Friday, November 26, 2010

Sen. Bingaman is making a big mistake with his dangerous wilderness bill


By: Ron Arnold

Sen. Jeff Bingaman is being called our worst border security threat. Angry Dona Ana County residents have branded the New Mexico Democrat's Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act as "Bingaman's Bandit Boulevard" for proposing a 50-mile-long safe haven for Mexican drug runners -- and worse.

John Hummer, former chairman of the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, reminded his community of the no-motorized-vehicle clause in wilderness laws. The Border Patrol can't patrol.

Wilderness laws allow our own park and forest rangers to keep the cops out. That's supposed to protect nature, but ends up protecting drug cartels, illegal immigrants -- and terrorists.

Steve Wilmeth, fifth-generation New Mexico rancher, told me that Bingaman's north-south strip and two mountain clusters don't worry him for the inevitable Mexican intruders, but for the OTMs -- Other Than Mexicans.

A U.S. Border Patrol document obtained by The Examiner shows the nationality and number of OTMs arrested last year. A few samples: Afghanistan (12); Indonesia (95); Iran (42); Iraq (42); Jordan (52); Saudi Arabia (6); Somalia (70); Yemen (22).

Members of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers say they weren't smuggling drugs. Retired Border Patrol Officer Zack Taylor said Bingaman's wilderness boundary is just a stroll from violent Juarez and El Paso.

Terrorists want terror, said Taylor -- unexpected targets with severed body parts and dead babies. A dozen relays of three sunburned hikers carrying big backpacks could trek unmolested up Bingaman's Boulevard, stockpiling materials to obliterate the balloon festival, the state Capitol, the Acoma Pueblo -- anything we treasure.

Frank DuBois, a Reagan-era deputy assistant secretary of the interior, told me that interdicting criminals in wilderness is losing priority. Bingaman's bill makes his wilderness a "component of the National Landscape Conservation System." That's ominous.

In a previous Examiner report, I exposed Wendy Van Asselt's Wilderness Society campaign with Bureau of Land Management officials that led her to the House Natural Resources Committee, where she helped create that hands-off conservation system. (She resigned last month).

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has elevated the Office of the National Landscape Conservation System to the level of a directorate within BLM, with preservation its priority.

Given that newly exalted status, questions arise. First, who led the campaign for Bingaman's bill?

That's easy: the Albuquerque-based New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, a purist group out to "re-wild" and restore the Americas to pre-Columbus conditions.

NMWA has been more effective than its $1 million revenue suggests. Its IRS Form 990 shows why: The "affiliations" disclosure shows NMWA "works together on ongoing basis" with three rich Big Green groups: the Wilderness Society (which led the campaign to create the conservation system), the Pew-supported Campaign for America's Wilderness, and, most importantly, the Sierra Club, which can spend limitless sums lobbying legislators.

But the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance dances on the strings of its foundation funders. The top donors are the Wyss Foundation, which also bankrolled Wendy Van Asselt's conservation system campaign for the Wilderness Society, and the Wilburforce Foundation, which specifically donated to "the Organ Mountains Wilderness Campaign."

Top donor Wilburforce ($750,000), based in Seattle, is the money of Gordon Letwin, one of the 12 original employees of Microsoft -- which was born in Albuquerque and moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1978.

Letwin quit Microsoft in 1993 to "kick back" with his $20 million fortune. His wife Rosanna now runs Wilburforce with the income from 300,000 shares of Microsoft stock as a money spigot for green groups.

The first of this month, Wilburforce hired Van Asselt as a program officer, giving her a credential on all three sides of an Iron Triangle -- activist, government, donor -- and illustrating the revolving doors of Big Green.

Examiner contributor Ron Arnold is executive vice president of the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise.

This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner. Posted with permission.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Pilgrims and Property Rights

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO EVERYONE!



A Lost Thanksgiving Lesson

By John Stossel

Had today's political class been in power in 1623, tomorrow's holiday would have been called "Starvation Day" instead of Thanksgiving. Of course, most of us wouldn't be alive to celebrate it.

Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. But the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn't happen.

Long before the failure of modern socialism, the earliest European settlers gave us a dramatic demonstration of the fatal flaws of collectivism. Unfortunately, few Americans today know it.

The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally.

That's why they nearly all starved.

When people can get the same return with less effort, most people make less effort. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property. Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions. Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. This went on for two years.

"So as it well appeared that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented," wrote Gov. William Bradford in his diary. The colonists, he said, "began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, (I) (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land."

In other words, the people of Plymouth moved from socialism to private farming. The results were dramatic.

"This had very good success," Bradford wrote, "for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many."

Because of the change, the first Thanksgiving could be held in November 1623.

What Plymouth suffered under communalism was what economists today call the tragedy of the commons. The problem has been known since ancient Greece. As Aristotle noted, "That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it."

If individuals can take from a common pot regardless of how much they put in it, each person has an incentive to be a free-rider, to do as little as possible and take as much as possible because what one fails to take will be taken by someone else. Soon, the pot is empty.

What private property does -- as the Pilgrims discovered -- is connect effort to reward, creating an incentive for people to produce far more. Then, if there's a free market, people will trade their surpluses to others for the things they lack. Mutual exchange for mutual benefit makes the community richer.

Here's the biggest irony of all: The U.S. government has yet to apply the lesson to its first conquest, Native Americans. The U.S. government has held most Indian land in trust since the 19th century. This discourages initiative and risk-taking because, among other reasons, it can't be used as collateral for loans. On Indian reservations, "private land is 40 to 90 percent more productive than land owned through the Bureau of Indian Affairs," says economist Terry Anderson, executive director of PERC. "If you drive through western reservations, you will see on one side cultivated fields, irrigation, and on the other side, overgrazed pasture, run-down pastures and homes. One is a simple commons; the other side is private property. You have Indians on both sides. The important thing is someone owns one side."

Secure property rights are the key. When producers know their future products are safe from confiscation, they take risks and invest. But when they fear they will be deprived of the fruits of their labor, they will do as little as possible.

That's the lost lesson of Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sage grouse habitat map released

A breeding bird density map for the greater sage-grouse released today by the Department of Interior could be a step in controling development to help keep the prairie bird off the Endangered Species list. The map identifies important areas having high density occurrences of greater sage-grouse, a ground-dwelling bird that inhabits much of the West. These areas were determined by estimating the male’s attendance on “leks,” the name biologists use to describe the communal breeding grounds of the bird. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will work with the state fish and wildlife agencies to refine the map by incorporating more specific state-level data. “This map and initiative will help advance our collaborative efforts with states and stakeholders to develop smart policy to enhance the sustainability of our sage-grouse populations,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said today. “The final map will give Interior a strong foundation to identify land uses that do not compromise areas that are so critical to the greater sage-grouse.”...more

You can view the map here.

