Friday, January 14, 2011


Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter is calling on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to immediately withdraw his recent Secretarial Order 3310, which directs the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to treat much of the Idaho acreage under its control as “de facto wilderness.”
            “It reflects the same type of ‘top-down,’ ‘one-size-fits-all’ management approach to which Idaho was subjected during the waning hours of the Clinton Administration and Chief Forester Mike Dombeck. Without any state or public input, the Interior Department has circumvented the sovereignty of states and the will of the public by shifting from the normal planning processes of the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) to one that places significant and sweeping authority in the hands of unelected federal bureaucrats,” Governor Otter wrote in a January 11 letter to Salazar.
            The Governor said failure to withdraw the new policy under those circumstances “cannot engender the necessary support and inevitably will lead to endless lawsuits.”
            Secretary Salazar said on December 22, 2010, in announcing the Secretarial Order – Protecting Wilderness Characteristics on Lands Managed by the Bureau of Land Management – that it would “restore balance” and eliminate debate between multiple-use activities and protecting pristine backcountry areas.
            Governor Otter said the order essentially extends the reach of federal land managers beyond designated wilderness and wilderness study areas to all BLM lands containing “wilderness characteristics,” whether or not Congress has deemed them qualified for the special protections afforded to wilderness.
            “Suggesting that current BLM practices favor multiple-use activities over preservation simply ignores the reality that the agency has succumbed to endless bureaucratic recalcitrance, resource constraints and lawsuits by environmental groups,” the Governor wrote. “This order will only exacerbate these problems.”
            Click here for a copy of Governor Otter’s letter to Secretary Salazar.

Press Release

Order stirs debate over BLM inventories

A recent federal land policy change is being treated as a power grab by some and a return to mandated management by others. On Dec. 22, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed Order 3310, directing the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to regularly conduct wilderness resource inventories and give consideration to lands with wilderness characteristics when making land-use planning and project decisions. In the three weeks since the announcement, protests have begun to dribble in, including Tuesday’s letter of opposition to Salazar from Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter. Otter claimed the order directs the BLM to “treat much of the Idaho acreage under its control as ‘de facto wilderness.’” “Without any state or public input, the Interior Department has circumvented the sovereignty of states and the will of the public by shifting from the normal planning processes of the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) to one that places significant and sweeping authority in the hands of unelected federal bureaucrats,” Otter wrote. BLM managers point out that everything still has to go through the public comment process...more

Tuna Fight Muddies Waters Over Damage From BP Spill

The bluefin tuna is one of the most majestic and prized creatures in the sea. Last week, one caught off Japan sold in Tokyo for $396,000, to be used as sushi. Now the fish is the subject of a scientific fight that shows how hard it will be to gauge the environmental fallout of the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The U.S. government will wrap up public meetings next week on whether to recommend declaring the Atlantic bluefin an endangered species. If the government declared the fish endangered, it would bar fishermen from targeting the fish in U.S. waters. An environmental group filed the request last year, claiming in part that the western-Atlantic stock of the fish, long believed to spawn only in the Gulf of Mexico, would "be devastated" by last year's spill from a blown-out BP PLC well. But scientists disagree about what portion of last spring's crop of young tuna, or larvae, were hit by oil. They disagree about whether the Gulf is the only place where the western-Atlantic bluefin spawns. In short, they disagree about virtually every aspect of the spill's effect on the fish...more

Enviro group to sue feds to protect polar bear habitat

An environmental group on Thursday gave formal notice that it intends to sue the federal government for what conservationists consider a failure to protect critical habitat for polar bears from harmful oil and gas development. The Center for Biological Diversity sent the required notice to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The Interior Department designated more than 187,000 square miles in and near the Beaufort and Chukchi seas as polar bear critical habitat, said the group's Alaska representative, attorney Rebecca Noblin. But its agencies also have reaffirmed a Bush-era plan that authorized oil leasing in the newly designated polar bear critical habitat in the Chukchi Sea, and are considering a proposal to allow Shell Oil to drill next summer in polar bear critical habitat in the Beaufort Sea. "Unfortunately, Interior seems profoundly confused about whether to actually protect polar bear critical habitat or sacrifice it to oil companies," Noblin said...more

Tom Strickland to step down as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's chief of staff

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's chief of staff, Tom Strickland, will step down in February after 21 sometimes troubling months at a federal agency that is still reeling from one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history. The announcement today comes days before an oil-spill report is set to be released by President Barack Obama's commission probing the disaster, but Strickland and Salazar told The Denver Post that Strickland's departure was voluntary and that it is in no way indicative of a shake-up in the Interior Department. White House officials said Strickland, who also serves as assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, is leaving the post on his own. The two-time Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and former U.S. attorney for Colorado says he will likely return to the private sector and stay in Washington, where his wife, an architect, has a job she likes. Strickland is applauded internally at the department for representing the United States' effort to protect the bluefin tuna and for launching America's Great Outdoors — modeled after Great Outdoors Colorado. But largely, his Interior tenure is clouded by the Deepwater Horizon oil gusher of 2010, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the nation's history...more

Montana wolves kill 27 sheep

Authorities have confirmed that gray wolves preyed on livestock in central Montana’s Fergus County for what is believed to be the first time. Wolves also were blamed last month for killing 27 sheep near Ulm, which is 11 miles southwest of Great Falls. “They are trying to fill these open spaces that isn’t wolf habitat,” said Craig Glazier, supervising wildlife biologist for U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services in Helena. Wildlife Services confirmed that on Dec. 31 two yearling calves were attacked and injured by three wolves at a ranch on Flat Willow Creek on the eastern slope of the Little Snowy Mountains in southeastern Fergus County. It was the first confirmed instance of a wolf attacking livestock in Fergus County, said John Steuber, state director of USDA Wildlife Services...more

U.S. Park Police Chief -- Fired for Whistle-Blowing in 2004 -- Is Reinstated

A federal appeals board Tuesday ordered that Teresa Chambers be reinstated as chief of the U.S. Park Police, seven years after she was fired for telling reporters that her department was understaffed and in need of more funding. The decision by the Merit Systems Protection Board, which also awarded Chambers back pay with interest, was celebrated as a major victory in the whistle-blower community. In a testament to the fact that such reinstatements are rare, Chambers said she was stunned by Tuesday's decision. She added that she's looking forward to returning to the U.S. Park Police "and picking up the pieces and continuing to serve my country." Chambers said she hopes the ruling will bring about some positive impacts for other civil servants who want to speak out...more

Multi-species processing facility expected in 2012

Land near Guernsey is looking "very promising" as the location of a multi-species processing facility that would likely be in operation by 2012. This multi-species processing facility would slaughter horses, cattle and bison. Sue Wallis, the Republican state representative from Recluse - who has publicly stated the United States has taken a valuable asset and turned it into a very expensive liability - is proposing the facility. Wallis said the site they are currently evaluating is just outside of Guernsey, near the American Renewable Energy Associates (AREA) waste-to-energy plant. They are still in the beginning of this process, she noted, and nothing is set in stone. Their preliminary findings, however, show that this site is likely the most viable. Working in conjunction with AREA, she said, is attractive because there is the possibility of "them providing us with power and waste heat." Wallis also said they would provide AREA with feedlot manure and other organic waste that they could burn in their plant...more

Dominguez honored by cattle industry

Larry Dominguez, Las Cruces, received the 2010 Ayudando Siempre Alli Award from the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association at the recent Joint Stockmen's Convention held in Albuquerque. "Although we as ranchers like to think of ourselves as strong and independent, it's impossible to attend all of the hearings and meetings where decisions that impact our industry are made and take care of business at home," said Bert Ancell, NMCGA President, Las Vegas. "We depend on, and greatly appreciate people like Larry, who help represent agriculture and make sure we as producers stay informed." Dominguez, Director of Industry and Agency Programs for the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, has both personal and professional knowledge of the ranching, which makes him a valuable friend to the industry, Ancell said. "Like many people, he lives and works in town because the economics of ranching don't allow him to stay on the family ranch. Fortunately for us, his "day job" includes working on agriculture's behalf, while he spends many weekends and days off helping his family maintain the ranch."...more

