Friday, March 25, 2011

McCain: Border security better---needs more improvement KGUN-TV

Border security is better but still has a long way to go. That was the message as Senator John McCain and four members of Congress commented on their tour of border areas. It's close to a full year since someone murdered rancher Robert Krentz on his ranch, near the border. No one's been charged with his death---and it's become a strong symbol of the feeling the border is far from secure. Senator Mc Cain and four Republicans who represent Arizona in the U.S. House toured the border and made a point to meet with the Krentz family. Congressman Jeff Flake says, "We met with his widow, Sue; his brother Phil and other ranchers and I can tell you, they don't believe that the border is anywhere near secure." Senator McCain says border safety is improving but still needs plenty of work...more

McCain unhappy with border security KOLD-TV

There has been improvement along the U.S.-Mexican border but it is  still not secure, says Sen. John McCain. McCain, who toured the Arizona border region Thursday, is critical that the Department of Homeland Security is pulling the National Guard off the border in June. "We witnessed a drug seizure while we were there in Douglas. And it's a bad situation." The group visited Yuma, Douglas and Nogales, and met with the family of rancher Robert Krentz, who was killed last year, and other area ranchers, and made them a promise. "Our commitment to them is that we will do everything we can to allow them to live in the same level of security and safety that the rest of the citizens of the country enjoy." Still violence on the south side of the border, according to McCain, has escalated. And the U.S. has not kept up. That's why he's critical of the decision to remove the National Guard...more

Here's the video report:

Valley farmers, ranchers affected by border fence

The global recession has not been particularly kind to farmers and ranchers across the country. However, for those along the South Texan border, a slumping economy seems to be the least of their fears. The border fence that was built to fight illegal immigration and drug smuggling has turned into a nightmare for many Americans living along the U.S./ Mexico border. Perhaps most affected are the areas ranchers and farmers, whose typical work day now faces unique challenges. The border fence serves as a major barrier, dividing ranchers land in two, making simple farming routines a thing of the past. “We have to go around about another mile and half the fence to check on our fields, to irrigate and check on our workers,” said famer Albert Garza. Rancher Fermin Leal agrees. “Our equipment is twenty eight to thirty feet wide and as you can see the levee is only eighteen feet. It's pretty hard to maneuver our equipment,” Leal said. The rancher's biggest fear the fence itself, portions of which contain gaps or open spaces. “They haven't told us how they're going to be closed,” said Garza. A local U.S. Border Patrol spokesperson told Action 4 News that the open spaces will be gated. But ranchers are left wondering how the gates will work and if they will present more of a threat...more

EPA chief seeks to reassure farmers on clean air rules

The Hill reports: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson traveled to central California this week to meet with farmers and ranchers — a visit aimed in part at reassuring the industry that EPA isn’t out to get it. Jackson used a Wednesday op-ed in The Fresno Bee to address the agency’s work to tackle particulate emissions. She writes:

Open dialogue provides the insights we need to craft the most cost-effective protections of human health. It also helps dispel common myths, like the false claim that EPA is expanding regulation of dust from farms. We have made no decision to do so.The Clean Air Act mandates regular reviews of science on various pollutants, including coarse particulate matter. An independent panel is currently assessing that science, and at my direction EPA staff is meeting with farmers and ranchers about their concerns and the status of our review.

You ag producers should just relax, I'm sure you can believe her.

Just the same, an "independent panel" appointed by...who?

The operative phrase is "We have made no decision to do so." Hell, we know that. The question is are you going to?

Further, I wonder if you would do so running up to or during a Presidential election year?

I'm starting to smell a December 2012 surprise.

Drilling Ken Salazar

After two years of practicing unrepentant contempt for science, jobs, law and truth, why should Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s words mean anything anymore? While President Obama promotes offshore drilling overseas thousands of miles away in Brazil, Salazar now promises to revitalize America’s oil and gas industry. It’s like Jack “Dr. Death” Kevorkian promoting himself as a lifesaving CPR...more

'If Wishes Were Horses' a story of love, forgiveness

It’s been proven that working with horses can have a soothing, rehabilitative effect on people who are suffering from stress, depression, etc. But can a little equine therapy work its miracles when a tragic loss is involved? Five years ago on his birthday, lawyer/rancher Wyatt Blaine lost his beloved wife and son in a collision with a drunken driver. As a way to keep his wife's memory alive and to move on with his own healing, he decides to reinstate the New Beginnings Program, an equine therapy program for troubled teens held at the Blaine’s family ranch. But Wyatt begins to have doubts when his pastor suggests he include the teenage son of the man who was responsible for his family’s deaths...more

National toilet paper tax proposed

Mayor Jim Suttle went to Washington Tuesday flush with ideas for how federal officials could help cities like Omaha pay for multibillion-dollar sewer projects. Among the items on his brainstorming list: a proposal for a 10-cent federal tax on every roll of toilet paper you buy. Based on the four-pack price for Charmin double rolls Tuesday at a midtown Hy-Vee, such a tax would add more than 10 percent to the per-roll price, pushing it over a buck. The idea came from a failed 2009 House measure by an Oregon congressman to help cities and the environment...more

Too bad this is a family blog.

Extra-special extraterrestrial experience

Some will swear a flying saucer landed at the Hart Canyon Mesa 53 years ago. No one knows where it went. Left behind, more than a half-century after the alleged extra-terrestrial touch-down, is a friendly divide between those who believe and those who don't — those who call the event legend and those who call it truth. Regardless of their stance, many will convene this week at the 14th annual Aztec UFO Symposium, this year themed "The Truth is Out There." The town's lingering curiosity and enthusiasm about UFOs has made the symposium a constant success. It is one of the library's most successful fundraisers, bringing in several thousand dollars for literacy programs at the Aztec Public Library, event planner Katee McClure said. The "Aztec Incident" begins on March 25, 1948. A pair of oil workers, 19-year-old Doug Noland and fellow employee Bill Ferguson, were starting a normal day of work. However, when called to a brush fire on the top of a mesa just south of Aztec, the pair found something very abnormal. Noland described the discovery as a "very large metallic lens-shaped craft," Ramsey said. There were no seams to the metal, which looked to be brushed with aluminum. Quarter-sized portals reflected back and gold rings circled the outer shell. What waited inside was even more perplexing, Ramsey said. "As Doug and Bill looked through the window, they saw two small bodies slumped over what appeared to be a control panel of sorts,'" Ramsey wrote in his book. "Doug remembered, The sun was coming up by this time, but we could plainly see two bodies.'" Ramsey provides countless other testimonies from witnesses, ranging from Baptist ministers to neighboring ranchers. Still, Ramsey cannot answer where the craft was taken...more