Bingaman hopes to pass public lands bill

U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman hopes to pass an omnibus public lands bill during the lame-duck session that could include protection for hundreds of thousands of acres of land in Doña Ana County. “As chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee, Sen. Bingaman is working to develop a package of public lands bills that could be considered if there is time on the Senate floor during the lame duck session,” Bingaman spokeswoman Jude McCartin said. “It’s still unclear what bills would be in such a package, but he’ll be focusing on legislation with bipartisan support.” McCartin added that the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks Wilderness Act, which would designate hundreds of thousands of acres in Doña Ana County as wilderness, received unanimous support in July from the committee Bingaman, D-N.M., chairs. The New York Times says the outlook for such a bill is unknown. Ultimately, it is up to Majority Leader Harry Reid to decide what bills will be scheduled for a vote on the Senate floor...more

The odds are heavily against this passing.

Palin 'snuff film' outrages animal rights advocates

US Republican darling Sarah Palin is under fire for apparently clubbing a fish to death, then holding its still-beating heart in her hands for television cameras in what a US animal rights group calls a "snuff video". Palin and her daughter Bristol were featured on a halibut fishing excursion for the ex-vice-presidential nominee's new reality TV show Sarah Palin's Alaska, which has premiered to record ratings in the US. Halibut clubbing is standard practice among anglers, but Palin's apparent relish in the animal's suffering has outraged animal rights advocates In Defence of Animals. The group claims the scene is "a snuff video" and says her lack of compassion is disgusting, particularly her lack of remorse. However, the Alaska Charter Association - a recreational halibut fishing group - claims the clubbing technique is "humane", as it aims to "minimise the suffering of the fish". During the episode, Palin explains why clubbing halibut to death is necessary saying: "stunning the halibut may seem a bit harsh to some but it's the safest and most humane way to harvest these massive fish."...more

Taking a look at new cuts

Meat scientists are taking another look at beef carcasses and finding some great products hidden in cuts that are usually ground or roasted. “We’ve got some fantastic products that historically we’ve been grinding or putting in pot roast,” said Jim Ethridge, director of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s beef innovation group. He demonstrated some of those new cuts during a talk at the Idaho Cattle Association’s annual meeting. For decades restaurant chefs and home cooks alike have been taught that if a cut of beef comes from the shoulder or the rump, it’s a locomotion muscle and it must be cooked slowly and with liquid to make it edible. But a muscle profiling study that began in 1998, not only identified 39 individual muscles in the chuck and round but also outlined the attributes of each of those muscles. Even more surprisingly, 7 of the 10 most tender cuts on a beef carcass are found in the chuck or round. Suddenly, instead of having a huge chuck roll that can only be made into a pot roast, new products such as the Denver steak can be harvested and featured on a restaurant menu. The Denver steak is considered the fourth most tender cut of beef...more

Broken Neighbor, Broken Border

Between August 2nd and 6th of this year, a team of investigators working for the House Immigration Reform Caucus examined the border between Texas and Mexico. They prepared a report for Caucus Chairman Brian Bilbray (R-CA) and Republican Conference Secretary John Carter (R-TX). The report, entitled “Broken Neighbor, Broken Border” has been released to the public today. It paints an alarming portrait of illegal entries, reduced in number since the passage of reforms in 2005 and 2006, but “increasingly dangerous to the homeland security of our nation, based on the near-collapse of civil authority in the northern states of Mexico.” The cartels are increasingly less concerned with committing their atrocities on Mexican soil. Their violence is spilling across the border into American towns and cities. Their troops outnumber American police and Border Patrol agents, and are more heavily armed. Sometimes the Border Patrol has to back away from engaging them after detection, understandably concerned about starting a bloody battle they can’t win. Captured cartel members speak of “sleeper agents” planted in U.S. cities for “future combat” against both competitors and law enforcement. Cartel protection rackets are knocking on the doors of legitimate businesses owned by Mexicans in the United States...more

Mexico’s War on America’s Border

Texas Governor Rick Perry caused a stir last week when he suggested that the deployment of U.S. troops into Mexican territory may be necessary, pointing out that five of his state’s citizens died in the past two weeks. The fight against the barbaric drug cartels has escalated each year since 2007, and terrorist groups are looking to benefit from the chaos. It has become a full-scale war worthy of attention, but Perry seems to be the only major politician sounding the alarm. “I think you have the same situation as you had in Colombia,” Perry accurately said. About 31,000 people have been killed in the Mexican drug war since December 2006 — more than five times the number of American soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. And it is getting worse. There has been a 53 percent increase in murders since last year, with 10,000 murders so far this year. Last week, four people in Tijuana were murdered in one day, with two having their corpses hung from a bridge and one being decapitated. Almost the entire population of 6,000 of Ciudad Mier near the Texan border has fled. A Pentecostal minister who fled said, “We have no mayor, no police, no transit system. We have been left to fend for ourselves.” The drug cartels are so strong that the authorities fighting them must be genuinely concerned for their lives...more

Mexico Bleeds over the Border

Although most journalists and pundits admit that the drug violence afflicting Mexico has become very bad indeed, many of them also argue that there is no evidence of a spillover into the United States. Nevertheless, there are growing indications that the spillover effect is not a myth. There have been ominous signs for some time. Mexican drug organizations had established close connections with domestic gangs in some two hundred fifty U.S. cities—and all fifty largest cities—by mid-2008. The increasing Mexican domination of all phases of the drug trade in the United States carries with it the obvious risk that the turf battles in Mexico between rival cartels could become proxy wars in U.S. communities. There is evidence that such struggles are already underway. In at least three cases, members of La Familia kidnapped competing drug dealers in Houston and held them for ransom. Similar events have occurred in Phoenix, Las Vegas and other U.S. cities. Cartel hit men have not only killed victims–including Americans–in Mexico, but they have apparently struck at individuals inside the United States. During 2008 and 2009, seven individuals were killed execution style in Laredo, Texas, across the Rio Grande from Nuevo Laredo—a major arena in the turf wars between the drug gangs. Authorities arrested and convicted two Gulf cartel enforcers for the string of executions. In October 2008, a Las Vegas child was kidnapped because a relative owed money to one of Mexican drug gangs. In September 2009, three armed men dragged Sergio Saucedo, a resident of Horizon City, Texas, out of his home and shoved him into an SUV. Saucedo’s wife, as well as school children in a packed bus, witnessed the abduction. His body was found several days later in Ciudad Juárez, with its arms chopped off and placed on the chest. U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested four men, including two who were U.S. citizens, the following February in connection with the crime. The drug lords are now bold enough to put Americans living in the United States, including law enforcement personnel, on target lists for execution...more