Song Of The Day #484

Ranch Radio will close out this week of Western Swing with Boots Woodall & His Radio Wranglers performing Since You've Been Gone.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Appeals court rules against wilderness groups in road fight

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday dealt a major blow to Utah wilderness groups fighting over who owns a handful of back roads in rural Kane County. In its decision, the Denver court ruled the Wilderness Society and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) lacked "prudential standing to sue" over the roads because the groups do not have property rights to the roads. "The reason we went to court was because the [Bureau of Land Management] wasn’t doing anything to protect the monuments," said Heidi McIntosh, SUWA’s associate director. "Now, with this ruling, it’s really up to the BLM to step up to the plate." The long-running dispute centers on a Civil War-era mining law, known as R.S. 2477, that granted rights-of-way across public land until it was repealed by congress in 1976. Existing rights-of-way, however, were grandfathered in. In March 2003, Kane County officials requested the BLM remove road signs closing some routes in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, igniting the debate and years of litigation. SUWA and the Wilderness Society have fought to protect a number of those primitive tracks...more

Gov. Herbert to Meet with BLM Leader

After venting his frustration over a new federal wilderness policy, Governor Gary Herbert will hold a public meeting with Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey this Friday. Herbert’s Deputy Chief of Staff Ally Isom says he wants to know more about the implications. “The governor felt like we have been making some progress in bringing stakeholders together and moving forwards toward a resolution there, and this looks like a setback,” said Isom. “We’d like to have an opportunity to discuss that, as we had no opportunity for some input prior to the announcement.” Last month, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that his department would designate “Wild Lands” for protection. The policy revokes a previous pact Utah had negotiated with the Bush Administration, dubbed the “No More Wilderness” agreement...more

Carson Helicopters president contests government report

Charging the National Transportation Safety Board with trying to make Carson Helicopters Inc. a scapegoat for the 2008 helicopter crash which killed nine people, the company's president rejected the board's conclusion that excess weight and lack of oversight caused the accident. In an open letter released this morning, company President Franklin Carson in Perkasie, Pa., said the firm has, until now, maintained silence to allow the investigation to proceed. But the board's "arbitrary and one-sided" hearing last month in Washington, D.C., forced the company to go public, he said. Carson said the board ignored testimony by co-pilot William "Bill" Coultas, 46, of Cave Junction, that the crash was caused by the loss of power in the No. 2 engine shortly during takeoff. They also ignored Coultas' actual air temperature at the scene to fit "their preconceived narrative," he wrote. Coultas, the only surviving crew member, expressed similar concerns in an interview with the Mail Tribune immediately following the NTSB hearing last month. Moreover, the NTSB lost the aircraft's fuel control unit early in the investigation and failed to investigate that loss...more

Landowners, power-line companies square off over bill on condemnation powers

A bill meant to help the Montana-Alberta Tie power line condemn a small piece of property for its northern Montana route ran into a buzz saw of landowner opposition Wednesday, as ranchers and farmers blasted the measure as an assault on private property rights. “If you approve this thing, you're taking money out of my pocket and my family's pocket and giving it to the big utilities,” said Bob Haseman, who owns a ranch in Broadwater County. “I oppose (this bill) because it's so grossly unfair to the landowner.” House Bill 198, sponsored by Rep. Ken Peterson, R-Billings, says that a company with a state-approved route for its power line can use eminent domain to condemn and purchase land along that route. Peterson told the House Federal Relations, Energy and Telecommunications Committee that the bill merely clarifies authority the power-line companies have had for years, but which was thrown into doubt by a ruling last fall by state District Judge Laurie McKinnon of Shelby. Yet landowners from Cut Bank to Butte, including the family that won the court ruling, said HB198 does much more than just clarify the law, and would give too much leeway for private power-line companies to condemn property...more

Conservation biology: The end of the wild

Imagine Montana's Glacier National Park without glaciers; California's Joshua Tree National Park with no Joshua trees; or the state's Sequoia National Park with no sequoias. In 50 years' time, climate change will have altered some US parks so profoundly that their very names will be anachronisms. Jon Jarvis, who became director of the US National Park Service in 2009, has called climate change "the greatest threat to the integrity of our national parks that we have ever experienced". The sentiment represents a dramatic shift from the position held during the Bush administration, when officials refused to fully acknowledge the existence of climate change. Now, park managers in the United States and around the world are working with researchers to map how the landscapes they care for might change. And they are coming to terms with the idea that the historical remit of most parks systems — to preserve a piece of land in its 'natural' state — is untenable. "You can't fight the climate," says Ken Aho, an ecologist at Idaho State University in Pocatello, who studies non-native species at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. "Eventually you have to throw up your hands," he says...more

Rancher told to remove cattle from Carrizo Plain preserve

Cattle will be temporarily removed from the Carrizo Plain Ecological Reserve as a result of a court settlement announced Tuesday. Under the deal signed in San Francisco Superior Court, the 3,600 cattle that are allowed to graze on the ranch each year must be removed within six months. The cattle must stay off the ranch until the state Department of Fish and Game completes a review of the environmental impacts of grazing on the 30,000-acre wildlife refuge. The settlement comes from a February 2010 lawsuit filed by two environmental groups, Los Padres Forest Watch and the Santa Lucia Chapter of the Sierra Club. The suit said the reserve was being overgrazed and that cattle were being allowed to trample environmentally sensitive areas. The area has long been used for grazing, and since 2006, Neil Dow of Oregon has been grazing his cattle there through a lease issued by Fish and Game...more

Local race group questions BLM's newly enforced policy

The future of off-road racing in the Superstition Mountain has been questioned, as local race organizers try to deal with newly-enforced procedures and costs. “Basically all the races are in jeopardy, and some have been canceled,” said Roadrunner Off-Road Racing President Chip Corfman. The motorcycle racing group is a not-for-profit organization, and the Bureau of Land Management began enforcing stricter regulations, he said Tuesday before the county Board of Supervisors. The bureau is also recouping costs for the review process and to have rangers, leaving the racing group to have to pay more to host its events. The group has kept jumping hurdles when trying to get permits for its races, though it already had tighter rules than the bureau required, including a 15 mph speed limit in the pit area of races, Corfman said. It could put Roadrunner racing and other groups out of business. The change stems from an accident in mid-August where eight spectators of the California 200 in Johnson Valley were killed and a dozen more injured. The bureau released a report in November, saying the bureau did not adhere to its own permitting procedures for the race. Local offices were told to now closely adhere to the regulations, though every race has different needs, said Jan Bedrosian with the bureau. Some events require fewer bureau personnel based on the number of participants, while other events may call for more staff. “As we’re reviewing the races, our regulations do require us to recover costs from those who are applying for use of public land,” she said...more

Trust to buy Miranda Canyon, hold for Forest Service

A swath of land south of Taos is moving closer to becoming part of the Carson National Forest. Greg Hiner of The Trust for Public Land told The Taos News Monday (Jan. 3) that his organization was "very close" to buying 3,800 acres of the 5,000-acre property is commonly known as Miranda Canyon. "We are hoping to wrap it up this week," Hiner said. Hiner said he hoped to purchase the remaining 1,200 acres in 2013. The property is currently owned by the Weimer family. "What we are doing is holding it, hopefully in short term, until it can be moved into public ownership," Hiner said. "When we plan right, we don't hold it for very long." Hiner hoped to see the land moved to the Forest Service's control within the next five years. However, there are some concerns that a tight federal budget may delay the purchase longer than expected. The Carson National Forest is pursuing the purchase of the property and New Mexico's U.S. senators have introduced legislation in Congress to expand the forest boundaries. A formal appraisal of the property was done, and Hiner said the purchase price was set at the appraisal amount. Hiner declined to disclose the exact purchase price for the property before the deal is done...more

