Saturday, July 09, 2011

At least 41 killed as Mexico scrambles in drug war

Mexican authorities sent in an extra 1,800 police Saturday to fight the country's gruesome and deadly drug war, with at least 41 people slain over the weekend including 10 who were decapitated. Fully 1,800 federal agents were sent into Michoacan state on Saturday, in a battle there mainly with the Knights Templars, a splinter group of the La Familia drugs cartel. The reinforcements were backed by 170 vehicles, 15 ambulances and 4 MI and Black Hawk helicopters, the Public Safety office announced. National Security Council spokesman Alejandro Poire called it a "reinforcement operation faced with the possibility of greater mobilization by organized crime groups." "They are waging an absurd war, to the death, for control of criminal turf and drug trafficking routes to the United States," he stressed. Police in the northern city of Torreon said Saturday they found the headless bodies of seven men and three women in the back of an abandoned pick-up truck. Police chief Guillermo Flores told AFP that only one head, belonging to a woman, was found on site, and that the killers had placed it on the truck's hood...more

Obama stimulus funded 'guns-to-drug-lords' plan

Just a day after U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., called for Attorney General Eric Holder's removal, alleging a White House connection to the "Project Gunrunner" that allowed weapons to be delivered to Mexican drug lords, confirmation has come that the program originated at the highest levels of the Obama administration. The link is the $10 million in taxpayer dollars designated to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for Project Gunrunner in Obama's 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, otherwise known as the Stimulus Bill. Section 5, Division A, Title II, under the heading of "Office of Justice Programs," says the money is set aside for border regions. For an additional amount for 'State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance,' $40,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2014, for competitive grants to provide assistance and equipment to local law enforcement along the Southern border and in High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas to combat criminal narcotics activity stemming from the Southern border, of which $10,000,000 shall be transferred to 'Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Salaries and Expenses' for the ATF Project Gunrunner. Gun Owners of America President Larry Pratt believes stimulus money was given to a drug dealer to buy guns. "Ten million dollars, and one of the ways they were spending it was a paid FBI informant who was a drug dealer they had flipped. So he was buying lots of guns with that stimulus money," Pratt said. "This FBI informant was being surveilled by the ATF that was running the Fast and Furious Operation and they had no idea that he was an FBI informant," Pratt observed. "But obviously they didn't need to be informed because they didn't care. They just wanted the guns to walk," he stated. Today, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he would support the call for a special prosecutor if members of Congress investigating the issue believe that is the best solution...more

The Stimulation Of Murder

The ATF's gun-running disaster was funded in the stimulus bill. Think about all the criminal and drug cartel jobs saved or created. And our attorney general once bragged to a Mexican audience about implementing it. This could be, no pun intended, the proverbial smoking gun in a growing administration scandal that deserves as much mainstream media attention as Iran-Contra or Watergate. Right there in the stimulus bill that no one in Congress bothered to read is $10 million for Project Gunrunner (aka Operation Fast and Furious), which resulted in the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and increased drug cartel violence. Attorney General Eric Holder's "I know nothing" imitation of TV's Sgt. Schultz has evaporated with the discovery of an April 2, 2009, speech to authorities in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in which he took Gunrunner credit for himself and the rest of the Obama administration. Holder is clearly not telling the truth about his role in Gunrunner. He knew about it, boasted of it and took credit for it. Now he's orchestrating a cover-up of it. President Obama needs to man up about Gunrunner and either take responsibility for this tragedy or admit, under oath if need be, that even he didn't know what was in the stimulus bill...more

The government's gunrunners

The scandal surrounding the bizarre federal gun sting gone awry -- Opera tion Fast & Furious -- continues to mushroom. A Phoenix TV station says its investigation of a local drug bust three months ago involving four illegal aliens turned up 43 weapons that had been sold legally to "straw purchasers" in Arizona but wound up in the hands of Mexican drug cartels -- all under the watchful eyes of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. And that's not all. A search of court and ATF documents turned up at least four other local cases in which major drug busts also involved numerous assault rifles on the agency's Suspect Gun Database. Yet ATF agents essentially stood by and watched -- as one critic put it, US law-enforcement agents essentially provided security for gun smugglers working for Mexican drug cartels. That such weapons are turning up in drug cases north of the border is hardly surprising. What's outrageous is that two of them have been linked to an Arizona shootout in which Customs and Border Protection Agent Brian Terry was killed. Yet when several agents -- appalled by a program that knowingly sent as many as 2,500 deadly weapons south (only a few hundred of which have been recovered) -- tried to blow the whistle after Terry's death, their allegations were ignored by the Justice Department. So guess who's in charge of investigating this monumental disaster? Justice's inspector general...more

Company caught mining in NM without permit

At about the same time, state and federal officials also began hearing about activity at and around the mine and went out to investigate. “There was rock being moved,” said Charles Thomas, director of the state’s mining and minerals division. “There was equipment on site that was processing rock.” It turned out that an Arizona-based company called Gulf Coast Mining was, indeed, illegally mining low-grade iron ore from the old mine, Thomas said. The company hadn’t bothered to obtain any permits from the state to open the mine, he said. So on June 15, the state ordered the company to stop mining operations immediately. But then officials noticed another problem. In order to get the heavy equipment to the mine site, which is located on private land, mine workers took a bulldozer and turned a three-mile stretch of narrow, rough road into a wide, graded road. The problem with that was the road cuts across land owned by both Bureau of Land Management and the New Mexico State Land Office. “They’re in trespass,” said Michael Quintana, a state land office investigator. “They did not have our permission.”...more

Here's the KRQE video report:

Bobcats feast on neighborhood cats - Albuquerque

People thought the momma bobcat and baby were cute and cuddly, until they started realizing their own cats were disappearing. Fiday Game and Fish nabbed the culprits that have been feasting on pets in that northeast heights neighborhood. Neighbors in the Tramway and Paseo area said they are used to wildlife roaming the streets, but these little guys took more than just a stroll through the neighborhood. Neighbor Lauri Michael said, “I thought I saw a neighborhood cat but it was much larger than a neighborhood cat and it jumped the wall and I noticed that the tail was bobbed.” Michael said the wild cats seemed a bit more brazen than in years past. “We heard some commotion on our roof, and we heard other neighbors say that the bobcats can actually climb up on the roof, and we found evidence to that fact that they left behind.” But climbing roofs wasn’t all they were doing. “I know they have gotten the neighbors cats,” Mike Tullai said. “A neighbor had a cat snatched right before her by the bobcat,” said Michaels...more

Here's the KRQE-TV video report:

Bobcats feast on neighborhood cats:

Friday, July 08, 2011

New Yorkers: Beware of 'Monster' Plant Causing Blisters, Blindness

It makes the carnivorous Venus flytrap look downright tame. A monster plant with flowers the size of umbrellas and sap that causes blisters, scars that last years, and blindness is spreading across New York, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. It's an invasive species called the giant hogweed, and the DEC seeks help locating outbreaks so they can send crews to nip it in the bud. According to the agency, the plant's sap contains photosensitizing furanocoumarins, which can cause a serious skin inflammation within 15 minutes of skin contact in conjunction with sunlight. The sap prevents skin from protecting itself from sunlight, according to health and safety instructions from the DEC, which leads to a very bad sunburn. Heat and moisture (sweat or dew) can worsen the skin reaction.
The agency has a Giant Hogweed Hotline at 845-256-3111 for people to call and report sightings...more

Somebody sue to have this listed as an endangered plant. After all, the giant hogweed is a "keystone" species and indicator of overall ecologic health.

New Yorkers need to experience how the Endangered Species Act works and understand this plant is deserving of immediate protection.

To that end, The Westerner is starting a Hault The Hogweed Hotline Campaign right here and now. Let's bring a hault to the destruction of this beautiful plant!

And wouldn't it be exciting if this plant was to show up in the confines of Washington DC? I can think of some great habitat to be designated there.

Go on Vacation, Rent a Car, Help the Environment...

A major car-rental company is inviting customers to "help save the environment with your next rental." As part of its carbon offset program, Enterprise Holdings offers customers the option of adding $1.25 to the cost of the rental car, which Enterprise will match dollar for dollar, up to a total of $1 million. "By opting to pay $1.25 per rental, customers can fund certified offset projects that work to remove CO2 from the atmosphere," the company says on its Web site. In the program's first year, Enterprise says approximately 175,000 customers chose to pay the extra fee, generating $220,000 for certified offset projects. Coupled with the equal match by Enterprise's charitable arm, the effort has generated nearly $440,000...more

These folks need to rent a brain, not a car.