Mystery of Willie Nelson's 'Pretty Paper' is wrapped up

The mystery of Fort Worth's Christmas song is solved. It took help from readers in Palo Pinto County, plus one surprised family in Conroe. I wrote last Christmas how for almost 50 years, we've heard Willie Nelson's sad ballad Pretty Paper, about holiday shoppers rushing past a disabled street vendor selling pencils and ribbons while crawling "all alone on a sidewalk" downtown. Dozens of readers who shopped at the old Leonards Department Store remember the man whom Nelson wrote about in 1963, after he left a local radio career for Nashville. But we never knew the vendor's name. Several readers remembered that the man commuted from Santo, in Palo Pinto County, to take his place outside Leonards, where he drew sympathy as he crept along the sidewalk on all fours, wearing clunky gloves and kneepads made from old tires and a custom leather vest with a pencil rack and coin box sewn into the back. Finally, rancher Bob Neely, 82, of Santo called about his former neighbor, Frankie Brierton. It turns out that Brierton refused a wheelchair. He chose to crawl because that's what he learned growing up after his legs were weakened by a spinal disorder, said his daughter, Lillian Compte, 84, of Conroe. She couldn't figure out why anybody would be asking about her father, who died at 74 in 1973. He's buried in Mineral Wells. I told her that I think her father is probably the man in the song, selling gift ribbons and "hoping that you won't pass him by." "It's a pretty song," she said. "But I just never thought of it being about my father." He earned a living without government assistance, Compte said...more

Ted Turner's bison help save historic Texas herd

Six years ago, inbreeding threatened to destroy the last herd of southern Plains bison. Only 53 were left, and breeders were having trouble getting females to carry their calves to term. Tests showed that unless something was done to increase the diversity of genes in the historic herd, all the animals would be gone within 50 years. Researchers now say a donation of a few bulls from media mogul Ted Turner seems to have done the trick. The herd has increased to 75 bison, and while more work to preserve the animals remains, there's no longer an immediate risk of extinction. Bison are the largest land animals in North America, and as many as 60 million once roamed the Great Plains. When the Transcontinental Railroad was built across the United States in the 1800s, the bison were split into what was known as the Northern and the Southern herds. The Southern herd included animals from Texas, eastern New Mexico, eastern Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and southern Nebraska. The herd that exists today was started in the 1880s by Charles Goodnight, one of the most prosperous cattlemen in the American West. His wife urged him to save five calves he had captured at a time when hunters were killing bison by the hundreds of thousands for their hides and meat and to crush American Indian tribes who depended on the animals for food and clothing...more

Song Of The Day #538

Ranch Radio brings you a rarity on Hank Week - Hank Locklin and his recording of Stumpy Joe.

The tune is available on the 4 CD box set The Louisiana Hayride Story put out by the UK record label Proper.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Utah groups launch challenge to Salazar's 'wild lands' policy

In what may be the nation's first legal challenge to a controversial "wild lands" decision, the Utah Association of Counties and the Uintah County Commission filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The complaint in federal court in Utah challenge's Salazar's Secretarial Order 3310, which they assert upends a settlement agreement reached by then-Gov. Mike Leavitt and the Department of Interior over such land designations. Those decisions of declaring federal lands "wild" because of their characteristics are strictly within the purview of Congress, the suit contends, based on the settlement agreement reached in 2003. "... Secretarial Order 3310 gives unfettered discretion to determine which public lands will be considered as (wilderness study areas)" the suit contends, and subject to an array of restrictions that would impair multiple ways to use the land. Those projects that could be on the chopping block, according to the suit, include development of solar and wind energy resources, including the installation of a wind energy transmission line, and right-of-way access to roads under contention called RS2477. Other county conservation efforts made throughout the state would suffer setbacks due to limited access and control imposed by a wild-lands classification. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, issued a statement late Wednesday, commending the groups that brought the lawsuit...more

Wild lands designation will limit accessibility

A few facts. 1) Because wilderness restricts so many uses on public land, only Congress is authorized to create a wilderness area. 2) "Wild Lands" will not be designated by Congress, but by the BLM through land use planning and internal guidance. 3) A Wild Lands designation would allow an expanse of public land having the "characteristics" of wilderness to be managed according to the same strict standards as Congres-sionally designated wilderness, but without the consent of Congress. Even now, Western Congresspersons and governors are challenging the legality of Wild Lands on the grounds that it usurps the exclusive authority of Con-gress to create wilderness. It would be well for all Americans if they are successful. The ramifications of prioritizing wilderness values above all other multiple uses on vast new segments of public land are huge, and have rightfully alarmed broad segments of the public who depend on public lands both for their livelihoods, and for relaxation and recreation...more

Gas pipeline company blasted for its role in purchasing Idaho grazing leases

To say that El Paso Western Pipeline Group President Jim Cleary was met with an unfriendly welcome at the Idaho Capitol Wednesday might be an understatement. Cleary, whose entity is building the Ruby gas pipeline that will run underground from southwestern Wyoming to northwestern Nevada, stood before lawmakers Wednesday to discuss his company’s agreement with the Western Watersheds Project (WWP), an environmental group characterized as “domestic terrorists” by Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale. The agreement – a settlement of a lawsuit WWP filed over the construction project – forces El Paso to pay $15 million through a 10-year time span to the Sagebrush Habitat Conservation Fund. The fund is intended to be used solely conservation efforts, but several lawmakers on the House and Senate resource committees inferred that the money and the partnership are being used to force ranchers out of business by buying up federal grazing permits...MORE

Bill would allow Idaho wolf kills to go unpunished

Idaho lawmakers are advancing a bill to prohibit the state from investigating, arresting or prosecuting people who kill federally protected gray wolves. Republican Rep. Phil Hart's bill also prohibits state employees from helping federal agencies to arrest or prosecute someone who kills a wolf. The Lewiston Tribune reports the legislation cleared a House committee Monday but was put up for amendments. The bill faces changes amid concerns it would prevent Idaho game wardens from even passing along information to their federal counterparts. State officials say that's a problem, considering wardens take oaths to cooperate with "all legally authorized agencies in the pursuit of justice."

That shouldn't be a problem at all. Since when have the feds done anything "in the pursuit of justice."

Groups question terms of wolf settlement in federal court

Two environmental groups who don’t want to settle the lawsuit over the delisting of gray wolves in Montana and Idaho say they don’t understand how their former partners in the federal court case can now support state wolf management plans that they previously found so inadequate. A court-ordered response from what’s being called “the non-settling parties” that was filed Wednesday morning by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Friends of the Clearwater lays out their concerns with the proposed settlement that will come before U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy on Thursday in Missoula. Mike Garrity, the Alliance’s executive director, said nothing substantial has changed with wolf management since the case was filed by 14 environmental groups in 2009. The groups claimed the Department of Interior was wrong when it decided wolves could be considered a “recovered” species no longer facing extinction in Montana and Idaho, but not in Wyoming. The nonsettling parties allege in the court documents filed Tuesday that the only new twists in the ongoing saga are the bills in Congress that could permanently remove wolves from Endangered Species Act protections in the northern Rockies. He said the fear of those potential acts of Congress is the real motivation behind the settlement proposal. “Essentially, what has changed is they couldn’t take the heat,” Garrity said. Mike Clark, executive director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition — one of the larger of the 10 groups pushing for the settlement — readily agreed with that, saying the potential for congressional action to change the Endangered Species Act prompted everyone to take a closer look at settling the case...more

Sometimes elections do make a difference.

