Friday, July 29, 2011

New Mexico Rain Gauge

Wildlife biologist questioned over 'integrity issues'

Just five years ago, Charles Monnett was one of the scientists whose observation that several polar bears had drowned in the Arctic Ocean helped galvanize the global warming movement. Now, the wildlife biologist is on administrative leave and facing accusations of scientific misconduct. The federal agency where he works told him he's being investigated for "integrity issues," but a watchdog group believes it has to do with the 2006 journal article about the bear. The group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, filed a complaint on his behalf Thursday with the agency, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. Investigators have not yet told Monnett of the specific charges or questions related to the scientific integrity of his work, said Jeff Ruch, the watchdog group's executive director. A BOEMRE spokeswoman, Melissa Schwartz, said there was an "ongoing internal investigation" but declined to get into specifics. Whatever the outcome, the investigation comes at a time when climate change activists and those who are skeptical about global warming are battling over the credibility of scientists' work...more

New NASA Data Blow Gaping Hole In Global Warming Alarmism

NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth's atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed. Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA's Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA's Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models...more

Lummis clause preventing wolf lawsuits survives challenge

A proposed ban on lawsuits against an impending Wyoming wolf management deal survived a legislative challenge in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. House members voted 250-174 to keep a rider in a 2012 Interior appropriations bill that would prevent any litigation against a potentially imminent agreement between Wyoming and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would put the state’s roughly 340 wolves under state control. Earlier this month, Gov. Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said they hoped to reach an agreement by the end of July that would remove Wyoming wolves from the federal endangered-species list and allow unregulated killing of the animals in all but the northwestern part of the state. Mead and other state officials have repeatedly said that a congressional “no-litigation” clause is vital to protect any agreement reached from lawsuits by environmental groups and others. The rider, inserted by U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., would also put Wyoming wolves directly under state control as soon as a deal is reached. Lummis’ budget rider was unsuccessfully challenged by an amendment from U.S. Rep. Norman Dicks, D-Wash., as 24 Democrats joined 226 Republicans in voting to keep the language in the bill...more

Wolves Move From Endangered to Hunted in Rural Montana

Earlier this month, a black wolf attacked and killed one of Rick Sandru's calves as it grazed on a forest allotment in the upper Ruby Valley above his southwest Montana ranch. As the wolf feasted on the 400-pound carcass, a range rider fired a shot, maiming the wolf and sending it scurrying into the woods, leaving behind a trail of blood. The calf was one of countless livestock Sandru and other Montana ranchers lose each year to wolves, coyotes, grizzlies, black bear and mountain lions that prowl these mountain ranges. What was different about this month's kill is that Sandru for the first time was able to prove it to federal agents. A worker hung the cow carcass up in a tree and returned the next day with a U.S. Department of Agriculture official to verify the cause of death. Sandru was compensated for the calf, and a scavenger, likely a bear, tore the carcass from the tree a day later, an easy morsel. "That's one wolf that we don't have to worry about," said Sandru, a third-generation rancher who wears a cowboy hat and a mustache and whose cattle graze sun-swept pastures among pronghorn, elk and sage grouse. "But I'm sure it has a lot of friends." Indeed, wolf depredations are a fact of life for Sandru and other ranchers in the Ruby Valley. Many, if not most, wolf kills can never be proven because the wounded animals just disappear into the woods and don't return. Some cattle are found dead, but cannot be proven as wolf-killed. Sandru said a calf was killed a couple of years ago by a wolf that grabbed it by its face, crushed its skull, gave it a shake and broke its neck. "They're killing machines," said Sandru of the wolves. "I don't have anything against any animal, but I have a lot against the Endangered Species Act when it doesn't consider its impacts on the people."...more

Sure glad that NY Times headline-writer put "rural" in the headline, otherwise many may have thought they were huntin' wolves in "urban" areas.

Mule Train Supplies Calif. Wildland Firefighters

A pack train of 30 horses and mules is helping to supply firefighters who are working to contain the three- week old Lion Fire in the Golden Trout Wilderness. The animals are hauling food and supplies into the Lion Meadow area where 55 firefighters are based. Animals from seven national forests in California are part of the packing effort, which is being coordinated by the US Forest Service’s regional pack stock program. “Pack animals have been used in remote parts of the Sierra Nevada for generations,” said Michael Morse, wilderness and pack stock program manager for the Inyo National Forest. “By supplying the firefighters with horses and mules, we are able to both minimize the use of motorized equipment in the wilderness and pass on packing skills to the next generation of wilderness managers.” Hauling approximately 1,200 pounds per trip, the pack train can supply a crew of 20 people for three days. The trip takes approximately nine hours round-trip, making for a long day in the saddle. “This is not easy work,” said Pat Baily, wilderness manager for Los Padres National Forest. “You have to have a passion for it.”...more

Another example of what a wilderness designation brings you. We better haul some of those mules to NM so the Border Patrol and the Sheriff can use them to chase the drug traffickers in the Bingaman Bandito Boulevard. Better bring a bunch cuz it's over 240,000 acres on or near the border with Mexico.

We'll have mules chasin' mules, except their mules will be heavily armed and in many cases mounted on motorized vehicles.

Fairfield rancher copes with loss of ewes, lambs, plus federal fine

Rick Christy, a farmer and rancher in the Golden Ridge area between Fairfield and Augusta, says he would not change a thing, from killing the grizzly bear that was attacking his sheep this spring to paying a fine for violating the federal Endangered Species Act. But he isn’t happy about either. Christy shot and killed a 340-pound sub-adult grizzly bear as it and a second bear attacked and killed sheep on his property in the early morning hours of May 10. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigated the shooting and determined that Christy had violated the federal Endangered Species Act by killing the grizzly, which is listed as a “threatened” species under the act. The USFWS then levied a $2,000 fine against him for the misdemeanor violation. The USFWS found that Christy violated federal law because he killed the grizzly in defense of his flock. Under state law, it is legal for a livestock operator to protect property, including livestock, if it is under attack by predators. But federal law only allows the killing of a threatened or endangered species if the action is taken in self defense...more

Wyandotte Nation sues Interior in land/casino case

The Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma has sued the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior for failing to take the tribe's land in Park City into trust for a casino. The tribe filed the suit in the Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals on Tuesday. Its land-in-trust application has been pending in the department since January 2009. It requires approval by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who is named in the suit. "We were left with no recourse but to take action against the department," said Billy Friend, chief of the tribe. "We felt like we were patient." The suit argues that the department has no choice but to grant its application because the tribe purchased its Park City land with land-claim settlement funds from a 1984 law passed by Congress. The Wyandotte had claimed it never was properly reimbursed for land the government took from it in Sandusky, Ohio, in 1843. The Interior Department recently has begun considering land-in-trust applications for off-reservation casinos from about 33 tribes, including the Wyandotte Nation. The Wyandotte's application is the only mandatory application on that list, Friend said. "They have an obligation to take the land into trust and have failed in their responsibility," he said...more

Adults spend days in the trees to earn certification

When you're young you climb trees for fun, but some adults have made a career out of it and for the past three days, instructors have been helping Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management employees get certified to climb trees. Lead Instructor John Weston says when climbing large trees with no branches, there are many methods you can use to reach the top. "Spur climbing is typically what we used to do but it's very hard on some trees. So we teach them how to use tree climbing ladders, we teach them to use ropes to go up the trees, we teach them how to repel out of the trees which is the fun part." Weston says this is how the state takes care of the forest but not everyone in this line of work can get certified...more

Wasn't that long ago we came down out of the trees to make a better way of life and now the damned guvmint is making us go back...and without our spurs.