No mention is made of what percentage of their customers chose this option. Since Enterprise Holdings operates the Alamo Rent A Car, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental brands, I'm betting it's small.

Wyoming and top federal officials agree 'in principle' to wolf deal

Wyoming and the federal government have reached "an agreement in principle" on a deal to remove the state's roughly 340 wolves from the endangered species list and put them under state control. Following a meeting at the Wyoming State Capitol on Thursday, Gov. Matt Mead, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said they hoped to reach a deal by the end of the month and ratify it by the end of September. Wyoming has been fighting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for years to accept the state's wolf management plan, which allows unregulated killing of the animals in all but the northwest corner of the state. Fish and Wildlife, on the other hand, wants wolves to be classified as "trophy game" throughout the state, meaning they could only be hunted with a license. The three said they agreed on a deal under which Wyoming would be required to maintain 100 wolves, including 10 breeding pairs, outside Yellowstone National Park. That's about a third of current wolf numbers outside Yellowstone, Mead said. They also agreed in principle on creating a wolf "flex area" in Sublette and Lincoln counties, in which wolves would be protected only during the winter months...more

Flooded Farmers

Losing your business, your job, your livelihood...all to the river. Ag Reporter Sarah Gustin was there and shares the story of one producer's stuggle of ranching on the water. 20 years of farming and ranching along the Missouri, but this year there won't be a bale made or crop harvested on these acres. (Neil Effertz / Rancher) "It's basically all our winter feed production. It's about 250 acres that is either underwater or inaccessible because it might be a little island of land that you can't get to because you have to drive through 4 feet of water to get to it." Neil Effertz ranches north of Bismarck. A yard that once sat by the river, now sits in the water. (Neil Effertz / Rancher) "You can't get to my feedlot. Our feed handling system has floor augers those are all under water. we have a floor auger coing out of our big grain bin where we put our corn, that's all underwater and of course there is grain in there and those augers are full of grain, and they are saturated. I don't know what kinda devastation, but to rehabiliate that system it's probably going to cost 50-100 thousand dollars just to fix it all up." (Sarah Gustin / "Roads that were once driven on are now paddled across. This canoe is the latest form of transportation for Effertz to get and from his feeding area. He says in some areas you can't even touch the bottom with a paddle." (Neil Effertz / Rancher) "You can see the alfalfa just waving underneath, like seaweed. Buddies from town are coming out and fishing in our alfalfa fields all the time." He worries where to winter his cows, where to make hay and where to store feed...more

If you haven't yet, please read The Purposeful Flooding of America's Heartland.

Corps letter adds to flood anger

The letter was routine but not well-timed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers mailed letters to farmers along the Missouri River this spring, asking them to consider selling land to the corps that would be used to restore fish and wildlife habitat. Some letters went out June 6, about two weeks after the corps began releasing huge amounts of water from upstream dams, which has caused widespread flooding along the Missouri. With floodwaters covering many acres of farmland, the corps’ letter was ill-timed and insensitive, said Bruce Biermann, owner of a Mound City, Mo., farm and an official of the Missouri Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. “They just opened up another can of worms,” Biermann said. U.S. Rep Sam Graves, R-Mo., called the letter a “slap in the face” of people who are dealing with flooded property...more

Nice. Offer to buy the land under threat of flooding...or buy it at an even lower price after flooding.

Grizzly kills man in Yellowstone Park

A grizzly bear killed a man who was hiking with his wife in Yellowstone National Park's backcountry after the couple apparently surprised the female bear and its cubs on Wednesday, park officials said. It was the park's first fatal grizzly mauling since 1986, but the third in the Yellowstone region in just over a year amid ever-growing numbers of grizzlies and tourists roaming the same wild landscape of scalding-hot geysers and sweeping mountain vistas. The Wednesday morning attack happened just two days after the peak weekend for tourism in the park all year, on a trail close to Canyon Village near the middle of Yellowstone. Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said the couple saw the bear twice on their hike. The first time, they continued hiking. The second time, the grizzly was running at them and the man told his wife to run. The woman told park officials she didn't see the bear attack her husband. When the bear went for her, Nash said, she dropped to the ground. The grizzly lifted her off the ground by the day pack she was wearing then dropped her...more

Grizzly roams free after fatal Yellowstone mauling

The female grizzly bear that attacked and killed a hiker when apparently startled with two cubs will be allowed to continue roaming free in Yellowstone National Park after officials determined the animal had acted to protect its young. A probe of Wednesday's fatal bear mauling, the first in Yellowstone since 1986, suggests the mother grizzly was provoked by a perceived threat from the hiker and his wife when they encountered the animal and its cubs foraging for food. "The bear's behavior is consistent with a bear who was in a defensive posture," Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk said during a news conference at park headquarters in Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming. "We did not see anything predatory in terms of the bear's actions."...more

Let's say the man and woman were armed and had protected themselves by shooting the bear. Would the fed's have found the humans were in a "defensive posture" and that it was a justifiable shoot? Would they release the humans with their weapons to "roam free" in Yellowstone? Just asking.

Dept of Interior Appropriations Bill Is 'Declaration of War' On America's Basic Environmental Protections

The new appropriations bill for funding the Department of Interior from the House of Representatives is out in draft form. Among the more egregious parts of it include: Prohibiting any new plants or animals being added to the Endangered Species List, prohibiting any of the funds being used to prevent mountaintop removal mining, exempts all logging activities from Clean Water Act permitting, forbids protecting bighorn sheep if doing so will reduce grazing permits, expands off road vehicle access on some Forest Service roads, and limits the ability of EPA and states to require Clean Water Act permits for discharge of pesticides or residues of a pesticide into rivers and lakes...more

As you can see, the enviros aren't happy.

U.N. Claims Going Green Would Cost $76 Trillion

Two years ago, UN researchers were claiming that it would cost “as much as $600 billion a year over the next decade” to go green. A new UN report has more than tripled that number to $1.9 trillion a year for 40 years. That’s $76 trillion, or more than five times the entire Gross Domestic Product of the United States ($14.66 trillion a year). It’s all part of a “technological overhaul” “on the scale of the first industrial revolution” called for in the annual report. Except the UN will apparently control this next industrial revolution. The new 251-page report with the benign sounding name of the “World Economic and Social Survey 2011” is rife with goodies calling for “a ,” and “global governance.” Throw in possible national energy use caps and a massive redistribution of wealth and the survey is trying to remake the entire globe. The report has the imprimatur of the UN, with the preface signed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – all part of the “goal of full decarbonization of the global energy system by 2050.”...more

Rainbow Gathering in Washington Was a Bum Trip for Some

In case you missed it, about 19,000 hippies gathered outside Trout Lake, Wash., over the July 4 weekend for the Annual Rainbow Gathering. The countercultural "intentional community" has been going on each year since 1972. This year's event took place in a remote meadow in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest. As The Oregonian hilariously reported, "acid trips are common" at these events. But more importantly, so is widespread environmental damage. Christy Covington, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service, said the impact to some areas of the forest was severe, but there is no estimate yet of the cost to clean up. We checked up with Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown on Wendesday, as the crowds were dispersing, to get his rundown of notable circumstances to law enforcement. He said the Rainbow Gathering wasn't all peace and love. Brown said the event was marred by one incident of domestic violence and three other assaults—including one with a baseball bat. Another of those assaults took place when a woman recognized a man as a registered sex offender out of Colorado who had sexually assaulted her before. In another incident, a naked man Brown says was obviously "under the influence of something" began approaching cars on the main road to Trout Lake and ramming his own vehicle into trees. A deputy arrested the man for DUII and took him to a local hospital, Brown said. And on the morning of July 6, a 25-year-old California woman died of an overdose from an unknown drug. In all, the U.S. Forest Service issued about 150 citations, and Brown says the U.S. District Court in Tacoma had a full docket from arrests made at the event. Brown says it all was too much for an event billed as a peaceful gathering...more

Would they have let 19,000 cows in there?

