Friday, March 18, 2011

'Gunrunner' escapade to be reviewed by Congress

U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., says he has assigned four investigators to look into the escapade of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that has become known as "Project Gunrunner." Investigators will examine allegations that the ATF encouraged gun shops to sell guns to questionable customers so it could track the weapons as they were smuggled into Mexico. "The gun shops are often vilified for being the source, but in this case they did the right thing. They contacted the agency and were told to go ahead," Issa said. "As we get to the truth, we're going to hold those who lied to us early on accountable." Issa is also determined to break through the agency's efforts to stonewall the investigation. Kraft said Issa also supports plans for an inquiry by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. "ATF and DOJ denied the existence of the program and stonewalled the senator's requests, relying on a policy of not disclosing information relating to an 'open investigation,'" Kraft explained. The operation went public in a number of reports, including one by CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, who said several agents had been ordered to "stand down" instead of intercepting the guns...more

Here again is the CBS video report linked to above:

For additional background go here and here.

So ATF lets guns "walk" into Mexico, one of which is implicated in the death of CBP agent Brian Terry. Why? Keep in mind this is an agency with a track record of botched raids staged for their budget (Waco '93), and now in Did U.S. agency smuggle guns to Mexico to justify its budget? Jeff Knox writes:

Last year the Justice Department Inspector General's office issued a scathing report declaring Project Gunrunner a dismal failure. ATF responded by requesting more money and manpower to beef up the project and backed up the requests with new, better-supported statistics. Speculation abounds that the alleged funneling of guns into Mexico by ATF (dubbed "Project Gunwalker") was done to bolster trace numbers specifically to justify bigger budgets for Project Gunrunner and/or to lend credibility to informants attempting to infiltrate gun smuggling operations.

Clearly an agency out of control.

I sit back in wonderment as I watch all these events unfold.

The U.S. has a prohibition on drugs, so Mexico exports them to us. Mexico has a prohibition on guns, so we export them to Mexico.

Thousands of people have died and both governments have spent billions of dollars, all to enforce a policy that never in history has worked - Prohibition.

We've gone beyond our policies just being foolish. They are resulting in the deaths of citizens and federal agents and undermining the basic tenets of our nation's founding.

Obama Energy Administrator Says Gas Prices Will Remain High For Rest of Year

n testimony Thursday before the House Natural Resources Committee, Richard Newell, the administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, told congressmen that gas prices will likely stay well above average for the remainder of the year. “EIA expects continued tightening of world oil markets over the next two years, particularly in light of recent events in North Africa and the Middle East the world’s largest oil producing region,” said Newell. “Our latest forecast, issued earlier this month, predicts that regular gasoline at the retail pump will average $3.70 per gallon this summer and $3.56 cents per gallon through the entire year which is about $.77 higher than last years levels.”...more

They're Not Serious

No-drill Democrats are looking wan under the bright light of rising gasoline prices. So what do they do? They retreat to their worst ideas and claim they've brought a fresh set of solutions to the table. The Hill reported Wednesday that "Democrats say they learned their lesson from the summer of 2008 and have resolved to go on the offensive to avoid another pummeling over high gas prices." Sounds promising. But anyone who thought Democrats had given up on their crackpot energy proposals will be disappointed to learn that the party still refuses to offer any serious answers. Instead, they drag out the usual nonsense, such as opening the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — which was not intended to be a tool for market manipulation and does nothing to increase the supply of crude — and pressuring other nations to increase production while the U.S. economy recovers, a guaranteed diplomatic failure...more

In addition to prosecuting OPEC members and cracking down on speculators in the oil markets, the Dem's are proposing to fine oil companies $4 for every acre of public land or water they lease but aren't drilling on. But as the editorial says:
This, of course, is an effort to make the Democrats look like they support drilling. But it's a cynic's game. They know those fields aren't being used because oil companies have determined that drilling them is not productive. If Democrats were serious about drilling, rather than trying to force resources from unproductive tracts, they'd let oil companies drill where they know the crude is.
Drill? As the editorial points out the only thing they want to drill is the taxpayer's pocket.

Is Salazar Lowballing Gulf Drilling Applications?

Two weeks ago, we asked [1] whether Interior Secretary Ken Salazar considered himself above the law by ignoring court orders to resume the permitting process for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Now we learn that Salazar may have misled Congress and the public on the number of drilling permit applications he is ignoring. Yesterday, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) accused Salazar, along with Michael Bromwich, the director of the new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement, of using bogus figures. During Congressional testimony on March 2, and on other occasions, Salazar and Bromwich used much lower figures than those cited in a filing last week in the Justice Department's appeal of the court order to begin issuing permits...more

The Vitter letter is here.

Unions Join In Challenging EPA

Worried about job losses, Big Labor is demanding that the EPA soften new rules aimed at pollution associated with coal-fired power plants. They want to save their jobs, not the environment. It was one thing when those greedy tools of the rich, Republicans and conservatives, stood in opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as well as its tightening of ozone and mercury standards in violation of sound science and congressional intent. After all, they were interested only in ravaging the earth for fun and profit. Now unions and some of the Democrats they support are demanding the EPA be reined in. As we've learned from Wisconsin, hell hath no fury like a union in fear of losing jobs, benefits and, most important, union dues...more

Luján Supports Ranchers Against Grazing Cutbacks

Rep. Ben Ray Luján is supporting northern New Mexico ranchers fighting the U.S. Forest Service over reductions in grazing allotments on parts of the Santa Fe and Carson National Forests, a move that the cattlemen say constitutes an attack on historic Hispanic culture. Luján asked the Forest Service to postpone the grazing cutbacks in a letter last month to regional forester Corbin Newman of Albuquerque. Luján called the reduction of grazing opportunities on national forest land over the past few decades "an alarming trend." "By preserving a working relationship with the land that can be passed on to their children there is an opportunity to ensure the longevity of local communities by providing economic incentive for families to stay in their ancestral, rural community and continue the traditional lifestyle of ranching in New Mexico," the congressman wrote. The Forest Service grazing cutbacks appear to be putting a long-running battle over traditional uses of northern New Mexico public forests back on the front burner. "What they want to do in our estimation is remove livestock grazing completely," said Carlos Salazar, who runs cows on Santa Fe National Forest land near the Valles Caldera National Preserve. "They're doing it piecemeal." Ranchers say a burgeoning elk population has far more impact on the forests and that the Forest Service cares more about birds and other wildlife than the communities which have used the land dating back to Spanish and Mexican land grants. Luján, a Democrat, is drawing criticism from environmentalists...more

So does this mean Lujan, who is given a 100% rating by the League of Conservation Voters and a 100% rating by Environment America, is running for Bingaman's open senate seat?

Clashing sheep cultures in Idaho

The decision to phase out domestic sheep grazing on 70,000 acres of bighorn sheep habitat in the Payette National Forest cost Frank Shirts his best range. And he’s the lucky one. His brother Ron Shirts was forced to sell Frank his sheep and give up the business and lifestyle he’s cherished all his life. “Right now he’s heartbroken,” Frank Shirts said. “He hasn’t been able to look at these sheep since I moved them down here.” Payette National Forest Supervisor Suzanne Rainville decided to end sheep grazing in areas where bighorn sheep have been dying from lung diseases carried by both domestic and wild sheep. The decision won her praise from the Wild Sheep Foundation, a hunters group, and strong protests from the Idaho Woolgrowers Association and the Idaho Legislature. What is a loss for one culture is a victory for another. The Nez Perce Tribe, which pushed the Forest Service to enforce separation between domestic and wild sheep, has long turned the bighorns’ curved horns into bows and their tough-but-light hide into shirts — a tradition the tribe wants to keep alive. “The archaeological record indicates that when the pharaohs were floating the Nile, my relations were eating roast bighorn sheep on the Salmon River,” said Brooklyn Baptiste, the tribe’s vice chairman...more

Then why wasn't it called the Bighorn River instead of the Salmon River?

