Friday, February 25, 2011

Salazar strikes back at critics of ‘wild lands’ policy, hopes for ‘common ground’

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Thursday struck back at critics of his “Wild Lands” conservation initiative, comments that come days after the House approved GOP legislation to block funding for the program. “I think there are people who have made more of this issue than they should have, including people who are doing it for whatever political agenda they want to serve,” Salazar said during wide-ranging remarks on conservation at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. The federal spending package the House approved last week would prevent Interior from using fiscal year 2011 funds to implement the program. But Salazar noted that a slew of House Republicans have introduced bills in this Congress to protect areas in their states, including House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who leads the Appropriations Committee panel that controls Interior’s spending. “Wilderness is not a bad thing and they recognize it,” Salazar noted, and said there is a need to “tone down the rhetoric.”...more
“I think there are people who have made more of this issue than they should have, including people who are doing it for whatever political agenda they want to serve,” Salazar said...
Amazing. Does he think we don't understand his issuing of the Wild Lands policy, including both the contents and the timing, were a political payoff to the enviros?

Nice try Mr. Secretary, but it won't hold water.

Salazar says he wants to find some "common ground".  That's the problem with his policy - the criteria he proposes is so loose that it's apparent they want to take common ground and designate it as Wild Lands.

Salazar: Colorado River issue could push conservatives to face climate change

Could Western conservatives push the GOP toward adopting a more friendly stance on climate change? Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar certainly seems to think so.
In comments he delivered at a symposium hosted by the progressive Center for American Progress Thursday morning, Salazar said the worsening situation with the Colorado River -- where the water level has dropped about 20 percent in the last decade -- is serving as a powerful wake-up call to conservatives to do something about climate change. “The seven states ... are a bastion of conservatism. They recognize ... that the water supplies of the Colorado River are directly related to the changing of the climate,” Salazar said. “You further reduce that by 20 percent, what’s that going to mean for the cities of Los Angeles and Las Vegas?” “They get it,” Salazar continued. “And so what they’re saying to us is ‘we support, understand, the changes climate change is going to bring to our communities and our states, and we want to get ahead of it.’ ” The Western states that feed off the Colorado River -- California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming -- are not all conservative-leaning; in fact, in the last presidential election, four of the seven went Democrat. But as a bloc, the West does have a higher complement of conservative voters and representatives than most regions of the country -- and also has an especially close dependency on the environment...more

Pressures Mount to Resume Drilling

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plans to meet with oil industry executives in Houston Friday to assess the industry's readiness to handle a major offshore oil spill, amid growing pressure from congressional Republicans and a federal judge to resume deep-water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Salazar is expected to meet with representatives of an industry-led consortium, Marine Well Containment Co., and Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc., a company that aided BP PLC with BP's response to last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The Obama administration has said the oil industry must demonstrate it can quickly contain a large offshore spill before it will allow companies to resume drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet. The recent jump in world oil prices and U.S. gasoline prices following unrest in Libya has spurred renewed calls from many Republicans and Gulf Coast Democrats in Congress to allow more domestic production. One House committee is scheduled to hold hearings on drilling policy next month. Clearing the way for more offshore drilling would do little in the near term to increase domestic oil supplies. But it could insulate the Obama administration from Republican charges that the White House is denying access to domestic supplies at a time when markets are increasingly jittery about the security of Middle Eastern oil supplies amid the unrest across the region...more

Under fire, BLM revises strategy for wild horses

After getting an earful from the public, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is softening its policy on wild horses — going so far as to join forces with the Humane Society of the United States. On Thursday, BLM Director Bob Abbey announced that he was stepping up reforms to his agency’s Wild Horse and Burro Program while turning to other agencies and organizations for help. The BLMhas struggled in recent years to handle the explosive growth of wild horse herds on public lands. In the meantime, Abbey said he was moving ahead with certain changes, including: • Reducing the proposed number of horses permanently removed from the range annually by almost a quarter, to 7,600. • Increasing horse adoptions from 3,000 this year to 4,000. • Quadrupling the number of mares receiving fertility treatments to 2,000 annually...more

Groups sign pact to restore northern Ariz. forests

A group of people who had been legal adversaries at times have signed an agreement to help restore northern Arizona's ponderosa pine forest. Conservationists, scientists, timber industry representatives, local officials and the U.S. Forest Service agreed this week to work together to help accelerate restoration in a 2.4 million-acre area along the Mogollon Rim. The Four Forest Restoration Initiative is aimed at establishing natural fire regimes, reducing fire threats to communities and creating sustainable forest industries. Coconino National Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart says the signing by more than 20 organizations shows how people with different viewpoints can work toward a common goal. The Forest Service released a proposal last month to treat the first 750,000 acres on the Coconino and Kaibab forests. The public comment period expires March 11. AP

I wish them well, but in other instances some group who is not a party to the agreement appeals or sues and either delays or kills the project(s).

Wolves at the door in Oregon

When it comes to wolf management, Idaho’s present is Oregon’s future, several speakers said Feb. 19. At a Wolf Free Oregon meeting, speakers from rural Idaho warned Oregonians — especially those in the northeastern corner of the state — that wolves will overrun populations of elk and other wildlife, continue to attack cattle and other livestock, damage the region’s tourism economy and threaten public safety. “What we have is headed your direction,” Rex Rammell, an activist and former gubernatorial candidate, told the group at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building in Enterprise. “Our elk herds are gone.” Idaho ranchers have also endured huge livestock losses from the 839 wolves estimated to be in the state, Rammell said. Wolves killed an estimated 413 cattle and sheep in 2009 alone. Last week, a rancher near Joseph lost two pregnant cows to wolves and other ranchers have lost an estimated 36-50 cattle to wolves in the past two years. State and federal officials sometimes do not agree on whether wolves killed livestock, so numbers vary, according to past news accounts. “They did not put oatmeal-eating wolves in the Bitterroot, and they did not put oatmeal-eating wolves in Oregon,” said Mike Popp, a hunting guide who said he has seen the damage wolves caused to the elk populations in Idaho. He lives in the Lolo region, where he said elk population plummeted from 16,000 in 1995 to 2,100 currently...more

EDITORIAL: Endangered Species Act must be fixed

The wolf menace continues unabated for Wallowa County ranchers. Though some people react with a degree of surprise that wolves would attack livestock and other wildlife, it is only natural, and it is a scenario played out across the northern tier of the continental U.S., Canada and Alaska. Wolves are predators. They hunt in packs and see a herd of cattle or a flock of sheep as a moving buffet. To expect them to leave livestock alone is about as realistic as expecting a teen-ager not to like hamburgers. There is no shortage of wolves in the West. The wolf population has exploded since they were reintroduced. Wolves number in the thousands in Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. Idaho and Montana have even had wolf hunts to keep the numbers under control. Based on numbers only, the wolf program has been successful — too successful. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has done a lousy job managing the wolves, to the point that governors in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana have revolted against the wolf program. As long as wolves are listed as endangered species, they cannot be properly managed. Their numbers need to be closely monitored and regulated, like any other wildlife. And when they cause problems for livestock, ranchers need to be authorized to kill the wolves on the spot, not after pleading with some bureaucrat...more

New Soros investment fund, profiting off Obama's 'green energy' push, hires top Obama energy aide

George Soros -- whom we're always told is not serving his own economic interests at all by promoting liberal politicians and big-government policies -- is launching a new investment fund that plans to profit off of the "green energy" boom, which is entirely dependent on government subsidies supported by the groups Soros funds. So, yeah. The big-government policies advanced by the liberal outfits he funds -- like Center for American Progress -- will enrich the companies in which Soros is investing. But this story gets better. The press release casually mentions whom Soros is hiring to run this new fund: Cathy Zoi. As Cadie Thompson at CNBC's NetNet (edited by my brother John Carney), puts it, Zoi was Barack Obama's "Acting Under Secretary for Energy and Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy." An Al Gore acolyte, Zoi was Obama's point-woman on subsidizing green tech. Now she's going to work for George Soros to profit off of subsidized green tech. If you remember Zoi's name, it's because of another green-tech conflict of interest: Zoi's husband is an executive at a window company, Serious Windows, which the White House regularly held up as a "poster child of green industry."...more

