Thursday, May 12, 2011

Blogger Down

Blogger.com was down most of the night, but here's what I had time to post.

Song Of The Day #575

Ranch Radio's song today goes out to Julie Carter for all her work with the youth of Lincoln County, especially her work with and coverage of youth rodeo.

Here's also hoping Julie enjoys her new environs.

The tune is Steer Rider's Blues by Corb Lund. The song is on his 12 track CD Losin' Lately Gambler.

Bear captured in Belen

Officials captured a 120 pound bear that wandered into the streets of Belen Wednesday. New Mexico Game and Fish officials say it took about two hours to find the bear after it ended up climbing a tree off Camino del Llano and Mesa. The bear will be taken to the Manzano Mountains where it will be released.

Here's the KOB-TV report:

Mountain Lion Shot and Killed in Downtown El Paso

The mountain lion was first spotted in a downtown parking garage. That's where it was first tranquilized, but the chase was far from over. Before being trapped inside H & H's security gates someone spotted the lion inside this downtown parking garage. That's where a state veterinarian shot it with a tranquilizer dart.
But before the dart could take effect the lion jumped out of the garage onto the street and the wild chase was on again. This time it headed straight for Saint Clements School. We spoke with Martin Munoz, the school's security guard, "Everybody was screaming," he said, "That's all I could do I ran and hugged like 3 or 4 of them and by the time I looked I saw the lion jumping over ." From there the lion came face to face with this man. Witnesses told us it pounced his legs, jumped over his head and ran right into the car wash. As employees, scattered authorities lowered the gates. For nearly an hour the animal wandered around as they waited for the tranquilizer to take effect. When the lion didn't seem slow, the state veterinarian got another dart ready...more

Wyoming prepared to enter wilderness lawsuit

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead says the state will join a federal lawsuit that Utah filed recently over an Obama administration plan to make millions of acres of undeveloped land in the West eligible for federal wilderness protection. Mead said Wednesday he's told Interior Secretary Ken Salazar he has concerns with the so-called "wild lands" policy. Mead says the policy would leave it up to the Interior Department to make wilderness designations on federal lands without congressional oversight or local involvement. The federal policy would restore eligibility for wilderness protection to millions of acres of public lands. It would reverse a Bush-era policy that opened some Western lands to development. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said last month when he filed the lawsuit that he hoped other western states would get involved. AP

At the (new) old trading post: The Old West meets the information age

The trading post is an icon of the American West: The hand-built wooden structure nestled among hills, or standing alone at a wide spot in the road, a place where American Indians could trade their wares for food, household items or weapons. Some of those icons still stand on the Navajo Nation and surrounding areas, and a handful still operate much as they did more than 100 years ago. A newer method of marketing, however, has taken some traders by storm, changing forever the way trading posts — historically operated by non-natives — and traders view commerce. For a population whose traditional livelihood centered on herding sheep and weaving rugs, Internet-based business can be a blessing or a curse. And for those who embrace it, the whole world is literally at their fingertips as the global community shrinks and becomes more accessible...Located at the end of a dirt road 13 miles off the beaten path, the century-old trading post still sees a steady stream of customers. Housed in the original building, which opened in 1909, owner Mark Winter operates the trading post much as his predecessors did. He accepts rugs from a limited population of Navajo weavers and offers, in exchange, cash or store credit. Winter, who took over the lease at the trading post in 1997, buys rugs from between 150 and 175 weavers, all of whom live within 12 miles of the trading post and have local ancestry, he said. About a quarter of his customers don't speak any English. Saddles hang from the ceiling inside the main room, and groceries and cigarettes line the shelves behind the cash register. Additional rooms are filled with jewelry, dolls and piles of hand-woven rugs. But Winter doesn't conduct all his business inside the store...more

N.H. town warns of bear sightings

Residents of Merrimack, N.H., be warned: You have some new neighbors in town, and they might not be as friendly as they look. At least seven black bears have been spotted in the northwestern section of Merrimack in the past two weeks, and authorities have received at least 15 bear-related calls since the weekend, said police Lieutenant Denise Roy. The bears have been ripping through garbage, snatching bird feeders, and even venturing close to a school. A few days ago, a bear came close to Mastricola Upper Elementary School, Fraser said. School officials were instructed to keep the students inside for the day...more

Interior Dept. strikes deal to clear backlog on endangered species listings

The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it will clear a decades-long backlog of petitions for the endangered species list, agreeing to decide within six years whether 251 species deserve federal protection. The settlement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and WildEarth Guardians is a partial truce in the long-running battle between left-leaning environmental groups and Fish and Wildlife Service officials, who say they lack the resources to add all the plants and animals that deserve protection to the federal endangered species list. It could pave the way for an avalanche of new listings under the Endangered Species Act, though it also limits the number of species that the wildlife group can petition to list. Under the agency’s work plan, which it filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia as part of its settlement, officials will decide whether to add to the endangered list 251 species that are now classified as “warranted but precluded” from the list. Frazer emphasized that many of the 251 species will end up being listed. “It’s likely that the majority of the species on the 2010 list will be proposed for endangered species protection,” he said...more

‘Barbarism of Al Qaeda Has Nothing On These Mexican Cartels,’ Says Texas Safety Official

Steven McGraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told a House panel Wednesday that the “barbarism” of the Mexican drug cartels is worse than that of the radical Islamist terror group Al Qaeda. “International terrorists engage in organized crime to support their terrorist activities,” said McGraw, “whereas the Mexican cartels are now engaging in terrorist activities to support their criminal enterprises and organized crime activities -- and the barbarism of al Qaeda has nothing on these Mexican cartels.” "They're involved in kidnappings, extortions, murders," he said. "They've butchered 36,000 Mexican nationals and some American citizens." McGraw testified at a hearing of the House Homeland Security Oversight, Investigation, and Management Subcommittee. “We see four of our gangs that are operating directly with the cartels in supporting their hit squads and, by the way, there are hit squad members of the cartels living in Texas -- when we see that, we’re obviously concerned,” said McGraw. Since January of last year, McGraw’s department has identified 22 murders, 24 assaults, 15 shootings, and five kidnappings directly related to the cartels...more

