her official capacity as the Glenwood District Ranger in the Gila National Forest, Defendants-Appellees.[ 1 ]

No. 08-2290.
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.
August 2, 2010.

Submitted on the briefs:

Karen Budd-Falen, and Kathryn Brack Morrow, Budd-Falen Law Offices, LLC, Cheyenne, Wyoming, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General, Aaron P. Avila, Andrew A. Smith, and Susan L. Pacholski, Attorneys, United States Department of Justice, Environment & Natural Resources Division, Washington, D.C., for Defendants-Appellees.

Before BRISCOE, Chief Judge, HAWKINS[ 2 ], and O'BRIEN, Circuit Judges.

BRISCOE, Chief Judge.

For more than forty years, the United States Forest Service (hereinafter "Forest Service") has granted Plaintiff Hugh B. McKeen and his family a series of term livestock grazing permits to graze cattle and/or horses on the Cedar Breaks Allotment in the Glenwood Ranger District of the Gila National Forest in Catron County, New Mexico. Recently, McKeen sought to have several Forest Service actions which affected these permits set aside pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. § 551 et seq. The district court denied each of McKeen's requests for relief and McKeen filed this timely appeal. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and AFFIRM in part and VACATE in part. With respect to those claims which we vacate, we REMAND to the district court with instructions to DISMISS as moot.[ 3 ]...

Go here to read the decision.

Elite Science Panel Wades Into Calif. Water War

Scientists tasked with unraveling one of the nation's most vexing environmental puzzles started their first field trip to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta at a fish processing facility here near one of the estuary's major water-pumping stations. Assembled by the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists -- 15 experts in estuarine ecology, hydrology, fisheries science and water resources engineering -- were gathering information for a series of reports that could influence management of the West Coast's largest estuary for decades to come. The stakes for the two-year study are high. All around the delta, demand for water is growing -- water for endangered fish, for farms and for 25 million people. Political pressure from California's senior U.S. senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, and others finally forced the White House to order the review this spring. So the National Research Council panel has parachuted into a decades-long environmental battle being fought over a 700-mile-long maze of shipping canals, rivers, levees and aqueducts. The scientists are moving at a rapid clip to satisfy political pressure on all sides as they try to get a clear picture of the science behind two federal recovery plans for endangered chinook salmon and delta smelt and a number of proposals aimed at solving regional water problems...more

A tale of three counties

What are the odds that San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties would be simultaneously rewriting their grading ordinances? Coincidence? Hardly. A move is afoot to wrest as much control of land away from landowners as possible, mainly farmers and ranchers, since they own most of the undeveloped land. The insult to injury is that urbanites gobbled up the best farm land for their own urban lifestyle, and now they are trying to impede the ability of farmers and ranchers to head for the hills. In view of the fact that property taxes are the major source of revenue for local discretionary spending, all of these policy regimens spell disaster for local government, in that they will serve to impede intensification of land use, including the conversion of rangeland to row crops. In essence, they will prohibit, by regulatory fiat, the ability to invest and make improvements of any kind on the rural lands of the tri-county area. This will serve to flatline future revenue growth for the economy as a whole. Ventura County is so bold as to actually create overlay maps of most all the rural lands in the county, and label the lands wildlife corridors and wildlife habitat...more

Beefalo or buffalo? The purebred push for bison

July was National Bison Month — but not at the Denver Zoo, which set four of the burly brown beasts free earlier this year. No, in January the zoo sent its four critters — one bull and three cows — to the Last Gulch Ranch in southeastern Colorado, where they are living with forty other bison owned by conservationist rancher Robert Alsobrook. But the zoo still owns the bison and plans to build a herd of purebred animals on the ranch so it can study how they interact with the environment compared to bison that have been interbred with cattle, says Rich Reading, conservation biology director at the zoo. Although there are more than half a million bison in the United States, only a small portion of them are genetically pure — including the four zoo animals, the two herds owned by the City of Denver, and the famous animals at Yellowstone National Park. "Bison are a keystone species," Reading says, meaning that their habits, particularly their grazing patterns, can affect living things all around them, including plants, birds and small reptiles and amphibians. And purebred bison graze differently than beefalos...more

Mexican bandits hold ‘river pilots’ for ransom

Two “river pilots” on patrol over the international border on Aug. 10, 1919 mistook the Rio Conchos River for the Rio Grande and took a wrong turn deep into the Mexican interior. A chronic burr under the Lone Star saddle since San Jacinto, Mexican bandits once again were making life miserable on the border, especially in the Big Bend. Utilizing the latest technology in the war against this old menace, the Border Patrol took to the skies in June 1919. From an airfield at Marfa, four biplanes flew daily surveillance over the shallow waterway separating Texas and Mexico. Eagle-eyed “river pilots” scanned the barren landscape for any sign of the elusive outlaws. While on routine patrol on Aug. 10, Lt. H.G. Peterson and Lt. Paul Davis became so confused they followed the Rio Conchos west into Mexico instead of setting a northerly course by the Rio Grande. When the engine of their two-seater suddenly sputtered, the two were forced to make an emergency landing 80 miles inside Mexican territory...more

Song Of The Day #373

Good Bunch of Biscuits by Jim & Jesse and the Virgina Boys keeps us going on food week at Ranch Radio.

