Friday, April 01, 2011

Army says 2007 document doesn't approve expansion of Colorado training site

A 2007 document giving the Army permission to look at acquiring more land around a southeast Colorado training site is trumped by the Army's five-year budget plan, which includes no money for expansion, military officials said. The Army released a statement late Wednesday saying the document doesn't authorize expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, but only allows the service to study its needs and make plans to meet them. The 370-square-mile site is used by soldiers at Fort Carson outside Colorado Springs. The Army had proposed expanding it to about 525 square miles, saying additional troops and new weapons and tactics required more space. Lon Robertson, a Colorado rancher and president of the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition, said McHugh didn't go far enough. Robertson said the Army should withdraw the 2007 waiver. With the waiver, "it's like they have the approval to go ahead any time they have the money," Robertson said. The Army has said the waiver was one step in an internal process, and it was unclear if any procedure existed to withdraw it. On Wednesday, the Army said the budget is a more important signal of its intentions than the waiver. "The waiver does not authorize land acquisition — it simply allows the Army to continue studying the requirements and plan accordingly," the Army's said. "Only Congress can authorize land acquisition funding."...more

If allowed to "study" and "plan" rest assured they will continue to justify expansion. Army dollars will also be spent for "outreach" (read lobbying).

To stop the expansion you should insist that the Colo. rep's continue to insert the language in the appropriations bill.

On the waiver, the Army laughably says "it was unclear if any procedure existed to withdraw it." If Udall & Bennet truly wanted the expansion stopped, rather than delayed, they would tell the Army to withdraw the waiver administratively, or they would do it legislatively.

What prompted 10 enviro groups to settle on wolves?

The ongoing courtroom saga of the gray wolf took a rather unexpected turn two weeks ago with the announcement of a settlement between the federal government and 10 of the 14 conservation groups who sued to have the animals relisted under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2008. The agreement created a divide between those 10 groups and their non-settling peers, raising questions as to why—after years of tense litigation—some environmentalists sought compromise. "It's certainly something that required a lot of care and thought on our part, and is a result of a long series of conversations we had both internally with our partners and of course with the Department of the Interior," says Andrew Wetzler, land and wildlife director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "If we didn't act and act quickly, wolves would very likely have ended up in a much worse place." It's no coincidence the settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) came as Congress considers legislation to delist wolves. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester introduced a delisting bill for populations in Montana and Idaho; Rep. Denny Rehberg proposes removing ESA protections for wolves nationwide. Fearing the passage of such a bill would create a Pandora's box not just for wolves but for other endangered species, settling groups moved to preempt that worst-case scenario...more

ESA fleeces America for wolves

...We speak, of course, of the Endangered Species Act and a basketful of related environmental laws. Only a handful of species have recovered using the law. Some of those "recoveries" involved little more than moving the animals from one place to another. Such was the case with gray wolves. Listed as "endangered" in the Lower 48, biologists moved 62 of them from Canada, where upward of 30,000 wolves live. Then the wolves were let loose and everyone was banned from shooting them. Now, through the wonders of procreation, wolves are spreading across the West. One can only assume a government agency will spend a pile of money studying how that "recovery" happened. A pile has already been spent in courts as environmental groups -- on the federal government's dime -- have wrangled with federal managers to "protect" the alleged "endangered" wolves, which now number more than 1,200. The ESA is also used to stop any number of activities, from construction projects to ranching to cutting weeds. A recent example of that last activity took place in California, home of the Los Padres National Forest. Managers there had planned to clear roadside brush and weeds along 750 miles of forest roads. An environmental group sued to stop the work, arguing that cutting the weeds threaten protected and sensitive species. Mind you, all of the work would take place within 10 feet of the road. To protect this "sensitive" environment, the judge in the case issued an injunction and ordered to the U.S. Forest Service to hire a full-time biologist. According to the website, a federal biologist makes about $56,000 a year, plus benefits. That's about $26.92 an hour...more

Judge: Obama illegally halted Bush logging plan

A federal judge ruled Thursday the Obama administration has to go through a public comment period before it can yank a controversial plan to double the amount of logging allowed on some federal forests in Western Oregon. The ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia stops Interior Secretary Ken Salazar from withdrawing the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Western Oregon Plan Revision. It remains unclear whether Salazar will let the plan stand or go through the public process to withdraw it. Interior spokesman Matt Lee-Ashley said the agency was reviewing the ruling. Salazar pulled the plan in 2009, saying it was illegal because the Bush administration, which put it into effect, had failed to have it reviewed for endangered species impacts. Judge John D. Bates wrote that Salazar did not have inherent authority to withdraw the decision without calling for public comment. Bob Ragon of Douglas Timber Operators, which filed the lawsuit, said the Obama administration should put the entire plan through that review step before making a decision. “The secretary withdrew it because he says it’s illegal,” Ragon said from Roseburg. “Let’s test it. Let’s see what the agencies have to say about it.”...more

Solar project could displace 140 tortoises

A solar energy development on public land in northeastern San Bernardino County could displace as many as 140 desert tortoises, far more than the 17 that the developer's surveys found before the project was approved. Federal officials made the new estimate public in an interview Tuesday. Tortoises are a protected species. At least 43 tortoises have been moved from the project site to protect them from grading and construction work that began in October. The animals include 15 adults and 11 juveniles now held in pens and 17 that were carried a short distance to areas outside the fenced construction site, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Biologists with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which is overseeing the tortoise removals, now estimate that an additional 101 tortoises are living in areas of the 5.6-square-mile site that have not yet been cleared, said Larry LaPre, a wildlife biologist for the agency. The project is in the Ivanpah Valley, just west of Interstate 15 near Primm, Nev. Just how the new estimate will affect BrightSource Energy's $2 billion project is unclear. A spokesman for the Oakland-based company said the higher number of tortoises won't change the project's scope or construction schedule. Fish and Wildlife had granted permission for biologists to relocate 38 adult and 35 juvenile tortoises from the entire 5.6 square miles. The 17 moved outside the fence don't count toward those limits. But, based on the numbers found so far, biologists believe dozens more will be found, LaPre said. The situation prompted the BLM and Fish and Wildlife to enter into formal talks this week to increase the number of tortoises that can be moved...more

Green energy buts up against the ESA. Gotta love it.

Burning Man permit approved

The Bureau of Land Management , Winnemucca District, Black Rock Field Office has approved the permit for the Black Rock City LLC to conduct the Burning Man 2011 event. Before issuing the permit for the proposed 2011 Burning Man event, the BLM analyzed the environmental assessment used for permitting the event for the past five years and determined the EA provided adequate environmental analysis to permit the event for this year. The festival is held annually on public lands in Pershing County, Nev. on the barren playa of the Black Rock Desert approximately 10 miles northeast of the community of Gerlach. The festival has been held since 1990 and has been permitted by the BLM since 1992. The operations associated with the event occupy about 4,400 acres of public land for a seven week period starting with fencing the site perimeter the second week of August and concluding in late September with the final site cleanup. The major activities are confined to several weeks in late August and early September associated with final setup, the actual event, and the initial phases of cleanup. During this period, Black Rock City becomes one of the largest cities in Nevada, with approximately 50,000 participants...more

Alaska Governor Asks Government To Expedite Offshore Drilling Projects

Alaska's governor asked federal regulators Thursday to move ahead in allowing new oil development in the Arctic Ocean, as the state looks for ways to shore up declining production. In a letter sent Thursday to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Gov. Sean Parnell wrote that "Alaska is the United States' most important and abundant domestic source of future oil and gas." He cited a 2008 U.S. Geological Survey report that estimated more than 10 billion barrels of oil and more than 100 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lay beneath the surface of Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Parnell seized on current concerns in the U.S. about the stability of foreign sources of oil, amid turmoil in the Middle East and rising oil prices. "We need to develop and increase our domestic supply of oil and gas," Parnell wrote. Parnell and other Alaska officials have been working to streamline oil production taxes and take other measures to attract more onshore and offshore oil and natural gas development in Alaska. Parnell has introduced legislation, currently working its way through the state legislature, that would slash oil production taxes put in place by his predecessor, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin...more

No decision on wilderness bill for Doña Ana County

New Mexico’s U.S. senators are continuing to push for new conservation and wilderness areas in Northern New Mexico, but they have not decided whether to try again this year for permanent protection of land in Doña Ana County including the Organ Mountains. Asked if there are plans to try again this year for permanent wilderness designations for land in Doña Ana County, Bingaman spokeswoman Jude McCartin said that’s currently “unclear.” The senators proposed a bill last year that would have designated hundreds of thousands of acres in Doña Ana County as wilderness – the federal government’s most restrictive conservation designation. The bill died in the Senate, and now the area is represented in the House by Republican Steve Pearce, who has a long history of criticizing Doña Ana County wilderness proposals...more