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Greener Pastures

Has anyone stopped to think of what the world would be like if the environmentalists were in charge? For a glimpse of our eco-future, look to America's farms, where tractors are being replaced by oxen. Yes, that's right: oxen, those large bovines, primarily steers (which are castrated bulls) that are taught to work and are often seen yoked together in pairs. On rare occasions, they come in blue and show up in tales about big lumberjacks. Oxen were once common on the American farm. But they've been replaced by tractors and other modern machinery. Rising fuel prices, however, are prompting some farmers to park their equipment and resort to animal labor just as their ancestors once did — and Third World farmers do now. A feel-good story in London's Daily Mail this week briefly chronicles the plight of a Wisconsin farm couple. Faced with "soaring petrol prices," they "took the bull by the horns" and dumped their "tractors, hay baler, plough and rotavator" in favor of oxen. They were taught how to farm with the plodding beasts by Dick Roosenberg, a "former peace core volunteer." And where did he learn the oxen trade? Africa. This appalling and tragic regression to a method used in destitute nations is the direct result of our government's energy policy. If, for whatever reasons, farmers want to return to employing oxen, or any other beast of burden, they are free to do so. But they should never be forced to because Washington is dismantling centuries of technological progress by rigging the energy market...more

Boulder County youths sue state over climate change

An 11-year-old boy whose Gold Hill neighborhood burned in the Fourmile Fire has joined with a friend afraid of losing favorite hiking trails and an 18-year-old student with a growing asthmatic condition in a lawsuit against the state for failing to protect the environment. "Our children and our children's children will suffer the harms and losses caused by the state's lack of necessary action," states the lawsuit, filed with the help of parents and legal experts in Boulder County District Court last week. "A failure to immediately take action to protect and preserve the earth's climate will cause irreparable harm to plaintiffs." The lawsuit is part of a coordinated youth effort to sue government leaders or file administrative actions in all 50 states. A nationwide team of legal experts has been assembled through the nonprofit organization Our Children's Trust to represent the young people in their lawsuits. The goal is to "force action on climate change" in all 50 states, translating to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and implementation of reforestation programs, according to the lawsuit. A gathering of thousands of young people is planned in Denver on Saturday, one of dozens of marches around the world to raise awareness of global warming...more

Study finds methane in wells near natural gas drilling

A controversial form of drilling for natural gas from shale rock appears to be contaminating groundwater wells with methane in northeastern Pennsylvania and Upstate New York, according to a Duke University study. Researchers tested 60 wells last year for methane and found that 13 of the 26 wells within a kilometer of "hydrofracking" sites had elevated methane levels, some to the point where the water could catch fire. Such levels were found in only one of the 34 wells beyond a kilometer of such drilling, according to study co-author Robert Jackson. "I was extremely surprised. We did not expect to find so many houses with high methane concentrations near gas wells," said Jackson, an environmental science professor at Duke University. "It's pretty hard to explain away."...more

NM regulators uphold 'outstanding waters' decision

New Mexico regulators have turned down a request by a ranchers group to stay a sweeping water protection measure approved last fall. The "outstanding waters" designation guarantees special protection for rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands in federal wilderness areas across the state by prohibiting any activities that would degrade water quality. The New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association had argued the designation was too broad and could result in lawsuits over grazing on public forest lands. The Water Quality Control Commission dismissed the group's petition for a stay during a meeting Tuesday. Proponents of the designation say it provides a sense of water security in a time of persistent drought and climate changes. Before the designation, state officials said New Mexico had lagged behind other Western states in protecting water sources. AP

Montana rancher kills grizzly that attacked sheep

State wildlife officials say a Fairfield-area rancher shot and killed one of two grizzly bears that were killing sheep in a pen about 150 feet from his home. Rick Christy tells the Great Falls Tribune the bears killed or fatally wounded nine sheep, including ewes and a lamb, on his ranch on the Sun River Tuesday morning. State and federal wildlife officials plan to try to trap the other bear, believed to be a sibling. Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear management specialist Mike Madel says the subadult bears were unmarked, meaning they had not been captured before and likely have no history of livestock depredation. He says if wildlife agents capture the second bear, they likely will try to relocate it. Christy estimated his losses at $1,800 to $2,000. AP

Wildlife Commission opposes artist Christo's project

The Colorado Wildlife Commission has seen enough. As far as the nine voting members of the commission are concerned, it's hasta la vista for "Over the River." With a bold, decisive stroke of the pen, the Wildlife Commission, which is charged with protecting, preserving and enhancing the wildlife and wildlife habitat in Colorado, stands unanimously opposed to the controversial landscape art project known as "Over the River" proposed by Belgian artist Christo. After listening to measures proposed to minimize impacts to wildlife that were created by the grandiose art project, the governor-appointed commission drafted a letter to Colorado's Bureau of Land Management director stating that it "opposes the Over the River project and any approval or permitting of the project by the BLM or any other jurisdiction." About 13 years into the artist's $50 million plan to temporarily suspend 5.9 miles of translucent fabric above the Arkansas River between Salida and CaƱon City, the opposition of the Wildlife Commission represents the largest stumbling block for the project to date...more

Human Ecology Mapping and “All-Lands” Conservation

U. S. Forest Service social scientist Lee Cerveny has carved out a special niche in the world of research. While her colleagues go into national forests and other protected areas to study things like trees and wildlife, she enters these natural environments to study humans – how they interact with and use a range of sites and resources. Her research is in keeping with Secretary Vilsack’s “all-lands” concept of resource management. She recently launched the Human Ecology Mapping Project, a multi-year study to understand and map human activities and values in the forests of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Using a Web-based mapping tool and a series of community workshops, the mapping project will identify and display the diversity of recreation, cultural, historical, and economic connections held by a variety of agencies, tribes, resource users, and residents. The maps are digitized and analyzed using GIS tools to reveal existing patterns, such as high-intensity sites, areas of overlapping use indicating potential for resource conflict, and treasured places with barriers to access...more

"Life on the Range" project wins top prize for media campaign

The "Life on the Range" educational project sponsored by the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission received First Place honors in the Public Relations - Media Campaign division of the Idaho Press Club 2011 awards. The awards were unveiled Saturday night, May 7, at the Boise Centre in downtown Boise. Life on the Range (www.lifeontherange.org) is an ongoing educational project that showcases stories about the ever-changing landscape of ranching, multiple-use management, entrepreneurial spirit, family and stewardship on Idaho's rangelands. Steve Stuebner, a public relations and marketing professional in Boise, manages the multi-media campaign, social media sites, and writes the video scripts and feature stories on the web site. Gretchen Hyde, executive director of the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission, oversees the project direction, and helps Steve select the stories to be covered. Marc Morris of Avitamarc Productions directs and edits the videos. Justin Yonk created and designed the Life on the Range web site from scratch. Life on the Range currently features seven stories on the web site, and the project team expects to add many new stories throughout 2011 and beyond. To see the stories, go to http://www.lifeontherange.org/. Life on the Range also is on Facebook and twitter...more