Wild Horses Are (Again) Losing Their Home On The Range

Writing in The Atlantic, Bill Cohen has a long and wide-ranging article highly critical of the BLM and the Rock Springs Grazing Association. Cohen served as the chief legal analyst for CBS News. So, do you think he sides with the "horse lobby" or the "politically (i.e. financially)...cattle or ranching industries"?

Wild hogs tearing up New Mexico

Feral pigs are making their way across New Mexico and are causing more and more damage to the state’s land and crops, according to a government official and a rancher. “I’m continually working on pigs,” said Ron Jones, a U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife specialist. Reports of wild hogs first started popping up about six years ago, according to the U.S.D.A. Jones said he now spends more than half his time tracking down the animals in Quay County, near the Texas state line. For years, wild hogs have been a problem in other states, like neighboring Texas. But now they’re believed to be in every New Mexico county that borders Texas, and as far west as the Rio Grande. The animals steal food, tear up the land and are generally destructive. And they can be aggressive, too. “They’ll root up a quarter of a mile of road and it’s really hard to fix,” said Bill Humphries, a Tucumcari-area rancher. “Because they’ll dig big holes, kind of like bomb craters in it.” With females producing litters of four to 12 piglets as often as every six months, the hogs are causing major damage to the land and crops of farmers and ranchers like Humphries. Jones and Humphries showed News 13 some of the damage the hogs left behind; about two acres of torn up grassland Humphries’ cattle can no longer graze. The hogs were searching for certain types of roots and bugs, Jones said...more

The full KRQE-TV report is below. Check it out if you want to see if Bill Humphries has lost any of his renowned good looks.

Wild hogs tearing up New Mexico:

Zetas cartel suspected in slaying of Mexican mayor

The Los Zetas drug cartel is suspected in the kidnapping and murder of a city mayor and a prominent rancher in western Mexico, Zacatecas state Attorney General Arturo Nahle Garcia told Efe Thursday. Fortino Cortes, mayor of Florencia de Benito Juarez, and Gilberto Perez Escobedo, treasurer of the regional ranchers association, were abducted Wednesday in Zacatecas city, the state capital. The men were found dead Thursday in Huejucar, a town in the neighboring state of Jalisco, Nahle said. Bound hand-and-foot and blindfolded, the victims were accompanied by a message accusing them of acting as informants for the Gulf drug cartel, Los Zetas' main rival. The bodies were identified by the Cortes and Perez Escobedo families, Nahle said, adding that the federal AG's office will lead the investigation because of the apparent involvement of organized crime. Cortes and Perez Escobedo were taking part in a meeting at the offices of the Regional Ranching Union in Zacatecas city when armed men burst in and grabbed them...more

Mexico: 2 US citizens killed in prison fight

Two U.S. citizens were killed during a prison fight that left 17 inmates dead and many others wounded in a municipal prison in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. Hector Conde, spokesman for the Cereso municipal prison, identified the dead U.S citizens as Nicolas Frias Salas, 35, a former Los Angeles resident who was in prison for homicide and unlawful possession of weapons and Luis Adrian Estrada Perez, 28, formerly of El Paso, who was serving a term for kidnapping. Both were living in Juarez when they were sent to prison, Conde said. Mexican authorities told the U.S. consulate in Juarez about the deaths, but it couldn't confirm the men were U.S. citizens until relatives identified the corpses, consulate spokeswoman Olga Bashbush said. The consulate has located one man's family so far and expects to release his name in the coming days, she said. A video released by prison authorities shows how two hooded inmates got keys to different doors of the facility, opened one to release other armed inmates and then opened the door of a room where the victims were being held and shot them with automatic weapons. The attack took less than a minute...more

For workers on the Rio Grande, caution follows close calls

Typically, men will cross the river and tell irrigation district workers to leave or stop clearing brush that provides cover for drug smuggling and illegal immigration. They occasionally steal equipment and threaten employees. Managers tell workers to simply walk away if threatened. It’s the safest course of action, but one that potentially exposes critical infrastructure to cartel operatives. Perhaps the most serious incident happened three weeks ago, when workers repairing a water pump near Hidalgo reported that someone shot at them from Mexico. Luckily, the men escaped unharmed. In response, Brand said District 3 will pay for field employees to take concealed handgun license classes and carry firearms on the job...more

Police chief in Ciudad Juarez claims Mexican feds tried to kill him

The police chief of Ciudad Juarez has alleged that officers with Mexico's Federal Police attempted to kill him during a chaotic operation on Monday night, ratcheting up an increasingly bitter turf war over who gets to police the troubled border city. Police Chief Julian Leyzaola said that Federal Police officers fired on his vehicle without warning during a massive police response to a series of shootouts late Monday in the municipal prison. In a statement, the Federal Police said Leyzaola's vehicle had crossed a security line, "out of protocol," while federal authorities attempted to contain what they called a possible prison break. One television news crew caught a federal officer saying "Who was that?" when Leyzaola's convoy passed, the El Paso Times reported. "Why did they fire at me?" Leyzaola said during a news conference Wednesday...more

Mexico suspends police aid to violent border city

Mexico's federal government has suspended aid for a police-training program in the violence-wracked border city of Ciudad Juarez, saying authorities there haven't followed reporting rules and have trained few police. Mexico's National Public Safety System says it has suspended 57 million pesos ($4.85 million) in aid scheduled to be delivered this year, because the city has done little to actually train local police. It said Thursday that from 2008 to 2010 the city trained only about 6 percent of its police force, and none of its commanding officers. "It is unfortunate that the federal government is not showing solidarity with Ciudad Juarez in the serious problem of insecurity," city clerk Hector Arceluz Perez told a Thursday hearing. The announcement comes amid rising tensions between local and federal authorities, after federal police shot at a vehicle carrying Ciudad Juarez police chief Julian Leyzaola. Arceluz said the city has opened a formal complaint against the federal police officers, accusing them of attempted murder. AP

Federal Cops Won’t Leave Juarez, Mexican Government Says

The 5,000 federal police currently deployed in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital, will not be withdrawn, interior minister Francisco Blake said, contradicting an earlier statement by the mayor of the border city. Mayor Hector Murguia said Tuesday that he was officially informed the federal cops will begin to leave Juarez in September. His announcement came hours after a score of federal agents fired on the convoy of Juarez’s police chief, the latest in a series of ugly incidents between the feds and local authorities. “The federal forces will not abandon Ciudad Juarez nor its citizens in the face of the criminal phenomenon the city is experiencing,” Blake said in a statement after meeting Wednesday with the governor of the surrounding state of Chihuahua, Cesar Duarte. The efforts of the federal forces in Juarez have been “successful,” Blake insisted. Ciudad Juarez, a metropolis of roughly 1.2 million people just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, has suffered nearly 9,000 homicides since the beginning of 2008...more