Forest Service Report on Sustainable Forests

The United States has 751 million acres of forests that have remained remarkably stable during the past 50 years, according to the U.S. Forest Service's 2010 National Report on Sustainable Forests that was released today.  The report, the second edition since 2003, provides a comprehensive picture of current conditions and trends in the nation's forests, forest industries and forest communities, and also gives details on forest conditions as they relate to sustainability.  The report includes 130 pages of detailed information organized by indicator, as well as summary analyses and policy recommendations. Over 30 Forest Service scientists, senior staff and outside collaborators contributed to this edition of the report. Information was collected using 64 indicators of forest sustainability as a quantitative baseline for measuring progress toward sustainability. The report underscore that action at all levels—national, regional and local—is vital to achieving sustainable forest management in the United States...more

Art exhibit highlights Pinon Canyon Country

Since 2005 when the Army’s plans to militarize southeast Colorado first surfaced, artists from all over the state have worked along with the ranchers to fight the expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site through the use of their various forms of art. Beginning July 8, 2011, an exhibition of the works of some of these artists, titled “Pinon Canyon Country,” will be on display at the Rocky Ford Business and Arts Incubator and Entrepreneurship Center (BAIE Center), at 408 North Main Street in Rocky Ford. The artists are hopeful that by raising the awareness of the beauty and history of Pinon Canyon, they will be helping the landowners defend their property and their way of life against a seizure by the Pentagon. If such a seizure were to happen, it threatens to turn southeastern Colorado into the world’s largest live-fire range...more

Taxpayer Land Swapped And Then Sold For $1 Million

Target 7 has uncovered that hundreds of acres were handed over in a land exchange and then sold for more than $1 million. All taxpayers got in return was a chunk of land that nobody else seems to want. There was money to be made on 730 acres of grazing land south of Las Cruces that lies a short distance away from the Rio Grande. At one time, the land belonged to the taxpayers. “It sounds like someone did really well, and it wasn’t the taxpayer,” New Mexico Land Commissioner Ray Powell said. In May, Target 7 uncovered how the Orozco family was illegally dumping piles and piles of chicken feces on state land that they leased. According to state records, the same family got their hands on the 730 acres of state land back in 2005 through a land swap with the state. Documents obtained by Target 7 show that the Orozcos cashed in less than two years after the swap when part of the land was sold off for 17 times the appraised value. When the rest was unloaded a short time later, the family walked away with more than $1 million for all of the land sold. It was a perfectly legal exchange...more

Martinez family's sheep dynasty imperiled

Because his family business is raising and grazing sheep, though, the heavy load in his truck bed doesn't look like your basic Wray's run: seven military-style, five-gallon water drums, a wall of rock salt bags and a seemingly endless supply of dog food in 50-pound bags that, he says, "we buy by the pallet." Providing for his Peruvian sheepherder, this "band" of roughly 700 ewes and 1,000 lambs, and the numerous dogs that both protect and herd the sheep, is the easy part of Martinez's job. Far more difficult are the problems that may lie ahead. While nearly every other free-range sheep ranching operation in the state closed up shop 20 years ago, the Martinezes have survived nearly nine decades of changes in the marketplace and the political arena. They have done so despite losing vast swaths of grazing land to such federal projects as the Hanford nuclear reservation and the Yakima Training Center. But now they must distance themselves -- and their domestic sheep, quite literally -- from the wild California bighorn sheep not too far across these Cascade foothills, a complication that didn't exist even two decades ago...more

Song Of The Day #617

Today Ranch Radio brings you some early Jim Reeves with his recording of Penny Candy.

ATF implicates FBI in Mexico gun-trafficking probe

The embattled head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has told congressional investigators that some Mexican drug cartel figures targeted by his agency in a gun-trafficking investigation were paid informants for the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration. In two days of meetings with congressional investigators over the weekend, Melson said the FBI and DEA kept the ATF "in the dark" about their relationships with the cartel informants. If ATF agents had known of the relationships, the agency might have ended the investigation much earlier, he said. As a result of Melson's statements, "our investigation has clearly expanded," a source close to the congressional investigation said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the inquiry is ongoing. "We know now it was not something limited to just a small group of ATF agents in Arizona." On Wednesday, Mexican federal police released a videotaped interrogation with recently captured Jesus Rejon Aguilar, an alleged founder of the Zetas gang who is wanted in the slaying of a U.S. immigration agent in Mexico. He brazenly told them that "all the weapons are bought in the United States" and that "even the American government itself was selling the weapons."...more

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Mike Casabonne rescues Air Force Pilot, puts out brush fire, returns to ranch

The crash of an Air Force QF-4 Phantom plane started a brush fire and set off a search for the pilot Wednesday morning near the small Eddy County community of Hope. The plane, from Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo, crashed around 10:30 a.m. on Bureau of Land Management land on a ranch 6 miles south of Hope. The town is in far northwest Eddy County, about 20 miles west of Artesia. According to Artesia Fire Marshal James Abner, crews responded to the military plane crash and initially found the pilot of the aircraft missing. Mike Casabonne, an area rancher, said he was driving nearby when he came upon the pilot of the aircraft, who already had been located by another rancher. Casabonne said the pilot was leaning against the rancher's pickup truck, apparently in good health when Casabonne arrived. Casabonne said the unidentified pilot used his radio to contact Air Force officials before using Casabonne's cell phone to call his wife and assure her that he was safe. He was soon airlifted to Holloman for treatment. Crews remained on the scene to mop up the fire throughout the afternoon, creating a lot of traffic through ranch gates and fences, said Casabonne...more

Witnesses at the scene reported that in between rescuing the pilot, putting out the fire and dealing with a horde of bureaucrats, Casabonne bought a load of feed, fixed some fence, helped a neighbor gather a bull and put the finishing touches on his column for the NM Stockman.

Republican spending measure would block EPA climate rules

A fiscal 2012 spending bill unveiled Wednesday by House Republican appropriators includes a policy rider that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and refineries for one year. It is the latest effort by the House GOP to delay the agency’s climate regulations, which Republicans and some Democrats argue will impose huge costs on the economy. The spending bill, which will come up for a vote Thursday in Simpson’s subcommittee, includes a slew of other policy riders that reflect House Republicans’ energy and environmental priorities. Other policy riders include provisions preventing federal regulators from moving forward with regulations intended to protect streams from mountaintop-removal coal mining; language blocking a change in the definition of “navigable waterways” under the Clean Water Act; and a provision exempting some agriculture activities from greenhouse-gas reporting requirements...more

The bill gives the BLM $1 billion, a puny $63 million cut from last year. It also gives them $4.8 million for land acquisition. The only significant cut is to the FWS budget in the amount of $315 million which is 21 % below last year.

You can read the bill here and the Committee press release is here.

Salazar rips GOP push for deep conservation cuts

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Wednesday launched a lengthy attack on House GOP proposals to sharply cut conservation funding, casting their effort as an affront to decades of bipartisan collaboration on outdoor preservation. “It is not a good day for conservation. It is a very painful day for conservation,” Salazar said in Michigan, where he had traveled to tout enhancements to a national park and wildlife refuge. His strongly worded attack on cuts in the GOP’s fiscal year 2012 Interior spending plan signals that conservation funding could play a major role in the wider political battle over environmental and energy spending programs. Salazar said the cuts would harm wetlands conservation, wildlife refuges and outdoor recreation such as biking and hunting, and other activities. The House GOP spending proposal unveiled Wednesday would slash almost 80 percent from Land and Water Conservation Fund programs in particular, which Salazar called “shortsighted” and alleged would “jeopardize the conservation legacy and future of the United States of America.”...more

Lummis wins no-sue clause on wolves

Should Wyoming and the federal government reach an agreement on delisting wolves, the deal couldn’t be challenged in court under draft language inserted into a 2012 congressional appropriations bill. U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., crafted the language as Gov. Matt Mead prepares to meet today in Cheyenne with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and newly confirmed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe to discuss a long-awaited wolf deal. Lummis’ no-litigation clause is similar to language added to a must-pass budget bill in April that delisted wolves in five other Western states. Mead and other state officials have repeatedly said that congressional protection against lawsuits is vital to any wolf agreement that’s reached. In a statement Wednesday, Lummis said her no-litigation provision is a “crucial puzzle piece” to delisting Wyoming wolves. “The best way to ensure the success of any negotiation is to back it up with the force of law,” she said in the statement. “This language does exactly that.” Lummis also helped to add other provisions to the 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill. One would put Wyoming wolves directly under state control as soon as a deal is reached. Others would stop funding for any new endangered species listings or critical habitat designations and prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from implementing and enforcing greenhouse gas regulations from stationary sources for one year. However, the chances of Lummis’ proposals becoming law are slim, said Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center For Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based conservation group that opposes the ideas. Lummis’ proposals have been “lubed” by House Republican leaders to pass the lower chamber, Snape said. But he predicted the no-litigation clause, in particular, will face “major roadblocks” in the Democratic-controlled Senate, especially as it’s packaged with a number of other GOP provisions that would loosen environmental rules and regulations...more

Rainbows, locals bemoan Forest Service presence

Lights flash in the dusk as police cars surround a blue school bus painted with colorful hearts and flowers. Several youthful hippies watch while officers search their bags and a police dog sniffs for drugs. They were pulled over for failing to use a turn signal on a remote forest road. Minutes later, two pose for mug shots after the search turns up marijuana. It's a scene likely to be played out again in the next week as thousands descend on the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southwest Washington for the 40th annual gathering of the Rainbow Family of Living Light, a group of peace activists borne out of the '60s counterculture movement. Brought in to keep their own peace: 30 U.S. Forest service law enforcement personnel from around the country, working 24-7 on three rotating shifts. The Forest Service says the sheer number of people warrants the heavy police presence. Critics call it overkill in a remote forest that could be easily policed—or at least managed—by local law enforcement...more

The Forest Service should remove those 30 officers and send Casabonne up there to keep the peace.