Henrietta King was the matriarch of King Ranch

Henrietta Chamberlain, a Presbyterian preacher's daughter, married rancher Richard King in 1854. She bore him five children at two-year intervals in the late 1850s and early 1860s. The last child, Robert E. Lee King — known as "Lee" — was considered his parents' favorite. "Lee" died in St. Louis of pneumonia in 1883. He was 19. Richard King started drinking his favorite bourbon, "Old Rosebud," heavily after that and Henrietta stayed in St. Louis, perhaps to be away from King in his cups. Some years later she would give strict orders that no liquor could be sold on King Ranch or in the town of Kingsville. During Richard King's Rosebud years, daughter Alice Gertrudis stayed at the ranch to look after her father. King was in bad health in 1885 and the whiskey didn't help his growing stomach pains. Henrietta returned home to persuade him to go to San Antonio for treatment. Before he left the ranch, King's last instructions to his lawyer, James B. Wells, was to keep buying land and never sell a foot of "dear old Santa Gertrudis." King died at the Menger Hotel on April 14, 1885. He was 61. Most of the family was there, by his bedside, along with Mifflin Kenedy, who had just buried his wife Petra. The eulogy of an old trail hand who had worked for King summed up the cattleman: "He was a rough man, but he was a good man. I never knew a rougher man nor a better man."
King left the ranch to Henrietta. He started with 15,000 acres and kept buying land until he owned 614,000 acres. He also left a debt of $500,000. She took over management of the ranch, with the help of Robert J. Kleberg, who would marry Alice Gertrudis King the following year...more

Song Of The Day #574

As Ranch Radio keeps riding across the musical landscape we offer a cajun tune we like: Sue by Michael Doucet. The song is on his 20 track CD Le Hoogie Boogie: Louisiana French Music For Children.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Enviro long knives out for Pearce

The Great Emancipator
We finally have a Congressman who sides with the well-being of humans over habitat for wolves & lizards and Kevin Bixby just can't stand it.

The enviros have been using the ESA as a land use planning tool for decades. Pearce is trying to put a stop to that nonsense and based on his column in today's Sun-News, Bixby is one unhappy envirocrat.

The WW II bombers pilots have a saying, “When you experience flak, it means you’re over the target!”

I'd say you're on target Mr. Peace.

Emancipate us from the environmental agenda.

Don’t endanger the economic life of New Mexico

Sadly most New Mexicans do not know how critical the oil and gas industry is to the economic health of our state. Currently 16 percent of the state’s revenue comes directly from the oil and gas business. Another 11 percent comes from interest on the permanent fund, which is filled with moneys from oil and gas sales. These figures do not include corporate income tax from oil companies, sales tax on equipment purchases for the oil fields, or income tax on the 23,000 individuals directly employed in the oil and gas industry. Whether we like it or not, this state’s economic health is dependent upon oil and gas operations more than any other activity. Today this critical revenue source is in jeopardy because there is a concerted effort to have the sand dune lizard (Sceloporus arnicolus) listed as an endangered species. This lizard has a very limited habitat. Unfortunately for New Mexico, the habitat is smack-dab in the middle of the oil operations of Southeastern New Mexico...more

State Rep. Dennis Kintigh, in reviewing a UNM report, found the following:
Curiously, the data reveals the population levels for areas with wells in 1997 were higher than the population levels in 1996 for areas where wells were absent. The population increased 2.4 times for the area with wells between 1996 and 1997, yet only increased by only 1.6 times in those areas where wells were absent. I could find no explanation for this glaring contradiction of the advocate’s petition.

Fire threatens Mayhill

The U.S. Forest Service, New Mexico State Forestry and local volunteer fire departments continued to fight the Mayhill Fire that started around 1:30 p.m. Monday. Fire crews are expected to be battling the fire throughout the night and into this morning. Mayhill residents were evacuated from the area. A temporary shelter is set up at Cloudcroft High School for residents seeking shelter Monday night. New Mexico State Forestry spokesman Dan Ware said the fire started on U.S. Highway 82 about two miles west of Mayhill. Ware said three structures have been destroyed in the fire. U.S. Highway 82 is closed between Cloudcroft and Mayhill. The fire is on private, state and federal lands, Ware said. U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman LaDawn Saxton said the fire has burned about 2,000 acres of vegetation in the area...more

Miller Fire forces more residents to evacuate

James Huntington, who lives out in the Gila Cliff Dwellings area, said when he saw smoke from the Miller Fire begin to fill the valley in which he lives, he knew it was time to go. By then, Grant County sheriff's deputies had started going door to door in the communities of Gila Hot Springs, Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and Visitor Center, advising them to leave as the Miller Fire continued to burn in their direction. The Grant County Business and Conference Center in Silver City has been opened as an emergency shelter where Huntington had taken refuge Monday afternoon. As of Monday afternoon, the Miller Fire, which was first reported on April 28, had burned 32,960 acres, according to the Gila Wilderness Ranger District. A red flag warning was put in effect at 11 a.m. Monday and was expected to continue to 10 p.m. The warning calls for gusty winds, low humidity and high temperatures. It is considered "human caused" by the ranger district...more

Editorial: New park snowmobile plan is too restrictive

Since 2000, the National Park Service has come out with five different plans to manage winter use of Yellowstone National Park. The agency needs to try yet again. Under the latest proposal released last week, the Park Service wants to allow between 110 and 330 snowmobiles per day in the park, along with between 30 and 80 snow coaches. That’s a dramatic drop from historical winter use of our first national park. In addition, all snowmobilers would still be required to arrange for guides, and snow coaches for the first time would be required to install engines that emit less pollution. There are two problems with the plan. First, the numbers are way too low. A limit of 720 snowmobiles and 80 snow coaches a day is much more reasonable and would provide the proper balance between protecting the natural wonders of Yellowstone and allowing the public to experience them in winter. Second, the variable nature of the Park Service plan is problematic. The stated intent for varying the number of snow machines in the park is to provide a more peaceful experience on certain days for people who ski and snowshoe. But the plan would create significant uncertainty for park visitors and the businesses that serve them. Snowmobiles have been used in Yellowstone since 1963, allowing tens of thousands of people each year to visit the park that is largely inaccessible during winter. At one time, as many as 1,400 snowmobiles were allowed in the park daily...more

Montana sued for letting Yellowstone bison roam

A Park County livestock owners group filed a lawsuit Friday seeking to stop Yellowstone National Park bison from roaming freely into parts of Montana. The Park County Stockgrowers Association filed the suit in state District Court. It challenges a recent decision by state and federal agencies to allow hundreds of bison into the Gardiner Basin - a 75,000-acre area where the animals had been prohibited for decades over disease concerns. The lawsuit says a thorough environmental study should have been done before that ban was lifted for the first time this spring. Many bison carry brucellosis, which causes pregnant animals, including cattle, to prematurely abort. Over the last two decades, thousands of bison leaving the park during their winter migration have been shot or shipped to slaughter to prevent disease transmissions. But this year, state and federal officials said prior restrictions on bison were no longer needed because few livestock remain in the Gardiner basin and federal rules on brucellosis have recently been eased...more