Feds admit storing checkpoint body scan images

For the last few years, federal agencies have defended body scanning by insisting that all images will be discarded as soon as they're viewed. The Transportation Security Administration claimed last summer, for instance, that "scanned images cannot be stored or recorded." Now it turns out that some police agencies are storing the controversial images after all. The U.S. Marshals Service admitted this week that it had surreptitiously saved tens of thousands of images recorded with a millimeter wave system at the security checkpoint of a single Florida courthouse. This follows an earlier disclosure (PDF) by the TSA that it requires all airport body scanners it purchases to be able to store and transmit images for "testing, training, and evaluation purposes." The agency says, however, that those capabilities are not normally activated when the devices are installed at airports...more

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

House Bill 305 - A ban on the transportation of all horses in double deck trucks

PRCA Livestock Welfare News "Take Action"
August 3, 2010

House Bill 305
- A ban on the transportation of all horses in double deck trucks

This bill passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee after being brought to markup in committee with 2 ½ days notice with no hearing on the matter. Rep. Boswell of IA expressed concern about the effect on the rodeo industry and offered an amendment. In the end, he agreed to withdraw the amendment at the urging of Chairman Oberstar of MN and the bill passed with unanimous consent after the Chairman agreed to discuss the issues before the bill goes to the floor. This happened with one day left in the session before the August Recess.

Since this bill has passed committee, it could go to the House Floor at any time after the August recess on September 13, 2010. All rodeo supporters should:

1. Fax or email a letter of opposition to your Representative in Congress. There is not a Senate Bill at this time but include a copy of your letter to both of your Senators to let them know there is opposition.
a. Due to security measures, it takes a long time for a letter to be delivered, so faxing or emailing material reaches your representatives and senators sooner. If you do not want to write, you may call the representative's office and register your opposition.
b. To find your Congressional Representative, go to; click on Write Your Representative or Find Your Representative upper left; and enter your zip code. The link to his/her webpage will provide contact information.
c. You may also include all or part of a report published by the PRCA titled, "Transporting Rodeo Horses in Modified Double Deck Trailers", which can be found here.
2. Try and set up a face to face meeting with your Congressional Representative while he/she is at home on August recess to discuss this issue.
3. Monitor the political races in your area and ask candidates about their positions on agriculture, rodeo, and animal use.

Representative Kirk (IL), with Co Sponsors Rep. Cohen (TN) and Rep. Whitfield (KY) introduced a bill (H.R. 305) to ban hauling horses in double deck trailers on January 8, 2009.
Congressman Kirk said he was prompted to introduce this legislation by an accident in Wadsworth, Illinois in October, 2007 involving the overturning of a double deck cattle trailer carrying 59 Belgian draft horses. Eight horses died at the scene and ten were later euthanized. Currently, several states including New York and Pennsylvania have laws prohibiting the transport of horses in double deck trailers, additionally federal regulation prohibit hauling horse to slaughter plants in double deck trailers.

The bill, titled the 'Horse Transportation Safety Act of 2009', was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and passed out of that committee on July 29, 2010.
Partial text of the bill:
`(a) Prohibition- No person may transport, or cause to be transported, a horse from a place in a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States through or to a place in another State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States in a motor vehicle containing two or more levels stacked on top of one another.
`(b) Civil Penalty- A person that knowingly violates this section is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of at least $100 but not more than $500 for each violation. A separate violation occurs under this section for each horse that is transported, or caused to be transported, in violation of this section. On learning of a violation, the Attorney General shall bring a civil action to collect the penalty in the district court of the United States for the judicial district in which the violation occurred or the defendant resides or does business. Complete information on the bill, click here.

• As the bill is drafted, horses would be prohibited from transport in any double deck trailer--even in those which are modified to provide safe and comfortable conditions of adequate head room and non-slip floors and ramps.

• Modified double deck trailers are routinely used and have been successfully used for many years to safely transport valuable rodeo livestock, including horses. Eliminating double deck trailers and purchasing replacement trailers and trucks to pull them unfairly entails unnecessary expense.

• Unlike some transport of horses where the animals may be unfamiliar with each other and inexperienced in being hauled, rodeo horses are part of a familiar herd that are accustomed to this kind of transport, and they are well adapted to it.


Use the opening paragraphs and following to create a personalized fax or email. Add your personal experience with hauling horses in double deck trailers or seeing horses at rodeos that have been safely transported in these trailers.

Honorable ____________
Washington, DC

RE: Opposition to HR 305

Dear Representative _______________:

As a supporter of the sport of rodeo I am writing to express my concerns about H.R. 305, the Horse Transportation Safety Act, and urge you to oppose this bill.

This bill was rushed through the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee without even three days notice. There has not been a hearing to adequately debate the consequences.

This bill would ban the use of double deck trailers to transport horses. I am opposed to it because ....PERSONALIZE THIS PORTION FROM THE TALKING POINTS ABOVE OR YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. Include your role as a committee members, contestant, stock contractor, etc and what you have seen personally and combine with one or more of the reasons above.

To view a video of a stock contractor explaining and touring a double deck horse trailer go to:

Thank you for your consideration of my personal experience regarding the sport of rodeo and the horses involved that are routinely and safely transported in specially modified double deck trailers. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Include your full name, address, phone and email address.

Thank you for your interest and support in livestock welfare issues and the PRCA. Do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance.