B.S. Spotted

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on June 24 designated 213 counties in Texas as primary natural disaster areas after one of the worst droughts in more than a century. The state sustained excessive heat, high winds and wildfires that burned hundreds of thousands of acres. “Many producers have lost their crops due to the devastation caused by the drought and wildfires,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack...more

So far so good. It's the next quote from Vilsack that has b.s. written all over it:

“President Obama and I want these farmers and ranchers to know that we will support them through the recovery process and help them once again become productive suppliers of food, fiber and fuel that keep America prospering.

The same President who wants to regulate farm dust, impose cap 'n trade, outlaw brands, take jurisdiction over private waters and turn the entire West into one big National Monument is going to "help" us?  No, Vilsack's statement is a great big ol' bowl of Outhouse Soup.

Arizona fires, hay costs crippling ranchers

Surging hay prices, an enduring drought and now wildfires in eastern and southern Arizona have left many ranchers hard-pressed to feed their livestock. Ranchers paid $110 to $130 for a ton of alfalfa hay in January, but by May were forking out $215 to $240, according to Steve Manheimer, state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Barbara Marks, who with her husband owns Marks WY Bar Ranch in Blue in eastern Arizona, was feeling the pinch before the Wallow Fire broke out in May. "It's been difficult to find hay to purchase, and with all the expenses, we were just hard- pressed to afford it," said Marks, who had to evacuate more than 150 head of livestock from grazing land threatened by the biggest fire in the history of the state...more

Australia lifts ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia

Australia’s government removed a month-long ban on live cattle exports to neighboring Indonesia on Wednesday, saying it was satisfied the A$320 million trade could resume after a furor over mistreatment of livestock. The minority government has been under pressure from ranchers to overturn the ban, put in place after television footage showed cattle being beaten, whipped and maimed prior to slaughter in some Indonesian abattoirs. Australia’s beef cattle herd is some 28 million head, of which live cattle exports represent around 800,000 head. About 500,000 goes to Indonesia...more

Song Of The Day #616

Today Ranch Radio brings you the Mel Tillis recording Georgia Town Blues. The tune was recorded in Nashville on March 15, 1959 and released as CO-62453.

Violence stemming migrant flow to U.S.

Warring mafias have turned once-sleepy farm towns and rail crossings in Mexico into notorious junctions of kidnapping, torture and death, creating a new geography of fear spanning from the U.S. border to the most humble villages in Central America. The soaring number of attacks on migrants in Mexico, and the widely dispersed news of their barbarity, is discouraging many Central Americans from even attempting the trip to the United States, according to immigration officials, human rights advocates and the travelers themselves. The flow of illegal Central American migrants to the United States has been slowing since 2005, the result of the sagging U.S. economy and increased law enforcement along the U.S. border, experts say. But a powerful new reason has emerged: Today’s migrants face a far more sinister journey and many have concluded it is just too dangerous. The trip north has always been arduous. But where migrants once faced being robbed or molested, they now fear being killed and dumped in mass graves — or forcefully recruited into a gang and made to smuggle drugs — or abducted and tortured for weeks...more

Better Lives for Mexicans Cut Allure of Going North

The extraordinary Mexican migration that delivered millions of illegal immigrants to the United States over the past 30 years has sputtered to a trickle, and research points to a surprising cause: unheralded changes in Mexico that have made staying home more attractive. A growing body of evidence suggests that a mix of developments — expanding economic and educational opportunities, rising border crime and shrinking families — are suppressing illegal traffic as much as economic slowdowns or immigrant crackdowns in the United States. The decline in illegal immigration, from a country responsible for roughly 6 of every 10 illegal immigrants in the United States, is stark. The Mexican census recently discovered four million more people in Mexico than had been projected, which officials attributed to a sharp decline in emigration. American census figures analyzed by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center also show that the illegal Mexican population in the United States has shrunk and that fewer than 100,000 illegal border-crossers and visa-violators from Mexico settled in the United States in 2010, down from about 525,000 annually from 2000 to 2004. Although some advocates for more limited immigration argue that the Pew studies offer estimates that do not include short-term migrants, most experts agree that far fewer illegal immigrants have been arriving in recent years. The question is why...more

The Unfiltered Border

Illegal immigration. Drug-smuggling. SB 1070. The murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Immigration-law reform. All of these news topics have originated in Tucson's backyard. But a lot of the people involved in border-issues debates have never actually seen the borderlands—and many of those who do go only see the carefully orchestrated press junkets run by the Department of Homeland Security. Several border-area residents, including me, run tours into the borderlands for media folks, documentary filmmakers and elected officials. We take people in to meet everyone from border-area business owners to aid workers, from ranchers to law-enforcement officers—and even an occasional migrant. The goal is to show the entire spectrum, from how safe Nogales, Ariz., really is, to how dangerous the backcountry is, to the humanitarian crisis that haunts the borderlands. Here are stories from three tours...more

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

DOJ 'Distorted Truth and Obstructed Our Investigation' in Guns-to-Mexico Probe, Lawmakers Say

Members of Congress investigating the ATF's botched gun-tracking operation say it now appears that the Justice Department "obstructed" their attempts to find out what happened. They also expressed deep concern about the possibility that the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency already knew about -- and may even have been working with -- the people who were smuggling weapons to Mexican drug cartels. The new information comes from Kenneth Melson, Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who voluntarily testified before congressional investigators on the July 4 holiday. Accompanied by his personal attorney -- not a Justice Department attorney -- Melson told investigators that he would have been more cooperative with them if it weren't for Justice Department officials trying to limit and control his agency's communications with Congress. Contrary to denials by the Justice Department, Melson acknowledged that ATF agents had in fact witnessed transfers of weapons from straw purchasers to third parties without following the guns any further. Melson also said the ATF agents carrying out Operation Fast and Furious had been placed under the direction of the Arizona U.S. Attorney's office...more

Possible U.S. Payments to Gun Smugglers Probed by Congress

Congressional investigators looking into a U.S. law enforcement program to track guns shipped illegally to Mexico are examining whether government-paid informants were involved in smuggling weapons. Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican from California, and Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, have been investigating a program run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that allowed illegal purchases in the U.S. in an effort to link guns to Mexican drug cartels. The lawmakers said they want to know whether suspects identified in that program were serving as informants for other law enforcement agencies without ATF’s knowledge. “The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in such activities,” the two lawmakers wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that was released today. Congressional investigators are looking into whether the Drug Enforcement Administration or Federal Bureau of Investigation paid any informants involved in gun smuggling, according to a congressional staff member who spoke on condition of anonymity and wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Issa and Grassley’s letter to Holder said they had “very real indications” that the gun traffickers the ATF tried to identify were “already known to other agencies and may even have been paid as informants.”...more

Mexico's Drug Wars Pushing People Out of Region

Northern Mexico's smallest towns are experiencing an exodus of people feeling threatened by drug cartel violence. The diaspora along the U.S. border is leaving villages in Sonora, Chihuahua and Tamaulipas all but empty, the aftermath being lawless ghost towns. In the hills of northern Sonora, residents say the government can no longer protect them. In the mission town of Tubutama, which is more than 300 years old, Father Anastasio Franco Gómez says two-thirds of the town's population has fled. Violence began there more than a year ago, and ever since, people have quietly fled. Locals warn not to go too far into the hills. Even the Sinaloa Cartel stays out as does the Mexican army. They circle the region instead.