Homicides in Mexico rose 23 percent in 2010

The number of homicides in Mexico rose by nearly a quarter in 2010 compared to the year before as the drug war intensified across the country, Mexican statisticians said Thursday. The National Institute of Statistics and Geography recorded 24,374 homicides over the course of last year, a 23 percent increase from 19,803 in 2009. Last year's figure represented 22 killings for every 100,000 residents in the country. Many but not all of the homicides were committed by organized crime organizations, the institute told The Associated Press. Violence has risen in many Mexican regions as a result of drug trafficking and other organized criminal activity. President Felipe Calderon's office has said that more than 15,000 homicides in 2010 were attributed to organized crime. According to the statistics institute, the U.S.-bordering state of Chihuahua saw the highest number of homicides with 4,747. Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico, registered 2,505...more

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Court Rulings Indicate New Mexico's Battle Over GHG Regs Far from Over

At the State Supreme Courthouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico this week, where it was nearly 90 degrees in the shade, something else was heating up: the battle over whether to dismantle the state's greenhouse gas regulations. At the root of the seven-month-long saga is a December decision by New Mexico's Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) to cap global warming emissions from the state's largest power plants by 3 percent per year from 2010 levels starting in 2013. New Energy Economy (NEE), a nonprofit, led the two-year public process leading up to the landmark law's adoption, which would allow the state to enter the Western Climate Initiative's (WCI) cap-and-trade program. But Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who promised during her 2010 campaign to abandon the carbon cap, promptly fired the seven-member EIB in January and tried to stall the ruling's implementation for at least 90 days. Her efforts were later deemed unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court, and the policy went into effect. But the law is far from secure. Two separate rulings by the court this week indicate that the dispute could run far into next year. On Monday, in the first ruling, the court placed a 180-day stay on efforts to repeal the law by utility giant PNM Resources, who is now leading the legal push against EIB. Both parties had requested the six-month time-out so that they could try to resolve the issue out of court. For its part, PNM is aiming to prove via petition with EIB that its law is not economically sound for the public, and thus get it scrapped for good...more

Environmentalists pick up a win in NM Supreme Court

From Rob Nikolewski at New Mexico Watchdog

It may have been a highly technical decision and it may or may not have any impact on future decisions the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) could make regarding rolling back controversial regulations that were passed late last year, but the New Mexico Supreme Court on Wednesday (July 27) handed a net victory for environmentalists. The court ruled that the New Energy Economy (NEE), an environmental group that was behind a measure the EIB approved last December aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state, won the right to intervene as a full party in an appeal of the carbon reduction rules made by New Mexico utility PNM. What does all that mean? In essence, the court’s decision promises to give NEE greater standing if the newly-constituted EIB decides to reverse restrictions the previous board passed last November and December. The EIB still has the right to try to reverse the regulations, which have come under harsh criticism from business interests and the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez but the state high court ruled that an appeal by PNM looking to mediate the carbon cap rule with the EIB had to include NEE as a full party in any negotiations and NEE, in the words of Chief Justice Charles Daniels “cannot be stripped of their status.” After the decision, I talked to Bruce Frederick, an attorney for the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, who argued the case for NEE...more

Judge allows some grazing in Jarbidge area

A federal judge has partially lifted an injunction that had blocked cattle grazing on 17 allotments on Bureau of Land Management property in Idaho. Ranchers will be able to turn cattle out in the Jarbidge Resource Area as long as they follow conditions spelled out in the order: * Grazing will be governed by plans developed by BLM to preserve populations of sensitive species, habitats and watersheds. * The BLM will have full authority to prohibit grazing during the sage grouse mating and nesting season in summer, as well as during fall and winter when plant growth ceases. * Ranchers must ensure cattle don't graze grasses beyond stubble height levels set by the agency. * Grazing will not be allowed in previously burned areas until restoration objectives are met. * The BLM will consult with environmental groups and state agencies in developing grazing plans. * The agency will submit annual reports on the grazing allotments to the court...more

Can fire scare some sense into a judge?  Apparently so.

Winmill said he decided to modify the injunction on July 22 because the BLM needed to use grazing as a tool in preventing rangeland fires, such as the one which devastated the area in 2007.  "A total ban on grazing will interfere with the BLM's efforts, by contributing to a buildup of fuel..."

Safari Club International Champions Access for Hunting Before Congress

On behalf of millions of American sportsmen and women, Safari Club International’s (SCI) Director of Hunter Advocacy, Melissa Simpson, testified yesterday before the House Committee on Natural Resource’s subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. Simpson provided testimony on H.R. 1581, the “Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011” on behalf of a sportsmen’s coalition that included the National Rifle Association and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance. “H.R. 1581 would help hunters who are being denied or limited access to public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service,” Simpson says. “Currently, the Bureau and Forest Service are managing nearly 43 million acres of public land under the prohibitions of wilderness area study area policy, even though the agencies have recommended to Congress that these areas are not suitable for wilderness designation.” The protectionist management by the two agencies severely restricts hunter access to these lands by 1) failing to authorize roads and trails that would help disabled and elderly hunters’ access hunting areas; 2) prohibiting or limiting hunters from using carts for game retrieval and; 3) reducing hunters’ ability to access lands inaccessible by existing roads and trails. Studies have shown that one of the biggest reasons for the decline in hunting participation in recent years has been the lack of access to hunting lands...more

Environmental riders in approps bill

Earth Justice reports:

The following is a brief summary of some of the current environmental attacks in the federal spending bill:


* Interrupting Agency Review of Coal Ash Standards – Seeks to defund any rulemaking that would regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste, thus foreclosing any regulatory scheme that provides for federally enforceable regulations for America’s second largest waste stream.
* Waters of the United States – Would halt the EPA’s ongoing work to clarify which waters remain protected by the Clean Water Act in the wake of confusing court decisions.
* Preventing EPA’s Ability to Regulate the Largest Water Users – This rider prevents the EPA from developing and proposing standards for the use of cooling water at power plants under the Clean Water Act.
* Weakening the Clean Water Act – Would amend the Clean Water Act to create a loophole for the timber industry, exempting it from pollutant discharge permit requirements for silvicultural activities.
* Stormwater Discharge – This rider essentially prevents the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from updating its stormwater discharge regulations or permits to manage runoff from post-construction sites.
* Letting More Pesticides In Our Waters By Axing Clean Water Act Protections – Would create a loophole for pesticide applicators to spray toxic chemicals directly into our waterways without complying with the only statute that was created to protect our water bodies and us.
* Allowing Toxic Slime in Our Waters From Manure, Fertilizer and Sewage – This rider stops the EPA from using its funding to implement, administer or enforce new water quality standards finalized in November for Florida's lakes and flowing waters. This amendment, supported by industry groups in Florida and nationwide, would even stop public education or enforcement of this rule to protect Florida's waters from excess nutrient pollution from sewage, manure and fertilizer.