Cindy Schonholtz
PRCA Director of Industry Outreach

U.S. finds most oil from Gulf spill poses little risk

The U.S. government is expected to announce that three-quarters of the oil from the BP Plc spill in the Gulf of Mexico has already evaporated, dispersed, or been captured or eliminated, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. A government report, due to be unveiled on Wednesday morning was also expected to say that what is left of the oil is so diluted that it does not seem to pose much additional risk, the newspaper said. The report found that about 26 percent of the oil released in the world's worst accidental marine oil spill was still in the water or onshore in a form that possibly could cause new problems. But most is light sheen at the surface or dispersed below the surface and federal scientists believe that it is breaking down rapidly, The New York Times reported. The report, by federal scientists with outside help, is the result of an effort to determine the total volume of oil released and to figure out where it went, the newspaper said. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was the lead agency on the report, the newspaper said...more

President Obama, in his address to the nation on June 15 of this year said, "this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced." Not that he would hype the situation to raise taxes and shut down offshore oil production.

In that same address he authorized the deployment of "17,000 National Guard members along the coast" to protect us from oil. Three weeks earlier he had authorized only 1,200 National Guardsmen to protect us from the Mexican drug cartels, illegal human trafficking and associated violence.

Apparently the environment of Alabama is more important than the people of Arizona.

Endangered Mexican gray wolf may get new help

The endangered Mexican gray wolf gained ground Tuesday in its struggle to survive when federal wildlife officials decided the animal may warrant greater protection than other, less-imperiled gray wolves. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it will review the status of the Mexican wolf - native to Arizona, New Mexico and northern Mexico - and determine whether it should be classified as a separate subspecies of the wider-ranging gray wolf native to other parts of North America. The difference is significant under the Endangered Species Act. The government would be required to create a recovery plan specifically for the Mexican wolf and set measurable goals for the species' recovery that would extend protection beyond what wolves elsewhere receive. No such plan is in place, even as the wolves' numbers dwindle. "This is clearly a step forward for the Mexican wolf," said Nicole Rosmarino, wildlife program director for the advocacy group WildEarth Guardians. "The wolves face real, significant threats and they need heightened protection." The wildlife service announced its review of the wolf's status as part of a settlement with WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Rewilding Institute, three conservation groups that petitioned the agency to reclassify the Mexican wolf...more

Simpson kills buyout for grazing permits

A potential federal grazing permit buyout program was killed by amendment last Thursday as Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, defended national public lands grazing during a subcommittee markup. The stricken language, which was attached to the Interior and Environment Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2011, would have created a national pilot program to allow buyers to purchase and retire grazing permits from willing sellers. Simpson has previously been engaged with the public grazing issue through his work on the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, or CIEDRA. CIEDRA proposes to designate some 330,000 acres of land in central Idaho as federal wilderness. However, CIEDRA specifically provides for voluntary donation and retirement of grazing permits, which some see as contradictory to Simpson's latest move. Simpson also added language to the appropriations bill that would enable the BLM to continue working through what Watts called a "backlog" of grazing permits that are up for renewal. This backlog is created by old grazing permits, which come up for renewal every 10 years, and the several hundred new applications the bureau receives every year. The language has been in the Interior appropriation's bill for each of the last 12 years, but was omitted this year until Simpson reintroduced it...more

Box Elder fights for grazing rights

Box Elder County Commissioners remain firm in their opposition to a contract between El Paso Corp. and regional environmental groups that puts local ranchers in danger of losing grazing rights on federal land. Commissioners recently learned that El Paso Corp. will pay $20 million over 10 years into a trust fund set up for the purpose of habitat rehabilitation. In exchange, the environmental group Western Watershed Project has agreed to drop its opposition to construction of the Ruby Pipeline, set to begin any day. Box Elder is one of nine counties to be crossed by the Ruby Pipeline, a 675-mile line of 42-inch pipe to transport natural gas from Wyoming to Oregon. Each of the nine counties has agreed to form a coalition of counties which will form and pass a resolution to protect ranchers' rights. To date, several drafts of a resolution have been created, but none are ready for ratification. Commissioners have said they wish to wait until after an Aug. 12 coalition meeting in order to draft a resolution that shows unity between the counties...more

Alberta ranchers worry as cattle boneyards become magnets for grizzlies

Bears have killed his livestock and preyed on sick calves. They tear open silage bags and break into grain bins. But the real fear for Tony Bruder, a third-generation Twin Butte cattle rancher, is that one day it will be a human at the ugly end of a bear's attention. He's been chased by a bear while on horseback, and had grizzlies stroll by while he works under farm equipment. He's watched his children head out the back door to catch the school bus, and a bear wander through moments later. During the last number of years, Bruder says, human-bear conflicts have increased dramatically. He and other ranchers are placing part of the blame squarely on the shoulders of an unusual culprit -- bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The link is not an obvious one. But ranchers say regulations imposed by the federal government since a case of the disease was found in an Alberta cow in 2003 have changed how they dispose of cattle that die on the ranch, creating in the process a huge attractant for bears. There was a time before BSE when the rendering company would pick up a dead cow that has died of such things as old age or illness for free. It was a good deal in two ways: the rancher could get rid of a carcass at no cost, and the renderer could make some money off the dead stock. But with significant restrictions now placed on how dead cattle are rendered, those days are long gone...more