Listen to the entire four minute report by Arizona Public Media here.

Headless in Houston

South of the border, drug cartels and gangs are revisiting the ancient Mayan art of beheading. It is likely that the recent uptick in Mexican beheadings is largely the work of Los Zetas, a brutal Mexican drug cartel that thrives on terrorizing, kidnapping, torturing, maiming and decapitating its victims. George W. Grayson, an expert on Mexican drug gangs, maintains that, “While the beheadings and dismemberments are used to punish those who oppose or betray them, to establish turf, to terrorize the citizenry against testifying against them and to press political leaders to collaborate, random killings also have become the gang’s trademark — used by the Zetas, to demonstrate that no one is beyond their reach, that they can kidnap, torture and kill anyone they choose.” In Mexico, no one is safe, be they men, women or children, young or old. Heads have been found severed from bodies and lined up on the street, arranged on car hoods and even rolled like bowling balls onto dance floors. As a warning to anyone who dares defy the power or the plans of Mexico’s most powerful cartel, headless torsos are hung from bridges, buried in mass graves and tossed like fertilizer bags into the backs of pickup trucks. Contrary to the claims of the Obama administration, the violence is not just south of the border. Seeping into the U.S. are gunrunners, gang members and drug cartels that bring with them the type of horrific murder and mayhem occurring just miles south of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas...more

Read more:

Gunmen kill 2 women in northern Mexico

Gunmen opened fire on four women and a child in Chihuahua city, the capital of the like-named northern Mexican state, killing two of the women and wounding the others in the group, police said. The gunmen drove up to a clinic on Monday in a small car, got out of the vehicle, opened fire on the group and then fled. The two wounded women and the child were taken to a hospital, where they are listed in serious condition. Chihuahua is considered Mexico's most violent state, topping the homicide list since 2008. The state is home to Ciudad Juarez, a border city located across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, where more than 3,100 people died in drug-related violence last year. The killing has not slowed this year, with more than 1,100 people murdered in Juarez...more

Phoenix Dust Storm - Video

Forest Service signs agreement with itself

An intra-agency agreement within the U.S. Forest Service has provided much needed resources to the Gila National Forest during the extreme fire season that the southwest is experiencing this year. "Out-of-state resources are giving the Gila National Forest a necessary boost of experienced firefighters and equipment," said Gabe Holguin, forest fire management officer. Besides providing assistance in fighting fires, the agreement with the Northern Region - which encompasses North Idaho and Montana - allows firefighters to assist in fire prevention and public contact. Since the fire seasons in the two regions are offset, sharing resources is complementary and doesn't impede either agency's fire fighting capabilities. Informal sharing has occurred since 2001, but was formalized in 2007 with the agreement...more

So one region of the Forest Service is sharing firefighters with another region.

This means the Forest Service has signed an agreement with itself to allocate resources in an efficient and effective manner. Doing it in an "informal" manner is not acceptable in government, thus the "intra-agency agreement."

At first I was having a good laugh at this. After all, this is the kind of common sense decision that is made privately in the market place thousands of times a day. But, what the FS is doing is good public policy even if their method of setting the policy seems funny. So, what we really need is more "intra-agency agreement(s)" across the federal behemoth.

Send Smokey out to promote IAA's everywhere. Remember, "Only you can stop waste and inefficiency."

Arizona congressman Paul Gozar recently testified:

In total, over a million acres of Forest Service lands have burned in the American Southwest, as well as another 600,000 acres of federal, state, and private lands. The fires are costing millions of dollars in immediate fire response and will cost many millions more in restoration and rehabilitation in the months and years ahead.

The five largest wildfires, Rodeo in 2002, Cave Creek in 2005, Willow in 2004, Aspen in 2003, and now the current Wallow Fire have all occurred in the last ten years. Prior to 1990, the largest fire was the Carrizo fire in 1970 which burned just 57,000 acres. The frequency of fires, and the magnitude of the acreage burned, has exponentially increased since 1990.

And New Mexico's Forestry Division recently reported to a legislative committee:

As of the morning of June 30, Delfin told lawmakers that the Forestry Division had battled 1,021 fires in fiscal year 2011 and that 756,249 acres had burned across the state, engulfing 100 structures and 40 homes.

We need more than IAA's. We need a complete change in management philosophy.

See Katie Pavlich's nationally syndicated column here where she quotes 90 year old Emil Kiehne's letter to Gary.

9 firefighters injured when driver swerves to avoid dog

Nine firefighters were injured when a U.S. Forest Service truck rolled off the side of a Palmdale road near the Angeles National Forest when the driver apparently swerved to avoid a dog, authorities said today. The crash occurred at 9:33 p.m. Monday on Mount Emma Road, east of Cheseboro Road, California Highway Patrol Officer Krystal Carter said. A dog was found at the scene uninjured, and animal control officers were called to take it away, Carter said. The vehicle was transporting firefighters back to their quarters after they patrolled the area on a Fourth of July fire watch assignment, said Nathan Judy of the U.S. Forest Service. The truck rolled about 15 feet down an embankment, Judy said. Los Angeles County firefighters extricated three firefighters from the truck, Judy said. Those three firefighters were airlifted them for hospital treatment, and six others were transported by ground ambulance...more

Idaho to offer looser wolf hunt rules as tag sales lag

Idaho wildlife managers will propose a wolf hunt without quotas in much of the state, but hunters so far have purchased only a fraction of the tags needed to kill the rangy predators, compared with the first hunt in 2009. Having no limits on how many wolves can be killed in many hunting areas could be alarming for wildlife advocates who fear Idaho will manage wolves back into federal protection. There would still be quotas on parts of the Montana-Idaho border, where Department of Fish and Game managers seek to preserve a corridor where wolves from both states can wander back and forth and breed. But with only about 3,100 tags sold through Thursday - compared with some 30,000 in 2009 - hunters are likely to fall well short of Idaho Department of Fish and Game's hopes of keeping predator numbers in check. "We're not getting near the response this year in term of tag purchases that we did that first year," Idaho Fish and Game Deputy Director Jim Unsworth told The Associated Press. That means officially sanctioned kills, including kills by federal agents, will likely remain the most important tool for wildlife managers...more

Natural gas subsidies a boon for T. Boone

Billionaire tycoon T. Boone Pickens Jr. recently has stepped up efforts to press for Congress to pass a sweeping natural gas subsidy package known as the NAT GAS Act of 2011. The Pickens-backed proposal would enact a host of goodies for the industry: subsidies totaling $11,500 per car; $64,000 for commercial natural gas trucks, depending on their size; and up to $100,000 for retailers to install natural gas infrastructure at filling stations. By Mr. Pickens‘ own estimate, the cost to taxpayers to put 140,000 commercial natural gas trucks and the necessary fueling stations into operation would be $5 billion over five years. However, add in the cost of the passenger-vehicle subsidy at an assumed sales rate of 1 million natural gas cars and 100,000 small natural gas trucks each year, and the price tag would be $13.8 billion per year, without counting the bigger subsidies for large trucks and filling stations. Mr. Pickens presents the subsidies as a patriotic alternative to buying oil from the bad guys at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. An oil insider himself, Mr. Pickens is the spokesman who is here to impart sage advice about a subject he knows all too well...more

Rancher Threatens To Shoot Cattle

Here’s an ironic story; 3,000 cattle in Australia may be shot on Wednesday as a result of a ban that was supposed to protect them from acts of cruelty. Nico Botha, a cattle rancher in West Australia said he will be forced to kill the cattle unless the government lifts its ban on exporting live animals to Indonesia. The ban was issued four weeks ago to protect the cattle after accounts of abuse were reported in Indonesia slaughterhouses. Indonesia is the largest importer of cattle from Australia. News of the abuse gained international attention and the Australian government stopped further shipment of the animals until humane treatment of the cattle could be ensured. Now four weeks later, ranchers say thousands of cattle “may well die horrible deaths far worse than some Indonesia abattoirs” if the ban continues. “Rather than let them starve to death over two or three months, I’m going to shoot them quickly,” Mr. Botha reported to The Daily Telegraph. “My property is over-grazed and I have got too many cattle.” Veterinary surgeon Gehan Jayawardhana, who has worked in the industry since 1986 reported that “at least 25,000 cattle would die as a result of the ban.” He said the main problem was a lack of grazing land and feed for the current animals and the new calves that are about to be weaned from their mothers...more

The do-gooders are at it again - bringing more pain and suffering to the animal world.

