Friday, November 12, 2010

Dust-Up Clouds Spill Test

A tiny federal agency that investigates deadly chemical accidents said it was being thwarted in its probe of the Deepwater Horizon disaster by other federal agencies. The bureaucratic dust-up between the Chemical Safety Board and the federal Joint Investigation Team probing the accident could complicate the team's final report and any federal prosecutions related to the accident. Investigators with the Chemical Safety Board say they are being treated as a junior partner in tests scheduled to begin Monday on the Deepwater Horizon's blowout preventer. The huge stack of valves didn't shut down the BP PLC well on April 20, resulting in the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Eleven rig workers died in the accident. The safety board has threatened to go to court to block the tests if it isn't permitted to have a larger role alongside the joint team, which is led by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. Michael Bromwich, head of the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said in a recent interview the safety board has created a "disturbance and distraction."...more

Update on Sue Krentz - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly....

Most of you already know Sue Krentz was hit by a drunk drive about 6 weeks ago. She and a friend were crossing the street in Douglas, AZ when they were hit.

Sue and I became friends about 14 years ago when we both started attending the Jaguar Conservation Team meetings. Through the years it became obvious the state and federal agencies were out of control and needed to be held accountable for their decisions. As a result of our dissention we got nicknamed the "evil twins" - a name we glory in!!

Last week I had the pleasure of staying with Sue a few days. Here's an update on her injuries.

As a result of the accident, Sue suffered 5 breaks in her pelvis, 4 in front and 1 in back. As her surgeon told her, "she got her butt busted". She now wears an external fixator (or halo) below her waist that is screwed into either side of her pelvis to hold her together as her breaks heals. She can not stand or walk but slides on a board from bed to wheel chair. Last week her surgeon said she had an abundance of new bone growth and things are looking good. This week he said she'd get the fixator off Nov 23rd. She will not be able to put any weight on her hips for at least two more months so she'll be wheel chair bound during this time.

Sue also had two cracked vertebras in her neck and a fracture at the base of her skull. She wears a neck brace to keep from compounding these injuries. I'm not sure how long she'll have to wear this contraption. Although she suffered some head trauma, it was not extensive and she's not lost a lot of memory or comprehension. She does not remember the day of the accident, but that's probably a good thing.

The tip of her right tibia was shaved off behind the knee. It was fixed soon after the accident and is healing well.

Add to all this, the man who hit her had 6 prior DUI arrests and no insurance. Her insurance has been pretty good but is now saying they may no longer pay for her therapy. Her stay in the Rehabilitation Center may soon come to an end too so pray this all gets straightened out and she gets the help she needs until fully recovered.

And then.... I called her today. She tells me the Coronado Forest Service showed up at their ranch yesterday with a Caterpillar. They intend to cut a road from the Krentz's forest allotment south through two of her neighbors' forest allotments to Hwy 80. The families were given no advance notice, no NEPA has been done and they have no say in what the Service is doing.

My first thought was why is the Forest Service cutting a north/south road through one of the drug corridors they warn everyone to avoid?? Nothing makes sense any more. What's the intent? Where's the accountability? Who's in charge of the asylum???

Sue appreciated all the cards, flowers and well wishes but she still needs your support and prayers.

ACGA has established an account to help the family with all the costs. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact their office- 602-267-1129.

Wells Fargo - Sue Krentz Recovery Fund 5206283169

Keep everyone in your prayers!!


Rename Heyburn? Mtn & town named after Senator who hated Forest Service

In a blog he writes for the Colorado-based High Country News, Boise State University professor John Freemuth recently suggested it’s time to rename Mount Heyburn, arguably Idaho’s most majestic peak. “The early Forest Service ... had its enemies,’’ said Freemuth, who teaches political science and public policy. “One of them, Sen. (Weldon) Heyburn of Idaho, tried to defund the new agency and have it abolished; it was that ‘damn federal government’ standing in the way of Heyburn and his cronies... “It is simply amazing, then, that a walk around or boat ride on Redfish Lake ... reveals Mount Heyburn in the Sawtooth Mountain range, one of the Forest Service’s most proud and important places. Shouldn’t this mountain have a name more suited to someone who did something to protect the Sawtooths and at least dealt honorably with the agency that manages them? It is time to start the process to change the name of this peak.” In nine years on Capitol Hill, the senator opposed every one of President Theodore Roosevelt’s initiatives to protect public lands. And after Roosevelt left the White House, Heyburn came close to wrecking the agency that now manages 21.4 million acres of Idaho land...more

Hell, they should name the whole state after him.

Idaho lawmaker wants to seize federal lands via eminent domain

Earlier this year, the Utah Legislature passed a bill authorizing the state government to seize federally-managed lands through eminent domain. Utah legislators, frustrated with what they feel to be mismanagement of public lands, approved legislation on the belief that the state could care for the lands in a much better manner than the feds. A state lawmaker in Idaho, Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, is eying what’s happening in Utah and may look to pass a similar bill in Idaho in 2011. According to Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo’s website, 63 percent of Idaho’s land is owned and managed by the federal government in one form or another. Private entities – citizens and business interests – control 30.7 percent of lands in the state, while the Idaho state government owns 5.1 percent. Utah lawmakers want to take advantage of natural resources on the lands and generate more tax revenue for the state. Anderson said that the same goal will be found in his legislation, which will be a near-copy of the Utah bill. “Why are proceeds from those lands going back to Washington, D.C.?” asked Anderson, who added that timber and geothermal resources are available on federal lands and possibly even natural gas. “There have been some natural gas pockets discovered and who knows how much is out there on federal lands,” he said...more

More wilderness

No more wilderness — these three words evoke an emotional response among people with a variety of interests in public lands in Utah and the West. The much-disputed “no more wilderness” deal made between former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt and former Interior Secretary Gale Norton seven years ago during the George W. Bush era has effectively, and wrongly, put a stop to federal protection of more lands with wilderness qualities. Now, under the Obama administration, conservationists are dismayed, even angry, that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar seems inclined to uphold the agreement and its barrier to designating more Wilderness Study Areas. On the other side, the possibility of “no more wilderness” is making oil and gas developers and others who view land protection as denial of legal access positively gleeful. ntil 2003 it was accepted by courts, presidents and members of Congress that the Bureau of Land Management had the authority to designate Wilderness Study Areas when public lands were found to have the characteristics outlined in The Wilderness Act of 1964. WSA designation protects the land until Congress designates it wilderness or returns it to unprotected status. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Sierra Club and other environmental groups and individuals contend that the 2003 agreement’s interpretation of FLPMA as authorizing only one inventory of wilderness-quality lands, the one completed in 1993, is wrong, unprecedented and unenforceable. We agree. And we’re disappointed that Salazar told Sen. Bob Bennett that the BLM currently has no authority to designate more WSAs...more