Cornyn: U.S. cannot ignore escalating violence in Mexico

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn again called on President Barack Obama’s administration to present a comprehensive plan to address national security threats along the Southwest border. Referencing a Rio Grande Valley media report that drug cartels have threatened U.S. law enforcement officers, Cornyn told reporters in his weekly teleconference Wednesday that the federal government has not prepared a “comprehensive and credible plan” to help the Mexican government quell the violence that threatens to destabilize the country and spill over into the United States. The drug cartels are emboldened by Obama’s refusal to take the violence in Mexico seriously, he said in a statement. Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez told KGBT-TV Wednesday that his office has received telephone threats from drug cartel members. Gonzalez, who did not return a call from The Monitor seeking comment Thursday, told the station that Mexico needs help fighting the cartels...more

Mexico: migrants should form convoys for safety

Mexico's government is telling migrants driving home for the holidays from the United States that they should form convoys for their own safety while traveling through Mexico, and an official said Monday that police will accompany convoys on the most dangerous stretches of highway. A seemingly intractable wave of drug cartel violence has made some border highways, especially in the states of Tamaulipas, Sonora and Sinaloa, so dangerous that the U.S. State Department urges travelers to avoid driving on some of the roads. "When there are hot spots, we can request that a patrol escort the convoy," said Itzel Ortiz, the director of the Paisano Program, which is in charge of welcoming returning migrants and ensuring their trips home are safe. Demands for bribes by police and officials at Mexican customs checkpoints used to be the worst problems for returning migrants, who often bring cash, new vehicles and appliances with them. But that seems almost innocuous compared to the challenges posed by drug cartel gunmen, who frequently set up roadblocks on northern highways to steal vehicles and cash, kidnap or kill travelers...more

Ciudad Juarez Officer Seeks U.S. Asylum

A police officer from the violent border city of Ciudad Juarez who fled to the U.S. along with his wife and children asked for asylum Tuesday in a Dallas immigration courtroom. Jose Alarcon, 27, and his attorney must prove that as a municipal officer, Alarcon belonged to a persecuted social group and the government was unable to protect him. Houston immigration lawyer Gordon Quan says, to obtain asylum, Alarcon must also demonstrate that his life would be in jeopardy anywhere in Mexico. "The way the law is written," said Quan, "if they could find refuge in another part of the country, they would not be eligible. So that's something probably the immigration judges are looking at; 'Well, instead of living in Juarez, why don't you live in Puebla?'" Alarcon's attorney, Ludo Perez Gardini, told The Dallas Morning News that he believes Alarcon was a specific target because he was an officer who dared to arrest the wrong people. He also said he believes Alarcon was set up to be hunted...more

Story of brave elderly rancher who killed several drug hitmen amazes Mexico

The story of an elderly Mexican rancher who died while defending his property from drug gunmen who demanded him to surrender his ranch has amazed Mexico. In a country where several towns have seen an exodus of citizens due to fears of drug-related violence, 77-year-old Alejo Garza Tamez was not intimidated and surprised a group of assassins, killing four of them and injuring two others. Garza Tamez was later found dead by Marines with two weapons at his side inside the main house of his ranch located in the border state of Tamaulipas. A group of armed men from an unidentified drug cartel had demanded Garza to surrender his property, as many others had in the past, to them. The elderly businessman, however, denied and decided to defend his property by himself as he did not trust authorities, according to Sandra Garza, the victim’s daughter. The armed gunmen gave him an ultimatum of 24 hours to flee his property by November 13. Instead, Garza told his workers to take the day off as he prepared for battle. He spent the rest of the day gathering his hunting weapons and planning a military-like strategy to defend his residence. Garza, a skilled hunter, set weapons in the weakest spots of his residence such as windows and doors. At about 4.00 a.m. local time on Sunday, he heard a group of vehicles approaching the entrance of the ranch. Shortly after, a man shouted that they came to take the ranch...more

Strife-torn town in Juárez Valley has just one officer left

The only police officer in a long and deadly stretch of border towns in the Juárez Valley is 28-year-old Erika Gándara. She works in plainclothes but keeps a semi-automatic rifle, an AR-15, hidden between cushions in her stark office. A bulletproof vest hangs near the door. A portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mexican version of the Virgin Mary, adorns one wall. These items are all Gándara has for company at the station. Eight officers constituted the police force of Guadalupe. One was shot dead the week Gándara joined the department as a dispatcher in June 2009. The other seven resigned within a year, driven out by fear, Gándara said. The last one quit in June, and no potential replacements have applied, Gándara said. "I am here out of necessity," she said. Women have increasingly become the face of police forces in rural areas outside Juárez. The territory borders a string of small Texas towns, including San Elizario, Tornillo and Fabens, and stretches all the way to Presidio...more

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Salazar galls lawmakers from Gulf states

A much-anticipated meeting to smooth over tensions between Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the drilling industry appeared to falter Monday as oil and gas executives, joined by Gulf state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, described Mr. Salazar's visit to Houma, La., as all talk and little action. Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Louisiana Democrat, secured the meeting last week in exchange for releasing a legislative hold she had placed on President Obama's budget director nominee. She and other advocates of offshore drilling hoped Mr. Salazar's visit would be accompanied by a streamlined process for approving permits in the wake of the Obama administration's decision to lift its ban on offshore drilling, which it imposed in the aftermath of the BP PLC oil spill this year. Instead, officials said, the meeting resulted in little more than rhetoric...more

Salazar Outlines Progress of Empowerment Agenda in Speech to National Congress of American Indians

