Friday, January 21, 2011

Utah legislature to consider bill to challenge fed authority over public land

Utah Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman , is introducing legislation that he says would declare any new wild land designation from federal government null and void. Wimmer says that under the new legislation if there are "any further attempts" by the government to "lock up" Utah public lands it will not be recognized by the state of Utah. "And the bill goes further to say, that the sheriffs in the state, and it also includes the governor in this state, to do whatever they need to do to maintain access to those lands," he says. "There is no doubt, it is a direct challenge. It is a law that will put us in complete and direct opposition to what the feds are doing to our lands." Pat Shea lead the Bureau of Land Management for President Bill Clinton. He says Wimmer's proposal will lose the state credibility and money...more

Landowners say wolves driving elk herd onto properties

Farmers and ranchers packed a meeting house on Burnt Fork Road on Thursday night to voice their frustration over a growing number of elk that are living in their pastures and hay fields. And many weren't happy either with the wolves they believe are driving the elk from their traditional winter ranges higher up on the surrounding mountainsides. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials called the meeting to offer advice on keeping elk out of haystacks and to talk about the potential for future joint projects to build wildlife-friendly fences. Landowners living on the edge of the Sapphire Mountains northeast of Stevensville have been dealing with a herd of nearly 170 elk this winter that ventured down into areas where they had not been seen before. George Bettas said he and his neighbor first saw seven or eight elk show up on their place at the end of Burnt Fork in 2009. This spring, there were close to 40 and by September there were 100 staying an irrigated circle. The elk are staying most of the year now, including calving season. Up higher on the mountainside, Bettas said it's not unusual to find wolf tracks. "They are having their calves here now where they're not bothered by predators," Bettas said. Keith Marchuk sounded angry when he spoke up. "You won't even admit wolves are the problem," he told FWP officials. "You could drive those elk back up into the hills with five helicopters, but they wouldn't stay there. They'd double back and come right back down here. "Wolves are why the elk aren't going back up there," he said. "Your problem isn't elk. It's the damned wolves."...more

Future of wolf project in balance

The future of the Wood River Wolf Project is up for debate, as the study wraps up its third year and the partners must decide whether to continue. "The question is, would there be added value if all the participants were interested in continuing?" said Ketchum District Ranger Kurt Nelson. One of those participants is the U.S. Forest Service, which has worked with ranchers, advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to develop the project. The project is composed of a series of non-lethal methods designed to minimize wolf depredations on sheep. While the study was originally planned for three years, the partners must decide whether the project's successes have been worth the high cost of materials and field staff. Suzanne Stone, spokeswoman for the advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife, argues that the project has been a success. Out of the 30,000 sheep the project had grazing on public lands during the three years of the project, it lost only 14. "[Before the project began] we lost that many easily in a night on many occasions," Stone said. "Wolves killed more sheep than any other type of livestock, and sheep on public lands are the most difficult to protect."...more

Trail runners a concern at Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee meeting

Of all the possible threats to grizzly bear survival, long-distance joggers on mountain trails aren't high on the list. But the reverse isn't true, according to Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee adviser Chris Servheen. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's grizzly bear recovery coordinator said trail runners are approaching photographers as the backcountry group most likely to get badly hurt in an animal encounter. "I don't think that running in bear habitat is a risk to bear habitat or population levels," Servheen told the committee during its Missoula meeting on Thursday. "But some of these people are not aware of the dangers they put themselves in. This long-term running, at dawn and dusk, at night with headlamps: These are the specific things we tell people not to do in bear habitat." While he hasn't made a survey or poll of trail running's popularity, Servheen said fellow biologists are talking more and more about encountering runners in places "where they're likely to run into something really big and covered in hair."...more

Public hammers agency on Wyoming Range drilling proposal

Tensions flared while forest officials tried to reel in discussion during a public meeting here Tuesday night as people hammered a proposal to drill for natural gas in parts of the Wyoming Range. About 250 people crammed into a conference room, some standing, and representatives of the Teton County Sheriff's Office hovered around the perimeter. Most came to tell officials from the Bridger-Teton National Forest that a proposal by a Houston company to drill in the Noble Basin of the Hoback Rim area just south of Bondurant is a travesty. Bridger-Teton Supervisor Jacque Buchanan repeatedly told the crowd the decision to lease the area had already been made by the Bureau of Land Management back in 1992. She said the issue in front of the U.S. Forest Service and the public today surrounds considerations to allow the leasing, and how to manage the activity. "What's in front of us is how to allow this project to go forward," she said, and how to mitigate impacts for the project. Buchanan repeatedly said the decision was not whether to allow drilling...more

Deadly off-road accident in Mojave spurs lawsuits

The off-road racing accident in the Mojave Desert last summer that claimed the lives of eight people, including four San Diego County residents, is about to generate a plethora of lawsuits against the race organizer, the driver of the truck that careened out of control and eventually the federal Bureau of Land Management. The Aug. 14 crash in Lucerne Valley killed eight and injured 10 others when a modified Ford Ranger pickup truck, driven by Brett Sloppy of San Marcos during the California 200 event, veered out of control on a jump and landed in a crowd of spectators gathered near the race course. At issue will be how much responsibility the owners of the land (the federal government) have for what happened, how much responsibility the organizers of the race (Mojave Desert Racing) will bear, and how much blame, if any, Sloppy should shoulder. The Bureau of Land Management has admitted that it failed to follow its own rules for permitting and policing off-road races however the results of the agency’s internal investigation do not necessarily equate to an admission of liability, lawyers say...more

Calif. Plants Put a Wrinkle In Climate Change Plans

As the globe warms up, many plants and animals are moving uphill to keep their cool. Conservationists are anticipating much more of this as they make plans to help natural systems adapt to a warming planet. But a new study in Science has found that plants in northern California are bucking this uphill trend in preference for wetter, lower areas. Usually, coping with climate change is an uphill struggle for ecosystems — literally. Plants and animals want to be in a temperature zone where they can survive best. "We see it consistently for mobile species such as insects and animals," says Solomon Dobrowski, an assistant professor of forest landscape ecology at the University of Montana. "A lot of the real foundation studies of this have come out of studies of butterflies, for example." Dobrowski expected he'd see the same trend when he looked into historical movements of plants in a vast area of northern California. He dug through a remarkable record of the region's vegetation, collected back in the 1930s thanks to a federal project started during the Great Depression. He and his colleagues from the University of Idaho and the University of California, Davis then compared that with modern vegetation surveys. "What we found was counter to our expectations," he says. "We found that in fact the preponderance of plants in our study area had actually moved downhill 80 meters, or roughly 240 feet."...more

Lack of Transmission Lines Is Restricting Wind Power

Texas is in the midst of a wind-power boom, and at the heart of it lies a conundrum: While plenty of ranchers are eager to host wind turbines, few want the unsightly high-voltage transmission lines needed to carry the power to distant cities running through their property. The lack of transmission lines — and the relatively low price of natural gas — has thwarted the ambitions of wind-power advocates to expand the use of this alternative energy source in Texas. The oilman T. Boone Pickens, for example, bet heavily on wind a couple of years ago, ordering hundreds of turbines and announcing plans to build the world’s largest wind farm in the Panhandle at a cost of up to $12 billion. He later scaled back, canceling some of the turbine orders, giving up his land lease and saying he was looking elsewhere to build. To encourage others, the state is moving forward on a contentious project to erect $5 billion worth of transmission wires to connect the turbines to the cities that need power. On Thursday, state regulators met in Austin and approved the route of a controversial line that will run about 140 miles through the Hill Country, one of the state’s most scenic regions...more