Appeals court rules against EnergySolutions on nuclear waste

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a nuclear waste group comprised of several Western states has the authority to regulate storage of low-level radioactive waste and can prohibit EnergySolutions from importing foreign waste. The ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturns a decision by U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart, who held that the Northwest Interstate Compact on Low-Level Radioactive Waste cannot regulate EnergySolutions’ Clive, Utah, facility. “It is important to remember the state of Utah conditioned the license it granted on the Clive Facility’s compliance with the authority of the Northwest Compact,” the court wrote in a unanimous opinion. “It is unlikely that Utah would have agreed to issue the necessary licenses if it was powerless to control the flow of waste past its borders.” The court returned the case to Stewart for further proceedings, although EnergySolutions said in July that it was abandoning its plan to import waste. Company CEO Val Christensen said Tuesday that the company would not appeal the decision, bringing the dispute to a close...more

Betty White Named Honorary U.S. Forest Ranger

Betty White is well-known for both her acting skills and her love of animals. The 88-yr-old actress was honored for that love of animals when the U.S. Forest Service presented her with the title Nov. 9. During a ceremony held at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., White was given a U.S. Forest Ranger badge, Stetson hat, and a toy Smokey Bear. The real Smokey Bear turned up to give his support and the two shared a bear hug during the event. Afterwards, she told reporters she always wanted to be a forest ranger, but the job wasn’t open to women. The Forest Service started in 1905, but didn’t have very many women on the staff. Even today, only 38 percent of the U.S. Forest Service workforce is female. White said she plans to use the honorary title to help promote the Forest Service and the work it does to preserve and protect wildlife and plant life...more

She actually should help all the widows who get their grazing permit cut by Smokey.

NM Geotourism project seeks world status

The Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway has partnered with the National Geographic Society to capture the history and heritage of the Four Corners area through a new program designed to celebrate the region. The Four Corners Geotourism Project is working to increase the quantity and quality of international tourism to the area, making it part of an elite group of less than 15 regions marketed to the international community as world-class destinations. Geotourism is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place, including its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well being of its residents. Geotourism also incorporates the concept of sustainable tourism, which is the idea that destinations should remain unspoiled for future generations, and the idea that tourism revenue should help to promote conservation and the economic health of the region. According to National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations, geotourism works to protect the world’s distinctive places through wisely managed tourism and enlightened destination stewardship. Through this project, history buffs, backpackers and hikers, birders and sightseers will be able to discover what the Four Corners area has to offer. But this project needs the input of those who know the area best—local residents. The collaborators of the Four Corners Geotourism Project want to know what makes this area unique and noteworthy...more

NM: Fed, state land managers team up to fight fungus affecting bats

Federal and state land managers in New Mexico have teamed up to limit the spread of a fungus that has wiped out entire bat colonies in the eastern United States. Officials with the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Forest Service Southwest region and the state Game and Fish Department will be enacting partial closures for some caves and abandoned mines on public lands in New Mexico in response to white-nose syndrome. Developed caves such as Carlsbad Caverns National Park will not be affected by the closures, but officials there are considering a screening process for some visitors, much like the one enacted at Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Carlsbad, one of the more famous cave systems in the Southwest, draws around 430,000 visitors annually, and the bats are one of the park's main draws. First spotted in New York in 2006, the disease has been confirmed in dozens of hibernating locations in Canada and the U.S., ranging as far south as Tennessee and west to Oklahoma...more

Song Of The Day #436

Ranch Radio will slow it down a little as we close out Western Swing week. Here is Bill Boyd & His Cowboy Ramblers performing Homecoming Waltz.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

White House Changed Report, Implying Experts Supported Deepwater Drilling Moratorium

The White House tampered with language in a controversial Interior Department report on its deepwater drilling moratorium, implying a group of independent scientists supported language recommending the ban, according to the agency's watchdog. Interior's inspector general said edits made by the White House to the Interior report "led to the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer reviewed by the experts." At issue is the May 27 report on oil and gas drilling safety that was compiled at President Obama's request after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, sparking the nation's worst oil spill. The report made several recommendations for safety improvements at offshore drilling rigs and called for the six-month ban on deepwater drilling and permitting. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar tapped 15 experts to review the safety recommendations made in the main body of the report, but they never endorsed the moratorium and later blasted Interior's use of their names to support the ban...more

House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings released the following statement:

"This report begs more questions. Who at the White House actually rewrote the Interior Department document? Is that person a scientist with relevant experience or a political appointee? Furthermore, what other Interior Department decisions are being changed or made by unknown White House staff? This moratorium has cost thousands of jobs and caused severe economic impacts throughout the Gulf. We need to get answers as to who and how these policy decisions are being made and ensure that they are actually based on sound science."

Anger overflows on drilling halt report

Gulf State lawmakers are accusing the Obama administration of putting politics above science after a government watchdog said Interior Department officials misled the public by altering a report to suggest that a group of outside scientists supported a blanket ban on deepwater drilling. The administration maintains that the flap is the result of rushed editing and nothing more. However, members of Congress from the Gulf region, already incensed over what they described as a heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all reaction to the BP oil spill, are crying foul. "This was not an accident at all. It was a deliberate attempt to use the prestige of the scientists to support their political decision," said Rep. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, one of several Republicans who this summer requested an investigation into the moratorium by the Interior Department's inspector general. Mr. Cassidy, who said the IG's conclusions will come as "bitter news" to about 12,000 workers who lost their jobs because of the moratorium, noted that the administration ignored later arguments by five of the panel's seven scientists in favor of targeted inspections over a blanket ban - something he said violated Mr. Obama's vow to let science, and not politics, guide his policies. The IG investigation revealed that an aide to White House energy adviser Carol M. Browner who was making last-minute edits to the Interior report inserted language into the executive summary saying an independent seven-member panel had signed off on the recommendations in the document...more

Fudging the facts on oil

Apparently there is nothing the Obama administration won’t do or say to justify the way it does business - including lying. Case in point, an administration report used to justify its six-month ban on new deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the BP oil disaster. Now the Interior Department’s inspector general has confirmed that the White House did indeed alter a report that was supposedly the work of scientists and experts in the field to make it appear they supported the ban. With some deft editing, the White House made it appear the drilling moratorium recommendation was “peer reviewed” when, in fact, the only thing peer-reviewed were new safety measures for offshore drilling. “We believe the report does not justify the moratorium as written and that the moratorium as changed will not contribute measurably to increased safety and will have immediate and long-term economic effects,” the scientists wrote in a letter to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and the state’s senators earlier this year...more

This Boston Herald editorial concluded by saying:

Still a congressional inquiry into the matter - and White House involvement - when the new House takes its seats next year would not be out of order.