In holding pens, room is running out for Yellowstone bison

A green tractor rumbled through the Stephens Creek pasture Thursday, spreading hay from round bales as hundreds of wild bison ran after it, pausing to catch mouthfuls of straw. About 560 bison remain captured at the Stephens Creek facility inside Yellowstone National Park, where they're being held until later this spring. For the first time this winter, park officials on Thursday allowed media and interest groups to see the fenced area where the animals are kept. The bison are being held because some carry a disease that could spread to livestock and hurt the state's ranching industry. The animals tend to migrate outside the park during the winter to find less snowy ground with better grazing, but in doing so they wander toward Montana ranches and threaten cattle. The current solution is to haze them into fenced areas...more

Feral hogs moving into urban areas in Texas

Wild hogs aren't just a problem for Texas farmers and ranchers anymore. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples says the pigs have gone to the city. Staples made his observation Thursday during a visit to the Dallas suburb of Irving, where nearly 250 feral hogs have been captured since October. Some Irving residents had their yards and gardens nearly destroyed last fall by packs of the massive hogs. Irving then started trapping the animals - the largest weighing in at 375 pounds. Wildlife officials say the hogs are now plaguing urban areas because of changing habitats and prolific reproduction. Texas has up to 2 million of the hairy beasts, about half the nation's population. Many have tusks and they shred fields and pastures, wrecking ecosystems by wallowing in riverbeds and streams. KETK

Government at work

The feds say just go ahead and choke - Environment Trumps Health As FDA Ends Sales of Only OTC Asthma Inhaler in U.S.

Labels, labels, labels - Movie theaters fight to keep popcorn from food-labeling rule

They're getting smart in Colorado - Bill to put Colorado on permanent daylight saving time springs ahead

Does it take a village to raise a garden? - Michelle Obama writing a book about her White House garden

They're gonna do a second EIS - State Department's Delay on Canada-U.S. Oil Pipeline Costing Thousands of Jobs, Billions in Tax Revenue, Pipeline Advocates Say

Back in the saddle

After retiring from cattle ranching in 2000, Morgan Hill resident Bill Adams was looking for a hobby. Instead he found a new career: making custom fit saddles. He enrolled in a saddle making school to pursue what he thought was going to be his new hobby. It didn't take long for him to make a business of it. Later that year, "Tumble Saddlery" was born. Within just a short period he was getting more customers than he anticipated. Rather than just buying factory made saddles off the shelf, customers eagerly come to Adams to get one made specifically to fit them and their horse. While other custom saddle companies exist, they are few and far between. "It got built into quite a business right away because nobody else around here was doing it," Adams said. Additionally, Adams offers a service that most other custom saddle makers don't; he invites his customers to bring their horse over to his workshop so he can take measurements of the horse right there. "Some of them (other companies) will let you send a drawing of the horse's back. You can bend a coat hanger or something then draw it on paper. Hardly any of them will let you bring your horse there and fit it," Adams said...more

Country entertainer Ferlin Husky dies at age 85

Ferlin Husky, a pioneering country music entertainer in the 1950s and early '60s known for hits like "Wings of a Dove" and "Gone," died Thursday. He was 85. The 2010 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee died at his home, said Country Music Hall of Fame spokeswoman Tina Wright. He had a history of heart problems and related ailments. With his resonant voice and good looks, Husky was one of the most versatile entertainers to emerge from country music. He was a singer, songwriter, guitarist, actor, and even a comedian whose impersonations ranged from Bing Crosby to Johnny Cash. He was one of the first country musicians to bring the genre to television and helped spread its popularity in booming post-World War II California, an important step in country's quest for a national audience. Husky, who was one of the first country artists to have his name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, sold more than 20 million records, mostly in the '50s and early '60s, according to his website. He won many country music awards long before such gala shows were televised and meant so much to careers. Signed to Capitol records in the early 1950s, he had his first big success when he teamed with 2011 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Jean Shepard on "Dear John Letter," which ranked No. 4 on Billboard's list of top country songs of 1953. He was also the headline act for a tour that included a young Elvis Presley. In 1957, he had a No. 1 hit on the country chart with "Gone," a re-recording of a song he had done several years earlier. It also broke the top five on the pop charts. "Wings of a Dove," a gospel song, became another No. 1 country hit in 1960 and was one of his signature songs. His other hits included "A Fallen Star," ''My Reason for Living," ''The Waltz You Saved for Me" and "Timber I'm Falling."...more

Song Of The Day #532

For all you honky tonkers who plan on treadin' the boards this weekend, Ranch Radio presents Johnny Horton and his 1958 recording of Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor.

The tune is on his 5 CD box set Johnny Horton - 1956-1960.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chico man acquitted in connection with national forest flier flap

A Chico man who unlawfully posted a flier in Lassen National Forest last winter offering services was acquitted by a federal magistrate March 9 on a charge of interfering with the ranger who confronted him about it. On Feb. 4, 2010, U.S. Forest Service officer Paul Zohovetz showed up, allegedly unannounced, at the Chico home of Jeffrey M. Newman, 54. Zohovetz was in full uniform and reportedly asked Newman for his identification. Newman said he recalled that Zohovetz had called him the day before about a flier posted on a Forest Service bulletin board offering cross-country ski tune-ups, but didn't identify himself. Newman testified during a one-day trial in January that he was offended by the deception. He reportedly told the officer he was trespassing, ordered him to leave his property, and slammed the door in his face. Newman's Redding attorney, Adam Ryan, said the decision in the case upholds his client's privilege to order the officer off his property under the circumstances. In the decision, U.S. District Court Magistrate Craig M. Kellison stated that at the time of the initial encounter, Zohovetz "had no right to remain on Newman's property once he was ordered to leave." In rendering his decision in the case, Kellison also cited a Supreme Court precedent that states "freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state."...more

In my post Forest Service officer drives miles to issue warning about bulletin board ad  last year I wrote:

A FS employee in his government-issued costume shows up at your private residence without a warrant and demands you exit the residence. If you refuse you are breaking the law? Someone please show me the federal statute he has violated.

I'm also curious if there is a "Don't Slam The Door" statute.

All this over violating a bulletin board policy? Please remember this the next time you read a story about the FS not having enough personnel to protect the federal lands.

Apparently there is no "Don't Slam The Door" statute. Thank you Judge Kellison. You have defended the Constitution and hopefully given Congress a good place to cut spending.

And who is the US Attorney who filed this case? Did David Iglesias move to California? (The Kit Laney case).

Groups ask BLM to reconsider Wyoming drilling project - Secretarial wild lands order invoked

Five groups opposed to a drilling project east of Cody are asking the Bureau of Land Management to take a second look at preserving the landscape for its wilderness qualities. Led by the Wyoming Outdoor Council, the groups filed a request last week, arguing that the Rocktober Unit project, proposed by the Bill Barrett Corp. out of Denver, will impair the wilderness value of the land now leased for the project. The groups are asking the BLM to conduct a new state review that weighs the value of the area as wildlands, and to require the energy company to take steps to reduce its impacts on the land while drilling. "The primary issue we're concerned about relates to the impact on lands with wilderness qualities," said Bruce Pendery, a staff attorney with the Wyoming Outdoor Council. "The BLM has identified two areas as potential wildlands that would be impacted by this project." The two areas include Whistle Creek and the North YU Bench. At 37,000 and 25,000 acres, respectively, the BLM has identified the landscapes as potential wildlands because of their size, natural state and opportunities for solitude...more

The "wilderness qualities" and "a new state review" are right out the Salazar's Secretarial Order 3310.

If there is any doubt, one of the appellants says, "In this review, we claim that the plan to allow impairment of land with wilderness values is out of compliance with the BLM's new wildlands policy."

