Friday, December 10, 2010

Conflicting federal interests exposed in Alaska drilling debate

Last month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service moved to save the polar bears when it designated nearly 200,000 square miles of the Arctic as critical habitat for the animals, deemed threatened by the federal government. Last week, the Interior Department and its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement decided new oil development could move forward in the Arctic, including smack in the middle of the bears' home turf. That's left players on both sides scratching their heads in what amounts to a classic struggle between development and environmental interests. But the Fish & Wildlife Service designation does introduce a new regulatory element into the government's consideration of an exploration permit that oil company Royal Dutch Shell has said it needs this month in order to be in a position to catch the summer drilling season in the Beaufort Sea. The new wrinkle could mean delays that force the oil company to spend another Arctic drilling season on the beach...more

BLM issued 79% fewer US West energy leases than five years ago

The US Bureau of Land Management issued 79% fewer leases for oil and natural gas development in six US Western states in fiscal year 2010 than it issued in FY 2005, according to data released Thursday by the Western Energy Alliance. Revenue from federal leases in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming dropped 46% over the same period, WEA said in a statement. The Alliance released the leasing information as part of its Western Oil and Natural Gas Dashboard, a compilation of federal government data related to oil and gas development on public lands in the West, posted on the WEA website. The data collected from BLM offices across the West shows that the agency issued 531 leases in FY 2010, a 79% drop from the 2,499 leases issued in FY 2005. In addition, since FY 2005, the BLM has offered 60% fewer parcels and 70% fewer acres for lease, the WEA said. Other data reveal the impact of the decrease of leasing from five years ago. Federal leasing revenue from the six states dropped about 45%, to $101.6 million in FY 2010 from $189.6 million in FY 2005. Leasing activity has slowed dramatically under the Obama administration, the WEA reports. n the first two years of the Obama administration, BLM issued 76% fewer acres than the first two years of the Clinton administration, and 71% fewer acres than the first two years of the Bush administration," the WEA said...more

Study finds mountain lions may be eating more than previously believed

Mountain lions, the largest members of the cat family in North America, may be heartier eaters than some researchers originally estimated. Knopff is basing his conclusions on data collected from more than 1,500 kill sites while tracking 54 cougars with GPS collars. The collars allowed the University of Alberta researchers, including his wife Aliah, to move in quickly after a kill to identify what was taken and by which lion. In the journal article Knopff writes that some previous studies “may have failed to identify higher kill rates for large carnivores in summer because methods in those studies did not permit researchers to locate many neonates or because sample size was too small.” The use of GPS collars enabled Knopff and his colleagues to collect more data. As a result, he found that mountain lions killed more deer, elk and moose during the summer by focusing on juveniles and actually killed fewer animals in winter. The information contradicts previous studies conducted in Idaho. “The Idaho estimates differed from our summer estimates by as much as 365 percent in terms of frequency of killing and 538 percent in terms of prey biomass,” Knopff wrote. “Because kill rate fundamentally influences the effect predators have on their prey, the discrepancy between studies represents a substantial difference in the capacity for cougars to impact ungulates.”...more

Wolf Politics and the Endangered Species 'End Run'

Negotiations between the Interior Department and the governors of three western states—Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming—to remove the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf (Canis lupus) from the federal endangered species list hit a stumbling block this week but aren't necessarily over. Idaho's Governor C. L. "Butch" Otter has stated on his Web site that his state will continue "to focus on a path forward on delisting—whether that is through Congress or via the courts." And Wyoming's Governor David Freudenthal said the discussions will help the three states develop a "road map" to get the wolves off the list, which would allow them to be managed by the states' wildlife agencies, and hunted. Indeed, bills to accomplish the same thing are stacking up in congressional committees as fast as fur pelts in a 19th century wolf bounty hunter's cabin. Most would declare that the region's wolf population, which currently numbers 1700, has recovered and no longer needs federal protection. But at least one proposal by Utah's Representative Rob Bishop (R), the State Sovereignty Wildlife Management Act, would remove federal protection for wolves in all states, including those where wolves have yet to roam. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has met with the western governors but has not officially embraced any of the bills. However, Salazar's assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, Thomas Strickland, confirmed in a recent press conference that the Obama Administration will continue to seek some type of congressional action to downlist the wolves. Downlisting means that management of the wolves would be turned over to the states' wildlife agencies...more

Natural gas underground storage caverns planned in

Imagine four gigantic man-made caverns, each of them the size of the Empire State Building. That's exactly what's likely to begin taking shape early next year in Millard County. Pending federal approval, Magnum Development L.L.C. plans to begin creating four enormous underground chambers to store natural gas. "I mean, it's like a scuba tank. You pop the top and gas comes out," said Tiffany James, Magnum's director of environmental services. But no scuba tank was ever so big. Magnum will use water to carve the caverns out of a mile-thick salt deposit under the West Desert. Each of the four chambers will be 1,300 to 1,400 feet high and 300 feet in diameter. The tops of the four caverns will be about 4,000 feet below the surface. "Each of these caverns will be the size, roughly, of the Empire State Building," said John Andrews, associate director of SITLA, Utah's School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. The agency owns the land under which the caverns will be carved and stands to earn revenue Utah schools for many years by charging Magnum rental and usage fees. "So we estimate that this will generate hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for that school trust," Andrews said...more

Restoration ideas flow from Southwest river experts

A meeting of minds in Tucson this week will eventually lead to a river restoration guidebook that could help on-the-ground environmentalists across the nation protect our most rare and endangered wildlife habitats. The bi-national conference - sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, University of Arizona, National Park Service and Mexico's environmental group Pronatura Noroeste and federal National Institute of Ecology – brought together about 125 scientists, managers, administrators and others interested in protecting the rivers of the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. The "Bringing Back Our Rivers and Their Riparian Ecosystems – Learning from the Past for the Benefit of the Future" conference was held Tuesday through Thursday. One key issue facing environmentalists along some of the most highly altered rivers in the world is deciding what a restored river looks like...more

Forest Service sacred sites policy under review

Federal officials are considering changes to management of Native sacred sites in national forests. A year-long review stems from conflicts in the Lower 48. But the new policies could affect burial sites and other locations in Alaska. Tribal groups have fought for years over protection of sacred sites on Forest Service land. One of the biggest battles was at a northern Arizona ski area, where recycled wastewater was used to make snow on a sacred mountain. Another was in Nevada, where a sacred rock was being used for recreational climbing. Forest Service officials recently decided to get fresh input from tribal groups as they consider how those decisions are made. John Autrey of the Tongass National Forest Tribal Relations Program says meetings are already taking place...more

Bird Organization Calls for Regulation of Wind Power

The American Bird Conservancy urges US Senators to include the US Fish and Wildlife Service Advisory Committee’s recommendations for wind turbine impacts on wildlife as part of the renewable energy tax package currently under review. The organization also wants the potential extension of the Section 1603 Treasury Gran Program for renewable energy to include that the wind power industry must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and Endangered Species Act...more

There is always someone who wants to regulate someone else.