Environmentalists fear Ken Salazar's complacency will drive extinctions

his week the Fish and Wildlife Service released the Candidate Notice of Review (CNOR) on the status of species waiting for ESA protection. The news was somber for animals and plants that have been languishing on the same list for years. The report revealed that 251 species have been stalled on the “candidate” list, although many have been on the same list for decades. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Obama administration has provided Endangered Species Act protection to just 51 plants and animals and most of them were in the state of Hawaii. By comparison, the Clinton administration protected 522 species; the George H.W. Bush administration protected 231. The conservation group WildEarth Guardians has filed 130 lawsuits or petitions to pressure Salazar to utilize the powerful Endangered Species Act for the purpose it was intended; to protect species from extinction. “It’s time for Ken Salazar to realize there’s an extinction crisis unfolding right here in the U.S. The best way to stop it is to bring more imperiled species under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, rather than leaving them out in the cold,” stated Nicole Rosmarino of WildEarth Guardians. In addition, the Center for Biological Diversity has joined other groups in an active lawsuit against the government’s continued delays. The suit focuses on the illegality of not making timely progress on listing threatened species for ESA protection, as required by the law...more

Given this and other recent stories, it is clear the enviros are after Salazar and actively seeking to have him replaced with a Secretary more to their liking.

Pilots association –TSA scans “out of control”

The union representing many American Airlines pilots is working to exempt its membership from the Transportation Security Administration’s imaging body scans, saying the screening process “has spun out of control.” In a Nov. 1 letter to its members provided to Government Security News, Allied Pilots Association president Capt. David Bates recommends that pilots “politely refuse” Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) scans and request alternate pat-down searches. He said the pat downs are “demeaning,” unnecessary and recommends pilots request it be done in an out-of-view area away from passengers. “It’s long past time that policymakers take the steps necessary to exempt commercial pilots from airport security screening and grant designated pilot access to SIDA [security identification display areas] utilizing either Crew Pass or biometric identification,” he told APA members. The APA represents about 11.000 pilots. Bates made his recommendations because of concerns over the repeated exposure of pilots to radiation from backscatter X-ray exposure used by AIT technology and because pilots should be a trusted part of air travel security...more

Song Of The Day #435

Ranch Radio continues this week of Western Swing with Spade Cooley performing Fiddle Boogie.

You'll find the tune on his 34 track CD Spade Cooley 1941-1947.

Interior Extorts $$ In Interagency Border Battle

The Border Wilderness Interagency Battle
Mitigation or Extortion?
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     In the drama that passes as national security along the Mexican border, a subplot has found its way into the environmental agenda of federal land management agencies as they interact with Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  It was first revealed to the American public in a letter from Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano in October 2009 when the secretary revealed the contents of a memorandum of agreement for natural and cultural resource mitigation between CBP and the Department of Interior (DOI).
    What the secretary was referring to were the payments being extracted from CBP by the DOI in return for the right to access lands managed by that agency.  The Secretary acknowledge the payments, but also defended her agency when she wrote, “The USBP believes that operations are generally functionally equivalent to mitigation.”  In other words, if the Border Patrol was allowed full and unencumbered access to those federal lands, the flow of illegals could be reduced and that would serve as real mitigation for those natural resources being devastated on the border.
     The Secretary went on to detail some of the so called mitigation payments.  That initial summary of mitigation projects funded by CBP totaled nearly $13 million, but there was a disclosure that a deal had actually been made to transfer $50 million!
     In a closer look, the demand by DOI reveals that, for the right to perform its mission which includes access and or the installation of such things as repeater towers and other high tech surveillance equipment placement, the CBP must pay a schedule of payments.  On the surface, the placement of such equipment must be expected to create a lot of surface damage to the lands in question, but the actual payments are not being used for disturbance.  Rather, the money is going to be used for a wide array of projects not even associated with that disturbance. 
     For example, the initial projects demanded that $4.4 million be paid toward three studies and monitoring activities of jaguars, lesser and Mexican long-nosed bats, and four species of Rio Yaqui fish.  The jaguar study is just part of another $3.1 million schedule to be levied against the CBP for monitoring jaguars in both Arizona and New Mexico.  
"Within the federally designated wilderness areas, the interagency disputes have allowed the human and drug smuggling corridors to expand, and, as a result, the entire nation has been put at risk." 
    In a recent GAO report, the full disclosure of the $50 million interagency deal reveals that the projects range from a $10,000 demand for a New Mexico habitat survey of the Sneed’s pincushion cactus to a $14,100,000 payment to be made for “Quino checkerspot butterfly, gnatcatcher”  in California.  Another $13,236, 672 will be paid for a “Cameron County ocelot and jaguarondi corridor” in Texas. 
     The initial $50 million represented by Secretary Napolitano has actually grown to $52,474,593 in projects spread across Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California in exchange for certain operational and access considerations along and within the designated Wilderness dominated border lands of Arizona.  Of that total, only $1.2 million is going to go to any actual mitigation by CBP activity on the land itself.  All the rest is going to various wildlife projects.  Asked about that issue, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument superintendent, Lee Baiza, remarked, “The $50 million is a small amount compared to the $600 million Congress agreed in August to spend on agents, inspectors, and other law enforcement officials as well as communications equipment and unmanned aerial drones to monitor border activities.”  
     Taxpayers have little idea of the danger that has been created on the Arizona border surrounding the ever expanding environmental agenda, conflicting federal land agency missions, and the actions of bureaucratically entitled managers like Mr. Baiza.  Within the federally designated wilderness areas, the interagency disputes have allowed the human and drug smuggling corridors to expand, and, as a result, the entire nation has been put at risk.
     While the land agencies have battled and thrown administrative and operational obstacles at CBP, the schedule of demands is growing. Discussions have now taken place to expand the demand beyond the initial $50 million.  Funding for non-endangered wildlife, wetland and riverfront acquisitions, soil and cultural resource enhancement, and even the protection of native human remains outside of federal land holdings have been discussed. 
      Meanwhile, the danger of the border lands has increased, and the agencies are even starting to disallow their own personnel from entering certain areas. Such contradiction of actions would lead an objective observer to conclude that the real agenda has nothing to do at all with the degradation of resources stemming from illegal smuggling.  Rather, it is the expansion of the land agency bureaucratic domain along with acceptance of the environmental agenda that is truly driving the interagency chaos.  How else would any federal manager justify the funding of a “peninsular bighorn sheep study” in California for the allowance of a repeater tower to be installed in the CBP Tucson Sector in Arizona? 
      In the private sector, such strong arm tactics for funds would not be termed mitigation.  It would be called extortion . . . and somebody would be going to jail. 

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  He is an advocate of the value of land stewardship predicated on assumed risk and economic responsibility.  “Risk must be assigned to the manager or peripheral agendas become the guiding force.  History is full of examples where those two forces diverge, and failure results.”   