* Polluter Paradise– This rider would require EPA to stop all work to update clean air standards for dangerous smog, soot and other air pollution if so-called “background” levels of that pollution anywhere in the country are occasionally higher than the standards needed to protect public health.
* Spreading Death and Disease from Cement Pollution– This rider blocks EPA health protections that would control smog, soot, mercury and other toxic pollutants emitted by cement plants, some of the worst industrial polluters of any kind.
* More Soot Pollution, Anti-Science –This rider blocks the EPA from taking account the best scientific and medical information and updating clean air standards for “coarse particle pollution” or PM10, sometimes called soot.
* Spreading Mercury Poisoning, Death and Asthma Attacks – This rider denies EPA funding to carry out and enforce the Clean Air Act’s forthcoming Mercury and Air Toxics standards for power plants and the recently finalized Cross-State Air Pollution Rule to cut smog and soot pollution from power plants.
* Regulation of Ammonia Emissions – This amendment would prevent the EPA from setting a Clean Air Act standard for ammonia. Several federal agencies, including EPA, have documented ammonia’s acute and chronic adverse health effects.

Fish and Wildlife

* Extinction Rider – Prevents the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from spending any money to implement some of the most crucial sections of the Endangered Species Act, such as listing new species; designating habitat critical to a species’ survival; upgrading the status of any species from threatened to endangered; and assisting law enforcement by protecting species that resemble listed species.
* Shielding Gray Wolf Delistings from Judicial Review – This provision exempts from judicial review any final rule that delists gray wolves in Wyoming and any states within the range of the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment of gray wolves, provided that FWS has entered into an agreement with the state for it to manage wolves. The provision undercuts one of the most important checks and balances built into the ESA – public participation through the ability of citizens to request judicial review of delistings.
* Attacking protections for Endangered and Threatened Wild Bighorn Sheep – Eliminates nearly all protections for bighorn sheep in the western United States, forbidding federal agencies from protecting this key wild species.
* Anti-Wildlife, Pro-Poisons Rider – This amendment prohibits the EPA from implementing any measures recommended by federal wildlife experts to protect salmon and other endangered species from pesticides.

Mountaintop Removal Mining:

* Prohibiting Rules to Protect Streams from Surface Mining – Keeps the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement within the Department of the Interior from continuing work to revise regulations adopted in the waning days of the Bush administration that opened up streams to destructive and polluting practices associated with surface coal mining.
* Blocking EPA Oversight of Mountaintop Removal Mining – Shields mountaintop removal coal mining operations from EPA review by stopping EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from continuing a process they put in place in April 2010, to scrutinize proposed mining permits.

Offshore Drilling

* Giving Oil Companies a Free Pass to Pollute – Limits the EPA’s ability to regulate air emissions from offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans, and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Special Places

* Lifting the Grand Canyon Uranium Mining Moratorium – Allows for extensive uranium mining directly adjacent to the Grand Canyon, potentially endangering an iconic landmark as well as some of America's most important water resources.
* Sticking Taxpayers With Mine Cleanup Costs – Prohibits EPA from ensuring that the hard-rock mining industry, like uranium and gold mining companies, post adequate financial assurance to cover the costs of cleanup at mine sites potentially leaving taxpayers on the hook for billions of dollars.

Activist who faked Utah energy lease bids sentenced to 2 years

A Utah man lionized by environmentalists for crashing a 2008 government auction of energy leases near two national parks was sentenced to two years in prison and fined $10,000 on Tuesday. U.S. District Judge Dee Benson in Salt Lake City ordered Tim DeChristopher taken into custody immediately. "I'm not saying there isn't a place for civil disobedience," Benson said. "But it can't be the order of the day." In a roughly 35-minute address to the court, DeChristopher, 29, said his actions were necessary to highlight the threat that climate change poses to the planet. "My intent both at the time of the auction and now was to expose, embarrass and hold accountable the oil and gas industry, to point that it cut into their $100-billion profits," he said. Defense attorney Pat Shea vowed to appeal. "There's been a serious abuse of justice," Shea said. DeChristopher could have received up to 10 years in prison and a $1.5-million fine...more

Shea was briefly BLM Director under Bill Clinton.

Monument Fire demonstrates a new type of behavior

During the Monument Fire the Type I, Northern Incident Management Team coined a new fire term “blow-outs.” Textbooks on wildland fire have long recognized the term “blow-ups,” but nowhere in these books will you find reference to “blow-outs.” They are not identical fire situations and apparently, blow-outs are reported for the first time during the Monument Fire. Both Cochise County residents and firefighters had an opportunity to witness an apparently unprecedented occurrence that consistently modeled itself over three separate days giving new insight into how wildland fire can behave. One can assume this new term evolved spontaneously on the fire scene by derivation from the existing wild land fire lexicon and as a variant of the term “blow-up.” The term blow-out will now accommodate what was observed and experienced on these three different days during the Monument Fire in Ash, Stump and Miller Canyons in June 2011. Both types of fire situations have several apparent similarities or traits in common. On these occasions, the blow-outs appeared to evolve from what began as blow-up fires. Either fire term can function in the lexicon as a noun but is derivative of several verb senses found in the dictionary: cause to burst with a violent release of energy; make large; burst and release energy as through a violent chemical or physical reaction; and to swell or cause to enlarge. And all cases here seem to apply in this dramatic sense from what was observed from those close-by and afar, be it in the air or on the ground...more

Biofuel demand in US driving higher food prices, says report

Demand for biofuels in the US is driving this year's high food prices, a report has said. It predicts that food prices are unlikely to fall back down for another two years. The report, produced by Purdue University economists for the Farm Foundation policy organisation, said US government support for ethanol, including subsidies, had fuelled strong demand for corn over the last five years. A dramatic rise in Chinese imports of soybeans was also putting pressure on prices and supply, the report said. Since 2005, a growing number of US farmers have switched to corn and soybeans from other crops. Farmers in other countries have also switched to corn but, the report said, the demand kept growing. "In 2005, we were using about 16m acres [6.4m hectares] to supply all of the ethanol in the United States and Chinese soybean imports," Wallace Tyner, one of the authors said. It took 18.6m hectares (46.5m acres) last year, just to satisfy that demand. The US department of agriculture reported earlier this month that US ethanol refiners were for the first time consuming more corn than livestock and poultry farmers...more

Quay County rancher, 70, tops senior pro rodeo rankings

A local 70-year-old rancher splits his time between tending 300 head of cattle, rebuilding a home and being ranked number one in calf and breakaway roping in the National Senior Pro Rodeo Association. Jerry Koile is currently first in the NSPRA world rankings in 68-plus calf roping and non-sanctioned 70-plus breakaway roping. “You have got to love it to do it,” Koile said. Koile said he started competing in rodeos again two years ago, after a 25-year break. Jerry Koile said his first year back in the rodeo scene was also his horse Rodeo Hot’s rodeo debut. “It was our first time together and both of us were just as green,” Koile said. We ended the year ranked third in the calf roping standings.” Koile said he is only halfway through the season and he plans to compete in 12 more rodeos before the Senior National Finals Rodeo Oct. 5-8 in Las Vegas, Nev. The NSPRA is open to those 40-to-70 years old. There are nine sanctioned events: bareback, bull riding, calf roping, ladies barrel racing, ladies breakaway roping, ribbon roping, saddle bronc, steer wrestling, and team roping. Those events are broken into separate age groups (except for Ladies Breakaway which is 40-plus). Koile's next event will be on Aug. 5 at Vermillion, Alberta, Canada...more