New Mexico Resort Could Build One of America’s Highest Ski Lifts

The peak straddles the boundary of the Wheeler Peak Wilderness, which protects New Mexico’s highest mountain and is one of the state’s most heavily used wilderness areas. As Colorado ski resorts advertise extreme back bowls and some of the highest and fastest ski lifts in the North America, the crowds at Taos Ski Valley have been shrinking in recent years. Its owners are looking for ways to modernize the resort to entice Colorado-bound skiers to Taos, where the snow is often just as deep and the terrain just as extreme as any found in Colorado. Part of the answer to that problem, says Taos Ski Valley Chief Operating Officer Gordon Briner, is to build a new ski lift — the Mainstreet Lift — to the summit of Kachina Peak, replace the resort’s 20 year-old fixed-grip lifts with modern high-speed detachable lifts and clear new gladed terrain on forested slopes. Carson National Forest is fast-tracking its environmental review of the development plans, and those worried about the resort expansion’s potential impacts to wilderness, wildlife and water are beginning to raise their voices...more

Farm Bureau Hints Facebook Paid $8.5M For

Farmers and ranchers with ties to the American Farm Bureau Federation may want to call the nonprofit and see if it happens to be doing anything special. Farm Bureau should have more than a few dollars to spare, since it turns out the sale of to Facebook probably netted it around $8.5 million. As you might remember, the transaction was announced in November, and Mark Zuckerberg made it sound rather insignificant (and funny) by stating, "The Farm Bureau has agreed to give us and we in return have agreed to not sell farm subsidies." This afternoon, though, a Reuters article reported, "At their annual meeting in Atlanta, Farm Bureau officials on Tuesday said the organization earned $8.5 million by selling a couple of domain names but is barred from identifying the buyer."...more

Zebras killed: One sad tale’s gray areas

File this one under “D” for “Damn Shame All Around.” I refer to the recent shooting of three Hearst Ranch zebras on the Fiscalini Green Valley Ranch south of Cambria. The incident has now gone viral, having been picked up by national and international news agencies, so perhaps the barest of bones reconstruction of the incident is necessary...Although a member of the horse family, zebras can be savage fighters; that makes sense if you remember that the species is from Africa and has had to evolve in a world fraught with lions and crocodiles. Their genetic code has developed to the point that they will bolt at the sight of movement or shadows — and those runs can be up to 40 mph. As for temperament, zoos consider them vicious animals that will kick or bite a zookeeper on a whim. There’s a point to be made that the herd of zebras varies in number through the years because members of the herd periodically seem to vanish. As a free-ranging species, they don’t always honor fences, a fact even Hearst acknowledges. And if you’ve followed the 300-plus comments posted on the original story, you’ll find that there are North Coast ranchers who have been dealing with zebras on their property for years, alleging that when they call the Hearst Ranch to come and get the animals and fix the fences, their complaints are met with deaf ears. Other questions: Was Fiscalini breaking the law when he killed the animals? Not according to Lt. Todd Toggnazini of the state Department of Fish and Game. Zebras are considered domestic animals and don’t fall under Fish and Game ordinances. Are the Hearsts responsible for maintaining the integrity of the fencing of their 83,000-acre San Simeon ranch? Without question. Not only maintaining it, but building it higher and stronger if need be to keep their animals on their property...more

Hog farmers reach back for original pig

I'll be honest: The words "Give Mama a kiss" were not what I was expecting to hear from rancher Valerie Fogel. At least not at that moment. She was leaning over a wall and puckering up for an unlikely object of affection. He answers to the name of Lloydie, and he's a 300-pound Russian wild boar, complete with a bruising heft, primordial snout, an impressive pair of tusks, a coat of espresso-colored bristles and an enthusiastic snort. Although he may not look the part, Lloydie is the Brad Pitt of Money Creek Buffalo Ranch, a prize stud who sires a steady stream of equally prized animals. Heritage breeds are all the rage among the nation's ever-growing number of pork aficionados, and nothing epitomizes this blast-to-porcine-past greater than the beasts on this fascinating Houston, Minn., spread...more

Song Of The Day #483

This morning Ranch Radio brings you Charlie Linville and his group performing Yes You Did.

Peter King, Leading Republican, To Introduce Strict Gun-Control Legislation

Rep. Peter King, a Republican from New York, is planning to introduce legislation that would make it illegal to bring a gun within 1,000 feet of a government official, according to a person familiar with the congressman's intentions. King is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. The proposed law follows the Saturday shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and a federal judge that left six dead, including the judge, and 14 wounded. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the nation's most outspoken gun-control advocates, is backing King's measure and is expected to put the weight of his pro-gun-control organization behind it. In 2009, Bloomberg's pro-gun-control organization specified 40 ways President Obama could rein in illegal gun use without passing any new legislation. At a press event in Manhattan on Tuesday, Bloomberg added three steps to the list, including revamping the system of federal background checks on gun buyers, sharing information between gun background check databases, and appointing a head of the federal law enforcement agency responsible for controlling gun crime, which has operated without a director for almost five years...more

So what is the Republican position on the 2nd Amendment?

The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed...except within a thousand feet of a Republican

That apparently is the view of the gentleman appointed by the new Republican House Speaker to head the Homeland Security Committee.

Better hope he doesn't get within a thousand feet of your home or your land.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Spill commission asks Obama to consider executive action on drilling

President Obama has asked his staff to look into executive actions that could help make offshore oil drilling safer. In an exclusive interview with The Hill, the co-chairman of the national commission investigating the BP oil spill said Obama told staff to look into possible executive actions during a Tuesday meeting with commission members and key administration officials at the White House.  The commission's final report, issued Tuesday, lays out specific steps the administration and Congress should take to prevent future spills. The report has revived talk of passing oil-spill response legislation, but two senior House Republicans have given a cool response to the recommendations. Former Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), the commission co-chairman, told The Hill that commission members made the case to Obama that the administration has the authority to begin instituting a number of important safety measures. Graham, who outlined items in the report that could be addressed through executive action, said Obama instructed his staff to “analyze” the areas in which the administration can move forward without action from Congress...more

And now what are all those Republicans who supported "executive action" under Bush II gonna do?

High court hears state water fight

Attorneys from Montana and Wyoming squared off before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday in a cross-border dispute over how they share the region’s scarce water supplies. Montana has accused its southern neighbor of taking too much water from the Tongue and Powder rivers, breaking a 1950 agreement between the states. But justices Monday voiced skepticism when Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock said new irrigation practices had put Wyoming in violation of the agreement. “The beneficial use is that use by which the water supply is depleted. Well, the use here is irrigation,” Chief Justice John Roberts said as Bullock was presenting his argument. “It doesn’t say irrigation up to the technological development in 1950. ... And if they get better at it so they use more (water), well, that’s too bad for you.” The issue before the court centered on a claim that Wyoming has been consuming more water due to irrigation advances such as center-pivot sprinklers. Those sprinklers allow farmers to use water more efficiently, by increasing the amount that goes directly to their crops. But they also mean less surplus water comes off of fields — decreasing the “return flow” into rivers that flow downstream to Montana. Roberts noted that Western water laws lean toward “first come, first serve” — which gives priority to those who hold the earliest water claim. However, several justices said Monday they didn’t immediately see an equitable solution to the dispute. The court will rule later this year...more

Secretary Salazar: Lost in the Wilderness

As noted, the Order instructs the agency to develop a Manual and/or Handbook within 60 days that "defines and clarifies" the process for inventory and management of Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC). The Order was conveniently accompanied by a draft Wilderness Inventory Manual. The Department of Interior, in a noteworthy act of efficiency in governance, has ordered its subservient agency, BLM, to prepare "policy guidance" while simultaneously offering a helpful suggestion as to the specific content that said guidance might contain. The draft Manual is available here. The draft Manual gives BLM State Directors direction to fully fund and implement the policy and in addition direction to review decisions made under the new policy. It directs BLM Field Office Managers to maintain a Wilderness inventory on a "continuing basis" regardless of how many past Wilderness inventories have been completed. It also directs each Field Office to update its Wilderness inventory whenever it updates its Land Use Plans (Resource Management Plan, or "RMP"), acquires additional lands or whenever a project has the potential to impair Wilderness characteristics. It directs managers to update the Wilderness inventory when "[t]he public or the BLM identifies wilderness characteristics as an issue during the scoping in a National Environmental Policy Act analysis." The draft Manual defines the Wilderness Inventory Procedures that guide how BLM employees determine if lands posses wilderness characteristics, and what criteria to use in making key decisions in that review. It also includes definitions of key terms as well as sample forms and documentation that will be included in the "permanent documentation file" for each "LWC" or Wild Lands area. The process will result in the identification of "Lands with Wilderness Characteristics" (LWC) that will be incorporated into all land use decision making. The decision to designate them as "Wild Lands," and focus management on Wilderness protection, will be made via the land use planning process. The Order leaves some discretion to the State Director and to Field Offices, who may elect to go with the existing Land Use Plan, assuming it contains a Wilderness inventory and review, or they may opt to conduct a separate, additional review...more

A summary and discussion of the issue from the Blue Ribbon Coalition.