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Desperate Days For Global Warmers

The United Nations wants $100 billion a year in taxes to deal with climate change. Two groups of researchers plan to go on the offensive against global warming "denialists." When will the madness end? The U.N.'s craving for money it hasn't earned is insatiable. So it's no surprise that one of its panels has proposed to raise $100 billion a year from taxes on carbon dioxide emissions and international transportation, and possibly on financial transactions as well, to mitigate the effects of climate change. At roughly the same time the U.N. announced this plan to dig deeper into our pockets, a group of researchers led by John Abraham of St. Thomas University in Minnesota said it was mobilizing a "climate rapid-response team" that would also mount a media campaign to defend its position. The researchers, the Tribune News Service reports, are even willing to appear before "potentially hostile audiences on conservative talk radio and television shows." According to Scott Mandia, a professor of physical sciences at Suffolk County Community College in New York, this team will "not only communicate science," but also "aggressively engage the denialists and politicians who attack climate science and its scientists." It seems they're afraid that with the GOP in control of the House, political funding for their climate change research will dry up. Having virtually invested their lives in the needless spread of fear, they must feel that they've been thrown into a struggle for relevance...more

Is The Western Climate Establishment Corrupt? Asks SPPI

The Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) continues raising serious concerns for policy makers and the public as to whether the “adjustments” that government-funded employees continue making to raw surface and ocean temperature data sets can be trusted. In a new collaborative paper, Is The Western Climate Establishment Corrupt?, Dr. Dave Evans has gathered substantial evidence that corruption has become endemic within government-sponsored climate units. Key findings of the paper include: * Official thermometers are overwhelmingly in warm localities such as near air conditioner exhaust vents, buildings, concrete, tarmac, asphalt, and even fermenting vats of warm sludge. * Officials hide the modern ARGO data which shows the world’s oceans are cooling. * They ignore hundreds of thousands of weather balloon results that show the climate models overestimate future warming by at least 300%. * Officials frequently point to the last 130 years of global warming. But almost never mention the full story: that the planet started the current global warming trend before 1700, over a century before humans started pumping out meaningful amounts of CO2...more

The Crash Of The Climate Exchange

As the case for global warming and cap-and-trade has collapsed, so too has the market that was to exploit this manufactured crisis for fun and profit. The climate-change bubble has burst. Lost in the hubbub leading up to the Republican and Tea Party tsunami on Nov. 2 was the collapse of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). But its implications for the future of the American economy and the business climate are staggering: It is an acknowledgment that both the case for climate trade and cap-and-tax legislation has also collapsed. On Oct. 21 the exchange announced it was ending carbon trading, which, as Pajamas Media's Steve Milloy points out, was "the only purpose for which it was founded." Launched as a "voluntary" method of trading "carbon credits," CCX rested on the hope that cap-and-tax legislation would make such trading mandatory — and profitable. CCX billed itself as "North America's only cap-and-trade system for all six greenhouse gases, with global affiliates and projects worldwide." Barack Obama served on the board of the Joyce Foundation from 1994 to 2002, when it issued CCX start-up grants. Presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett also once sat on the Joyce board...more

There's that damned old market again. No wonder the DC Deep Thinkers hate it so.

All Hopped Up: Town Unites For Toad Revival

A small environmental miracle has occurred in Beatty, Nev., a former mining town that sits on the eastern edge of Death Valley between Jackass Flats and Sober Up Gulch. The people of Beatty have helped revive the Amargosa toad, a warty, speckled, palm-sized creature that's unique to the area and, just a few years ago, seemed headed for extinction. But this is not your typical story of environmental action — the toad owes its comeback to an unlikely coalition that includes ranchers, miners, off-road racers, opponents of big government and the local brothel...more

I knew it - even whores are better at saving a species than the USFWS.

Food versus fuel

One of the most politically charged decisions the lame-duck Congress will face when it reconvenes is deciding whether to extend subsidies for corn-based ethanol. As rising prices for grain set off alarms among ranchers, consumers and environmentalists, ethanol lobbyists are counting on their generous contributions to key legislators to protect their reserved seats at the governmental feed trough. Several key subsidies — including high tariffs on imports of foreign ethanol and tax credits for ethanol blended into gasoline — are set to expire at the end of December. Congress must decide whether to continue down a track of underwriting food for fuel that resulted in the conversion of 25 percent of the U.S. corn harvest in 2007 to ethanol, a share that experts say will steadily rise in the coming decade along with oil prices. The competing demands on corn inventories — to feed fowl and livestock, fill boxes of packaged cereals on store shelves, and as feedstock for ethanol — have contributed to jumps of 70 percent in the value of corn futures over the past few months. The Environmental Protection Agency's recent decision to raise the maximum allowable ethanol in blended gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent has prompted warnings of coming meat price increases. J. Patrick Boyle, CEO of the American Meat Institute, told the San Antonio Express-News that American consumers will pay for ethanol in higher price tags on holiday turkeys, hams and other meat products...more

The Dude Ranchers Association Turns 85

The DRA will be marking this milestone with a new logo, launching an updated website, and at the 85th Annual Convention held in Arizona January 19-23, 2011 at member ranch Tanque Verde. Created in 1926 the Dude Ranchers Association, or DRA, is now the governing body of the West's Dude Ranch industry. Over 100 ranches have passed the rigorous two year inspection and approval process and are current members of the DRA. The first official DRA meeting was held in late September 1926 and attended by many ranchers, railroad officials, and even national park officials. Initial objectives included standardizing practices, and discussing transportation and proper care of guests. Over the years public vacation expectations have shifted and the DRA and its members have evolved their experiences to fit with changing times...more

Is Dudley going?

Song Of The Day #434

Here is more Western Swing. This time it's the Light Crust Doughboys performing their version of Avalon from the 1930s.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Madeleine Pickens named "Horsewoman of the Year" (I know, I know)

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States stated, "Madeleine Pickens is one of those rare individuals who puts her passion, time and money where her heart is," as she was named "Horsewoman of the Year" at the annual Sound Horse Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. Pickens was a key note speaker on Friday and was introduced by Senator Joe Tydings, "The father of the Horse Protection Act of 1970" which aims to end horse soring, the illegal and inhumane practice of using painful chemicals and mechanical methods that create intense pain in the front feet of gaited show horses to create exaggerated high steps. Wife of billionaire T. Boone Pickens, Madeleine purchased a 14,000 acre ranch in northeast Nevada to house wild horses that have been removed by the Bureau of Land Management. Naming the ranch Mustang Monument, Pickens plans to initially bring in 1000 non-breeding mustangs and turn the area into a vacation destination filled with camping opportunities, covered wagons, campfires and natural ecological opportunities for Americans to enjoy across the nation. Pickens adds "there is romance and glamour" and that "Americans don't often see this way of life."...more

Her being "horsewoman" of the year is like Tiger Woods being "husband" of the year.

Both fall a little short of the mark.

BLM removes nearly 2,000 wild horses in Wyoming

Federal wranglers have gathered 1,926 wild horses in a massive roundup that began Oct. 10 in southwest Wyoming. Bureau of Land Management cowboys have returned 270 of the captured animals to the range. Seven horses have died during the ongoing roundup operations in the Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek herd management areas in Sweetwater and Carbon counties. Last week, the agency expanded its roundup plans and now expects to remove about 2,107 wild horses from overpopulated rangelands in the herd units. The roundup aims to bring down the population level to around 860 wild horses -- the low end of the BLM's appropriate management level. BLM helicopters have been working south of Interstate 80 between highways 191 and 789 and the state line. The aircraft fly below 500 feet to herd the horses into traps. Captured horses are taken to the agency's Rock Springs holding facility...more

Only Nixon could go to China, and apparently only Obama can cull these critters.