Tiny beetle subject of big dispute

A half-inch long beetle called one of the rarest insects in the world is at the center of a lawsuit filed this week in federal court in Denver. Three environmental groups sued Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acting director Rowan Gould, saying the officials did not set aside enough habitat to preserve the Salt Creek tiger beetle. The beetle lives only in salty wetlands in eastern Nebraska, and only 165 adult beetles were found during a 2008 survey — all living on the outskirts of Lincoln, Neb., according to the lawsuit. In 2005, a coalition of biologists determined that protecting 37,000 acres would be necessary for the beetle's recovery, according to the lawsuit. After a series of downward revisions, the federal government designated only 2,000 acres as critical habitat, the lawsuit claims...more

Bill could open up options on Baldy

The local axiom "Come for the winters, stay for the summers" could become even more true if a Colorado lawmaker's ski-area bill is made federal law. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., introduced a bill last week that would open up regulations for ski areas in national forests. The bill is currently being considered in the Senate Committee for Energy and Natural Resources. Federal law allows resorts such as Sun Valley to lease land from the U.S. Forest Service for Nordic and alpine skiing, but the new bill would also allow summer activities such as zip lines, mountain bike trails, Frisbee golf and ropes courses on ski areas...more

Oregon rancher turns 10,000 acres into wildlife habitat

A rancher in Eastern Oregon has placed over 10,000 acres of wildlife habitat under permanent protection with a conservation easement with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The easement ensures the future of vital winter range for a regional herd of 600-800 elk. John and Patricia Habberstad of China Peak Ranch, near Monument, have placed 10,334 acres under easement with RMEF in three stages dating back to 2002. The most recent action, completed in January, added 5,101 acres to the total. Bill Richardson, RMEF lands program manager for Oregon and Washington, said, “The Habberstads are doing a wonderful job of managing their land for the benefit of wildlife. They have worked to rejuvenate decadent fields, control invasive weeds and juniper, establish water sources and develop springs. The native bunchgrasses on the ranch are flourishing and the habitat quality is on an upward trajectory.”...more

Flood sweeps away 4 Amish children in horse-drawn buggy

The bodies of three Amish children were found early Friday after their horse-drawn buggy overturned in a creek swollen by heavy rains in southwestern Kentucky. A fourth child was still missing. A mother and her six children were trying to cross the creek on a roadway Thursday when the accident happened. The woman and two of her children escaped but the other four were swept away.NBC station WSMV-TV reported that they were aged 11, 5, 8 and 6 months old...more

Fox hunt takes after eastern NM coyotes

With bellies full of port and sherry, the ladies and gentlemen of an Albuquerque-based fox hunting group cantered over the eastern escarpment of the Pecos River Valley for the first time this month. The group, Juan Tomas Hounds, is a member of the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America established in the 1960s and usually hunts only on ranches located between Albuquerque and Santa Fe or the undeveloped land on the Duke City's West Mesa. But two Roswell JTH members persuaded the red-coated masters and their hounds to hunt coyotes on Bureau of Land Management-owned land just opposite Bottomless Lakes State Park. "We like to hunt in various places," said Leandro Gutierrez, a veterinarian at Casa Querencia Animal Health in Roswell who scouted the land three weeks before the hunt. "We're from here, and it's a great honor for us to host a hunt here." In traditional 16th-century British form, the riders sipped their wine from plastic cups (well, almost traditional) during the "Stirrup Cup" prior to the hunt, then donned traditional English hunting attire. Masters and former masters wear scarlet coats, while women wear colored collars on their riding jackets. Everyone sports breeches, English dress riding boots and black hunt caps with ribbons on the back...more

If nothing else they probably scared the coyotes to death.

‘Buckskin Bill’ lived off the land

Sylvan "Buckskin Bill" Hart received his nickname when he visited a Forest Service station at Mackay Bar on the Salmon River in central Idaho. Hart had been living on the river for two years where he was killing deer and using all parts of the animal to survive. He made clothes out of deer hide, which he wore with the fur on the inside next to his skin. The fur absorbed his perspiration. When he arrived at Mackay Bar, he smelled so bad in his tanned skin clothing that the rangers called him "Buckskin Bill." "These guys are not being replaced," said Megan Murphy, executive director of the Ketchum-Sun Valley Ski and Heritage Museum in Ketchum. Hart lived from 1906 to 1980. He was born in Oklahoma Territory and was the oldest of six children. During the Great Depression, he left Oklahoma to work in Texas oilfields. He worked toward a master's degree in petroleum engineering at the University of Oklahoma but never finished it. In 1932, Hart and his father arrived at Five Mile Bar on the Salmon River. His father eventually left for a larger city but Hart stayed. Managing to live without eviction or conviction, Hart was constantly threatened by the U.S. government, including by the Internal Revenue Service. Hart died of a heart attack in 1980. His outpost is now a popular stop for whitewater rafters, kayakers and anglers who float down the Salmon River...more

Song Of The Day #515

Ranch Radio will wrap up our Dusty Old 78s Week with two selections that are plumb country.

Today we feature two Charlies who are having women trouble. First up is Charlie Adams with If A Beer Bottle Had A Nipple On It followed by Charlie Gore and Its A Long Walk Back To Town.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Funding Impasse Threatens Park Shutdowns, Oil and Gas Permitting Freeze

Looks like they are breaking out the old national park syndrome, trying to influence/scare those who are attempting to implement some fiscal sanity. Here's the NY Times:
As lawmakers struggle to pass a spending bill before current federal funding runs out next week, observers warn that a government shutdown could severely hamper land management agencies and the people and businesses they support. Failure to extend funding could mean furloughs for tens of thousands of agency employees and lead to the closure of national parks, the loss of regional tourism dollars and the cessation of permitting for oil and gas drilling, mining, recreation and other public land uses...
Well visitation to the national parks was down by 4.2 million last year anyway, so I say shut them down.

Furloughing "tens of thousands" of envirocrats? Let's call them Freedom Furloughs and have plenty of them.

Permits? Have enough of those Freedom Furloughs and we won't need no stinking permits.  Federal lands will once again become public lands, or better yet private lands.

Let's make The West a permit-free zone.

Feds, environmental groups file arguments on wolf recovery

Should the gray wolf's legal status be governed by maps or mates? At stake are Montana and Idaho's ability to have game wardens shoot wolves they suspect of killing too many elk in the Bitterroot Mountains along the state border. On Tuesday, lawyers for the U.S. government and a coalition of wildlife advocates filed their answers with U.S. District Judge Don Molloy in Missoula. The states want to use a part of the federal Endangered Species Act called the 10(j) rule for permission to cull the wolves. The rule gives the agency flexibility to kill endangered species when they threaten livestock or big game, although it does not allow public hunting. The lawsuit started in 2008, when Earthjustice attorneys challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's claim that wolves in southern Montana and Idaho were part of a transplanted, "experimental/non-essential" population that could be managed under the 10(j) rule...more

Use of diesel in wells probed

Colorado oil and gas officials have launched an investigation into the use of diesel fuel in the state as a component in the fluid used by drillers to enhance well production. "Frac fluid" is sent down a well under pressure to break the rock strata to release more oil and gas in a process called hydraulic fracturing. On Jan. 31, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce said its investigation had found oil and gas companies had injected 32.2 million gallons of diesel fuel or fluids containing diesel fuel into the ground in 19 states between 2005 and 2009. In Colorado, 1.3 million gallons of fluids containing diesel fuel were used, according to a letter sent to the Environmental Protection Agency by three Democratic committee members, including Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver. The practice, the legislators said, may have violated the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which oversees drilling, asked the congressional committee for the Colorado data...more

Butterfly may block bike race

The 6th-annual Idyllwild Spring Challenge is in some jeopardy. The U.S. Forest Service is conducting an environmental assessment of biking use of the area normally part of the race course, which is considered one of the most beautiful race venues in the country. One of the issues that the Forest Service is investigating is potential threat to the habitat of the Quino checkerspot butterfly, which is on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Threatened and Endangered Species list. To protect the Quino’s habitat in the May Valley area, the San Jacinto Ranger District has begun a project to analyze the effects of continuing to permit annual bike events on trails in the May Valley area. According to Forest Service official Andy Smith, there is a possibility that the event won’t be permitted to occur as planned. “If we do have a finding that there’s a significant effect [on the habitat of the Quino checkerspot butterfly], we would not permit the race,” he said...more