Africanized Bee Swarm Kills Two Horses in California

A California rancher recommends horse owners examine their barns for Africanized honeybee hives after two horses stabled on her Menifee property died subsequent to sustaining hundreds of stings. The two Tennessee Walking horses were stabled in a barn containing undiscovered Africanized bee hives at Wagon Wheel Ranch. On July 21 a ranch hand discovered the animals swarmed by the bees, said ranch owner Christa Caudle Schaffer. A veterinarian called to the scene treated the animals with epinephrine (a hormone that stimulates the sympathetic nervous system to increase heart rate and dilate air passages) and dexamethasone (a steroid anti-inflammatory, immune suppressant drug). Both horses later died of anaphylactic shock, Schaffer said. Chris Huth, DVM, said anaphylactic shock occurs when horses, humans and other mammals experience a severe reaction to an allergen such as bee venom. The condition causes hives, sweating, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, drop in blood pressure, and fluid accumulation. Severe cases can cause death in horses. "Bee sting reactions in horses are generally mild," Huth said, "but if you've got 100 or 1,000 bees stinging a horse, it’s likely to go into anaphylactic shock and die."...more

The Story of an Infamous Montana Rancher in Bolivia Painted as One of Cowboys, Indians

When Time Magazine wrote the story of Ron Larsen, a cattleman in the crosshairs of Bolivian land reform, Jean Friedman-Rudovsky in Le Paz started with a cowboy tale. “In his native Montana, Ronald Larsen’s current legal straits might be the stuff of an old-fashioned Western movie: A cattle rancher who believes the government and its allies are unfairly trying to seize his land, and picks up a rifle to signal his displeasure. But in contemporary Bolivia, where Larsen makes his home, his recent clash with the authorities is but another instance of rising tension over land-ownership between, on the one hand, left-wing President Evo Morales and his supporters among Bolivia’s indigenous population, and on the other, political opponents backed by the country’s wealthy eastern elite. But the romance for this particular cattleman is over, punctuated this week by a court decision that upholds the Bolivian government’s plan to seize Larsen’s land under charges he treated his indigenous employees like indentured servants...more

Big cow numbers being slaughtered

Yesterday’s mention of beef cow slaughter brought to mind a conundrum with which I have grappled for the past few weeks — Why are we slaughtering so many beef cows? While feed prices are indeed higher than they once were, beef cow slaughter 15% to as much as 30% higher than one year earlier on a weekly basis and 12% higher year-to-date usually occurs in the face of an absolute economic disaster. Specifically, it usually happens when cattle prices have fallen off the face of the earth or when rains have been few and far between, leaving pastures in major cow-calf areas looking like parched pool tables. But neither are the case this year. Range and pasture conditions are remarkably good for this time of year. Only 11% of pastures nationwide were rated poor or very poor last week. Dr. Ron Plain of the University of Missouri provided a very plausible explanation — which had escaped me thus far. It centers on the structure of the beef cow-calf sector. This business is still heavily influenced by 600,000 small herds, generally owned by part-time farmer/ranchers, that still control nearly 30% of all cows. Many of these herds are, no doubt, only marginally profitable. Some probably require subsidization from off-farm income. With money tight due to the recession, “Sell the cows” may be the best way to generate some cash and/or stop the subsidies. High cow prices would trump low costs and plentiful grass and there are enough cows in small herds (roughly 10 million!) to push slaughter higher for a good while...more

How The Roswell Crash Happened

Many rightly wonder why an ET vehicle with the ability to traverse light years through the cosmos would arrive all the way to Earth - only to crash in New Mexico. How is it that an interplanetary people with such advanced aerial technology could come to such grief on the July-baked desert floor? Why did the Roswell craft fall in the first place? A review and analysis of the 1947 incident reveals a unique "confluence of events" that may well have led to the crash: It is said that Mac Brazel had reported hearing a loud explosion during a severe lightning and thunder storm the night before he had discovered the crash debris on the Foster Ranch that he had managed. RAAF Intel Agent Major Jesse Marcel reported that the scattered debris had appeared to him to have "exploded" in mid-air before hitting the ground. Weather records do in fact confirm that there were thunderstorms in late June and early July of 1947 (including on July 2 and July 4) in the Foster Ranch area where some of the crash debris was found. And - as with many areas of the country - in the summertime (particularly in the evenings) such isolated but severe storms can "pop up" without notice in an instant, only to pass as quickly - and often without even being officially recorded. The action of severe storms on aircraft is still a subject of intense study...more

Song Of The Day #372

Ranch Radio continues with songs about food.

Today's selection is Homegrown Tomatoes by Guy Clark.

This version is on his 30 track, 2 CD collection Craftsman.