Environmentalists: Tortoise population may decline due to project

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar were on hand last week to commemorate the ground-breaking of BrightSource Energy’s new Ivanpah Solar Electrical Generating Site California’s Ivanpah Valley. Upon completion, the site will double the generation of commercial thermal solar electricity in the U.S. But not everyone is happy about it. The site has been met with protest from environmental groups such as the Basin and Range Watch, however, over the number of threatened desert tortoises that call the Ivanpah Valley home. Initial Bureau of Land Management estimates of the tortoise population were found to be underestimates. Tortoises are being relocated from the project site, but the fear is that some may be missed and others may fail to adapt to a new habitat. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Game say that on translocation projects, such as Ivanpah, 50 percent of relocated tortoises will die, mostly due to predation,” said Laura Cunningham, tortoise biologist with Basin Range and Watch. “Also, 50 percent of tortoises in the host site are estimated to die due to competition, and 85 percent of juvenile tortoises will die because they are hard to find.”...more

It's clear the enviro's want to use the tortoises for land use purposes. What they are really saying is "no" to the solar energy project

Feds to drillers: Sign on the dotted line

When it comes to following the new rules for offshore drilling, federal regulators want to be sure companies are willing to put their names behind their actions. In a Notice to Lessees issued Monday (see below), the government said drilling permit applicants must have a statement signed by a company official “stating that the operator will conduct all authorized activities in compliance with all applicable regulations…” Officials have said in the past they would require some type personal promise from individuals at companies that the rules were being followed, but the NTL is the formal announcement of that requirement. The announcement Monday also gave some guidance to operators for the kind of issues the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement will be looking for when reviewing oil spill response plans...more

What we really need is a NTL, or perhaps NTP, with our elected officials.

Death on the beach: thousands of sea lions washed up along West Coast beaches

The noise stretched like a tight wire through the air as dozens of sea lions gasped for their last breath along central Oregon coast beaches near Florence yesterday. Thus far, scientists estimated that “thousands of sea lions” have washed up at various West coast beach locations due to a bacterial infection that also threatens people and animals. Dead sea lions were found near the world famous “Sea Lion Caves” still featured the usual group of 1,000 or so sea lions sitting on rocks as great waves of the Pacific Ocean created a storm of applause. According to marine biologists -- at the nearby Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport -- the deceased sea lions and various other marine life, to include thousands of dead starfish, “have tested positive” for leptospirosis...more

That's what they get for eatin' all those endangered salmon.

Cost of Green Power Makes Projects Tougher Sell

Michael Polsky’s wind farm company was doing so well in 2008 that banks were happy to lend millions for his effort to light up America with clean electricity. But two years later, Mr. Polsky has a product he is hard-pressed to sell. His company, Invenergy, had a contract to sell power to a utility in Virginia, but state regulators rejected the deal, citing the recession and the lower prices of natural gas and other fossil fuels. Deals to buy renewable power have been scuttled or slowed in states including Florida, Idaho and Kentucky as well as Virginia. By the end of the third quarter, year-to-date installations of new wind power dropped 72 percent from 2009 levels, according to the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group. Electricity generated from wind or sun still generally costs more — and sometimes a lot more — than the power squeezed from coal or natural gas. Prices for fossil fuels have dropped in part because the recession has reduced demand. In the case of natural gas, newer drilling techniques have opened the possibility of vast new supplies for years to come...more

That damned old dare it ignore the plans of the DC Deep Thinkers.

Explosives brought in to topple NC's dead hemlocks

A years-long battle to save hemlocks in the Appalachian Mountains from a tree-killing pest has some new weapons: duct tape, a helicopter, explosives and a fresh arsenal of chemicals. U.S. Forest Service personnel are working this week in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest to eliminate some of the casualties of the struggle with an invasive insect called the woolly adelgid. About 150 dead hemlocks - some of them centuries old - threaten to tumble onto a popular trail frequented by about 35,000 visitors each year. Steve Lohr, the district ranger who oversees hundreds of thousands of acres of national forest in the region, said duct-taping explosives to the trees appears to be the safest way to knock them over. It's an uncommon technique but carries the added benefit of leaving a jagged stump as opposed to a clean cut. "Since it's in wilderness, we want it to look as natural as possible," Lohr said. Meanwhile, officials are redoubling their efforts to save what's left of the decimated hemlock population. For years, massive numbers of hemlocks have been killed off by the speck-sized adelgid, a bug thought to have come from Asia a century ago that seeks nutrients inside the trees...more

Helicopters and explosives in a Wilderness? Something ain't right here. I'll check it out and let you know.

Decision on Idaho wolf killing petition delayed

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service won't be able to respond to Idaho's petition to kill wolves in the upper Clearwater River Basin in northern Idaho as soon as hoped, an agency official says. Brian Kelly, director of the federal agency's office in Boise, said he recently learned the agency has to conduct a National Environmental Policy Act review of the petition before making a decision. "We are working as expeditiously as possible," Kelly told the Lewiston Tribune. "The intent is to make a decision so the state can do it at a time of year it is more effective to do it." Idaho officials submitted the petition in August to kill up to 50 wolves in the Lolo Zone in northern Idaho with the goal of boosting elk populations. States are allowed to remove wolves if they are harming deer or elk herds. But the state must prove the action is warranted and win approval from the federal government...more

Grizzly kill under investigation

Federal authorities are investigating the killing of a grizzly bear by a hunter in the Madison Valley last month. State officials with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks confirmed Friday that a grizzly bear was shot and killed Oct. 23 in the Madison Valley. The killing came on the same day as the opening of the rifle season for deer and elk and involved a hunter, said Mel Frost, FWP spokeswoman. She said the bear was on the east side of the valley in the Madison Range. The name of the hunter was not released. Grizzly bears in the northern Rockies are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. Investigations of bear killings are handled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Terry Thibeault, FWP agent in charge for Wyoming and Montana, confirmed Friday that his agency is looking into the bear's shooting but added he couldn't comment further...more

A Novel Tactic in Climate Fight Gains Some Traction

With energy legislation shelved in the United States and little hope for a global climate change agreement this year, some policy experts are proposing a novel approach to curbing global warming: including greenhouse gases under an existing and highly successful international treaty ratified more than 20 years ago. The treaty, the Montreal Protocol, was adopted in 1987 for a completely different purpose, to eliminate aerosols and other chemicals that were blowing a hole in the Earth’s protective ozone layer. But as the signers of the protocol convened the 22nd annual meeting in Bangkok on Monday, negotiators are considering a proposed expansion in the ozone treaty to phase out the production and use of the industrial chemicals known as hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs The chemicals have thousands of times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas. HFCs are used as refrigerants in air-conditioners and cooling systems. They are manufactured mostly in China and India, but appliances containing the substance are in use in every corner of the world. HFCs replaced even more dangerous ozone-depleting chemicals known as HCFCs, themselves a substitute for the chlorofluorocarbons that were the first big target of the Montreal process...more