Southern Utah flower removed from endangered species list

It turns out the southern Utah desert’s rare Maguire daisy wasn’t nearly as rare as believed. First listed as an endangered species in 1985 and downgraded to threatened in 1996, the brushy little white flower that peeks out from under rocks on sandstone mesas and in canyons is now "recovered" and will disappear entirely from the list of federally protected species. Once thought to have only seven specimens in the San Rafael Swell’s Calf Canyon, the daisy now numbers at least 163,000 plants, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service...more

Protection zone for prairie dogs expanded

The U.S. Forest Service has expanded a protection zone for prairie dogs with an eye toward someday supporting a population of black-footed ferrets on the Thunder Basin National Grassland. Ferrets are unlikely to frolic on the grassland any time soon, however. Plans to reintroduce ferrets in locations around Wyoming have ground to a halt. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department wants the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to guarantee that reintroduced ferrets won’t ever be listed as an endangered species, said Bob Oakleaf, nongame species coordinator for the state agency. Currently the only ferret population in Wyoming is in the Shirley Basin between Laramie and Casper. Plans had been under way to reintroduce ferrets on the Thunder Basin National Grassland and elsewhere in Wyoming. Then, in 2009, environmental groups petitioned to protect reintroduced populations of black-footed ferret populations in Arizona, Wyoming and South Dakota. The Fish and Wildlife Service denied the petition last May, but Oakleaf said Wyoming landowners who might have allowed ferrets on their property have become skittish. They remain worried that an endangered species listing would restrict how they could use their land...more

Suit says EPA fails to shield species from pesticides

Two environmental groups filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of failing to prevent the pesticide poisonings of more than 200 endangered and threatened species, including the California condor. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by the Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America, is the largest action brought against the EPA alleging pesticide poisoning of imperiled species. The plaintiffs say EPA officials consistently ignored their obligation under the Endangered Species Act to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether pesticides being considered for registration were harming listed species or their habitat. The failure to hold the formal consultations prevented anything from being done about widespread pesticide contamination of groundwater, drinking water and wildlife habitats throughout the country, according to Jeff Miller, conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity...more

Lion Meat Tacos

Here's something to roar about. A Tucson restaurant is about to serve up lion meat tacos. The FDA allows game meat to be served in restaurants as long as it's not from an endangered species. "Curious" customers are already lining up for reservations to chow down on the new tacos, which will sell for $9 beginning next month. The restaurant has already served tacos made with meat from pythons, alligators, elk, kangaroos, rattlesnakes and turtles, reports the Telegraph. The owner of Boca Tacos y Tequila says he'll try "just about anything we can get our hands on." Newser

Vet Board pulls rules, seeks fresh start in disputes over animal husbandry

In the midst of a dispute over what are described as “misinterpretations” of rules centered around farmers and ranchers continuing to care and treat their own animals, and concern for protecting Oklahoma public health and safety, an important state agency has withdrawn proposed rules. The Oklahoma State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners has voted to withdraw emergency rules requested and signed into law by then-Governor Brad Henry to help define the term “animal husbandry,” in order to clarify who can provide medical services on livestock. House Bill 3202 amended the Veterinary Practice Act by allowing teeth floating and horseshoeing services to be provided by a certified non-veterinarian equine dental care provider and included animal husbandry under acts not prohibited. The Vet Board’s defenders assert the recent emergency rules attempted to clarify the legislation, by defining what animal husbandry does not include, to help ensure that Oklahoma’s beef supply and livestock have quality care by licensed and trained medical physicians for all procedures that are invasive or surgical in any manner. Kirkpatrick said the withdrawal of the emergency rules was a good-faith effort to work with legislators and the Oklahoma Farm Bureau by starting with a clean slate...more

ND rancher finds 4 mountain lions in barn

A Watford City area rancher shot and killed four mountain lions after finding them eating a deer carcass they had dragged inside a barn. District game warden Bill Schaller told the Tribune newspaper that Bill Jorgenson went to a storage barn before dawn on Jan. 14 and spotted four sets of eyes in the beams of his pickup's headlights. Schaller said Jorgenson used a spot light to find a 104-pound female lion and three offspring of about 40 pounds each in the barn. Schaller said mountain lions are common in the area and Jorgenson acted within the law. AP

Song Of The Day #489

Ranch Radio's selection today is Eddy Arnold's 1951 recording of I Wanna Play House With You.

My version of the tune is from his 7 CD box set There's Been a Change in Me 1951-1955.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wyoming Governor Mead opposes 'wild lands' order

In a letter sent Monday, Gov. Matt Mead asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to rescind plans to make millions of undeveloped acres of land once again eligible for federal wilderness protection. Salazar has said the new policy would restore balance between energy development and protecting wilderness on public land. Environmental groups have praised the new policy, saying it's long overdue. But in his letter, Mead stated that the new policy "ignores" the impact Wyoming's natural resources have on the national economy and on how dependent local and state governments are on tax revenue from energy industries. He also said he was concerned that anyone can nominate an area to receive "wild lands" status. "A Wild Lands designation will further drag out (if not permanently halt) the permitting process while local economies suffer," Mead wrote. "The BLM currently does not have the appropriate resources or track record for approval of plans and projects; and this will only make the problem greater and delays longer." In a media conference Tuesday afternoon, Mead said he didn't like that the new policy was implemented without input from Congress, the states, or the public. "It feels like a bit of a takeover," he said...more

Interior unveils two agencies to oversee offshore drilling

The Obama administration continued to shake up the agency that oversees oil and natural gas drilling, announcing a plan Wednesday to create separate offices to promote energy development and enforce safety.  Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon disaster that led to a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Salazar indicated in May that he would split the MMS, which is now called the Bureau of Ocean Energy and Management, Regulation and Enforcement. Wednesday's announcement remakes that agency into the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which will be in charge of the development of offshore energy, and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which will enforce safety regulation. More than a thousand employees from the former agency will be reassigned in the new structures, which are to start operating by Oct. 1. Revenue collection was moved last year to a separate office. Salazar also announced plans for an advisory committee of academics and representatives from the oil and gas industry and non-governmental organizations that will recommend safety measures. The 13-member safety panel will be led by former Sandia National Laboratory director Thomas O. Hunter, a member of the scientific team that assisted with the capping of the oil-spewing well...more

Abbey’s visit marked by fireworks

Angry words, rowdy applause and a walk-out marked Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey’s visit Friday to the state Capitol to discuss a national policy shift on public lands management. Speaking before the usually reserved body of stakeholders on the Governor’s Council on Balanced Resources, Abbey was repeatedly blasted as he defended Salazar’s order.“When is enough enough?” Gov. Gary Herbert asked, clearly frustrated with the shift that scraps a 2003 agreement crafted between then-Gov. Mike Leavitt and the Bush administration’s BLM that said the agency would stop trying to have public lands in Utah considered for congressional designation as wilderness. “How many times are we going to inventory the same thing?” Herbert asked, drawing loud applause from attendees sporting “Stop the Land Grab” stickers as others wearing yellow “Wild Utah” buttons sat silent. So many people turned out for Abbey’s meeting with Herbert and his council that two additional overflow rooms had to be opened to accommodate the session. Herbert went on to criticize “ad nauseum litigation over public lands management that has had a negative impact on rural economies.” Specifically, he said, rural economies who rely on public lands access and face “the lack of finality” and no way to plan for the future. Similar sentiments were voiced by council member Kathleen Clarke, who held Abbey’s job for five years during the Bush administration. She noted in the absence of certainty, “We will cause industry to flee this state.”...more