Bomb Found on U.S.-Mexico Border Bridge (Juarez)

One of the four international bridges linking this northern Mexican city and El Paso, Texas, was closed for nearly two hours Tuesday after a bomb was found and detonated on the Mexican side of the border, a police spokesman told Efe. The bomb was spotted just after 8:00 a.m. on the Lerdo Bridge, which was immediately closed to traffic. Several of the main avenues in Ciudad Juarez leading to the bridge were also closed, causing massive traffic jams in Mexico’s murder capital. Army troops, Federal Police officers, municipal police and transit police went to the bridge to secure the area and direct traffic. Mexican authorities, working with the U.S. Border Patrol, detonated the bomb. The flow of traffic across the border resumed two hours after the controlled detonation, but officials have not said what type of explosive was used. This was the latest in a series of bombings in northern Mexico. Assailants suspected of having links to an organized crime group threw a bomb Saturday at one of the bridges connecting Nuevo Laredo, a city in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, with Laredo, Texas...more

FBI ON THE SOUTHWEST BORDER: Corruption, Drugs, Gangs, and More

The U.S. border with Mexico extends nearly 2,000 miles, from San Diego, California to Brownsville, Texas. At too many points along the way, criminals ply their trade with surprising ease and devastating results. Drug cartels transporting kilos of cocaine and marijuana, gangs who think nothing of kidnapping and murder, traffickers smuggling human cargo, corrupt public officials lining their pockets by looking the other way—any one of these offenses represents a challenge to law enforcement. Taken together, they constitute a threat not only to the safety of our border communities, but to the security of the entire country...more

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Grizzly Tests Reveal Little About Deadly Attack

Mystery still surrounds a deadly grizzly attack, eventhough wildlife officials have excamined the body of the aggressive sow. Experts say tests on the euthanized bear are providing few answers. The female grizzly ripped open several tents, killed one camper and injured two others at a campground near Cooke City. Fish Wildlife and Parks found the bear still had her winter coat and weighed 225 pounds, whereas others her age average 300 to 400 pounds. Ron Aasheim/Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks: "It weighed about 225 pounds. Ten plus years old that is light for a bear that age." Still, wildlife experts say there is plenty of food in the area and other bears there are not malnourished. So, they say her weight was probably not the reason she attacked. Other tests are turning up few answers. Ron Aasheim/Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks: "We didn't find any injuries or obvious signs of illness, tumors that sort of thing." Some test results are still coming in, but experts are not expecting anything out of the ordinary...more

An end not as nigh as we were told

It's the "worst environmental disaster America has ever faced," as President Obama describes it. Lesser mortals call it a "catastrophe" and "calamity." Some call the Gulf oil leak "doomsday for the Gulf of Mexico." But now dawns the recognition, as nearly always happens in the wake of disasters, calamities, catastrophes, etc., that maybe the politicians and the mainstream media have been guilty of a little contagious hyperbole. Exaggeration has been the order of the day. But maybe the end has not been so nigh as we were confidently told it was. Some unexpected media voices are (gulp) saying so. Jacqueline Michel, a geological chemist who is coordinating the federal assessment of damages to the shores of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, says the impact of the oil spill has been "much, much less" than anticipated in the first days after the well blew out. Her survey teams have found only about 350 acres of oily marshland — sad and disheartening, but only a fraction of the 15,000 acres of Louisiana wetlands that slip into the sea each year. Wildlife-recovery workers have so far found only three dead oil-soaked mammals along the coast that they can attribute to the spill. The harsh restrictions on fishing the Gulf for shrimp, imposed with hysterical fanfare when we were told the universe as we know it would soon vanish, are being lifted...more

Groups protest 64 of 76 leases at Wyo. BLM auction

Environmental groups are protesting all but a dozen of the 76 latest oil and gas leases that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to auction off in Wyoming. The protests won't hold up Tuesday's quarterly auction in Cheyenne, but they will require the BLM to further scrutinize each lease sold, causing longer waits for oil and gas companies to receive the leases they buy. The soonest the BLM will be able to issue the leases sold this week is early next year, after the BLM works through an existing backlog going back as far as two years, said BLM spokeswoman Beverly Gorny. Environmentalists oppose the leases of federal mineral rights on several grounds. Among other concerns, they say BLM didn't sufficiently consider how oil and gas drilling in certain areas might affect sage grouse...more

Groups Sue to Block Uranium Drilling in Utah

Three conservation groups want to stop the U.S. Forest Service from allowing a private mining company to drill 16 uranium exploration holes and two 6-foot-diameter vent holes on national forest land in southeast Utah. Uranium Watch, the Center for Water Advocacy and Living Rivers say the Forest Service gave Denison Mines Corp. permission to drill two radon vent holes and 16 exploration holes on federal public lands in the Moab/Monticello Ranger District of the Manti-La Sal National Forest. The uranium exploration project allows Denison to not only drill for uranium, but also build or upgrade more than a mile of public roads and dig several waste pits, the groups claim in Federal Court. The two new vent holes are part of an expansion of the Pandora Mine and will release "hazardous radon gas" into the atmosphere, the groups say. The Forest Service allegedly approved Denison's projects without a full environmental analysis, in violation of National Environmental Policy Act...more

Lawmakers seek to end horse roundups in Nevada

A bipartisan group of 54 lawmakers pleaded with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to halt a series of wild horse roundups on the Nevada range. A letter sent Monday by Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, cites wild horse deaths in recent horse and burro roundups in explaining the request. The letter brands the roundups "a deeply flawed policy" and points to reports that 21 of 636 horses died in a herd collection effort near Tuscarora in northeast Nevada. Jordan Montoya, an Interior Department spokeswoman, said officials were reviewing the letter. Also, she said the department was committed to the protection of wild horses and the lands they roam. The letter recommends that the National Academy of Sciences be assigned to review the Bureau of Land Management's plan to cull about 12,000 of 38,000 mustangs and burros from herds roaming 10 Western states...more

Montana Bears Develop Taste For Paintball

A newly opened paintball course in Montana had to shut down after odor from disintegrated paintballs was luring possibly dangerous guests: bears. Big Sky Marketing Director Dax Schieffer says the resort tried to find an environmentally friendly paintball. But it turned out that the one selected contains a vegetable oil that can attract grizzly and black bears that commonly roam the region. A wildlife official says that some bears were even eating unexploded paintballs...more

So, never, and I mean never, put "environmentally friendly" vegetable oil on your...