UNR study proves: Fall grazing controls cheatgrass

A new University of Nevada, Reno study shows fall and winter grazing can reduce cheatgrass, which in turn could slow range fires and save ranchers money. This study puts to rest theories that cheatgrass was only good for spring grazing, that cows won't eat dry cheatgrass and that dry cheatgrass had no nutritional value for livestock, according to Jerry Smith, district manager for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Battle Mountain District. "Now, an experiment by University of Nevada scientists Dr. Barry Perryman and Dr. Ben Bruce dispels these theories," he said. "Dr. Perryman, who is a member of the BLM's Northeastern Resource Advisory Council, demonstrated that cheatgrass can be significantly reduced with the use of fall grazing," Smith said. UNR funded the study, but "we are excited about the findings and are helping publicize the results," said Schirete Zick, public affairs officer for the Battle Mountain BLM district. "The results clearly demonstrate that cheatgrass can be significantly reduced with the aid of fall grazing," she said. "Cheatgrass presents a hazard from two perspectives," Smith said in the BLM's announcement on the study. "It comes up earlier than most perennial grasses, stealing resources like water and nutrients needed by other grasses, which provide forage for wildlife. Secondly, once cheatgrass dries, it is highly flammable and becomes a fire hazard...more

Turbines Could Tap the Mississippi's Power

Tens of thousands of turbines anchored to the bottom of the Mississippi River could someday provide more than a gigawatt of renewable energy, enough to power a quarter of a million homes. That's the vision of Free Flow Power, a startup based in Gloucester, Massachusetts, that recently received preliminary permits from the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granting it the right to explore energy production at dozens of sites along the lower Mississippi over the next three years. The proposed development is one of a number of "hydrokinetic" projects in the works. Such projects seek to generate electricity from wave movement, tidal flows, or river currents, without the use of dams. The ambitious Mississippi project, however, relies on relatively unproven technology. The only commercial hydrokinetic river-power system operating in the U.S. is a single turbine deployed by Hydro Green Energy close to a conventional hydropower dam on the Mississippi River in Hastings, Minnesota. Free Flow hopes to deploy hydrokinetic power on an unprecedented scale: hundreds of 40-kilowatt turbines, each the size and shape of a large jet engine and attached to pylons jutting out from the riverbed at 88 locations along the Mississippi...more

USDA report says show horses at risk of abuse

A federal report says show horses are at risk of abuse because of lax government oversight. At issue is the illegal practice of soring, which involves irritating the horse's foreleg and hoof to force the animal to walk with a certain gait. Auditors at USDA, which oversees the animals' safety, said in an internal Agriculture Department report released Thursday that inspectors hired by the industry to ward against the practice are often under pressure from their employers to ignore the abuse. The department's inspector general said soring is ingrained in the industry and many do not see it as a serious problem. The report recommended USDA hire independent veterinarians to inspect the animals instead of the industry-sponsored vets. AP

Socorro's territorial saloons - Part 2

Fred Emillio migrated from Lincoln County and arrived in Socorro with his family, in early 1923, to team up with Damian Padilla to operate a pool hall. The Emillio family had long been established in Lincoln County. A portrait of Fred’s grandfather once hung in the Lincoln County courthouse. According to the family, it now hangs in the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe. Fred’s son, Willie, recalled riding into town “perched atop the family belongings in the back of his father’s Model T Ford pickup.” Tragically, Padilla’s and Emillio’s pool hall was a short-lived venture due to the bane of many such establishments — fire — which broke out early one Monday morning in March 1923. The fire took out the entire block “extending south from the Plaza to the Sedillo store in the middle of the block facing Court Street on the east.” Only the superhuman efforts of the local hose company succeed in saving Sedillo’s two-story building. The Socorro Chieftain described the ruined block as “one of the old landmarks, being among the first buildings erected in Socorro.” About this same time, Amos Green was seeking another manager for his business and Padilla & Emillio, suddenly available due to the extenuating circumstances, moved across the Plaza. The furniture and fixtures in their pool hall were insured for $1,500 and this no doubt eased the pain of the transition. Judge Green died on Jan. 13, 1925. Fred Emillio remained at Green’s Pool Hall throughout Prohibition and after. It seems that the Green family either continued to sub-let the business as before, or Padilla and Emillio may have purchased their interest after Green’s death. Fred would not permit his sons to work behind the bar prior to their coming of age. He did, however, allow them to do custodial work, clean glasses, and more, but no bar work. The boys “helped out around the place, listening with youthful imagination to the many great tales emanating from the Green Front’s historical past as (they) swept and polished.” Willie Emillio recalled several anecdotal stories from those Prohibition days of polishing and sweeping. Yes, Fred did keep a well-secluded stock of Kentucky’s finest on hand to soothe the parched throats of his more trusted clientele.
“Dad always sought out the very finest of whiskeys and refused to handle the cheap stuff … he bought old stocks of the highest quality ‘bottled-in-bond’ bourbon whenever he could,” he recounted. Willie remembered his dad sterilizing bottles and affixing labels. One label, we’ll call it the “green,” was for the lower priced product and the other, the “black” label, for the “premium.” But the same high-quality spirit went into each! The working class fellows went for the more affordable green, while the upper echelon went for the black “and none of them ever knew the difference.”...more

Song Of The Day #433

Ranch Radio is in the mood for some western swing, so here is Bob Wills' 1940 recording of Blue Bonnet Rag.

Monday, November 08, 2010

EPA policy chief steps down

One of the Obama administration’s most aggressive officials on global warming regulations is stepping down from her post at the Environmental Protection Agency. Lisa Heinzerling, the head of EPA’s policy office, will return to her position as a Georgetown University law professor at the end of the year, said EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan. Within EPA, Heinzerling is one of the more dogmatic proponents of regulating greenhouse gases to the maximum extent possible under the Clean Air Act. There are two camps within the agency on climate, said an environmental advocate who spoke on background. The Heinzerling camp, with the mind-set that, “we have the law on our side; let’s go get them.” In the other camp are Administrator Lisa Jackson and EPA air chief Gina McCarthy, who are trying to maintain the support of the White House and Congress. Heinzerling gained fame in the environmental community for her role in helping to win a landmark 2007 U.S. Supreme Court case that gave EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. At EPA, she’s played a leading role in crafting the agency’s controversial climate policies as Jackson’s senior climate policy attorney and then as the associate administrator of EPA’s Office of Policy. “I think she’s probably the farthest left and most committed of anyone on the team, with the exception of Carol Browner,” on climate change, said an industry attorney familiar with the agency, referring to the former agency administrator and President Barack Obama’s energy and climate adviser...more

Apparently Heinzerling can read not only law books, but also the political tea leaves. So she's back to teaching law at Georgetown. Too bad we don't have a Clean Mind Act to protect the students from the pollution she will be spewing.