Climate change study had 'significant error': experts

A climate change study that projected a 2.4 degree Celsius increase in temperature and massive worldwide food shortages in the next decade was seriously flawed, scientists said Wednesday. The study was posted on the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was written about by numerous international news agencies, including AFP. But AAAS later retracted the study as experts cited numerous errors in its approach. Scientist Osvaldo Canziani, who was part of the 2007 Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was listed as the scientific advisor to the report. The IPCC, whose figures were cited as the basis for the study's projections, and Al Gore jointly won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2007 "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change," the prize committee said at the time. Canziani's spokesman said Tuesday he was ill and was unavailable for interviews. The study cited the UN group's figures for its projections, combined with "the business-as-usual path the world is currently following," said lead author Liliana Hisas of the Universal Ecological Fund (UEF), a non-profit group headquartered in Argentina. But climate scientist Rey Weymann told AFP that the "study contains a significant error in that it confuses 'equilibrium' temperature rise with 'transient temperature rise.'" He also noted that study author Hisas was told of the problems in advance of the report's release...more

Obama Admin Denies Petition to Raise Grazing Fees on Public Lands

The Obama administration yesterday rejected a proposal to raise grazing fees on public lands, a decision that suggests ranchers will continue to be charged below-market prices to graze cattle on federal rangelands.  The Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service in separate letters yesterday to environmental groups said other priorities prevent them from pursuing new rules to revise the current grazing fee. Both agencies also said they disagreed with the groups' legal arguments in a 2005 petition (pdf) challenging the legality of the current fee structure. Joel Holtrop, deputy chief of the National Forest System, said the agency is pursuing separate rulemakings to revise its forest planning rule and respond to Colorado's roadless proposal, each of which have drained agency resources. Moreover, roughly 4,000 grazing allotments on Forest Service property are in need of environmental analyses that will help determine the best management of rangeland resources, Holtrop said in the letter (pdf).  BLM Director Bob Abbey in his letter (pdf) to the groups said his agency was working to implement proposed orders aimed at reducing the venting of natural gas, revising coal management regulations, updating standards for oil and gas measurement and securing oil and gas production facilities. "These initiatives represent major undertakings for the BLM and involve significant investments of limited agency resources and staff time," Abbey wrote.  Abbey added that he had discussed the fee structure with "numerous" lawmakers on Capitol Hill and that none of them had requested a change to the grazing fees...more

Montana lawmakers consider bill declaring grizzly bears 'recovered'

A Montana Senate committee heard a proposal Tuesday to change state policy to say the grizzly bear population has recovered and to allow trapping and killing the animal to prevent conflicts with people and livestock. Grizzly bears from the Yellowstone National Park region north to the Canadian border are listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, giving them federal protections that Montana is trying to undo in a case before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Republican Sen. Debby Barrett, the sponsor of Senate Bill 143, said the change in state policy is necessary because the grizzly population is growing and leading to more bear kills of cattle, sheep and big game. When the grizzly is removed from the threatened species list, the policy will be in place to prevent such conflicts, she said. "Whenever this bear is delisted, this is how we manage them," Barrett told the committee. Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks officials said the grizzly bears should be managed by the state for the conservation of the species. But, said FWP attorney Bob Lane, the provision in the bill that calls for killing and trapping bears as pre-emptive management measures to avoid conflict could cause problems in the state's federal appeal. Opponents could use the language in the bill to say Montana does not have the adequate regulatory mechanisms to manage the animal, and therefore the bear should not be removed from the list of threatened species, Lane said...more

Can Bison Take Back the Range?

But as their numbers grew, this one-time sanctuary to the bison has become a cage. There are now approximately 3,400 bison in Yellowstone National Park most of the year; in a normal winter, the animals head south in search of food. This is unacceptable to Montana ranchers. Citing disease and the uncontrollable reputation of bison, they have successfully lobbied to chase them back into the park, capture them, and kill them every year they leave Yellowstone. The disease the ranchers fear so much? It's called Brucellosis, and here are two things you should know about it: A. it was a cattle disease first, and only transmitted to bison second and B. there has never been a documented case of a bison cow transmitting the disease to cattle. During the winter of 2007-2008, over 1,000 bison were killed anyway to prevent this scape-goat disease from spreading. Now, for the first time in a century, Montana is going to allow twenty-five disease-free bison to winter on contained public lands south of the park. It's a first step on the way back to their free, thriving conditions of American mythology. But it isn't nearly enough.

Colorado giving hay to wild elk in deep snow

Elk in northwestern Colorado cut off from food supplies by deep snow will be provided hay to prevent the wild herds from raiding livestock feeding operations, state wildlife managers said on Wednesday. Heavy snows in the Yampa River valley, about 250 miles northwest of Denver, have the Colorado Division of Wildlife concerned the elk will move into areas where ranchers leave feed for cattle and sheep in the winter. Randy Hampton, spokesman for the agency, said workers will place hay at two sites upriver from cattle grazing lands to lure elk away from haystacks and livestock feed lines. Hampton said the goal is to stave off problems that occurred in the valley during the winter of 2007-08 when hungry elk ravaged cattle and sheep ranches, injured livestock, and trampled newborn calves...more

Plaintiffs' Lawyers Seek $60.8M in Fees in Native American Class Action

The plaintiffs' lawyers in Washington who negotiated a $760 million settlement for a class of Native- American farmers and ranchers are asking for $60.8 million in legal fees and expenses, court records show. The settlement in Keepseagle v. Vilsack, announced last year in October, sets out a range of fees between 4% and 8%. The settlement creates a cash fund of $680 million for eligible class members and sets out $80 million for debt relief. The suit, filed in 1999, alleged the U.S. Department of Agriculture discriminated against Native Americans in the government’s farm loan program. The plaintiffs’ attorneys, including lead counsel Joseph Sellers of Washington’s Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, said the class lawyers have invested nearly 42,000 hours in the case, amounting to about $16.2 million in fees, based on hourly rates, and $1.6 million in expenses. The plaintiffs’ lawyers predict future fees and expenses will reach $8.65 million. “This settlement was not achieved easily or quickly, but rather is the fruit of eleven years of hard-fought litigation including a vigorous contest on class [certification],” lawyers for lead plaintiff Marilyn Keepseagle said in court papers [.pdf] filed Jan. 14 in Washington’s federal trial court...more

Cattle prices hitting record highs at auction barns

Cattle ranchers are enjoying the fruits of their labor right now with all-time highs at the auction barns. Crawford Livestock recorded one of its biggest sales ever earlier this month, selling nearly 5,000 head and averaging $744 per head, said owner Jack Hunter. “It’s nice to be in the cattle business,” Hunter said, at least for the moment. Down the road in Rushville, producers are reaping the benefits as well. “The cattle markets are very healthy,” said Dan Otte at Sheridan County Livestock. “We are seeing prices we haven’t seen in a long time and I think it will continue.” The Ag Market News Service in Kearney reported Monday that slaughter cattle prices had gone up to $106.50-107.00 per hundred weight, and steers under 600 pounds traded $2-4 higher than the previous week. Setters over 600 pounds were trading at steady to $2 higher, the report said. Those prices, everyone agrees, come from increased demand for beef and a decreased supply.“I think it all comes back to supplies,” said Dr. Darrell Mark, an associate professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s agricultural economics department. Cattle herds have been liquidated for a decrease in cow numbers in 14 of the last 16 years, Mark said. Those liquidations have occurred due to a number of things, among them the higher corn prices that bring volatility to the market and droughts – sometimes long-lasting – in several regions of the U.S., including the Nebraska Panhandle. Increased demand for beef has also caused some producers to pull heifers from their herd for slaughter instead of retaining them as replacement animals. That drives prices up quickly, Mark said...more