EPA meeting in N.M. on Four Corners Power Plant plan draws mixed response

Residents of the Navajo Nation appear to be no more in agreement than the rest of the region when it comes to the future of Four Corners Power Plant. Divergent opinions emerged Wednesday at a hearing hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to gather comments on the agency's proposal to require plant operator Arizona Public Service Co. to install costly pollution controls to clean up haze. Many who came to the plant's doorstep to speak at the hearing held at the Nenahnezad Chapter House pointed to the jobs and economic benefits the plant provides. More than 900 work at the coal-fired power plant and adjacent Navajo Mine. A majority of those employees are Navajo. But others said they were concerned about the visible haze and harmful pollutants the plant emits. Bruce Nez, San Juan chapter president, said the plant provides jobs and electricity. He downplayed the effects of pollution, pointing to his own experience. "I feel OK," he said. "I was raised here. I did a few triathlons. I'm OK." Others were not so sure the plant is benign. Milton Martinez, who lives near Haystack Mountain, north of Grants, said he used to be able to see Mount Taylor and other sacred mountains from Haystack. "That is no longer visible today," he said. "I think that has weakened our prayers." The 2,040-megawatt power plant provides electricity to 300,000 households throughout the Southwest, including cities such as Phoenix and Las Vegas...more

U.S. Beef Farmers and Ranchers Issue First Social Responsibility Report

U.S. cattlemen are pleased today to announce the release of “The Cattlemen’s Stewardship Review: Connecting Our Vision and Values,” which is a first-of-its-kind inside look at cattlemen’s influence on the nation’s communities, the economy, public health and the environment. Built on a statement of seven fundamental principles adopted by U.S. cattle farmer and rancher leaders at the Annual Cattle Industry Convention in February 2011, the Review details cattlemen’s commitment to preserving the environment, raising healthy cattle, providing quality food, enhancing food safety, investing in communities, embracing innovation and creating a sustainable future for generations to come. The Review is broken into five key sections, which showcase key accomplishments of U.S cattle farmers and ranchers, including:
* U.S. cattlemen provide 20 percent of the world’s beef with only 7 percent of the world’s cattle, meaning that they are helping provide valuable nutrients to a growing population both in the United States and abroad.¹
* Since 1993, cattlemen have invested $30 million of their beef checkoff dollars in safety improvements. Collaborative beef-industry efforts have helped reduce the incidence of foodborne illnesses, including E. coli O157:H7, which now affects less than one person in 100,000 people.²,³
* More than 90 percent of feedyard cattle raised in the U.S. today are influenced by Beef Quality Assurance (BQA), a checkoff-funded program that sets guidelines for animal care and handling.
* Between 1977 and 2007 the “carbon footprint” of beef shrank 18 percent as farmers and ranchers raised 13 percent more beef with 13 percent fewer cattle. When compared to 1977, each pound of beef raised in 2007 used 20 percent less feed, 30 percent less land, 14 percent less water and 9 percent less fossil-fuel energy.⁴
* Environmental efforts by cattle farmers and ranchers help manage and protect more than 500 million acres of permanent grassland and a variety of wildlife and endangered species.⁵
* Nearly one-half of cattle farmers and ranchers volunteer with youth organizations and more than one-third donate their time to other civic organizations, compared to a national average of 7 percent of all Americans.⁶...more

Read the report here.

Song Of The Day #544

On Ranch Radio this morning Leon Chappel explains in his 1953 recording of Automatic Mama what happens when you buy the little woman all those modern appliances.

The tune is on his 26 track CD Automatic Mama.

‘A rampant war just south of our border'

Graphic surveillance videos of Mexican drug cartels were shown to House lawmakers Thursday, while their counterparts in the Senate were given an account of an all-out assault on the Southwest border — attacks that range from gangs using boats and tunnels to a catapult used to hurl duffel bags of marijuana into the U.S. The vivid testimony and images were presented at separate congressional hearings convened to review border security and aid to Mexico that would help combat cartels striking out against the military and law enforcement. “There are few threats as deadly and menacing than that posed by drug gangs, particularly Mexican drug gangs, operating near our border,” said Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark. and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security subcommittee on intergovernmental affairs. Lawmakers on the House Homeland Security subcommittee on investigations were privately shown videotapes of Los Zetas and Gulf cartel members carrying out attacks in Camargo, Tamaulipas and Juárez. In one tape, cartel members use grenade launchers and assault rifles with military precision to take over a roadside checkpoint in Camargo, across the border from Rio Grande City. The heavily armed men take prisoner three people who were later killed and beheaded, a congressional source said, to send a message the cartel wanted a cut of the fees collected at the checkpoint...more

Cartels threaten to kill Texas Rangers, ICE agents

A new law enforcement bulletin warns that members of drug cartels have been overheard plotting to kill federal agents and Texas Rangers who guard the border, officials in Washington reported Thursday. The bulletin, which was issued in March, said cartel members planned to use AK-47 assault rifles to shoot agents and Rangers from across the border. It did not name the cartels. The information was released at a hearing before a panel of the House Committee on Homeland Security. The Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management addressed “The U.S. Homeland Security Role in the Mexican War Against the Drug Cartels.” U.S. Rep. Michael T. McCaul, R-Texas, talked briefly about the bulletin at the hearing. He said this and other findings he cited “are acts of terrorism as defined by law. The shooting of Special Agent Zapata and Avila is a game changer, which alters the landscape of United State’s involvement in Mexico’s war against drug cartels.” He was referring to Jaime Jorge Zapata, 32, a Brownsville native and special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who was killed on Feb. 15 while on duty in Mexico. Injured in the same attack was Special Agent Victor Avila. Members of the Zetas criminal organization are suspected in the attack...more

Federal Agents Told to Reduce Border Arrests, Arizona Sheriff Says

An Arizona sheriff says U.S. Border Patrol officials have repeatedly told him they have been ordered to reduce -- at times even stop -- arrests of illegal immigrants caught trying to cross the U.S. border. Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever told that a supervisor with the U.S. Border Patrol told him as recently as this month that the federal agency’s office on Arizona's southern border was under orders to keep apprehension numbers down during specific reporting time periods. “The senior supervisor agent is telling me about how their mission is now to scare people back,” Dever said in an interview with “He said, ‘I had to go back to my guys and tell them not to catch anybody, that their job is to chase people away. … They were not to catch anyone, arrest anyone. Their job was to set up posture, to intimidate people, to get them to go back.” Dever said his recent conversation with the Border Patrol supervisor was the latest in a series of communications on the subject that he has had with various federal agents over the last two years. Dever said he plans to relay the substance of these conversations when he testifies under oath next month before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs...more

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pentagon Art: $600,000 Gurgling Toad Sculpture

U.S. News has the story here.

The sculptor describes the work as: "A 10-foot fairy, using an American Toad as 'transportation,' scurries to the entrance of the station. The interior of the toad is illuminated and the sounds of nature emanate from his throat." She also said nature had inspired her.

Who knew that federal money gurgles?

The federal elite are the 10-foot fairy, riding our (the toad's) back, and one of the "sounds of nature" emanating from his throat is me puking.