Texas drought threatens cattle ranchers' livelihood

It's auction day at the West Cattle Barn in central Texas, reports CBS News correspondent Don Teague. For 74-year-old rancher Cotton Dietrich, this will be his last. Deitrich is selling off his herd -- all of his cattle -- because the once-fertile grasslands that feed them are gone. Three-quarters of Texas is in extreme or exceptional drought. Lubbock has had less than an inch of rain this year. Houston has had just over an inch-and-a-half in three months -- about the same as the Sahara desert. Wildfires are ravaging the tinder dry landscape, scorching more than two million acres since January. To make matters worse, this is typically the Texas rainy season. "We should be seeing rainfall, so if we don't get rainfall in the next several months, the impact is going to be devastating," said Victor Murphy, meteorologist at the National Weather Service. For Dietrich and thousands of ranchers across Texas, the only choice is to sell their herds or go broke trying to feed them...more

Keeping the tradition alive

Certain things in some industries just don’t change with time and technology. Take ranching, for example. It takes bigger and more efficient equipment these days, and it takes a bigger herd to support a family than it did a hundred years ago. Not to mention the image of a rancher with a cell phone — an unimaginable thing until recently. But one of the things that hasn’t changed is branding. The idea of using a hot iron to put a brand on cattle evokes mixed feelings in those not familiar with the process of ranching, JT Nunn, owner of the Red Mountain Ranch, said. Branding livestock to mark ownership has existed since prehistoric times and it remains a necessity — it’s visible, it’s hard to alter and it’s required by law. Branding remains one aspect of ranching that hasn’t been affected by the ever-changing technology. “If there was a better technology that was a permanent form of identification, we would use it, but you can put chips in them, you can put tags in them, but all those things can be removed,” Nunn said. Electronic means of identification aren’t feasible ways to identify hundreds of cattle in the middle of the pasture, he added...more

Song Of The Day #572

Ranch Radio will be riding all over the musical landscape this week.

First up is Banjo Dan & The Mid-Nite Plowboys performing Old-Fangled Rag.

I'm sure some of you listeners will relate to what they're saying.

The tune is on their 14 track CD Fire In The Sugarhouse.

Monday, May 09, 2011

TSA looking for "Poop Bombs"

Wilderness Bills Proliferate as Promoters Hope to Break 2-Year Drought

Conservationists are working to build support for more than a dozen wilderness bills introduced in Congress that would provide the highest level of protections to more than 1.5 million acres in seven states. The bills, two of which were included in a failed last-gasp public lands package last December, represent unfinished business for wilderness supporters who lobbied hard for their passage during the last Congress. Proponents say they hope the bills can pass the 112th Congress despite lingering skepticism from Republicans who now control key committees in the House. While the political terrain has changed, wilderness has a history of bipartisan and local support, proponents say. For example, four of the newly introduced bills come from Republicans, three of whom chair their own panels. But most of the bills will face an upward climb in the House, where leaders of the Natural Resources Committee say certain criteria must be met before they can support new wilderness. "I'm not opposed to creating wilderness per se, but I want to make sure that first of all it has the consent of local elected officials as well as the members of Congress from that area," said Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), chairman the House National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee, which reviews wilderness proposals. Wilderness bills also should not create economic hardship or endanger private property, he added. Bishop warned that the Interior Department's new "wild lands" order to evaluate and consider protections for roadless lands could be a "stumbling block" for efforts to create permanent wilderness. The policy was defunded this month as part of Congress' continuing resolution, and opponents have vowed to strip funding again in the 2012 budget...more

Bill to protect desert backed by once-fierce foes

In 1994, a rookie lawmaker named Dianne Feinstein pushed through the largest national parks and wilderness bill ever - by a single vote on the last day before Republicans took control of Congress - protecting 8.5 million acres of the California desert against the wishes of many who lived there. Seventeen years later, many of those who warned that the California Desert Protection Act would sacrifice their way of life to an environmentalist utopia have changed sides, becoming allies in Feinstein's quest to create one of the biggest environmental legacies in California history: a new bill to protect 1.165 million more acres ringing the national parks at Death Valley and Joshua Tree and the Mojave National Preserve. With Republicans again in control of the House, Feinstein's former foes now count on her to protect their off-road vehicle playgrounds and block efforts to build giant solar plants in the desert. "There has been a 180-degree turnabout in perception and attitude," said Gerald Freeman, owner of the Nipton Hotel near the Mojave Preserve. Freeman said tourism and a national park "prestige factor" has replaced the view that "environmentalists have stolen our land." Feinstein would give off-road vehicle users their first-ever congressionally protected playgrounds. She has convinced the Marine Corps to share the land it wants with off-roaders for 10 months of the year. Some of Feinstein's fiercest former local foes now revile the prospect of solar projects allowed on "multiple use" land...more

Enviros Slam Gray Wolf Delisting As Unconstitutional

Environmental groups filed suits Thursday in Montana alleging that a congressional rider requiring removal of Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains violated the constitutional separation of powers. The rider, attached to a federal budget bill last month by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, is unconstitutional because it influences pending litigation without changing underlying law, and because it provides that wolf delisting shall not be subject to judicial review, according to one suit from the Center for Biological Diversity and another from Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians. The suits will be heard by U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy, who restored ESA protections for northern Rocky Mountain wolves in August after they were delisted the first time around...more

Did that headline make you do a double take?