Stolen cattle reappearing at their ranches

When Rand and Jayne Collins gathered their cattle this winter from a remote, high-desert grazing allotment, they got a shock. A bunch of stolen cows showed up back in their herd, apparently returned by the same wily gang of horseback rustlers who snatched 150 cattle worth $150,000 from them about four years ago. As many as 20 mother cows that hadn't been there in summer mysteriously reappeared, Rand Collins said. Rustlers in southeastern Oregon's Malheur County alone have stolen up to 1,240 cattle valued at $1.7 million at today's prices over the past three years. Hardest hit were about 20 Oregon ranchers -- with a dozen, including the Collinses, taking the brunt of the losses, Malheur County sheriff's officials said. The rustlers targeted cattle on a vast and remote swath of high desert known as the "ION country," where Idaho, Oregon and Nevada come together. Most thefts occurred in a region bounded by Murphy, Idaho, to the east, Winnemucca, Nev., to the south and Oregon's spectacular 30-mile-long, upthrust fault-block of Steens Mountain to the west. But now, some stolen cows are coming home...more

High court declines Kenedy case, alleged heir

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to consider a claim that wealthy South Texas rancher John G. Kenedy left behind an illegitimate daughter and heir. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports the high court's rejection Tuesday could end the efforts of Ann Fernandez. Fernandez, who's in her 80s, has been living in a nursing home. The Corpus Christi woman has been in a legal battle with the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation and the John G. Kenedy Jr. Charitable Trust. The groups control the 400,000-acre Kenedy Ranch. Fernandez family attorney Marcos Ronquillo says a rehearing could be sought. He unsuccessfully sought to have Kenedy's body exhumed for DNA testing. Kenedy died in 1948 and was believed to have no heirs. AP

Red Light District a Big Draw in Town's Early Days

In the late 1800s, thousands of loggers, miners, sailors and ranchers flocked to Petaluma to find work and invest their hard earned money in land or a business. Most had left their wives and families behind in the East and planned to bring them out later. So in the meanwhile, they frequented saloons to find ‘ladies of the night' to pass the time. Many of these houses were located right here in our downtown, including the upstairs portion of the Lan Mart building, where Brixx and Old Chicago Pizza are today, as well as upstairs over what is now Graziano's Ristorante. Prostitution was a thriving industry in the early days of California and the men, who had no place to spend their gold, actively sought it out. Early on, the “girls” had set up shop in tents in the gold fields and worked the gold country saloons, as well. They offered sex, of course, but also, companionship. When small towns, such as Petaluma developed, the ratio of saloons to other businesses was large. In the Petaluma of 1885, there were 17 saloons, several of which provided extra services from women who would become dubbed “the fallen angels.” In 1900, Petaluma’s first telephone was installed in The Herold Drug Company on Kentucky Street. The second phone installed was for the Fire Department and the third? In the “House,” a brothel at the end of C Street, where phone operators allowed the girls to call out for free because they felt sorry for them...more

Song Of The Day #488

Ranch Radio's tune this morning is It's The Mileage That's Getting Us Down by Ernest Tubb and Red Foley. The number was recorded in 1954.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Robert E. Lee Revisited, 150 Years After Civil War

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee still holds a distinct place in the history of the South — a history that will be revisited many times in 2011, as the nation marks 150 years since the Civil War began. That bloody conflict continues to resonate in culture and politics to this day, as Americans continue to debate the legacy of slavery and states' rights, and consider the extent of federal authority. NPR's Neal Conan spoke with historian Noah Andre Trudeau, reporter Mary Hadar, and Joseph Riley, Mayor of Charleston, S.C. about how and why we mark the anniversary Civil War. Trudeau, author of Robert E. Lee, says Southern leaders turned Lee into an icon as a way to save face after the destructive war. "They came up with the lost cause," says Trudeau. That explanation re-framed the war and their losses in terms of the South's pride and perceived moral high ground, and cast the North's win as simply about their greater numbers. "They needed that iconic leader at the top of the heap, and Lee was the one they chose." Washington Post projects editor Mary Hadar has been tweeting the events leading up to the secession of South Carolina. She's using original documents to compose her tweets, and has been struck by the emotional pull the material has on her. For example, Maj. Robert Anderson, the commander of Fort Sumter, was a "a heroic figure," she says, torn by the realities of fighting with the Union, against fellow Southerners fighting for the Confederacy...more

Robert E. Lee: A Man Without a Country for 110 Years

Several states officially recognize and celebrate January 19 as Robert E. Lee’s birthday, including the state of Virginia as part of Jackson-Lee Day which falls on the Friday before the third Monday in January, Martin Luther King Day. The state of Texas celebrates Lee’s birthday on the 19th of January as part of Confederate Heroes Day, while Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi celebrate it concurrently with MLK day.

Lee was also, following the end of the war, a man without a country.

In agreeing upon terms of the surrender of his army at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, Lee appointed three officers to oversee the parole of his army. The Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon for Lee’s soldiers that resulted had several excepted classes, including field commanders who had to make a special application to the president to regain full citizenship in the Union. Since Lee was excepted, he applied to President Grant, and sent this letter to President Johnson on June 13, 1865:

Being excluded from the provisions of amnesty & pardon contained in the proclamation of the 29th [of May], I hereby apply for the benefits & full restoration of all rights & privileges extended to those included in its terms.
I graduated at the Military Academy at West Point in June, 1829. Resigned from the U. S. Army [in] April, 1861. Was a General in the Confederate Army, & included in the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia 9 April, ’65.

On October 2, 1865, Lee signed his Amnesty Oath which says, in part, "I, Robert E. Lee, at Lexington, Virginia, do solemnly swear, in the presence of almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Union of the States thereunder, and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all laws and proclamations which have been made during the existing rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves, so help me God."

That Oath, however, was never processed until an archivist at the National Archives discovered it in 1970. On August 5th, 1975 a joint resolution by both houses of Congress was signed into law by President Gerald Ford, finally giving Robert E. Lee, the man without a country for 110 years, full rights of citizenship. As President Ford said:

This legislation corrects a 110-year oversight of American history….Lee’s dedication to his native State of Virginia charted his course for the bitter Civil War years, causing him to reluctantly resign from a distinguished career in the United States Army and to serve as General of the Army of Northern Virginia. He, thus forfeited his rights to U. S. citizenship….
Lee’s character has been an example to succeeding generations, making the restoration of his citizenship an event in which every American can take pride...

Bob Adelmann

New York Ignores Its Civil War History

The standard narrative is that slavery was a Southern institution and the north, including New York fought to preserve the union and end slavery. But the reality of history is never so simple. For example, as a Congressman in the 1840s, New Yorker Fernando Wood was a strong supporter of slavery and the South. He continued his support of the South when he became Mayor of New York City in the 1850s. On January 8, 1861, the New York Times published the transcript of Mayor Fernando Wood's annual report to the city's Common Council. In this message, Wood spoke about the city's options as the United States federal union appeared to be dissolving and he called for the city to secede as well. Woods told the Common Council, "It would seem that a dissolution of the Federal Union is inevitable." He reminded its members that with their "aggrieved brethren of the Slave States we have friendly relations and a common sympathy" because "we have not participated in the warfare upon their constitutional rights or their domestic institutions." He proposed that "New York should endeavor to preserve a continuance of uninterrupted intercourse with every section," and to do this it should secede from the Union itself and become "a free City." Wood concluded, "When disunion has become a fixed and certain fact, why may not New York disrupt the bands which bind her to a corrupt and venal master. New York, as a Free City, may shed the only light and hope for a future reconstruction of our once blessed Confederacy." Wood's sentiments were supported by the New York Herald and the Journal of Commerce. The Herald published a statement by department store magnet Alexander Stewart charging that "the refusal at Washington to concede costs us millions daily." The Journal of Commerce warned President-elect Lincoln that, "there are a million and a half mouths to be fed daily in this city and its dependencies; and they will not consent to be starved by any man's policies."...more