Tester request for Montana wolf hunt approved

Senator Jon Tester released the following statement on Monday after the U.S. Department of Interior approved his request for a conservation wolf hunt in Montana: “A wolf hunt in Montana is a good next step toward getting wolf management completely back in the hands of Montanans, where it belongs, instead of the federal government. But we’re not out of the woods yet. I’m going to keep fighting on all fronts to get wolves back under Montana’s common sense management plan—because Montanans deserve responsible leadership that gets results, not just partisan grandstanding.” The Interior Department today preliminarily approved Montana’s request for a conservation wolf hunt in the Bitterroot Valley. The decision is now posted for public comment on an expedited timeline of 14 days before receiving final approval...more

U.S. appeals court says eagle feathers reserved for tribal members only

In a case pitting religious freedom against preservation of wildlife and tribal culture, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a non-Indian practitioner of a Native American faith tradition could be prosecuted for possessing eagle feathers. The case required the court to weigh the government's obligation to refrain from imposing burdens on an individual's practice of religion against its duty to protect wildlife and Indian tribal culture. Samuel Ray Wilgus, a non-Indian resident of Utah, was arrested in June 1998 for possessing 141 feathers of bald and golden eagles. The federal Eagle Act bans the possession of eagle feathers or parts except for certain uses, including "the religious purposes of Indian tribes." Federal regulations provide the exception only to members of recognized tribes who obtain permits and feathers from the National Eagle Repository in Commerce City, which stores feathers and parts harvested from dead eagles by wildlife authorities. Demand exceeds supply, and the waits for feathers or eagle parts are long. The feathers and parts aren't transferrable, except when handed down from a generation to the next, by one Indian to another...more

The new wool?

n a farm bordered by cattle ranches and hayfields, just a stone’s throw from the New Mexico border, Jim and Lois Burbach have taken up a pursuit that may seem better suited for the Andean highlands: raising a herd of alpaca. They are among a growing number of alpaca ranchers who have settled in Southwest Colorado to raise the South American camelids. Initially, alpaca farmers were making hefty sums breeding and selling their animals, but the economic recession has made the venture considerably less profitable, diminishing the prices for animals by 30 to 50 percent. Such economic forces, combined with the herd’s steady growth, have spurred a new push, locally and nationally, to turn back to the animals’ original asset, their fiber. But in such a new industry, creating a market for the fiber and making it profitable still pose formidable challenges. Since people started importing the animals into the United States in the 1980s, the nation’s alpaca herd has grown steadily. Now, there are almost 180,000 registered alpacas in the United States, but Claudia Raessler, a board member of the Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association, said unregistered animals could boost that number by 50,000. The industry’s growth in Colorado, now one of the top states for the number of breeders living here, has followed the same trajectory, said Jim Burbach, owner of Navajo Lake Alpacas and founding president of the Alpaca Breeders of the Four Corners...more

Rustlers turn from cattle to copper

Arizona ranchers are dealing with a new type of "rustling." More than a century ago, it was cattle rustling. Now, ranchers see an incredible rash of copper thefts. "We are constantly encountering problems with people coming in and stealing the copper wire from the irrigation pumps," said Jeanette Fish of the Maricopa County Farm Bureau. "Down in the Gila Bend area, in the Paloma Irrigation District, they've had 19 pumps stripped in the last four weeks,." The average cost to repair each pump is $10,000 to $12,000, she said. "For the person who's doing theft, they steal that and they get maybe 65 or 70 pounds of copper, $280 or less if they're going through a back door criminal operation." A $10,000 reward is being offered to catch the copper thieves, said Fish...more

Legislature advances state meat inspection proposal, possibility of horse processing

Senators advanced a bill Wednesday to allow for a state meat inspection program and possibly a horse slaughter and processing facility, but one senator took the opportunity to discredit the Humane Society of the United States. Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, the chairman of the Agriculture Committee used strong language, calling the national group deceptive, unethical, overreaching, shameless, ruthless. He made the distinction between HSUS and local humane societies, saying it is not the same as such groups as the Capital Humane Society and the Nebraska Humane Society. He said the majority of the money donated to the HSUS goes to political propaganda, which he labeled "dangerous political poison," and to executive salaries. Carlson went on to say HSUS is largely responsible for USDA inspectors no longer inspecting horse processing facilities and for the subsequent closing of plants in Texas and Illinois. He estimated 100,000 horses are now abandoned each year in this country because of that, and horse refuges are "woefully inadequate" to meet the needs...more

Willie Nelson song to benefit Animal Welfare Institute

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) is honored to announce the exclusive release of the Rolling Stones' classic "Wild Horses," performed and produced by the legendary Willie Nelson and his family members. Willie & The Nelson Family are donating the proceeds from the sale of the song to AWI's campaigns on behalf of wild and domestic horses. Willie and the entire Nelson family are long-time supporters of AWI and its efforts to end horse slaughter and preserve the right of wild horses to roam free. "The BLM has been rounding them up at an alarming rate, supposedly for their own good. Sadly, there are more wild horses in holding pens than in the wild. Something is wrong with that, so we must act now before the BLM has managed these magnificent animals into extinction," said Willie Nelson. "It's time for the cowboys to stand up for the horses."...Press Release

Willie needs to take a toke or two and then contemplate all the pain and suffering inflicted on horses by the anti-slaughter zealots.

Controversial Horse Slaughter Documentary Premieres Sunday

A premiere screening of a controversial film examining domestic and wild horse slaughter in America will take place Sunday afternoon. "A Nation Betrayed, Saving America's Horses" will be held at Laemmle's Sunset 5 at 12:45p.m. with a media line to follow. Directed by Katia Louise, the feature-length documentary film combines testimony, undercover footage, and true life stories to depict a country divided on the issue of horse cruelty in America. Pro- and anti-slaughter arguments are made. Environmental risks of horse slaughter and risks associated with consumption of horse meat are also explored. National non-profit organization In Defense of Animals (IDF) has shown support for the film...more

Baxter Black: PETA losing relevance

I was pondering on the seemingly frivolous tendency of humans to disregard some of the basic accomplishments that brought mankind to our esteemed place on the planet Earth in the 21st Century. For example, in order to move beyond the gathering roots and berries phase, they discovered the life-giving dense protein, meat. In the progression of civilization they learned how to hunt. The benefits of adding meat to their diet were stupendous. In addition to the gift of time saved, the carcass provided leather and fur. Then came shoes, belts, slingshots, saddles, robes, blankets, and mammoth jerky. Not to mention insulin, ice cream and Jell-O. The basic necessities of life; food, clothing and shelter, must be achieved before opera, texting and Monday Night Football. But in the midst of our progress, out steps our own version of Kim Jong ll…the bumbling animal rights group PETA. They stamp their feet and make outrageous threats; “Don’t wear fur or we’ll pour paint on you. Don’t use lab animals for research or we’ll…maybe somebody else, will burn down your laboratory. Don’t breed purebred dogs or we’ll get Big Sister HSUS to throw darts at you.” But their stories grow tedious...more

Aberdeen rancher supports ‘Exceptional Rodeo for Kids’

Dave Wedel is an Aberdeen rancher who grows wheat, drives a sugar beet truck and is devoted to planning one particular part of Pocatello’s annual rodeo called the “Exceptional Rodeo for Kids.” He has a special affinity for that rodeo because five years ago while his daughter, Anna, was struggling with cancer, she was the 2006 poster child for the Exceptional Rodeo. At that time, the rodeo gave the Wedel family a special emotional boost, and Wedel has been giving back ever since. Anna is now 8 years old, is cancer free and will soon pass the crucial five-year mark in her recovery. She goes to school, studies, plays, has fun and lives like any other normal child. The Exceptional Rodeo will take place during the Wrangler Million Dollar Silver Tour Rodeo, April 7-9, in Holt Arena. The Exceptional Rodeo for Kids will be held on Saturday afternoon, April 9 from 3-5 p.m. The rodeo is designed for children with special needs from the Southeastern Idaho region, including children with physical, mental or emotional difficulties. On average about 50 kids participate in the special rodeo each year...more

Rumoured Tom Cruise rodeo flick

Alberta may have lost the Man of Steel to the Windy City, but local industry insiders says the province is still in the running for an all-star rodeo film, with Tom Cruise rumoured to be interested in playing the lead. The sources confirmed to the Herald that scouts have been in Alberta looking at locations for the film, which has gone by the names Freebird, Final Go and Paper Wings. At one point, Cruise and Reese Witherspoon were attached. Still, it remains in pre-production and is a long way from confirming locations. As early as a year ago, the L.A. Times reported that Cruise and Witherspoon were attached to the project, which was then called Paper Wings. Cruise would play a rodeo champ who falls in love with a country singer played by Witherspoon. Actor Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment was named as the film's producer. While still in the early stages, the possibility of Cruise in a rodeo picture had already raised the ire of American animal-rights organizations. Cruise has reportedly been spotted behind the chutes at various rodeos in California...more

Song Of The Day #543

Today's selection on Ranch Radio is Red Foley & His Crossroad Boys doing Sugar Foot Rag #2.

Spilling Over?