Song Of The Day #615

Moon Mullican's I Was Sorta Wonderin' is Ranch Radio's selection today.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Appeals court quashes rancher's claim on grazing land

The state Court of Appeals has thrown out a bid by a Southern Arizona ranching company to get title to land where its predecessors had grazed cattle for more than a century. Without dissent, the three-judge panel rejected arguments by attorneys for Robinson Cattle that it was entitled to possession of thousands of acres that was deeded over to the state by the federal government in 1991. The court specifically rejected the company’s claim of vested property rights. At the heart of the battle is land that became federal government property in 1853 when it got the parcel along with other lands pursuant to the Gadsden Treaty with Mexico. Judge William Brammer Jr., writing for the appellate court, said no competing claims had been asserted under Mexican law. The federal government took the land out of public domain in 1902 to become the Santa Rita Forest Preserve. Before that happened, though, Robinson’s predecessors had entered the parcel and later began grazing it. One predecessor even obtained title to a 160-acre homestead within the parcel...more

Robinson argued:
Robinson says it is entitled to ownership of the parcel. That is based on an argument that, under local law and customs, and “pursuant to laws of Congress,’’ its predecessors obtained title to the property — and that its rights vested before the parcel was reserved by the federal government.
The judge ruled:
Brammer said that argument is flawed. “Only Congress can authorize rights in public lands,’’ he said. “Although the United States has allowed persons, sometimes called settlers, to graze livestock on public domain, such permission only gave rise to an implied license,’’ the judge continued. And Brammer said the federal government could revoke that right at any time, with no vested right to those who had been grazing cattle there. What that means, Brammer said, is any “local laws and customs’’ that Robinson claims entitle the company to the property exist only if Congress authorized those rights explicitly. And the judges said an 1866 law that Robinson cited only acknowledges water and ditch right-of-way rights created under state law. The judge also pointed out that when the federal government gave the land to Arizona, there were no reservations about any rights belonging to Robinson or any predecessor. More to the point, Brammer said, if the federal government considered Robinson the owner of the parcel, it never would have granted title to the state.

Mexican gray wolves face new challenges in struggle for survival

Life isn't getting any easier for Mexican gray wolves struggling against extinction. Both politics and nature have produced new hurdles for an animal reintroduced in 1998 to vast native ranges in Arizona and New Mexico. Currently, about 50 wolves live in the wild. The Wallow Fire, which scorched more than a half-million acres, mostly in Arizona, blazed through prime wolf habitat. A June 21 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service update said there was no evidence wolves had been killed in the fire. Adult wolves wearing radio collars were located near three dens in the burn area, but wildlife officials were still trying to determine whether pups survived. The report gives a status report on 10 packs, all of which were "exhibiting denning behavior." It appears the wolves will survive the devastating wildfire. The politics, however, are influenced by a variety of competing ideologies ranging from ranching economics to ecosystem health that have given the Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery Program a herky-jerky gait. New Mexico's new governor, Susana Martinez, provided the most recent turn. Martinez replaced four members of the New Mexico State Game Commission, which on June 9 voted to end the state's participation in the recovery program. State wildlife personnel officially ceased their activities on Friday. "The governor's concerns remain the same about the real and various risks of the program - everything from the cost of livestock that is lost to basic safety concerns of parents and families," said Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell in an email. "She believes we must find an equitable and fair solution to this problem, one that, in particular, provides for compensation to our hard-working ranch families for the loss of their livelihood."...more

Debate over wolves unfolds in Pacific Northwest

The wolves came within howling distance of the house, but were gone by the time Kim Jacobs found dead lambs on her family's eastern Oregon ranch that spring morning. While many conservationists welcome the return of gray wolves into the Pacific Northwest, Jacobs wants to shoot them if they harm her livestock. "A lot of (people) can't wrap their mind around what wolves are capable of," said the fourth-generation rancher from Baker City, Ore., whose family lost at least 26 sheep to wolves in 2009. As gray wolves have moved into the valleys and forests of Oregon and Washington in recent years, the conflicts that marked wolf debates in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are unfolding here. Congress in April stripped federal endangered-species protections from wolves in Montana, Idaho and the eastern one-third of Washington and Oregon. Wolves are still on the federal list of endangered species in the western two-thirds of Washington and Oregon, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing whether that protection should continue. Public comments on that review are due Tuesday. This summer, Washington wildlife officials are finalizing a draft wolf management plan that has been so heated that an advisory group can't agree on some of the basics. The state has gotten 65,000 comments, ranging from advocates who say wolves play a vital role in the ecosystem to hunters and ranchers who fear they will eat too many elk, deer and livestock. Meanwhile, conservation groups are urging Oregon wildlife officials to stop killing wolves. Wildlife managers killed two wolves in May and said in June they may kill another to prevent more livestock losses. "It's looking more like it's not conservation, it's looking like retribution," said Oregon Wild's Rob Klavins. "Nobody envisioned a situation where we'd be killing 20 percent of the wolf pups in two weeks to assuage the loss of four cows."...more

Read more:

Sheriffs asked to arrest airport security agents

The issue of invasive physical pat-downs by federal Transportation Security Administration agents at airports across the nation isn't going away anytime soon, with word that the Libertarian Party of Florida formally is demanding that sheriffs in the state's 67 counties arrest TSA agents for sexual battery. The enhanced pat-down procedures – or the optional full body scans that essentially create a nude image of passengers – were imposed on travelers across America in recent months, prompting a wide range of reactions. "As sheriff, you have the absolute duty to enforce the law uniformly and without prejudice. You are, at best, engaged in selective enforcement by choosing to further ignore these flagrant violations of federal and state law. At worst, you are complicit," a message to the 67 sheriffs from the party, signed by chairman Adrian Wyllie, said. "If you have TSA agents within your county that are violating the law, then you must act. Warn the TSA agents that they are subject to arrest if they continue to violate the law. Should they continue, then you must begin making arrests," the letter said. "We urge you to remember the oath you took to support, protect and defend the Constitution of both the state of Florida and the United States of America. On behalf of all Floridians, the Libertarian Party of Florida calls on you to do exactly that. "We turn to you, our constitutional sheriffs, to enforce the law in accordance with your sworn duty," the letter said. Videos of invasive searches, including physical contact with sex organs, have been all over the Internet since the "enhanced" procedures were imposed by the Obama administration...more

New vehicle rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions spark debate

Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, makes a forceful case for why we need to slash greenhouse gas emissions from cars and small trucks: It will cut America’s oil consumption; foster the nation’s energy independence; save consumers money at the pump; and help revive domestic auto manufacturers. What she doesn’t volunteer is that it will curb climate change. The Obama administration is crafting two regulations — one targeting passenger vehicles, another focused on heavier trucks and buses — that will do more to cut global warming pollution than any other policy in his term. But that fact is barely mentioned as officials negotiate with automakers, environmentalists and others, particularly about the contentious car and light truck rule due out in September. Has the administration given up on climate change after legislation died in the Senate last year, as some advocates now charge? Or has it simply re-branded the idea and its goals, as others complain? With potentially dramatic fuel-use requirements coming to the car and truck worlds in particular, the issue has returned to prominence — however it may be defined. Just last week, officials from EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told U.S automakers it was considering requiring their fleet to average 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025. But automakers and conservative politicians are facing off against environmentalists over what mileage passenger vehicles can achieve...more

Montana ranchers Hit by Oil Spill

Crude oil isn't just ruining animals and plants, it's beginning to dry out livelihoods of people along the Yellowstone River. “I really need to get water on my crops,” said rancher Jerry Williams. Williams owns about 850 acres along River Road, which is off of Duck Creek Road. The oil was washed up by the flood water, and now it is stuck to all his crops. “Were unable to water right now because of the oil in the water and we had oil in our pumps,” said Williams. Williams said first it was the flood waters, now this. “The flood you can deal with, because it comes up and then comes down pretty quickly and it doesn't affect the ground around you, but with the oil it changes everything,” said Williams. Williams has had to move his livestock to a fenced early to keep them from eating the oil, but that's not the only concern, “were concerned about our water wells,” he said. Along Thiel Road, clean up crews are doing what they can to start with relief efforts. Dan Kennedy is a state house representative for House District 57. He lives along Thiel Road and has had oil wash up along his property too. Kennedy is optimistic that Exxon Mobil will do all they can to help his constituents. “I put my animals up, I know the horses wont eat down too far, but were going to let the water go down, and let the professionals come in." Exxon Mobil said air and water monitoring has not revealed any health risks, as of now, but at least one person has had to go to the emergency room...more