This will be interesting to watch because the BLM says:
 "Generally, if we made a decision prior to the wildlands ruling, then it stands free of that executive order," Gorny said, "If a decision had not been final, then that executive order must be considered."

Forest Service errs in igniting toxins

U.S. Forest Service employees conducting a prescribed fire at the end of February also set an estimated thousands of chemically treated railroad ties ablaze southwest of Tusayan. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is investigating the fire, as the Kaibab National Forest would have needed special permission to dispose of the creosote-treated wood. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers creosote (a coal-tar product used to protect wood from insects and rotting) a possible cancer-causing agent and warns the public not to burn it in fireplaces at home due to risk of releasing "toxic chemicals." Along with items such as batteries and car tires, it's also illegal under state law for residents to burn chemically treated wood as part of trash-disposing fires...more

Will be interesting to see if any fines are levied.

Of more interest is the photo. Look at it. Does that look like a National Forest to you? There are millions of acres in the west that look just like that and have no business being reserved as Forest land.

Interior secretary is going all out for the outdoors

With global economic problems, combat in the Middle East and a crisis in Japan, many might think that the conservation movement would temporarily grind to a halt. Not Ken Salazar, secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior. Look at history, he’ll tell you. Over the years, some of the most significant moves to protect the nation’s lakes, rivers and wild lands have come in times of crisis. “It’s true we are living through some very tough times,” he said Wednesday in an address at the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference at the Westin Crown Center hotel. “But that doesn’t mean we can’t accomplish some big things during this time. It’s important to look back at the history of this country and our legacy of conservation. “Some of our greatest moments have come when this country was in crisis.” It started, Salazar said, in the Civil War, when President Abraham Lincoln signed a declaration that allowed the federal government to aside land for recreational use for the first time. That led to the establishment of America’s first national park, Yellowstone. Then at the start of the 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt became alarmed at the way the nation’s forests, rivers and wild lands were being decimated, and he took action. He called the nation’s conservation leaders together and formulated strategies to protect the environment...more

That's enough to make me change my party affiliation.

Judge rules FS must consult on horse damage

Dayville ranchers Loren and Piper Stout claimed a victory last week in their federal lawsuit over management of wild horses in the Murderers Creek area. U.S. District Judge Ancer Haggerty ruled that the Forest Service violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) over management of the wild horses on the Malheur National Forest. At issue is the impact on threatened steelhead in the waterways. Loren Stout said he hopes the ruling will make the federal agencies review their reliance on bank alteration – a standard used to determine whether grazing harms steelhead. Haggerty ordered the Forest Service to consult with NMFS to determine whether its wild horse management plan adequately protects steelhead. The judge disagreed with the Forest Service’s contention that the Stouts shouldn’t be able to address the court on the issue. Elizabeth Howard of the Dunn Carney law firm said that even though the Forest Service is removing excess horses under its plan, the agency may find through consultation that it needs to remove even more of the animals. “This could allow for less pressure on the resource, improved steelhead habitat, and more capacity to allow the Stouts to resume their permitted grazing activities,” she said. The Stouts hold a permit to graze cattle on the federal land, but were blocked from using their assigned territory by a federal injunction in 2008. They obtained relief from the injunction in 2009 after showing that impacts blamed on their cattle were due to wild horses, but faced continuing limits on grazing...more

Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance asks feds for off-road vehicle restrictions near Canyonlands

An environmental group has asked the U.S. Department of the Interior to restrict off-road vehicle use on more than 1,000 miles of trails surrounding Canyonlands National Park. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance said Wednesday the trails cross riparian habitat, archaeological sites, wetlands and other sensitive areas. The formal request was filed with U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The trails are within 1.2 million acres of land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management...more

Hardrock Mining Reform a Tough Sell Despite Activist Outcry

Efforts by President Obama to overhaul federal oversight of the hardrock mining industry may fall short despite bipartisan agreement that some reforms are overdue. The president's budget blueprint would enact a new fee on hardrock mineral production to help pay for reclamation of abandoned hardrock mines. It also requires royalties from companies mining certain minerals, including gold, copper, lead and uranium. Obama's proposal is a nod to environmentalists and other advocates who say the 1872 General Mining Act is in desperate need of an overhaul. Nathan Newcomer, associate director at the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, said the law "was designed to encourage Americans to go West and prosper." "This perhaps made sense in 1872, but in 2011 it is simply irresponsible," read a recent New York Times editorial blasting congressional inaction on reforming the law...more

House panel votes to block EPA on emissions

The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 34-19 Tuesday to approve legislation that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions and repeal new clean air mandates for refineries.The House is set to consider the EPA-blocking bill before its Easter recess next month. Senate leaders signaled Tuesday that a similar proposal could be voted on as early as next week. Even if both congressional chambers passed the legislation and sent it to the White House, President Barack Obama would likely veto it.  The legislation, sponsored by committee chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., would block the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide and six other greenhouse gas emissions. It would repeal a host of related agency mandates, including a just-implemented requirement that companies secure greenhouse gas permits before building or modifying power plants and refineries. The measure also would undo the EPA’s 2009 determination that greenhouse gas emissions threaten the public health and welfare, the legal underpinning for the agency’s regulation of the substances under the Clean Air Act...more

Obama, Congressional Advocates of Gun Control Call for New Restrictions--While Expressing Strong Support for 2nd Amendment

President Obama, congressional Democrats and the nation's mayors appear to be working in tandem to "fix the nation's broken background check system." They also want to "close the loophole" that allows private sales of guns between individuals. In their latest comments on the subject, these gun control advocates are using similar arguments and similar language – including statements to the effect that they “strongly support the Second Amendment.” On Monday, a White House spokesman said the Obama Justice Department was beginning a dialogue this week with “stakeholders” on both sides of the gun issue...more

Government at work

The R's in the House have demonstrated both Profiles In Courage and their mathematical genius - U.S. Debt Jumped $72 Billion Same Day U.S. House Voted to Cut Spending $6 Billion

Saying they had questions about how a drug was imported, the feds have killed Georgia's death penalty - DEA Seizes Georgia’s Supply of Drug Used in Executions

No comment - Police recover 700,000 stolen condoms

Song Of The Day #531

Today Ranch Radio fires up Webb Pierce and his 1957 recording of I'm Tired.

Pierce's recordings are widely available. My version is from the 4 CD Box Set The Wondering Boy (1951-1958) on the Bear Family Records label.

Mexican drug cartel kills local man, looks for money

It's a bizarre story that may not be over. The murdered Albuquerque man lost a lot of money that belonged to the cartel. Now police have arrested someone who showed up at the victim's home looking for that money. The story takes a lot of twists and turns, and is a scary reminder of Mexican drug cartels' reach in our city. Juan Tovar is dead and his family terrified his killers will come after them. It all started about two weeks ago. Tovar's wife told police she went to Arizona to meet up with him. Instead she said they were kidnapped by Ebelyn Saenz and two men; she managed to get away, and make it back to Albuquerque. Two days later, after trying to reach her husband several times without any luck, she said she got text messages from him saying he was sorry and telling his family that he loved them. The next morning she learned he had been murdered in Mexico by a drug cartel. Tovar's wife soon discovered that her husband had been working for a drug cartel and had been trusted with half a million dollars. Money he told the cartel had been confiscated by police in Georgia. The cartel didn't buy the story...more

Source: US Flies Drones in Mexican Drug War

A U.S. official says the Obama administration is flying drones over Mexico to help gather intelligence for the southern neighbor's battle against drug traffickers. The official said Wednesday that the flights of unmanned aerial vehicles are operated by the departments of Defense and Homeland Security. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of the issue...more