As federal officials talk tough, local officers express concern about cartel violence We have a mess on the Arizona-Mexico border, and the people of Arizona can't make an honest assessment of it without pondering the concept of spillover. The word has become a mantra that appears in just about every pronouncement by the feds, and it gets repeated by a compliant mainstream media. "I don't know how people are defining spillover, but it's here now and ongoing," says Nogales Police Chief Jeff Kirkham. "The fingers of the cartels reach all the way to the Tucson and the Phoenix metropolitan areas, and other states." The conflict in Southern Arizona is a fight to control American land. We're experiencing constant incursions by armed cartel soldiers. In a Washington Post story last May, Robert Boatright, deputy chief of Border Patrol's Tucson Sector, said border agents here have "close to daily" encounters with armed smugglers. These are hardened men—mostly "prior deports," as Border Patrol calls them—who know Arizona's borderlands as well as their own faces. They're motivated enough to use our remotest lands as contraband highways, and athletic enough to vanish into the canyons when agents give chase. And if challenged on the hugely profitable routes they've fought and shed blood to "own" for their particular gang, they will shoot. This became clear with the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, part of an elite BORTAC team sent into the Peck Canyon Corridor outside of Nogales on Dec. 14. "Certainly, most Americans don't know these incursions go on all the time, but they do," says Kirkham. "It's sad that conditions on our border have gotten to where we have to send in special interdiction teams. But these incursions are a significant threat that needs to be solved."...more

Mexican cartels get heavy weapons from CentAm, U.S. cables say

The most fearsome weapons wielded by Mexico's drug cartels enter the country from Central America, not the United States, according to U.S. diplomatic cables disseminated by WikiLeaks and published here Tuesday by La Jornada newspaper. Items such as grenades and rocket-launchers are stolen from Central American armies and smuggled into Mexico via neighboring Guatemala, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City reported to Washington. The assertions appear in embassy cables written after three bilateral conferences on arms trafficking that took place between March 2009 and January 2010 in Cuernavaca, Mexico; Phoenix; and Tapachula, Mexico, respectively. The cables' authors note that Mexican officials and politicians never hesitate to remind U.S. diplomats that Mexico's drug war - which has claimed 35,000 lives in the last four years - is fueled by Americans' demand for illegal drugs and by guns bought in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Yet one of the cables maintains that 90 percent of the heavy armament Mexican security forces seize from cartel gunmen comes from Central America...more

Project Gunrunner: Obama's Stimulus-Funded Border Nightmare

Like so many border programs run amok, Project Gunrunner was the spawn of Beltway bipartisanship. It was established in 2005 as a pilot project under the Bush administration and run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The intended goal of the program's sting operations: stop illicit firearms trafficking along the Southwest border through close surveillance of undercover gun purchases and coordinated intervention with Mexico. The deadly result: federally sanctioned gunwalking of high-powered weapons from U.S. officials right into the hands of drug cartel killers. By 2008, Project Gunrunner's bureaucratic fiefdom had expanded rapidly along the U.S.-Mexico border and into the nine U.S. consulates in Mexico. The office raked in $2 million more through the little-scrutinized Merida Initiative, which Hispanic vote-pandering Republicans rammed through in a war supplemental bill. Despite warnings from the DOJ inspector general that tracking and assessment measures needed improvement, the payroll exploded from a few dozen to more than 200 by 2009. Under the Obama administration, ATF reaped another $21.9 million to expand Project Gunrunner (nearly half from the stimulus boondoggle), and the White House has requested almost $12 million more in fiscal year 2011 appropriations for the program. Project Gunrunner's reach and authority continues to grow despite dire, prolonged warnings from insiders and whistleblowers that countless monitored guns have been passed on to violent criminals without being intercepted as planned. Following up on leads first published at and the blogs of gun rights advocates David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh, CBS News reported last month that Project Gunrunner "allegedly facilitated the delivery of thousands of guns into criminal hands." One of those guns was used by Mexican gang thugs who murdered U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last December. At least six veteran ATF agents and executives stepped forward to expose how ATF presided over the purchase of hundreds of high-powered rifles and pistols -- over the objection of the very private gun shops that the Obama administration's anti-gun zealots have vilified...more

Critics: U.S. lacks overall strategy at Mexico border

The federal government hasn’t come up with a comprehensive strategy to secure the U.S.-Mexico border even as an all-out war between Mexico and its violent drug gangs has claimed 35,000 lives and pushed hundreds of thousands of immigrants into the United States. The U.S. government has spent nearly $4 billion on various approaches, including a $2.4 billion border fence effort, two deployments of National Guard troops to temporarily bolster the Border Patrol, and a now-defunct $1 billion “virtual fence” that covered 53 miles of the 2,100-mile U.S.-Mexico border until the Obama administration scrapped it earlier this year. “In spite of an effort to do more, there does not appear to be a plan in place that actually accomplishes the objectives of a secure border,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, in a speech this month to the U.S.- Mexico Congressional Border Issues Conference. Drugs were catapulted over the physical fence, tunneled under it and even driven over it with homemade ramps. “Show me a 10-foot fence, I’ll show you an 11-foot ladder” became common wisdom along the border. The U.S. also tried the SBInet virtual fence plan, abandoned earlier this year after a billion-dollar expenditure. There’s a new plan to install cameras, radar and other gadgets, but that gear won’t be in place borderwide until at least 2021 and maybe not until 2026, according to the Government Accountability Office...more

Decision looms over U.S. troops at Mexican border

The Obama administration is weighing whether to keep hundreds of National Guard troops on the U.S. border with Mexico to help clamp down on violence, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Wednesday. The U.S. Congress approved and President Barack Obama signed in August a $600 million bill to tighten security along the porous nearly 2,000 mile border. It includes the hiring of 1,500 Border Patrol agents, customs inspectors and law enforcement officials. The White House sent some 1,200 National Guard troops to help fill the breach while border patrol agents were trained. An Arizona National Guard official told lawmakers on March 15 the troops would end their tour in June, drawing fire from border state politicians. "They have proven to be very very useful at the border, they have helped in a number of drug seizures among other things," Napolitano said in an interview as part of the Reuters Latin American Investment Summit. "I don't think the administration has made a final decision about whether and at what strength to leave the Guard at the border," she said, adding that funding runs out in June...more

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Army: No Pinon expansion for at least 5 years

Army Secretary John McHugh says the Pentagon has no plans to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in its five-year budget plan, which extends through 2016. In a letter this week to Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, McHugh acknowledged the public concern about expanding the 238,000-acre training range, but said that is no longer an Army goal. "Please be assured the Army has no plans to expand the boundaries of PCMS and, accordingly, has not requested any funds be programmed in the Department of the Army budget (FY 2012-16) for the acquisition of land at PCMS over the next five years," the letter, dated Monday, said. Both senators said the Army response was a first step toward rebuilding trust between the Army and ranchers in the Pinon Canyon area. Lon Robertson, a Kim-area rancher and president of the Pinon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition, said McHugh's letter wasn't very reassuring because ranchers have understood from the outset that this was a long-term campaign by the Army. "In their own words, the effort to expand is a 'long range campaign the Army will execute over a decade or more,’ ’’ Robertson said, quoting from a 2006 Army plan detailing how to add more than 1 million acres to the size of Pinon Canyon. "So the next five years ‘promise’ doesn't provide any breathing room for the region," he said. "If they are serious about not expanding, they should remove the waiver and then we'll start to believe they are, in fact, serious.". Robertson was referring to the February 2007 waiver that the Defense Department granted the Army to begin acquiring more land at Pinon Canyon. While the Army has been blocked at the congressional level and in the General Assembly from doing that, the waiver giving it permission to expand Pinon Canyon remains in effect and is a sore point with ranchers. Jean Aguerre, of the Not 1 More Acre! opposition group, said Udall and Bennet were "naive" if they believed McHugh's letter put the expansion issue to rest. She said the Army had a history of broken promises, defying court orders and even ignoring the funding ban that Congress placed on expanding Pinon Canyon beginning in 2008...more

Pure political theater. Robertson and Aguerre have it right.

Udall and Bennet should insist on the "no funds shall be spent" language in any appropriations bill. That will keep the Army honest while they build "trust" with the local community. Otherwise, the ranchers will have to file a FOIA request each year to make sure there no plans, operational or environmental studies, etc. concerning expansion.

If the Senators refuse to support such language they are siding with the Army over their constituents.