R's take over the House and gain in the Senate, bills are introduced, and all of a sudden states can manage wolves after all.

Obama adm. drops appeal of decision blocking logging in grizzly habitat

Forest Service officials have withdrawn their appeal of a federal judge's decision halting several logging projects that threatened grizzly bear habitat in the Kootenai National Forest. U.S. District Judge Don Molloy blocked the projects last June in a lawsuit between the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Kootenai Forest Supervisor Paul Bradford. In his 64-page ruling, Molloy said the Forest Service was unable to show it had properly assessed how the projects would affect the dwindling population of grizzly bears. Bradford appealed the ruling to the 9th U.S. District Court of Appeals, but attorneys with the Department of Justice submitted a request to dismiss the appeal Friday. The appellate court granted the request Monday. Speaking by telephone from his office in Helena, Michael Garrity, executive director of Alliance for the Wild Rockies, said he was pleased with the decision and hopes it will encourage more thorough environmental assessments of future logging proposals and their effect on wildlife species. Kootenai Forest spokesman Willie Sykes said the office had no information about the motion or the appellate court's ruling, and did not return calls for comment after being provided with the documents...more

It may or may not be accurate to say "Forest officials" withdrew the appeal. There is not the regular lawyer-client relationship between federal agencies and DOJ. The agencies can recommend, but the lawyers at Justice have the final say.

So in this case we don't know whether: a. The Forest Service recommended withdrawal, b. The DOJ decided they couldn't win and filed the withdrawal papers, or c. It's a political sop to the enviros.

New studies raise doubts about greenness of biomass

Although carbon math is complex, critics level two main strikes against biomass. First, because of its high moisture, wood yields less energy compared with more efficient fuels. Generating the same amount of electricity from biomass emits 45 percent more carbon dioxide than coal and almost 300 percent more than an efficient natural-gas power plant, according to a 2010 study by the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, a nonprofit environmental research organization. The study was commissioned by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. Second, burning biomass releases carbon dioxide instantly, while repaying that carbon debt through new tree growth takes years. Just how long depends on many factors, including the biomass source, what was done with it before and the fossil fuel it displaces. Replacing coal-fired electricity by burning tree tops and other wood waste, for instance, might take 10 years to recoup the carbon, said Thomas Walker, a resource economist and team leader of the Manomet study. But if whole trees were harvested for feedstock — something the industry says it doesn't do — and the resulting electricity replaced cleaner-burning natural gas, Walker said, payback might take a century. The timing matters because the nation has pledged to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and dramatically more in subsequent decades...more

Worst Texas Drought in 44 Years Eroding Wheat, Beef Supply as Food Rallies

The worst Texas drought in 44 years is damaging the state’s wheat crop and forcing ranchers to reduce cattle herds, as rising demand for U.S. food sends grain and meat prices higher. Texas, the biggest U.S. cattle producer and second-largest winter-wheat grower, got just 4.7 inches (12 centimeters) of rain on average in the five months through February, the least for the period since 1967, State Climatologist John Nielsen- Gammon said. More than half the wheat fields and pastures were rated in poor or very poor condition on March 20. Dry conditions extending to Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado may cut crop yields in the U.S., the world’s largest exporter, as too much moisture threatens fields in North Dakota and in Canada. Wheat futures in Chicago are up 50 percent in the past year, after drought in Russia and floods in Australia hurt output and sent global food prices surging. Wholesale beef reached a record this week, and the U.S. cattle herd in January was the smallest since 1958...more

Song Of The Day #537

Continuing with Hank Week, Ranch Radio brings you Hank Penny and his 1952 recording of Hold The Phone.

DOJ Memo Confirms Terrorists Have Crossed the Border

In this court filing, prosecutors admit that Dhakane, who ran a human smuggling ring based in Brazil for the Somali Al-Shabaab terrorist group, transported “violent jihadists” into the country. He stated that “he believed they would fight against the U.S. if the jihad moved from overseas locations to the U.S. mainland.” (p. 7) Dhakane was charged in March 2010 with lying about his terror ties when he applied for asylum in 2008, specifically omitting information that he had worked for two specially designated global terrorist entities (SDGT). He pleaded guilty earlier this year to lying to the FBI and awaits sentencing next month. Rather than trying him on terror charges, federal prosecutors are asking for terror enhancements on the sentence for lying to the FBI. In the DOJ sentencing memorandum, federal prosecutors explain that Dhakane knowingly smuggled violent jihadists into the country:

More importantly, based on the Defendant’s recorded statements and admissions made to law enforcement agents, the Defendant was a former member, or at the very least, associated with [Al-Ittihad al-Islami] AIAI, an SDGT, and that he believed that there was no separation of personnel between AIAI, the Council of Islamic Courts, and Al-Shabbab, a designated [Foreign Terrorist Organization] FTO.
He admits that he knowingly believed he was smuggling violent jihadists into the United States with the full knowledge that if the decision was made by the SDGT, for which he was associated with in the past, to commit terrorist acts in the United States, these jihadists would commit violent acts in and against the United States. Because the law enforcement authorities are constantly trying to investigate, detect, and prevent the infiltration of potentially violent jihadists, the Defendant’s lies hid critical information from the United States authorities regarding his successful smuggling activities. Thus, the preponderance of the evidence proves that the other obvious motivation for him to lie on his asylum application was to cover up and obstruct the fact from United States authorities that he facilitated the smuggling of violent jihadists who are now present into the United States. (pp. 10-11)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Slaying of border rancher still a mystery 1 year later

The murder of a prominent Cochise County rancher that triggered a nationwide outcry about border security remains unsolved a year later. Investigators have identified a man who fits the description of the possible killer - a tall, cross-border smuggler with a violent criminal record. But they don't know for sure if he's in the U.S. or Mexico - or if he's dead or alive. And even if they find him, it won't mean the crime is solved. Authorities haven't found the gun used to kill Robert Krentz on his ranch last March 27, and they have no witnesses, show investigation documents the Daily Star obtained through public records requests. Alejandro Chavez-Vasquez is not an official suspect in Krentz's murder but is a "person of interest" in a series of Portal burglaries in early 2010, say Cochise County sheriff's officials. Investigators believe there is a link between two of those burglaries and the murder, documents show. A search warrant affidavit filed in Cochise County Court on March 31, 2010, by Immigration and Customs Enforcement shows investigators believe the burglar who stole a Glock 26 handgun and two cellphones from a vehicle near the town of Portal the day before is the person who killed Krentz. Krentz was murdered with the same caliber firearm that was reported stolen from the car, the affidavit said. The burglary occurred in the Herb Martyr campground in the Chiricahua Mountains about seven miles southwest of Portal, a Cochise County Sheriff's Office report shows...more