Forest Service Proposes to Close 500 Miles of Roads in Magdalena Ranger District

The Magdalena Ranger District revealed its Travel Management proposal today which would ban the use of all motor vehicles on around 500 miles of the existing roads in the District. This will affect all vehicles includes motorcycles, ATVs, and 4WDs. It also affects all members of the public, including hunters. Per the proposal put forward, the nearly 1400 miles of roads currently available to the public would be reduced to just over 900 miles. The proposal also dramatically reduces the areas allowed for 'car camping'. The proposal would limit 'dispersed vehicle camping' to 300 feet either side of only 390 miles of roads...more

WIPP salt headed to feed cattle in West Texas

Having spent the past 250 million years or so half a mile underground, salt excavated at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is now on its way to help feed cattle in Texas. The U.S. Department of Energy's Carlsbad Field Office has worked out an agreement to transfer 300,000 tons of run-of-mine salt from WIPP to Magnum Blue Ribbon Feeds over a five-year period. On July 26, the first truckload of stored salt left the WIPP facility for Hereford, Texas, which is located southwest of Amarillo. Salt tailings have accumulated on the surface of the WIPP site since mining began in the 1980s. In 2008, Magnum successfully responded to a request for interest in the salt tailings with a business plan to remove up to 10 truckloads of salt a day from the site. As part of the agreement, the Carlsbad Soil and Water Conservation District is administering the agreement, allowing proceeds provided by Magnum to remain in southeast New Mexico for educational and range improvement projects within the district. Magnum has provided all of the infrastructure improvements for the project, and the salt removal process has no adverse impact on WIPP's mission as a waste repository. The WIPP salt will mostly be used to add a mineral supplement to cattle feed...more

Song Of The Day #371

This week Ranch Radio will bring you songs about one of our favorite topics: food.

We'll start with a Bob Wills tune titled Pinto Beans.

This version is from his 12 track LP album From The Heart of Texas on KAPP records.

Killings Up Nearly 50% in Mexican Border City (Juarez)

A total of 1,700 gangland killings occurred in the northern Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez during the first seven months of the year, a figure that was up 47.6 percent from the same period in 2009, when 1,150 people were murdered, officials and press reports said. The January-July 2010 figure includes 18 murders that occurred over the weekend in Mexico’s murder capital. Ciudad Juarez, located across the border from El Paso, Texas, is the scene of a war for control of smuggling routes between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels. Fifteen people, including two women, were murdered in the border city on Saturday. Three other people were killed on Sunday, Chihuahua state prosecutors said. July ended as the second-most-violent month of 2010 in the border city, with 291 homicides, or an average of eight per day, being registered...more

Juarez Grenade Attack Caught On Tape

Mexican federal police officers were attacked with a grenade on Sunday, nearly two weeks after Mexican federal police were attacked with a car bomb. According to El Diario, several journalists were present during the grenade attack on Sunday. It was not immediately clear what the extent of the injuries were from the grenade explosion. Watch video of the shootout and grenade attack video here. Before the grenade attack, the Mexican federal police officers were attacked by gunmen in an SUV in Northern Juarez. One officer was killed and another three were injured in the shooting. The gunmen got away, but the officers were later able to find an abandoned SUV that was reportedly used in the attack. When officers were searching the vehicle for evidence, a group of gunmen inside another SUV drove up threw a grenade at them and then opened fire...more

Bomb Thrown at U.S.-Mexico Border Bridge

Members of an organized crime group threw a bomb at one of the bridges connecting Nuevo Laredo, a city in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, to the United States, but no injuries or damage have been reported, officials said. The attack occurred Saturday at the main border crossing linking the Mexican city to Laredo, Texas, the Nuevo Laredo city government said in a statement posted on an official Web site. “An explosion was reported in the area around International Bridge One. It is being investigated,” the city government said. The blast occurred on the access ramp to the international crossing, officials said. The attack occurred just hours after unidentified individuals threw a grenade from a moving vehicle at the Televisa facility in Nuevo Laredo...more

FBI highlights similarities between al Qaeda, cartels

An FBI webpage quoted an agent calling Mexico's drug cartels more violent than al Qaeda -- a comment sure to grab attention, but which doesn't tell the whole story, the agency said. On its website, the FBI was highlighting a special series of stories on law enforcement challenges along the Southwest border. The report includes a quote from an unidentified senior agent based in El Paso, Texas, who says, "We think al Qaeda is bad, but they've got nothing on the cartels." The controversial-sounding comment was just one of point of view that exists on the ground, the FBI said, explaining the remark. "The quote is the opinion of one FBI agent who lives and works on border violence every day," said Special Agent Jason Pack, an FBI spokesman in Washington. "The FBI does not believe the cartels are any more dangerous than al Qaeda." According to the FBI report, "Some areas on the Mexican side of the border are so violent they are reminiscent of the gangster era of Chicago in the 1930s or the heyday of the Mafia's Five Families in New York." It cites the violent and ruthless tactics of the cartels, using as an example the case of a man known as El Pozolero -- the stew maker -- who is said to have dissolved hundreds of murder victims in acid. Mexico has seen other violent acts that are reminscent of al Qaeda tactics, including the severing of heads and videotaping of kidnap victims...more

NEWSCHANNEL 5 Investigation: The Valley's War Zone

TV video report shows ranchers in Texas having to hire "gate guards".
Secret surveillance cameras show excellent footage.