NM delegation pushes for new conservation area

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation are continuing to push for the designation of conservation and wilderness areas in Taos and Rio Arriba counties. U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would preserve about 236,000 acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management by designating a combination of conservation and wilderness areas. Much of the land — 214,600 acres — would be managed as a conservation area. Two other parcels would be managed as wilderness. Fellow New Mexico Democratic Sen. Tom Udall is cosponsoring the Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act. Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Martin Heinrich have introduced a similar bill in the U.S. House. AP

The bills are S. 667 and H.R. 1241

BLM taking proposals for wild horse sanctuaries

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is seeking proposals for establishing "eco-sanctuaries" for wild horses amid controversy over its handling of these icons of the range. The BLM said Tuesday it would provide up to $40 million over five years to establish the sanctuaries, funding the agency expects to have available through the existing federal Wild Horse and Burro Program. Half of the grant money would be available for sanctuaries located on private and public land within established wild horse herd areas, which are located in 10 Western states. The other $20 million would fund sanctuaries on private land that could be located in any part of the U.S. More than 38,000 wild horses roam Wyoming, Nevada, California and seven other Western states. The populations would double every four years, except that the BLM rounds up about 10,000 horses a year to keep the herds in check and prevent overgrazing. The BLM adopts out many of the horses to the public and sends others to long-term holding facilities and pastures in the West and Midwest. Such facilities and pastures are home to about 40,000 horses. Ranchers support the roundups but animal rights groups call them inhumane, saying they often injure horses. Meanwhile, the program's cost has tripled over the past decade to $64 million a year...more

Forest Service Denies Request to Manage Snowmobiles Under Off-Road Vehicle Guidelines

The U.S. Forest Service today denied a request from recreation groups asking that snowmobiles on national forest lands be managed under the same guidelines applied to all other classes of off-road vehicles. In August 2010, 90 organizations representing 1.3 million members filed a petition with the forest service and the Department of Agriculture formally requesting that the agency amend the 2005 Travel Management Rule, the framework used to designate routes, trails and areas on each national forest unit open to motorized use. Petitioners requested the removal of an exemption making management of over-snow vehicles optional while making designations for all other classes of off-road vehicles mandatory. In denying the request, the forest service stated that the 2005 rule provides an “adequate mechanism for regulating over-snow vehicle use” and that national regulations for over-snow vehicle use are not required by law...more

Farm bureau files suit

With the 2011 irrigation season upcoming and with farmers and ranchers uncertain about state regulators’ new interpretation of an environmental law, the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau recently announced that they have filed suit to protect its members’ ability to provide water to their crops. In a lawsuit filed Friday in Siskiyou County Superior Court, the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau is asking the court to prevent the California Department of Fish and Game from enforcing its new interpretation of a 50-year-old law. “Farmers and ranchers in Siskiyou County are now in the impossible position of either complying with (DFG’s) new interpretation of the Fish and Game Code, or continuing to extract water pursuant to their water rights under the longstanding application, meaning, interpretation and enforcement of the code and thereby risking civil and criminal prosecution,” the lawsuit states. At issue in the case is a section of the code that requires water users to obtain a permit from the DFG before diverting or obstructing the natural flow of a stream. For decades since the section became law in 1961, the DFG has required such permits for activities such as gravel mining, the annual construction of push-up dams, installation of new headgates and other projects. But now, the DFG has informed farmers along the Scott and Shasta river watersheds that they will be required to obtain such permits simply to exercise their longstanding water rights by opening an existing headgate or activating an existing pump in order to irrigate their crops...more

Court finds for Pine River ranchers

A divided state Supreme Court has ruled for several Bayfield-area ditch companies in a water-rights dispute with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. The 4-3 ruling solidified water rights for the King Consolidated Ditch Company and seven others. The companies wanted to make sure their 1930s-era rights are protected against a plan to fill Vallecito Reservoir twice a year in order to maintain winter flows in the river. “This ruling gives certainty and security to farmers and ranchers out there that they can continue diverting,” said Geoff Craig, a lawyer for the ditch companies. The irrigation companies began trying a decade ago to get a judge to declare that the water rights they secured in 1934 apply to stock watering during the winter. Local ranchers were worried that a plan by the tribe and the Colorado Water Conservation Board to maintain a minimum flow in the river during the winter could have curtailed the ranchers’ water use. Water court Judge Gregory Lyman affirmed the ditch companies’ rights in 2009 and disallowed the Southern Ute tribe from intervening in the case, saying the tribe had missed a deadline. The tribe appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard arguments last September...more

Theodore Roosevelt, Big-Government Man

Theodore Roosevelt has been known as “the Good Roosevelt,” “the Republican Roosevelt,” and “the conservative Roosevelt,” as distinguished from his fifth cousin Franklin, who’s credited with ushering in modern American big government. Yet promoters of big government have long recognized TR as one of their own. For starters, TR reinterpreted the Constitution to permit a vast expansion of executive power. “Congress, he felt, must obey the president,” noted biographer Henry Pringle. Roosevelt wanted the Supreme Court to obey him too. TR ushered in the practice of ruling by executive order, bypassing the congressional process. From Lincoln to TR’s predecessor William McKinley, there were 158 executive orders. TR, during his seven years in office, issued 1,007. He ranks third, behind fellow “progressives” Woodrow Wilson (1,791) and Franklin Roosevelt (3,723) in that category. Theodore Roosevelt challenged the prevailing American view that land-use decisions are best made by private individuals who have a stake in improving the value of their property. He throttled the privatization of land that had been going on for more than a century. In 1905 TR transferred millions of acres of government land from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Agriculture and established the U. S. Forest Service to manage it. It’s because he substantially limited privatization that today national forests account for about 20 percent of the land in the 11 westernmost states of the lower 48. Altogether, the federal government controls about a third of the land in the United States. The rationale for “national forests” was that America supposedly faced a “timber famine.” Gifford Pinchot, first head of the Forest Service, warned that America would run out of timber within 20 years. TR claimed that selfish private individuals were squandering America’s resources and only public-spirited federal bureaucrats could be counted on to manage them. Despite Pinchot’s claims about “scientific” forestry, the “timber famine” never happened...more

Progressives Crave Control

These are a few highly visible examples of expanding government control. The more insidious expansions of government control do not make the news. All along the coastlines of the United States, for example, the federal government is taking control over the lives of citizens who depend upon fishing and tourism for their livelihood. The National Marine Fisheries Service is preparing to stop all fishing for red snapper off the southeastern coast, claiming that the species is nearing extinction. Government-paid scientists provide reports to justify this action. Scientists from private universities, however, the Southeastern Fisheries Association and more than a thousand citizens presented evidence to the federal bureaucrats demonstrating that the government reports were flawed; that actually, the number of red snapper is increasing. Obama’s bureaucrats ignore the citizens’ concerns. On the outer banks of North Carolina, entire communities are being shut down because the federal bureaucrats have listed the Piping Plover as a threatened species. Tourists can no longer even walk on the beaches that have been closed. The National Park Service told Bob, who for 32 years has owned and operated the Red Drum Tackle Shop, that he was still young enough to go find something else to do. It’s not only the National Park Service, but the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of Agriculture, the EPA, and the Corps of Engineers as well, all have been systematically forcing people off their land. Kit Laney went to jail because he tried to keep the feds from confiscating his cattle. Ocie Mills spent nearly two years in jail for dumping sand on his own property. Bob Brace fought for more than 12 years in federal court for the right to convert his own pasture into a cabbage patch. Progressives in government – at every level – continue to expand the scope of control over how people live...more

"Year of the Mexican Gray Wolf" event is today

The Great Old Broads (and Bros) for Wilderness will have another "Year of the Mexican Gray Wolf" event at noon today. The group will meet at 10:30 a.m. at the Silco Theatre, where they will assemble caskets and signs and read a eulogy for fallen lobos, saluting the five wolves that were killed illegally in 2010. At noon, the group will leave the Silco and make a funeral procession through town, mourning the loss of those wolves. At 1:15 p.m. the film "Lords of Nature" about the restoration of riparian habitat because of the presence of wolves in Yellowstone, will be shown at the Silco Theatre. At 2 p.m., Kim McCreary of New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and Tawna Brummet, Forest Service wildlife biologist, will facilitate a discussion about habitat for wolves and spotted owls...more

Sheep rustling shocks vineyard owner, rancher

An old-fashioned crime made a bizarre showing in Napa County last week. Two sheep were shot and eight others are believed to have been stolen from a Mount Veeder vineyard during the height of a storm last Thursday. When George Richmond, owner of the flock, checked on his animals, he found a dead adult and a lamb. At first, he thought a coyote had killed them, but a friend who looked at them told him they were shot. “I was really surprised and it kind of made me wonder,” he said. “I don’t know how could somebody do this.” The rustler would have had to know a gate code and the combination for a padlock on a gate, said Richmond, who lives in Suisun Valley. The vineyard is in a remote area not visible from a road. “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought of Tom’s vineyard as a target,” Richmond said. The vineyard owner, Tom Meadowcroft, was using Richmond’s sheep to control grass and weeds, while also fertilizing the vines. The sheep had been doing their job for two and a half weeks. “It’s a wonderful cycle to have in the vineyard,” Meadowcroft said...more