Salazar optimistic on wolf talks

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday that he's "more optimistic" than ever that Wyoming and federal officials can reach an agreement to remove wolves in the state from the federal endangered-species list. Gov. Matt Mead, who discussed the issue with Salazar behind closed doors Tuesday, said there's "a sense of urgency" to strike a deal before a Montana judge approves a settlement that would lift protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho and allow hunting. Since being reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995, wolf populations in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana have grown to about 1,700. Wyoming had about 320 wolves at the end of 2009, with 224 of those outside the park. Federal wildlife officials have said they want to give control over wolves back to individual states, but disputes over what the states' management plans should look like have resulted in lengthy court battles...more

Salazar opens 758M tons of Wyoming coal to mining

Nearly 758 million tons of Wyoming coal will go up for sale in the coming months, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday. Flanked by Gov. Matt Mead at Cheyenne South High School, Salazar said coal will continue to be a mainstay of U.S. energy consumption and an important contributor toward U.S. energy indepedence. Wyoming's low-sulfur coal is a key part of that mix, he said. "Coal is a critical component of America's comprehensive energy portfolio as well as Wyoming's economy," Salazar said. Mead joined Salazar for what Mead called a "great announcement." The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management, which manages the federal coal leases, will hold four competitive lease sales of coal land in the Powder River Basin in coming months. The areas are next to existing coal mines and will likely be purchased by the companies that own those mines to expand their operations. The lease sales are the first of more than a dozen the BLM expects to hold for the Power River Basin over the next three years, according to a statement released by the Interior Department...more

Pearce talks forestry bill - and lizards too

Congressman Steve Peace talked Tuesday about jobs, the timber industry, endangered species and water at the village of Cloudcroft council chamber. Pearce recently introduced his House of Representatives bill 1202 "to restart jobs in the timber industry by providing for the protection of the Mexican spotted owl in sanctuaries." Pearce said the legislation would initially create 5,000 new logging jobs in New Mexico. "The timber industry in New Mexico had 20,000 jobs," he said. "I have to believe we would get 5,000 jobs in the first year. They would be started immediately. It would take a little bit longer to begin to develop more extraordinary markets. Keep in mind that 20,000 jobs would put us at full employment in New Mexico." Pearce said he believes the environment can be protected and people can be put to work...more

H.R. 1202 has 8 cosponsors, but the text is not available yet at Thomas.

Oh my goodness, the Center For Biological Diversity has posted a copy of the bill and it appears they have a slight disagreement with Congressman Pearce, saying the legislation would force the Mexican spotted owl into internment camps.

Truth be known it's the rural citizens of New Mexico who've been entrapped by the envirocrats and it appears Pearce is trying to set them free.

Looking for other dragons to slay, so to speak, Pearce has been busy with lizards as the USFWS is proposing to list the sand dune lizard found in southeastern NM:

Rivals say protecting endangered lizard threatens oil, gas industries “The listing of the lizard has several bad outcomes, but jobs is the worst outcome. We stand to lose agriculture production, all of the oil and gas jobs; it might shut down the nuclear enrichment facility,” said Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, who cites New Mexico's joblessness at 9 percent...more

I'm sure the envirocrats won't listen, but a NM outfit has a solution. More Sanctuaries? No in this case it's a lizard safe-haven:

A nonprofit in Carlsbad that deals with impacts from hazardous material on the environment has studied the issue closely and says it has come up with a plan to create a lizard safe-haven, while allowing the oil and gas industry to continue operating. “All indicators are that the plan is actually working. We are getting lands, and conservation measures on lands, for both the lesser chicken and the sand dune lizard,” said Douglass Lynn, director of the Center of Excellence for Hazardous Materials Management.

Bless Pearce and the nonprofit for trying to make the ESA work, an admirable goal in the short run. In the long run, it's the ESA that needs to be fixed. 

And I'm just wondering - Do Spotted Owls eat lizards?

Obama Grabs More Land With Conservation Corps

While the nation wrestles with an unfathomable deficit, the Obama administration announced the formation of a new entity designed to instruct young people about “climate change” and empowering Native American reservations. The program is called the 21st Century Conservation Corps, which would be implemented through Obama’s Youth in the Great Outdoors initiative. If you’ve never heard of Youth in the Great Outdoors, it’s a federal outfit within the Department of the Interior that was allocated nearly $40 million last year alone and is seeking $47 million for 2012.What exactly do these young people do on the taxpayer dime? By the Interior Department’s own account, the outdoor activities include “reducing the impacts of climate change on our natural resources,” “empowering Native American communities,” “building trails,” “enhancing wildlife habitat,” studying bird migration, preserving fish hatcheries, and “improving and restoring our cultural and historic landmarks.” Already, the Interior Department has hired 21,000 young people to assist with those efforts, and Salazar is looking to enlarge that number by 60%. Meanwhile, Myron Ebell, who directs the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, unloaded on Interior Department's green agenda as nothing more than a brainwashing boot camp and land power-grab...more

Capitalism may have ended life on Mars

Capitalism may be to blame for the lack of life on the planet Mars, Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday. "I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet," Chavez said in speech to mark World Water Day...more

There I was happily boycotting World Water Day and then I read the above.

And to think I actually thought markets and property rights were the way to solve our water problems.

So listen to Chavez and whatever you do, do not read:

Using Markets to Quench the Thirst of the American West
How the market can keep streams flowing
Let's Drink To Private Water

Or any of the other dastardly things you will find here.

This should make my buddy Hugo very happy:

U.S. Property Rights Protections Continue to Decline This morning, I attended the Property Rights Alliance’s launch presentation of the 2011 International Property Rights Index. Overall, the United States declined to 18th place in the world (from 16th in 2010 and 14th in 2007, when the Index was originally created), losing out to top-ranked Finland. The biggest contributor to the U.S.’s reduced standing was in the Physical Property Rights category (real property), which accounted for nearly half of the year-over-year decline in points. The variables for this category are protection of physical property rights, property registration, and access to loans. It is here where one might be surprised by some of the countries who rank ahead of the U.S. (ranked 25th) in terms of real property rights: Bahrain (5th), Saudi Arabia (8th), Oman (9th-tie), Botswana (21st-tie), and Tunisia (21st-tie)...more

Chavez cannot be happy about this though:

Most importantly, the IPRI emphasizes the great economic differences between countries with strong property rights and those without. Nations falling in the first quintile enjoy an average national GDP per capita of $38,350; more than double that of the second quintile with an average of $18,701. The third, fourth, and fifth quintiles average $9,316, $5,065, and $4,785 respectively.

I don't think we should all be poor, so maybe I'll have to rethink that Hugo is my buddy thing.

You can read the entire report here.