If passed, change to CDL rules to impact ND farmers, ranchers

After the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently extended a public comment period for discussion of commercial driver’s license requirements, area farmers and ranchers are urging no more regulations. The FMCSA is seeking guidance on whether off-road farm machinery or equipment used to transport goods on public roads should be considered commercial vehicles. As it stands now, each state is allowed to grant exemptions of CDL requirements, which in North Dakota includes farmers and ranchers. North Dakota Farm Bureau Policy Director Sandy Clark said the FMCSA docket is concerned about uniformity, but there is no one-size-fits-all CDL regulation. “There will be differences between states, and rightfully so,” she said, adding that other states are more densely populated and have infrastructure less based in agriculture. Clark said if the proposed definition was honored, tractors, combines and pickup trucks hauling grain or livestock would have to be licensed as commercial vehicles. She added that operators would have to have a medical card and log hours of operation...more

Emma's lasting legacy

Imagine the big, heavy Concord stagecoach, rumbling along somewhere between a trot and a gallop, six gleaming horses up, two-by-two-by-two abreast, the driver leaning into every turn, nervously spitting tobacco juice, his able assistant ready at a moment's notice to brake the wheels, if coaxed. The pace was brutal, every hillock to be negotiated, each turn to be skillfully navigated, being continually cognizant of the up-and-down, forward-and-back swing of the passenger-carrying coach, an exercise in understanding and utilizing gravity. In those days before rail, blowing and sweating horses needed to be changed about every 10 miles, with stage stops in Woody Creek, Emma, Yellow Dog (now Satank), and then on to Defiance (Glenwood Springs). Emma, a collection of deteriorating brick buildings alongside Highway 82, just west of Basalt, was originally located slightly further west, on what was the Vasten farm. There was strong impetus for a stage stop there, with accommodations, based on the needs of the horses and mules. Wait, the mules? Jerome B. Wheeler, well-known Aspen pioneer, had established coke ovens in Jerome Park, well-above Marion and Sunshine, and prior to the existence of rail, hauled the coke to Aspen for its use in the smelting of silver ore. Large freighters, similar to the one seen in “Dances with Wolves,” could not make the trip to Aspen in one day, and thus a stable was built to house and feed the overnighted mules. The ringing of the resident blacksmith's hammer could be heard over the roar of the still-wild Roaring Fork and naturally, a saloon was built adjacent to the barn...more

Silent Sentinels on the High Plains

Perched atop the weathered wooden posts, the western boots stretched nearly one mile into the horizon. Brown, black, green, gray and blue were the colors. Torn and frayed was their condition. All the boot heels pointed toward the blue, spring sky. Some of the toes still held their shape – jutting out from the fence post. Others dropped toward the grass like the tongues of cutting ponies after a full morning of sorting cattle. This boot fence can be found on John Smith’s Boot Hill Ranch. Located on K-25 about a mile and a half north of Russell Springs, nearly 500 boots dot the top of the five-strand, barbed wire fence that runs north and south. “The number depends on how many have been stolen on any particular day,” Smith said with a glint in his eye. “Those boots don’t just jump off the posts and walk away.” Locals will tell you a boot fence is one method a rancher uses to signify he is just that – a rancher and not a farmer. A few will tell you it’s just a “crazy” hobby and nothing to take too seriously. Smith fitted his first pair of boots on the fence line 20 years ago. The boots were 1948 vintage and hand-made by Charles P. Shipley Saddlers & Mercantile, Co. of Kansas City, Mo...more

Song Of The Day #614

Today Ranch Radio brings you Johnnie Lee Wills, the younger brother of Bob Wills, and his recording of Late Evening Blues.

Where the tunnels are: Nogales, not Douglas

Every month or so, on average, the U.S. Border Patrol has reported the discovery of another smuggling tunnel in Nogales over the past few years. Meanwhile, during that same time period, it has been a rare occurrence to find a tunnel in other places along the U.S.-Mexico border in the Tucson Sector. According to David Jimarez, a public information officer for the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, a total of 37 tunnels were found from Oct. 1, 2008, until today. Twenty tunnels were discovered in the sector in fiscal year 2009 (Oct. 1, 2008, to Sept. 30, 2009). All of them were located in Nogales. During fiscal year 2010 (Oct. 1, 2009, to Sept. 30, 2010), there were seven tunnel discoveries in the sector. Of those, six were located in Nogales. Only one tunnel, and it was incomplete, was located in Douglas that year. And, for this current fiscal year, which started Oct. 1, 2010, Border Patrol reports that all 10 tunnels found in the sector so far have been located in Nogales. Some tunnels are quite sophisticated. One tunnel, found in early May of this year in Nogales, was 15 feet below the surface and about 250 feet long. It measured three feet wide by five feet high, and contained electricity, water pumps and ventilation...more

More Guns From ATF's 'Fast and Furious' Used in Arizona Crimes

Weapons linked to the federal government’s controversial “Fast and Furious” gun-running sting have turned up at four crime scenes in Arizona in the communities of Glendale and Phoenix. The four guns are connected to drug cases in Phoenix and Glendale, Phoenix television station ABC 15reported.  “Fast and Furious” backfired with deadly results, prompting calls for shake-ups at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and in the Justice Department. Under the program, ATF agents allowed weapons to flow across the border in a scheme targeting Mexican drug cartels. However, weapons involved in the sting have turned up at crime scenes — they have been involved in at least 150 shootings, including the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. The ATF now admits it lost track of two-thirds of the guns, and even President Barack Obama has described the program as flawed. In the new cases in Arizona, documents show that guns from the program are connected to two Glendale criminal cases and another two in Phoenix, ABC15 investigators found. All the cases are drug related. Four weapons appear in official ATF Suspect Gun Summary documents, which the station described as a “sort-of watch list for suspicious gun sales.” “ATF representatives denied ABC15’s open records request for documents showing other weapons connected to the Fast and Furious case that may have been involved in other crimes in the United States,” the station reported...more

Nearly 200 of the guns were used in crimes in Mexico

As part of Fast and Furious, ATF agents allowed straw purchases, in which a person buys guns on behalf of someone else who cannot legally buy them. The idea was to allow the purchases to go through in order to trace where the guns ended up, but agents appear to have lost track of a significant number of the weapons. Nearly 200 of the guns were used in crimes in Mexico, officials have determined, and two weapons were found in December at the scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent's killing...more

Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Independence Day! in Photos

Many beautiful words have been written about the 4th of July, our Independence Day, but to me this is what it''s all about:

All pictures were taken this year at Delk Band events raising funds to protect the custom and culture of rural New Mexicans.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

It’s ‘Be kind to a Cowboy’ holiday
 by Julie Carter

There are some things about a cowboy that don’t change, no matter the era. One of those is his delight in and dedication to celebrating the Fourth of July. Cowboys, if they are anything, are patriotic.

For a hundred years, traditional rodeo has put bucking horses and roping cowboys right up there with the firecrackers and parades as part of the tradition of Independence Day. The sport of Ranch Rodeo has given the everyday cowboy a good reason to go to town whether to cheer on his peers or be part of the competition.

Just to clear up any issues of mathematics in the profit and loss department of such a celebration, expenses are always only an estimate by the cowboy and rarely mentioned. However, if there is a “win” for the income column, it will never be forgotten and will become part of the cowboy’s memories of legendary proportion.

The ambiance of a rodeo on the Fourth of July has changed only in the wide array of arena options available. Many a small town USA still offers board bleachers and bull-wire fencing (leaning and weathered) with the original outhouses from 1954 still serving as the “facilities.”

The other end of the spectrum is the covered, air conditioned sportsplex with, in addition to the arena, a swimming pool, a couple restaurants, a Western wear and tack store, basketball court, adjoining golf course and softball field.

In spite of the contradicting monetary math, rodeo grounds across America will be covered over in trucks, trailers, hats, and swinging ropes this July 4th holiday. It’s Cowboy Christmas time and the cowboys have been on the road for days working up their momentum for the holiday.