In a speech this morning to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar described the progress being made in a comprehensive agenda to reform, restructure and rebuild federal relations with Indian Country. Secretary Salazar outlined a broad range of efforts underway to restore integrity in U.S. government relations with American Indian and Alaska Native leaders, fulfill trust responsibilities to tribal members, and to work cooperatively to build stronger economies and safer tribal communities. n his remarks, Secretary Salazar also announced that the Administration today issued a letter of support for the White Mountain Apache Tribe water settlement in Arizona. The centerpiece of the settlement is the construction of the White Mountain Apache Tribe Rural water system which will greatly expand the current water delivery system to meet the very critical needs of the reservation. The White Mountain Apache Tribe water settlement is the fourth Indian water rights negotiated settlement to be fully supported by the Obama Administration and reflects the commitment of the Administration to resolving long-standing disputes over water use in the West. With this support letter, the Obama Administration has supported nearly $1 billion of Indian water settlements that will secure for a number of tribes and their members not just a permanent water supply but also economic security and the resolution of long-standing conflicts with neighboring communities...more

Salazar went on to say:

“The message from this Administration is clear,” said Salazar. “We want to settle Indian water rights disputes and we will support good Indian water settlements that result from negotiations with all stakeholders..."

Too bad he doesn't implement that same policy on Wilderness designations.

Judge sides with Wyoming on wolves

A federal judge ruled Thursday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wasn't justified in rejecting Wyoming's wolf management plan. In his decision, U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson didn't require Fish and Wildlife to accept Wyoming's plan. However, he stated that the agency's insistence that Wyoming list wolves as a protected "trophy game" species throughout the entire state was "arbitrary and capricious" and should be set aside. Fish and Wildlife, Johnson ruled, should revisit whether Wyoming's proposed trophy game management area in the state’s northwest corner is adequate to maintain a healthy wolf population, or whether the state’s proposed boundaries should be expanded. The state of Wyoming sued Fish and Wildlife after the federal agency refused to accept the state’s plan, which would allow unregulated killing of the animals over all but the northwest part of the state. Currently, all of Wyoming’s wolves are listed as a federally endangered species, meaning it’s unlawful to kill wolves anywhere in the state. Fish and Wildlife had argued that Wyoming’s plan was rejected because unregulated shooting in most of the state would reduce the state's wolf population below federally required levels and wouldn’t give those wolves enough "genetic connectivity" with other wolf populations to maintain a healthy population. But Johnson rejected Fish and Wildlife's argument, writing that "there is no meaningful scientific explanation" why Wyoming’s plan would be insufficient to keep the state’s wolf population above those required levels of 15 breeding pairs and 150 total wolves...more

Rep. Hastings: Time to Split Up Energy and Commerce Committee

Washington state Rep. Doc Hastings wants to take the “energy” out of Energy and Commerce. The top Republican on the Natural Resources Committee wants to commandeer energy issues from the Energy and Commerce panel. Mr. Hastings made his proposal in a letter to all the Republicans who will be returning to Washington next year. Mr. Hastings offered his proposal as four Republicans brawl for the Energy and Commerce chairmanship. Texas Rep. Joe Barton, the top Republican who’s running up against term limits for the job, sent his own missive today asking to add newly elected lawmakers to the panel. This nasty internecine fight makes the committee vulnerable to a jurisdictional challenge. The Natural Resources panel oversees drilling, mining and alternative energy development on federal land and offshore. Energy and Commerce oversees the Department of Energy and sets policy for much of the industry, including oil, natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy sources. In his letter, Mr. Hastings argued that consolidating that jurisdiction on a single committee would help Republicans push their “all-of-the-above” energy policy. The Washington Republican also hinted at his jurisdictional motives, calling Energy and Commerce “a Goliath” because its reach spans health care, telecommunications, the Food and Drug Administration and consumer protection. Under his plan, Republicans could split the jurisdiction for two major issues – health care and energy – between separate committees. “This is the committee that spawned both Obamacare and the Democrats’ cap-and-trade national energy tax,” Mr. Hastings wrote. “Energy deserves the concentrated attention of a committee with full jurisdiction over such a sweeping issue.”...more

Maine voter revolt threatens state's Big Green Iron Triangles

Maine's state government has been called the closest thing to an environmental dictatorship in America, but that may change. Paul R. LePage, Maine's incoming Tea Party-backed Republican governor, campaigned on lifting environmental regulations that "serve no purpose except to cost businesses money," reducing or eliminating just about every business-related tax in the state, and bringing cheap energy from Canada. He gut-punched Big Green environmental activists for pouring millions into Maine to tie up land and kill development: "You can't harvest timber. No one is going to have the benefit of creating wealth and prosperity from it. I say, look at land for Maine's future." LePage will have his hands full. Maine also has new Republican majorities in its state House and Senate, with freshmen who don't even know that Iron Triangles exist. Big Green got its Maine foothold in August 1988 when the Natural Resources Protection Act was passed, creating the state's Department of Environmental Protection and enlarging the existing Land Use Regulation Commission. Like most Big Green-inspired laws, the NRPA started with a little mission that got big. This is called "Mission Creep" in the military. ..more

Nevada governor fires wildlife director

Outgoing Gov. Jim Gibbons fired the director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife Monday when he arrived at the governor's office to meet with the transition team for Gibbons' successor, Brian Sandoval. Ken Mayer told The Associated Press he was given a letter by Robin Reedy, Gibbons' chief of staff, ending his employment immediately and thanking him for his service. "I was surprised," said Mayer, who as appointed by Gibbons in 2007. "I thought I had a good relationship with Governor Gibbons, and that he appreciated the work I've done for the state of Nevada." Reedy declined further comment. "The director works at the pleasure of the governor and we will not comment further on personnel related matters," she said in an e-mail to the AP. Gibbons' appointments to the nine-member state Wildlife Commission have been criticized by sportsmen and conservation groups for their emphasis on predator control, such as killing coyotes and mountain lions, to restore Nevada deer herds. Sandoval soundly defeated Gibbons in the June GOP primary, making him the first incumbent governor in state history to lose a nominating election...more