Song Of The Day #536

Guess we'll just make it a Hank Week at Ranch Radio. Here's Hank Thompson with his 1951 recording of Love Thief.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Forest Service, ranchers come to an agreement

In meetings Monday set up by U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and local ranchers represented by the McKenzie County Grazing Association and the Medora Grazing Association came to two agreements about using the Little Missouri Grasslands for cattle grazing in Medora and Watford City. The land can be used for cattle grazing but there have been disputes between the grazing associations and the Forest Service over federally mandated grazing policies and how they work for North Dakota ranchers, according to a press release sent by Hoeven’s office. The first was to use third party informal mediation in land use disputes over the Little Missouri Grasslands in the grazing associations’ jurisdictions. “It’s important that we solve these issues in a way that benefits everyone,” Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a media briefing after the meetings at the Dickinson Chamber of Commerce. “There’s an opportunity to use the commissioner’s (North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring’s) skilled mediators not so much after decisions have been made but actually way before that.” McKenzie County Grazing Association President Keith Winter said he was encouraged that Hoeven brought up the use of ag mediation services for disputes with the Forest Service because it could lead to quicker resolutions. The second issue discussed in Monday’s meetings was using outside research from institutions such as North Dakota State University to influence Forest Service policy. “I also was encouraged by the fact that a plan may be in place but it doesn’t mean that if we have good research, good science, coming forward of management of the rangeland and pasture that we can implement some of that,” Goehring said. “That it does affect the health and welfare of the grasslands, and that it does affect the ecology.” Using the best available science and being able to constantly develop science in policy-making decisions is important to the grasslands, Tidwell said. But also that new research is able to influence policy changes as scientific revelations are made...more

Third party mediation and local research that could influence policy. Too bad that approach is not taken on all Forest Service allotments.

I've long felt the original approach to grazing on the grasslands (where the Forest Service signed agreements with local grazing associations who then managed the allotments) was a superior method to that employed by the Forest Service and the BLM on their regular allotments.

Given the huge budget deficits we face for the foreseeable future, this is a model which should be revisited.

The article, Forest Chief asks for communication, not court has a less rosey take on the meeting. For instance, on the issue of third party mediation the article says:

Not only is it outside of existing procedure, Tidwell said, but he didn’t see how mediated agreements could work, since the agency can’t make decisions that omit the public. “It just doesn’t fit very well,” he said. He suggested frontloading the process with communication so problems are ironed out before the environmental review begins and to save everyone the expense of time of going to court.

Surely that could be solved by having a draft mediated decision that is released for public comment. If the comments raised legitimate issues you would enter into mediation again. In other words if the Forest Service truly wanted this process to work they could make it happen.

Finally, my hats off to Tidwell in this instance. When is the last time you saw a Chief of the Forest Service sit down and openly visit with a group of local ranchers?

Ranching from on high

Today, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced plans to make the Department of the Interior the permanent manager of the Landsat series of Earth observation satellites. “Bringing the Landsat satellite mission under USGS is not only the best scientific and fiscal plan for the country,” said Secretary Salazar...Landsat satellites capture data about the Earth’s surface that no other private or public source can provide. This unique data has become vital to agricultural, water management, disaster response, scientific, and national security uses, providing hundreds of millions of dollars in estimated value to the U.S. economy per year. The USGS already owns and operates the two Landsat satellites currently in orbit and is working in partnership with NASA to develop the LDCM satellite mission. NASA’s expertise will be retained under the announced plans, with NASA continuing to build and launch future Landsat satellites for USGS. The plans will require Congressional approval to be finalized. “Images from Landsat satellites flying over 400 miles above the earth tell us a whole range of stories about the land,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “A permanent Landsat home will ensure that we continue to see the land so broadly, so distinctly, so objectively, that we can better understand our lands and manage them more efficiently, based on science, for the benefit of the American people.”...Press Release

We used to be concerned when data was fed into a computer in Denver which would spit out a carrying capacity.

Now a BLM'er in a Buck Rogers suit will be showing up at your place.

Big Meat and Big Government

Ranchers are a fairly independent bunch. We don’t like overweening authority and prefer to fend for ourselves. We also find few things more objectionable than sitting endlessly indoors. Nevertheless, 2,000 of us did just that a few months ago in the ballroom of Colorado State University. If the setting wasn’t exactly invigorating, the topic was even less so: understanding why the family-scale cattle industry is going broke and why either Big Meat or Big Government is helping it down the drain. We had dragged ourselves from all over the country to provide testimony to Attorney General Eric Holder and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack about “Competition Issues Facing Farmers in Today’s Agricultural Marketplaces.” Despite the extravagant title, the themes of the day were simple: Is the oncoming demise of a traditional way of life the result of malfeasance by multinational beef companies? Is the 30-year trend of lower prices for the calves we produce the result of consolidation and conspiracy in the meatpacking industry? Is the U.S. government complicit in this evolution or is it the kindly big brother, helping us take on the schoolyard bullies? I’m afraid that after six hours of public testimony I gained no sense of any nefarious manipulations by the corporate big boys. What I gained instead was an inkling that some of us in the industry would rather see higher prices for our cattle (no kidding?), that ranchers ought to get a “fair shake” (whatever that means), and that big beef companies should open the books to their private transactions (since Big is evil, privacy rights needn’t apply). The sad facts are indisputable, but how we solve for them is not...more

U.S. okays first deepwater exploration since BP spill

The U.S. Interior Department said on Monday it approved Shell's plan for deepwater oil and natural gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, the first such exploration plan with a complete environmental assessment since the BP oil spill. The department imposed tougher safety and environmental review requirements for exploration plans and drilling permits following the massive oil spill last summer. "This exploration plan meets the new standards for environmental review and marks another important step toward safer deepwater exploration," said U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar...more

Salazar to Wyoming for 'major energy announcement'

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plans to make a "major energy announcement" with Gov. Matt Mead on Tuesday, prompting speculation of some kind of development involving the state's vast coal industry. Interior Department spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff declined to say Monday what the announcement will be about. Mead spokesman Renny MacKay also declined to comment. But environmentalist Jeremy Nichols with WildEarth Guardians said he's concerned that the talk he's been hearing is true -- that the announcement will involve "a fair amount of cheerleading for the coal industry." Wyoming produces about 40 percent of the nation's coal, far more than any other state. Nearly all is mined from the Powder River Basin in northeast Wyoming. Wyoming also is a major source of oil, natural gas, uranium and wind power, all of which the Interior Department regulates in one way or another...more

DOJ Asks Judge To Limit Fees At $30.4M In Class Action

U.S. Justice Department lawyers have asked a federal judge in Washington to limit legal fees in a Native American farmer and rancher class action to $30.4 million, the low end of a range the lawyers in the case agreed to in a $760 million settlement. The plaintiffs’ lawyers, led by Joseph Sellers of Washington's Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, has asked for an 8% cut, or $60.8 million, for the work performed in Keepseagle v. Vilsack since it was filed in 1999. In November, a judge preliminarily approved the settlement, which resolves claims the government discriminated in farm loan servicing and processing. In their fee petition (PDF) , filed in January, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said they “worked vigorously and without compensation for over eleven years” to reach a settlement amid hard-fought litigation. DOJ lawyers, in court papers filed March 18, urged Judge Emmet Sullivan of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia not to approve $60.8 million...more

Spread of cattle fever tick concern as border violence continues

As drug cartel violence continues to plague the U.S.-Mexico border, Texas cattle raisers are concerned about how this issue will impact the Texas cattle herd, specifically the spread of cattle fever ticks along the border. Due to personnel safety concerns, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) modified the cattle inspection protocol for Mexican cattle being imported into Texas. This inspection now occurs on Texas soil rather than in Mexico. The activities of livestock border guards, also known as "tick riders" have also been adjusted to enhance safety. Additionally, Texas Animal Health Inspection Commission (TAHC) officials no longer make inspections in Mexican states along the border...more

Steamboat wool company closing up shop

The closing of a mill in Minnesota created prohibitive costs that are causing Routt County Woolens, after 14 years, to sell its remaining blankets and other products created with local fibers. "It's been a really good run," owner Nancy Mucklow said about the business, which annually shipped local wool from numerous producers to Faribault, Minn., where it was processed into blankets and other products. Faribault Woolen Mills closed in 2009 after about 144 years of operation, according to the Faribault Daily News. Mucklow said she was unable to find another American mill that could provide all the manufacturing steps — such as scouring, cleaning, treating and weaving — necessary to create products including Routt County Woolens' signature blankets...more

Song Of The Day #535

Ranch Radio is running late but here's Hank Snow singing I Don't Hurt Anymore.