Cervi Takes Barrels, Ohl Wins Again

Few cowboys have owned the Thomas & Mack Center like Cody Ohl, and the tie-down roper’s dominance continued in Round 8 of the 52nd Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Ohl, of Hico, Texas, won his fourth round in five nights and 40th of his career at the Wrangler NFR in Round 8 after stopping the clock in 7.2 seconds. That time was two-tenths of a second faster than Shane Hanchey’s run and came a night after Ohl had a no-time. Ohl is one only of three men – along with Billy Etbauer and Fred Whitfield – to earn more than $1 million at the Wrangler NFR alone, and he’s not done yet. “I’m a little mad at stubbing my toe last night, so I really had a little extra oomph in there to really capitalize tonight,” Ohl said. “Last night, I missed, and my rope was a little too stiff. Tonight, I had it just a little too limber and got ahead of it. I kind of skipped (the rope) on that calf instead of roping it sharp, but (2009 AQHA/PRCA Tie-Down Roping Horse of the Year) Pearl cleaned it up like she always does.” Ohl trails Trevor Brazile in the PRCA World Standings $175,077-$153,325, but is 11th in the Wrangler NFR average. He has now earned more money in eight days in Las Vegas ($76,827) than he did during the entire regular season ($76,498)...more

Cowboy ends reindeer’s games

The exhausted reindeer.
What transpired Thursday morning in Santa Maria is almost too fantastical to believe. It’s the kind of adventure one could expect to find alongside stories of a jolly man in a red suit squeezing down chimneys and talking snowmen. A runaway reindeer scampered through busy Santa Maria streets, fields and residential neighborhoods until she was at last safely captured by a lasso-wielding cowboy. Even the cowboy who saved the day, Tepusquet rancher Bob Acquistapace, realizes the story is hard to swallow. “I’m glad that it’s going to be down in print, because otherwise people would not believe me,” he said after the incident, clad in a cowboy hat and boots with spurs. The female reindeer escaped about 9:20 a.m. Thursday as she was being loaded into a trailer to be taken from the Hopper Bros. Christmas tree lot at the Santa Maria Fairpark to the Hopper Bros. tree lot in Paso Robles. The 9-year-old deer, who doesn’t have a name that Hopper Bros. owners know of, is doing well and back with the tree lot owners following her wild reindeer chase...more

Song Of The Day #454

Ranch Radio will close out the week with another song from the West - Colorado Blues by Jack Guthrie.

You can find the tune on his 30 track CD Milk Cow Blues on the Bear Family record label.

For the two listeners having trouble with the player, click on the thumbnail instead and see if you can play it at the hosting site. Let me know if this works for you.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Western governors call Endangered Species Act 'nonsensical'

The Endangered Species Act is a "nonsensical" policy that hurts businesses, property owners and farmers to protect animals and plants that may not be at risk, a panel of Democratic and Republican governors from throughout the West said today. The governors complained of having their hands tied by federal policy as animal populations described as thriving but listed as endangered ravage private ranches, state parks and golf courses. "The frustration level is reaching the breaking point in many levels because of this act," said Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert. "It's nonsensical." On the panel, the Republican governor griped about protecting Utah prairie dogs digging into golf courses. "They have become so domesticated, they are just a pain," he said. The discussion about overhauling the Endangered Species Act came on the second day of a two-day conference of the Western Governors Association. State executives from 19 states, plus the U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands, were invited to attend. Hunters and ranches, a powerful constituency in the West, have called for delisting recovering populations of certain species such as gray wolves and grizzlies, complaining that the policy affects the value and sovereignty of their land and threatens livestock. Western governors claim states, not federal regulators, should have authority over native species that affect local habitats and create business hurdles...more

Gray wolf a growing problem for US cattle

The State Sovereignty Wildlife Management Act, which would return management authority of gray wolves to the states and remove them from the endangered species list, is supported by the Public Lands Council (PLC) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). US Representatives Rob Bishop (R-Utah); Mike Simpson (R-Idaho); Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.); Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.); Trent Franks (R-Ariz.); Wally Herger (R-Calif.); Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah); and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) introduced the legislation. PLC and NCBA support their efforts to return wolf management to states and bring relief to livestock producers. Unlike many species listed under the ESA, wolves pose a serious threat to wildlife, humans and private property, especially livestock, said John Falen, PLC president and federal lands rancher. He said the FWS does not have resources to manage continued listing of the gray wolf under the ESA. He also noted studies have shown for every confirmed kill of livestock there are seven to eight that go unconfirmed...more

How America is learning to live with wolves again

There have been mornings when Jim Stone has woken up to the sight of wolves within 100 yards of his front door. And there have been afternoons, many of them, when the wolves have prowled along the thin electrified cable that delineates the southern boundaries of his cattle ranch, just watching and waiting. Stone says he can live with that: "They are a part of the chain of life. They were here before we came so it probably makes sense that they are here [now]." It is not the reaction one might expect from a man whose livelihood depends on keeping the wolves away. There are 200 head of cattle on Stone's 2,500-acre ranch of gold-tinged grassland that rolls out from the high peaks, across a narrow strip of road, and back down behind his barn to the Blackfoot river below. Nor is it a typical reaction in Montana, where the governor has been pressing the Obama administration to end federal protection for a rapidly expanding wolf population, part of an intense backlash against government wildlife protections not just in Montana, but in Idaho and Wyoming too. Locals say that the wolves are threatening elk and other wildlife, and harassing their cattle, and they want to declare open season on the predators. But Stone and other landowners involved in the Blackfoot Challenge, a conservation alliance of ranchers, environmentalists and government officials, want to make up for the first white settlers, who drove the animals almost to extinction, by finding a way to live with wolves...more

EPA threatens to punish firms as Texas argues regulator is abusive

The EPA has threatened dozens of Texas refiners and chemical and plastic makers with penalties if they don't begin taking steps to bring their air pollution permits into compliance with federal law by late December. The blunt threat was made in a recent letter by the Environmental Protection Agency's administrator in Texas, heightening tensions in a standoff that has already reached the courts. Texas has sued to block the EPA from rejecting its so-called flexible permits. On Tuesday, Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a brief in the case, fleshing out his arguments in a July petition that the agency had no legal or technical justification for disapproving the 16-year-old program. The EPA's rejection of the Texas permitting regime in June is "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not in accordance with law," Abbott wrote in the brief for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals...more

The sands of Canada: Oil supply salvation or sinkhole?

In vast strip mines north of this Alberta boomtown, shovel machines bigger than five-story buildings rip out tar-soaked sand, dumping 400-ton loads in trucks that feed the voracious U.S. appetite for oil. Factories in Canada's "oil sands," site of the world's largest single oil deposit, use super-heated water to purify the rich black glop. Much of the petroleum is piped to U.S. refineries, making Canada -- not Saudi Arabia or Venezuela -- America's top oil supplier. A century and a half into the petroleum age, oil companies have depleted many accessible, politically friendly reserves. Rising energy prices might be expected to encourage investment in solar, wind and other alternatives, and to some extent they do. Yet if the $200 billion poured into the oil sands so far is any indication, bigger money will flow worldwide to ever more expensive fossil fuels. The good news is that unconventional oil resources are enormous. The world could run for decades on Alberta bitumen, Venezuelan extra-heavy crude, Utah oil sands, Western oil shales and petroleum made from coal or natural gas. The bad news is that all those methods are considerably more expensive than traditional oil drilling, and the reserves are often located in environmentally sensitive areas...more

USDA Denies Discrimination against Black Farmers But Pays Out $1.25 Billion Anyway

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) denied allegations that it discriminated against African-American farmers as detailed in a class action lawsuit the farmers filed against the department, but the USDA has nonetheless agreed to pay those farmers $1.25 billion as part of a settlement agreement. While attorneys say settlement agreements frequently deny any wrongdoing, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said the denial of discrimination seemed exceptional given the amount of taxpayer money that will be paid through the settlement. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Attorney General Eric Holder reached the $1.25 billion settlement with the farmers in February. Congress approved the settlement last month, and President Barack Obama has said he will sign the deal...more

That's why they pay the settlement, so they can deny wrong doing or harm. The tax payers pay and the agency goes free. Been going on for years and no one seems to care.

Now if Congress would just take those settlement dollars out of the agencies' budgets, we might see some changes in performance.

U.S. ethanol subsidy part of tax deal: trade group

An extension of the major U.S. ethanol subsidy "is part of the deal at the moment" in negotiations for an omnibus tax bill, but the size and lifespan of the subsidy are not set yet, a trade group said on Wednesday. The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee told reporters ethanol "was in a separate section of things to be resolved" and there was no decision on a subsidy rate. Chairman Kent Conrad discussed the issue with fellow Democrats. The 45-cent-a-gallon excise tax credit for ethanol is scheduled to expire on Dec 31. So would a 54-cent-a-gallon tariff on imported ethanol and a 10-cent-a-gallon credit for small producers of ethanol...more

These ethanol producers are the best I've staying on the gov't teat.