Water managers blast federal Everglades cleanup plan

Water managers on Thursday roundly criticized a court-ordered federal plan to speed up and expand the sluggish, repeatedly delayed effort to stem the flow of pollution into the Everglades. In letters to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency and during a news conference, South Florida Water Management District executives ran down a broad list of objections to a federal call to nearly double the vast expanse of marshes used to absorb the troubling nutrient phosphorous. They said the plan unjustly infringed on state rights to set water quality law, set an unrealistically ambitious time frame for massive construction projects (nine years), and would unreasonably saddle South Florida taxpayers with the bill (at least $1.5 billion). They also said the plan was drafted on a tight deadline without public or state review of data, and would bust a district budget declining along with the economy and property tax revenues. Tax revenues for 2011 are projected to be down 12 percent, or $61 million. ``The time frames are an impossibility with our current funding stream, and even with some order or direction from the court to increase our funding stream,'' Ken Ammon, the district's deputy executive director for Everglades restoration, said, raising the specter of a property tax hike mandated by a federal judge. The response from the Water Management District was the latest, and strongest, salvo in a legal battle over Everglades cleanup...more

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Saga of Snake Valley: Battling over Utah Water

Dean Baker, a rancher and activist for the protection of water rights in west-central Utah’s Snake Valley, could become wealthy by selling his property to the Southern Nevada Water Authority. THe principal communities in the Snake Valley, from north to south, are Callao, Trout Creek, Partoun, EskDale, Baker, and Garrison. “People don’t understand me,” Baker said, referring to his refusal to sell. What makes Baker’s property valuable is that it is a coveted water source. But after 55 years of ranching, Baker isn’t ready to give up his home or see his agriculture and livestock suffer because of underground pumping. According to the Great Basin Water Network, the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), the water agency for Las Vegas and Henderson, Nev., proposes to pump up to 200,000 acre-feet annually from eastern Nevada and western Utah and send it through 300 miles of pipeline to support larger cities. This comes to about 65 billion gallons of water per year. Ecologists and hydrologists estimate the water table will drop as much as 100 feet in the first 10 years of the pipeline, killing the current vegetation and wiping out the wildlife and livelihoods of the rural communities including the Snake, Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys. “I think that is what the SNWA in Vegas thinks they can do, just pay people off to leave the area,” said Gary Perea, White Pine County Commissioner in Nevada...more

Drying Lake Mead worries water users in Colorado

Currier is a farmer and rancher whose livelihood, and that of his industry, is directly tied to water. He is involved with water issues within the state as a member of the Colorado Basin Roundtable and as its representative on the statewide Interbasin Compact Committee. When he hears that Lake Mead’s water level is at a historic low, he worries about the degree to which Powell may be relied on to stabilize Mead’s water supply. That Lake Powell supply is water that Colorado and other states in the upper basin of that Colorado River scarcely can afford to let go, Currier said. Currier and others involved in water policy in western Colorado see Lake Powell as a bank account for upper basin states, ensuring their ability to fulfill their water delivery obligation to lower basin states under the terms of the 1922 Colorado River Compact. Lower basin states are using more Colorado River water than they are entitled to under the compact — a rate that has proven to be an unsustainable during a decade of drought and has drawn down Lake Mead. “If we are required to allow too much water to meet the needs of the lower basin … and those that benefit from Lake Mead, well, that puts us in jeopardy of lowering Lake Powell too much and getting us in real trouble if we do have another severe drought like 2002,” Currier said...more

Oklahoma vs. the West

The biggest piece of environmental legislation in decades -- the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 -- might have been "of 2008," or been passed in various forms even earlier, were it not for Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn. The Omnibus Act bundled 164 conservation efforts into a massive package that designated 2 million acres of new wilderness and increased the wild and scenic river system by 50 percent. It helped enable buyouts of oil and gas leases in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest and ratified wilderness deals that were negotiated on the ground in Idaho's Owyhee County and Utah's Washington County. Many Western environmentalists, ranchers, county officials and other stakeholders were involved in creating the Omnibus. But the act itself can be blamed on Coburn, which is why it's known around Capitol Hill as "Tomnibus." "What he did was put holds on virtually every bill that came out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee," says Paul Spitler, a high-ranking Wilderness Society staffer based in Washington, D.C. Coburn blocked so many individual bills in 2008 that supporters decided to lump them together into the omnibus package in early 2009, hoping to pass all 164 measures at once. They succeeded, but not without a fight. At Coburn's insistence, the Omnibus Act was "read (on the Senate floor) until the wee hours of the morning, which dragged out the timeline for an extra day," says Spitler. "And at that point, he said, ‘OK, you guys can go home now.' " Coburn again drew the ire of Western environmentalists in September, by holding up passage of five popular wildlife-protection bills, one of which -- the Crane Conservation Act -- was sponsored by a fellow Republican, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo...more

New toxic air data from oil and gas operations, this time from the Four Corners

Recent air sampling from the Four Corners region in New Mexico and Colorado has found harmful levels of cancer-causing chemicals in the region’s air. The air sampling was conducted by neighbors of natural gas development operations who formed a "Bucket Brigade" of citizen scientists taking scientifically credible samples using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved methods and laboratories. Air samples were taken near natural gas refineries and processing facilities, a surface waste disposal facility, and a natural gas well and compressor site. Three air samplings detected more than 20 different toxic chemicals. Local rancher Tweeti Blancett made an excellent point: “We know there are win-win solutions available to solve these problems, yet industry is clearly not using them..." There are over 35,000 natural gas wells, and associated compression and refining in the Four Corners region...more

Pronghorns' disappearance a mystery

As Bill Miller looks across his ranch that spreads out under the vast West Texas sky, a once-common sight has became a rarity: the pronghorn. “They’re just part of the landscape,” Miller said. “They should be there, and they’re not.” A symbol of the West, pronghorn have a body type somewhat like a deer with distinctive white stripes on their faces and necks and white markings that come halfway up their sides. The flash of white hair on their behinds stands on end to signal danger. The fastest land animal in North America, they can reach speeds close to 60 mph. And in West Texas, where desert grasslands give way to mountain ranges, their numbers are dropping, and researchers don’t yet know why. Miller can remember when as many as 100 pronghorn made their home on parts of his 33,000-acre ranch west of Valentine. This year, he estimates there are about 12. Pronghorn numbers in West Texas are at about 4,700 this year, down from about 6,000 last year, when good rains indicated that the numbers should have increased. After noticing the decline, researchers started talking to ranchers, who reported finding the majestic animals dead for no apparent reason...more