How the railroad built Flagstaff, Winslow, Holbrook

By the 1880s, a new sound echoed across the plains of the northern Arizona Territory. The clatter of metal on metal slowly spread from east to west as rails were hammered into rocky ground. The workers brought a need for civilization, and towns grew in the railway's wake. Among the first was Holbrook, a dusty cattle settlement before the tracks arrived, Richmond said. Before long, what was once largely the territory of Mormon ranchers became an international community as Holbrook morphed into a construction center. Native Americans joined laborers from England, Ireland and Mexico. Mormons, too, joined in large numbers, Richmond said. The railway fostered new and expanded industries. The need for timber grew exponentially, and lumbermen descended on Flagstaff to build mills, supplying railroad ties as well as wood to build homes and businesses. In a territory known for harsh deserts, the first industry would be borne by its pine-covered slopes. Cattlemen also benefitted from the railroad, gaining access to markets to the east and west. And it was mining, not tourism, that had financiers backing a railroad to the Grand Canyon in the 1890s (though tourism would later provide a much richer vein)...more

Song Of The Day #628

Ranch Radio will continue to honor native New Mexican Junior Daugherty and his 81st birthday with a double dose of Junior's fiddling: Billy In The Low Ground and reportedly Billy The Kid's favorite song La Golondrina.

Both tunes were recorded in Las Cruces at Goldust Studios.

ATF Accused in Congressional Report of 'Arming' Cartel for 'War' Through Operation Fast and Furious

The failed federal anti-gunrunning program known as Operation Fast and Furious got so out of control in November 2009, it appeared the U.S. government was single-handedly "arming for war" the Sinaloa Cartel, documents show, even as U.S. officials kept lying to fellow agents in Mexico about the volume of guns it helped send south of the border. Those shocking allegations are revealed in the latest congressional report investigating the operation. At one point, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives say guns sold under the program took just 24 hours to travel from a gun store in Phoenix to a crime scene in Mexico. ATF agents there pleaded for help but were told nothing about Fast and Furious, which was intended to let guns "walk" in order to track them to higher-profile traffickers. Meanwhile, the report claims the agents' superiors in Washington met every Tuesday, to review the latest sales figures and the number of guns recovered in Mexico. "How long are you going to let this go on?" Steve Martin, an assistant director of intelligence operations asked the ATF top brass at meeting Jan. 5, 2010, according to a transcript of the meeting contained in the congressional report. None of the men responded and several quickly left the room, the transcript reveals. By Feb. 27, 2010, Lanny Breuer, the head of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., was allegedly told that the ATF had successfully helped sell 1,026 weapons worth more than $650,000 to members of the Sinaloa cartel. The briefing included all top ATF officials, including the agents in charge in Los Angeles and Houston, as well as a half dozen top Justice Department attorneys...more

Mexico's cartels rely on their cash crop

But for its problematic pedigree, Mexico's marijuana might be hailed as a marketing miracle. The much-maligned weed has suffered decades of punishment — burned, poisoned, ripped from the earth by its roots. Customers have been jailed, suppliers battered by literally cutthroat competition. Better products from Colombia, California and countless suburban back-rooms have somewhat eroded its popularity. Governments refuse to make it honest. Yet, this pot has persevered. Production grows, quality improves and exports northward hum along. Despite decades of U.S. officials' efforts against it, Mexican marijuana remains widely available, frequently used and commonly disregarded as a danger. "They are never going to stop it," said Dan Webb, a recently retired anti-narcotics lieutenant with the Texas Department of Public Safety, who now teaches drug enforcement at Sam Houston State University. "It is just like Prohibition," Webb said, comparing Mexico's cannabis trade to the boom in liquor smuggling after the U.S. government outlawed alcohol sales decades ago. "As long as there is a demand, somebody is going to come up with a supply." Though its slice of the gangs' income may be shrinking — the thugs long have profited from cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, as well as kidnapping, extortion and piracy — marijuana remains a solid bet. Call it the money market fund of the Mexican mob. "Marijuana remains the constant commodity of choice for the drug cartels because of end user demand and the ease of production," said Tony Garcia, South Texas director of an intergovernmental police alliance that keeps tabs on the illicit drug trade...more

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Obama Officials 'Strongly' Oppose Roadless Release Bill

The Obama administration today roundly denounced a proposal by Republican lawmakers that would release several million acres of protected public lands into local management plans, potentially opening them to timber harvests, oil and gas development, motorized recreation and other uses. Bob Abbey, director of the Bureau of Land Management, compared the legislation from Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) to shooting a small rabbit with a large gun, leaving almost no meat on the bone. "H.R. 1581 is a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach, that fails to reflect local conditions and community-based interests," Abbey told the House National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee. Abbey and Harris Sherman, undersecretary for natural resources and environment at the Agriculture Department, said they "strongly" oppose the bill...more

Babbitt blasts 'radical' GOP bill on public lands

Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt is blasting a Republican bill that would open up more than 50 million acres of public lands - such as north Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest - to logging and other development. Babbitt was Interior secretary for eight years under President Bill Clinton. He says the bill would virtually repeal the 1964 Wilderness Act, which preserves vast swaths of undeveloped public lands. Babbitt calls the bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, ``the most radical'' proposal on public lands in his lifetime. He argues that it trades protection of wildlife habitat, clean water and clean air for corporate profits, and he calls it ``a giveaway of our great outdoors.''...more

Congress passed a law (FLPMA) directing BLM to conduct an inventory of lands for wilderness characteristics and report their recommendations back to Congress for action. BLM complied and recommended that some areas did not qualify as wilderness in their reports. This legislation would implement those recommendations. What in the hell is so "radical" about that? These recommendations have been at Congress' doorstep for 25+ years, they are finally getting off their butts to do something and Babbitt calls that "radical" and a "giveaway." What a load of b.s.

Pearce & Western Lawmakers Testify on Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Steve Pearce (R-NM) joined lead sponsors Senate Western Caucus Chairman Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) and fellow Western Caucus member and Majority Whip Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to testify at the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Legislative Hearing on HR 1581.

H.R. 1581, The Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011, is common-sense legislation which simply implements the recommendations of the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service to lift the restrictive management practices on 43 million acres of WSAs and IRAs. It directs that these lands be managed for multiple-use which includes increased recreational opportunities, responsible resource development and better access for firefighting.