Investigators: Poison killed Colorado wolf

Toxicology tests show a gray wolf that strayed from Montana into Colorado where it was found dead in 2009 was killed by Compound 1080, a poison that is banned in Colorado, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Monday. The agency is seeking the public's help to pinpoint the source. Compound 1080, or sodium fluoroacetate, was commonly used to control coyotes, foxes and rodents until the U.S. banned it in 1972, but the rule has been modified. Today its only legal use is in collars used to protect sheep and goats from coyotes, and only in certain states. Colorado is not one of them. It's possible people who had the poison on hand before 1972 are still holding on to it, said Steve Oberholtzer, special agent in charge for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Mountain-Prairie Region. "That's what we're hoping to find: who has it and who's still using it," Oberholtzer said. Investigators suspect the wolf ingested the poison near where she was found, near Rio Blanco County Road 60 on April 6, 2009. Officers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Colorado Division of Wildlife said they could not find any evidence of traps, poison baits or other potential causes of death in the area or other spots she visited before her death...more

The .22 Caliber Sneeze: Man Ejects Bullet From Nose

Darco Sangermano, 28, was hit in the temple by the .22 calibre bullet while wandering with his girlfriend through Naples – a city in Italy notorious for its rowdy New Year celebrations, often involving firearms and powerful fireworks. The bullet went through the right side of his head, behind his eye socket and lodged in his nasal passage but miraculously did no serious damage. Bleeding heavily, he was taken to hospital in an ambulance shortly after midnight, but while waiting to be seen by doctors he sneezed and the bullet shot out of his right nostril...more

Bison Ranchers Bullish; E. coli Question Remains

America's bison ranchers are bullish about 2011. They are coming off their best year ever, with prices in the range of $3.25 per pound for slaughter bulls being about 35 percent higher than a year earlier. Consumer demand drove 92,000 bison to slaughter in 2010, up about 77 percent over the number processed in 2009. America's bison herd, stretched across every state, numbers about 500,000 head. Bison ranchers are competing this week in the national bison competition at the National Western Stock Show now underway in Denver. The National Gold Trophy Bison Sale is scheduled for Saturday, Jan 12. The only part of the bison story that is not filled with optimism is the recall last June 30 of 33 tons of bison meat by Henderson, CO-based Rocky Mountain Natural Meats. It remains a current recall, according to the USDA's Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS). A cluster of five O157 cases in Colorado were linked by FSIS to ground bison products in the recall. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta has not published a report on the outbreak, which also included a victim in New York State. Unlike beef and pork slaughterhouses, bison processors "volunteer" for USDA inspection and must pay for the service. However, bison is not subjected to the same type of E. coli O157:H7 testing, as is the routine in beef slaughterhouses...more

You wanna talk storm? 1907's severe winter shaped our politics

The brutal winter storm that lashed much of Alberta over the weekend was certainly nasty, but as bad as that storm surely was I'm guessing it didn't rearrange the provincial economy or forever alter the political landscape. The storm that swept over the province in January 1907 did all of that and is still recalled (just barely) in Alberta folklore as "the Winter of the Blue Snow" -- it was so devastatingly cold. But it did more than just set temperature records. It marked the end of cattle ranching's ascendancy on the southern Alberta rangelands, and cemented in place a Calgary-Edmonton political divide which is very much alive more than a century later. The awful winter that reshaped the fledgling province began with a series of storms through the later part of 1906 (much like this winter), making for heavier than usual snow cover and a picturesque Christmas. By New Year, the ranchers who represented Alberta's most powerful industry knew they were in for a tough time -- from the Battle River southwards cattle were already starving -- but they had no idea just how bad it would get.
Towards the end of the month there was the usual January thaw, with some cowboys reportedly in shirt sleeves as they rode out to assess the damage done to the vast herds of cattle that dominated the southern part of the province. Then on January 29, the worst storm of the winter arrived like an express train, obliterating visibility in minutes and sending the mercury plunging. Cowboys and entire herds disappeared into the howling whiteout, many not to be seen again until the spring melt revealed a gruesome toll of death and destruction. There were reports of thousands of cattle vainly roaming the country in search of a patch of bare grass. When the trains resumed, passengers reported thousands of cattle lying dead along the track fences between Medicine Hat and Calgary...more

Song Of The Day #482

Ranch Radio continues with Western Swing Week and brings you Won't You Wait Another Year by the Light Crust Doughboys.

I love the fiddle breaks in this song. See if you don't catch yourself humming it through the day.

150th Anniversary of the Civil War

2011 will mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the causes and long term impact of the war are still being debated. The Westerner will from time to time post articles about this momentous event in our nation's history.

Let the debate begin.

N.Y. won’t fund Civil War ceremonies

New York state contributed 448,000 troops and $150 million to the Union cause during the Civil War, not to mention untold tons of supplies, food, guns, and munitions. But with the 150th anniversary of the war’s start just months away, New York state government has not produced a single dollar to commemorate a conflict it played such a major role in winning. New York isn’t alone. Other states saddled with similar budget woes are unable or unwilling to set aside taxpayer funds for historic reenactments and museum exhibits when public employees are being laid off and services slashed...more

Area historians reflect on day Florida seceded from union 150 years ago

Hank Hendry has the Civil War in his blood. The Fort Myers attorney’s downtown office sits off Main Street, on a piece of land that would have been within the wooden walls of the original United States military fort built during the Seminole Wars. It is also the very fort that his great, great grandfather, Capt. Francis Asbury Hendry, attacked with his Confederate “Cow Cavalry” during the Battle of Fort Myers — the southernmost land skirmish of the Civil War. In addition, Hendry has a relative on his mother’s side who was a member of the Union Army, fighting with a regiment from Ohio. Along with the American Revolution and World War II, the Civil War remains one of the most fascinating and controversial periods in American history. For Civil War buffs, especially Civil War buffs from Florida, Monday marks a unique milestone in that history — the 150th anniversary, or Sesquicentennial, of Florida’s secession from the Union. “It’s not a celebration. It’s an observance,” said Richard Macomber, president of the Lee County Civil War Roundtable. “You don’t celebrate war. Actually, it was a sad thing that it came to war. But it was an important event, so it needs to be remembered.” On Jan. 10, 1861, the Florida Legislature gathered in Tallahassee and voted 62 to 7 to take the state out of the Union. Florida was the third state to secede, following the lead of South Carolina, which left the Union on Dec. 20, 1860, and Mississippi, which seceded on Jan. 9, 1861...more