National Guard troops to leave border in June

WASHINGTON - National Guard troops that have helped beef up security along the southwestern border since last summer will leave as planned by the second week of June, the commander of the Arizona Guard told a House panel Tuesday. Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, adjutant general of the Guard in the state, said that the mission has gone well and that his troops have helped the Department of Homeland Security monitor the border and gather intelligence against the transnational crime cartels that smuggle drugs, weapons and cash across the border. Matt Chandler, a spokesman for Homeland Security, said Tuesday that soldiers have helped seize over 14,000 pounds of drugs and apprehend 7,000 illegal immigrants. He said the southwestern border today has more enforcement manpower and technology than ever, much of which has been added while the National Guard has been assigned there. Gov. Jan Brewer, who called for the National Guard deployment last summer and has sued the federal government for not enforcing immigration laws, said Tuesday that she was disappointed that the deployment was ending on schedule. "It's inexcusable and inexplicable to consider withdrawal of National Guard troops from our southern border at a time when cartel violence continues and the security of the border region remains under threat from drug and human smugglers," she said...more

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

BLM touts its revenue generation for nation

After several months of criticism over new policies, the way it rounds up wild horses and other issues, officials with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management took time Tuesday to lay out the agency’s economic contributions. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and BLMDirector Bob Abbey also emphasized efforts to encourage energy production on federal land, both for traditional uses and more modern, renewable sources. In Idaho, the BLM’s effects include almost 5,000 direct jobs and more than 2,000 jobs related to BLM activities. Almost four-fifths of the direct jobs are related to recreation, which brought in more than 6 million visitors and more than $300 million in 2010. Grazing contributed more than $35 million and timber added more than $18 million. “The BLM is one of the nation’s top revenue generating agencies,” Abbey said. “We return $4 in revenue for every $1 that has been appropriated in Congress. All together, the BLM generates $112 billion in economic benefits.”...more

BLM is one of the few agencies who generate income. When I was in D.C., only the IRS generated more revenue for the feds.

The article mentions criticisms over new policies, but that's not what this is about.

Their budget is about to get cut and that brings out all the bells and whistles.

BLM to hike drilling OKs by nearly half

The federal Bureau of Land Management will boost permit approvals for oil and gas drilling on public lands 44 percent in 2011, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday. Salazar said the bureau, one of the agencies he oversees, is set to approve about 7,200 permits in 2011, compared with 5,000 in 2010. "We are leaning into the production side onshore," Salazar said at a media roundtable in Oklahoma City. The bureau is set to hold 33 oil and gas lease sales this year and a similar number in 2012, said Bob Abbey, the BLM director. "It is encouraging to hear they are addressing permitting (issues)," said Kathleen Sgamma, director of government affairs for the Western Energy Alliance, an industry trade group. "But that is only part of the process. Project approvals are at a standstill," Sgamma said. Those approvals are being slowed by re-evaluations of existing plans and environmental analysis...more

This tells us two things: 1) Obama doesn't want to take the heat for high fuel prices, and 2) These guys really, really don't want their budget to get cut.

Madeleine Pickens to get her shot at horse sanctuary

The federal agency in charge of America's mustangs is seeking formal proposals for public-private partnerships to establish wild horse eco-sanctuaries. The announcement today opens the door for Madeleine Pickens, who has been in talks with the Bureau of Land Management over her plan to set up a sanctuary for captured wild horses in Nevada. Pickens has bought, or has grazing rights, over around 500,000 acres, where hopes to rehome wild horses. A separate request for applications for partnerships relating to eco-sanctuaries located on both private and BLM-managed lands will be posted at a later time...more 

She will probably call it Madeleine's Mustangs.  Please don't tell Jimmy Bason about this, or we will have Jimmy's Jugheads running all over the country.  Bason's Burro Bodyguards is about all we can stand.

There used to be a Mustang Ranch in Nevada, but that was a horse of a different color. But, come to think of it, that was kind of a sanctuary too.

Government At Work

Someone's getting high at the Kennedy Space Center - Powder at Kennedy Space Center tests positive for cocaine

You don't have to go to Japan, cause our own TSA wants to see you nekkid and then fry you - TSA Admits Bungling of Airport Body-Scanner Radiation Tests

The Mayor of Miami-Dade raised taxes and the good folks there just removed his revenue raising ass from office. 88% said he has to go, Yippee! - Angry voters oust Miami-Dade mayor in special vote

For $30 Million You Could Have Zion National Park in Your Backyard

For just $30 million you could have not only a nearly 2,100-acre ranch in the gorgeous red-rock country of southern Utah, but you could have Zion National Park in your backyard. Bordered on two sides by the national park, on another by the Canaan Mountain Wilderness, and on the fourth by U.S. Bureau of Land Management acreage, the Trees Ranch dates to 1982, when the late Jim Trees, who founded a New York City investment firm, was on the faculty of the Harvard Business School, and helped launch the Grand Canyon Trust, saw a landscape that rivaled the beauty of nearby Zion...more


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ANTHONY BATOR, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 10-10292.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Submitted March 8, 2011**.
Filed March 14, 2011.
Before: FARRIS, LEAVY, and BYBEE, Circuit Judges.

Anthony Bator appeals pro se from the conviction and fine imposed for constructing a road without an approved operating plan, in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 261.10(a), and damaging a natural feature or property of the United States, in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 261.9(a).
Bator contends that the Forest Service lacks jurisdiction to regulate his mining operations. To the contrary, 16 U.S.C. §§ 478 and 551 granted to the Secretary of Agriculture the "power to adopt reasonable rules and regulations regarding mining operations within the national forests." United States v. Weiss, 642 F.2d 296, 298 (9th Cir. 1981).
Bator also contends that the he was entitled to an indictment by a grand jury, proceedings before an Article III judge rather than a magistrate judge, and a jury trial. Because the offenses charged were only petty offenses, a grand jury was not required, see Fed. R. Crim. P. 58(b)(1); no consent was required for the trial before the magistrate judge, see 18 U.S.C. § 3401(b); and there was no right to a jury trial, see Blanton v. City of North Las Vegas, 489 U.S. 538, 543 (1989).
Bator also contends that based on certain comments and rulings made during trial, the magistrate judge should have recused himself. The record does not reflect that there was any "extrajudicial source" of bias or a "high degree of favoritism or antagonism" requiring recusal. Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 555 (1994).
Bator's remaining contentions lack merit.

Tales of Gourds and Gold

“Do you know why they’re called the “Pumpkin Buttes?’” asks Bob Christensen as he rumbles up the side of a ridge near one of Campbell County’s famous flat-topped buttes in his 1980 Dodge pickup. The Sioux had named the Buttes “Wa-ga-ma Pa-ha,” meaning Gourd Hills, which most people think refers to a tribal ceremony using gourds. But the answer can be found on a ridge at the foot of the North Butte. In the bottom of a sandy wash lie hundreds of orange-tinted, cylindrical rocks identical to pumpkins. “These were created from wind eroding the sand,” he says. “The whole ridge is full of these things. They’ve been here thousands of years.” In fact, it would be hard to find a century-old ranch in Campbell County richer in landmarks than the adjacent Christensen Ranches, owned by cousins Bob and John Christensen 35 and 51 miles south on Highway 50. Situated just three miles east of the Powder River as the crow flies and almost completely surrounding the northernmost Pumpkin Butte, they are a historian’s – and geologist’s – dream. One of the first to herd sheep over this land was Fred Christensen, born in Michigan to European immigrant parents. Determined not to milk cows at the family dairy the rest of his life, he left Michigan to go West and got a job at the Two Bar Ranch. Cowboying at the Two Bar near Chugwater was every Easterner’s dream job. It was headquarters for Swan Land and Cattle Co., which in its 1880s heyday controlled 3.25 million acres and ran 50,000 to 90,000 head of cattle. It had switched to sheep, however, by the time Christensen happened by. In 1905, Christensen hired on with the Young Brothers, a Scotch sheep outfit in Johnson County. Two years later, he homesteaded on Pumpkin Creek near the north Pumpkin Butte, partnering on sheep first with Charles Hall and later with Hugh Auld...more

Song Of The Day #530

Ranch Radio is in the mood for some bluegrass this morning, so here's Bill Clifton & The Dixie Mountain boys with their 1957 recording of Another Broken Heart.