Farmers blame restrictive policies for worker shortages

A decade ago, Vernon ran his Tulare County farm without the help of illegal immigrants. He had plenty of legal workers to keep the packing shed humming, irrigate and harvest the 200 acres of peaches, plums and apricots, and tend to the stuffy, smelly chicken houses. Today, two-thirds of Vernon's 100-plus seasonal workers are illegal immigrants. He's spent the last several years brushing up on his Spanish, learning one new word a day so he can communicate with his workers. So what's changed? Vernon -- who agreed to talk openly only if identified by his first name -- blames the government: Restrictive immigration policies make it almost impossible for low-skilled immigrants to come here legally. He said that amnesty for illegal immigrants a quarter-century ago gave farmers in the Central Valley plenty of legal workers. But they eventually got too old for field labor or moved on to better-paying jobs, such as construction work. "I don't like illegal immigration, and I don't think we should have it," Vernon said on a sunny afternoon in the backyard of his ranch house. "But the government doesn't provide [an adequate] way for workers to come here legally, so it's just kind of a don't-ask, don't-tell thing." Vernon's frustration illustrates a key point: Immigrants who want to come here can't simply get in line because often there isn't a line. The government has a guest-worker program designed to fill seasonal jobs, but Central Valley farmers say it's too difficult to use. So they keep hiring illegal immigrants...more

Injured Hay withdraws from the NFR

Canada's premier saddle bronc rider Rod Hay has withdrawn from next month's $5.8-million Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at Las Vegas. The eight-time Canadian champion has been on the disabled list since June with a severely fractured right leg. But when entries closed in late October, the Wildwood, Alta., rancher felt he would be healthy enough to compete. Hay planned to test out the leg during a practice session next week at the college arena in Olds. He met with his Calgary doctor Tuesday and, after considering his views for two days, notified rodeo headquarters in Colorado Springs on Friday that he'd have to turn out. Utah's Jesse Wright, who finished in the crying hole (16th) in the world standings, will replace him...more

Teen raises, trains bulls for PBR

A brown-and-white bull slams its hooves against the metal chute. Just shy of 2 years old, the bull has no idea what is going on. Mesa Pate, 19, tries to calm it the best she can as she slips a rope around its stomach to secure a blue metal box on the bull's back. The box, refered to as a dummy, is there to make the bull buck. The chute opens, and the bull's legs go flying, as does the box. It's on for about three seconds before Pate disengages it with a remote control. “It's a training tool, basically,” Pate said. “We take that dummy off of them when they do something right, when they buck hard or you want a bull to turn back and spin, so when they start to do that we trip the dummies off of them.” This training was a monumental moment for the five bulls brought to the Horse Palace outside Laurel on Thursday. It was the bulls' first time being bucked. It's definitely not going to be the last, either. Especially since Pate wants her bulls to be sucessful in her business. Pate started Mesa Bucking Bulls in 2009, but she's been training bulls for the past two and half years. “I always liked bull riding,” Pate said. “I've been in rodeo, rode horses a lot and I just wanted to do it and started buying some bulls and buying cows and it just kind of took off from there.” Two of Pate's bulls made it to the Professional Bull Riders finals in Las Vegas last month. One that went by the name of Highway 12 was a contender for bull of the year...more

Grady resident protests school-sponsored coyote hunt

Ranchers say the coyote is a menace and a threat to the way of life around the ranching community of Grady. May be, a community newcomer contends; but killing them is not supposed to be sport and there are more appropriate ways to raise money for school athletics. Cliff Sagnotty, who moved to rural Curry County from Iowa this summer, said he was shocked early this month when he received a flier advertising a coyote hunt — and noticed it was sponsored by the Grady schools girls athletic department. The Coyote Calling Contest is scheduled Friday and Saturday. Competitors under 18 must be accompanied by an adult and show a Hunter’s Safety Certificate to shoot. With a $75 team entry fee, the team with the most coyotes wins with ties broken by weight, according to the flier, which states, “Grab a partner (or two) that are good shots and sign up.” “From a rancher’s perspective, they’re a menace to society (and) that’s what this community is; we’re farmers and ranchers,” said Alicia Rush, director of Grady’s girls athletic program...more

Finally a public school does something right and look what happens...

Send your daughters to Grady and they will learn how to shoot a basketball and a coyote!

Neighbors want new name for Kit Carson Mountain

Neighbors of Kit Carson Mountain in southern Colorado want to change the peak's name because of concerns about the Indian-fighting frontiersman. Neighbors and Saguache County officials have signed petitions to rename the 14,165-foot peak Mount Crestone. Kit Carson was a rancher and trapper who helped crush a Navajo uprising during the Civil War. Carson's name has been attached to a Colorado county and its largest military base, but some residents in the San Luis Valley say they'd rather not have Carson's name on the mountain. The Colorado Mountain Club and the U.S. Forest Service oppose the change. The (Colorado Springs) Gazette reports that the U.S. Board of Geographic Names will decide whether to rename Kit Carson Mountain. AP

I wonder if these "neighbors" are from Iowa too.

Who killed William Ercanbrack?

At the bottom of a dirt road a few miles north of Coalville, a Summit County rancher was gunned down. It was originally thought to be a hunting accident. Then detectives focused on a land and water dispute. No one has ever been arrested in connection with this case. Now, the case is open again and two veteran investigators are trying to solve the mystery of who killed William Ercanbrack. Bill Ercanbrack was a farmer, a rancher, and a landowner here in Summit County, known for his work ethic and well-respected in the community. All that makes the mystery surrounding his death more baffling. Why would anybody want him dead? "This is the place he was killed, next to the gate," says Bill Ercanbrack, Junior. The rugged farmer and rancher chokes back the emotion as he recounts the day his father was killed. “It’s been a long time but it'll always be there - the emotion,” he says, his eyes welling up. “It'll always be there." "I was in total shock that the father we grew up around our whole entire life had been killed,’ says Blaine Ercanbrack, the younger son who was 16 years old when his father was gunned down. For 34 years, the family has been tortured by two questions: "Who and why would somebody do something like this?" says Blaine. Summit County Sheriff's investigator Mike Wilkinson came out of retirement to work the case that for decades had been cold...more

Roosevelt County farmer pleads guilty to federal drug charges

In a plea agreement, Roosevelt County farmer William “Billy Joe” Watson has pleaded guilty to transporting anhydrous ammonia for methamphetamine manufacture across state lines. Under federal charges, Watson was accused of buying anhydrous ammonia in Texas and in New Mexico and giving it to federal agents he believed were members of the Aryan Brotherhood criminal organization for use in methamphetamine manufacture. Earlier this year, he was acquitted of state charges of hiring Aryan Brotherhood member Donald Taylor to kill local rancher Jimmie Bo Chunn and providing the anhydrous ammonia as payment. Watson plead guilty to interstate travel in aid of a racketeering enterprise Monday in federal court in Albuquerque, according to court documents. In exchange, the U.S. Attorney’s Office dropped charges of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking, said office spokesman Norman Cairns. Watson was sentenced to five years in prison, three years of supervised probation after his release, a $25,000 fine and a $100 special penalty assessment, according to court documents...more