U.S. Civil War: The South rises again

They held a ball in Charleston South Carolina last week to celebrate the onset of the bloodiest war in U.S. history. Men in frock coats and militia uniforms joined women in silk hoop skirts to sip mint juleps, as a band called “Unreconstructed” played “Dixie” and a squad of historical reenactors staged a replay of the Dec. 20, 1860 signing of South Carolina’s Ordinance of Secession, which severed ties with the Union and paved the way for the American Civil War. The 150th anniversary of South Carolina’s secession is the first in a long list of Civil War memorials scheduled to be staged over the next four-and-a-half years that could end up re-opening old war wounds. Festive and defiant, in character with the Old South, Charleston’s Secession Ball sparked a revival of an old debate about whether the most deadly conflict in U.S. history, which claimed a total of 620,000 lives, was fought over slavery or states’ rights. It also has echoes of contemporary U.S. politics, where organizers of the ball — sounding like a collection of red state Republicans and Tea Party movement supporters, say it was “a way to honour the brave South Carolina men who stood up to an over-domineering federal government, high tariffs and northern states that wanted to take the country in an economic direction that was not best for the South.” Critics, most of whom were black, stood outside in the cold during the ball, holding a candlelight vigil and signs that read “Don’t Celebrate Slavery and Terrorism.” They sang: “We Shall Overcome.”...more

The Slavery Blitzkrieg Is About To Commence

The truth is that, had Southerners only been interested in keeping their slaves, their states could have just stayed in the Union. Frank Conner, author of “The South Under Siege 1830-2000” a book I highly recommend, has stated: “The Southern legislators could do their math; thus they knew full well that the only truly-safe way to protect the institution of slavery would be for the Southern states to remain in the Union and simply refuse to ratify any proposed constitutional amendment to emancipate the slaves. For slavery was specifically protected by the Constitution, and that protection could be removed only by an amendment ratified by three-quarters of the states. In 1860 there were 15 slave states and 18 free states. Had the number of slave states remained constant, 27 more free states would have had to be admitted into the Union--for a total of 60 states--before an abolition amendment could be ratified. That was not likely to occur anytime soon.” That would have been 60 states, which we do not even have at this point--regardless of Mr. Obama telling us we now have 57. As far as the slave trade, lots of “good” folks in New England made lots of money from it. Mr. Conner wrote in his book that: “Soon the slave trade had become one of the major factors in the economies of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and--to a lesser extent--Connecticut. (New York City got in on the trade peripherally a bit later)…Many, many entrepreneurs in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York earned great fortunes from the slave trade; those served as one of the main foundations of wealth in the Northeast…The New Englanders and New Yorkers engaging in the slave trade were--even in their own time--exceedingly cruel men.” Interesting that we never read about these “gentlemen” in our “history” books. All we read about are the New England abolitionists and their valiant efforts to end slavery. Actually, those efforts started in the South, but you don’t read about that either...more

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Computers That See You and Keep Watch Over You

...The enthusiasm for such systems extends well beyond the nation’s prisons. High-resolution, low-cost cameras are proliferating, found in products like smartphones and laptop computers. The cost of storing images is dropping, and new software algorithms for mining, matching and scrutinizing the flood of visual data are progressing swiftly. A computer-vision system can watch a hospital room and remind doctors and nurses to wash their hands, or warn of restless patients who are in danger of falling out of bed. It can, through a computer-equipped mirror, read a man’s face to detect his heart rate and other vital signs. It can analyze a woman’s expressions as she watches a movie trailer or shops online, and help marketers tailor their offerings accordingly. Computer vision can also be used at shopping malls, schoolyards, subway platforms, office complexes and stadiums. All of which could be helpful — or alarming. “Machines will definitely be able to observe us and understand us better,” said Hartmut Neven, a computer scientist and vision expert at Google. “Where that leads is uncertain.” Despite such qualms, computer vision is moving into the mainstream. With this technological evolution, scientists predict, people will increasingly be surrounded by machines that can not only see but also reason about what they are seeing, in their own limited way...more

Court OKs searches of cell phones without warrant

The California Supreme Court allowed police Monday to search arrestees' cell phones without a warrant, saying defendants lose their privacy rights for any items they're carrying when taken into custody. Under U.S. Supreme Court precedents, "this loss of privacy allows police not only to seize anything of importance they find on the arrestee's body ... but also to open and examine what they find," the state court said in a 5-2 ruling. The majority, led by Justice Ming Chin, relied on decisions in the 1970s by the nation's high court upholding searches of cigarette packages and clothing that officers seized during an arrest and examined later without seeking a warrant from a judge. The dissenting justices said those rulings shouldn't be extended to modern cell phones that can store huge amounts of data. Monday's decision allows police "to rummage at leisure through the wealth of personal and business information that can be carried on a mobile phone or handheld computer merely because the device was taken from an arrestee's person," said Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, joined in dissent by Justice Carlos Moreno. They argued that police should obtain a warrant - by convincing a judge that they will probably find incriminating evidence - before searching a cell phone...more

Full Frontal Nudity Doesn’t Make Us Safer: Abolish the TSA

The Republicans control the House of Representatives and are bracing for a long battle over the President’s health care proposal. In the spirit of bipartisanship and sanity, I propose that the first thing on the chopping block should be an ineffective organization that wastes money, violates our rights, and encourages us to make decisions that imperil our safety. I’m talking about the Transportation Security Administration. Bipartisan support should be immediate. For fiscal conservatives, it’s hard to come up with a more wasteful agency than the TSA. For privacy advocates, eliminating an organization that requires you to choose between a nude body scan or genital groping in order to board a plane should be a no-brainer. But won’t that compromise safety? I doubt it. The airlines have enormous sums of money riding on passenger safety, and the notion that a government bureaucracy has better incentives to provide safe travels than airlines with billions of dollars worth of capital and goodwill on the line strains credibility...more

Politician Objects to Being Treated 'Like Everybody Else' by the TSA

Members of Congress are the representatives of we the people – at least if you believe your high school civics teacher – but, boy, do they hate being treated like us mere citizens. Exploiting the recent tragic shooting Arizona, as politicians are wont to do, Rep. James Clyburn, a member of the House Democratic leadership from South Carolina, took to the airwaves to opine about how the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) treats some lawmakers like – gasp! – their constituents. “I really believe that that is the place where we feel the most ill at ease, is going through airports,” Clyburn said on Fox News Sunday. “We’ve had some incidents where TSA authorities think that congresspeople should be treated like everybody else,” he said. “Well, the fact of the matter is, we are held to a higher standard in so many other areas, and I think we need to take a hard look at exactly how the TSA interact with members of Congress.” As The New York Times reported in November, the same lawmakers who tell their constituents that a public groping and/or nudie X-ray scan at the airport are the cost of freedom are not “subjected to the hassles of ordinary passengers.” What Clyburn is complaining – nay, whining – about is not that congressmen like him are singled out for special treatment; it's that sometimes they're not. Disgustingly, Clyburn chose the immediate aftermath of a horrific massacre to argue the TSA needs to do a better job of catering to privileged folks like him...more

Idaho Carries More Clout - Position Important To Entire West

Idaho Republican Mike Simpson is now one of the leading voices in the U.S. House on issues effecting the environment, national forests and public lands. With the change in power this week, Rep. Simpson takes over as chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment. Simpson says the subcommittee plays a critical role in Idaho, a state where nearly two-thirds of the land is owned by the federal government and managed by agencies like the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Simpson says those agencies must be good neighbors and promises to make sure they act effectively and efficiently for Idahoans. He says a top priority will be curtailing the growing budget of the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration. AP

This Subcommittee can do more to thwart Obama's environmental agenda  in the short run than any other entity in Congress. By controlling appropriations they can direct or restrict BLM or any other agency under their jurisdiction.

As an example they could insert language in the appropriations bill such as:
None of these monies shall be spent to inventory or designate Wild Lands as defined in Secretarial Order 3310
Language of that type would halt the program in its tracks.

Now let's see if the Republicans really want to overturn this snub at Congressional authority and attack on multiple use of federal lands.

Do they really want to remove the green shackles on the West or not?

Otherwise, their press releases and oversight hearings will just be political theater.