The tune is on their 19 track CD The Early Years 1957-58.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Army had enough land after all

From an editorial in today's Pueblo Chieftain:

...And Fort Carson has found an alternative in Wyoming, where the 4th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team currently is training at the 65,000-acre Camp Guernsey. about 80 miles north of Cheyenne. The combat team has absorbed new soldiers and is readying itself for another deployment. Fort Carson will continue to use the existing Pinon Canyon land for some of its training, Gen. Doty said, but also having the Wyoming option looks to us like a way it can continue its vital defense mission without further disruption of the important livestock industry of Southeastern Colorado.

THE WESTERNER said all along the Army had more than enough land - they just needed to better manage what they already had.

Now if the other land owning agencies would just follow suit...

Environmentalists hope to seize the expensive energy moment

After decades of failed attempts to wean the United States off its dependence on oil, environmental groups are crossing their fingers that rising oil and gasoline prices and unrest in key oil states will lead to significant policy changes. “What we’re seeing now is a perfect storm,” said Bob Deans, federal communications director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We have warships off Libya, we have soaring gas prices gouging America’s families and we have oil in the Gulf of Mexico.” Environmental groups pointed to remarks by President Obama Friday on rising gas prices as a sign that momentum is building to address the country’s oil dependence head on. Obama called for domestic oil and gas production in the short-term, but said, “We've got to make our economy more energy-efficient and energy-independent over the long run.” But every president since Richard Nixon has made similar pronouncements and little has changed...more

Obama needs prices to fall in the short run - for his re-election - and then rise again for an all out green agenda for his second term. Let's see if he can pull it off.

Furloughs for USFS, BLM, if no budget deal

If Congress fails to end a federal budget stalemate by Friday, most of the 600 employees of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service likely would be furloughed. But that doesn't mean local federal forestlands will become fair game for scofflaws. Both agencies plan to keep skeletal crews in place to maintain basic functions, including law enforcement officers. "We have been tasked by the state office to come up with essential services and that would primarily be law enforcement," said Jim Whittington, spokesman for the BLM's Medford District. "We want to make it clear that law enforcement would be out there patrolling. Our essential functions would still be in place — basically law enforcement — but we would also have people to protect our infrastructure investment." Ditto for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, said forest spokeswoman Virginia Gibbons. "We would cover the essentials, including providing law enforcement to ensure public safety," she said. "If there is a shutdown, we would continue to fill about 10 positions."...more

We can only pray...maybe I don't want Congress to agree on the budget after all.

Anyway, I fail to see how any of them are "essential".

House Dems plan to force climate science vote

House Democrats are planning to put Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans on the record about whether they believe in human-induced global warming. The committee will consider a GOP-led bill Tuesday that would kill EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases. But Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the panel's top Democrat, has called the bill an affront to the consensus scientific view global warming is occurring and that human activities — notably burning fossil fuels — are a major reason why. He strongly suggested that Democratic amendments at Tuesday’s markup will include one about climate science. “I think it would be good to have people on record,” Waxman said Monday evening, while noting that overall amendment planning remained ongoing...more

Thaw the freeze on America’s energy resources

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar found himself between a rock and a hard place as he begged for bureaucratic bucks before the House and Senate energy committees last week. Though called to defend his department’s request for a 50 percent increase in budget funds over last year, Salazar was also grilled about why his agency prolonged its permitting freeze for deepwater drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico amid $100-per-barrel oil and escalating tension in the Middle East. It’s hard to feel sorry for the secretary, given that his agency’s bureaucratic permitting delays have produced an energy freeze that’s kept thousands of Gulf workers unemployed and supporting businesses across the country sitting idle. Though the secretary tried to deflect criticism by citing his agency’s first deepwater permit grant since the BP spill, the fact is, this coordinated move for political cover is too little, too late...more

Wolf numbers up 8 percent in Montana in 2010

Wolf numbers grew by 8 percent in Montana during 2010, but stayed nearly level across the northern Rocky Mountains, according to the latest interagency wolf report. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service surveys found 1,651 wolves in 244 packs spread across Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and bits of Washington, Oregon and Utah. While that's down from the 2009 count of 1,733 wolves regionwide, the report said a drop in Idaho's minimum population estimate was the sole reason for the change. In Montana, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists reported 566 wolves in 108 packs. At least 35 of those packs had breeding pairs. Most were in northwestern Montana, where 326 wolves in 68 packs included 21 breeding pairs. The report noted that the same area had the least contact between wolves and domestic livestock - and, therefore, the least conflict between wolves and people...more

County approves compensation fund for livestock losses due to wolves

An Oregon county has approved a compensation fund for ranchers who lose livestock to wolves in the northeastern corner of the state, next to Idaho and Washington. The Community Alliance Livestock Fund, or CALF, was approved unanimously on Monday by Wallowa County commissioners, who hope it can serve as a statewide model for Oregon, The East Oregonian newspaper in Pendleton reported. The fund was proposed to commissioners last in by Dennis Sheehy, a rancher who grazes cattle in the heart of the Imnaha wolf pack’s territory in northeastern Oregon. CALF will begin as a community-based program accepting donations from people, businesses and nonprofits, but the long-term goal is to receive state and, or, federal funding, either through U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife or possibly through the federal farm bill, said Rod Childers, wolf committee chairman for the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association. Without a statewide plan, Oregon cannot receive federal funds for compensation — as Idaho and Montana do, Childers said...more

Governor: More data needed before Wyo. Range drilling

The U.S. Forest Service needs to have more data about current conditions if it intends to gauge how a controversial proposal to drill for gas in the Wyoming Range would affect streams, air quality and wildlife habitat over time, Gov. Matt Mead said in his first detailed, public comments on the project. Mead didn't take a firm stance on the project either way, saying in his letter to the Bridger-Teton National Forest supervisor that the plan to drill in the forest "requires the right balancing of interests." "We are all interested in finding the right balance," Mead wrote in the letter dated Friday. "This is not a winner-take-all situation." The Forest Service took comments through Friday on the proposal by Houston-based Plains Exploration and Production Co. to drill 137 gas wells from 17 pads a few miles south of Bondurant. The Forest Service released a draft plan for the Eagle Prospect-Noble Basin project in December, opening a 90-day public comment period on the drilling. The Forest Service got a mountain of feedback: About 40,000 comments...more

Environmental, construction rules top targets of NM task force

A task force established by Gov. Susana Martinez to review the impact of state regulations on small businesses has focused narrowly on environmental and construction rules, with an eye toward some major overhauls. A "mid-point report" sent by the task force Feb. 18 to the governor's chief of staff, Keith Gardner, noted the group's review would focus on rules and regulations in the state Environment, Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources, and Game and Fish departments. The task force will "determine the best approach to rescind or revise the troublesome rules/regulations," according to the report. The task force, which has met twice, noted that environment and construction are two areas "in which industries have been significantly and economically affected by rules and regulations." The task force is to make a full, formal report to Martinez by April 1...more

Gun control no longer a dormant issue

President Obama’s new call for tougher gun rules following the shooting of an Arizona congresswoman has energized gun-control advocates, but one leading Democrat isn’t holding his breath for reform. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and a long-time proponent of stronger gun laws, said it’s unlikely any Second Amendment reforms will move through Congress while Republicans control the lower chamber. Obama’s push for tighter gun-sale screenings will help generate debate about the adequacy of current precautions, Conyers said, but significant reform is unlikely in the current political environment. Other gun-reform advocates — who’ve been waiting two years for Obama to make good on campaign promises to tackle gun issues head on — were much more invigorated. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) said she’s hoping Obama’s move lends legs to her proposal to ban high-capacity ammunition magazines. Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, called Obama’s stand “the most significant statement from … anybody in the White House in over a decade on gun violence.” And Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) said any debate represents progress over the last Congress, when his requests for gun hearings fell on deaf ears among Democratic leadership...more