“Ensuring the continued legacy of our nation’s natural wonders is vital. This bill simply acts on recommendations made by the federal government and returns the management of tens of millions of acres of public land to local communities so that more Americans can have access to our public lands. These communities know best how to manage the lands, whether for increased recreation, preservation or development. I will continue to fight for this legislation that could help create jobs and reduce the threat of wildfires across the nation.” – Congressman Kevin McCarthy

“This Act ends the cycle of indefinite wilderness review and management of these non-wilderness recommended lands. It allows local Americans and stakeholders to work with agency officials to develop management plans that best balance recreation, multiple-use, and conservation. It provides them the flexibility to manage our public lands for a multitude of activities. More importantly, it gives local Americans, those who live, work, and play on public lands a voice.” – Senator John Barrasso

“As Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this important piece of legislation. H.R. 1581 is good for the west and good for America. It will allow more Americans to enjoy our federal lands, and allow us to actually protect the habitats of wildlife through proper land management.” -Congressman Steve Pearce

Other witnesses testifying in support of the legislation includedMelissa Simpson- Safari Club International, Chris Horgan- Stewards of the Sequoia, Dave Freeland - District Ranger (Retired) Sequoia National Forest, Dan Kleen - President National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, Rep. Mike Noel - Utah House of Representatives, and Hon. Kent Connelly -County Commissioner Lincoln County, Wyoming...Press Release

House Democrats to Take Aim at Policy Riders in Interior, EPA Spending Battle

To call the Interior and Environment spending bill the House will debate this week partisan would be an understatement. The bill contains 38 policy riders that run the gamut from a one-year stay on new and proposed U.S. EPA rules for greenhouse gases and conventional pollutants to a moratorium on the Fish and Wildlife Service listing new species under the Endangered Species Act. Many of the provisions were included in the original Appropriations subcommittee draft, but others were added in committee almost exclusively by panel Republicans who say they are necessary to prevent EPA and Interior from doing irreparable harm to the economy. More policy amendments are expected to be offered this week, with the House scheduled to take up the bill today. Democrats on the panel and in the House say the measure is a massive overreach by appropriators who are using legislation intended to fund EPA and Interior in fiscal 2012 as a means of undermining landmark environmental laws. Appropriations Committee ranking member Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) said Democrats this week will focus on highlighting how many environmental protections would be rolled back in the unlikely event that the bill becomes law...more

Connecticut mountain lion originated in South Dakota

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) said Tuesday that results of genetic tests show that the mountain lion killed in Milford in June made its way to the state from the Black Hills region of South Dakota and is an animal whose movements were actually tracked and recorded as it made its way through Minnesota and Wisconsin. Genetic tests also show that it is likely that the mountain lion killed when it was hit by a car June 11 on the Wilbur Cross Parkway in Milford was the same one that had been seen earlier that month in Greenwich. DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said, “The journey of this mountain lion is a testament to the wonders of nature and the tenacity and adaptability of this species. This mountain lion traveled a distance of more than 1,500 miles from its original home in South Dakota — representing one of the longest movements ever recorded for a land mammal and nearly double the distance ever recorded for a dispersing mountain lion.”...more

Song Of The Day #627

Fellow New Mexican Junior Daugherty turned 81 last week, so Ranch Radio will be featuring his fiddle playing for the rest of the week.

Here's Junior's Winter Flower. The tune was recorded at Goldust Studios in Las Cruces.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Issa: Obama admin intimidating witnesses in ATF gun probe

The Obama administration sought to intimidate witnesses into not testifying to Congress on Tuesday about whether ATF knowingly allowed weapons, including assault rifles, to be “walked” into Mexico, the chairman of a House committee investigating the program said in an interview Monday. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, said at least two scheduled witnesses expected to be asked about a controversial weapons investigation known as “Fast and Furious”received warning letters from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to limit their testimony. Mr. Issa's committee is set to hear testimony from six current or former ATF employees, including agents and attaches assigned to the bureau’s offices in Mexico, about the operation — in which, federal agents say, they were told to stand down and watch as guns flowed from U.S. dealers in Arizona to violent criminals and drug cartels in Mexico. The six-term lawmaker aired his concerns about the program in a wide-ranging interview with reporters and editors at The Washington Times on Monday. Among other questions, the agents are likely to be asked about a large volume of guns showing up in Mexico that were traced back to the Fast and Furious program; whether ATF officials in that country expressed concerns about the weapons to agency officials in the U.S., only to be brushed aside; and whether ATF officials in Arizona denied ATF personnel in Mexico access to information about the operation...more

A gunrunning sting gone fatally wrong

They came from all over the country, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, brought here in a bold new effort to shut down the flow of U.S. guns to Mexican drug cartels. It was called Operation Fast and Furious, after a popular movie about street car racing. But from the beginning, much of the fury was inside the agency itself. On his first day undercover, John Dodson, who had been an ATF agent for seven years in Virginia, sat in a Chevy Impala with Olindo Casa, an 18-year veteran from Chicago. They watched a suspected gun trafficker buy 10 semiautomatic rifles from a Phoenix gun store and followed him to the house of another suspected trafficker. All of their training told them to seize the guns. The agents called their superior and asked for the order to “take him.” The answer came back swiftly, instructing them to stay in the car. The message was clear: Let the guns go. This was all part of an ambitious new strategy allowing Fast and Furious agents to follow the paths of guns from illegal buyers known as “straw purchasers” through middlemen and into the hierarchy of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel. But Dodson and Casa were confused and upset. ATF agents hate to let the guns “walk.” Yet it happened again, day after day, month after month, for more than a year. They feared the worst, and a year later it happened: A Border Patrol agent was killed in an incident in which Fast and Furious guns were found at the scene. And it was later revealed that the operation had allowed more than 2,000 weapons to hit the streets. It is the agency’s biggest debacle since the deadly 1993 confrontation in Waco, Tex. What began as a mutiny inside ATF’s Phoenix office has blown up into a Capitol Hill donnybrook that is rocking the Justice Department...more

Down On The Farm

Aren't organic fruits and vegetables superior to conventionally grown food? Shouldn't consumers always choose organic when given a choice? Not necessarily, says a Scientific American blogger. In a series she's calling "Mythbusting 101," Christie Wilcox takes a look at four beliefs closely linked to organic food. Her July 18 blog takes each of them and exposes the accepted fiction.
The first myth: Organic farms don't use pesticides
. According to Wilcox, more than "20 chemicals (are) commonly used in the growing and processing of organic crops that are approved by the U.S. Organic Standards." The pesticides used in organic farming are produced by natural sources and go through little, if any, processing. But that doesn't mean they are less toxic than synthetic pesticides used in conventional agriculture."Many natural pesticides have been found to be potential — or serious — health risks," Wilcox writes. She cites the case of Rotenone, an organic pesticide once considered safe. As it turns out, though, Rotenone attacks mitochondria and has caused Parkinson's disease-like symptoms in laboratory rats. It also has "the potential to kill many species, including humans." Even organic farms that don't use pesticides can be growing harmful food. Wilcox notes that between 1990 and 2001, more than 10,000 people became sick from eating foods tainted with pathogens such as E. coli "and many have organic foods to blame."
Myth No. 2: Organic foods are healthier...more

Fire damages CSU equine center

The CSU Equine Reproductive Laboratory in Ft. Collins was severely damaged by fire early Tuesday morning. The call came in around 1 a.m. Tuesday of visible flames at a building on the CSU Foothills Campus on the west side of town. When firefighters arrived, they found flames coming through the roof, according to Poudre Fire Authority spokesperson Patrick Love. Horses were evacuated from surrounding stables.
No horses or people were injured in the fire. Love says the building looks to be a total loss at this point. The cause of the fire is under investigation. No horses or people were injured in the fire. KUSA-TV

Conservation bill not expected to go far

It's touted as a model private-public solution for conservation: allow nonprofit groups to tap tax-exempt revenue bonds to buy working forests and keep them out of developers' hands. For nearly a decade, that proposal has gone nowhere in Congress. For the fifth time since 2003, Sen. Patty Murray has rolled out legislation to authorize conservationists to borrow money via municipal bonds to acquire timberlands and to keep logging a portion of the forest to repay the debt. A companion bill again is pending in the House, too, this time with Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, as the lead sponsor. The Community Forestry Conservation Act of 2011 has wide backing from conservation groups and timberland owners. They include Federal Way-based Weyerhaeuser and Seattle's Plum Creek, the nation's largest private landowner. Yet the legislation's prospect for passage in this Congress appears just as dim as ever...more

The enviros just can't keep their hands out of the public till. They have all these laudable goals they want to accomplish...with other people's money. Just imagine the loggers wanting municipal bond money to acquire timberlands to keep them out of enviro hands.