Harris, Branquinho in top spots in world standings Round 7 win at NFR

Fellow bull riders and steer wrestlers beware: two-time World Champions J.W. Harris and Luke Branquinho are red hot. Harris, of Mullin, Texas, won the bull riding for the third straight night at the 2010 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and for the fourth time in seven rounds, and Branquinho won for the third time – and second in a row – in front of 17,132 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Both cowboys took over the top spots in their respective events thanks to their Round 7 victories at the $5.875 million rodeo. Harris’ win came thanks to a rodeo-best 94.5-point ride aboard Frontier Rodeo’s Smoke Screen, and he is the only bull rider to have covered six bulls at this year’s Finals. Wrangler NFR rookie Tyler Smith was second in Round 7 with a score of 89 points. Branquinho, of Los Alamos, Calif., took over the No.1 spot in the PRCA World Standings in the process. Branquinho, who won world titles in 2004 and 2008, won Round 7 with a rodeo-best 3.3-second run, one-tenth of a second faster than Trevor Knowles and two-tenths of a second faster than Cody Cassidy. He also won a share of first place in Round 2 and took Round 6. Branquinho now leads the PRCA World Standings with $143,667 after earning an event-best $53,525, while Knowles moved from fifth to second with $130,035 thanks to his runner-up finish. Round 7 was an exciting one in the steer wrestling, with the lead changing three times in the last four runs. Branquinho was last to nod his head, and he made the most of it...more

NYC bees turn red from cherry juice

A bunch of Brooklyn bees have been coming home looking flushed. New York City beekeeper Cerise (seh-REEZ') Mayo was puzzled when her bees started showing up with mysterious red coloring. Their honey also turned as red as cough syrup. She tells The New York Times a friend joked that the bees were imbiding on the runoff at Dell's Maraschino Cherries Company, in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn. Mayo -- whose first name means "cherry" in French -- raises bees in that neighborhood and across the water on Governor's Island. Tests confirmed the bees were riddled with Red Dye No. 40 -- the same food coloring found in the cherry juice...more

Deer attacks barking dog

A Bend woman says three deer attacked her barking dog in her small fenced yard, leaving the animal with head wounds and a punctured chest. Tiffany Rounds says she's used to seeing deer in central Oregon but had never seen them in her backyard before. Her small dog Daisy clearly thought that was inappropriate and went flying out the door, barking. As Rounds told KTVZ on Monday that the six-point buck and two does "immediately started beating her on with their hooves, and then the buck comes and tries to get her with his antlers."...more

Cattle firm may face unplanned bankruptcy

An Indiana-based firm, which is under federal investigation for bad checks on cattle purchases, could be forced into an involuntary bankruptcy following a judge's ruling. In a U.S. bankruptcy court this week, Southeast Livestock Exchange, Moseley Cattle Auction and David Rings were among the companies looking to file a bankruptcy motion on behalf of Eastern Livestock Company, one of the largest cattle brokerages in the nation. The companies claim Eastern Livestock paid them nearly $1.5 million for purchases for which they were never reimbursed, The Associated Press reports. Federal officials estimate that the company owes more than $130 million to more than 700 independent ranchers in nearly 30 states...more

Glenda Price - Windmills headed for history

When we see a windmill we think “ranch.” This iconic equipment, without doubt, has made ranching possible in the arid Southwest as well as other parts of our nation. I’m one of those ranch kids who tied my horse to the metal windmill frame and piled into the drinking tub’s water for a little fun. Also, at least one windmill in every pasture had a metal drinking dipper hung from the frame near the outlet pipe with baling wire. If the wind was blowing — which it usually was — water came spilling out of the pipe and we could drink and fill our canteens from it. We can thank Daniel Halladay for his design of the first commercially successful new-style windmill in the New World. His windmill, first built in 1854, had a self-governing design. This means it automatically turned to face changing wind directions and it automatically controlled its own speed of operation. Halladay’s company manufactured his windmills in Connecticut from 1854 to 1863. Delays in production and shipping, some caused by the American Civil War, prompted him to relocate the factory to Batavia, Illinois. There, his company thrived, selling its Halladay Standard windmills by the thousands to farmers and ranchers on the plains and prairies of North America as well as farther afield. Other people joined Halladay in windmill production, of course. The one I remember is Aeromotor, introduced in 1888 and one of the few still in business...more

Book Review: Cleanin' Up

Illustration for "Yeller Streak"
Cleanin’ Up

Stories and Poems by Les Buffham
Cartoons by Etienne “A-10” Etcheverry

Years in the making, this book is a hilarious collaboration between these two gents.

Les Buffham is an award winning poet and song writer, and Etienne “A-10” Etcheverry an award winning cartoonist. They are both cowboys, and have been around some too. Put ‘em together and you get some poems by Les, some stories by Les, and some “A-10” stories told by Les. All of which are illustrated by “A-10” in his unique style.

Delve into this publication and you will find the answers to such burning questions as:

° Why would you need a carpenter to doctor an injured bull rider?

° Why would A-10’s Aunt Viv be packing heat in her back yard and wearing only a bra and panties?

° Can the cowboy airplane mechanics fix the tail of their ship while chasin’ the tail of the rancher’s daughter?

° What happens when a Hispanic dandy, riding a prancin’ stud and wearing Chihuahua spurs suddenly meets up with some emus?

° Why does Les recommend you wear tennis shoes when taking a shower?

° Can a dog chasing a pack of cats into a barn where a horseshoer is in the midst of performing his craft possibly have a disrupting influence on the horse?

° How did A-10’s affair with Batman’s Wife turn out?

° What is the relationship between an ex-wife, a calendar, a cartoonist and Osama Bin Laden that sparks a visit from the FBI?

And that folks, is just a small sampling of the mysteries contained in this compilation of classic literature, with each story tastefully illustrated so as to emphasize the primary point of discussion.

Actually, it’s not that at all. It is a rip-roaring walk with some crazy characters you will long remember. But those mysteries are there, and if you like to ponder such things, you better get this book.

Here's how to get the book, and some calendars too.

Song Of The Day #453

Ranch Radio will stay out West with Johnny Bond performing Oklahoma Waltz.

I heard from a listener today he was having problems playing this player. Anybody else having problems. I know it is working for many. Please let me know if it is working for you or not. Thanks

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Big Green tries for big payoff with Lame Duck bonanza (Bingaman's Omnibus Bill)

Before the 2010 mid-term elections, three affiliated Big Green groups considered their post-election strategy. The Pew-supported Campaign for America's Wilderness and its paid public communications contractors -- The Wilderness Society and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance -- realized things did not look good for their Democrat allies. By Election Day, they had prepared to make the most of the debacle's fallout. On November 10, after weeks of busy orchestration, William H. Meadows -- president of the Wilderness Society and chairman of Pew's Campaign for America's Wilderness -- led a carefully selected coalition of 172 environmental groups from 41 states in writing a letter to the U.S. House and Senate leadership asking Congress to use its Lame Duck session to pass an omnibus land law. One of the groups signing the letter was the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. Two days later, New Mexico Democrat Senator Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, confirmed that he was bundling more than 60 of his committee's bills to create new national parks, monuments, wilderness areas and wildlife sanctuaries into an omnibus measure for Senate passage before the 111th Congress adjourns. That's too many coincidences, but nobody noticed last Monday when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pledged to move a gigantic "Frankenstein" package of 100-plus land grab bills from three Senate committees -- and do it within two weeks. And a trick it is. Bill Wicker, spokesman for Bingaman, said with a straight face that the panel's bills "are not controversial," and "many were approved with no opposition." Bingaman's "Organ Mountains -- Desert Peaks Wilderness" bill was so controversial that my recent Examiner expose of its dangers was reprinted in a New Mexico newspaper (and in dozens of blogs) and generated a storm of alarmed reader comments...more

Mr. Arnold again points out the money connection, writing:

While dithering about whether it will pass, we really ought to ask, "Who paid for this omnibus campaign, anyway?" The seven private Pew Trusts and their public charity, $4.6 billion assets. The Wilderness Society, $55.4 million assets. Campaign for America's Wilderness, $4.2 million assets. New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, $1.1 million revenue. It's almost like asking, "Who owns the Democrats?"