Your monthly gasoline bill: $368

Round-trip airfare from New York to Los Angeles. More than a dozen dinners for two at Applebee's. Two 16 GB iPod nanos. These are just a few of the things you could have bought if you weren't spending $368.09 a month on gasoline. That's the average amount American households spent on gas in April, according to an exclusive analysis of data by the Oil Price Information Service for CNNMoney. The study, which compared average gas prices with median incomes nationwide, also showed that U.S. households spent nearly 9% of their total income on gas last month. That's more than double what the average American family spent just two years ago, when gas prices were hovering around $2.05 a gallon. "Gas prices have just skyrocketed," said Fred Rozell, director of retail pricing at OPIS. After surging nearly 30% this year, the national average price for regular gasoline is less than 2 cents away from $4 a gallon. That's still below the all-time high of $4.114, but prices in many parts of the country have already risen to new records well above that level...more

Gas prices will stay high until U.S. stops dreaming and starts drilling

Remember when you were a kid and your mother told you to eat your brussels sprouts because "they're good for you." That's exactly the attitude we get today from President Obama, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar concerning high gas prices. This is no surprise, of course, because Obama clearly said during the 2008 presidential campaign that his environmental programs would cause energy prices to "necessarily skyrocket." And today, as millions of Americans struggle to make ends meet while gas prices reach and exceed $4 per gallon, Obama shrugs his shoulders and claims there's no "magic bullet" to restore reasonable energy costs, while telling a father with a family of 10 that he should buy a "hybrid minivan," which doesn't yet exist. But magic isn't required to make energy costs come down. The last time gas prices hit $4 per gallon was when President Bush was in office. Oil prices were at record highs of nearly $150 per barrel. But the day Bush signed an executive order allowing increased U.S. offshore oil and natural gas drilling, the price of oil plummeted and gas prices at the pump soon followed suit. Obama could do the same thing today with the stroke of a pen on an executive order, or by picking up the phone and calling Salazar and Chu. It is therefore vitally important for Americans to understand why Obama, Salazar and Chu won't act to bring energy prices down. They believe Americans must endure the pain of high gas prices in order to force us to stop using oil and instead use "clean" energy. To that end, Obama has sent billions of tax dollars to subsidize wind, solar, biomass and other energy, but his own Energy Information Agency projects that it will be two to three decades before such resources will be available in sufficient quantities to replace significant portions of energy generated using conventional fuels...more

House panel questions future of U.S. biofuel use

A House committee questioned the slow development of advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol. In 2007, Congress required the nation to use 21 billion gallons of advanced biofuels by 2022 — including 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol and at least 1 billion gallons of bio-diesel. But the Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 and this year had to "substantially reduce" requirements because of "limited production capacity," said Margo Oge, director of the EPA's office of air and radiation. The targets set by Congress were 100 million gallons for 2010 and 250 million for 2011; EPA reduced them to 6.5 million gallon for both years. Many government-supported cellulosic biorefineries have been stalled, in or delayed, including a project in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. In March, President Barack Obama called for four new cellulosic ethanol refineries by 2013 as part of a strategy for cutting the nation's imported oil use by one third by 2025 from 2008 levels. Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., questioned why more progress hasn't been made on cellulosic ethanol. "In the last five years it doesn't seem like we've made a lot of progress," I would have expected mass production by now," he asked. "What's the hold up? What's the problem?" At the same time, corn-based ethanol production and government subsidies have come under attack by some in Congress and others who argue that diverting so much corn into gas tanks raises food prices and feed prices for livestock. Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Kent Conrad, D-N.D., introduced a bill Wednesday that "would reduce significantly tax incentives for ethanol," they said...more

But never fear, the deep thinkers in the Obama administration keep plowing a crooked furrow with our tax dollars, hoping to harvest green votes.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the establishment of the first Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Area to promote the production of dedicated feedstocks for bioenergy. This project will help spur the development of next-generation biofuels and is part of Obama Administration efforts to protect Americans from rising gas prices by breaking the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. The program provides an opportunity for teams of crop producers and bioenergy facilities to submit proposals to USDA to be selected as a BCAP project area. If selected, crop producers will be eligible for reimbursements of up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing a bioenergy perennial crop, and can receive up to five years of annual payments for grassy crops (annual or perennial), and up to 15 years of annual payments for woody crops (annual or perennial). Bioenergy facilities are those facilities that produce heat, power, biobased products, or advanced biofuels from biomass feedstocks...Press Release
BCAP is a creature of the 2008 Farm Bill, which Congress passed by overriding Bush's veto.

New warning of poisonous chemicals in natural gas 'hydrofracking'

Chemicals used to extract natural gas from vast areas of the United States include “extremely toxic substances, such as benzene and lead,” according to a new report released by members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Twenty-nine of the chemicals are known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act for risks to human health or listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act, according to the report. “This report shows that these companies are injecting millions of gallons of products that contain potentially hazardous chemicals, including known carcinogens,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D) of California, senior Democrat on the committee. Oil and gas industry officials deny that hydraulic fracturing – known as “hydrofracking” – is a threat to the environment or public health. "This report uses the same sleight of hand deployed in the last report on diesel use – it compiles overall product volumes, not the volumes of the hazardous chemicals contained within those products," Matt Armstrong, an attorney representing companies involved in natural gas drilling, told the New York Times. "This generates big numbers but provides no context for the use of these chemicals over the many thousands of frac jobs that were conducted within the timeframe of the report." Still, this latest evidence seems likely to accelerate study and possibly regulation of an industrial technique that has become increasingly controversial, particularly through the 2010 documentary film “Gasland.”...more

Governor expands area to keep out commercial wind farms

Gov. Sam Brownback on Friday announced a plan that he said would protect the tallgrass prairie by preventing further development of commercial wind farms in the Flint Hills. Brownback said he has reached an agreement with a coalition of ranchers, preservationists, wind developers, power companies and government officials to keep the area free of wind turbines. The designated “Tallgrass Heartland” area covers nearly 11,000 square miles running from Riley and Pottawatomie counties in the north to the state’s southern border. Brownback said his administration will work with wind developers to build in other parts of the state. And, he said, the Tallgrass Heartland designation will not prohibit construction of electric transmission lines. Wind farms currently under power-purchase agreements within the protected area will continue, he said, but will not be expanded...more

So many elk eating, trampling grass on Zumwalt Prairie that hazers hired to run them off

...They've become masters of the fine art of being a nuisance to elk. Preferring not to injure the animals or trigger panicky stampedes through ranchers' fences, they walk or sometimes ride four-wheelers a half-mile behind the herds to move them slowly. The Zumwalt Prairie, north of Joseph and Enterprise, is one of the continent's largest remaining intact bunchgrass savannas. It's about 95 percent privately owned. The Nature Conservancy, an international nonprofit that buys land for environmental preservation, has a 33,000-acre preserve in the Zumwalt and the adjoining canyon country to the east. Rocky Mountain elk began showing up on the Zumwalt in the 1970s after being introduced into eastern Oregon's Blue Mountains in the 1930s. Records suggest they were rare to non-existent in the region during the frontier era. But now the vast grassland sometimes resembles an overcrowded African veldt. The elk population on the Zumwalt Prairie has exploded from 500 a decade ago to 3,400 animals this year. "The elk move into those pastures 1,000 in a herd and wipe it out," said Enterprise-area cattleman Tom Birkmaier, one of 22 ranching families that own land on the Zumwalt...more

Several reasons are given for the huge increase of elk on the prairie, one of which is:
The cougar population has grown in the nearby forests and canyons, due in large part to a 1994 state ballot measure banning hunting the big cats with hounds. Cougars don't like open prairie as much as timber -- so the elk head to the Zumwalt, wildlife officials say.
Another reason is given by a university official:
A third explanation is that elk no longer prefer the nearby river canyons as they once did because fewer domestic sheep and cattle graze there, said Oregon State University Extension agent John Williams  of Enterprise. Elk like the lush new grasses that spring up after cattle and sheep pass through, but regulators reduced domestic livestock in the river canyons, so the elk have found new ground, he said.
Ban hunting, ban grazing, and destroy a preserve. Way to go fellas.