Rancher nets 3 sets of twin calves in one week’s time

During 25 years of raising cattle, Williston farmer Jim Buraw never had a cow that produced twins. The drought has ended. Buraw, who farms just west of Williston, discovered three sets of twin calves born within five days of each other recently. He was pretty surprised. "This is the first time I've ever had twins, then I had three (sets) in five days," Buraw said. Twin calves usually occur one in every 1,000 cattle births. He currently has 30 cows expecting calves this spring. "They're fun," Buraw said. "It's something different."...more

Song Of The Day #542

Yesterday Ranch Radio brought you Little Joe The Wrangler, so today we have another old time cowboy tune, Zebra Dun, performed by Tex Ritter.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

National Corn Growers Assoc. v. EPA

There is a growing trend among federal agencies and courts to incrementally expand the government's enforcement power by adopting statutory interpretations that go beyond their plain meaning and intent. This case exemplifies such government overreach. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Environmental Protection Agency establishes limits, or "tolerances," for pesticide residues on food. If a pesticide residue exceeds an established tolerance it is deemed "unsafe" and the product is removed from interstate commerce — effectively banned from use. The EPA must modify or revoke a tolerance it deems unsafe through a "notice and comment" process. Both the FFDCA and its implementing regulations require the EPA to hold a public evidentiary hearing if any objections raise a "material issue of fact." In the current case, the pesticide carbofuran was registered for use in 1969 by the EPA and has been safely used for pest control for a variety of crops for more than 40 years. Recently, however, the EPA overlooked "material issues of fact" raised by the National Corn Growers and revoked all tolerances for carbofuran without a public hearing. In a decision that gives sole discretion to the EPA to determine the fate of hundreds of thousands of products already in the market, the D.C. Circuit held that courts must defer to the agency. The court declared that differences in scientific studies are insufficient for judicial review, essentially writing "material issue of fact" out of the Act. Cato joined the Pacific Legal Foundation in filing a brief arguing that Supreme Court review is warranted because the D.C. Circuit undermined the legal requirement for a public hearing under the FFDCA. Moreover, because this case sets a precedent for other regulated products and allows government agencies to unlawfully deprive citizens of their property without adequate access to court review, we argue that the Supreme Court should take this case to: (1) establish the proper standard for review under the FFDCA for a public hearing; (2) curtail abuse of the administrative process; and (3) establish that complete deference is not compatible with a summary-judgment-type proceeding. The right not to be deprived of one's property without fair process is a bedrock principle of American jurisprudence. The Court should reinforce this principle and ensure that statutory safeguards intended to protect this right are not ignored. CATO

You can view the legal brief here.

Government tries to clarify offshore drilling rules

The federal government on Monday issued a five-page memo meant to clarify rules for offshore drilling, in response to oil and gas industry complaints that new mandates imposed since last year's Gulf spill are muddled. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement also said it would reopen a public comment period to help guide the agency's possible rewrite of a drilling safety rule put in place last October. The document covers several areas but focuses on a major source of industry complaints: confusion about the wording of the October offshore drilling safety rule. That measure adopted two sets of recommended practices for emergency equipment and well design that had been developed by the American Petroleum Institute. The problem was that instead of rewriting those mandates in their own words, government regulators simply referenced API documents and specified that any time the API recommended practices said "should" it now meant "must" under the interim drilling safety rule. Industry representatives complained that the changes affected more than 14,000 discretionary provisions in 80 different standards, and in some cases, those new requirements were conflicting....more

Key Vote At Hand On EPA Authority

Nearly two years after the Great Recession officially ended, unemployment still stands at a troubling 8.9 percent, economic growth remains sluggish, gas prices are high and rising, consumer sentiment is falling. And none of it is expected to get much better any time soon. You'd think that in this context politicians — particularly those hoping to keep their jobs after 2012 — would be doing everything they can to kick away burdensome rules and regulations that would threaten growth and jobs. A good place to start would be blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions. By all accounts, letting EPA control emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases said to contribute to global warming would amount to, as Time magazine put it, "the most far-reaching environmental regulatory scheme in American history." And, despite the pleadings of environmentalists, there's little question that these rules will push economic growth down and energy costs up. The American Council for Capital Formation puts the cost of EPA's greenhouse gas rules at 46,000 to 1.4 million lost jobs and $25 billion to $75 billion in lost capital investment by 2014, along with a $500 billion reduction in GDP by 2030, all while boosting gasoline and electricity costs by 50%. Which is no doubt why just about everyone — from Republicans to Democrats to EPA itself — is busy trying to delay the agency's greenhouse gas regulatory regime from getting started...more

Oregon ranchers seek right to shoot wolves

As wolves spread through Oregon from Idaho, ranchers are trying to get the right to shoot wolves they see attacking livestock, and for the state to pay for cattle and sheep that are killed. The batch of wolf bills being heard by a House committee in Salem on Wednesday includes one that would make it easier to take wolves off the state endangered species list. Oregon Cattlemen's Association President Bill Hoyt, a Cottage Grove rancher, said Monday they don't want to wipe out wolves, but need the tools to defend their livestock. "It appears that the political and cultural will of the state of Oregon is to have wolves, and we have no problem with that," he said. "We don't want to kill every wolf that walks. We simply want to get along as well as we can. But if there is a conflict, we need to be able to defend ourselves."...more

GPS Study Shows Wolves More Reliant On A Cattle Diet

Cattle ranchers in southwestern Alberta have suspected it for a long time and now, GPS tracking equipment confirms it: wolf packs in the area are making cow meat a substantial part of their diets. University of Alberta researchers tracked wolves to bone yards, where ranchers dispose of dead cattle, and to sites of fresh cow kills. The study was done over two grazing seasons in 2008 and 2009. The vast study area in southwestern Alberta includes private ranchland and wooded public lands bordering the Rocky Mountains. Researchers found that during the summer months when livestock was set out to graze on public lands, cattle made up to 45 per cent of the diet for the three wolf packs in the study. This shows a seasonal switch from the wolf's usual pattern of wild prey in the non-grazing season to cattle in the grazing season...more

Water proposal easily wins backing in Colo. House

A bill to enhance the power of the Colorado officials in ranchers' water disputes with gas and oil companies has won initial backing in the House. The bill would raise the legal standard for southwest Colorado ranchers, along with the Oil and Gas Accountability Project and the city of Sterling. They're suing the state engineer over allowing certain oil wells to be drilled without water permits. The measure won preliminary approval on Monday without debate and without any opposition. A more formal vote is required in the House before the bill can head to the Senate. The bill says courts must presume that the state engineer's determination about whether wells would deplete surface water is valid, unless a farmer or rancher can prove otherwise. AP

EU to ban cars from cities by 2050

The European Commission on Monday unveiled a "single European transport area" aimed at enforcing "a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers" by 2050. The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys above 186 miles should be by rail. Top of the EU's list to cut climate change emissions is a target of "zero" for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in the EU's future cities. Siim Kallas, the EU transport commission, insisted that Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and onto "alternative" means of transport. "That means no more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centres," he said. "Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behaviour."...more

State ag board to discuss implementing greenhouse gas law

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture is scheduled to discuss climate change and water policy at its meeting on Wednesday, March 30. "California's farmers and ranchers have a significant role in our state's future," says CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. "As we continue to address climate change and water policy we encourage engagement and collaboration among all the regulatory agencies and stakeholder groups." AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, established the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. The act, among other provisions, ensures that early voluntary reductions receive appropriate credit in the implementation process. In development of a “cap and trade” market, agricultural emissions and conservation will have significant role in the voluntary reductions arena, the state says...more

Song Of The Day #541

Joe Delk, of the Delk Band, told Ranch Radio he liked Red Steagal's and other modern versions of Little Joe The Wrangler, but wondered if we didn't have "an old recording" of the tune.

As I recall Joe played a beautiful rendition of the song on the fiddle when he opened for Michael Martin Murphey's benefit concert for Kit Laney.

To respond to Joe's request, here's a 1931 recording of Little Joe The Wrangler by The Texas Drifter (Goebel Reeves).

Let us know if you have a request.