Texas Trails: Bose Ikard

One reason the relatively brief cattle drive era, which lasted from the end of the Civil War to the early 1880s, had such an impact on history was because the cattle drives allowed men to rise above the circumstances of their upbringing and education to make a little money and earn a measure of respect. Bose Ikard is a good example of that. He was born into slavery and became rancher Charley Goodnight's most trusted and respected cowhand. For Ikard, more than most, the road to the history books was a long and winding one. Born into slavery in Mississippi in the 1840s, his father was most likely his slave master, Dr. Milton Ikard, and his mother was a slave named King. Along with Ikard's recognized son, William Susan Ikard, Bose arrived in Texas with the Ikards in 1852 as a slave. They set up shop in Parker County near Weatherford and began living the life that was being lived on the frontier, which included breaking horses and battling Comanches. He served with the Confederacy during the Civil War and returned to Weatherford to continued the cowboy life he had known as a slave, but this time as a free man. While it's easy to say that Ikard's life changed for the better by his meeting Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight, namesakes of the Goodnight-Loving Trail, it's just as easy to say that Loving and Goodnight were the larger benefactors of the meeting. "Bose surpassed any man I had in endurance and stamina," Goodnight said. "There was a dignity, a cleanliness and reliability about him that was wonderful. His behavior was very good in a fight and he was probably the most devoted man to me that I ever knew. I have trusted him farther than any man. He was my banker, my detective, and everything else in Colorado, New Mexico and the other wild country. The nearest and only bank was in Denver, and when we carried money, I gave it to Bose, for a thief would never think of robbing him."...more

Trew: Burning question counterintuitive

Recently, after enjoying an evening of good western swing music on a ranch near Quitaque, this question came up. "Why do western dance participants always dance in a counter-clock wise direction around the dance floor?" Not only did no one even offer a reason or theory, no one could remember the question being asked before. I grew up in a musical family, learned to dance by the time I could walk, my father supported us by playing dances during the Great Depression, then I played for dances professionally for 35 years. I should know the answer. Sorry, I don't have a clue. So, we present the question to our smart, handsome and beautiful readers, "Why do western dancers always dance around the floor in a counter-clockwise direction?" While contemplating the question I recalled a few "Trew" stories about the good old-fashioned western country dances. Here 'tiz! A lady I once knew was one of six daughters, aged two years apart, born to a real cowboy and his wife living way out on a ranch in New Mexico. She said her father was so afraid he would get stuck with an old-maid daughter or two he made every effort to supply them with every attribute possible to meet the demands of any suitor. Such as, he insisted they all become good dance partners, know how to play poker and be able to cook a decent meal. With no practice partners nearby, the daughters took turns both leading and following while learning to dance by a wind-up phonograph. After getting their homework done many nights they all sat around the kitchen table and dad taught them how to play poker using kitchen matches as chips. As a result all the sisters found decent husbands, most were wallflowers standing around the walls of the local dances. They pulled them out on the floor and taught them to dance. My friend says, "My husband leads while dancing until his "toddies" affect his coordination then she leads and he follows until time to go home. It has been working for over 50 years."...more

Ranch Radio

RR will return next week.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Letters from the ropers' road

by Julie Carter

The roping "season" for 2010 is skidding into the final stretch with one big set of finals done and over in Oklahoma City and another record payoff event coming up in Las Vegas.

Ropers have plodded along one roping at a time throughout the year and whether they make the big time or not, their day-to-day living remains the same.

My mail box often reveals the mood of a long, weary season.

Dear Sass & Savvy,

We continue our lives on the "Get rich by roping plan." This weekend $880 was the total money won with a fast time in a round and 4th in average. Balance that against $900 in entry fees.

Of course, he also won a rope bag with the association logo on it.
This is the 97th rope bag he's won. Financial net to the bottom line also includes one worn out horse, another horse in disgrace because he got two barriers and ate a lead rope, and one very worn out wife.

All this was complicated with the serious mistake of eating a Frito pie from the concession stand because his wife/secretary was momentarily MIA and not at her duty post.

He determined he was too tired to walk out to the trailer and get food we'd brought from home.

He tried to doctor himself with an abundance of "sparkling spring water" in the silver can, thinking it would sterilize the food he ate.

Signed: Mrs. Pepto-Bismol

Dear Sass & Savvy,

I hate, hate, hate my husband's rope horse. Besides being on the far side of ugly, he has no handle to him.

He is now wearing a new contraption on his head because he sometimes runs off. (the horse, not the husband)

It does not make any difference what he has on his head - it's about like putting a snaffle bit on a road grader when it comes to stopping or turning him.

And did I mention he is really ugly?

This is the husband's more-or-less new horse. The old one kicked in the door on the back of my trailer, so I sold him one day while the husband was not home.

Signed: Back to the sale barn

Dear Sass & Savvy,

It's the same tale of woe. My favorite header was again defeated by his heelers.
Both of his partners are numbered higher than he is so you would think that if he spun a steer for them, it would be a sure bet for a paycheck.

Never works out that way.

One of his partners has been roping since Noah landed, but this time he only caught one heel in the short round and they ended up one hole out of the money.

However, I've lowered my standards - they can have penalties if they just catch anything at all.

Signed: Bleacher Butt

Dear Sass & Savvy,

Because mostly everybody is still worn plumb out from the last roping, the only funny stuff that happened at this week's roping was that the guy that won $49,000 in Oklahoma City has now managed to run through $220 of it.

He gave the friend that hauled him and his horse up there $20 for gas money. Seemed like a fair amount for a 540 mile trip.

And then he up and bought a replacement horse for his 20-plus-year-old roping horse.

This $200 colt should be ready any time in the next five years.

His theory is that horses, by golly, do not have to cost as much as everybody else is paying for them.

Signed: Frugal, not cheap

One would think that with all the woes that go with the sport of team roping, it would be doing anything but gaining in popularity.

Instead, it gets bigger, better and as a sport, is continually aspiring for improvement, even if it is sometimes hard to see that side of it through the road-weary eyes of a dedicated spouse.