Corn food vs. fuel battle turns political again

Corn prices are way up, and cattle ranchers, dairymen and others who depend on the grain to feed their animals are pointing to corn ethanol as the culprit. Prices are up, they say, because demand for corn used as a fuel source has skyrocketed. The battle has once again found its way into the political realm, where efforts are under way at both the state and national levels to cut subsidies for the corn-based additive, which is blended into gasoline to help it burn more cleanly. Last week, U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, introduced legislation that would eliminate a cash subsidy that gives oil refiners 45 cents for every gallon of ethanol they blend with gasoline. At the same time, a bill proposed by Assembly Member David Valadao, R-Hanford, that would have eliminated state funding for ethanol derived from corn was defeated in a state legislative committee. Valadao has vowed to bring the bill back in the near future. Riverdale dairy operator Jamie Bledsoe said corn ethanol is hurting business, which in turn costs jobs and, ultimately, hurts consumers who pay higher prices. In 2003, he paid $96 a ton for rolled corn to feed his cows. Today, he is paying $320 a ton...more

Coyote attacks Connecticut man while he was mowing lawn

Seamus Plyler was mowing the lawn at his house on Tantummaheag Road Sunday morning when he said a coyote the size of a large German shepherd attacked him. "I saw it wandering around the field where I was mowing," Plyler, 22, said. He didn't think much of it, as foxes wander there frequently. "It got closer, and I just kept on mowing, and it snuck up behind me and when I turned around, it was right there, and that's when it pounced on me," Plyler said. "It was like an all-out battle for like a minute and a half, two minutes." The coyote clung to his shirt and arms, Plyler said. "He was intent on killing me," he said. Plyler had no time to grow alarmed. He fought back, kicking and hitting the animal where he could. Eventually, he was able to get the coyote off him, and it ran back into the woods, he said. Plyler said he received his first set of rabies shots Sunday because there was some concern the coyote may have had rabies. He's due back for nine more...more

Ranchers ask North Dakota Supreme Court to allow juries to hear deer killing justifications

Two North Dakota ranchers want the Supreme Court to allow them to tell juries that they shot numerous deer without licenses to protect their properties. Harlan Kleppe and Bill Dethloff entered conditional guilty pleas in separate cases to various misdemeanor charges related to shooting deer without licenses, which means they reserved their rights to appeal portions of the cases. Kleppe pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful taking of big game in Kidder County, and Dethloff pleaded guilty to eight counts of unlawful taking of big game and nine counts of unlawful possession of big game animals in Burleigh County. Both men entered the conditional guilty pleas after South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick, in Kleppe's case, and South Central District Judge Bruce Haskell, in Dethloff's case, ruled that the crimes were "strict liability" offenses, meaning all prosecutors needed to prove their cases was that the men shot the deer. The men were not allowed to enter evidence that they believe justified their actions. Kleppe's and Dethloff's attorneys, Daniel Oster and Robert Bolinske Jr., argued at the Supreme Court on Friday that they should have been allowed to present evidence to juries that Kleppe and Dethloff had suffered thousands of dollars in feed losses due to deer eating, urinating on and defecating on hay and other feed and had no other alternatives than to shoot deer...more

Levee blast means lost year for Missouri farmers

Blasting open a levee and submerging more than 200 square miles of Missouri farmland has likely gouged away fertile topsoil, deposited mountains of debris to clear and may even hamper farming in some places for years, experts say. The planned explosions this week to ease the Mississippi River flooding threatening the town of Cairo, Ill., appear to have succeeded — but their effect on the farmland, where wheat, corn and soybeans are grown, could take months or even years to become clear. The Missouri Farm Bureau said the damage will likely exceed $100 million for this year alone. "Where the breach is, water just roars through and scours the ground. It's like pouring water in a sand pile. There is that deep crevice that's created," said John Hawkins, a spokesman for the Illinois Farm Bureau. "For some farmers, it could take a generation to recoup that area." The issue is vital to farmers and the state of Missouri, whose attorney general repeatedly tried to block the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' plan to break the levee. Opponents of the move argued it would leave the farmland buried under feet of sand and silt, rendering it useless for years...more

Brand supporters wary of looming animal ID rules

As ranchers prepare for the annual spring branding that stamps their personal identifying mark on new calves, a pending federal rule for tracking animals moving between states has some cattlemen wondering about the brand’s future. South Dakota state veterinarian Dustin Oedekoven, however, is confident the new rule will not interfere with western South Dakota’s time-honored tradition of the hot brand. He believes there is some misunderstanding of what the rule means. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will soon release a proposed rule outlining official identification methods to improve the traceability of animals moving from state to state to limit the economic effects of livestock diseases. The proposed rule was expected at the end of April, but so far, it has not been released. All of western South Dakota is a livestock ownership inspection area. About 1.5 million head of livestock are inspected annually within the area or at livestock markets outside the area. That won’t change with the advent of the new rule, Oedekoven said. As Oedekoven understands the rule, states can continue to use the brand as an identifying marker when there is agreement between states. The official identification method for cattle will be an official ear tag or group/lot identification, but APHIS has said other forms of identification, including brands, tattoos and breed registration certificates will be acceptable when states and tribal officials recognize those methods as proper identification...more

Survivor of Dust Bowl Now Battles a Fiercer Drought

While tornadoes and floods have ravaged the South and the Midwest, the remote western edge of the Oklahoma Panhandle is quietly enduring a weather calamity of its own: its longest drought on record, even worse than the Dust Bowl, when incessant winds scooped up the soil into billowing black clouds and rolled it through this town like bowling balls. With a drought continuing to punish much of the Great Plains, this one stands out. Boise (rhymes with voice) City has gone 222 consecutive days through Tuesday with less than a quarter-inch of rainfall in any single day, said Gary McManus, a state climatologist. That is the longest such dry spell here since note-keeping began in 1908. The Dust Bowl of the 1930s, caused in part by the careless gouging of the earth in an effort to farm it, created an epic environmental disaster. Experts say it is unlikely to be repeated because farming has changed so much. Boise City recovered from the Dust Bowl and has periodically enjoyed bountiful years since. But this drought is a reminder of just how parched and unyielding life can be along this wind-raked frontier, fittingly called No Man’s Land, and it is not clear how many more ups and downs Boise City can take...more