Rob Krentz's daughter speaks on his shooting death

It was on March 27, 2010, almost one year ago, that rancher Robert Krentz was shot to death at his San Bernardino Valley ranch near the Arizona-Mexico border, his daughter Kyle sat down with News 4 to talk about her father. Generations of the Krentz family have survived ranching in San Bernardino Valley. The hundreds of heads of cattle is their livelihood. Last year, their world was turned upside down with Robert Krentz was found shot to death on his property. Krentz was last heard by his brother over two-way radio, saying he had come across a group of immigrants, and asked his brother to call Border Patrol. Investigators think Krentz's killer may have been a Mexican drug smuggler. His daughter, Kyle, told News 4's Lorraine Rivera that living with the loss of her father was the hardest thing she's ever had to do. She says Robert was a gentle giant who never wanted her to give up. "He's in heaven, watching over us and protecting us," Kyle says. Robert's wife Susan Krentz is still recovering after being hit by a drunk driven while leaving church, and Kyle is hopeful for her full recovery. "She can just do anything she put her mind to," Kyle says about her mother. As for her father's killer, who is still at large: "For some reason, that guy chose to do something bad, and we'll never know why, but my dad would have never hurt him." One year later, the Krentz family is still dealing with the loss of their patriarch. "When you build a house, you have to have a foundation," Kyle says. "He was the foundation of our family." KVOA-TV

The video report is here.

Douglas ranchers do not believe Krentz's murder will be solved

Lynn Kartchner, armed with a sidearm, took Nine On Your Side Reporter Steve Nuñez and Photo Journalist Chris Miracle to the murder scene. "The shooting happened right here," said Kartchner pointing to a bush. "And at the time there were marks where the Polaris spun the tires as he tried to escape but he was already shot." Cochise County Sheriff's tracked size 11 shoe prints 20-miles south where they stopped cold about a mile north of the border. Investigators believe the killer was a drug smuggler. To this day, Krentz's murder remains a mystery. By dawn, KGUN9 News caught up with New Mexico Rancher Bill Miller. He said the pain of losing his good friend has left a void in the lives of many, especially Rob's wife Suzie. "Under the circumstances Steve, I think they're doing okay," said Miller. "Until we have generational change we'll always have some remorse and won't be real happy about what has transpired." But as each day passes, Miller believes Krentz's murder may never be solved. Instead, Miller's doing his part to honor his friend by working closely with Border Patrol. He allows its helicopters to land at a refueling station near his house. Agent John Mason calls the partnership paramount to border security. Flying back to Douglas means he'd have to give up chase on a group that's crossing through the nearby Chiricahua Mountains. "We've caught five," said pilot Mason. "So far, we're trying to round up the other ten." Nuñez asked: How many more of them are coming across carrying drugs? "I'd say ten years ago 5% were carrying drugs now it's to the point 40-50% are carrying drugs," said Mason...more

Monday, March 28, 2011

County lands in feud with Forest Service

Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell is waiting for his conscience to tell him: Should he start handing out tickets this week to U.S. Forest Service agents who are closing backcountry roads? Should he cut locks on gates that shut off access to public lands? The fact that a county sheriff is considering such actions against the federal government is a good indication that more than a run-of-the-mill dustup over road and trail closures on public lands is erupting in the far southwest corner of the state. Spruell and others are upset about road closures in the San Juan National Forest. But their ire over not being able to use certain trails is overshadowed by a broader issue. They cite various interpretations of the Constitution to argue that the federal government shouldn't have jurisdiction over forest lands in the first place and that the Forest Service is not a legitimate agency. "When I ran for office the No. 1 question I was asked was 'what are you going to do about the encroachment of the federal government?' The people here have just had enough. They are really tired of the federal government telling them what to do," said Spruell, who sits in his office beneath a sign reading, "People Protected by Pit Bull Spruell." The sign was given to him by members of the conservative 9-12 Patriots group. In recent weeks, protesters have marched on the local Forest Service and BLM office located between Cortez and Dolores, calling Forest Service officials "government pukes." Armed detractors of the federal agencies have set up a large display of signs near the office denouncing forest regulations and drawing attention with a stuffed, rifle-toting bear dangling from a rope. More than 170 residents last week jammed into a talk by two Utahns who claim in three self-published books that the federal government has far exceeded its original mission spelled out in the Constitution...more

Forest Service adopts climate-change ‘scorecard’

Recognizing that climate change calls for a coordinated response, the U.S. Forest Service is implementing a climate change road map to guide the agency’s efforts in the face of potentially staggering impacts to the landscapes and watersheds it manages across the country. The hope is that the plan will set the tone for how the Forest Service will respond to climate change, culturally and institutionally as an agency, to tackle a global issue with global solutions. Some first steps include completing and compiling various vulnerability assessments to determine what the greatest threats are. Input will include reports from state wildlife agencies and non-governmental organizations like The Nature Conservancy. Using a “scorecard” approach will provide a framework for individual national forests to understand what their role is in addressing climate change, regional planners said. The scorecard approach will help field-level rangers plan actions that fit into a broader scope of landscape-level action aimed at addressing climate change, rather than relying on “random acts of conservation,” said regional agency planners familiar with the effort...more

Hydraulic Fracturing Bill Could Force Disclosure

Hydraulic fracturing, an increasingly common method of extracting natural gas that involves shooting a concoction of water, sand and chemicals deep underground, has sparked controversy around the country — in part because drillers mostly keep their chemical formulas secret. But Texas, the leading gas-producing state, could help change industry practices by requiring public disclosure of the chemicals used. A bill filed this month by State Representative Jim Keffer, Republican of Eastland, who heads the House Committee on Energy Resources, would create a Web site containing information about the chemicals used in each well. The bill has won praise from both industry and major environmental organizations including the Sierra Club, the Texas League of Conservation Voters and the Environmental Defense Fund. Some homeowners living above shale-gas formations like the Barnett Shale in North Texas say drillers engaged in hydraulic fracturing have contaminated their water supplies. The gas industry counters that fracking takes place too far below aquifers for contamination to take place, and that chemicals compose, by volume, less than 1 percent of fracking fluids, which are mostly water and sand. But environmentalists say that fracking can pose risks depending on the depth and type of rock, and that poor construction of the gas wells can also result in leakage of the chemicals, some of which may be toxic. Mr. Keffer said that his bill was modeled on a similar rule in Arkansas, which took effect in January. Several other states are instituting fracking disclosure requirements...more

Lamb industry sees jump in demand

For the first time in 20 years of breeding sheep to stock commercial flocks, Liz Breakey is fielding calls from cattle ranchers looking to start up one of their own. "They call all the time lately," said Breakey, who raises British Suffolk and North Country Cheviot sheep west of Calgary with her husband Alan. "That's never happened in 20 years. They're looking to diversify. "And there's money there now. We've always made money, but this year you can make some decent money." The lamb industry in the province -valued at $42 million in 2008 and the third-largest in the country after Quebec and Ontario -is in the middle of a growth spurt. Ranchers are increasing the size of flocks, new producers are looking to get in and prices are rising. Alberta now boasts about 1,900 lamb producers, up from the 1,850 estimated in late 2009, while their organization estimates meat prices have climbed by at least 30 per cent in the past two years...more

Song Of The Day #540

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio. Today we have selected the 4 minute instrumental version of Yes, Sir That's My Baby by the bluegrass group The Reno Brothers.

The tune is on their 12 track CD Swing West released in 1995.

New developments on Robert Krentz's murder

It was one year ago today that Robert Krentz was found shot to death on his cattle ranch in Douglas. News 4 obtained a 36 page report from the Cochise County Sheriff's Office revealing new information on the ongoing investigation of Robert Krentz's murder. Recently on February 22, 2011, Cochise County Sheriff's department received a call from an unknown source who requested to meet investigators at the U.S. Port of Entry in Douglas, Arizona informing officials they "investigated a homicide in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico on February 12, 2001, and believed the deceased, who was later identified as an investigative lead in the Krentz homicide investigation." In the report, Cochise County officials asked the source if the body was in the Sonora, Mexico Medical Examiner's office. The source stated they weren't sure but would inform officials with any information. On February 23rd, officials received another call from the same source stating the body had been buried two days after his murder, and would conduct a search in the Sonora State Police's database for any information. Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever would not comment on this development. Also there were new details about Robert Krent'z dog Blue, who was with Krentz at the time of his murder...more

Honor Rob Krentz by strengthening border security efforts

One year ago on March 27, the son of Southern Arizona pioneers who lived and worked on land his family has ranched since territorial days was found murdered about 20 miles north of the international border. Rob Krentz was a true son of the American West—a rugged individualist who worked hard and loved his country. Sadly, he was a victim of our nation's failure to secure the border not far from his land. Evidence suggests the crime was committed by a drug smuggler who fled to Mexico. This individual remains at large and Arizona remains the main point for illegal drugs and immigrants entering this country. As part of the congresswoman's continued attention to border security, this week our office invited Congressman Ted Poe of Texas, a member of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, to come to Southern Arizona. Poe toured the border and met with ranchers—including Krentz's widow—to discuss their concerns. High among them are ways to address a major concern to our rural communities: a lack of reliable communications in isolated areas. Congressman Poe is working closely with Giffords' office on legislation to allow governments and organizations to apply for funds to extend mobile communications services into the ranchlands along the border. While smugglers have satellite phones that allow them to monitor Border Patrol movement, our law enforcement agencies are unable to communicate with each other effectively. In large areas they cannot get a radio or cell phone signal. Ranchers are unable to alert law enforcement when they see illegal activity. As was tragically the case in the murder of Krentz, the lack of reliable signals creates a significant safety problem for people who live and work along the border...more