Cherokee Nation Court Rules in Favor of Descendents of Slaves

A Cherokee Nation judge ruled Friday that the descendants of freed Cherokee slaves are protected citizens of the tribe under an 1866 treaty, throwing out a tribal constitutional amendment that required tribal blood for citizenship. The issue of freedmen citizenry has spawned repercussions far beyond Tahlequah, where the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is based. Some Democratic members of Congress, mostly blacks, filed legislation aimed at stripping the tribe of federal funds and called for a Justice Department investigation. The tribe mounted a multimillion-dollar public relations and lobbying blitz to counter the congressional effort, and the legislation never advanced in a Democrat-controlled House. In the decision Friday, Cherokee Nation District Court Judge John Cripps wrote that the post-Civil War treaty signed by the Cherokee Nation and the U.S. government specifically addressed the status of freedmen — former slaves who had been owned by tribal members. The treaty provided that freedmen and their descendants “shall have all the rights of native Cherokees,” Cripps wrote. The nation is still bound by the treaty, Cripps wrote. Though the French, Spanish, English and U.S. governments have violated treaties made with the tribe, Cripps said, “This does not mean that the Cherokee Nation should descend into such manner of action and disregard their pledges and agreements.”...more

BOOK REVIEW: Twin journeys at Civil War's end

BLOODY CRIMES: THE CHASE FOR JEFFERSON DAVIS AND THE DEATH PAGEANT FOR LINCOLN'S CORPSE By James L. Swanson Morrow, $27.99, 464 pages The Civil War filled four years with death and destruction. Politicians on both sides vastly underestimated the human carnage from the conflict they were about to ignite. The Union was preserved, but at a cost of 620,000 dead. The contending leaders suffered grievously for their roles. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated before the last Confederate forces laid down their arms. Jefferson Davis was captured on the run and subjected to punitive imprisonment. Historian James Swanson nicely juxtaposes the different experiences of the two men, one carried on a funeral train to his burial place while the other was being carried by horse away from the former's invading forces. Although their lives at the end of the Civil War dramatically diverged, their deaths converged. Explains Mr. Swanson: "Just as April 15, 1865, symbolized to the North more than the death of just one man, so too the death pageant that followed December 6, 1889, was not for Davis alone."...more

Extreme Greens: Take a hike! Don't mess with Green Mountain

As a cradle conservationist, I have three unfriendly words of advice to environmental absolutists from Wilderness Watch: Take a hike! The Montana-based group has gone to federal court in a bid to destroy a newly rebuilt lookout atop Green Mountain, in the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area, where thousands of hikers trek during summer months to enjoy a 360-degree view of the North Cascades. As the Herald of Everett reported Saturday, the group wants the Forest Service to tear down the new $50,000 lookout because they say it violates the Wilderness Act. And pay attorney's fees. Wilderness Watch is also complaining that the U.S. Forest Service used a helicopter and did not first prepare an analysis of the impacts of constructing a new lookout. Huh? The worst excesses of absolutist, tone-deaf, keep-everybody-out-but-us environmentalism are on display in this lawsuit. Writer and environmental activist Peter Jackson, whose father, Sen. Henry Jackson, wrote legislation that established the Glacier Peak Wilderness, describes the plaintiffs as "a tone-deaf advocacy group skilled at alienating current (and future) wilderness boosters."...more

So the greenies don't like it when a structure they use is challenged by a wilderness group. They don't want to amend the Wilderness Act, they just want a different interpretation for facilities they support, even if they violate the Act itself.

According to Wilderness Watch the FS used helicopters and power tools to resurrect the structure which has not been used as a lookout since the 70s and is instead a visitors center. WW also points out "FS officials plotted it in private, avoiding public process or participation, thinking they might sneak their unlawful activities under the radar."

Contrast this with the Monte Wolf Cabin where the FS has sent it's own employees hither to tear down parts of the cabin and the then FS Supervisor is quoted as saying "The Monte Wolfe cabin is offensive to anyone that truly values wilderness."

A cabin owned by a private foundation is "offensive" but a lookout tower used as a plaything by the FS is just fine in a Wilderness area.

Think of the Wilderness Act's language on solitude and naturalness, and then take a look at the new lookout tower:

Smokey says "Wilderness is good for thee but not for me."

Solar Panel Maker Moves Work to China

Aided by at least $43 million in assistance from the government of Massachusetts and an innovative solar energy technology, Evergreen Solar emerged in the last three years as the third-largest maker of solar panels in the United States. But now the company is closing its main American factory, laying off the 800 workers by the end of March and shifting production to a joint venture with a Chinese company in central China. Evergreen cited the much higher government support available in China. The factory closing in Devens, Mass., which Evergreen announced earlier this week, has set off political recriminations and finger-pointing in Massachusetts. And it comes just as President Hu Jintao of China is scheduled for a state visit next week to Washington, where the agenda is likely to include tensions between the United States and China over trade and energy policy...more
"Evergreen cited the much higher government support available in China."
These solar folks can't make it without gov't support, so you have "entrepreneurs" chasing subsidies instead of profits. 

I guess there weren't enough lookout towers in Wilderness areas to keep them here.

Too bad the old Soviet Union isn't still around where they could be so "successful". Stalin Solar Systems so to speak.

Recession Special: Cleaner Air

The previous Congress failed to pass climate change legislation, and the new House is openly hostile to the idea. But what the government has not mandated, the economy is doing on its own: emissions of global warming gases in the United States are down. According to the Energy Department, carbon dioxide emissions peaked in this country in 2005 and will not reach that level again until the early 2020s. “It’s important to note that the future isn’t what it used to be,” said David Doniger, policy director of the Climate Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council. He pointed out that the Energy Department’s projection of emissions in 2020 was lower in 2008 than in 2007, and has kept falling. How could that be? In part, the Great Recession has been good for something. “The recession has led to a smaller economy, less activity and less energy consumption,” said Revis W. James, director of the Energy Technology Assessment Center at the Electric Power Research Institute, a utility consortium. Electricity consumption had been growing at a rate of 1 percent to 1.5 percent a year, but the recession brought on the steepest drop in decades. When demand fell, the utilities cut back on the use of their least-efficient generating stations, the ones that emit the highest amounts of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour...more

Enviro Formula: Green Shackles = Clean Air

Court: US wrongly put water tanks in refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service overstepped its authority by building two water tanks inside a Western Arizona wilderness area to help bighorn sheep living in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, a federal appeals court panel ruled. The wildlife service failed to prove that the 13,000-gallon tanks were needed for bighorn sheep, thereby flunking a key requirement for building permanent structures inside federal wilderness areas, said two members of a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Under the Wilderness Act, permanent structures are not allowed "except as necessary to meet minimum requirements" for administration of wilderness areas. The Dec. 21 ruling means the service will either have to come up with a better justification for installing the tanks, remove them or take some other, as yet unknown action. Environmental groups have opposed these tanks since the service built them in 2007 and had filed the lawsuit challenging the federal decision to build them. The 9th Circuit panel sent the case back to the U.S. District Court in Arizona for further review and action. While hailing the ruling, a Tucson environmentalist said he's not sure whether removing the tanks would be the best solution at this point, because that would require more intrusive action in a wilderness area. The underground tanks, installed over a three-day period, were built as an effort to try to stem a sharp decline in bighorn sheep populations in the Kofa refuge, which is about 40 miles northeast of Yuma. The tanks consist mainly of PVC pipes. They were designed to catch rainwater and run that water into small concrete troughs or weirs. The service decided to enter the Kofa wilderness with motorized vehicles and equipment to build the tanks, after concluding that such a tactic was safer for workers and would reduce the amount of time they spent in the wilderness. The workers used existing roads and removed their vehicle tracks after the work was done, the 9th Circuit ruling said. They also covered the watering troughs with sand and rocks to blend them into the environment, so only troughs and small vent pipes are visible...more