Timing of National Guard's Deployment to Southwest Border Stirs Confusion, Anger

The 1,200 National Guard troops expected to arrive Sunday on the southwest border for reinforcement won't finish deploying until late September, federal officials say, stirring confusion and anger among Arizona lawmakers who thought the deadline was Aug. 1. President Obama announced in May he would send National Guard troops amid growing concerns about border violence stemming from illegal immigration and drug smuggling. Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security said the troops would be sent Aug. 1. But now both the National Guard Bureau and the Customs Border Protection says that date was when they were directed to start ramping up their numbers. Arizona lawmakers shook their heads in disgust. "This administration seems to promise a lot and then when you get into the fine print, it just doesn't happen," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has called for 6,000 National Guard troops...more

Affluent Sonorans pack for AZ amid drug war

An increasing number of upper-middle class Sonorans are investing in Arizona real estate as they seek a safe haven from the violence of Mexico’s drug war. Gabriel Gastelum, owner of Nogales’ Century 21 franchise, said he’s seen more Sonoran customers of late, some of whom cite violence as the prime motivator for their move. And Century 21’s Aracely Stout said she’s sold homes to a number of wealthy and well-known Sonoran families who said they were fearful their kids would be harmed in Sonora. Stout recalled one client who made the move to Nogales, Ariz., after witnessing a gun battle just outside his Sonora home. “Can you imagine if your kids are asleep inside and there’s a gun battle just outside the window?” she asked. “He decided he had to do something.” According to local media tallies, Nogales, Sonora, has recorded 135 murders in 2010 as of July 13 – five more than the total from all of last year. And while the vast majority of the murders are believed to be a result of score-settling between rival gangs, bystanders have occasionally been caught in the crossfire. In addition, innocent civilians have been targeted by kidnappers and extortionists – and even phony crooks who try to take advantage of the climate of fear...more

Monday, August 02, 2010

Salazar continues deepwater oil drilling ban for now

After a tour of three offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico this week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar tells The Associated Press that while he's considering revising or even lifting the government's drilling freeze: "We're not there yet." It's scheduled to last until November 30. Business groups and Gulf Coast political leaders say the shutdown is crippling the oil and gas industry and costing thousands of jobs. Salazar says the industry-wide moratorium imposed after BP's oil spill was the correct call. He says the ultimate goal is to allow deepwater operations to resume safely, but he still has a lot of questions about drilling safety after his tour. He calls the issues complex, with different kinds of rigs, different depth limitations and "different zones of risk." Salazar acknowledges the hardship the freeze is causing, but says his job also involves protecting the public and the environment...more

BLM and Utah officials vow to settle fight over dirt roads

For decades, state and federal officials across the West have locked horns over who rightfully controls countless dirt roads that cross federal lands. Now, the federal Bureau of Land Management is inviting Utah officials to sit down and negotiate the dispute. On Friday, BLM director Bob Abbey laid out a roadmap for talks, suggesting officials start first in Iron County and take the easiest roads to resolve in open, transparent negotiations. Abbey said he was acting at the direction of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and taking up a challenge originally proposed by the Utah Association of Counties. "Do we have a deal yet?" said the association's No. 2 official, Mark Ward. "No, but the groundwork is laid." The association's executive director, Brent Gardner, said, "We're happy and certainly want to work with them." No timetable for talks has been set. The dispute is over historic passageways across lands owned by BLM, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service. Utah officials say a one-sentence 1866 law assured open passage across the federal lands. The law -- repealed in 1976 with protection for existing roads -- set off protracted fights about which routes crisscrossing the West qualify for local control...more

Why hunters, anglers support Tester’s clean-energy bill

Outside of the hullabaloo of the BP fiasco, Sen. Jon Tester has found a bipartisan path forward for a clean-energy economy. The Clean Energy, Community Investment and Wildlife Conservation Act co-sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Tester and in the House by Dean Heller, R-Nev., provides a road map for developing clean energy from the public lands that comprise nearly 30 percent of Montana. The bill would help to generate revenues for states and counties in areas where the leasing of public lands for wind and solar development occurs while also setting aside funds so that the federal government can more quickly permit wind and solar development. It would also require that water resources, special areas and critical fish and wildlife habitat are protected. The bill would allocate 35 percent of revenues from leasing of solar and wind power to secure public access for hunting and fishing, mitigate the effects of development on fish and wildlife habitat, and allow for the protection of the most important fish and wildlife habitats...more