Good move by Obama

The proposed fiscal year 2012 new construction monies for the Office of the Job Corps have been slashed by the Obama Administration. The Job Corps program in this country is run by the U.S. Department of Labor. The federal agency has 124 Job Corps centers with the majority operated by private contractors and non-profit organizations. This includes 28 Job Corps facilities the Forest Service operates in partnership with the Labor Department...more

Cattle rustling is on the rise in Oklahoma

A sketchy back story, two dead calves and a discerning livestock veterinarian led investigators to a cattle-rustling plot stretching across two counties. But this crime wasn't committed 100 years ago. It's happening today. Hundreds of cattle thefts have been reported in Oklahoma since last year. Incidents have increased as the price of cattle remains high and the economy remains sluggish, investigators say. Oklahoma has traditionally been one of the top-five cattle-producing states in the country, with an industry valued about $2 billion. This makes the animals valuable not only to the ranchers, but to the state's economy, as well. Rustlers are quick to capitalize on the strong market...more

Abraham Lincoln rides to Washington, 150 years later

So began the federal government's commemoration of the last leg of Lincoln's journey to Washington 150 years ago Wednesday, and the National Park Service's official Civil War sesquicentennial observance. Baltimore was his next-to-last stop. He had been on the road for 13 days, having stopped in 17 cities and addressed thousands of people across almost 2,000 miles, aides said. But soon he would be in Washington, where his inauguration was scheduled for March 4 - 1861. Wednesday's event was marked by historical similarities - Lincoln was portrayed by Springfield actor Fritz Klein, 62, who, like Lincoln, stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and sports real whiskers. The train was met at Union Station by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in his trademark black cowboy hat, and a mob of reporters. The faux Lincoln was accompanied by National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "This is the first, most significant beginning of the Civil War sesquicentennial," Jarvis said in Baltimore before the trip started. "What we're using this opportunity for . . . is to really . . . deepen the discussion about the cause of the Civil War."...more

Song Of The Day #514

There's two more 78s on Ranch Radio today.

Ann Jones apparently believes everything her man says in I Believe You, Baby while Billy Briggs and His XIT Boys seem to have developed a slight dislike for a sweet thing in You Almost Killed My Soul.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Idaho governor supports Montana wolf plan

Gov. Butch Otter supports a decision by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer that would make it easier for ranchers and the state to kill that state's endangered wolves. The decision is very similar to one made by Otter in October. "They're pretty much identical with one exception," said Otter spokesman Jon Hanian. Schweitzer stated in a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar dated Feb. 16 that he is directing Montana game wardens not to prosecute any rancher or other livestock owner who killed a wolf that was harassing stock. In addition, Schweitzer stated he would order the department to remove whole packs that prey on livestock, as well as wolves that prey on elk in Montana's Bitterroot Valley near Missoula. These actions are legal with federal approval in some circumstances, but not in this case. The wolves Schweitzer is threatening to remove are north of Interstate 90, which means they are classified as "endangered" rather than "experimental."...more

Poll respondents back Montana's defiance on wolves

The overwhelming majority of respondents to an online poll by Montana's News Station back Montana Governor Schweitzer's defiance of federal law for managing wolves. Last week, Schweitzer sent a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar saying Montana would chart its own course for managing wolves, including elimination of entire wolf packs that are preying on cattle and elk. The news comes as lawmakers in both Idaho and Montana are making numerous moves to try and circumvent federal wolf management under the Endangered Species Act. Some 71.76% say they think Montana is "well within its rights in defying the federal government on wolf management" while 21.85% say the state and federal governments "need to quit arguing and work together for a long-term plan."...more

Supreme Court Decides Against Intervening in 'Critical Habitat' Designations

The Supreme Court declined today to take up whether federal regulators and courts take account sufficiently of the economic impacts of "critical habitat" designations under the Endangered Species Act. It is a touchy issue because private property owners, including developers and ranchers, have objected to critical habitat designations that infringe on their ability to do business. The Endangered Species Act specifically states that the Fish and Wildlife Service must designate critical habitats based on "the best scientific data available" but must also "take into consideration the economic impact" of a designation. The service has the discretion to reject an area for inclusion in the critical habitat for economic, national security or "any other relevant impact." FWS favors what is known as the "baseline" approach, in which the government compares the "current state of affairs" with "how things would look after the designation of critical habitat," according to the Obama administration's brief in one of the cases. Property owners challenging the designations argued that the economic analysis should also include other factors, including the impact of the ESA listing in itself, the general economic climate and other regulations that businesses are required to follow. In the first case, Arizona Cattle Growers Association v. Salazar, the 9th Circuit, in a ruling issued in June, upheld the government's designation of critical habitat for the Mexican spotted owl (Greenwire, June 7, 2010). The area encompasses around 8.6 million acres in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. The second case, Home Builders Association of Northern California v. FWS, decided a couple of weeks later, involves the designation of critical habitat for 15 protected species, comprised of four crustaceans and 11 plants. Again, the 9th Circuit endorsed the plan. The final designation included almost 860,000 acres in 34 California counties and one in Oregon...more

Animal Rights Lawsuits Hurting Wildlife Funding & Draining Taxpayer Dollars

Legal defense costs are an increasing drain on conservation funding today.Alarmed by the trend, the Boone and Crockett Club has launched a new examination of federal statutes that enable ongoing litigation at a high cost to wildlife and the American taxpayer. The Club’s primary concern is the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), which reimburses organizations that successfully sue federal agencies for non-compliance with federal law. Although well intended, abuses of EAJA are escalating into a modern conservation issue with potentially severe long-term consequences. “”The Club was and is deeply involved in designing and now protecting the economic engines that drive conservation in America,” said Ben Wallace, president of Boone and Crockett Club, “Since the 1880s, we’ve been the guardian of the most successful wildlife conservation system in the world. It’s a system that depends on funding, and we take very seriously the fact that money and other resources intended to support conservation are being diverted elsewhere.”” Past Club President Lowell E. Baier is leading the ongoing investigation and his preliminary findings were reported in a two-article series published in Boone and Crockett’s magazine, “Fair Chase.” The articles, complete with detailed background and statistics, are now available free to the public at

U.N. presses Hollywood to draw attention to 'dangers of global warming'

The United Nations has long courted celebrities for its peace-keeping and anti-poverty efforts, from Mia Farrow and Ricky Martin to George Clooney and Angelina Jolie. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement. Hollywood stars grasp at gravitas; the U.N. pushes for publicity. Now the beleaguered multi-national agency, fresh from a disappointing round of climate negotiations in Cancun, wants something more concrete: actual story lines in movies, television and social media drawing attention to the dangers of global warming. The push comes at a time when public concern over climate change has plummeted in the polls and Congress has rejected federal legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions. “Usually I speak to prime ministers and presidents, but that has its limits” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who arrived in Los Angeles on Monday for a high-profile outreach effort. “Movie producers, directors, actors — they have global reach.” Ban will sit down for a conversation with actor Don Cheadle before several hundred entertainment industry invitees at a “Global Creative Forum” Tuesday at the Hammer Museum. The day-long gathering will feature panels titled “The United Nations and Hollywood for a Greener and Better Planet,” “Making Global Warming a HOT Issue” and "Empowering Women and Protecting Children for a Safer World.”...more

Congress to Hold Hearing on DOI's 'Wild Lands' Policy

The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources will hold an oversight hearing on March 1 entitled "The Impact of the Administration's Wild Lands Order on Jobs and Economic Growth." "This is a prime example of why Congress must exercise vigorous oversight of the Obama Administration," said Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. "The Wild Lands policy expressly circumvents Congress' statutory authority to establish Wilderness areas." A Wilderness designation is one of the strictest forms of public land management. Once Congress designates an area as Wilderness, nearly all forms of non-pedestrian recreation are illegal. The AMA supports appropriate Wilderness designations that meet the criteria established by Congress in 1964, but anti-access advocates have been abusing the legislative process to ban responsible OHV recreation on public land. With the new "Wild Lands" policy, anti-access advocates and the administration are now seeking an end-run around Congress. Salazar's order has far-reaching implications because the BLM manages about 245 million acres of public land nationwide, primarily in western states...more