Sombrero Ranches’ Great American Horse Drive mixes new traditions with old

It was 10 a.m. Sunday when 800 horses driving east on U.S. Highway 40 rumbled into Maybell. The horses, led by three ranch hands from Sombrero Ranches, took up both lanes of the highway as they trotted through town. The sight of them brought tears to Christine Kozisek’s eyes. “I bawled when I saw them,” Kozisek said. “I bawled.” The event was Sombrero Ranches’ Great American Horse Drive. Kozisek, 58, said she’s witnessed the annual drive countless times, and even participated in the 60-mile ride from Browns Park to a ranch just west of Craig. Kozisek’s family helped settle the West, she said. Her great-grandparents, William and Lillian Sweet, homesteaded in Greystone in 1888. For that reason, the annual horse drive is a personal and emotional experience, she said. “That’s how they made their living,” Kozisek said of her ancestors. “William, my great-grandfather, used to go and catch wild horses and sell them down there (in Craig).” Later, her father, K.O. Fackerell, drove horses across the same route, she said. The modern-day version of the horse drive is a bit different from what Kozisek, now a resident of Neola, Utah, remembers from her childhood. “This is big compared to when I was a kid,” she said. “When I was a kid, it was just local cow people." Ed Pinkard, an employee of Sombrero Ranches, tended to the horses while guests of the ranch relaxed. Pinkard said 67 guests were involved in the two-day drive, and they each paid $1,750 for the privilege...more

Song Of The Day #571

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here's Roy Hogsed and his recording of Ain't A Bump In The Road.

The tune is available on his 33 track CD Cocaine Blues.

Here's hoping your week starts without a bump.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Wagons Ho - the grit that settled the West
 by Julie Carter

Anyone who has ever moved from one home to another, especially if the move involved a change of zip code, has surely given thought to the courage it took our ancestors to do the same.

They left family, friends and homes behind knowing they would never see or hear from them again. I've only been a little aggravated when I can't connect to the internet in my new house because my wireless connection is very weak. A pitiful excuse for a problem in the big scheme of things.

The fires consuming the West this spring have brought forth a similar courage in the face of adversity and loss.

A recent story I read spoke to that very courage as an Abilene-area rancher stood in the ashes of his 100- year-old home and stirred up the memories that lay at his feet.

The ranch had been his grandfather's and before the fire, there were several outbuildings and a barn in addition to the century old ranch house. All that remained of all structures were the concrete floors, foundations, rock walls and walks.

In the concrete floor of the outhouse the letters "WPA" could still be seen etched in the floor serving as proof that was one of the many projects built by the Works Progress Administration during Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.

The rancher recalled the wooden barn built by his grandfather and remembered the inscription written on the inside of it was dated 1917.

He watched the fire get closer and the flames change color as they burned with a fury no man could contain. Five fire departments and countless friends came to do all that they could to help, but nothing could stop the wall of fire that took all in its path.

The next day, what remained was an overwhelming outpouring of offers to help. People were waiting at the gate when the rancher returned to survey the carnage. Support came in a variety of forms that varied from a pot of beans to the sincere and willing offers to clear the rubble.

The ability that mankind has to take care of their own in times of need is what keeps this seemingly cold and often selfish world turning.

In moments of introspection of the monumental loss, the rancher recalled what he felt was the greatest loss of all -- his father's Bible. A preacher until he was 97, he'd left notes on virtually every page and those thoughts and notations were now gone forever. Somehow that overshadowed any void left from the loss of the other property.

However, like so many in similar circumstances, he took no time to agonize over his monumental losses. Recognizing it could have been much worse, could have taken lives that it did not, he was heard to say, "It's what West Texas has been about."

Giving due to the hearty people who settled the land and recognizing their courage as what set them apart from others, he went back to work to rebuild his life.

"You always run out of daylight before you run out of jobs to do," he said.

Julie can be reached from comment at jcarternm@gmail.com.

Wilmeth: Border Patrol, Land Laws, and Access Constraints


GAO-11-38 Revisited
Border Patrol, Land Laws, and Access Constraints
The Four that Stood Firmly
By Stephen L. Wilmeth