Even the livestock seems to know the routine. As the cowboys stand at the chutes, hats held over their hearts as the flags are posted and the national anthem is played, the bucking horses waiting in the chute will snort and kick the gate behind them. It is part of the musical percussion of rodeo.

That moment, those sounds, burn into the recesses of a cowboy’s rodeo memories, along with the smell of arena dirt, the banging of gates as livestock is moved around, trailers rattling across the parking lot and the sound of hoof beats as a horse lopes to the arena.

Fourth of July rodeoing is defined by road-weary unshaven cowboys, tired horses and pickups filled with dirty clothes, rumpled programs, empty coffee cups, dust-covered sunglasses, gas receipts and a well-worn road map.

Without the need for pulling a horse trailer, the rough stock cowboys will pile in together over the 4th of July week, crisscrossing the country, for example, from Greeley to several places in Arkansas, back to Arizona and up to Montana followed by a run in the South. Burning up the rodeo highway the old-fashioned way has not gone out of style.

Easily, the Fourth of July holiday could be named the “Be Kind to a Rodeo Cowboy” holiday. They don’t all win, they can’t all afford it, but across the board, they all love it with a passion only they feel and no one but they can understand.

It makes me very happy to know that the tradition of rodeo on the 4th of July continues without much change.
You can’t say that about very many things in this world.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Historic Patterns of Vegetation & Enviro Bankrolls

Fuchs’ Findings and a lost Bird
Historic Patterns of Vegetation
 Tedium from the Extractive Funding Front
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

      On my wall are two panoramic pictures of brandings from 1931.  The first picture shows Lee Rice “holding rodear” on Rain Creek Mesa.  The second is a similar scene three or four miles south in Mogollon Creek at the 916 headquarters. 
     There are a number of the cowboys in the pictures that are dear to me and mine.  There is also a treasured family heirloom seen in both pictures.  That saddle sits on a stand across the room from me.
      Look at the Evidence
     Nearly every time someone stops by those pictures are discussed.  I like the discussion and it gives me a chance to re-inspect them myself.  It has occurred to me, though, the interest that is generated from the two scenes with all those horned Hereford cattle is only part of the historical significance.  Perhaps more importantly is the backdrop. 
     In the picture from Rain Creek Mesa, the mesa itself is paired with 74 Mountain as a backdrop.  In the 916 picture, the interest is Mogollon Creek with the drainages of Davis and Rough Canyons extending eastward toward Watson Mountain.  What the casual observer would not comprehend is the scarcity of trees relative to today. 
    On the hillside just south from the 916 corral are mature alligator and one seeded junipers in a density of perhaps 10-15 trees per acre.  Across the creek to the east in a stretch of hillside of some 250 yards, a total of 12 trees can be counted.
     Looking closely at the ridges at higher elevations, the absence of mature juniper trees is obvious.  Apache plume, mountain mahogany, and oak are abundant, but not junipers.  Likewise, the creek bottom itself is void of most trees except oaks and at least one visible sycamore.  The under story is open and filled with grass, especially in the picture at the 916. Remember the year was 1931.  Cattle had been on those ranges under the same brands since 1888 and 1884, respectively. 
     As to any suggestion of logging, there was only isolated pine trees at this elevation and not many junipers would have been cut off the hillsides.  Posts would have been cut where fences were built.
     To the Esoterics
     Since branding was being done, it was likely June when the pictures were taken.  The monsoons had not started, and, yet, cattle body scores were very comparable to modern conditions.  That meant the quality and abundance of grass must be good since cattle would not be supplemented in those days. 
     The source and quantity of water were also factors of interest.  There was no construction of “tanks” being done at that early date.  Cattle had to be watering either in Mogollon Creek or at a handful of hand dug wells that may or may not have been equipped with windmills. 
      The concentration of cattle would have been high along the creek and near the edges of the mesa.  We know that from verbal history.  It would have been there, in the confined areas around limited water, that, indeed, cattle impact would have been most extreme.  The pressure from cattle further from water would have been proportionally less.  Cattle are not going to be where they cannot drink within a reasonable walking distance . . . they never have . . . they never will. The incessant premise of universal overgrazing on western ranges is an unmitigated distortion of fact.
     The Fuchs work
I met Hollis Fuchs in the summer of 2002.  Hollis has a very interesting hobby.  For years, he has sought historic pictures of his native surroundings in Lincoln County, New Mexico and has taken his camera and gear to those exact spots to recapture the scene in a modern setting.  The results are astounding. 
     If the question is asked today of the historical abundance of forests, the invariable response is historical forest growth and footprint exceeds that of today.  The Fuchs work upends that general assumption. 
     In fact, if Lincoln County is anything like the other counties in the state, the bigger question should be, “Why are we not logging New Mexico forests?”  The bulk of the Fuchs historic pictures range from just after 1900 to about 1915.  The pictures predate extensive logging.  The work represents a broad spectrum of historic timber growth. 
    In his book, Historic Increases in Woody Vegetation in Lincoln County, New Mexico, there are many pictures that negate what we have been erroneously taught, but the picture of Sierra Blanca taken from Lookout Mountain in 1914 compared to the picture taken from the same spot in 1998 is simply amazing.  There is timber today that didn’t even exist in 1914 and long before equipment was available to log those high ridges.  The comparison is stunning.
     The Message from the Script
     In a recent Albuquerque newspaper op-ed, the obligatory green wave rebuttal discounting the need to log in order to reduce fuel in southwestern forests was all too familiar.    The first order of business was to remind the masses that the health of the modern forests was the fault of early day loggers and ranchers.  It seems that “dry pine forests of the west were severely logged over, leaving a nearly uniform mass of small trees.  Domestic livestock grazing, which suppresses the grasses that normally carry low intensity fire fostered the proliferation of pine seedlings and aggravated conditions.”
    The article went on to ding the logging industry itself because it “cut itself out of business, the lumber business is mostly gone and the market for lumber is at record low.”  The fact finder went on to relate, “Supposing we threw aside all environmental concerns and opened our public forestlands to logging on a historic scale . . . there would be no use for logs.”
    As to the accusation that the green wave has exacerbated the danger of western fires by litigating every effort to address the dangerous fuel loads, the scribe had an answer to that as well when he noted “as an atmosphere of litigation and acrimony surrounding resources has given way to a spirit of cooperation.”
    The final dagger, however, was that time tested treasure of the same crowd when their wilderness warrior surreptitiously noted that “cost-effective fuel reduction is accomplished with other tools including: wildland fire use, prescribed fire, thinning, and removal of livestock grazing pressure.”
     Political Science and the modern scandal, the Extractive Funding Front
     Productive Americans are tired of the environmental conflagration in every form.  The tedious reminders of historic stewardship condemnations are wearing thin.  There are too many examples of science being seen for what they are . . . pure political junk with enough pseudoscience to redirect our entire societal framework to accomplish some perverted goal.
     Those efforts could not have occurred if they had not been supported by institutions within our midst that exist on extractive funding.  For too long the blame of western environmental wrongs has been directed without recourse to the so called extractive industries.  The truth is becoming clearly focused . . . the real dilemma has been created by the ambitions of the environmental robbers . . . the Extractive Funding Front.
     The components of the Extractive Funding Front are various.  They are both public and private.  What they share in common is reliance on funding that comes from a source external from their legal framework.  It doesn’t come from their primary production of goods and services.  It comes from somebody else’s wealth creation.  It is, therefore, technically parasitic and science suggests parasites that cannot exist in a symbiotic relationship with their host . . . eventually destroy themselves.
     The Objective Realizations
     The work of Hollis Fuchs stemming from historical pictures like those on my tack room wall offers hope and creates a degree of optimism for our future.  There are real world implications addressed from those photos.
     The expanse of forest growth, the condition of cattle in full drought, the affects of watershed health, the fantastic natural adjustments to constraints and changing conditions, and the evolutionary acceptance of man when he is exposed to risk and failure as an integral cooperator with nature all have positive implications for our future.  That is where the real science exists.  That is where the positive direction lays . . . and that is where the real environmental revolution beckons. 

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “The Extractive Funding Front has robbed us of the real environmental relationship with our dynamic natural world. Their tedious condescension of our existence and cattle on our western ranges reminds me of them brushing their teeth.  If the last time they brushed their teeth was 50 years ago, there would be a bit of uncontrolled undergrowth in their oral cavities.  The rest of us know that a little maintenance has therapeutic benefits, and that includes the advancement of our management skills through our stewardship responsibilities.”  June, 2011.