THE WESTERNER will be watching

Additional potential obstacles to development: new wilderness designations

U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar recently issued Secretarial Order 3310 directing the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to "designate appropriate areas with wilderness characteristics under its jurisdiction as 'Wild Lands' and to manage them to protect their wilderness values." The Secretarial Order overturns without mentioning a Bush Administration's policy which that prohibited BLM from unilaterally protecting lands it finds have "wilderness qualities." The Bush Administration policy was based on a 2003 settlement with the State of Utah which barred BLM from designating so-called "Wilderness Study Areas" ("WSAs"). Though BLM's Congressional authority to establish WSAs had expired in 1991, BLM had continued doing so until the settlement with Utah. Because criteria for characterizing lands as having "wilderness qualities" is highly subjective and can be made with relatively little Congressional oversight, the new Secretarial Order could make it significantly harder to site renewable energy projects, transmission lines, pipelines, and other "greenfield" projects on BLM land for the foreseeable future...more

King Coal’s Staying Power

Today, about half of America's and the world's electricity is generated by coal, the substance which, since it fueled the Industrial Revolution, has been a crucial source of energy. Over the last eight years, it has been the world's fastest-growing fuel. The New York Times recently reported ("Booming China Is Buying Up World's Coal," Nov. 22) about China's ravenous appetite for coal, which is one reason coal's price has doubled in five years. Half of the 6 billion tons of coal burned globally each year are burned in China. A spokesman for the Sierra Club, which in recent years has helped to block construction of 139 proposed coal-fired plants in America, says, "This is undermining everything we've accomplished." America, say environmentalists, is exporting global warming. Can something really be exported if it supposedly affects the entire planet? Never mind. America has partners in this crime against nature, if such it is. One Australian company proposes to build the Cowlitz facility; another has signed a $60 billion contract to supply Chinese power plants with Australian coal...more

Editorial: Herger bill brings sense to road plan

...Nobody, by this point, is arguing for lawless off-roading. At the same time, the Forest Service’s plans are unreasonably restrictive — barring the use of quads and dirt bikes on many remote backcountry roads on the argument that they are “highways.” And while it’s closed or broken up many popular recreational routes, users have been left with the vague but frankly unreliable promise that someday the agency will consider additions. Herger’s bill would specify the commonsense point that, when it comes to off-roading, rough dirt roads through the backwoods (maintenance-level 3 roads, in Forest Service parlance) are not “highways.” It would also require further review of the use of existing “unauthorized routes” — many of which are long-popular trails, though not officially part of the Forest Service road system, rendered illegal by the Travel Management Rule — before the travel maps would take effect. This legislation would tweak, not scrap, the Travel Management Rule, and it would do so in a way that would heed the people who live nearest and use the forests. Not coincidentally, it would remove the largest beef that is driving many Northern California counties toward expensive litigation with the Forest Service. It’s good to see Herger making it a priority, and we hope this sensible bill gets a fair and quick hearing in the 112th Congress...more

New rule under fire from N.M. Cattle Growers Association

The New Mexico Cattle Growers Association filed a motion Friday with a state water-quality board to stop a new rule protecting headwater streams in designated national forest wilderness areas, even though ranchers are exempt from the regulation. The association says the rule is another avenue through which environmental groups can sue the U.S. Forest Service over grazing on public forest lands in New Mexico. Environmental advocates with WildEarth Guardians say the rule designating 199 perennial headwater streams as Outstanding National Resource Waters is a hard-won, common-sense regulation to protect stream quality. The rule was approved by the state Water Quality Control Commission Dec. 14 in a 7-3 vote. The motion asks the commission to review the designation with an eye toward discarding parts, or all, of it. The designation protects 700 miles of streams, 29 lakes and 6,000 acres of wetlands in federal wilderness areas in New Mexico. Caren Cowan, executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, said the rule doesn't really protect grazing permittees. "The rule puts the onus for compliance on the U.S. Forest Service. This creates another 'cause of action' environmental groups can use to sue the Forest Service for noncompliance."...more

Threats to At-Risk Species in America’s Private Forests: A Forests on the Edge Report

Highlights/Summary/Key Findings
  • Over 4,600 native plant and animal species associated with private forests in the United States are at risk of decline or extinction. Private forests provide habitat for 60% of all at-risk species in the United States.
  • Watersheds where increased housing density in rural private forests is likely to contribute to the continued decline of the largest numbers of forest-associated at-risk species are located primarily in the East but also in parts of the West and Southwest.
  • Watersheds in which forest habitats for the greatest variety of at-risk species are likely to be affected by wildfire are found in the Southeast, much of the Southwest, and along California’s Sierra Nevada range.
  • Watersheds where private forests providing habitat for the greatest variety of at-risk species are most threatened by insects and disease are located throughout the East and also in the Southwest and in northern California.
  • Conservation actions can reduce impacts on wildlife and plant species already at risk, while supporting compatible development of housing. A few examples include:
    • Wildlife tunnels under highways allowing safe passage;
    • Increased awareness about negative impacts of free-ranging cats and other pets; and
    • Clustered housing developments that incorporate environmental considerations and help maintain open space.
  • This report updates methodology and findings of a previous Forests on the Edge study of development impacts on at-risk species habitats.

You can view the report here.

Song Of The Day #481

Ranch Radio continues with Western Swing Week but we'll slow it down a little bit with the Hi-Flyers pickin' out Reno Street Blues.

15 headless bodies in Acapulco is new Mexico violence record

Police discovered the bodies of 15 decapitated men outside a shopping mall in Acapulco early Saturday, bringing the death toll from a day of raging drug violence in the Pacific resort to 27, a top official said. The headless bodies were found on a walkway outside the Playa Sendero shopping mall, about a mile from the sweep of high-rise hotels on the scenic bay that made Acapulco Mexico's first famous beach resort. It was the largest single group of decapitation victims ever found in Mexico. Guerrero state prosecutor David Augusto Sotelo told the official Notimex news agency that the daily death toll in Acapulco had risen to 27 victims. A statement by the Public Security office in Guerrero state said police received a call at 12:44 a.m. alerting them to a burning vehicle near Playa Sendero, a popular two-year-old shopping center with an indoor ice rink. When state police arrived, they discovered a white Nissan SUV on fire, and four other abandoned vehicles, one with its motor running, the statement said. Police also found the beheaded corpses _ and, some distance away, their heads, piled together. Nearby, two white posters with black lettering bore messages from a drug cartel...more

Al-Qaeda bomb manual published on internet

Al-Qaeda has produced a new bomb-making manual in English with the aim of encouraging self-starting terrorists to launch their own attacks. The 102-page manual, seen by the Daily Telegraph and available on the internet, explains how to find ingredients from everyday sources and how to mix explosives, including those used in the July 7 bombings and the recent ink cartridge bomb found at East Midlands airport. It has been endorsed by two leading al-Qaeda strategists and marks an explicit attempt by the terrorist group to encourage followers to launch their own attacks, without training. MI5 has been increasingly concerned about what Jonathan Evans, the director general, referred to as “determined amateurs” who may radicalise themselves over the internet and learn bomb-making skills without ever coming into touch with al-Qaeda trainers. Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, an expert in radicalisation at King’s College, London, said the book marked a radical increase in the threat because it was among “the most lengthy and sophisticated manuals of its kind.” Entitled, “The Explosives Course” it says: “This book is aimed for brothers who have a sufficient understanding of the risks in this – both the actual sensitive task of making explosives and of its security risks." The manual lays out the basic equipment needed to set up a bomb-factory and some essential elements of chemistry in order to understand the instructions. Then it explains how to source the ingredients at supermarkets, garden centres and pharmacies, and how to construct homemade detonators, primary and secondary charges...more

Monday, January 10, 2011

'Watershed year' expected for Mexican gray wolves

Another year has passed and the effort to return the endangered Mexican gray wolf to the Southwest is no closer to marking success than when wildlife officials first set out with their lofty goals decades ago. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest director Benjamin Tuggle says this year is going to be different. He's predicting a "watershed year." At the top of Tuggle's list is bringing together scientists, conservationists, ranchers and others to develop a much-needed roadmap for wolf recovery. Tuggle expects the team to have a plan ready for public review in about a year. Wildlife managers also are getting ready for the annual wolf survey along the Arizona-New Mexico border. It begins Jan. 19. They're hopeful they will spot more wolves this year. Last year's survey turned up 42 wolves. AP

Whenever fedzilla predicts a "watershed year", that usually means they'll be shedding ranchers.