Ranchers say water test results look encouraging

A water quality study conducted by University of California, Davis, researchers shows mostly low levels of bacteria in Stanislaus National Forest streams. Ranchers who graze cattle on the national forest lands welcomed the scientific data, saying they count on good water quality to maintain healthy livestock and a productive environment. Livestock producers who hold grazing permits on the Stanislaus National Forest in the central Sierra have been collaborating on the pilot water quality testing program. During a public meeting last week in Sonora, researchers announced the program will be expanded this summer to other national forests in California. Results of last summer's pilot testing program at more than 40 different locations on three grazing allotments in the forest showed mostly low, safe bacteria levels in streams. The bacteria standard set by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is 200 fecal coliform units or less per 100 milliliters of water. For the most part, streams tested were below 100 units, with many registering bacteria levels of zero...more

Successful amendments to the Continuing Resolution

Rep. Hal Rogers, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has issued a press release that lists all the successful amendments to the Continuing Resolution.

Below I've listed those which may be of interest to readers of this blog.

I found nothing on livestock grazing, NEPA or wolves.

An amendment by Rep. Burton (R-IN) to eliminate $2 million in funding from the Bureau of Land Management for holding pens created for wild horses and burros.

An amendment by Rep. Pompeo (R-KS) to eliminate $8.4 million from the EPA's Greenhouse Gas Registry, a program that collects data on industrial greenhouse gas emissions, returning its funding to 2008 levels.

An amendment from Rep. Reed (R-NY) that eliminates all funding ($15 million) from the Presidio Trust Fund, removing all funding for the Presidio National Park, a former military compound in San Francisco.

An amendment from Rep. Scalise (R-LA) that prohibits the use of federal funds to pay the salaries and expenses of the following czars, or special presidential advisers who are not required to go through the Senate confirmation process: Obama Care Czar, Climate Change Czar, Global Warming Czar, Green Jobs Czar, Car Czar, Guantanamo Bay Closure Czar, Pay Czar and Fairness Doctrine Czar.

An amendment from Rep. Lummis (R-WY) to put a moratorium, for the duration of the CR, on the payment of legal fees to citizens and groups who sue the government, in order to study abuses in the system.

An amendment from Rep. Young (R-AK) to prohibit funds from being used by the EPA's Environmental Appeals Board to consider, review, reject remand or other invalidate any permit issued for Outer Continental Shelf sources located offshore of the States along the Arctic Coast.

An amendment from Reps. Poe (R-TX), Barton (R-TX) and Carter (R- TX) that defines specifically what greenhouse gases are and prohibits the EPA from imposing regulations on those gasses emitted by a stationary source for seven months.

An amendment from Rep. McClintock (R-CA) that prohibits funds from being used to implement the Klamath (California) Dam Removal and Sedimentation Study, conducted by the US Bureau of Reclamation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

An amendment by Rep. Herger (R-CA) that prohibits the use of funds to implement or enforce the Travel Management Rule, which would close roads and trails on National Forest System land.

An amendment from Rep. Boren (D-OK) that prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from collecting information on multiple sales of rifles or shotguns to the same person.

An amendment from Rep. Johnson (R-OH) to prohibit the use of funds for the Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) from moving forward with a proposed rule that would effectively eliminate the Stream Buffer Zone Rule, a rule that presently allows surface mining operations with qualified permits to work within 100 feet of a stream.

An amendment by Rep. Weiner (D-NY) that prohibits the use of funds to provide nonrecourse marketing assistance loans to mohair farmers.

An amendment from Rep. Flake (R-AZ) that prohibits funds from being used to construct ethanol blender pumps or ethanol storage facilities.

An amendment from Rep. Griffith (R-VA) prohibiting the EPA, Corps of Engineers and the Office of Surface Mining from implementing coordination procedures that have served to extend and delay the review of coal mining permits.

An amendment from Rep. Luetkemeyer (R-MO) that prohibits the use of funds for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

An amendment from Rep. Sullivan (R-OK) that blocks funds for the EPA to implement a waiver to increase the ethanol content in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent.

An amendment from Rep. McKinley (R-WV) that prohibits funding for the EPA to deny proposed and active mining permits under Section 404 (c) of the Clean Water Act, specifically to revoke retroactively a permit for the Spruce Mine in West Virginia.

An amendment from Rep. McKinley (R-WV) that prohibits funding for the EPA to implement regulations to designate coal ash reside as hazardous waste.

An amendment from Rep. Noem (R-SD) to prohibit funding for EPA to modify the national primary ambient air quality standards applicable to coarse particulate matter (dust).

Census: Near-Record Level of US Counties Dying

In all, roughly 760 of the nation's 3,142 counties are fading away, stretching from industrial areas near Pittsburgh and Cleveland to the vineyards outside San Francisco to the rural areas of east Texas and the Great Plains. Once-booming housing areas, such as retirement communities in Florida, have not been immune. West Virginia was the first to experience natural decrease statewide over the last decade, with Maine, Pennsylvania and Vermont close to following suit, according to the latest census figures. As a nation, the U.S. population grew by just 9.7 percent since 2000, the lowest decennial rate since the Great Depression. "Natural decrease is an important but not widely appreciated demographic phenomenon that is reshaping our communities in both rural and urban cores of large metro areas," said Kenneth Johnson, a sociology professor and demographer at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute who analyzed the census numbers. Johnson said common threads among the dying counties are older whites who are no longer having children, and an exodus of young adults who find little promise in the region and seek jobs elsewhere. The places also have fewer Hispanic immigrants, who on average are younger and tend to have more children than other groups. "The downturn in the U.S. economy is only exacerbating the problem," said Johnson, whose research paper is being published next month in the journal Rural Sociology. "In some cases, the only thing that can pull an area out is an influx of young Hispanic immigrants or new economic development."...more

Song Of The Day #513

It's Dusty Old 78s week on Ranch Radio and today we have Jimmy Walker performing I Plowed A Crooked Furrow followed by Rickets Hornpipe performed by Andy Hokum and His Pals Of The West.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Montana Governor’s Defiance of Feds Has Few Parallels

There are plenty of opportunities for governors and presidents to get cross-wise with each other, particularly in the West, where so much of the land is managed by federal land agencies like the Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and Fish & Wildlife. In most cases, squabbles among state and federal executives get worked out in the courts, through Congress or in the “bully pulpits” that governors and presidents use to persuade, cajole, denounce or otherwise set the stage for closed-door negotiations. What we saw recently in Montana are all of the above, as well as something radically different. In defiance of the federal Endangered Species Act, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer has ordered state officials to kill whole packs of gray wolves in response to attacks on livestock or elks. As of Friday morning, there were no reports of ranchers killing wolves or of state game officials gunning down entire wolf packs, so it could be argued that Schweitzer’s letter to Interior is, so far, a dramatic performance on the bully pulpit of state, regional and national media. However, when bullets begin to fly and dead wolves begin to pile up, this goes well beyond media gamesmanship and political brinksmanship. Indeed, Schweitzer’s action would then move toward and even beyond the political neighborhood of Alabama Gov. George Wallace, who stood in the doorway of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama to block two black students from enrolling...more

Why does the author go all the way back to June 11, 1963 for an example of a state standing up to the feds?  Especially since it was symbolic only, with Wallace stepping aside for the federal agents as the author admits. There can only be one reason and that is to besmirch Gov. Schweitzer and anyone else who defends state authority over natural resouces with the specter of racism.

Otherwise why not use the recent law passed by the Utah legislature and signed by the Governor which authorizes the state to exercise eminent domain on federal lands?

The author may not have noticed there seems to be a widespread movement a foot to challenge federal authority as states are passing:

10th Amendment Resolutions
Firearms Freedom Acts
State Marijuana Laws
Health Care Nullification Acts

And that is just a partial list.