Va. lawmakers look to stop climate change probe

A power struggle is unfolding in Virginia over climate change research. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has been taking the University of Virginia to court to get information on a climate change researcher who once worked at the school. Now several members of the State Assembly say they've had enough and have introduced legislation to rein in Cuccinelli's investigation. Cuccinelli, a global warming skeptic, is looking into whether UVA professor Michael Mann manipulated data to show that there has been a rapid, recent rise in the Earth's temperature. Democratic Sens. Donald McEachin of Henrico and Chap Petersen of Fairfax County say their bills won't give blanket immunity to colleges to defraud the state, but they would curb politically motivated probes...more

New group improves grazing opportunities

A new organization in the Ashley Valley is looking to highlight the longstanding role of many ranchers in environmental conservation. Grazing for Wildlife has been formed to work with government entities on grazing projects that benefit all grazing animals using U.S. Forest Service or BLM lands, said Mitch Hacking, a cattleman and leader of the group. “Cattlemen and sportsmen have to come to realize that they have a lot of the same goals and that working together benefits all,” Hacking said. Hacking organized Grazing for Wildlife in hopes of providing education and finding ways to improve range lands in the area. One of the first concerns involved 60 or so watering ponds, located on the range study allotment north of Vernal, that were in need of repairs. The group identified different ways to fix up the ponds, and the best way to fund such projects. “Funding these work projects quickly became our first and foremost problem,” Hacking said...more

A Needless, Nationwide Bed Bug Epidemic

There really is no mystery to solving the nationwide bed bug epidemic. In 1946 the solution was DDT. Today the solution could still be DDT if it hadn’t been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency in the 1970s and, since then, any number of other beneficial pesticides. In the years following World War Two, the pest control industry had eliminated bed bugs to a point where today’s generation of pest control professionals literally had no experience dealing with them when they began to reappear in American homes, hotels, and other structures. What is the Environmental Protection Agency’s answer? It is to hold bed bug “summits” in which industry and other experts testify to the obvious necessity to authorize the use of existing pesticides and expedite the registration of new formulations to rid the nation of this pest. Today there is only one pesticide, Propoxur, known to effectively knock down a bed bug infestation, but when Ohio pest control professionals asked the Environmental Protection Agency for permission to use it, it was denied. In December, Forbes magazine had an article, “America’s Most Bed Bug-Infested Cities.” Is it any surprise that three of Ohio’s cities, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton, were identified as the most infested? Among the other cities cited as suffering major bed bug infestations were New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C...more

Don Wesely leaving lobbyist job with animal-welfare group

A month after Gov. Dave Heineman blasted Don Wesely for lobbying for the Humane Society of the United States, the former Lincoln mayor has severed his ties with a client he has represented in the Nebraska Legislature for the past four years. Wesely said Monday he and his colleagues at O'Hara Lindsay Government Relations decided to act after another client raised concerns about their association with the national animal welfare organization. "We have about 25 clients," he said, "and if one of those clients comes to us and they're concerned about a conflict of interest we may have with another client -- and if we find a conflict of interest -- the longer-term client takes precedence with us." He declined to name the organization that set that choice in motion. Heineman singled out Wesely for attention during the Nebraska Cattlemen's Convention in Kearney in December, maintaining that "no Nebraskan should be working for the HSUS."...more

Rancher piles dirt on metal thief suspect's truck to prevent escape

At about 9:15 a.m. on January 13, Yavapai County Sheriff's Office deputies were called to the Layton Ranch in Castle Hot Springs regarding a theft in progress. A rancher driving a tractor on the property noticed a truck carrying acetylene torch bottles and other tools. Due to recenty metal thefts from his property, the rancher followed the truck to obtain a license number of the possible theft suspects' vehicle, according to YCSO officials. The truck was eventually forced to stop due to road conditions, and the rancher blocked the truck from leaving by piling dirt around the truck with the tractor, YCSO officials say. The rancher confronted the two men, and when they learned that he had contacted the sheriff's office, they ran into the hills. The rancher pursued them, first in the tractor, then on a horse. A Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputy was nearby and arrived within 30 minutes, and a MCSO helicopter arrived about 30 minutes later...more

Heart of a herder

“These dogs are workaholics,” says Sandi Newton of Crystal Rose Cow Dog College in Red Bluff. Her Border Collie, C.R. “Sterling,” is consigned at the 70th Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale taking place Jan. 25-29 at the Tehama District Fair grounds. The annual stock dog sale is a popular event at the Bull and Gelding Sale, offering top quality, hard-working cattle dogs like Sterling to buyers from all over the country. Last year, dogs were purchased by people from as far away as Oklahoma and New York. Although the three-day stock dog competition is open to anyone, only the best may finish. According to Adam Owens, sale manager, the dogs are “sifted” by five judges, and if they don’t work well in any of the three events, they can be disallowed from the sale. To compete at Red Bluff, a dog must be aggressive enough to move cattle and smart enough to control them, explains Al Vieira of Diamond Stockdogs in Orland. “The instinct of these dogs is really something,” he says...more

Song Of The Day #487

This morning Ranch Radio brings you Carl Smith and his 1953 recording of Trademark.

Monday, January 17, 2011

On Franklin’s birthday, a crucial lesson from ‘the first American’

Born in 1706, the fifteenth child of a Boston candle maker, Benjamin Franklin was our country’s first international celebrity, lauded throughout Europe as the quintessential American. Reportedly, everyone in his era “had an engraving of M. Franklin over the mantelpiece.” A bestseller in the nineteenth century, his Autobiography was as exciting to children then as an adventure movie is to today’s youth — and more enlightening.

January 17th, his birthday, is a fitting time to ask: Why was Franklin an American icon? What can we learn from his character and achievements?

Let’s examine his Autobiography for answers.

He said that, as a child, a proverb from King Solomon profoundly influenced his life: Seest thou a man diligent in his calling, he shall stand before kings. “I from thence considered industry as a means of obtaining wealth and distinction.”

Franklin demonstrated his inexhaustible industry early. “I was fond of reading, and all the little money that came into my hands was ever laid out in books.” With merely two years of formal schooling, he didn’t wait for someone to hand him student loans and a college education; he educated himself.

At age 12 he was indentured to his brother, a printer. He made the best of his servitude: “I now had access to better books.” Highly respectful of other people’s property, he borrowed books “which I was careful to return soon and clean. Often I sat up in my room reading the greatest part of the night, when the book was borrowed in the evening and to be returned early in the morning lest it should be missed or wanted.”

At 17, Ben escaped from beatings by his brother and fear of conflict with Boston authorities over his already controversial writings. Alone and poor, he traveled down the coast seeking printing work. He endured a near-shipwreck and a 50-mile walk in torrential storms. Bedraggled and hungry, he arrived in Philadelphia, startling young Deborah Read, who stared askance at his “most awkward, ridiculous appearance.” Deborah later became his wife!

Instead of waiting for help from others, young Ben took initiative. He found work, survived mainly on bread and water, and lodged himself humbly, using his meager money to buy more books. While still a teenager, Ben became so well-read that prominent people, including the governors of two colonies, sought his conversation.

Although misled by a supposed backer and relieved of hard-earned money loaned to unreliable friends, Ben never gave up. He established himself as a printer and publisher, creating the widely read Pennsylvania Gazette, then Poor Richard’s Almanack. By putting enterprising young men into the printing business in other colonies, he created a form of franchising.