     The press dissected the GAO-11-38 report and concluded triumphantly that the Border Patrol was unfettered in its ability to effectively control the border in spite of federal land laws, or that they were able to fully patrol the border in 85% of the locations, or was it that the Border Patrol was able to overcome land law constraints if their agents underwent training in environmental and cultural awareness?  The clarity of the reporting was nearly as confusing as reading the GAO report itself. 
     The place to start with the report is to read the conclusion.  The conclusion said that because of the lack of resources or competing priorities, the land agencies have not been able to complete environmental and historic property assessments in a timely fashion to accommodate Border Patrol requests for access to federal border lands.  Furthermore, such tardiness may be missed opportunities to expedite the Border Patrol access to those federal borderlands.  The result is to “Give the Border Patrol more basic environmental and cultural resource training.”  If the situation was not so serious, laughing must be added as a second suggestion to the Border Patrol and to the American public!
     To start off trying to assess the report with some degree of objectivity, it is important to note that the Border Patrol is charged with extensive immigration laws that are rivaled only by the IRS tax laws in complexity and expanse.  Further, in their activities along the border on lands dominated by federal ownership and federal land agency management, they are obligated to adhere to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Wilderness Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.  Their activities are further complicated by terrain, desert conditions, multiple language requirements, local laws and customs, state lands and laws, a militant environmental front, a left leaning press, a litigious society, and an onslaught of 22 different agencies that comprise the Homeland Security bureaucracy.  Almost as an afterthought, they must deal with a dangerous and endless army of illegal aliens attempting to breach the American border.    Supposedly, what they don’t have to contend with is any barrier of entry onto private American property within 25 miles of the border.
     So, the press breathlessly deduced that the Border Patrol has no constraints with any federal land laws that ultimately could interfere with national security.  It didn’t matter that 17 of 26 Border Patrol stations questioned admitted that the land laws have contributed to delays and or restrictive access.  It didn’t matter that 14 of 17 questioned admitted that they had been unable to get permits or permission to access areas in a timely manner.  It didn’t matter that the now infamous 2006 MOU directing cooperation among agencies of the DOI, DOA, and Border Patrol doesn’t work. 
     What the report detailed was a bureaucratic quagmire that makes any observer wonder how any capable individual can survive the morass of frustration and gobbledygook that the Border Patrol is expected to deal with and maintain any sanity.  Some examples are in order.
     In Texas, the Border Patrol was prohibited from cleaning brush from a flood plain in the Rio Grande channel that was a favorite entry point for illegal aliens.  They were not allowed to use lights at night for spotting those same illegals.  It was a breach of NEPA.
     In Arizona, the manager of Cabeza Prieta denied a request of the Border Patrol to extend its vehicular access into a particular area of wilderness by 1.3 miles.  The Wilderness Act disallowing mechanical access prevented such action.  It was somewhat ironic that the Fish and Wildlife Service had just reported that there were then some 8,000 miles of illegal roads and trails being used by cartels on those same lands. 
     The same manager curtailed helicopter flights over certain areas when endangered species were present.  The action required the Border Patrol to drop back from the border to patrol.  As an interesting aside, the suggested resolution by that manager was to develop a real time system to be able to detect where those endangered species were at all times so the helicopter flights could be diverted elsewhere!  Can you only imagine what that would cost?
     In Arizona, the Park Service did not allow the Border Patrol to install an important surveillance tower within wilderness in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.  At the same time of their rejection of the tower, the staff had reported that in a representative one square kilometer out in the Valley of the Ajos, in designated Wilderness, an unsuspecting hiker would encounter the following left by illegal aliens:
-          one set of bicycle tracks
-          one set of horse tracks
-          three illegal fire scars
-          40 sites of trash (excluding water bottles)
-          seven rest sites
-          15 sets of vehicle tracks
-          48 discarded water bottles
-          254 illegal foot trails!
     It should be noted that although it is the most restrictive of all land designations, designated Wilderness is not the only federal land where the access issue hampers the Border Patrol.  In Arizona, the Forest Service denied access into a particularly vulnerable access point in the Coronado National Forest because of the presence of an endangered species. 
     At the San Bernadino National Wildlife Refuge, the Border Patrol was put on a “three strikes and you’re out” type program.  At certain intervals the Fish and Wildlife Service would audit the access logs, and, if mechanical access was not confined to life threatening events, all access would be withdrawn and a special use permit system would be required for any and all access.
     In New Mexico, the Border Patrol filed a permit request to blade a road for patrol and surveillance.  The permit was an administrative requirement.  Eight months later they still hadn’t received permission for the work, but it didn’t matter any longer.  The illegal activity had moved elsewhere.
    In California, the Border Patrol was constrained to access certain Cleveland National Forest roads.  It was a result of an important travel management plan.  It wasn’t long before the need to access the road was resolved.  Illegals burned 19,000 acres of the forest land, thus eliminating the need for surveillance.  The underbrush was removed.
    The documentation of government dysfunction goes on and on.  What was reported in the results, however, must be understood by Americans who care about what is happening on the border.  The conclusion by the press that the land laws may cause some difficulty, but they do not interfere with matters of national security came from a single statement in the report. The GAO report stated that in only four of the of 26 station responses, national security was ultimately breached by the limitations imposed by the laws.   That was enough investigative reporting for the press. 
        Now, let’s assess that.  As an example, take a round of Russian roulette.  One bullet in six makes up the prevailing odds in Russian roulette.  That is almost exactly what the odds are in 4 out of 26 stations indicating that national defense is jeopardized by land laws.  Who wants to take those odds?  How about a birth control pill?  Are the odds of getting pregnant only one time in six chances something to go on national television and advertise for satisfactory effectiveness? 
     Should it be any different in dealing with matters of national security?  Does the fact that 22 out of 26 stations say that land laws don’t contribute to national security concerns provide adequate justification to represent there is no danger?  Just because there is only a 15% problem is there adequate validation that there is no problem on the border? That was exactly the general consensus reported by the press from scrutiny of the GAO report.  They determined that Border Patrol has no significant problem with land laws, therefore there isn’t a problem.  Not quite . . .
     The question must be asked, “Where are those stations?”  If they are in California, New Mexico, or any area other than the Big Bend in Texas, there shouldn’t be an access problem.  The Border Patrol has no designated wilderness access constraints in all of those except the noted exception. 
     If those stations are in the Tucson Sector of Arizona, though, all bets are off.   It is there that border wilderness and or de facto border wilderness dominate the landscape along the Mexican border.  It is there that the majority of the interagency missions are locked in conflict.  It is in the Tucson Sector that nearly half of all illegal alien and drug apprehensions occur.  It is in that Sector where the majority of assets and expenditures have been plowed over the last ten years, and it is in that Sector where record death and drug activity have continued to escalate even in the face of diminishing illegal alien intrusions on all borders. 
    It should come as no surprise that the Tucson Sector is where all of the Arizona Class Human and Drug Smuggling Corridors exist except one.  It is over the control of those corridors that the Mexican drug war is being fought.   It is also there that the cartels stand with the environmental community of the United States advocating more designated wilderness!
    It is disappointing that the GAO report is silent as to the disclosure of those stations because the report was ordered, in part, to determine the danger posed by the “gold standard” of land preservation, designated Wilderness.  It is understandable, though, that the patrol agents in charge of stations are tight lipped and noncommittal about the survey that contains their responses to GAO investigators.  They have been told to keep quiet for a variety of reasons not the least of which is national security.
     A little deduction, though, can be used to gain some insight.  If all of the stations are eliminated from the previously noted border areas that are not constrained by designated Wilderness access, there remain seven stations.  If a bit of qualified intuition is now applied and the phantom station names are arrayed against known designated Wilderness and de facto wilderness entry points, there are four, and, perhaps five, that stand out as the most likely candidates that admitted difficulty with access because of land laws.  Statistics indicate that those stations are in the bullseye of 92% of the flood of illegal human and drug smuggling activity that exists across the El Paso, Tucson, and Yuma Sectors of the Border Patrol.  Isn’t that interesting? 
     Utah Congressman Rob Bishop and New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce have not forgotten the content of that GAO report.  The facts actually presented have gained legs and are again being assessed with expanded scrutiny.  It is getting harder and harder for the greater press and the administration to minimize the danger that the Arizona border has created for American security . . . the truth of the impact of federally owned and managed lands on that border is being revealed.       


Wilmeth reflected on Saturday, May 7, 2011. . . “The “parallel universe” phenomenon becomes very apparent when you sit in the midst of agency representatives, ranchers, and the environmental community and listen to their discussions.  Diverging missions make the border much more dangerous.  Those who have staked their entire life there on day to day endeavors have a much different perspective on the situation than do those who derive their career path on their station assignments . . . and most of those have divergent perspectives of those who have taken up a cause to expand an agenda.  What is alarming is that you get the sense that the whole affair  . . . has been created by mission creep of federal land agencies impacted by that very environmental agenda.”