Monday, March 21, 2011

In Colorado, Leaders Seek Common Ground on Wild Lands

Much of western Colorado’s rural Garfield County is public land. Forest Service land mostly makes up the higher elevations. Bureau of Land Management land lies below. It’s a Republican-leaning county whose leaders bristled when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a new “wild lands” policy to protect remote BLM landscapes. Neighboring Pitkin County, home to the slopes of Aspen, has less BLM land, is heavily Democratic and supports the new wild lands proposal. Their differences echo across the West. Western legislators, mostly Republican, have come out against the measure. Environmental groups and some outfitters and outdoor recreation groups have supported it. In Colorado, county commissioners from across the state are trying to find a middle ground that could be adopted across the country. “I think there’s been a misrepresentation of how Westerners feel about wild lands,” said Matthew Garrington, Denver-based representative for the Checks and Balances Project, a government and energy industry watchdog group. “Colorado has a $10 million a year outdoor recreation industry. Clearly the conservation values of our wild lands are essential both to our economic health and quality of life. For those reasons, there’s actually been substantial support for it by outfitters and local officials in the West.” “Instead of making it them against us, how can we come together to find common ground?” asked John Martin, the Garfield County commissioner who chairs the committee...more

Finding "common ground" will result in less land for multiple use and more land with enviro restrictions.

The formula usually goes like this:

Enviros propose - ranchers, etc. oppose - politicians call for "common ground" & "compromise" = final result: more land is excluded from production and public access.

Since the enviros have been using this formula for quite some time, they always ask for more than they know they can get, which always gives them plenty of room for compromise. So what do the enviros give up in this process? Nada. It's only the rancher, sportsmen, motorized recreationists and general public who will wind up with less access.

Now, if Salazar was proposing to sell large tracts of land to the highest bidder, would Commissioner Martin be calling for "common ground" and saying let's reach a compromise? I don't think so.

This compromise stuff only seems to go in one direction - and it's time for a change in that direction.

Salazar renews debate over wild lands

When Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ordered the Bureau of Land Management to begin looking for wild lands in the West, he set up a new chapter in an old confrontation. Conservation and environmental organizations in Colorado saw an opportunity to take a step toward long-sought goals of having land across the state — most of them in northwest Colorado — and in neighboring Utah set aside for preservation of wilderness characteristics. Others, however, saw the inventory of wild lands as a threat to the energy and other industries. The order by Salazar, a former Colorado senator and onetime head of the state’s Department of Natural Resources, was innocuous, said Kurt Kunkle, wilderness coordinator for the Colorado Environmental Coalition. Salazar’s Secretarial Order 3310 was merely aimed at complying with federal law, the Federal Lands Policy Management Act, which calls for a inventory of such lands. “It’s not a land grab,” Kunkle said. “I’m kind of surprised by all the hubbub around wild-lands policy.” Salazar’s order reinstated long-standing BLM authority that was reversed during the George W. Bush administration, Kunkle said...more

Surely there is a Letter of Opinion from the Solicitor's Office saying BLM has this authority, and I'd like to see it. It looks like they are saying their authority to designate WSAs under Section 603 of FLPMA has expired, but they can designate wild lands under the land use planning provisions. The primary difference appears to be how they will be managed - that the nonimpairment criteria in 603 won't apply.

Anyway, it's time DOI went public with a legal analysis showing where BLM gets this authority, both to designate and to manage, and explaining the current status of the out of court settlement.

Action on livestock regulations please ranchers around nation

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that federal livestock regulations, set by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2003, could not require producers to hold Clean Water Act permits unless their ranches and farms actually discharge livestock manure into the nation's waters. It was yet another victory notch for the agriculture industry in the continued saga of overreach by the EPA. The American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Pork Producers Council and a host of other agriculture organizations applauded the court's decision. "For the second time, a U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that EPA's authority is limited by the Clean Water Act to jurisdiction over only actual discharges to navigable waters, not potential discharges," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "We are pleased that the federal courts have again reined in EPA's unlawful regulation of livestock operations under the Clean Water Act. The court has affirmed that EPA, like other federal agencies, can only regulate where it has been authorized by Congress to do so." The Fifth Circuit ruling stated, "The Clean Water Act provides a comprehensive liability scheme and the EPA's attempt to supplement this scheme is in excess of its statutory authority."...more

Judge Allows Spring Grazing In Malheur National Forest

A Federal judge has amended a ruling that bars livestock grazing in the Malheur National Forest. Ranchers can once again put their cattle back on Federal land this spring. But as David Nogueras reports, a final decision will depend on further environmental review. Back in December, Judge Ancer Haggerty barred ranchers from grazing on the land because of concerns about endangered Steelhead trout. The lawsuit was brought by the Oregon Natural Desert Association and the Western Watersheds Project. This latest modification gives ranchers at least one more season out on the land. Ken Holliday is a rancher in John Day. He calls the modification only a "partial victory" since four out of the 19 ranchers involved in the case still won't be able to make use of the allotments. Ken Holliday: "You know this was a favorable ruling for us. But we've just got to keep on fighting. And we will keep on fighting." Holliday says his family has already spent nearly $20,000 in legal fees on the case. The court will now wait for U.S. Forest Service to complete biological assessments on the land. Those are expected to be completed by March of next year. OBP

Oil Riches Let North Dakota's Governor Dalrymple Bank Surplus in Hard Time

Rancher Michael Brew can survey North Dakota’s oil boom from the saddle. As he checks on his cattle, he sees seven drill rigs, a dozen gas flares and convoys of trucks rumbling down the road. “I used to ride out on my horse and not see anyone for hours,” Brew, 52, said at Nana Lil’s cafe in Killdeer. Now gas flares tint the night sky orange and obscure the stars. The staccato of air brakes and the slamming of drill pipes pierce the breeze. “There is no peace and quiet anymore.” Oil has created a $1 billion budget surplus and presented Governor Jack Dalrymple with a question: How to keep up with the boom while keeping the money flowing. Only North Dakota and Montana have reported surpluses from 2009 to 2011, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. As states face what may be more than $112 billion in deficits in the coming fiscal year, Dalrymple’s dilemma is one many governors might envy...more