The author then goes on to state, "...the last time there was unlimited defiance of federal authority, that was a matter rather firmly resolved at Gettysburg and Appomattox."

That is the argument they always resort to - do as we say or out come the guns.

Really? That doesn't seem to be the case with the state medical marijuana laws. Ten states had passed such laws by 2005 when the Supreme court said no you can't. And yet not one of those laws has been repealed and five more states have passed similar laws. Fifteen states have passed medical marijuana laws and are getting away with effect nullifying the federal law.

Judge rules against BLM in grazing appeal in Nevada

An Interior Department judge has ruled in favor of a conservation group's appeal of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's grazing plan for a large swath of eastern Nevada. Administrative Law Judge Andrew Pearlstein last week granted Western Watershed Projects' motion for a summary judgment in its appeal of the BLM Ely district's grazing plan for 1.3 million acres of public land in White Pine County. Jon Marvel, the group's executive director, praised the ruling, saying it makes clear that the BLM is legally required to consider management alternatives that reduce or remove livestock grazing where conflicts with wildlife exist. He said domestic sheep grazing permitted on eight affected allotments threatens the spread of deadly disease to Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Sheep grazing also affects sage grouse, pygmy rabbits, soils and vegetation, he added. "We look forward to reviewing BLM's court-ordered analysis of the benefit to wildlife that removing livestock grazing on these 1.3 million acres of public land promises," Marvel said in a statement...more

UI poll finds Idahoans support livestock grazing on public lands

A new statewide poll found that 89 percent of Idaho residents approve of livestock grazing as a legitimate practice on public lands, and 85 percent support it as an appropriate use along with hiking, camping, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing and hunting. The statewide telephone poll of 618 Idaho households was conducted by the University of Idaho Social Science Research Unit for the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission (IRRC) in December. It is a statistically valid poll that sampled a broad cross-section of Idaho's rural and urban residents, an equal number of males and females, people from different political persuasions, and mobile phone users as well as landline users. The poll has an accuracy rating of 96 percent. IRRC officials said they commissioned the poll to understand the overall perception of Idaho residents about grazing, and how those perceptions might be evolving due to changes in Idaho's population demographics and the emergence of the "New West." IRRC officials released the poll today to foreshadow a program sponsored by the Idaho Environmental Forum called "Ranching in the 21st Century" at noon Thursday at the Owyhee Plaza Hotel in Boise. The event is open to the public. Despite the major population growth that Idaho has experienced over the last decade, public support for livestock grazing on public lands has remained steady, and newer residents support livestock grazing just as strongly as long-time Idaho residents or native Idahoans, the poll found...more

Obama's new forest rules: Read the fine print

The U.S. Forest Service's vision is good. It acknowledges the need for early public input on forest planning and, because national forests differ from place to place, maintains that forest plans should reflect some of these differences. The agency also recognizes that management decisions need to be grounded in sound science. But as always the devil is in the details. A closer look reveals that sound science only has to be considered, not actually used in forest plans. And while forests differ, the rule should ensure that essential ecosystem benefits transcending all forests -- such as clean drinking water and viable wildlife populations -- have meaningful protections. The rule would require protective buffers around streams, but lacks measurable, enforceable standards such as limiting activities known to be harmful to watersheds. It punts these decisions to local managers. People who live in Bend, Medford, La Grande, Baker City, Salem and Ashland, who get a significant amount of their drinking water from national forests, should be concerned. The rule is less protective of wildlife than even the 1982 Reagan planning rules. It does not require that Forest Service managers show that management actions are actually maintaining fish and wildlife populations. This omission could result in local wildlife extinctions that are important indicators of the health of ecosystems. And while the Forest Service talks about transitioning out of old-growth logging, there's no guidance on whether the agency will walk its talk when timber companies want to cut down our last mature and old-growth forests and mining companies are polluting salmon-bearing streams. History shows that absent adequate safeguards, old-growth forests, roadless areas and clean water all take a back seat...more

Forest Service planning takes a local turn

One of the best things about living in the north state is the millions of acres of national forest practically — for a lucky few, literally — across our backyard fences. And one of the worst things about living in the north state is that we can't jawbone with our neighbor across the fence to settle any disputes. Instead, the U.S. Forest Service's decisions are frequently opaque, unaccountable, bureaucratically maddening and made by higher-ups in offices hundreds or even thousands of miles distant from the people who have to live with them. It's a system that deeply frustrates not only citizens but also local elected officials and even ground-level agency staff. "One point of tension," the rules states, "was how to balance the need for national consistency with the need for local flexibility. Some people want a rule that is streamlined ... so that local units have more flexibility in how their plan is developed and in what it needs to contain. At the other end of the spectrum, others want a rule that is highly prescriptive and includes detailed national standards and processes." And how does the rule settle that dispute? In a shift from the seemingly irreversible centralization of decision-making, it actually gives more authority to local forest chiefs, making them the "responsible official" for forest plans. "This is a change from the 1982 rule, which identified the regional forester as the responsible official," the draft planning rule notes...more

200 Californians celebrate snow, get ticket from Forest Service

Snowfall in Santa Barbara County rarely happens, but that day of fun at Figueroa Mountain over the weekend ended with frustration for some visitors. The Forest Service says hundreds of people were breaking the rules and slapped with a ticket for not buying the "adventure pass" and that now has some upset. From snowball fights to sledding down the mountain, visitors were having all kinds of fun. Shelley Orozco, Santa Barbara resident, said, "It's awesome! We never have snow over here, we love it." We found many families as well as their furry friends taking advantage of the rare snowfall in Santa Barbara County Sunday afternoon. Sabina Funk, Santa Barbara County resident, said, "We bring up the boogie boards like good Santa Barbarans." But apparently some didn't know about the adventure pass or simply decided not to buy one so they were given a $5 ticket. The Forest Service is estimating some 200 were issued...more

Activist Who Bid on Oil Leases Faces 10 Years in Prison

University of Utah economics student Tim DeCristopher delayed the selling of oil and gas leases on thousands of acres of public land more than two years ago, but now his actions have him facing felony charges in a Utah federal court. On December 19, 2008, DeChristopher participated in a public auction to sell off 77 parcels of federal land totaling 150,000 acres for oil and gas drilling. Although he had no money, DeChristopher bid $1.8 million for 14 parcels covering 22,000 acres of land, and in the process kept the leases from going to corporate bidders. The auction had been scheduled to take place just a month before George W. Bush was replaced as president of the United States by Barack Obama. When a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff member at the auction asked him if he would like to be a bidder, DeChristopher said yes. “It was easier than signing up on eBay,” he would later say. When the leaders of the BLM discovered DeChristopher’s scheme, they called for a grand jury to investigate the activist. An indictment was handed down, and DeChristopher’s trial is set to begin on February 28...more

Canyon again off limits at Chile Challenge

Off-road vehicle aficionados are gearing up for an annual rock crawl event that will take place this week on public lands near Las Cruces. Drivers from several states - along with their vehicles, usually heavily modified to navigate rough terrain - will show up to the 21st Annual Chile Challenge. Most of the trails are in the Robledo Mountains, northwest of Las Cruces. But one of the main attractions of past years has again been eliminated on its most popular day, in an attempt to curtail the number of spectators. As was the case last year, the agency has disallowed use of vehicle trails in Branson Canyon, but only on Saturday, said U.S. Bureau of Land Management official Tom Phillips. One of the most rugged Chile Challenge routes runs through that canyon. And it once attracted hundreds of people on the event's last day, because it was relatively easy to access and people were off work for the weekend. At risk, Phillips said, was public safety, the reason the agency decided to keep the restriction in place when setting the terms of this year's event...more

Food prices hitting 'dangerous levels'

THE head of World Bank said another 44 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty by high food costs since last June. "Global food prices are rising to dangerous levels and threaten tens of millions of poor people around the world," World Bank president Robert Zoellick told reporters last Tuesday in Washington, D.C. "The price hike is already pushing millions of people into poverty and putting stress on the most vulnerable, who spend more than half of their income on food." Zoellick made the comments as his organization released the latest edition of its "Food Price Watch" report. World Bank's food price index climbed 15% between last October and January. Last month, the index was 29% higher than year ago (Figure). "Among grains, global wheat prices have risen the most, doubling between June 2010 and January 2011," World Bank said...more