 Julie, not on the rodeo road anymore, can be reached for comment at jcarter@tularosa.net

New GIPSA Administrator is the Fox in America’s Henhouse

J. Dudley Butler, Administrator of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA), is the latest in a string of Obama appointees to draw scandal to their posts. A former trial lawyer who made his living litigating against poultry processors, Mr. Butler is now in charge of altering the very regulations he wrestled in the private sector. The Obama administration has yet to address this serious conflict of interest.

As a regulatory arm of the USDA, GIPSA is tasked with overseeing the trade of various meats, grains, and other agricultural products. As an attorney in the Butler Farm and Ranch Law Group in Canton, Mississippi, Mr. Butler filed multiple lawsuits against poultry companies for alleged irregular and illegal business practices. These suits met with limited success because of pre-existing GIPSA regulations. Now, having been made Administrator of GIPSA by President Obama, Mr. Butler is changing the troublesome regulations to favor plaintiff’s attorneys, whose ranks may well again include him after his stint in public office. This underhanded policy scheme was shoehorned into a GIPSA rulemaking mandated by the 2008 Farm Bill; straying from the proposed content on “undue preferences,” Mr. Butler wedged language into the final rule that opens the door to broader and more profitable litigation in the future. Mr. Butler, to his credit, has been quite open as to what this regulation will accomplish:

“When you have a term like ‘unfair, unreasonable or undue prejudice,’ that’s a plaintiff lawyer’s dream. We can get in front of a jury with that. We won’t get thrown out on what we call summary judgment because that’s a jury question.”

And that’s not all:

“There are only certain things a violation of the regulation, if you will, written regulation, that they can fine on, I think a maximum is $11,000 that they can fine $11,000 a day, but the real money that you are talking about comes from the section dealing with damages, compensatory damages, to other types of damages that DOJ can either seek or you can seek in a private right of action.”

“Real money?” Real corruption. Calls for Mr. Butler’s resignation have been increasing in number and volume. The funny thing is, neither Mr. Butler nor Mr. Obama is willing to seriously tackle accusations of these shenanigans, transparent though they may be. In the words of former congressman Bob Barr, “Butler is actively pushing to expand the scope of the decades-old Packers and Stockyards Act — which will make it easier for trial lawyers (such as Mr. Butler) to successfully sue meat and poultry companies.” It’s easy to see why Mr. Butler wants to ram his rule through and skip all the way to the bank, but Barack Obama’s silence is perplexing. What are you, Mr. President…chicken?

ATR

Song Of The Day #442

The Ranch Radio Gospel tune this Sunday morning is What You Gonna Do (When The Stars Start Falling) performed by the Calvary Quartet.

Enviros Rule U.S. Border Policy

The Truth Emerges
Environmentalism Trumps National Security
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