Land war rages in Oklahoma Panhandle

A land war as raucous as any Wild West movie is raging near the Oklahoma Panhandle. “They killed my dog,” said Samuel Parker, formerly of Phoenix and now living in Portland, Ore. Parker, 28, said angry locals also cut his fences, made threats, sabotaged his windmills and fired shots over the heads of ranch workers. It all started because Parker outbid everyone for the lease of more than 24,000 acres of state school lands in a part of Cimarron County where such lands had been leased by certain families for generations, he said. “Once we took over some of the leases, that’s when all the trouble started,” Parker said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. They sure think it’s Wyatt Earp or something.” Keith Kuhlman, director of real estate management for the Commissioners of the Land Office, said the state agency initially was excited by Parker’s willingness to pay premium amounts for lease land, but the family has done some things since then that have caused problems, such as allowing cattle to roam on the property of neighbors, allegedly overgrazing land, suing his agency and refusing to make lease payments after a controversial land swap...more

Pioneer medicine in 1800s was a work in progress

When pioneer ranchers and hard-riding cowboys came to the South Plains, they brought with them a pressing need for medical expertise. And whether it was snakebites or bullet wounds that needed fixing, doctors were in demand. The truth is, there were maladies that made snakebite look easy. They included appendicitis, tuberculosis and the often fatal one-two punch of flu followed by pneumonia in a time before antibiotics. Wives of the ranchers and farmers faced all of that plus shadow-of-death childbirths in remote areas where a doctor could be summoned only as quickly as 12 to 18 hours. That may be why Joseph Barton is said to have plowed an eight-mile furrow to the home of Dr. E.M. Harp because he knew his wife’s delivery would occur in February — and it might happen at night or in a snowstorm when he would need some means of navigation. Dr. Harp, who lived five miles north of Abernathy on a ranch of his own, was accustomed to placing a lantern in his windmill tower so it could be seen by those looking for medical help at night, according to O.C. “Hoppy” Toler, Abernathy-based historian...more

Song Of The Day #534

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio. Do you remember the theme song to the old TV show Green Acres? I do, and I didn't much care for the TV version. But I do like this bluegrass instrumental version by the Pickin' On band. See if it won't help get your heart started this morning.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Hug an old-timer today
by Julie Carter

Heaven has gathered up a fine collection of good cowboys over the years. You have to know they are sitting around in a circle of hay bales spittin' and whittlin'.

They are telling stories about the good horses they rode and wild wrecks they had -almost always involving a horse, cow and rope. They look out over green pastures that never run out of grass for the fat cattle on a thousand hills. 

There are a couple of cowboys in heaven that hardly a day goes by I don't think about them and acknowledge that place in my heart where "missing someone" is stored.

Every week when I sit down to write another story about cowboys and their way of life, I give them a moment of silent gratitude, because those cowboys were my foundational education for cowboying.

Both were fine men who are remembered with honor for their knowledge and abilities in ranching in an era that is no more. They are my dad, followed by my step-dad some years after my dad passed away.

I have realized that what they taught me was not just about punching cows and riding a good horse right, they passed on a wealth of understanding about honor, right living, and loving the life that so few ever get to experience.

The things they taught were lived in front of me, but not always spoken. The lessons fit life for everyone, not just the cowboy. 

  Slow is fast. Work cattle slow and your day will get over sooner and in better shape. Exercising quiet patience is good with cattle, horses, kids and
  A very few well-placed words carry more authority than a long speech.
  Polite ways will open doors and keep many from slamming shut.
  Good horses, good grass and a good cow dog will make a cowboy about as content as he can be. Throw in a wife who can cook and a pickup that will run and it's bliss defined.
  Laugh everyday about something. It soothes the soul and feeds the spirit.
  Mother Nature has the upper hand. Know it, respect it. Don't fight her, it's a fixed fight.
  Wet saddle blankets make good horses and respectful kids. Hard work is a solid foundation for the cowboy and the horse he rode in on.
  Enjoy the little things. Take time to pat the dog, soothe the colt, watch the sunrise and the sunset. Tomorrow is not promised.
  Make good memories. It'll keep you too busy to make bad enemies.
  Honesty and integrity are two of the best horses you'll ever ride.

I look around me and see so few of that generation of cowboy still living. But, those that are, still have an ornery twinkle in their eyes and a look that says "wisdom of the ages." Don't be deceived by his labored walk and his bent hands. Inside he stores more of life than most of us will ever see.

Next time, and every time you get a chance, give that old-timer a hug. His value has already been established up "yonder" in the big corral in the sky. He's just hanging around here a while longer hoping some of us will learn a few more lessons. 

All we have to do is listen.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Wilmeth's West

Land and People
The Value Promise
Meritorious Possession
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