Bragging takes a more unique form on the ranch

Dropping hints and consuming goods that indicate a ranch’s financial status isn’t a cattleman’s style. Cowmen aren’t immune to showing off; they just do it in a “keepingup-with-the-Foxworthys” sort of way. They prefer flaunting only what seems legitimate: cows, equipment, hay and their work crew, which either help him make money or save him money but usually only contribute to breaking even. They don’t make out like they’re better than anybody else regarding their social status either; just that they’re smarter, wiser, handier and have more common sense, all of which their wives know better but choose to overlook. Ranchers will talk about their money, too. They discuss how much money they didn’t spend, how much they kept from spending, how much they saved, or how much they would never be willing to spend. They don’t own vehicles to decorate the driveway or boost their property value with but like having old outfits that fill up the driveway. They like owning something with power just as much as a wealthy suburbanite and will spend $40,000-$60,000 on wheels, too, but they better be really big wheels, have fourwheel drive, be able to drive in all sorts of weather and fields, handle jobs it wasn’t designed for, and have a GOOD radio! Ranchers will especially boast on vehicles with 200,000 miles that aren’t showing any signs of wearing out (aka not running). They’ll also crow about pickups that have never been washed and are still rust-free (as near as they can tell)...more

Song Of The Day #513

Ranch Radio will be dusting off the old stack of 78s for your listening pleasure this week.

Today we bring you Nickles, Dimes and Copper Pennies by Frank (The West Virginia Mountain Boy) and It's A Sin (What You're Doin' To Me) by Frank Marvin.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Federal officials travel to California to reach out to off-roaders

Salazar Gets Stuck
Freed from the confines of Washington, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Sunday kicked up his heels in the California desert, where he raced across undulating dunes in a souped-up sand rail. And, perhaps as a reminder of the gridlock he left behind on Capitol Hill, Salazar's vehicle became mired in the sand as he attempted to surmount a steep dune. The daredevil antics were driven by a serious intent: to reach out to a constituency often antagonistic to federal officials and their management of public lands in the West. To that end, Salazar and Bob Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management, toured Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area on a busy holiday weekend. The pair came to mend political fences by stressing that motorized recreation fits into the Obama administration's vision of America's Great Outdoors, a conservation and health initiative rolled out last week that is heavy on land preservation. "When we talk about the great outdoors, this is the kind of recreation we are talking about, " Salazar told a group of off-road enthusiasts, raising his voice to be heard above the deep rumbles and high-pitched whines coming from fleets of "sand toys" racing past near the town of Glamis...more

Salazar, Bloomberg Launch Great Urban Park Vision for New York City

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Director of the National Park Service Jon Jarvis joined New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to announce that, as part of President Obama’s America's Great Outdoors Initiative, the National Park Service will ramp up its collaborative efforts with the City of New York and local partners to expand outdoor opportunities, strengthen outreach programs to school children, improve connections among the national parks in New York harbor, and restore New York’s remarkable natural, cultural, and historic resources. The National Park Service’s Great Urban Park initiative for New York City is one of the major open space and urban park initiatives that the National Park Service will launch in cities around the country under President Obama’s America's Great Outdoors Initiative...more

Feds boost water supplies for many Calif. farms

Federal water managers plant to boost deliveries to farms, industry and cities this year thanks to this winter's abundant rainfall. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Friday that agriculture contractors south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will receive 50 percent of the water they request—an improvement on the 30 percent they initially got last year. The Bureau of Reclamation will provide 100 percent of water deliveries to farms, cities and industrial water contractors north of the freshwater delta. Salazar says while the last few years of drought and regulatory restrictions are still limiting supplies for Southern California industry and farms in the San Joaquin Valley, estimates could change over the next few months. AP


According to today's posts Salazar is:

° Reaching out to the off-highway groups

° Emphasizing and funding Parks in major urban areas, and

° Increasing the flow of water to farmers

Makes you wonder if there's an election coming up or something.

Can We Afford The America's Great Outdoors Initiative?

Months in development, the America's Great Outdoors initiative is a broad road map drawn by the Obama administration to both reconnect Americans with the outdoors and outline how the country can preserve much of its natural landscape. But how timely, in light of current fiscal and political winds, is it? More so, couldn't many of its goals have been put in motion, or even accomplished, without this 111-page initiative that is "aimed at reigniting our historic commitment to conserving and enjoying the magnificent natural heritage that has shaped our nation and its citizens." Many of the issues raised in those pages -- a disconnect between younger generations and the American landscape, the need to protect through conservation and preservation parklands, forests, farms, rivers, and streams, and improved access to those lands -- are not new but rather have been debated over and over again. Don't overlook the fiscal realities: The National Park Service has a maintenance backlog in the neighborhood of $8 billion and the president's proposed FY12 budget for the agency, while overall providing a slight $138 million increase over current levels, would cut $81 million from its construction budget. In an effort to slow further growth of the existing backlog, the budget does propose $3.2 million for cyclic maintenance and $7.5 million for repair and rehabilitation projects, but the inequity is obvious. Politically, emboldened House Republicans anxious to blunt the federal deficit have shown no interest in coming close to fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a task that would take $900 million. The America's Great Outdoors initiative relies heavily on that full funding, which, proponents note, would come from royalties flowing from oil and gas leases on public lands...more

Vilsack Questioned About EPA

Secretary of Agriculture Tom VilsackTom Vilsack made his first appearance before the newly reorganized Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday. He found himself answering more questions about the EPA than about the USDA. Pending EPA regulations on dust have farmers in an uproar, and Senators in Washington have been getting the message. As a result, many had tough questions for Secretary Vilsack. “It is getting to the point where you think EPA stands for End Production Agriculture,” said Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. The Iowa Republican told Vilsack he has tried to explain things to EPA officials, “I have told them that when you combine soybeans dust happens, and you cannot just harvest soybeans when the wind is not blowing.” The Secretary found himself in the unenviable position of having to answer for an agency he does not administer. Vilsack assured the committee USDA is doing all it can to try and make the EPA more farmer-friendly...more

EPA = End Production Agriculture

DOI = Deny Operators Income

FS = Forest Circus

BLM = Bad Land Management

I'm sure you can think of more...

Five-year fight with Army brings community closer

The plywood signs are faded and weathered now, but the sentiment remains. Every few miles along lonely stretches of Highway 160, Highway 350 and Highway 109, the flaking paint advertises that “This land is not for sale to the U.S. Army.” In the grasslands of southeast Colorado, where cattle far outnumber people and neighbors are often 30 miles apart, the five-year-old fight with the Army is holding the community together. “We ain’t going to quit,” said Aguilar rancher Stan White, noting that not even World War II brought the region together like the battle to block expansion of the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site. Driven by pride, property and paranoia, the Piñon Canyon uprising has created one of the most powerful political forces in this part of the state, even as the Army retreats from expansion. Since 2006, a few hundred ranchers and agricultural families in this region of southeast Colorado have stopped the Army effort to add land to its 235,000 acre training site dead in its tracks. The Army wanted the land to train the increasing number of troops at Fort Carson in the tactics used on far-flung battlefields, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army brass argued that new weapons and new training methods demanded a vast increase in acreage. Congress has passed laws to block money for expansion. The state General Assembly banned the use of state land for expansion. The Army is now waving a white flag. Top officers say expansion is off the table for the foreseeable future. The Army’s long-term budget has no provision for adding the land and efforts to find sellers willing to entertain an Army offer have stopped. But in Trinidad, Kim, Rocky Ford and La Junta, locals want more. They want the military to promise, in writing, that they’ll never again seek land for the training site...more

Wolves Kill Two Pregnant Cows In Wallowa County

Wolves killed two pregnant cows on a Wallowa County ranch east of Joseph this week. One of the cows was carrying twin calves. Wildlife officials say wolf attacks on adult cows are rare; wolves usually target younger calves. Gary Miller is field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in La Grande. He says ranchers had been monitoring wolves in the area, and wildlife officials were en route to put up protective fencing when the attacks occurred. Gary Miller: “Everybody knew that there were wolves around, they had been hanging around up further to the north but this was well within the area where we know wolves use. And actually this particular landowner had lost a calf last spring.”...more