And isn't it wonderful that Weyerhaeuser and Plum Creek want the public to subsidize the purchase of their lands. Got something to sell? Just have the buyers raid the public treasury so they can meet your price. Shame on them.

Obama administration debating care of U.S. national forests

The Obama administration is crafting a new plan to manage the nation's 155 national forests, including six in Arizona, for the next 15 to 20 years. At stake is the future of 193 million acres of forests and grasslands that are the nation's single largest source of drinking water and home to more than 15,000 species of plants and wildlife. The U.S. Forest Service says the new plan, due by year's end, is urgently needed to replace the so-called forest-planning rule written in 1982 during the Reagan administration. That rule, which emphasized using the forests for logging, does not reflect the latest science on climate change and how best to protect wildlife and water, the Forest Service says. The rule was never intended to last nearly three decades - about twice as long as expected. President Bill Clinton attempted to replace it in 2000, but his proposal was scrapped when President George W. Bush took office in 2001. Efforts by the Bush administration to draw up its own plan were derailed when the proposals were challenged by environmentalists and thrown out by federal courts. As President Barack Obama's administration takes up the crucial but contentious issue, it is under intense scrutiny from competing interest groups that hope to shape the plan to their liking. Neither environmentalists nor business interests are happy with the first draft of the new forest rule. Conservation groups say it lacks adequate protection for wildlife and water and gives individual forest managers too much discretion in how to carry out the plan. Business groups say some of its provisions to protect species could end up kicking ranchers, timber companies and others off the land...more

Amendment delisting gray wolves faces court challenge Tuesday

The congressional rider removing gray wolves from Endangered Species Act protection faces a court challenge in Missoula on Tuesday. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Clearwater and WildEarth Guardians together claim Congress violated the U.S. Constitution's separation of powers doctrine when it ordered the wolf delisted and blocked future court review of that decision. In response, attorneys for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar say Congress has frequently rewritten laws to get around court rulings, and courts have endorsed the practice. In their court filings, pro-wolf attorney Karr argued that the congressional rider was "the only time, in the ESA's nearly 40-year history, that Congress has legislatively delisted a species." That maneuver unconstitutionally interferes with the judicial branch's power to review congressional action and forces a court decision without changing the underlying law, he claimed. In response, federal government attorney Ignacia Moreno cited numerous other examples where Congress passed laws that prohibited further judicial review. "(N)othing ... precludes Congress from effectively pre-ordaining results in pending litigation by shifting the legal goalposts when the evidentiary football has come to rest," Moreno wrote. And while the rider didn't explicitly amend the Endangered Species Act, Moreno said it did legally change the way the act manages "a subset of a particular species, in particular regions." The wolf advocates want the rider declared unconstitutional and the gray wolf returned to federal protection in Montana and Idaho...more

How Obama Saves/Creates Jobs: Replace High-Paying Energy Jobs with Low-Paying Housekeeping Jobs

I suppose I should jump for joy and shout to the rafters. After all Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has decided to bless us with a brand new pile of cash (freshly minted no doubt) to increase conservation and tourism on our public lands. Thank God! Were it not for the good graces of the DOI, the people in my part of the country would be consigned to real jobs with benefits! But lo! Here he comes descending on a cloud, Ken Salazar offering Americans in the West a chance to wait tables, tune skis, shine shoes and clean hotel rooms! And not a moment too soon! Were the Secretary and the special interest groups not in control of the fate of the land in America’s West, those of us who live here might take the silly notion into our heads that we could buy homes, start businesses, send our children to college and perhaps even retire some day. What a relief indeed that Secretary Salazar and his acolytes have arrived on scene to remind us that our true purpose in life is to cater to those happy few with enough capitol on hand to actually recreate on our public lands. Were it not for Mr. Salazar, we of the proletariat might still be laboring under the misguided notion that we could achieve something in our lives. And furthermore, the American people would still be struggling with the notion that energy to power our homes and vehicles with such things as coal, oil and natural gas rather than solar plants (that even segments of the environmentalist community object to) and windmills that make casserole out of eagles and bats, are viable options. Despite the fact that “renewable” resources have yet to become commercially viable, and have made a hash out of Spain’s economy...more

River restoration not going according to government plan

The largest river restoration ever attempted in the West — intended to support a cornucopia of wildlife and outdoor activities — has left a 62-mile stretch of the Lower Owens so overrun with cattails, cane and bulrushes that it may take decades to bring them under control. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa turned a knob in 2006 that opened a diversion dam gate about 235 miles north of the city, putting water back into a river essentially left dry after its flows of Sierra snowmelt were diverted to the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913. Officials from Inyo County and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which manages the Lower Owens River, boasted that within 10 years, the waterway would come back to life as a healthy and diverse ecosystem for fish, frogs and waterfowl, shaded by canopies of cottonwoods and willows. The rehabilitated river would attract more tourists to financially struggling Owens Valley towns with bass fishing tournaments and a kayaking experience some called "the long glide" because the river's carefully controlled flows would be free of rapids and waterfalls...more

Texas wildfire leaves smoldering community tensions

The acrid odor is another reminder of the monstrous wildfire that torched almost 315,000 acres of ranchland and burned two dozen homes around Fort Davis in April and May. The combination of heavy winds, low humidity and tinder-dry grass and brush created a fast-moving fire that was fought by hundreds of federal, state and regional firefighters for 23 days. Eventually, after consuming almost 500 square miles, the fire was extinguished with no loss of human life. Overall, the community hung together, joining forces to fight the blaze, and in the aftermath, helping those left in need. Although tourists have returned to the parks, cafes and hotels and new green growth is appearing in the blackened moonscape, not all problems are easily overcome. The fire and disagreements about how it should have been fought exposed deep divisions between settlers and newcomers, reflecting long-term societal changes in Jeff Davis County. "The fire didn't create the differences, it exposed them," said Steve Bickerstaff, 65, an Austin lawyer and University of Texas Law School professor, who owns property outside town. Bickerstaff was critical of the county's strategy, saying it seems to favor the interests of large ranchers, and that plans proposed by federal firefighters made more sense...more

Mysterious missing cattle:

Among the lingering mysteries in the aftermath of the great fire is the whereabouts of the large number of missing cattle. "We have about 74 head unaccounted for. We've looked, we've flown, we've looked for buzzards, and found dead animals, but we haven't found the ones we're looking for," McIvor said. "They just vanished. And with everyone looking and riding, it's just odd. There's a good chance they were rustled." Officials in Jeff Davis and Presidio counties say 151 head of cattle and nine horses were killed, and a total of 125 cattle are missing. The wildfire destroyed or damaged hundreds of miles of fences and an untold number of waterlines.