Russian bomb squad called in to defuse sex toy

Anti-terrorist bomb squad experts were called to a post office in the northwest of Russia to make safe a package from which a strange ticking sound was coming, local police said Monday. They found a vibrator. The incident took place at Petrozavodsk in the republic of Karelia and followed a call from a postal worker who had identified a suspect package, a police spokeswoman told AFP by phone. "The post building was ringed by the security forces and people were evacuated," she said. "In the package the bomb squad found a vibrator." The sex toy had apparently been turned on "by accident"...more

Disease Forces Government to Slaughter Rancher’s Cattle

A Starr County rancher is without his herd of cattle. The government ordered them sold and slaughtered to keep a disease from spreading to other cattle or people. Eight of the 38 head of cattle tested positive for bovine brucellosis. It's a potentially deadly disease that took the government about 80 years to get rid of. It came back. This time, they weren't taking any chances. Silence fills the air on this Starr County ranch. The corrals sit empty, no bulls, cows or calves. All of Ernesto and Abbie Vela's livestock are gone, slaughtered by order of the Texas Animal Health Commission. "All the cattle, even the ones that tested negative. The explanation they gave me is that since they were offsprings from the other cattle and the bull, they had to destroy all of them," says Starr County rancher Ernesto Vela...more

Education campaign launched to mark National Ag Week

This week is the 38th annual observance of National Ag Week. Every year, as the first official day of spring approaches, agriculture moves into the spotlight. "It's no accident that Americans enjoy the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world," said Todd Staples, Texas Agriculture Commissioner. Last week at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Commissioner Staples unveiled a new educational campaign to tell consumers about the countless ways in which farmers and ranchers play a vital role in the everyday lives of American families. "Agriculture is Your Culture" is the initiative designed to dispel myths about the agriculture industry. Through the "Agriculture is Your Culture" website and outreach materials, the true story of Texas agriculture is told in ways that relate to everyday life, Staples said. "Our farmers and ranchers make it possible to feed our growing population through meticulous care and efficient use of our land and resources. They also contribute to amazing strides in lifesaving medicine, research, education and other agriculture-dependent technologies. Criticism aimed at agriculture is based largely on sensationalism. This campaign sets the record straight with the facts."...more

A look back at Abilene, Texas, on its 130th anniversary

A mere 130 years ago today, Abilene was born. The place was already inhabited, with nomadic Native Americans, U.S. military personnel, buffalo hunters and ranchers calling the area home, according to the city of Abilene's website. But the 1881 sale of lots on March 15 and 16 sealed the deal, said Abilene historian and history teacher Jay Moore. The Texas and Pacific Railroad had been given land by the state of Texas, laying track from Fort Worth to El Paso. The railroad and some ranchers got together and chose the city's eventual site about 50 miles from Eastland, which at the time was already a "little village," Moore said. The story of Abilene needs to be placed in the context of all the towns created by the T&P, said Rob Sledge, historian-in-residence for McMurry University's McWhiney Foundation and distinguished professor emeritus with the university. "Abilene was the centerpiece to all of that," he said, intended to be a vital central distribution point in West Central Texas. In addition to its role as a water stop, creating towns like Abilene created economic opportunity, Moore said. The town layout itself — streets named after trees running perpendicular to the railway, numbered streets running parallel — is repeated from Weatherford to Big Spring, Sledge said...more

Song Of The Day #529

So what did Jim Reeves sound like in 1949? Wait no longer as Ranch Radio brings you his 1949 recording of My Heart's Like A Welcome Mat.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Colorado farmland goes dry as suburbs secure water supplies

Colorado farmers still own more than 80 percent of water flowing in the state, but control is rapidly passing from them as growing suburbs move to secure supplies for the future. The scramble is intensifying as aging farmers offer their valuable water rights to thirsty cities, drying up ag land so quickly that state overseers are worried about the life span of Colorado's agricultural economy. Since 1987, Colorado farmers and ranchers have sold at least 191,000 acre-feet of water to suburbs, according to a review of water transactional data. (That's enough water to fill Chatfield Reservoir nine times— and enough to sustain 382,000 families of four for a year.) The shift has been especially abrupt north of Denver, where farmers sold water to suburbs at a rate of 2 to 5 percent of available water each year, according to the Northern Water Conservancy District. State water courts in the South Platte River Basin, which includes Denver and Weld counties, approved farm-to-urban change-of-use petitions in 41 different cases between 2002 and 2007, state records show. In the process, about 400,000 acres in Colorado dried up between 2000 and 2005, according to U.S. Geological Survey data. Long-envisioned cooperative transfers, with farmers leasing water to suburbs while retaining control, have not materialized. Instead, suburban water managers — and their agents — are venturing as far as mountain valleys 100 miles away to acquire new water supplies, sometimes backed by state government agencies...more

Wildlands designation raises concern about land’s future

Wyoming’s four Bighorn Basin counties are accusing the Interior Department of trying to create new wilderness without congressional approval by directing the Bureau of Land Management to inventory its wildlands and manage them for their wilderness characteristics. While that appears to be the prevailing opinion in northern Wyoming, not all commissioners or members of the public agree, and not everyone views Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s use of the term “wildlands” as cause for alarm. The differences of interpretation surfaced recently when Park County commissioners gathered to discuss the BLM’s new resource management plan and Salazar’s order directing the agency to update its wildlands inventory. Park County Commissioner Joe Tilden, who returned last month from a conference of Western states where Salazar’s order was discussed, told commissioners that most of those who attended see the order as illegal. “What was very disturbing to the people down there is that it ... creates a new classification of lands, wildlands,” Tilden said. As Tilden sees it, use of the term “wildlands” is an attempt to create de facto wilderness by usurping the authority of Congress. If that’s the goal — and if it’s successful — Tilden said it could potentially stifle the state’s oil and gas industry by setting areas off limits to drilling...more

Local lawmaker bashes feds over road closures

In another burst of fiercely anti-Washington D.C. legislation from Idaho’s Statehouse, a western Treasure Valley Republican lawmaker wants to stop the Department of Fish and Game from helping enforce road closures on federal land. Sen. Monty Pearce of New Plymouth introduced his measure Thursday. The Department of Fish and Game would be forbidden from enforcing — or entering into an agreement with — agencies like the U.S. Forest Service when it comes to federal laws or rules governing roads on federal land. Pearce is joining Idaho sportsmen who are furious about federal management of Idaho’s backcountry, including efforts to shutter some trails or areas long coveted by motorized off-road vehicles...more

Judge halts another Forest Service clearing project

A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction to protect imperiled species on the remaining 600 miles of a $1 million roadside-clearing project in Central California's Los Padres National Forest. U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh granted Los Padres Forestwatch's requests to protect the National Forest from the U.S. Forest Service. Judge Koh found that the Forest Service's failure to seek input from the public or other agencies "flies in the face" of environmental laws designed to ensure an open process. The project involves removing trees and vegetation along 750 miles of forest roads in the Los Padres National Forest, to reduce fire risks and other potential hazards. Judge Koh found that the Forest Service had failed to seek public input and consult other agencies over its plan, despite its own biologists' findings that it could affect threatened and endangered species such as the Smith's blue butterfly and seacliff buckwheat...more

The opinion is here.

Online report details changes in forests, non-federal lands

The "Forests, Farms and People" report can now be found on the Oregon Department of Forestry website. Compiled by the Oregon Department of Forestry and U.S. Forest Service from detailed analysis of thousands of aerial photographs, the 74-page report examines changes in activity on non-federal lands between 1974 and 2009.

The report is here.