Bill's wolf-trap ban needs federal follow-up

Give Gov. Bill Richardson a hand for lending one to the still-struggling Mexican gray wolf: This week he ordered a temporary ban on animal trapping in our state's part of the Blue Mountain wolf-recovery area. It's to last six months, while state biologists figure out what risks traps and snares pose to wolves. For doing so, his critics are likely to issue word-play lines about him looking after himself — but this was just the latest of many seven-league strides Richardson has made on the environmental front during 71/2 years in the Governor's Office, and in Congress before that. The Mexican gray, an endangered subspecies, was reintroduced to the New Mexico-Arizona borderlands in the late 1990s. By now, figured the federal wildlife officials who trucked a few animals into the Gila River basin, their population should have grown to about 100. They reckoned without the region's taxpayer-subsidized ranchers or other two-legged enemies of canis lupus: As this year began, there were only 42 of the wolves. Since June, three have been found dead — two of them shot. In recent years, 14 have been trapped or snared — 12 in New Mexico. Five were injured, two of those so badly they required amputation. If ranchers had anything to do with the trap injuries, there was irony in the infliction: Injured wolves might have a harder time bringing down a deer or an elk — so those grazing-lease livestock become more appealing...more

The only federal follow-up needed on Bill's activities is by the U.S. Attorney, not the Fish & Wildlife Service.

EPA Puts ‘Environmental Justice’ Front and Center in Its Rulemaking Process

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a 55-page “guidance” to help its employees “advance environmental justice” for low-income and minority communities. “Achieving environmental justice is an Agency priority and should be factored into every decision,” the document says. The move comes 16 years after President William Clinton signed an executive order directing every federal agency to "make achieving environmental justice part of its mission." And Barack Obama campaigned on a promise to make "environmental justice policies a priority within the EPA." The EPA says its new guidelines will help its rule-writers identify potential environmental justice concerns, and it instructs them to analyze the impact of their rules on low-income and minority populations...more

EPA to Crack Down on Farm Dust

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering a crackdown on farm dust, so senators have signed a letter addressing their concerns on the possible regulations. The letter dated July 23 to the EPA states, "If approved, would establish the most stringent and unparalleled regulation of dust in our nation's history." It further states, "We respect efforts for a clean and healthy environment, but not at the expense of common sense. These identified levels will be extremely burdensome for farmers and livestock producers to attain. Whether its livestock kicking up dust, soybeans being combined on a dry day in the fall, or driving a car down the gravel road, dust is a naturally occurring event."...more

The letter was signed by 21 senators and you can read it by going here. Neither of NM's senators signed the letter.

Cattle industry conflict threatens checkoff and leadership

USDA has also given closer examination to the expenditures of the beef checkoff and the relationship between NCBA, Cattlemen's Beef Board and state beef councils. The audit just released by CBB has identified infractions that may have been overlooked by friendlier administrations but are now getting public recognition through the Office of the Secretary; this is threatening the keepers of the checkoff funds. Now we fray another strand of this rope. I quote from Ron Hays' Oklahoma Farm Report from July 26: "The Cattlemen's Beef Board has just released a Compliance Review of their major contractor for beef checkoff programs--the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. The audit comes just ahead of the Summer Conference of the Cattle Industry that will be held in Denver this week--and the CPA firm that conducted the audit for CBB, Clifton Gunderson, appeared to detect a pattern of problems with adequate documentation to prove many expenses were properly allocated to the checkoff overhead that NCBA is allowed to claim as a contractor." The allegations include lack of documentation of expenses and unallowable spouse travel to New Zealand for a cattle conference. NCBA has surely figured out that it has lost its clout with USDA and has always had to endure R-CALF USA, but now the source of the thirst-quenching waters of the checkoff fund is questioning consumption by NCBA, the largest contractor. NCBA executives have to know that when people are out to get you, they head for the money. Following the money by auditing expenses tells a story of the actions and attitudes of the players and undermines confidence within the industry...more

Catalonia bullfighting ban: Cornered by the cape crusaders?

Last week, Catalonia became the first Spanish region on the mainland to ban bullfighting. Cue much jubilation among celebrities such as Ricky The Office Gervais and Pamela Baywatch Anderson, who, along with assorted animal rights groups, want it prohibited everywhere. Yet on closer examination, the ban looks more like a spot of fancy capework, performed by the troublesome Catalan legislature in pursuit of its separatist agenda. “What we are really saying,” explained a commentator in Barcelona’s largest newspaper, El Periodica, “is that Spain is the home of bullfighting, and if we don’t have bullfights, it stands to reason that we can’t be Spanish.” Ole! Elsewhere in the country, the reaction to the ban was restrained. Catalonia’s allegiance to the corrida has long been considered suspect. During the Spanish Civil War, the Catalan republican forces made a particular point of attacking the ranchers who raised fighting bulls. “One less torero, one less fascist,” went the cry. In bullfighting’s southern heartlands, last week’s ban was seen less as a vote of conscience than as a sucking-up to the Leftist euro-establishment, which the legislature hopes will back its campaign for independence. In this sense, bullfighting is an intensely political issue. In another sense, it always has been. The first serious attempt to ban it was made in the 16th century by Pope Pius V, who issued – appropriately – a papal bull, stating that the practice imperilled the souls of all who participated in it. Two hundred years later, King Philip V of Spain, a passionate opponent of the corrida, prohibited the aristocracy from fighting bulls, a measure that paved the way for the professional matador class that emerged from Andalucia in the late 18th century. In 2007, more than 200 MEPs voted to withdraw European Union subsidies for the breeders of fighting bulls...more