    Shades of Rights
     In the debate of grazing rights in the West, the demarcation of “rights” has always been subject to controversy.  In original grazing manuals, “rights” were rather succinct and seemingly straight forward.  As competing political interests have evolved, though, efforts to redefine original intent continue unabated.
     In a recent discussion, Dona Ana County, New Mexico rancher, Tom Mobley, made the point that the Supreme Court ruling defining grazing as a privilege on federal lands is further confused by the dictionary definition of rights and privileges.  Webster defines right as a privilege and then defines privilege as a right.
     Across a broad array of human endeavors, the plenary fulfillment of obligation is often accomplished on a time line.  In matters of legal immigration, the fulfillment of the legal steps in the process is associated with time.  In the process of becoming an attorney or a surgeon, the fulfillment of requirements is predicated on time, similarly. 
     The process seems to be consistent and acceptable with few exceptions.  The accrual of rights of grazing in the West seems to be one of those glaring exceptions.  In fact, time has become a silent contradiction to the lives and the accomplishments of those stewards who are locked into perpetual state of conditional tenancy with the United States.       
    The Sweat and Tears
    There is no diary record of the day that Hinton Moss and his family arrived on the banks of the Gila River in Grant County, New Mexico.  The year was 1880 and the recorded history of the Gila Valley was very sparse.  In fact, 1880 can be considered a watershed year in the upper Gila.  Documented human endeavors became more commonplace from 1880 forward.
    Hint Moss had come from Utah in a reverse migration of sorts.  What brought him to southern New Mexico is not known, but family ties to the Gila have lasted for six generations.  Hint and wife, Lorena, lived for some time at the mouth of Ira Canyon near the south end of the old McCauley farm.  It was there that at least one daughter was born, born on the kitchen table the way things just occurred in those days. 
     Hint was gone a lot tending the family ranch west of Bald Knoll and on the bluffs east from Blue Creek.   The family would move north to a farm just south from the mouth of Dam Canyon.  That is where the kids grew up.  It was closer to school after consolidation occurred. 
     For awhile, Hap McCauley was the bus driver for the kids on that end of the river.  He was a student and started driving that model T flatbed truck with benches bolted to the floor of the bed when he was 12 years old!
    The McCauley family has been in the valley fewer years, but shares the same generational span as the Moss family.  Fred McCauley, grandson and namesake of one of the two original McCauley brothers who came from Arkansas, still lives across the river from the old Moss Place.  The McCauley Ranch is one of the great ranches of southern New Mexico.  Fred’s dad, Tom, was a cowman’s cowman.  Tom and wife, Marie, spent their lives horseback.
    Fred will be remembered for a number of things, not the least of which will be the water distribution system that he spent a good part of his adult life perfecting.  Cattle in McCauley country don’t walk far to water.  Even in the roughest country many have water within half mile walks.  That ranch is one of the few places in the West where naturally occurring maternal units of cattle can be observed on a multigenerational basis.  Since there are so many watering sites, those units have become very territorial and remain intact without the need to compete and interact at more congested water sources.
     Living History
     The Moss and McCauley families are not known by texts or projects of historical reconstruction.  They are part of the living history of the Southwest.  Memories of Tom McCauley working cattle by himself in Clark or Dix Canyons by keeping cattle moving across those big canyons by his voice and his mounted presence remind all that the skill of a cowboy was at its zenith when the country was young and people were few. 
    Love stories, humor, life and death were all part of those lives, and, yet, people still living were friends and neighbors and knew the individuals personally.  The stories were real and they have become interwoven in the land and the fabric of the community.
     As in all ranch families, there has been a great deal of attrition.  The Moss family exists only through marriages into other family names.  Hint was killed in a horse accident and his name ceased to exist as a family name in the valley.  His daughters, though, carried his memory throughout the 20th Century into the 21st dying in their mid to late ‘90s.
     Collectively, their lives became our lives.  They struggled, they laughed  . . . they endured.  Their existence wasn’t some exercise in applied science.  They weren’t arrayed into some geologic period and wiped out by a cataclysmic event.  They are not a topic of profound theory although much more can be gleaned from their existence than some extinct form of humanity.  Perhaps the importance of the past is much more profound and truthful in what we know from folks like these than the sum of all the theory and the interpretation of facts by experts.  We must, therefore, wonder why these people have been so denigrated and ridiculed by their government, the press, and the progressive movement.
     There is a Promise
     The rough hands people of the West have come to expect that their government will simply not elevate their status into a priority position amongst competing elements.  A very clear example is the promise the federal government made when the western states agreed to allow the federal ownership of lands to be altered from a matter of disposal to a matter of retention.
     In the congressional action that took place in 1976, the federal government promised to manage federal lands “in a manner that will protect the quality of scientific, scenic, historical, ecological, environmental, air and atmospheric, water resource, and archeological values.”  Buried within that statement is the inclusion of the word “historic”.  Not another of the defined “values” has any clear reference to existing human beings.  In fact, all the other values can be associated to values relating to or elevated by the environmental movement. 
     Was “historic” in this context simply filler intended to cover all the bases for securing Congressional votes, or should Americans who have property rights in constant jeopardy take the inclusion of the word for what it implies?  History . . . historic . . . of major importance, momentous, remarkable, crucial, and significant!
     The Case of Adverse Possession
     Adverse possession is a method of acquiring title to land without buying or paying for it in a traditional sense.  As in the foregoing, there is a temporal component of perfecting title under adverse possession.  If there is anyone who does not think that such a legal issue generates passion, observe the press outrage when attempts are made to evict homeless folks from a grove of cottonwood trees along an established road. 
     Advocates come out of the woodworks demanding the adherence and observation of rights for those poor folks.  Legal services are offered.  Learned men stand on the steps of the local court houses and offer interviews complete with threats and demands for the acquiescence of government to address such wrongs brought to bear on these unfortunates. Hearings are held and officials diligently attempt to defuse the conflagration before it affects their standing.  Buttons are pushed, offers are made, alternatives are sought, and efforts to sooth the outrage are formulated.  The rights of the downtrodden are honored and justice is served.  Solutions are worked out and more money is spent on another governmental action.
     Meritorious Possession
     The presence of a federal grazing permittee on Western lands is the culmination of obligations fulfilled.  If that person exists, he is the possessor of a torch that was lit years ago and remains lit to this day.  That permittee is the living link to the Hinton Mosses and Fred McCauleys in our history.  It is not their fault that their government changed the rules regarding the promise to allow them to eventually acquire the lands they worked and loved.  It is not their fault that they live in a minefield of changing conditions that offer, remove, adjust, redirect, assess, and critique every move they make. 
     It is time, though, that their presence be recognized for what it is . . . the historic standard that is protected in the law as a described value.  The possession they have to rights that they have invested in and managed over time should not be subject to political whims or agendas.  They are living, breathing Americans who have arrived at this point through a gauntlet of obstacles that few understand, and fewer yet would dare to venture.
     The legal possessions that they have are perfected.  They bought and paid for them often with their lives.  Their presence must be interpreted for what it is . . . commendable.   As for the subject of their rights, if the truths were portrayed as they occurred historically, their existence long ago would have been equated to the contract they have with the land.  In any other corner of American history, a definition would have been sought . . . and it would have been termed . . . meritorious possession.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “The presence of “historic” in the array of values set forth in the Declaration of Policy in FLPMA must become a fixture in grazing discussions henceforth.  It is the only value that can be extracted from the expansion of the environmental juggernaut of pursued values.  It is the only human value, but, as such, gives hope to the plight of Americans engaged in the high stakes game of stewardship of federal lands.” 


Wilmeth has done a beautiful job of blending history with current events.

I'm ensnared in current events, but prefer the history.

Settlement Would De-List Wolves in Montana and Idaho

Wildlife advocates said they plan to file a settlement agreement with the U.S. government in federal court Friday that would take gray wolves off the endangered species list in Montana and Idaho. The deal between ten advocacy groups and the U.S. Department of Interior would allow hunting for the predators to resume in the two states. It would keep wolves under federal protection, for now, in Oregon, Washington, Utah and Wyoming. And it would create a scientific panel to re-examine wolf recovery goals across the six-state Northern Rockies region. Kieran Suckling with the Center for Biological Diversity said political pressure forced environmentalists into the settlement to avoid intervention from Congress. Suckling and others feared that pending bills on wolves could have broadly undermined the Endangered Species Act. However, a split among the plaintiffs in the case has left three groups opposed to the deal, which needs approval from U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula...more

For more complete coverage see Groups file settlement on wolf delisting and you can read the proposed settlement here.

The Western Watersheds Project released a statement listing the reasons why they oppose the settlement:

  • The settlement will result in wolves being killed in Idaho and Montana beyond their ability to recover a viable population.
  • Western Watersheds Project supports the laws of the United States.  The proposed settlement asks a federal judge to authorize the breaking of federal law.
  • The proposed settlement includes no requirements to protect any specific minimum number of wolves in Idaho and Montana.
  • Western Watersheds Project does not believe that this proposed settlement will prevent or dissuade Congress from taking legislative action to delist wolves.

Song Of The Day #533

Ranch Radio brings you Throw Out The Lifeline by the Willburn Brothers for your Gospel Tune this Sunday morning.