Volcanoes, copper and so much more - Bingaman's Omnibus Bill

A national volcano alert system and language allowing a controversial Arizona copper mine could be among the final bills Congress approves this year. The measures are two of the dozens of bills that Democrats may include in a massive omnibus that would create a host of new national parks, monuments and wilderness areas and pave the way for dozens of Western water projects. POLITICO obtained a draft version of the section circulated by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). Volcano monitoring briefly had a moment in the spotlight in early 2009 when Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal singled it out as "wasteful spending" in the economic stimulus bill during the GOP response to President Barack Obama's budget speech to Congress. Alaskans from both parties protested that the funds are necessary to keep their state’s residents safe, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the bill to authorize $150 million for a national program over 10 years. The draft measure also includes language to move forward a massive Arizona copper mine on land that is currently part of the Tonto National Forest. Backed by Arizona Republicans John McCain and Jon Kyl, it would allow Resolution Copper to exchange the land surrounding its proposed mine site for the company’s private holdings in the area. An earlier version of the legislation would have directed the Interior Department to make the exchange, but the Obama administration opposed that version and a subsequent committee compromise gives Interior final say on whether it goes forward. Bingaman spokesman Bill Wicker stressed that his measure is a draft and said the final decision on what bills to include in the omnibus — or whether to push an omnibus at all — would be left to Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). "It's not soup until Chef Reid says it's soup," Wicker said. f Reid gives the OK, it would be joined with a package of bills from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and Commerce Committee...more

Go here to view the draft bill.

More than 260 bears are killed on first day of controversial N.J. bear hunt

If you count the dead, the New Jersey Bear Hunt is getting to be a fairly big deal. Thousands of hunters plunged into the woods of northwestern New Jersey today killing 264 bears, the biggest one day take in the hunt’s seven-year history. One by one, hunters in pick-up trucks hauled furry carcasses into weighing stations, as hundreds of other armed outdoorsmen filtered through the woods. They were stalking the rangy animal beasts that prompted the hunt by preying on livestock, the occasional house pet and, mostly, table scraps tossed in the trash at the margins of suburbia. In response, dozens of protesters railed against what is expected to be the state’s biggest bear hunt — so far, at least. With 7,800 permits issued to reduce a bear population now estimated at 3,400, hunters found easy targets. The six-day hunt began 30 minutes before sunrise, around 7 a.m., in seven counties, mostly in the northwestern part of the state. David Chanda, director of the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, the hunt’s sponsor, said that traditionally 5 percent to 7 percent of permits issued result in a kill, which would mean a count of 375 to 550 bear this week, though Chanda said as many as 700 could be killed...more

When it comes to controlling wildlife populations those easterners are putting us to shame.

Hey, a bunch of pundits are touting the NJ Governor for President. He's been hacking away at the budget and taking on the unions. And now he's letting the folks slaughter bears. He's looking better every day.

Utility's green strategy comes with rate increases (Only 100%)

Customers of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power could see electricity bills go up an average of 3% to 5% over each of the next 20 years if the agency moves ahead with a new strategy for making itself greener, utility officials said. Even with those rate hikes, however, an array of environmental groups criticized that strategy Monday, saying it backs away from some of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's most ambitious renewable energy goals. The rate-hike projections were announced as the DWP unveiled a draft plan that lays out the cost of the utility's proposed fuel mix over the next 20 years...more

I thought these guys were for the poor, the economically disadvantaged and the middle class. So why are they raising their utility rates 100%? I guess their policy is be green or be gone.

Truckers say L.A.'s 'green' port costs them money

He is among about 10,000 drivers who provide a lifeline at the nation's busiest port complex, hauling containers from the seaport to far-flung warehouses and distribution centers for clients ranging from small firms to giants such as Wal-Mart, Costco and Rite Aid. Many say they have long endured extended hours, high stress and relatively low pay, even in the days when business boomed with galloping multibillion-dollar commerce with Asia. Life was supposed to get better for them with the coming of the city's much-ballyhooed Clean Truck Program, which is widely credited with helping to upgrade air quality. The program, a major priority of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, is billed as a national model for cutting air pollution at diesel-choked port communities from Seattle to Miami. The concept — to replace smog-spawning clunkers with newer and cleaner rigs — promised to slash emissions and offer a new deal for beleaguered port truckers, many of them immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Yet, although officials say the area's air has improved markedly since the initiative was launched two years ago, Mejia and other drivers say their plight has gotten worse. Many have gone from being owners of polluting rigs to leasers of late-model "clean" trucks, valued at $100,000 to $200,000 — beyond what most drivers can afford to purchase. The new vehicles yield diminished carbon footprints, thanks to green technology. But, drivers say, the new models also cost at least 50% more to operate than their exhaust-spewing predecessors, on top of the lease payments to trucking companies. Besides paying leases that often exceed $1,000 a month, drivers say, they must absorb higher costs for insurance, registration, service and other expenses for the trucks, which feature technology like diesel particulate filters. Maintenance generally must be done at certified shops or dealers, not by the cut-rate mechanics who once serviced their rigs. The lease process, drivers say, means that much of the financial burden — including paying for servicing needed to maintain trucks' green capabilities — falls on drivers...more

I thought these guys were for the economically disadvantaged, the...Nope. Be green or be gone.

Hold the Brownies! Bill Could Limit Bake Sales

Don't touch my brownies! A child nutrition bill on its way to President Barack Obama - and championed by the first lady - gives the government power to limit school bake sales and other fundraisers that health advocates say sometimes replace wholesome meals in the lunchroom. Republicans, notably Sarah Palin, and public school organizations decry the bill as an unnecessary intrusion on a common practice often used to raise money. "This could be a real train wreck for school districts," Lucy Gettman of the National School Boards Association said Friday, a day after the House cleared the bill. "The federal government should not be in the business of regulating this kind of activity at the local level." The legislation, part of first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to stem childhood obesity, provides more meals at school for needy kids, including dinner, and directs the Agriculture Department to write guidelines to make those meals healthier. The legislation would apply to all foods sold in schools during regular class hours, including in the cafeteria line, vending machines and at fundraisers...more

Be thin or be gone.

Offshore oil, gas restrictions draw fire from truckers

Restricting oil and gas development in U.S. waters is a "major setback" in the effort to ease dependence on foreign resources, a trucking advocate complained. Rich Moskowitz, vice president for the American Trucking Association, said the actions by Salazar dealt a blow to consumers and the U.S. workforce. "Restricting offshore exploration is a major setback for our nation's quest toward reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources," he said in a statement. "Limiting access to domestic oil jeopardizes the efficiency of our supply chain, our economic health and ultimately harms American consumers."...more

More kind treatment from the envirocrats. Must mean none of these truckers are disadvantaged or middle class.

PETA Gives 'Compassion Award' to NYPD for Switching Mousetraps

The New York Police Department has been commended for a new method to catch trespassers--the small, furry ones running loose at the headquarters of the nation's largest department. The strategy? Spring-loaded mousetraps. The department had been using glue traps, where mice get stuck and can live up to 24 hours, to get rid of the rodent problem at 1 Police Plaza. On Oct. 12, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals received an anonymous complaint about the traps. "We immediately conveyed our concerns to Police Commissioner (Raymond) Kelly and asked that they ban glue trap usage," Martin Mersereau, the director of PETA's emergency response division, said Thursday. The department responded in November. Chief NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said Thursday that the traps were replaced with two types of professional-grade traps PETA recommended, created to kill mice instantly. The department spends about $100,000 annually on extermination, using the Brooklyn-based company KingsWay, whose motto is, "We kill with skill." As a result, the animal rights group awarded the department and Kelly the Compassion Award, for the decision "to stop using cruel glue traps."...more

That's about right. Taser the hell out of people but be nice to the mice.

Veterinarian's Oath Is Revised to Stress the Importance of Animal Welfare

Apparently feeling pressure from animal rights advocates within its ranks, the American Veterinary Medical Association has revised the oath taken by graduates of U.S. veterinary schools to stress the importance of animal welfare as well as animal health. The revised oath, approved by the AVMA Executive Board at its December meeting, now reads as follows (the additions appear in italics): "Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge."...more

I'm sure this has nothing to do with the Humane Society joining with the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights to form a new vet organization, called the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.