The murder of rancher Robert Krentz: One year later

It's been one year since 58-year-old Cochise County rancher Robert Krentz was murdered, but to his friends it sometimes feels like yesterday. "It should've never happened," Roger Barnett told 9 On Your Side reporter Jessica Chapin, "It was a shock and it still is a shock." Barnett lives just 10 miles from the Krentz ranch. It was just miles from where police found Krentz dead one year ago. He'd called home to tell his family he had encountered an illegal immigrant, but never came home. Krentz' body was on his ATV which was still running. His dog Blue had also been shot and killed. Investigators found shoe prints near the scene and tracked the trail one mile south of the border until it went cold. "When it first happened I thought within a couple months, three months at the most they'd have this guy in jail," said Barnett. But, the Cochise County Sheriff's Office has no suspects or arrests. Investigators have one person of interest they identified last June, but they are still working to find Krentz's killer. Meanwhile, the murder has sparked a national border security debate. An issue Barnett says has also made little progress...more

Restore Our Border

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the murder of Arizona rancher Rob Krentz by an illegal alien. His death was especially shocking because Krentz had no involvement with the illicit traffic across our border with Mexico — previously, the violence had been almost completely confined to, for instance, illegal aliens held for ransom by their smugglers, or drug dealers fighting over their contraband, or law-enforcement officers upholding the laws of the United States. But Krentz was just an ordinary rancher who happened to be in the path of the increasingly dangerous flows across our border. His murder has had far-reaching effects. Though the legislation was already in the works, the killing helped impel the passage of SB 1070, Arizona’s landmark anti-illegal-immigration measure, which, in turn, led to the infamous Justice Department lawsuit against Arizona. This increased danger has led to perhaps the most interesting development in the year since Krentz was murdered: his fellow ranchers have gotten organized in demanding real border control. Before March 27, the Arizona Cattlemen’s Association was just a trade group like any other — representing the interests of the state’s beef-producing families to the legislature, litigating water rights, running quality-certification programs, etc. But with the murder of one of its own last spring, the organization put together the Restore Our Border (R.O.B.) plan, named after Krentz and designed to prevent similar outrages against their members and other Arizonans. The cattlemen lobbied the legislature, and a resolution endorsing the plan was passed by the state senate last month and is now before the house...more

The Perilous Intersection of Mexico’s Drug War & Pemex

The stillness of early Sunday morning December 19, 2010 was shattered by a thunderous explosion. Residents across San Martin Texmelucan, a small town about 60 miles from Mexico City, were awakened to the latest, and one of the most deadly incidents, involving possible fuel theft at Pemex, Mexico’s national oil company. Many were more than just jolted awake: Over 100 homes were damaged or completely destroyed; 30 people perished and more than 50 were injured. It was a national calamity for a nation and state oil firm that sorely did not need it. Explosions, shootouts, deaths and violence have been increasingly seared into the collective minds of citizens in Mexico and the United States as the drug war persists. The battles between the government and competing cartels have been well-documented and the topic has coursed through the agenda of a series of high-level bilateral meetings between the two nations, most recently during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to Mexico. But what has also percolated just below the surface is an alarming intersection between the drug violence and Mexico’s energy sector. For Mexico and Pemex, the increased intensity of the drug war and its damage is but the latest in a string of challenges, and a twist that has seemingly linked two previously unconnected drags on the nation...more

The article, from the Journal of Energy Security, continues:

The interconnection of oil and nationalism in Mexico is historic and constitutional. Indeed, the Mexican Constitution sets forth the basic facts that President Lázaro Cárdenas emphasized during the nationalization period of the 1930’s: “The nation is the only owner of the all the hydrocarbons reserves and production”; that “licensing and concessions are prohibited”; and that “Pemex is the nation’s operator and controls the first-hand sales and must not share revenues, production or reserves.” This fundamental political reality continues to affect development of the nation’s huge oil resource potential by restricting private—particularly foreign—investment. It has been said that in Mexico, oil is not merely a chemical compound but rather a fundamental element of sovereignty—a part of the national DNA. The story is well known but worth repeating: Oil is an essential part of the national treasury. Though diminished in relative terms for Mexico’s economy, oil still generates over 15 percent of current export earnings. Moreover, Pemex, due to its onerous fiscal and tax regime, accounts for about 40 percent of the government’s budget...As discussed previously, oil theft from Pemex pipelines, money laundering by way of service stations, and, worst of all, provocative kidnappings of the company’s executives and those of service companies working with the state firm, are all on the rise. Unofficial figures place thefts from the Pemex network at roughly $2 billion annually. And security experts point to this as an important source of revenue for drug cartels—especially as the Mexican government continues to crack down on them. Thefts from the Pemex network are not new, but the increase and the strain it is placing on the already-taxed company is important. And the illegal tapping has grown significantly in the areas where the drug war is the most pervasive. The spike in fuel thefts and illegal trading, as well as kidnappings, has led some to question whether Pemex is fully in charge of all its facilities across the nation. For some experts following the situation, the answer is a resounding no. Indeed, many analysts indicate that the physical security and monitoring of pipelines belonging to Pemex are severely lacking. According to Mexican daily El Universal, oil looting has occurred in almost every state in Mexico, while the Wall Street Journal, citing Pemex statistics, indicated that between January and November 2010, Pemex discovered 614 illegal siphons—368 in liquid fuels pipelines, 196 in oil pipelines, and 50 in liquefied petroleum gas ducts...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Socially disadvantaged cowboys
by Julie Carter

The headline read: USDA Introduces an Online Tool to Assist Beginning and Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers.

I just couldn't let it go. I had to write the USDA office and inquire about a specific clarity as to the meaning of "socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers." 

I was fairly certain the USDA's definition and mine weren't at all similar.

Kindly, it was explained to me that "Socially Disadvantaged" is a term that means they belong to one of the protected groups such as Native American, woman, African American, etc. It is actually a term that is written into law by congress.

Behind the scenes in the government office, the joke is that it means, "they can't dance."
While I realize that particular skill is certainly lacking among many in the cowboy set, I didn't exactly have it on my "socially disadvantaged" list. 

I suggest to you that dancing is more of an athletic event requiring timing, rhythm and an ear for a musical beat. The social aspect of it takes place around the dance floor with said cowboy leaning up against the bar holding a cold long-neck, or around the pool table where looking cool is as important as sinking the 8-ball at the right time.

I believe that the social disadvantage for most cowboys is not so much in what they can or can't do, but more powerfully in what they say. They have an uncanny skill for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person. 

Last summer, the wife had used a shovel to kill three rattlesnakes on the road to ranch headquarters. Deciding she preferred a garden hoe as her weapon of choice, she dug around in the shop until she found one. However, she quickly realized it was as dull as a politician and not in "snake-killing shape."

She went on to the house where her rancher husband was settled in for the evening. "Any idea where I can find a sharp hoe?" she asked.

Barely looking up for the newspaper he was reading, he replied with a completely straight face, "Not in this town." 

Not so long ago ranchers in the area were spending daylight past dark breaking ice and thawing out frozen pipelines in order to keep the livestock watered.

One willing ranch wife decided to pitch in and help with the thawing job on a water line that ran from the float box to the trough. 

Out in an open, treeless pasture, the pair built a cow manure fire along the 8-feet of line. Two hours later the water ran free making the cows and the cowboy happy.

Not able to leave well enough alone and possibly thinking an ornery grin would buy forgiveness he set his social skills aside. 

As they walked from the pickup to the house, the cowboy dutifully mentioned to his bride that she "smelled like a burning cow turd." 

Not many days later, she had just mopped the kitchen floor as he and the kids came tromping through from the muddy corrals. No one bothered to stop and pull off their over boots, leaving muddy tracks as clear-cut evidence.

"I just mopped and waxed this floor," she said in disgust and despair.

With his notoriety in witty comebacks, the cowboy retorted, "Good. Your mop must still be handy then."

Any long-range thinking about consequences had completely missed the moment. That, my friends, is case and point for the socially disadvantaged cowboy.

Julie can be reached for comment at Visit her website at .