Change to fencing allows pronghorn population to move, grow

For the past 50 years, residents across the Trans-Pecos region have embraced the diverse luster of landscape and plants that the Chihuahuan Desert offers. In recent years, a prominent decrease in the pronghorn antelope population has residents in fear of losing one of their historic featured inhabitants. The population of pronghorn antelope in the Trans-Pecos has declined by about 50 percent in the last 20 years. Elements that have hindered the antelope herd numbers include drought, predators and man-made obstacles. The net wire fence, a distinctive trademark from sheep and goat ranching legacies, has become recognized as one of the primary causes in suppressing antelope numbers. The species is facing an assortment of problems ranging from habitat fragmentation and herd isolation to an overall decrease in the population. Unlike deer, which leap over fences, antelope crawl under them to travel from pasture to pasture. The typical net wire fence creates a barrier that prevents natural movement of antelope from summer mixed prairie range to the rougher mountain country. In 2010, the pronghorn wildlife habitat was added as a high-ranking concern to the NRCS-Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. WHIP is designed to benefit wildlife on primarily wildlife land, although agriculturally productive operations may qualify for funding. Through the program, producers applied for cost-share to help offset the implementation cost of new conservation measures that would facilitate recovery of the antelope...more

Lincoln papers found in closet

The house was a nondescript, three-bedroom, Silver Spring rancher that had been vacant for 10 years. It was filled with dust bunnies and old pocketbooks. And Laurie Zook, who prepares such houses for sale, didn't expect much more. But when she opened an old scrapbook that was stacked amid a pile of other volumes in a bedroom closet, she found links to a painful, bygone time, and a rare ticket to one of the nation's greatest tragedies. Pasted among the pages was a small, black-bordered card that read: "admit the bearer" to the White House on Wednesday, April 19, 1865, the day of Abraham Lincoln's funeral service there. It is believed to be one of only 600 such tickets printed, was highly sought at the time and may be one of the few still in existence. Also among the pages were two brief notes from Lincoln that seemed to be pardons of a soldier for some unknown offense, inked with the distinctive "A.Lincoln" signature. The documents are now available for sale via an online auction...more

Rustlers kill cattle overloading trailer

KFOR Channel 4 reports 14 stolen cattle were returned to an Oklahoma rancher, but a few died when thieves, who are still on the loose, loaded the trailer too tightly. Thieves abandoned the trailer after getting a flat tire. The Garvin County Sheriff’s department and Department of Agriculture found the trailer containing 16 cattle Thursday evening. Rustlers stacked animals on top of each other and loaded the cattle so tightly that four had their front legs sticking out of the sides of the trailer. Two cattle died under the packed conditions. The brands on the animals had already been altered but investigators we able to track down the owner...more

Teenage girl killed in Tampa bull riding accident

A teenage girl died Friday night after she was injured while riding a bull during a Tampa rodeo. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said 16-year-old Brooke Ann Coats of Riverview was thrown from the bull Friday night at the 301 Rodeo on U.S. 301 South near Brandon Parkway and the Crosstown Expressway. Once on the ground, the bull kicked her at least once in the chest. Witnesses said Coats stood and walked out of the ring, but later had trouble breathing and collapsed. An off-duty paramedic treated the girl until Hillsborough County Fire Rescue crews took her to Tampa General Hospital. She died in surgery around 10 p.m. Coats attended Riverview High School and was a member of the swim team...more

Cowboy Life Still Flourishes In Florida

We tend to speak of Florida "Crackers" as if they're a thing of the past. They were old cowhunters -- named for the crack of their whips -- whose way of living in the Central Florida scrub has long since passed, we think. It's an image that couldn't be further from the truth. Throughout our region, there are still cattlemen who thrive on those old values, even if their cattle-raising methods have changed. And many are caretakers of some of the most pristine wildlife habitats left in Florida. "(Ranches) are intact, whole ecosystems," said Carlton Ward Jr., an eighth-generation Floridian and photographer. "They are protecting natural habitat." The history of the cattle industry in Florida -- and the many people who are helping keep that tradition alive -- are the subject of two new exhibits that opened last week at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. The first exhibit, "Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition," follows the history of the cattle industry from the time Ponce de Leon brought the first Andalusia cattle to Florida in the 1500s through the modernization of ranching methods in the 20th century. It shows how the Spanish, the English, Scots, blacks, Cubans and Seminoles have all had a hand in -- and an influence on -- the development of the cattle industry in Florida...more

Colorful San Angelo trader was the real deal

Some of the best stories I found during my quest for the St. Angelus Roof Garden were about Homer Nickel, cedar post dealer, salvage expert, rancher and trader extraordinaire. The Missouri native grew up in California, moved to San Angelo in 1943 and lived here until his too-soon death from cancer in 1966 at age 55. He founded the Twin Mountains Supply Co. on the Mertzon highway just west of town. One of his most legendary spending sprees happened in 1964 during the demolition of the St. Angelus Hotel. Homer bought the huge neon sign on the hotel's roof "for an undetermined sum and for an undisclosed purpose," according to a story in the Standard-Times. He also bought 250 toilets from the doomed hotel, 200 wash basins, 200 bathtubs, ceiling fans, ceramic and floor tile for 250 bathrooms, about 40 miles of pipe and hundreds of pounds of fittings. Robert Nickel, Homer's son, has a funny story about the commodes. Homer's cedar post operation next to the Twin Mountains covered a lot of land. Robert said they scattered the commodes "out in the pasture, so they could be seen from the highway." The "advertising" worked. "We sold them from there. People could go out in the pasture and pick one out and take it to town." Homer also bought a huge "penny scale" from the St. Angelus. Robert has a story about that, too. The scales hadn't been used since World War II, Robert said. "It had been forgotten about and half hidden. We uncovered it, put some pennies in it, and it sort of worked." When Homer called a man "to come out and open it up, quite a lot of pennies came out," Robert remembered. "My dad said, 'My goodness! I wonder what they're worth.' " Homer brought in two coin experts, one from Waco and the other from Austin. "He told them about the pennies. They showed up at the same time." Homer took them into the house, to a bedroom where he had scattered the hundreds of pennies all over a bed. He told the men to stand several feet back from the bed, at the edge of a carpet. "I want you to bid on them from the edge of that carpet," he said. "But Homer," one man argued, "we can't see the dates, and we don't know anything about those pennies." "I don't either," Homer replied. "That makes us even." "We got a couple of hundred dollars for that deal," Robert said, laughing...more

The Great Castaic Range War

W.W. Jenkins
When the law of the land failed to deliver justice in the late 19th century, the remedy was often sought with a gun. The Great Castaic Range War started when neighboring ranchers laid claim to the same tract of land. The bloody conflict was the most enduring feud in southern Californian history, lasting more than a quarter of a century. It claimed at least eight lives, some of them innocent bystanders. Several sources claim as many as 21 lives were lost in the dispute. In 1872, William Willoby Jenkins staked a large claim along Castaic Creek. Six years later, he established a ranch he named the Lazy Z. It was located near the present-day intersection of Lake Hughes Road and Castaic Road. The killing started in 1890. William C. Chormicle had purchased 1,600 acres from the railroad, the same land that W.W. Jenkins was already ranching. The altercation started when three of Jenkins’s men tried to move lumber onto the disputed land in order to build a cabin. “Old Man” Chormicle and William A. Gardner opened fire, killing two of the work party. The third man, 20-year old Jose Olme, narrowly escaped by grabbing the harness of a fleeing horse. He ran behind the frightened animal, using it as a shield from the flying bullets. The trial lasted 18 days in June 1890, and was one of the longest trials ever conducted in Los Angeles County at the time. One side described a cowardly ambush; the other a face-to-face, armed encounter. The defense argued an underlying feud was the real cause of the problems. After 20 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict. They found the defendants Chormicle and Gardner not guilty of any crime. The acquittal infuriated W.W. Jenkins, so the feud was on in earnest...more

Song Of The Day #512

It's Swingin' Monday and Ranch Radio has a hot one for you today as Pauline Reese performs Black Vinyl Car Seat.