Years of toil and frugality paid off. Franklin finally accumulated enough wealth to retire early and explore other interests. His scientific and political feats are legendary. Sometimes called the greatest experimentalist of the eighteenth century, he turned his scientific research into useful inventions — the lightning rod, Franklin stove, and bifocals are just a few. Known as “the first American” for his campaign to unify the colonies, he was the only person to have signed all four documents pivotal to our founding: the Declaration of Independence; the Treaty of Alliance, Amity, and Commerce with France; the Treaty of Peace between England, France, and the United States; and the Constitution...more

EPA Grants Itself More Powers, Revokes Permit

Not ones to rest on their laurels, the federal appointees at the Environmental Protection Agency have jumped into 2011 reaffirming their status as the most dangerous regulators in Washington.  In a bewildering reversal on Thursday, the EPA revoked a permit it issued more than three years ago for the Spruce No. 1 Mine, set for operation in Logan County, West Virginia. Mingo Logan, a subsidiary of Arch Coal, originally obtained a mining permit from the EPA in 2007 in accordance with the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The Section 404 permit was issued after a decade of review and costly analyses, whereby the project was deemed unobjectionable. Until now, that is.  Yesterday’s unsettling decision by the EPA is suspect for a litany of reasons.  The Waters Advocacy Coalition (WAC), which is comprised of organizations and businesses committed to preserving the CWA, has expressed its concerns in an open letter to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.  The Coalition’s foremost objection to the revocation is that it places all Section 404 permit-holders in bureaucratic limbo; if the Spruce No. 1 Mine can be retroactively declared verboten, a large swath of American industry will have to fear the same treatment.  In addition, the WAC letter notes, the EPA has no clear authority to repeal permits once they have been properly vetted:  “Since the CWA was enacted in 1972, EPA has never revoked a previously issued, valid CWA Section 404 permit. The plain language of Section 404(c) does not authorize EPA to take any action once a permit has been issued. EPA’s threatened action has no legal foundation, is not warranted on the facts and will chill investments and job creation across America.”...more

Tuggle Determined to Reintroduce Endangered Mexican Grey Wolves to Wild

Though years have passed since federal wildlife officials began attempts to reintroduce the endangered Mexican gray wolf to the Southwest, officials say this year, it will happen. Benjamin Tuggle of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says this year, the wolves reintroduction is at the top of his list of things to accomplish this year. He said he’s brought scientists, ranchers, conservationists, and anyone else he thinks he may need to ensure the process goes smoothly. Trying to get the wolves back into New Mexico and Arizona has been a challenge due to court battles, illegal shootings, concerns from environmentalists, and complaints from ranchers who say the wolves have killed their livestock anytime reintroduction is attempted. Last year, six wolf deaths were reported, and only one wasn’t under suspicious circumstances...more

Groups applaud ruling on environmental lawsuits

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today, Jan. 14, 2011, abandoned the ‘None but a Federal Defendant’ rule that for more than 20 years has prevented anyone but a federal agency from defending cases brought under the Administrative Procedures Act that allege violations of the National Environmental Protection Act and other environmental laws. Public Lands Council Executive Director and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Director of Federal Lands Dustin Van Liew said the decision is a major victory for livestock ranchers and other public lands users. “Well-funded environmental activist organizations have made a hobby out of claiming violations of NEPA and other environmental laws. Unfortunately, under the ‘None but a Federal Defendant’ rule, ranchers and public lands users have been excluded from defending themselves and actively participating in cases regarding critical decisions that affect their livelihoods,” Van Liew said. “Ranchers and other public lands users should be allowed to intervene in court decisions that affect their operations and this landmark decision will finally restore that right.” PLC, NCBA and other organizations representing public-lands users filed an amicus brief on Oct. 21, 2010, asking the Ninth Circuit Court to abandon the ‘None but a Federal Defendant’ rule. The Court’s unanimous decision today supported PLC and NCBA’s request stating that the “federal defendant’ rule’s limitation on intervention…runs counter to the standards we apply in all other intervention of right cases.”...more

Farmers Call for Spending Cuts, Can't Agree Where

The nation's biggest farm lobbying group supports a balanced budget. It's against tax increases and says the federal government needs to tighten its belt. Just don't ask its members where the government should trim billions of dollars in agriculture spending -- they can't agree. Despite warnings about belt-tightening and record federal deficits, delegates to the American Farm Bureau Federation left their annual convention this week without making major suggestions on where Congress should trim spending in the next Farm Bill, which sets federal funding for agriculture. Senior Farm Bureau leaders, a ranking senator and even U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack signaled this week that cutbacks are likely as the aftermath of the Great Recession pushes U.S. government deficits to levels last seen during World War II. "We have a responsibility, even an obligation, as an organization with great political and policy influence, to weigh in and help find solutions to these problems facing our nation," Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman told the convention in his opening address. He urged his fellow farmers to "make choices and establish priorities." It didn't happen. "Our delegates did not give us clear direction as how and when and where that should occur," Stallman conceded two days later, after the farmers punted those decisions back to the Farm Bureau's board of directors...more

Mike White re-elected as Western Region representative for AFBF board

LAS CRUCES— Michael White, a farmer from Dexter, was re-elected to the board of directors for the American Farm Bureau Federation as a Western Regional representative.
White grows alfalfa, barley and corn for dairies on the east side of the state and has a long history with the American Farm Bureau Federation, having served for five years previously as a regional representative for the nations’ largest farm and ranch organization.  As a regional representative he also sits on the AFBF International Trade Advisory Committee.
"The thirteen Western state region of AFBF has very crucial and distinct issues that affect our agriculture industry, and being selected to be one of the five representatives from the West on the AFBF Board is an honor that is very humbling, and I look forward to the challenges ahead,” says White.
He is a member of the board of directors of the Chaves County Farm and Livestock Bureau and has served as president of that organization.  He has been a member of the N.M. Cotton Advisory Committee at New Mexico State University and was an alternate to the National Cotton Board. He served for 12 years on the Dexter Consolidated School Board and was elected president of that body.  Mr. White was also on the board of directors for the Albuquerque Production Credit Association. He is treasurer of the Midway Assembly of God Church and is on the board of the Midway Youth and Family Development Center.
As President of the New Mexico Farm & Livestock Bureau White spearheads the organization’s legislative agenda in New Mexico and in the U.S. Congress.  He presides over an organization with 30 county affiliates and more than 15,300 family-members statewide.


Foot-and-mouth disease scare recalls memories of Merced County outbreaks

Everyone was stopped in 1924 and dipped their feet into disinfectant to make sure the disease of foot and mouth wasn't transmitted.

They dug deep ditches and hauled barrels filled with lime to the trenches. The cowboys rounded up the cattle that had fattened during the winter in the foothills and drove the animals into those trenches. Then they shot every one of them and covered the carcasses with lime. This was the reality of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 1924 in Merced County. The majority of the animals, which included 18,000 cattle and 14,000 sheep, goats and hogs, ended up in long trenches at the Bellevue Ranch, on what was then called G Grade. Animals were also killed and buried in the Amsterdam and Buhach areas and Snelling. Art imitated life in the 1963 film "Hud," when the disease forced a family of Texas ranchers to shoot their livestock in a cattle pit. The United States hasn't had an outbreak of foot and mouth since 1929, when there was another outbreak in California. But as South Korea scrambles to control its worst outbreak of the disease and it appears in other countries, including Bulgaria, California animal authorities are asking the state's ranchers and veterinarians to be vigilant. Whiteford said foot and mouth disease is highly contagious, and although humans don't get it, the damage to livestock is horrific...more

Kincaid's rise began with sheep flock

T. A. Kincaid swapped the herd of cattle he had been running on South Concho River leased land near San Angelo for 630 head of Rambouillet sheep and came to Crockett County in 1902. "Those were the days of open range, and cattlemen were not happy with sheep moving into their territory," said Rosalie Richardson, a granddaughter. "But my grandfather faced challenges from an early age. When he was 15, he went to the pasture of the family's farm (200 acres near Elgin in Bastrop County) to bring in the milk cows and just kept walking. That was when he first discovered West Texas." Five years later, Kincaid went back to Bastrop County to visit his folks. "He brought the cows home and walked into the house," said Rosalie, recalling the story passed down through the generations. "His father didn't ask him where he had been for five years, he just told him to go see his mother, who was ill."...more

Song Of The Day #486

 It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here is Asleep At The Wheel performing Coast to Coast from their Swingin Best Of CD.