U.S. proposes major refuge to protect wildlife, Lake Okeechobee

In a significant commitment to clean polluted runoff before it enters Lake Okeechobee, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Friday that the federal government would create a 150,000-acre refuge south of Orlando. About 50,000 acres would be purchased by the federal government, and the remaining 100,000 would be protected through conservation easements on private land, Salazar said Friday afternoon before delivering the keynote address at the annual Everglades Coalition conference. In a role reversal of sorts, the federal government is taking the initiative to buy land for Everglades restoration that had been lacking in previous years. Still unknown is how engaged the state government will be. Under former Gov. Charlie Crist, the state proposed a huge land purchase south of Lake Okeechobee but Gov. Rick Scott has opposed that approach. Also unknown is how much Salazar's proposal will cost and where the money will come from. Also unknown is how much Salazar's proposal will cost and where the money will come from. Efforts to restore the natural flow of the Kissimmee River between Orlando and Lake Okeechobee have been ongoing for decades. The goal is to remove nutrient pollution from runoff from ranches, dairies and cities that have been polluting Lake Okeechobee. Salazar embraced what his office is calling a new national wildlife refuge and conservation area. It's based on buying easements from ranchers, which would allow ranching to continue while preserving wildlife habitat and allowing water storage and treatment. "That means that (the land) won't be developed, and it will continue to be maintained as a ranch," Salazar said. "I think from the point of view of a rancher, and I've been a rancher for a good part of my life, this is a way of preserving ranches not only for this generation but for future generations."...more

Lakes emit greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gas emissions from inland waters are greater than previously thought, a Swedish-led study has found. As a result, nature's ability to absorb human emissions may be overstated, according to a study published in the journal Science. "In the debate, one often hears that the natural sinks can offset human fossil fuel emissions. Our results show that one cannot rely on it fully," said Professor David Bastviken of Linköping University, who led the study. Inland waters, including lakes, reservoirs, streams and rivers, are often substantial methane sources in the terrestrial landscape. However, they are not yet well integrated in global greenhouse gas budgets, wrote Bastviken. Data from 474 freshwater ecosystems and the most recent global water area estimates indicate that methane emissions from freshwaters correspond to 25 percent of all carbon dioxide, the study found...more

New plan out for Gila motorized travel

The Gila National Forest responded to sportsmen's comments and concerns voiced last fall and has developed a new preferred alternative for its motorized travel plan. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement released recently lays out six alternatives, ranging from the status quo to substantial changes in where motorized vehicles can be used. The Forest Service's preferred option — Alternative G — falls near the middle. It would reduce redundant routes and the total mileage of open roads in the forest to about 3,300 miles, but allows the network of ATV-width trails to expand. The preferred option also shows the Forest Service has listened to hunters on the issue of off-road motorized game retrieval, according to the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. Alternative G would not allow unlimited motorized retrieval, but would instead permit game retrieval up to 300 feet on either side of the road in areas where motorized dispersed camping or woodcutting is allowed. This follows the recommendation of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and a majority of sportsmen's comments. There will be open house meetings to learn more about the alternatives. Forest Service personnel will be on hand to answer questions. The following are the dates for the open house events: * Thursday, Jan. 13, Sierra County Fair Building in Truth or Consequences, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. * Saturday, Jan. 15, Grant Count Convention Center, Silver City, from 10a.m. to 4 p.m. * Thursday, Jan. 20, Catron County Fairgrounds, Reserve, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. * Saturday, Jan. 29, Hotel Encanto, Las Cruces, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m...more

Experts weigh in on good and bad of prairie dogs

They weigh just 1 to 3 pounds and try to keep their presence on the down-low, but that’s not stopping area ranchers and land owners from grumbling about prairie dogs. The burrowing rodents known for their propensity to dig vast underground tunnel systems, eat grass and communicate through chirping barks are a cause for a continuing conflict between ranchers and land owners who fear prairie dogs damage their property and advocates — and even one developer — who see benefits from the prairie dog. Though numbering as many as 400 million in one 25,000-square mile “town” in West Texas, their numbers have dwindled since European descendants settled the area. They now compose only about 1 percent of their former numbers and take up only about 1 percent of their former habitat, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife. Though not a federally protected species, Driskill said she believes the prairie dog should be protected by conserving prairie land because of their beneficial role in their ecosystems. James Glasson, a 40-year-veteran veterinarian and owner of the Lockney Veterinary Clinic, said it’s three or four times a year on average that he’s asked to treat a horse whose leg fell down a prairie dog hole. Often the fall just bruises their leg, though sometimes the leg is broken, he said. “If they break a leg, they’re done,” he said, explaining the animals usually are euthanized after such a blow. Farr, who was raised on a 270-section ranch west of San Angelo, said prairie dog holes were an all-too-familiar hazard for him when herding cattle and sheep. He recalled one time he was herding cattle when the horse he rode tripped in a hole. He was thrown off the horse and into the ground. The horse, its leg crippled, proceeded to land on him, giving him a broken shoulder blade. “We hated prairie dogs,” he said. “And that’s the kind of thing that happens with prairie dog holes.”...more

Four...hundred...million...and they are still not satisfied.

Agriculture’s Incredible Shrinking Footprint

American agriculture has a great story to tell of increasing productivity while at the same time decreasing its environmental footprint. The first of the Town Hall Forums held Saturday at AG CONNECT Expo in the Successful Farming Innovations Theater was “The Shrinking Environmental Footprint of Agriculture” which was moderated by former National Resources Conservation Service chief Bruce Knight, a third-generation rancher, farmer and conservationist from South Dakota. He says he’s amazed by the progress in agriculture just in his lifetime is amazing. “I think about my own father coming home from World War II and still using horses to put up hay. I got started using 16 foot equipment. Now we’re using GPS guidance systems. It is an incredible adventure for all of us in agriculture.” Two excellent presenters provided some good information for people in agriculture to know and share about how American farmers and ranchers continue to produce more food while using less natural resources. Karen Scanlon, executive director of the Conservation Technology Information Center, talked about advancements in row crop production. “It’s fortifying for farmers and those who support farmers to recognize that there have been impressive achievements in the last few decades and it’s also encouragement that we can continue to do more.” Dr. Jude Capper of Washington State University, a livestock carbon footprint expert, talked about the importance of looking at the footprint in terms of the production, not the animal. “Compared to 1944, now we have bigger cows, they eat more feed, but they also give more milk, so milk yield per cow has increase four fold since 1944,” she explains. “We’ve cut cow numbers by 60 percent, but we also make 59 percent more milk, so that cut the total carbon footprint per gallon of milk, which is huge.”...more

Audit: $4B in USDA Stimulus Loans May Be Erroneous

An internal Agriculture Department report says the government may have given out more than $4 billion in stimulus housing loans to ineligible borrowers. A preliminary report from the USDA inspector general made available Friday says a sample of 100 loans out of 81,000 showed that almost a third were given to ineligible borrowers - including some with income that exceeded the program limits, others who already owned homes and borrowers who purchased homes with swimming pools. The loans were paid for by the 2009 economic stimulus. The inspector general's report says the loans precluded other, eligible borrowers from receiving the help. Based on the sample results, the report estimates that 27,206 loans worth about $4 billion - or more than a third of those granted - could be ineligible. AP

High Prices Have U.S. Farmers Planting More Cotton

More American farmers are expected to plant cotton this year as prices remain high thanks to demand from the growing middle class in China and India and a short supply worldwide. Some of the biggest growth is expected in California, where planting had slipped to a low of 200,000 acres two years ago from 1.6 million acres in 1979. This year, California farmers are expected to plant 400,000 acres, said Mark Bagby, spokesman for Calcot, a marketing cooperative that represents 1,400 growers in California, Texas and New Mexico. Nearly all of that will be Pima cotton, the high-quality, extra-long fiber used in luxury sheets and towels. The commodity futures for cotton rose to historic highs in August, hitting $1.50 per pound, triple the price in 2008. Long-term cotton futures now hover around $1, but Pima prices are closer to $1.30...more