Montana Governor Says Wolf Deal Dead

Negotiations to remove Northern Rockies gray wolves from the endangered species list hit an impasse Monday, after Wyoming and Idaho refused to go along with an Interior Department proposal on the issue, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said. Schweitzer said the breakdown in talks between the three states and the Obama administration makes it unlikely Congress will address the issue this year. Western lawmakers have introduced multiple bills to strip protections from an estimated 1,700 wolves in the Northern Rockies, where the animals' attacks on livestock and big game herds have stoked growing resentment. The Fish and Wildlife Service has previously approved plans to hunt the predators in Idaho and Montana - but not Wyoming. That's because Wyoming law classifies wolves as predators that can be shot onsite across most of the state. Schweitzer said the administration was ready to back legislation to take wolves off the list in Montana and Idaho, while giving Wyoming three years to craft an acceptable management plan for the predators...more

Pneumonia hits western bighorn herds

Over the past year, bighorn sheep in 11 herds in Montana, Nevada, Washington, Wyoming and Utah caught pneumonia. More than 1,000 — or about half in the affected herds — succumbed or were culled, with Montana alone losing about 10 percent of its bighorns. The vector? In two cases, bighorns had mingled with domestic sheep or goats; in most others, it was at least a possibility. Domestics carry microorganisms known to cause pneumonia in their wild cousins, which disease and other factors have reduced to a fraction of their historic numbers. Decades of research suggest letting the two species mix is disastrous. Still, many sheep ranchers argue that transmission isn’t well enough understood to warrant drastic action. In a study published this summer, though, Washington State University researchers demonstrated conclusively that bighorns picked up lethal pathogens from domestic sheep. The findings add momentum to a recent wave of concern over the West’s bighorns — one that has led federal agencies to be more proactive about separating them from domestic sheep on public land. For four years, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has convened the Wild Sheep Working Group to help coordinate policy between the feds, states, NGOs and ranchers. Meanwhile, the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain and Intermountain Regions recently listed bighorns as sensitive species, mandating extra scrutiny for projects that could affect them. Both the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management are updating their general bighorn policies...more

Pact could be near to save tropical forests

For years, policymakers and scientists alike have spoken of the need to save tropical forests as a way of curbing climate change. By week's end, U.N. negotiators may finally set the rules of the road for doing it. If all goes according to plan, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change will establish a global mechanism allowing developing nations to receive financial compensation for curbing deforestation, which accounts for roughly 15 percent of the world's annual greenhouse gas emissions. Brazil, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea are among the nations where forests are being cut to make way for expanded cattle grazing areas and the production of crops such as soybeans and palm oil. Now the formal text on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD+, as it is known, is almost ready. It will help define how to measure deforestation over time and what social and environmental safeguards need to be in place. Environmentalists, who have lobbied hard for the measure as a way to save some of the world's most biologically rich areas and to provide developing countries with a stake in conservation, say an agreement here will give both the public and private sectors a financial incentive to protect forests under pressure in Latin America, Asia and Africa...more

Don't separate wind rights, surface rights

It's in Wyoming's best interest to set the ground rules now for the growing wind energy industry, to avoid future conflicts between landowners and developers. A bill being drafted by the Legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee would establish wind energy property rights alongside surface and mineral rights. It would also prevent landowners in the state from selling their wind energy rights separately from their surface rights, which a few have already done. Wyoming has already seen many negative effects of the "split estate" concept, which allows mineral rights to be sold separately from surface rights. Five years ago the Legislature passed a law that requires developers to make reasonable accommodation of existing surface uses, which has greatly reduced some -- but not all -- of the conflicts. "It's taken 125 years to sort out the relationship just between the mineral owners and the surface owners," noted Dennis Stickley, a University of Wyoming law professor who helped develop the panel's draft wind energy bill. He predicted that without this bill, "We'll have another 100 years of litigation and conflicts between wind rights and surface rights." There's no reason for such costly and time-consuming battles, because the Legislature has the opportunity to head them off now. Wind energy rights could still be leased under the draft bill, but they wouldn't be able to be sold separately from surface ownership. Lawmakers in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska have already taken such an approach, and Wyoming should follow their example...more

Bull rider relishes double duty

It has been a busy year for Dustin Elliott. Not just because he has 4-year-old twins and his wife teaches high school business full time while finishing her master's degree. And not because of the ranching business he owns and runs on 600 acres in North Platte, Neb. Elliott is a bull rider, and this year has been one he might never repeat. The 30-year-old is the first in his sport since 2004 to qualify for the Professional Bull Riders World Finals and the National Finals Rodeo in the same year. Each circuit is grueling, but combining both is something he doubts he'll try again. The challenge was something he started to think about two years ago, and his commitment was sealed late last year after talking with his wife and a conversation he had with his father, Wayne, who died in a car crash a few days later in Oregon. "That talk with my dad provided some serious motivation," said Elliott, who used the 2004 NFR to win the world bull riding championship in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. "After I won the world championship, you couldn't knock the smile off my dad's face with a bat." He says he thinks his father would be just as happy with what he has accomplished this year in arenas in each circuit...more

Ohl climbs into world title hunt with third consecutive win at 52nd Wrangler National Finals Rodeo

Sometimes, luck can transfer from one person to another. Just ask Cody Ohl. Wearing 11-time World Champion Dean Oliver’s “lucky” 1958 world championship buckle, Ohl won for the third consecutive night at the 52nd Wrangler National Finals Rodeo after stopping the clock in 7.3 seconds in front of a sold-out crowd of 17,032. Ohl’s winning run was one-tenth of a second faster than Round 1 winner Clif Cooper and ran his Wrangler NFR earnings to an event-best $59,315. He has moved from 13th to third in the PRCA World Standings after splitting Round 4 with Clint Cooper and sharing the Round 5 victory with Trevor Brazile. The Hico, Texas, cowboy admires Oliver – who won eight tie-down roping gold buckles and three all-around world championships – and the ProRodeo Hall of Famer has said he thinks Ohl is one of the best tie-down ropers in PRCA history. After his third-place finish in Round 2, Ohl joined Billy Etbauer as cowboys who have earned $1 million at the Wrangler NFR...more

Song Of The Day #452

Ranch Radio's selection today is Moon Over Montana by Jimmy Wakely.

It's on his 20 track Vintage collection.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Mustang Lover Roils the Range

Nevada cattle ranchers, having long battled the land's harsh elements, now find themselves up against a new force of nature: Madeleine Pickens. Mrs. Pickens, wife of Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, caused an uproar when she proposed the Bureau of Land Management let her fence off more than 500,000 acres of federal land to create a sanctuary for wild horses near a 14,000-acre ranch she bought in October. Her proposal for the bureau to designate a "mustang monument" on those acres isn't sitting well in Nevada cattle country, where ranchers worry Mrs. Pickens's plan threatens to force them off the range. Nevada's estimated 450,000 cattle graze mostly on federally owned lands in a practice dating from the 19th century. The Elko County Commission voted Nov. 3 to oppose Mrs. Pickens's plan. "What we're worried about is if she locks up ranches all over Nevada," said Commissioner Demar Dahl, a rancher. If the plan went through, "something has got to give, and it will be cattle," said Robin Boies, a 55-year-old local rancher who grazes her cattle on federal land adjacent to her Nevada ranch. Hunters and off-road enthusiasts also object to the plan, saying it could bar them from a popular recreation area to which they have free access now...more

AZ agency backs end to US wolf protection - Will NM follow suit under new Governor?

The Arizona Game and Fish Commission wants federal protection of the Mexican wolf stripped as a way to "break through the gridlock" in the wolf- reintroduction program. The commission voted 4-1 Saturday to support a bill pushed by a group of congressional Republicans that would delist the Mexican wolf as an endangered species, along with all other gray wolves living in the Northern Rockies and elsewhere in this country. State game officials and ranchers say Arizona can do a better job managing the wolf than the federal government. Environmentalists say that without federal protection, the Mexican wolf might not even be around today. In a statement released Monday, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, which carries out game commission policies, said that if the wolf were delisted, the state would become more heavily involved in planning the species' future and would run wolf reintroduction in a "more affordable, efficient and effective manner." Delisting the Mexican wolf would turn its management over to Arizona and New Mexico wildlife agencies and remove the federal ban on killing or harming wolves. Game and Fish said Arizona wolves would continue to be protected through state laws, and that the commission has no plans to let people hunt them...more

It will be interesting to see who Gov. Martinez appoints to the NM Game Commission and what position they take on this issue.