The tune is on her 12 track CD Trail to Monterrey on the South West Label Group record label.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Ropers and relatives

by Julie Carter

We've all got them. Relatives, kinfolk, family - or whatever you call them in polite company. You can also add to that list a brand of cowboy called "roper."

You know the ones. They show up on your doorstep after a decade among the missing and are just sure you are thrilled to see them. 

However, it's also a given that they are running from the law, an ex-someone or a catastrophic event of nature. And, they need food and money.

In the continuing saga of "Deliverance-style" relatives, the phone rang one night last week.
Long-lost cousin Leeza was on the other end of the line. The last time she had appeared on the doorstep was when Hurricane Katrina was causing a mass exodus from the coastal areas. 

She arrived with a couple of horses and a pig in the trailer and all her worldly belongings.

Leeza announced that she and her sister Dixie are coming next week to stay a couple days. 

She made it sound like it was simply time for a family visit, but the truth be known, she is sure the world is ending December 2012, so she wants to tell everyone goodbye and collect any family heirlooms that might be up for grabs. 

Dixie is the one who occasionally works at Walmart when things get tight, but her real career and way to make a living is raising doves. I didn't inquire how that was going.

Giving a family update during her call, Leeza reported that the cousin who plays the banjo is now teaching banjo at the local college. 

She said he came by this way frequently and always intends to stop and visit but cannot remember what town I live in. 

He has a law degree. I assured her it was fine, that it was likely a good distance out of the way for him to come by.

The other cousin who either runs underwater seismographic equipment looking for deep water oil in the Gulf or plays in a rock band, whichever he is not mad at that week, has now begun to supplement his income with raising chickens. 

Leeza had asked him what he was doing with all those chickens and he told her that they provide all the fresh eggs they could ever want. 

Pointing out that one can only eat so many eggs, he told Leeza that he has further diversified his sources of income by selling fresh eggs "here and there." 

A college degree can get you amazing opportunities. 

The usual suspects that come to practice at Jake's roping arena were invited to come to a Tuesday night dinner party. 

For people who rope and rodeo, Tuesday is more likely to be "open" for socializing.

Many important events for rodeo people happen on Tuesdays - weddings, funerals, birthday celebrations, anniversaries. 

They are too busy competing on weekends to attend those kinds of things.

On Monday night, things started to unravel the short, but elite, guest list. 

Fred called and his dad was "real sick" and he and his wife needed to rush down to see him.
Fred's brother J.D., also invited to the dinner, would be going as well.

Tuesday morning another call reported that Gary's daughter, who has been going to have a baby for about six weeks, was now headed for a C-section today, tomorrow or sometime. 

Gary would be standing by at the hospital and unable to attend dinner.

The realtor gal, who wanted to meet the roper crowd and had every intention of attending, called to say she was tied up in a house deal the other side of Hades and would not be able to make it.
And the last holdout, Les the super looper, called and postponed his arrival time three times, 
whittling it down from dinner to a 10 p.m. cocktail only. He never did show up and has not been heard from yet.

At the 11th hour, Fred called again to say he and his wife would be there after all. Daddy wasn't as sick as they thought. 

However, J.D. called to say he was still going to stay and sit with Daddy but would be happy to come by for dinner next week. While that hadn't yet been planned, it seemed it was going to be.
Some days the thought crosses one's mind to simply put a sign on the door that says: "Gone somewhere. Be back in the sometime." 

Julie can be reached for comment at

Wilmeth's West

They Came from Cow Country
The Beef Battalion
An Exercise in Humility and Faith
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     On a recent Saturday, they converged on Ft. Bliss from across a wide swath of the American heartland.  There were license plates from Kansas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.  They parked in a compact encampment in a dirt lot in the midst of the immensity of the new expansion of Ft. Bliss.  In all directions the construction stretched.  Part of the expansion was occupied while a large segment remained under various stages of completion.  Every visitor was struck by the size and the scope of the project.  Few would ever be in such a construction project at any other time in his or her life. 
    The location of the encampment was visible from the smoke that came from it.  Directions from military personnel was confirmed with, “that must be where it is because we can smell food cooking over there!”  For a fact, the dually pickups and matched cooking rigs were the scene of the biggest steak fry the local cow country volunteers had ever seen.  The Beef Battalion was in town and they were in full combat mode!
     Bill Broadie was the commanding officer of the Beef Battalion crew.  His card indicated contact information from Ashland, Kansas and Brush, Colorado.  A big burly fellow whose day job is a Superior Livestock Auction rep, Bill ran the proceedings like a military officer.
     By 11:45 long lines were already formed.  The folks who stood in line were largely engaged in subdued and controlled conversation. At promptly 12:00 noon, the order was issued:  “Commence the serving!”
     For the next hour and a half, the controlled arrival and serving of those people proceeded seamlessly.  The courtesy of the crowd was not unexpected, but the genuine appreciation and heartfelt cheer of those soldiers and their families left those of us in attendance with a huge emotional charge. 
    “Thank you, sir, for you generosity!” was ringing constantly from those in line who caught your eye.
     “Where are you from, son?” was asked repeatedly.  “New York City . . .  South Carolina, . . .  Texas . . .  Ohio . . .  Kansas . . .  the Bay Area. . . Washington, DC . . . south Florida . . . Chicago . . . Massachusetts . . . and on and on went the responses.
    “The lines on this side are shorter, folks . . .”
    “Thank you very much, sir.” 
     “You get enough to eat, soldier?”
     “Oh, yes, sir, I never thought I’d eat a steak that big, sir.”
    “How long have you been in the service, ma’am?”
    “Eight years, sir . . . and three here at Bliss.”
     “You like it here then?”
     “. . . I love the food, sir!”
     The Beef Brigade arrived at Ft. Bliss with 5000 rib eye steaks.  It was thought that over 4000 soldiers and their families were fed that day.  So many continued to catch your eye and thank you for the courtesy of feeding them a steak like that.  Many, many said they had never had a steak that big and tender. 
    “Oh, thank you, sir, this is just wonderful!”
    But, the wonderful was the unexpected emotion that those of us on the cow side of the affair experienced.  Few of us had seen our American military in that kind of setting.  When we were told, “Sir, it is not just your thanks that we seek.  We thank you for your support,” it was surprisingly difficult to respond.
     The real hero of the event was a guy who was back in the midst of the smoke and the cooking rigs by the name of Jim Rogers.  Mr. Rogers, from Creekstone Farms of Arkansas, Kansas, donated every steak cooked and served that day.  When we sought him out to talk to him, he tried to avoid any attention.  “This is but a small favor for what these young people do for us each and every day,” was all we could get out of him.
     Bill Broadie has overseen 14 or these events.  He will be back at work on Monday and planning yet for another Beef Battalion event after he finishes his day job after dark.
     The gray haired matrons of the Sonoita, Arizona Cow Belle chapter who served at the first table would get into their cars and head home against the setting sun.  They had delighted the crowd.    
     The Bakers, cow/calf producers from Arkansas, would head home and deal with continuing drought.  They would be incredulous when they were told that their normal 50” of rainfall would be five years of total rain accumulation in our world.    
     The employees of El Paso’s Dick Poe automotive dealerships would put their boots away and look forward to another day that they could be honorary ranchers in a similar event.  They did a great job.
     The local ranching community, complete with the 4H group from Dona Ana County, New Mexico, will all remember this event as we will the mission of the All American Beef Battalion.  That mission statement reads:
“Our mission is to promote American Beef and to support the troops and their                              families fighting the war on terror.”
    The stance of the major benefactor of this event is worthy of much respect.  ‘Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does’ . . . is so far removed from the modern commercialization of charity and giving that it is not even comprehended.  It was his preference and firm desire not to make any issue of his actions.
     In respect to his stance, those of us who attended can attest that any rewards of this event came not from the giving. Rather, it was the touching and the fellowship of those American soldiers and their families that created the raw emotion of this event. 
     It was special . . . they are special.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “There are few things in the world that will influence your view of how people act and think like visiting them in their own environment.  When the corners of the world are judged with a view from the banks of the Potomac or the Hudson, those views are incomplete and skewed.  Decisions thus made often run counter to the facts on the ground.”