If they were countries

It has long been true that California on its own would rank as one of the biggest economies in the world. At present it would rank 8th, falling between Italy and Brazil on a nominal exchange-rate basis. But how do other American states compare with other countries? Taking the nearest equivalent country from 2009 data reveals some surprises. Who would have thought that despite years of car-industry hardship, Michigan's economy is about the same size as the whole of Taiwan's

The interactive version of this map includes population, as well as GDP, equivalents

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Forty miles of dirt road

 by Julie Carter

Across the cattle guard somewhere, a long way from the pavement, is a cowboy's bride marveling over her practical Christmas gifts and dreading the next oncoming storm because the water pipes are still frozen from the last one.

Ranch wives have different phobias than their city counterparts.

No need for the common city phobias such as "claustro: and "agora." The wide open spaces prevent the former and the latter, said to be caused by social anxiety problems, would require a whole lot more "social" in her life than does actually happen.

The more common phobias experienced by ranch wives include fear of gifts and invitations.

This year's winner of the "practical Christmas gift" from the cowboy husband was the new floor for the kitchen.

That rates right up there with a former top-of-the-list item - a cattle guard so the little wife doesn't have to open and close the gate several times a day on her way to check waters, deliver the mail and other assorted chores requiring driving down the dirt road.

The 2-year-old colt he had been eyeing for himself but sacrificed his desires to give it to her to break and start in the spring, comes in a shaky third, especially when accompanied by a new saddle that, oddly, fits him and not her.

Big ticket items are as common as her phobia for them. Gifts such as the new mud grips for her "personal" feed pickup, or a new battery for the same, so that he does not have to come rescue her in the back pasture when the truck dies.

The very thoughtful love of her life has been known to give her new horn wraps for the roping steers because she was always complaining that the old ones were hard to put on and take off.

Past years have yielded new shotguns, new hotshots, new fence stretchers and the ever-popular, new red, wood-splitting maul.

And then there are those "invitations" from her loving partner.

"Honey, how would you like to go with me to check the grass and new calves all over the ranch?"

This innocent and thoughtful invitation is a city girl's dream to be a "cowboy" for a day. How-ever, the seasoned ranch wife knows that this invite will involve making burritos for the saddlebags, opening15 gates, tallying up everything seen, and making the list of whatever needs to be fixed that is encountered along this "pleasant" tour.

It also involves riding that half-broke colt that needs the miles and to date, has not quite grasped the concept of standing still while being mounted. Her cowboy has that pesky bad knee from an old roping injury, making gate duty her job forever.

The upside is that a refined skill is learned by the cowboy's bride. While maybe never actually consciously yearning to be an actress, she becomes one of Oscar quality.

Expressing enthusiasm for his newest brainstormed project, gratitude for those practical gifts, and excitement for yet another round of "Come go with me. We'll be right back," continually improves her forced smiling techniques.

One early morning the cowboy was lollygagging around, delaying his promise to help her with a project that required his stature and strength.

Her encouragement for progress pushed him to the limit.

Agitated, he barked at her, "You know I'm a slow starter."

Her reply was a sincere attempt to give him a compliment.

"But you're a real quick finisher."

For some reason, he was mad at her for days. Hard to figure. So goes life behind the cattle guard and down 40 miles of dirt road.

Julie can be reached for comment at

The Job--the true endangered species

by Marita K. Noon

The Obama administration wants us to believe that they will really focus on jobs and the economy. The announcements and “pro-business” staff members are just window dressing. While no one is looking, they’re continuing the job-killing policies.

On December 14, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard “faces immediate and significant threats due to oil and gas activities and herbicide treatments.” As a result, they propose it be listed as “endangered”—under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)—which starts the clock for a 60-day public comment period. Hoping no one would notice, the proposal was announced during the throes of the holiday season. We, the public, need to take notice.

Ranchers, farmers and oil and gas producers who will be impacted by the potential listing have been working with the FWS on a brand new program called a Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA). Some had already signed a contract agreeing to conservation measures above and beyond what is currently required—and more were about to. The CCA was seen as an effective way to avoid more government regulations by voluntarily preserving the species. In addition to protecting the lizard, they committed to reclaiming abandoned oil wells and paying additional fees that would go into special funds for habitat restoration. The CCA was thought to be a pilot project for industry/agency cooperation. But that cooperation went out the window with the surprise land-grab-action on December 14. The lizard and man’s land use could have co-existed. But, this is not about the critter. It is about control—as most endangered species issues are.

The Dunes Sagebrush Lizard lives in the Permian Basin’s prime ranching/farming and oil/gas country—encompassing Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas. Both private landowners and industries are “threatened” as working the land might “take” a lizard. Instead they take jobs. If listed, ranching, farming, and drilling will be severely restricted in the region. Funds will not be available for protection or restoration. A line will be drawn in the sand and the lizard will be left as he is.

If the lizard receives the ESA listing, oil and gas development will be virtually stopped for those that have not yet signed the CCA and no new exploration will be allowed—which means even higher prices at the pump. As we’ve seen with the closing of the Alaska pipeline, the less supply we have, the higher the price. If the economy’s really important, wouldn’t Washington want to keep prices low for the consumer and to help recovery?

An ESA listing will also block potential wind farms and solar installations. The news release states that “Habitat loss and fragmentation” is due to the “creation of roads and pads, pipelines and transmission lines.” Transmission lines are needed to get the renewable energy from “out there” where the land is to “in here” where the people are. 

The endangered species we should all be concerned about is “the job.” The economy of this entire portion of the country is dependent on ranching/farming and the extractive industries. Take them away and you take jobs away. The region will become the victim of policy-induced poverty.

The proposed listing of the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard, and the Lesser Prairie Chicken expected to be proposed next, are premiers for the job-killing regulatory action being taken nationwide. The lizard may be located in small part of the country that few know or care about, but the Lesser Prairie Chicken listing will impact five states: New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado—all important ranching/farming and oil/gas lands. The impact of both will be felt throughout America.

Where will it end? Is their goal to stop all new wealth creation?

The public must take notice! We must demand that the economic impact be considered before they shut down all mining and farming. The listing of the Spotted Owl has killed logging and created ghost towns—and the owls are still in decline after twenty years of protection. The ESA protection of the Delta Smelt created unemployment in the San Joaquin Valley of more than 40%--until two Congressmen’s vote for healthcare turned the water back on. (Suddenly the smelt wasn’t so important.)

We are in an economic war. If America is to win, we must put pressure on Washington to listen. At the very least, they must extend the public comment period for the Dunes Sagebrush Lizard—and then we must comment: “Don’t lock up more lands!”

Marita Noon is the Executive Director at Energy Makes America Great Inc. the advocacy arm of the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy--working to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom and the American way of life. Find out more at