Study finds Glacier National Park home to about 40 wolverines

A recent ongoing study indicates that about 40 wolverines are living in Glacier National Park, a U.S. Forest Service biologist says. Rick Yates said that a study that started in January to collect wolverine fur samples is providing DNA samples from the secretive mammals. "Glacier really is the premier place to carry out wolverine research because of the density of the population there," Yates told the Missoulian. There are "two to three times as many wolverines as there would be farther north." The study is being carried out by Glacier wildlife biologist John Waller and more than 50 volunteers who head into the park's remote backcountry to collect fur samples wolverines leave on wire brushes attached to bait posts. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in December listed wolverines as a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act based on the threat of climate change...more

America’s Great Outdoors Youth Chat with Sec. Vilsack and Sec. Salazar

Last month President Obama announced the final report of his America’s Great Outdoors initiative, featuring young Americans who are excited about conservation and ready to get involved in the outdoors. Your suggestions were clear. You want the outdoors to be relevant and accessible to everyone. You want jobs and more opportunities to learn in the outdoors. But most importantly, you want to help make it happen. Now, we want to keep the conversation going. Please join us on Thursday March 17th at 2:00 p.m. EST as Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar answer your questions live at Submit your questions in advance on the YouthGO YouTube or send them to You can also submit questions live via the White House Facebook app.

Derry Brownfield Dies

Derry Brownfield, one of the Midwest's best know farm broadcasters has died. Born in 1932, Derry Brownfield died in his home early Saturday from an apparent heart attack. Derry was known for his informative, witty and colorful delivery of the news on his radio show, the Derry Brownfield Show. Even at the age of 79, Derry could still saddle up and ride a horse. Derry first entered the world of broadcasting when he and a friend established the Brownfield Network in 1972. In 1994 he established his own radio show, the Derry Brownfield Show. In 1997 Learfield Communications purchased the Brownfield Network but Derry remained on the air until 2008 when a dispute with major advertiser Monsanto resulted in cancelation of his show. Never one to give up, Derry continued broadcasting his show via webcast...more

There's real gold in Hillsboro: Tiny, friendly, historic, scenic New Mexico community is a treasure

Old prospectors still poke around creek beds and the nearby Black Range mountains, searching for instant wealth or at least a promising gold nugget. But everyone who puts down roots in Hillsboro knows the real treasure is not mineral wealth but pristine scenic vistas, quaint gift and antique shops, galleries and restaurants, glimpses of mining and ranching history -- and the best gem of all, people so friendly they make all visitors feel at home. Hillsboro is a speck on the map along Percha Creek in southwestern New Mexico. Founded in 1877, the town flourished after prospectors discovered gold in the surrounding Black Range mountains. The lore says Hillsboro evolved quickly into an important mining and ranching center with four saloons, four grocery stores and a post office early in its history. Nestled in the foothills of the Black Range, Hillsboro now has become an interesting community of artists, writers, ranchers and assorted characters, some more eccentric than others. Unofficial population: 185...more

Calling All Dutch Oven Cooks

Mark your calendar: Ninth Annual Southwest New Mexico DUTCH OVEN COOK-OFF is coming to Glenwood, New Mexico at the Community Park on CatWalk Road from 9:00 AM to Mid-fternoon Saturday, March 26, 2011
Cooking Divisions ~ Single Pot or Three Pots (Main Dish, Bread, Dessert). Cooks can enter on their own, or as a team. Entry fee ~ $ 15 for Single Pot, $ 30 for Three Pots.
Cooks may begin their Set-up and Fires at 7:30 A.M. Cooks' Meeting ~ 8:30 A.M. Cooking Time ~ 9:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M.
Times To Submit Finished Dishes: Dessert, 12:00 Bread, 1:00 Main Dish, 2:00 Food Available at Park Before the Tasting
"Tasters' Delight" at 2:00 PM featuring samples from the Dutch Oven entries ~ $6.00 per person
Bucky's Barbeque BBQ Sandwich with Cole Slaw and Chips ~ $ 6.00 per person
Come early to get tickets for the Tasters Delight!
Awards Presentation Follows the PotLuck
Honors, Cash Awards and Gifts for the Winning Cooks!
Live Music by Benjy Rivas and the BBR Band from Las Cruces!
For a Packet of Information, Rules & Entry Blank ~ Call or E-Mail:
Leah Jones (575) 539-2800 HC 61 Box 296 Glenwood, NM 88039
Mickey Lemon (575) 388-2840 P. O. Box 1676 Silver City, NM 88062
This event is reminiscent of the old days when folks in small communities would gather to share good food and "visit." This ninth annual Dutch Oven promises to be a memorable day you won’t want to miss!

Song Of The Day #528

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and to get your feet tappin' and your blood flowin' here's Merle Travis and his tune Crazy Boogie.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

And the wreck was on
 by Julie Carter

On its own, the word "wreck" conjures up endless images of smoke, dust, and disaster. When you throw in the words cowboy, horse and rope, it becomes not a picture, but a definition. Cowboy defined.

The hard part of the job was over. The yearling stray was roped, tripped, tied down and all that was left was a ride back to get the pickup and trailer, loading up the critter and heading back to the corrals.

Like most cowboys on the job, he was alone, a long way from home and not a soul knew where he was, not exactly. He'd seen enough years to be "seasoned." 

He'd done this very same job hundreds of times. And maybe that was his undoing.

When he stepped back up on his horse, rope still tied to one end of the yearling and the other end to the saddle horn, an errant loose coil of his rope snaked around his leg just as the rope pulled tight.

The horse felt the sudden jerk on the rope, jumped and that yanked the cowboy to the ground. And the wreck was on.

It was a cowboy wreck of the epic kind. Ingredients were trees, sage, rocks big and little for a scenery framework, a scared horse trying to get away from the cowboy hung in the rope bouncing behind him and the yearling dragging along behind.

It happened in seconds. The cowboy was on the ground before he knew what had happened and it wasn't until many hours later that he could mentally think it through and even venture a guess at what took place.

What he knew was that in those few minutes, it occurred to him they could be his last. 

"I felt a couple of my ribs break and knew then, if I didn't get out of this pretty quick, I wasn't going to get out of it alive."

Only the coyotes and the buzzards would have found him.

Providence intervened. The strain of the rope pulling on his foot pulled his boot off.

That released him enough to reach up and cut his rope with his pocketknife. That freed him from the surety of being drug to death - every cowboy's nightmare if they let themselves go there.

It was a grueling trip back to the pickup and the drive home even more so, only to face a frightened wife who wished she could kill him before he killed himself.

The blinding pain subsided a little each day in the weeks that followed, leaving only a bad memory and an edge of caution for doing things a little differently next time.

That caution is not what the world outside the cowboy life would do, like make sure you were never alone again, or be certain someone always knows where you are at all times. Not possible, not an option. 

Instead, his mind goes over and over every step of what he believes happened that day.
When he has it all sorted out, his solution is simple "Be a little more careful when I step back up on my horse."

For a cowboy, the possibility and likelihood of some sort of "wreck" in his day-today business stays at about 101 percent probability. 