Willl they continue to cower down to the feds, or will they stand up for state jurisdiction?

Plan To Widen Airspace Riles Dakota Ranchers

The northern Great Plains is among the most isolated parts of the country, making it perfect for raising cattle and finding solitude. But it's also an ideal training area for the Air Force, which hopes to expand its flights there. That possibility is a cause for concern for people in both the ranching and aviation industries in the area. At 500 feet overhead, a B-1 bomber at full throttle can sound louder than a rock concert. The noise is above the normal threshold for pain. Stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base, B-1 bombers often use the Power River Training Complex, which includes parts of South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The military is proposing a fourfold expansion of the space, which would then cover more of both Dakotas, and parts of Wyoming and Montana. Ranchers point to more than two dozen court cases where landowners have been compensated for excess aircraft noise. Kammerer says that at the very least, the ranchers should get some consideration. "If you want the overflight and use of this land," he says, "then have the good grace to pay us like you do everybody else, in easements and property damage." This economic issue stretches beyond ranchers. Ray Jilek manages the airport in the town of Spearfish, S.D. The number of flights out of the small airstrip would be cut in half to make way for military training. Jilek says the airport is in the middle of a $15 million expansion project, as the military forms its plan. And all of the sudden they are going to say, 'OK, you've made the investment — but we're only going to let you use it part of the time now,' " he says. The Air Force says there are no plans to pay anyone here for losses...more

The Dept of Defense owns 30 million acres, 32% of which is managed by the Air Force. But it is never enough.

The individuals and small communities involved should get ready as the federal military authorities execute a political "shock and awe" against our own citizens.

Museum director sues feds over probe

The founding director of the Custer Battlefield Museum in Montana said Monday that his constitutional rights were violated when two dozen federal agents raided the museum, his home and other businesses in 2005 and in 2008. Agents, some of whom were armed with automatic weapons, were looking for any evidence that Chris Kortlander was illegally buying and selling American Indian artifacts when they surrounded his property in Garryowen, Mont., in March 2005. Yet, five years have passed and Kortlander has not been charged with a crime. Kortlander's federal lawsuit said his rights to free speech, to bear arms, to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures and nearly a half-dozen other rights were violated in the raids. It targets individual agents — rather than the agencies involved in the raids — as part of what is called a Biven's action. Much like a civil rights case in state court, the rarely used federal legal measure allows private citizens to sue for damages against federal officials for violating their rights. Kortlander's lawsuit, filed Monday in Montana, could open the floodgates for other complaints from artifact dealers and collectors who were dragged into a sweeping federal investigation into looting and grave robbing in the Four Corners region. It led to felony charges against more than two dozen people in Utah, Colorado and New Mexico in June 2009, but at least seven collectors and dealers who were raided in New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona as part of the operation were never charged with a crime. Local officials had complained that federal agents were heavy-handed during the raids. And since then, suicide has claimed the government's informant and two defendants, the prehistoric Indian artifact market has bottomed out, and some collectors fear they will be targeted despite having legal business operations...more

2 more rare red foxes confirmed in Sierra Nevada

Federal wildlife biologists have confirmed sightings of two more Sierra Nevada red foxes that once were thought to be extinct. Scientists believe the foxes are related to another that was photographed this summer near Yosemite National Park. More importantly, they say, DNA samples show enough diversity in the Sierra Nevada red foxes to suggest a "fairly strong population" of the animals may secretly be doing quite well in the rugged mountains about 90 miles south of Reno. The first confirmed sighting of the subspecies in two decades came in August when a remote camera captured the image of a female fox in the Humboldt–Toiyabe National Forest near Sonora Pass. Forest Service officials confirmed Friday that two more foxes — one male and one female — were photographed in September in the neighboring Stanislaus National Forest, about 4 miles from the original. That indicates there is the "continued persistence of a genetically unique population of Sierra Nevada red fox in the southern Sierra Nevada, rather than a single individual," the agency said...more

BLM Releases Report on Handling of Animals at Wild Horse Gathers

The Bureau of Land Management has released a report prepared by four independent, credentialed equine professionals concerning the care and handling of wild horses and burros at three major gathers or round-ups held over the summer. The full report, accessible at the BLM's national website, made several observations and findings, including the observation that, in general, "horses did not exhibit undue stress or show signs of extreme sweating or duress due to the helicopter portion of the gather, maintaining a trot or canter gait only as they entered the wings of the trap. Rather, horses showed more anxiety once they were closed in the pens in close quarters; however, given time to settle, most of the horses engaged in normal behavior...."...more

Crash that killed US Forest Service firefighters revives concerns about government aircraft

An investigation into the crash of a U.S. Forest Service firefighting helicopter that killed nine people two years ago has revived concerns about the safety of government aircraft. The National Transportation Safety Board meets Tuesday to determine the cause of the Aug. 5, 2008, crash near Weaverville, Calif., and make safety recommendations. The Sikorsky S-61N helicopter was carrying firefighters from the front lines of a stubborn wildfire in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. It had been airborne less than a minute when it lost power and fell into the forest. Seven firefighters, the pilot and a Forest Service safety inspector were killed. The co-pilot and three firefighters were injured. Documents previously released by the board indicate the helicopter, leased to the Forest Service by Carson Helicopters of Grants Pass, Ore., was at least 1,000 pounds overweight when pilots tried to take off from a rugged mountaintop clearing. The documents also indicate Carson may have understated the weight of the helicopter, as well as others in its fleet, preventing the pilots from accurately calculating if the chopper had enough power to carry 13 people plus firefighting equipment and fuel...more

Forest service ponders closing some forest to hunters, snowmobilers

The Huron-Manistee National Forest is reviewing if some areas should be closed to hunters and snowmobilers following a lawsuit alleging those two groups get preferential treatment compared to “quiet users.” The National Forest Service will consider banning hunting and snowmobile use in the semiprimitive non-motorized areas of the forest. Such a move would set aside 66,000 acres for quiet uses, out of about 987,000 total acres of forest. Kurt Meister, a Novi lawyer who has a cottage in Cadillac near the National Forest, successfully appealed a lawsuit to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court arguing the Forest Service favored hunters and snowmobilers over quiet users in its 2006 land management plan. A federal district judge in Detroit had ruled in favor of the Forest Service. Huron-Manistee National Forest spokesman Ken Arbogast said the Forest Service will consider the economic, social and environmental impacts of any changes, and no decisions have been made yet. “We may either stay with the situation we have now, put in some kind of a ban or some other alternative the people may suggest that we’re not even aware of,” he said...more

Alaskan Wildfires Could Trigger 'Runaway Climate Change'

Severe Alaskan wildfires have released much more carbon than was stored by the region's forests over the past 10 years, researchers report today. They warned that the pattern could lead to a "runaway climate change scenario" where larger, more intense fires release more greenhouse gases that, in turn, lead to more warming. The northern wildfires burn peatlands that consist of decaying plant litter, moss and organic matter in the soil, said Merritt Turetsky, an ecologist at the University of Guelph in Canada and lead author of a new study. Such fires have a huge impact given that the peatlands contain much of the world's soil carbon – about as much carbon as is found in the atmosphere or in the total of terrestrial biomass (plants and animals). "These findings are worrisome, because about half the world's soil carbon is locked in northern permafrost and peatland soils," Turetsky explained. "This is carbon that has accumulated in ecosystems a little bit at a time for thousands of years, but is being released very rapidly through increased burning." The fire-chasing researchers found that burned area has doubled in Alaska's interior over the last decade. They traveled to almost 200 forest and peatland burn sites so that they could measure how much biomass had gone up in smoke and flames, and also examined fire records dating back to the 1950s...more