Don't say nay to horse play

The roots of horse and cattle tradition go back to the settling of southwest Louisiana in 1765, with the Dauterive Compact, signed by eight men, four of whom were Broussards, and all of whom were exiled French-Canadians. These men purchased a large herd of cattle from Comanche Indians and established the cattle industry in the future United States.  Les Vacheurs, The Cattle Ranchers of the Marsh is the subject of a talk by historian Dr. Ray Brassieur at Vermilionville on Tuesday, January 11, at 6:30 p.m. Joining him are Charles Broussard, a tenth-generation rancher who managed the Flying J Ranch in Vermilion Parish, Samuel Duplantis, another family rancher from Vermilion Parish and Glenda Schoeffler, who will share the cattle brands and other artistic renderings her father recreated, including those brands made for Free People of Color. The program is part of the series In Your Own Backyard, produced by the University of Louisiana Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism. For more information call 482-1320 or go to the CCET website.  Get ready for this talk by listening to Horse Play, a radio show by filmaker and folklorist Conni Castille. The show, which explores Cajun and Creole horse culture — trail rides, bush track racing, Mardi Gras courirs — that sprang from ranching on the prairies west of the Atchafalaya Basin, was originally broadcast on KRVS on Oct. 5, and is now available as a download on KRVS’ website...more

Repairing Hats and Leatherware is an Authentic Cowboy Business

Sometimes, a pair of boots or a favorite hat fits so well that, over the years, it becomes like an old friend. Parting with them is hard, especially if there are memories attached. Replacing them can be expensive. So, repair is an option. Bob Urbach helps people hold onto their favorite hats and shoes. He also takes care of people's saddles, bridles, purses and other leather items. It's the kind of Western business that you won't find too many of "down the hill." Urbach thinks he's the only person in nearby-Ramona who has hung out his shingle to do this kind of repair. His workshop in a cubicle in Ramona Business Barn on Main Street is like stepping into a cowboy's world. He has a steamer, to gently shape felt hats, which are made from the hair or fur of a variety of animals, such as rabbit. "A felt hat like this is so sturdy that you could dunk it in a water trough and it would hold up," he said. There's also a heavy sewing machine that will do fancy stitching on leather, and a variety of tools hang from the walls. Real skulls of a buffalo and a steer hang on the white walls. A glass case displays spurs. "I collect bits and spurs," Urbach said. "I also collect hats, like this Stetson from about 1929 or 1930. It's probably almost a 10-gallon." Urbach also sells hats made of woven palms from Mexico and Central America...more

Western Horseman Magazine features Tim Cox painting on cover of 75th Anniversary, Special Collector's Edition

The January 2011 issue of Western Horseman Magazine is a Special Collector’s Edition with a foldout cover featuring Tim Cox’s painting, Reflections of a Passing Day, which sold at the 45th annual Cowboy Artists of America Sale & Exhibition, held at Phoenix Art Museum last fall.

Tim’s painting was created to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Western Horseman, and his intent was to generate a feeling of reflection on the past, while at the same time, allowing one to relate both to the present and to the future. Inside, Jennifer Denison, Senior Editor, relates how Tim’s painting came to be, from concept to completion.

The special collector edition is full of interesting articles, which tell the role the magazine has played in the horse and ranching industries, as well as in the art world. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

Little cowboy: Calf roping passion of 7-year-old 'Rising Star'

He doesn't care for video games or all the standing around involved in playing baseball. About the only thing he watches on television is a DVD of the 1963 movie McClintock!, in which John Wayne plays a wealthy cattle rancher. Seven-year-old Clarke Gordon of Terry is a single-minded youngster who makes straight A's and already has his career picked out: Professional calf roper. "That's all that child cares about," says his mom, Delese. Clarke is a natural on a horse with a rope in his hands. He started riding by himself when he was 2 but has been roping only for a year or so. In late November at The Rising Stars Calf Roping championships in Duncan, Okla., he took home the winner's saddle for being the youngest competitor to rope and tie a calf in under a minute. He went two-for-three, scoring times of 25 and 37 seconds. The victory fueled his appetite for the sport even more. And so has this: Over the past couple of weeks, Clarke has learned how to get on his horse all by himself. "That's something you don't really think about, but for a 7-year-old, climbing up on a horse with no help is a tall order," says his uncle, Bart Brunson...more

Song Of The Day #480

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and since this will be a Western Swing Week, here is Adolph Hofner performing Come On And Swing Me.

The tune is on his Texas Western Swing and Polkas, a 22 track CD.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

All it took was a bomb squad
 by Julie Carter

Every hundred years or so, any old homestead inevitably becomes the destination for an "event." 

That, of course, requires cleaning up and cleaning out a century worth of valued "treasures" and piles of "I might need that" items.

A wedding was about to happen in the old horse barn at the Terrell Ranch in the Kansas Flint Hills. 

One hundred years of "treasures" and dust would need to be sorted, organized and tossed, or not. However, there must first be a place to put the items deemed worthy of saving.

The old tin garage next to the house was the perfect place to store the relocated treasures, but as you might imagine, first it must also be cleaned out.

Back in the 1950s, one could still buy dynamite at the local hardware store. Mr. Terrell, Sr., and his hired man used whatever good excuse they could contrive to blow up some of the geography around the ranch. 

Road clearing and building water tanks commonly led to the use of dynamite.

Just a kid at the time, Jim Terrell learned that whenever his father yelled, "Run like hell and get behind the truck!" it was a good idea to do so quickly because imminently rocks would be flying.
The dynamite, when not being used to change the terrain of the Kansas Flint Hills, was stored in the old tin garage. Yes, the one that was next to the house. 

Jim grew up and passed on the same warning to his son Jake, "Stay out of the corner of the old tin garage where the dynamite is stored." 

For 50 years, they both did just that. However, with Jake's wedding approaching, it was time to tackle the clean-up. 

Jim and Jake decided that before they began cleaning out the nuts, bolts, nails, tools, barbwire, pipe and other century old collections, they should venture into the forbidden corner of the old tin garage and get rid of the old dynamite.

They considered it prudent to get some expert advice on the procedure, so Jake called the county sheriff while Jim went off to town.

The next thing Jim knew, he was summoned back to the ranch while his son was hauled off to be interrogated. 

Every local law enforcement agency, fire department with their EMTs, along with the Wichita Bomb Squad and the FBI converged on the ranch.

It seemed very logical to friends and family that Jim's profile as a middle-aged, single white male, educated and living in an isolated, remote ranch house set off ripples of suspicion in Washington, D.C.

The two mobile bomb squad command center semi-trucks could not make it across the river to the ranch headquarters, so a table was confiscated and an elaborate bank of computers was set up on it while men in bomb-proof suits patrolled the area.

Finally the doors of the second command unit were open and out rolled the bomb robot.
Of course the robot had never heard Mr. Terrell, Sr.'s "Run like hell and get behind the truck!" or the "Stay out of the corner of the garage." warnings.

The robot boldly brought the case of old dynamite out of the garage, past all the nuts, bolts and nails (shrapnel as defined by the government) while the bomb squad made a bed of hay.

After the robot nested the crate in the hay, the men in the bomb suits doused it with diesel and set it afire - a high-tech solution for the situation such that it was.

The advice Jim and Jake sought was finally delivered. Told that the nitroglycerin had leaked into soil and contaminated the garage, they were instructed to burn it all down. 

Somewhere in Heaven, Jim's mother, Annabel, was undoubtedly smiling.The eyesore she always hated, not to mention one with dynamite in it, was going down, and the homestead was getting cleaned up for a very happy event. 

All it took was a bomb squad to get done what she never could.

Julie can be reached for comment at Visit her website at