    Repeated attempts have been made to locate the word environment in the Constitution of the United States . . .
    Long before Rob Krentz’ murder became the marker that introduced the nation to the Bootheel of New Mexico, the rural community of the New Mexico border land knew the influence of the environmental community had grown much stronger than any influence they could maintain.  In dealings with the federal land agencies, the environmental agenda had become the elephant in the room.  That elephant had often been silent, but, its presence, just like any elephant’s presence in a closed room, was distinct and undeniable.
     The Krentz murder was the dreaded eventuality that sparked an expanded debate that had all the features of pent up outrage.  Finally, there was a degree of national inquiry into the problems the border citizens had been facing for years.
    The responses were so predictable that a featured story should have been an assessment of the obligatory glad handing and demonstrative anger that elected officials set in motion. Arizona Senator John McCain took an abrupt turn away from unfettered immigration.  Southeastern Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) rushed to Apache, Arizona and conducted a public forum to get input.  New Mexico District 2 Representative Harry Teague (D-NM) fired off a letter announcing he was going to secure more funding.  New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Tom Udall (D-NM) called for expediting construction of Forward Operating Bases (FOB) so the Border Patrol could be closer to the border in order to reduce the concern of cross border violence.
     Fast forward to the last few weeks of 2010, and an updated assessment of all the Congressional gnashing of teeth reveals exactly what most locals expected would happen . . . a lot of words, but certainly nothing regarding the promised FOB. 
     The Heartland Mandate
     Those in the Bootheel who must live by their wits and attend to their duties, responsibilities, and investments, though, view the midterm elections with a degree of hope.  Can newly elected Steve Pearce (R-NM) join with heartland Congressional leaders and awaken border state leadership to the realities of the drug war, the First Mexican Revolution of the 21st Century?  Can Congress finally start separating their actions from those of hyper liberal special interest groups who have been complicit in the outgrowth of the danger on the border?  There is border citizen hope, but it is couched in distrust of politicians and the historical failures to secure the border.
     The place to start is with the FOB.  Let that discussion begin with the pronouncement to the world that the United States Border Patrol evaluated a number of possibilities including sites at seven miles, 10.5 miles, and 20 miles from the border.  The ownership of those particular alternatives was federal, private, and private, respectively.  As any common sense security expert would have guessed, the current preference for the location is . . . the site furthest away from the border!  If this is the site selected, the FOB will be nestled in the bottom of a canyon and the only clear view from a distance would be that from Animas Mountain.  Animas Mountain is private land that lies behind locked gates to the east. 
     The idea for the FOB to project a physical reminder to illegals not to enter the United States would be discarded.  Its location cannot be seen from any county roads, but that may be exactly the plan by the political power base in the area.
     The Bootheel Project
     The seven mile location is a 40 acre parcel of land already owned by the federal government.  It has nearby electricity and it commands a sweeping view of the border to the south.  Its location projects its presence to the horizons and it would become a constant reminder to all illegals that they are being watched, and they will be hunted down and removed from sovereign American territory if they try to cross the border.  Its location with a full view of the border and the ability to be seen by the modern world, however, is exactly what prompts the elephant to stir and start to flex. 
     The Gray/ Diamond A Ranch, the dominating feature of the area, and the Malpai Borderland Group, a collection of local  ranchers, have created a union dedicated to the long term preservation of the ecological integrity of the area.  To anybody who stands in the immensity of the Bootheel with its physical features of breathtaking proportions, few could disagree with this intent.  But, there is gnawing and growing concern that the long term agenda may not be all that supportive of traditional ranching values that make up the social fabric of the land.  Even participants within the Malpai group are having second thoughts of the real agenda and the dilemma in which they may find themselves.
     At the heart of the Malpai movement are conservation easements that the members have signed for what was represented to them as long term protection measures for the land. Payments were made to the ranchers for the permanent pledge to give up any right to adjust the course of the future management and development of those lands.   The conservation easements which are now in place disallow any obtrusive reminders of mankind.  Mankind, at least the environmentally challenged among the ranks, is not welcome.
"Whatever the forces are that have supported the expansion of wilderness safe havens and contributed to the smuggling corridors that have decimated natural resources along the border, one thing has clearly emerged.  The rules of engagement for national security are softened and dampened when the environmental agenda is present.  Thus, Americans are left with no alternative but to believe that environmentalism trumps national security. "
     Who holds title to the conservation easements and what does a simple life estate promise have to do with long term agendas?  The life of a single rancher is but a blip on the horizon of a long term plan.  The real players in the Malpai movement center on the Nature Conservancy and the current owner of the Gray Ranch.  In both cases, the specter of a foreboding, powerful force is much larger than the stewards who have created the historical character of those lands.
     To Rewilding   
     Every indication seems to be that the open borders, Rewilding Project is the real agenda.  When the Nature Conservancy originally purchased the Gray, there were no Forest Service allotments in the transaction.  The Gray was a superb cattle ranch dominated by private ownership.  It was also an island in a sea of checker boarded landscape with federal, state and private land.
     Today, the Gray controls four of the six historical grazing allotments on the south end of the New Mexico extension of the Coronado National Forest against the Mexican border.  These four allotments remain unstocked raising the concern that the real plan is to retire these allotments that have historically contributed to the existence of many ranch families, enhanced health of these ranching units, and the well being of the local economy. 
     The Forest Service is fully involved in the process.  In fact, the latest NEPA analysis required that the stocking rate of the allotments be dropped nearly 30%.  The Gray Ranch did not contest the results.  This would lead all who know what is going on to recognize that the Forest Service is once again systematically destocking wilderness, only this time it is de facto wilderness and the powerful elephant that is pulling the bus is the newest owner of the majority of the forest allotments.
     The Arizona Class Human and Drug Smuggling Corridors (ACHDSC)
     At a recent meeting of key participants in the FOB discussion, a Border Patrol representative admitted that environmental concerns have made it necessary to back away from the best strategic location for that facility.  But, wait . . .  if it is a wildlife concern, shouldn’t the same wildlife be a concern 13 miles north in the same ecosystem?  If it is a flood plain issue, shouldn’t the same concern exist 13 miles north in the bottom of a canyon, and why is the Border Patrol elevating itself into a position of first determining what is best for the environment.  Their mission must be to secure the border and contribute to the safety of the American people.     
     The agenda is becoming too difficult to hide from public scrutiny, and, in the Bootheel, it is not just the federal land agencies that are complicit in creating national security dangers on the border.  This time the Border Patrol must be added to the list.
     In work done in New Mexico in opposition to S.1689, The Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks Wilderness Act, it was learned that Arizona Class Human and Drug Smuggling Corridors (ACHDSC) are an outgrowth of conditions that included the following:
  1. The corridors have wilderness/de facto wilderness safe havens.
  2. They have east /west highway access north and south of the corridors.
  3. They have rugged and complex north/south mountain and drainage orientation which provides channels of movement.
  4. They are almost entirely or heavily dominated by federal land agency management.
  5. The concentration of American private property rights at risk is limited as is the presence of resident American habitation.
  6. All corridors have high, strategically located points of observation.
     What the Bootheel model of ACHDSC teaches is that characteristic #4 must be modified.  In the Bootheel of New Mexico, the presence of a private property environmental enterprise and a constrained Border Patrol are as dangerous to national security as any governmental land agency when the environmental enterprise alters the unencumbered activity of the Border Patrol!
     This phenomenon becomes a proxy for all the conditions of designated Wilderness in terms of access limitations.  As such, it is de facto wilderness.  In fact, in the Bootheel up until recent days, the statutory authority of Border Patrol to access any private property, at any time, and under any conditions within 25 miles of the border has not been exercised.  Much of the border, from just west of San Luis Pass in New Mexico to the Arizona line, has been locked and the Border Patrol has not aggressively challenged those locked gates. The limited access ties directly to the San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge where Border Patrol continues to have the same conditional access existing on the day Rob Krentz was murdered. That day, the murderer escaped back through the refuge into Mexico.  By conditions set forth by USFWS Regional Director, Benjamin Tuggle, the Border Patrol would not have been allowed mechanical entry even if they had known the exact location of the murderer.   
     The Bootheel ACHDSC
     The only ACHDSC outside of Arizona exists in the New Mexico Bootheel.   It is a smuggling corridor that has the potential of being as dangerous as any of the Arizona corridors.  That is why the FOB being discussed is so important.  That is also why it is so perplexing that the Border Patrol seems too often to acquiesce to the preferences of the environmental community.  The question must be asked, “What is driving the decisions?
     If it stems from arraying environmental priorities over those of national security, it runs the risk of exposing America to ever expanding dangers from the drug war and the consequences of an uncontrolled border.  It will also continue to accelerate the degradation of the very resources that the environmental agenda pledges to protect. 
     Whatever the forces are that have supported the expansion of wilderness safe havens and contributed to the smuggling corridors that have decimated natural resources along the border, one thing has clearly emerged.  The rules of engagement for national security are softened and dampened when the environmental agenda is present.  Thus, Americans are left with no alternative but to believe that environmentalism trumps national security.
     At this point, Rob Krentz’ death remains a tragedy of the worst imagined proportions.  His government hopes the memories of this travesty simply fade away.  The collective actions of his government have not changed at all since that fateful day in March of 2010.  His government has demonstrated its real priority on the border, and it isn’t the constitutional mandate to make sure that the border is secure in order to protect the lives of those for which it was written . . . men like Rob Krentz.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher in southern New Mexico.  He respects leaders like CBP El Paso Sector Chief Randy Hill and Tucson Sector Chief Victor Manjarrez and the difficulty they face.  Given the authority and the backing of the federal bureaucracy, these men and their Patrol force can gain control of America’s southern border.  If Congress fails to give them the tools, support, and full authority to operate, or if the Administration and Congressional leadership waiver on a united national security priority, no sector leadership can prevail in its mission to secure the border.

EDITOR'S NOTE
I'm glad Mr. Wilmeth respects these gentlemen. However, this is the same Border Patrol who tells us that Wilderness on the border is no problem while at the same time they can't even construct an FOB on non-wilderness, multiple-use federal land.  Something just doesn't add up here. If they can't carry out their mission on multiple-use land, what on earth makes them think they can in a Wilderness area?