Camino Real trail may land on historic places list

A centuries-old trail through Doña Ana County that played an important part in New Mexico history will gain the spotlight this week because of a proposal pending before a state panel. A state historic preservation panel will vote on whether portions of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Royal Road to the Interior Lands) should be added to the state's official list of historic places. A second measure would nominate the same stretches for listing on the national register of historic places, said Tom Drake, spokesman for the state Historic Preservation Division. An eventual U.S. listing would lead to greater protections for the trail because any projects involving federal dollars that could impact the trail would undergo more scrutiny, said Jean Fulton, executive director of El Camino Real de Tierra Trail Association, or CARTA. "Listing the segments in the register will raise public awareness regarding the trail's national significance," she said. Spanish conquistador Juan de O-ate and an entourage of explorers first traveled El Camino Real route northward from Mexico in 1598 - about a decade before the first Europeans settled Jamestown, Va. - but the route was traveled by American Indians for centuries prior to that. The trail became a major travel route between Mexico City and Santa Fe...more

Gila National Forest supervisor retires

After a 32-year Forest Service career, Forest Supervisor Dick Markley of the Gila National Forest has retired. Markley served for a little over three years as head of the 3.3 million acre Forest that includes three wilderness areas including the nation’s first designated wilderness, the Gila Wilderness. His retirement took effect Friday. During Markley’s tenure as supervisor he set as priorities developing a travel management plan for the forest, accomplishing the annual fuels treatment goal to protect local communities from wildfire, completing the backlog of environmental analyses for grazing permits and accomplishing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects funded on the forest. Craig Cowie, currently the fire staff officer overseeing the Gila fire organization, is serving as acting forest supervisor through the end of December...more

Lake Tahoe's Cave Rock court case inspires book about sacred place

A precedent-setting court case concerning a Lake Tahoe landmark so intrigued author Michael Makley that he teamed with his historian son Matthew to write about it. The result, "Cave Rock: Climbers, Courts, and a Washoe Indian Sacred Place," (University of Nevada Press, $24.95 paperback) examines the court cases involved in the Washoe tribe's successful attempt to ban rock climbing at the South Shore site. It explains the vigorous arguments presented by the tribe, which considers the site a sacred and powerful place, and by the climbers, who had their own attachments to Cave Rock, ranging from a challenging place to climb to a place of spiritual serenity. After two decades of debate and legal decisions, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling to ban rock climbing and other invasive activity at Cave Rock in 2007, based on its cultural, rather than religious, importance to the tribe. It was an outcome seldom experienced by American Indians in court. For the rock climbers, Cave Rock was a world-class site. Many also spoke of the spiritual nature of the place. Opponents of the climbing ban noted that tunnels built through Cave Rock for U.S. 50 already had left significant impact on the rock as had years of public use. For the Washoe, Cave Rock represented generations of tribal shamans or doctors using the site as a place of spiritual power. For some Washoe, Makley said, Cave Rock is so sacred, they'll drive all the way around Lake Tahoe to avoid driving through the rock's highway tunnels...more

High noon at not-ok corral

He defended his home like it was the Alamo. A 77-year-old rancher gave drug-cartel thugs the fight of their lives when they tried to take possession of his sprawling property in northern Mexico, becoming a folk hero in a region ravaged by violence. Alejo Garza Tamez turned his humble farmhouse into a fortress for his last stand -- lining up his numerous hunting rifles in windows and doorways -- after receiving an ultimatum on Nov. 13 from the drug-gang guerrillas to vacate within 24 hours or die. The lionhearted rancher was ready when two truckloads of heavily armed gang members returned the next morning. "He'd told me he'd gotten threats, but he didn't notify the authorities. He never trusted them," his daughter Sandra Garza told Telediario Nocturno. Authorities said the cartel first rolled up that Saturday to Garza's ranch, located about 15 miles outside of Ciudad Victoria, to tell him the house he'd built by hand 34 years ago was on land they needed to expand their cocaine and marijuana routes to the US border. Garza immediately dismissed all the workers on his ranch and told them not to come to work the next day. Then the hunter and gun collector gathered up every weapon he could muster. He perched guns in the windows and doors, lining the floors with extra ammo. And he waited in the dark and silence...more

Also see the previously posted Alejandro Garza and his Border War

Clint Cooper completes brotherly trifecta with Round 4 win at NFR

As brothers, tie-down ropers Clint, Clif and Tuf Cooper share numerous things, including spots in this year’s Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, and now the trio can add go-round championship buckles to the list. Clint, the eldest of ProRodeo Hall of Famer Roy Cooper’s sons, joined his brothers as round winners at this year’s $5.875 million Wrangler NFR by tying five-time World Champion Tie-Down Roper Cody Ohl for the Round 4 victory with a 7.1-second run. Wrangler NFR rookie Clif Cooper won Round 1, while Tuf – last year’s Wrangler NFR average champion – took the go-round buckle in the third round. Clint Cooper and Ohl finished one-tenth of a second ahead of Stran Smith to share the round win, and each earned $15,676 in the process. “I knew the calf was going to be fast handling,” said Clint Cooper, who is riding the 2010 AQHA/PRCA Tie-Down Roping Horse of the Year Sweetness. “I missed (the barrier) a tick, and Sweetness made up all the ground. Sweetness did everything for me. He set up the whole run for me.” The eldest Cooper was thrilled to join his brothers as round winners in Las Vegas this year. “First of all, to make history with all three of us being here, I’m just privileged and honored and blessed,” he said. “Shoot, after Clif won the first round in 7.8 and Tuf was 6.9, I was thinking, ‘Please God, I need to get to that South Point (winner’s stage) somehow.’” The Cooper victories mark the first time since 1991 that a set of three brothers each won rounds at the Wrangler NFR. Dan, Billy and Robert Etbauer all won rounds at the same NFR twice (1989, 1991)...more

Song Of The Day #451

Ranch Radio is usually not a fan of modern artists covering hits by traditional country singers. Every once in a while though, they come up with something interesting. Check out Teddy Thompson's cover of the Ernest Tubb hit Walking The Floor Over You. Instead of speeding it up like most covers, he slows it down and gives it a bluesy feel. I like it.

The tune is on his 13 track CD Up Front and Down Low.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Do you think they meant Angus?

Dems aim for 100+ bills in 1 swoop

Democratic efforts to push through more than 100 public lands and water bills in the lame duck session are reaching a fever pitch, with the recognition this is the last chance many of them have to become law. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has tasked Democratic leaders on at least three committees to come up with a list of bills that could get past a GOP filibuster. They may also need to be able to secure the two-thirds support that would be needed if the House tries to expedite the package without amendments in a tight legislative calendar. Several Senate Republicans are cosponsors of individual bills that could be included but the GOP appears likely to object to the package as a whole. “There’s no way a giant omnibus like that would gain support among Republicans,” said Robert Dillon, spokesman for Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). “There’s bills in there we would like to see passed but not this way. We don’t have the time to fix all the problems.” A potential Democratic package could include more than 100 measures from at least three panels. Energy and Natural Resources has passed 72 public lands bills that are pending on the Senate calendar and there are others the panel has not yet voted on; the Environment and Public Works Committee has so far given more than a dozen bills to be considered; while the Commerce Committee Friday sent over a list of 13 bills. Bingaman spokesman Bill Wicker said the panel's bills are not controversial and many were approved with no opposition. Bingaman staffers are holding off on providing a final list to Reid in case additional bills not voted on by the panel could be added...more

Chamber, Realtors & Homebuilders ask Bingaman to remove S. 1689 from Omnibus bill

Saying "We do not believe S. 1689 as currently written is in the best interests of the citizens of Dona Ana County", three business organizations have asked Senator Jeff Bingaman to remove the bill from "any last minute consideration by the Congress."

The chair persons of the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, the Las Cruces Association of Realtors and Building Industry Association of Southern NM stated in a letter to Senator Bingaman "our organizations continue to have significant concerns with S. 1689, especially in the areas of Border Security and Flood Control."

Here is the complete letter.