On a Flint Hills ranch, tradition falls victim to the recession

Slowly, over the horizon, the last cattle drive slips into sight. There are no thundering hoofbeats. The sound is almost a whisper, like a gentle stirring of the wind. Horses neigh and cowboys occasionally whistle and "yip-yip" encouragement to the herd. It is the last drive for the Cedar Creek Ranch. The effects of a tough and long recession are cutting deep into Flint Hills traditions. The 300 cows owned by Mike and Jayne Mayes and their son, Josh, will be shipped next week to range land in Oklahoma, where it is cheaper to graze year-round and the winters aren't as tough. It costs roughly $215 a cow to graze over the summer on Flint Hills grass. The Mayeses were able to strike a better deal in Oklahoma, at roughly $300 a cow to graze year-round. For eight years, friends and neighbors have helped the Mayeses drive the cattle each fall from their summer pastures at the Baileys, 17 miles east of Cassoday in Greenwood County, to the Mayeses' winter pastures near Matfield Green in Chase County. In the sea of grass and cattle, three pink coats stand out: Annette, 17; Jesse, 14; and Ellen Jones , 11 — all members of 4-H, sisters who are growing up with the ranching lifestyle. That pleases their mother, Wendi Jones, who drove the chuck wagon for the cattle drive. Seeing the cattle come over the horizon, she said, was reward enough. "My heart is so full," she said. "The animals are happy and healthy. Nobody is scared or hurt. They always talk about how the rancher is destroying this. You see these cattle out here that have lived and will continue to live a really nice life — it is just beauty." She wants her daughters to see this way of life. Ellen Jones is the youngest rider on the drive. "I feel kind of special that I am going to be part of something that is probably never going to happen again," she said...more

Cowboys put on downtown show

Clacking hooves echoed off the glass walls of downtown Edmonton’s high rises for the first time in six years Saturday. “It’s really scary. You don’t want to run over anybody, first off. That’s a little tricky,” said a beaming cowboy named Dave, who helped wrangle a couple dozen head of steers down 102 Avenue. A third generation rancher, he’s used to having a bit more room to work mounted on horseback, and fewer manholes to trip over. “If this was at home, that many cattle there, they’d be strung out probably 10 times further than they were here today.” The rancher’s efforts were rewarded with thousands of smiles from people lining the sidewalks along the avenue in a nearly unbroken chain from 108 Street to Churchill Square. Brian Match brought two tots out to see the show, and they were pressed to the steer pen’s gates outside the Art Gallery of Alberta. “I think it’s pretty important because it’s sort of what Albertans are,” he said. The last River City Roundup was six years ago and began as a way to help support farmers through the BSE crisis. It’s still a tool for raising the profile of agriculture in Alberta, said cowboy Dave. “It’s 100% part of our heritage, part of Alberta’s heritage. It’s still a way of life for many Albertans and it’s an important part of our economy,” he said...more

Did a mummy prove the Wyoming legend?

The Little People fabled to live in the Wind River Range are good, as long as you don't make them mad. Eastern Shoshone elder Morning Starr Moses Weed knows what happens if you cross them. As the story goes, his father-in-law rode up a thin trail into the Wind River mountains many years ago to check on his cattle. One of the Little People appeared, standing no more than knee high, though otherwise looking like a normal human. He told Weed's father-in-law that it was his trail, and the rancher couldn't use it anymore. But Shoshone rancher had cows up the hill. He went ahead anyway. The Little Person shot Weed's father-in-law with a poisonous arrow, making his arm useless. But they're not all bad, Weed says. He knows other stories in which the Little People save lives or help Shoshones find their way back home. The Shoshones aren't the only people to describe a race of Little People. For centuries, other American Indians have had variations of their own. George Gill, a forensic anthropologist, speculates that white settlers to the Wind River area believed the stories to simply be myths. Until the mummies were found...more

Tom Selleck Is Still The Man

Tom Selleck doesn't casually sit down at a table; he takes ownership. At a larger-than-life 6 foot 4, absurdly handsome in a corduroy shirt, jeans, and boots, he looks like a cowboy trimmed and tidied for a day off from the ranch. When he pulls up a chair at a Los Angeles bistro, everything from the silverware to the stemware appears to shrink. But it's more than just a physical impression--there's a warmth, a presence, a glow of easy confidence. The truth is, the 65-year-old star with the 1000-kilowatt Thomas Magnum smile is indeed spending a day away from his ranch. When he's not acting, Selleck kicks back--and clears brush--on the 63-acre spread near Santa Barbara he shares with his wife of 23 years, British actress Jillie Mack. With its 1920s Spanish-style house, 20-acre avocado grove, and barns housing five horses--including 25-year-old Spike, from Selleck's 1990 film Quigley Down Under--it's the perfect retreat for a gentleman rancher with a lifelong love of Westerns, a place to "dig a hole or plant a tree and get my mind off stuff," the actor says. But today his mind is on his new CBS series, Blue Bloods, in which he plays New York City police commissioner Frank Reagan, a man who commands respect at both City Hall and the Sunday night dinner table, where he anchors a three-generation NYPD family...more

Socorro's Territorial Saloons — Part 1

During the territorial boom decades of the 1880s and 1890s, Socorro was home to dozens of saloons — "sampling rooms," "billiard halls," and "resorts" — all of which were synonymous with today's bars and taverns. Only one sole survivor, the Capitol Bar, can trace its lineage directly back to those territorial days and it, along with many of its numerous and long-gone neighbors, as well as a few of their colorful proprietors, are the focus of this two-part story. Due to the lack of period newspaper coverage, we may never know the name and exact location of Socorro's first territorial "saloon" — if, indeed, it could be called that. But it certainly predated 1880, since that was the year when two major events occurred in Socorro's history: the arrival not only of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, but the establishment of the Socorro Sun, our first newspaper. No less than eight wholesale and retail liquor establishments advertised in the 1880 Sun. One clue is offered by Mrs. Sadie Abernathy, as quoted in Father Stanley Crocchiola's book, "Socorro, The Oasis." Abernathy related: "When I came to Socorro in 1876, the little town was a paradise. Lots of fruit trees, grape vines, (and) gardens… (There were) no groceries or dry good stores except for one run by J.J. Baca Sr. And, all he had was a few pounds of green (not roasted) coffee, a little brown sugar, some calicos of the cheapest kind — and he sold whiskey and wine by the drink at the counter ..." Pete Kinsinger, credited with being the first to discover ore in the Magdalena area during the Civil War, was an early proprietor of the well-known Park House (soon to become the famous Park Hotel), where he regularly hosted the mining fraternity. During inclement weather, they retired to "Armstrong's nearby saloon." These pioneer "saloons" were, by necessity, sparsely stocked, even by the standards of the early 1880s. Their bill of fare was limited to non-perishables, such as wine and whiskey. Beer, if it could be called that, was certainly available in the territory as far back as the 1860s, particularly in areas served by wagon trains coming in over the Santa Fe Trail. William Carl, proprietor of the "Western Brewery" advertised in the May 5, 1869, Santa Fe New Mexican: "The undersigned will keep constantly on hand at their Brewery, on the Fort Union road, a supply of beer in bottles or kegs as may be required." Since the pasteurization of beer wasn't applied to any degree until about 1876, William Carl's product was probably pretty vile stuff...more