He's not into the numbers nor does he care. It's just what he does.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Wilmeth's West

Roads and Lands
Travel Management and Wish Lists
The Path to Checks and Balances
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     The message was the Forest Service Travel Management Plan
     On Friday, March 4, 2011, a rally was held at ground zero of the Rewilding Zone, Silver City, New Mexico.  The press reported how about 100 people rallied to remind the world how important it was to support the Forest Service plan to close the majority of the roads in the Gila National Forest.  The call to support the idea was based on their reminder that, in a democracy, reasonable compromise is the only acceptable approach to such an issue. 
     The next day another rally took place within a few miles of the first.  From the looks and the tone of the crowd, the message seemed to suggest an outcry of emotion reminiscent of when Silver City was still known as San Vicente de la Cienega and residents had no choice other than to stand on their own two feet.  Those in attendance seemed to remember that they had grown to resent the fact that reasonable compromise in matters of the Forest Service always resulted in the loss of freedom.      
     The news service reported that 700 people were there the second day to listen to their Congressman, Steve Pearce, and other interested parties discuss the intentions of the Gila to close the roads. The prevailing sentiment was that closing as much as 90% of the forest roads couldn’t be described as reasonable compromise.
     The Rush to Save the Land
     Americans need to realize that the underlying agenda in the environmental feeding frenzy has been taking root for many years.  It isn’t totally predicated on, but can be mapped and traced to the expansion of federal lands management agencies. 
     Every citizen must become acquainted with the agenda of Rewilding, and, although it is a fascinating topic to discuss at Friday night swill mixers at Western New Mexico University and other liberal arts institutions, it isn’t acceptable.  The underlying intent to reduce civilization within the grand wildlife corridors is not a reasonable measure of authority to place in the hands or in the minds of any men.  Any suggestion of eliminating human beings is truly age old blasphemy that transcends any and all political correctness. 
     To the land
     Although the founding fathers were dead set against the long term ownership of lands by the government, a practical problem arose.  The progressives arrived in offices of influence before the process could be solidified.  By the time there were enough people to inhabit and accept the transfer, the least common denominator, the sovereign individual citizen, was arrayed against Washington progressive presidential leadership and a variety of growing land management bureaucracies. 
     Land managers with budgets, ambition, and authority became a competing force to the individual.  Over time, the power of those forces discovered that denigration and ridicule of citizens were tools for further expansion.  Land owners and industries tied to the land became subjects of criticism and condescension.  The message was heard in the halls of places like WNMU and institutions across this country.  Two full generations of new graduates have now gone forth to carry the message with a pledge to protect the land.
     Government ownership of all lands in the 11 contiguous Western States represents 62% of the entire land mass.  Government ownership of lands east of those states represents 12%, similarly.  Perhaps those in the West must start asking how such a discrepancy of distribution equates to racial equality.  Isn’t racial equality one of the constant bylines of the progressives who tend to rally for Rewilding concepts?
     Likewise, why does the government remain intent on acquiring more land?  Notwithstanding the budget crisis we face, the current administration has elevated requested funds for acquiring critically important lands from $346.1 million when Bush left office to a proposed $900 million for 2012.  A billion dollars for the acquisition of more and more lands predominately in the private land starved West is the plan!
     To the first phase of checks and balances  
     It appears unlikely that the government will alter the impact of the runaway agenda schemes that are being carried out.  Perhaps it is time the poor folks of San Vicente de la Cienega mentality offer some check and balance recommendations for their own good.
     First, the public is constantly reminded that the lands being sought by the federal land agencies and the Rewilding agenda are critically important.  That must imply that other lands are not as critically important.  Therefore, it would seem reasonable that, for every acre added to the 463,791,000 acres of government owned land in the West, three acres of lesser important land must be released for sale.  Those liquidations must be done concurrent with the acquisition or the transaction could not be made.  History has shown that the government, given any chance, tends to forget simple obligations to the American people.
   How far should that process go?  As in any self correcting process, the progression should be allowed to continue until an equitable balance is struck.  In the case of government lands in the West, the take and sell process should continue until the target ownership represented by the 12% government ownership in eastern states is hit.
    If the Eastern states were ready and willing to raise the share of government holdings in their midst perhaps the Western states would be willing to find equilibrium at a level higher than 12%, but equilibrium must be found.  It is only there that true equality can exist.
    States like Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho that have in excess of 70% government ownership would necessarily have to be the states where the process was accelerated.  Right is right . . . fairness is fairness . . . and equality is equality. 
     Travel management recourse
     Since the same underlying agenda is in place in both the funding of more land acquisitions and implementation of travel management plans, it is important that the same measure of equilibrium be struck back in Silver City where the rallies just occurred.  Since reasonable compromise has been proposed by the progressives supporting road closure, reasonable compromise should be the intent of the process. 
     A place to start would be Forest Service itself.  With the wholesale elimination of forest roads, logic would suggest that the agency’s vehicular demand would be reduced.  The elimination of some percentage of those vehicles base on the impact of road closures would be in order.  Since speculation of how many vehicles to eliminate would become argumentative, a more simplistic approach is in order.  That algorithm does not even need numbers.  In exchange for the roads being closed, the Forest Service should start buying and servicing their vehicles outside of their federal budget.  That change would take place on the basis of collected revenues.
     Where would those revenues come from?  They would come from tolls levied upon good citizens wanting to venture forth into the wilds of the forests.  If those wilds generate such enjoyment to folks, it would be reflected in the tolls collected.  If the tolls proved to be adequate, everybody would be happy.  If there were shortfalls, however, the Gila SO would have to determine what to cut in order to continue to operate.  The taxpayers secured their end of the deal when their diminishing rights to use and enjoy federal lands were absconded by the Forest Service in its plan for extensive closures. 
     The Long Term
     Long term, arguments of right versus wrong or conservation versus local needs must be resolved in a manner that, if not fully fair to the local folks with San Vicente de la Cienega mentality, at least fair enough that they understand how the deck is stacked against them.  Tort reform and governmental backed litigation mechanisms are major problems for local communities.  While those communities assume they are waging legal battles on equal footing they are being opposed by the Rewilding camp funded with federal dollars.  That is yet another travesty that transcends all political correctness. 
     As such there should be no federal dollars in any litigation involving local communities and the federal government or the Rewilding organizations.  Winners must take all and losers must pay all.  If the federal government loses, the agency suffering the loss cannot go back to the tax payer well and come up with the funding.  The funding must come from the sale of assets.  Vehicles, lands, buildings, easements, or so called extractive industry permit revenues must all be in play upon any failure or loss of judgment. American taxpayers can no longer be hit on both sides of the equation.
     Similarly, no tax payer dollars should be allowed into the coffers of the Rewilding organizations.  In the case of conservation litigation, no workouts should be allowed either. If litigation is brought to bear, legal conclusions and not settlements must be achieved.  Winners take all and losers must pay all.  No longer can the tax payers foot the bill from simple saber rattling and a rush to settlement.  If the federal government loses, the payments must be made from the sale of assets.  If the Rewilding camps lose, they must go back to their private trust funds and pay the bill.  The American taxpayer can no longer be the cupboard that is raided  . . . and raided . . . and raided.  This cupboard is bare . . . . and it has lost patience with empires built on the backs of sovereign Americans.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “The Gila story is going to be important historically.  The rise of the environmental industry and the retreat of the primary production industries there is a microcosm of the American West.  It has divided families and the community.  The haves have become those folks who derive their income from tax money.  What happens now in Grant County, New Mexico will have national implications.” 


Wilmeth's article reminds me of an idea put forward years ago by Walt Greeman and Jimmy Bason - The Equal Access To Federal Lands Act.  These gentleman were very concerned about discrimination against Easterners, i.e., they didn't have the same access to federal lands that we "enjoyed" in The West. Discrimination pure and simple.  "We didn't think it was fair they had to drive so far to access these lands" Greeman jokingly told me Saturday evening.

To remedy this terrible situation they proposed legislation that would cap federal land ownership at 25 percent of any given state.  Federal lands in excess in any state would be sold and the revenue used to purchase lands in those states suffering from a shortage of federal land.  This way, over time, all Americans would have equal access to federal land.

One must admire the caring these gentlemen have for their fellow man and their willingness to share.

There is one irony in this however. Several years ago Greeman was so fed up with the federales he moved his ranching operation to a private lands state...a state that under his legislation would now be subject to a 25 percent acquisition by the feds. Maybe Walt will sell his ranch to the feds and move back to New Mexico!

If nothing else, he could go into the burro bodyguards business with Bason

Wilmeth also mentions Rewilding.  Below is a map that used to be on the Wildlands Project's website.  It was displayed in a 14 part series written by rancher Judy Keeler which can be read here.  Start with The Wildlands Project Comes To Hidalgo County.