Democrats seek changes in wolf recovery program

Martin Heinrich
A dozen Democratic members of Congress have asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in a letter to change a federal Mexican gray wolf recovery effort project. The Dec. 1 letter was signed by New Mexico Rep. Martin Heinrich and Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva and recommends the release of eight wolves in Arizona and 14 in New Mexico considered eligible for release under the program's rules. The lawmakers also recommended the retrieval of telemetry receivers loaned to private parties that alert ranchers and property owners when wolves are nearby. Some conservationists believe the telemetry receivers can be used to locate and kill Mexican gray wolves. Thirty-five wolves have been killed illegally since the program was launched along the Arizona-New Mexico border in 1998 with the release of wolves into a national forest in southeast Arizona. The letter also asks Fish and Wildlife to release a completed draft environmental assessment that could lead to a new policy allowing captive wolves to be released directly into New Mexico. Under current rules, wolves new to the wild can only be released initially into Arizona, with New Mexico reserved for the relocation of previously captured wolves...more

Rural New Mexicans and ag producers take a look at the Congress Critter from Albuquerque. Heinrich is the one pushing for an Omnibus Public Lands Bill in the House and now he's promoting changes to the wolf program that will make it even worse for rural folk and their families. You better get to know this former EartFirster, because he is out to get you.

Court: Wolf data exempt from disclosure

Environmental groups are not entitled to specific locations of where wolves have killed cattle, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. In a unanimous decision, the court said the specific data sought by the organizations is exempt from disclosure under the federal Freedom of Information Act. The judge said that means the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has the information, can keep it secret. Thursday's ruling met with disappointment from members of the groups. They said the data is needed to provide crucial information they believe ultimately would help preserve Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. Eva Sargent, director of southwest programs for the Defenders of Wildlife, said the data sought would help her organization work with ranchers to prevent "depredation" of cattle by wolves. For example, she said ranchers can put extra cowboys into the field. "Wolves are generally discouraged by humans' presence," Sargent said. She said cattle can be moved away or electric fencing can be installed. And Sargent said there even is a way to have alarms go off when a wolf with a radio tracking collar approaches the fence to scare the animal off. Matt Kenna, the attorney who represented the environmental groups, said there are other uses for the information. He pointed out that most of the losses to ranchers occurs on leased public lands and not on private property. "When the renewals came up, or even before then, we could provide public comment on them," Kenna said. He said that could include requiring ranchers to modify their operations to reduce wolf attacks -- or even proposing that certain lands be off limits to cattle grazing...more

So who are you going to believe? Sargent, who just wants to "help" ranchers shoo the wolves away, or Kenna, who wants to amend or eliminate your grazing permit?

I'm going with Kenna, and I'll bet Martin Heinrich is too.

WikiLeaks cables reveal how US manipulated climate accord

Hidden behind the save-the-world rhetoric of the global climate change negotiations lies the mucky realpolitik: money and threats buy political support; spying and cyberwarfare are used to seek out leverage. The US diplomatic cables reveal how the US seeks dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming; how financial and other aid is used by countries to gain political backing; how distrust, broken promises and creative accounting dog negotiations; and how the US mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the controversial "Copenhagen accord", the unofficial document that emerged from the ruins of the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009. Negotiating a climate treaty is a high-stakes game, not just because of the danger warming poses to civilisation but also because re-engineering the global economy to a low-carbon model will see the flow of billions of dollars redirected...more

The Road to Cancun

What we are witnessing today, here and everywhere, is the embryonic formation of a New Climate Internationale--farmers, workers, indigenous people, students, and consumers uniting to save the Earth from catastrophic global warming. What we are demonstrating on hundreds of thousands of organic farms and ranches; in thousands of community organizing projects; and in our direct action protests to stop coal plants, mega-developments, and deforestation is that a New World is possible--a new, relocalized climate-friendly Commonwealth, rising out of the rubble and ruins of the old. Beyond the disinformation of Fox News and the gloom and doom of the mainstream mass media, there are rays of sunshine, brighter and stronger by the day. A global climate justice movement is emerging and moving forward, with no help whatsoever from the Obama Administration; and openly defying the powerful climate change deniers in Corporate America and the U.S. Congress...more

They are still out there...

Carbon credit programs fail without climate bill

A national program that paid farmers millions of dollars for reducing greenhouse gasses has fizzled amid uncertainty about U.S. climate legislation, stopped paying dividends and will no longer taken enrollment after this year, the president of the group running it said. The North Dakota Farmers Union awarded farmers carbon dioxide credits for using techniques that reduced emissions of carbon and other gasses tied to global warming and distributed the proceeds when those credits were sold to businesses, cities and others. About 3,900 farmers and ranchers from 40 states have earned about $7.4 million through the program since it started in 2006. But carbon credits that fetched up to $7 a metric ton a few years ago are now nearly worthless, said Robert Carlson, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union. The group has 6 million tons worth of credits that have gone unsold, and while it will continue to try to sell those, no new credits will be issued after this year, Carlson said. The program based in Jamestown is the largest of about a dozen similar carbon credit programs nationwide that cater solely to farmers and ranchers. Those other programs are facing the same difficulties, said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union in Washington and a former North Dakota agriculture commissioner. The credits would have had value if Congress had passed so-called cap-and-trade climate legislation...more

No coercion, no value. Imagine that. No wonder the National Farmers Union is always lobbying to give more power to Fedzilla. Apparently their members can't produce anything of value.

Cows bite back: Cattle ear tag proves lethal to NM wolf

In a story some supporters of Western wolf reintroduction may find hard to swallow, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reporting a federally protected Mexican gray wolf found dead in Southwestern New Mexico in October likely died of an intestinal rupture caused by a plastic ear tag commonly used on grazing cattle in the region...The Outdoor Press Room

The AP story is here.

Song Of The Day #450

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio.

To get your heart started and your foot tapping here is Keith Norris performing Two Step Program.

You can find the tune on his 15 track CD Deuce.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

So you want to be a ranch wife?
 by Julie Carter


    Score: Gate - 1 Ranch wife - 0 And the town folk likely wanted to call authorities to report a beating when they saw her in town on Monday.
    Anyone with any knowledge about ranch wives knew exactly what had happened when she said the words "a gate and a cow."
    With a shiner that sent black and blue over most of one side of her face, an eye that peeked through a narrow slit in the swelling, and bruises that obviously weren't leaving anytime soon, she laughed and said, "You should have seen it yesterday, it was a lot worse."
    It's an old story and this tough little woman proved that it's still an ongoing hazard for the ranch wife - a husband that says, "Hold that gate and don't let her (the cow) by."
    In a hundred years of cattle ranching, the bovine species has never gotten the memo about that particular plan.
    At something maybe close to 5 feet tall, this little gal grew up holding her own in the corrals sorting and working cattle. Gender has never required allowances for special treatment when it comes to ranch work.
    When the operation is a "mom and pop" deal, mom has to pull her share of the duty without regard to stature, age or necessary domestic duties.
    As a thousand pounds of cow steam rolls toward a gate with an obvious determination to exit through it, and the little woman holding said gate knows "this is gonna hurt," there is a flash of mental calculating that determines what happens next.
    With Herculean strength, at least in her mind, she more often than not will try to hold her own, ergo hold the gate, against the cow, steer or even a freshly weaned 500-pound calf. With a hope of the odds and perhaps angels on her side, she prefers that option to the likely hollering or maybe even a cussing from the "boss."
    Or worse yet, the thought that she "can't do this job." She knows from experience there are consequences if she decides to pitch the gate away and run.
    With any luck at all, the results won't require a wild and bumpy pickup ride to the "local" hospital emergency room a couple hours away. That would really mess up a well-planned afternoon of getting some cattle sorted and tended to before dark.
    But sometimes, the cow wins. Odds are she'll be a favorite cow, one that's raised 5-6 good calves.
    And although she's a little on the cranky side even on a good day, her production stats determine that she be given dispensation for her attitude and grievances against the little missus.
    And the missus? Well according to the head cowboy, she needs to get a bag of ice on that eye because she's got a job in town that she needs to tend to on Monday. Have to keep the priorities in order so as to make a living.
    There are a few tough gals who have learned quitting is sometimes a temporary option. Nothing taxes a good ranch marriage like working cattle together in the corral. Sign language and hollering are a given, as are threats of cold meals or worse yet, a week of Spam sandwiches.
    Worth remembering is the story about the cowboy who, in his anger at his non-compliant help in the corral, told his wife to "just go on to the house. I'll finish up by myself."
    Obediently she got in the pickup and drove home. However, in his tempered state, he had forgotten that they'd come to the pens together. That pickup she drove off in was the only vehicle at the corrals.
    It was an eight-mile walk back to the house.

Julie, a purple-heart veteran of the cow and gate wars, can be reached for comment at