I'll bet the lawyer got them.

Proposed road rules for farmers anger some

Tractors lumbering down country roads are as common as deer in rural Montana, but the federal government wants to place new driving regulations on farmers and ranchers. "It's a huge deal for us," said John Youngberg of the Montana Farm Bureau. After years of allowing state governments to waive commercial driver's license requirements for farmers hauling crops or driving farm equipment on public roads, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is poised to do away with the exceptions. Regulators are suggesting that all wheat shipments be considered interstate, even when farmers making short hauls to local grain elevators aren't crossing state lines. The change would make commercial driver's licenses — and all the log books and medical requirements that go with them — a necessity for farmers. Some might not qualify. The licenses would also be required of farmers driving farm equipment down public roads. Farmers hauling grain for a neighbor or landlord would be considered commercial drivers hauling for someone else. Ranchers hauling livestock in trailers as small as 16 feet would also be subject to the new rules...more

Drought Withers Smallest U.S. Hay Crop in a Century to Boost Cost of Beef

The smallest U.S. hay crop in more than a century is withering under a record Texas drought, boosting the cost of livestock feed for dairy farmers and beef producers from California to Maryland. The price of alfalfa, the most common hay variety, surged 51 percent in the past year, reaching a record $186 a short ton in May, government data show. Hay and grass make up about half of what cattle eat over their lifetimes, so parched pastures are forcing ranchers to find alternative sources of feed, pushing some spot-market corn to the highest ever. Farmers in Oklahoma and in Texas, the biggest producer of hay and cattle, may harvest only one crop from alfalfa and Bermuda grass this year, compared with three normally, said Larry Redmon, a state forage specialist at Texas A&M University. Cattle that usually graze on fields through September or October are instead being sold to feedlots, where they are confined in pens and eat mostly corn. “We’re just running out of grass,” Bo Kizziar, the feedlot manager at Hansford County Feeders, said by telephone from Spearman, Texas. With pastures disappearing, Hansford is moving cattle into its 50,000-head feedlot three months earlier than normal, boosting costs as the company buys more corn, he said. The drought, which is the worst ever in Texas, is compounding a hay shortage caused by farmers shifting this year to more profitable crops, including corn. The U.S. may harvest 57.605 million acres of hay in 2011, the least on records going back to 1909, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Corn was sown on 92.282 million acres, the second-most since 1944...more

The shifting production of corn for ethanol, the drought and wildfires are having an effect on cattle producers:

The U.S. cattle herd, including dairy cows and beef animals on feedlots and ranches, totaled 100 million head as of July 1, the fewest at that time of year since at least 1973, the USDA said July 22. As of July 1, the U.S. feedlot herd of beef cattle totaled 10.451 million head, up 3.8 percent from a year earlier, the USDA said in a report July 22, as drought forced ranchers to sell more livestock. Beef producers are culling cows and young females, which means smaller supplies for the next two years or longer, according to Steve Kay, the publisher of Cattle Buyers Weekly, a trade magazine based in Petaluma, California. The cattle and calf herd next year may fall to the lowest since 1952, increasing costs for meat processors including Tyson Foods Inc. and Cargill Inc., he said. “The drought has dried up any hopes for rebuilding the beef herd this year or next year,” Kay said in a telephone interview. “Hay is getting shorter in supply and prices are running higher. The herd liquidation is increasing. The falling cattle herd is going to put more stress on the cattle-processing industry. Beef is going to continue to be more expensive for U.S. consumers.” Feedlots also are accelerating sales to meatpackers, which will ultimately result in lower beef supplies and may send cattle to a record by the fourth quarter, said Don Close, a market director with the Texas Cattle Feeders Association in Amarillo.

Song Of The Day #626

Ranch Radio brings you that Beaumont, Texas boy Benny Barnes and his song Go On, Go On.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Looking for rare earth

In a windblown, desolate and, according to some people, beautiful landscape in southern Otero County, environmentalists and profit-seekers wage battle. For the past 10 years, Otero Mesa has been the center of controversy during a time in which the United States is looking at itself for natural resources. In the midst of all this, one group of people simply want to keep their way of life, the heritage they have shared in the desert and mountain world for four generations. The ranchers, as Bobby Jones puts it, find themselves caught between "two 800-pound gorillas." Jones, too, is a rancher. In the newest face-off on Otero Mesa, a mining company, Geovic Mining Corp., has staked more than 160 claims on Wind Mountain, the tallest peak in the Cornudas range, Jones said. Wind Mountain is also central in the Jones Ranch grazing allotment. Rare earth minerals are used in high-tech equipment, Jones said. "They use it for everything from defense technology to cell phones," he said. "There are 16 metals in the rare earth group." Rare earth has become important because China produces all of it and now has reduced its export production by 72 percent, Jones said. "If America wants to maintain its position in the world, we have to use our own resources," he said. Jones is caught in the middle. He doesn't want to see his grazing abilities affected, especially in this time of drought, but he feels the country does have to look on its own lands for what it needs. "Miners have the right to produce these minerals," He said. "I don't want to see them there. It will also change my lifestyle, but not put us out of business."...more

Tongue River Railroad battle takes a twist, but goes on

A couple of billionaires and a coal company are combining forces in an attempt to break a logjam that has effectively prevented coal development in a large part of southeastern Montana for more than 30 years. Only time will tell whether this surprising new development will succeed. Tribune Capital Bureau Chief John S. Adams reported Wednesday that candy bar and pet food magnate Forrest E. Mars Jr. had reached an agreement with BNSF Railway — owned by billionaire Warren Buffet's company, Berkshire Hathaway — and Arch Coal to buy the yet-unbuilt Tongue River Railroad's permits and carve a new route for the controversial railroad. Under the agreement, the railroad route would be shortened from its original plan of linking the Montana-Wyoming border coal fields near Decker with the main BNSF line near Miles City. Instead, its southern terminus would be between Birney and Ashland, on the eastern edge of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. That would cut the southern 45 or 50 miles off the original proposal, including the seven miles through Mars' 82,000-acre ranch on the Tongue River. The line still would be able to serve the vast but unmined Otter Creek coal tracts, owned by the state and leased by Arch Coal. This week's move was a surprise, mainly because Mars has steadfastly opposed the railroad and supported lawsuits to block it...more

This provides a new model for protecting you property. If your land is threatened by a railroad, just sell a few candy bars and then buy out the bastards.

Bear Mauls Teens Participating in Outdoor Leadership School

A brown bear and her cub mauled a group of teenage boys deep in the Alaskan wilderness, forcing rescuers to scramble early Sunday to help the injured. Two of the teens, participating in a survival skills course, suffered life-threatening injuries, Alaska State Troopers said in a press release, and two had injuries that were labeled "serious, but non-life-threatening." Megan Peters, a spokeswoman for the state police, said those four are in critical condition, while three others had minor injuries or exposure-related issues. The National Outdoor Leadership School -- whose program the boys were participating in -- claimed in a statement that four people were hurt in the attack. The mauling occurred around 8:30 p.m. Saturday as the teenagers were crossing a creek in a remote area about 45 miles northeast of Talkeetna. There were no instructors with the group, which was on the 24th of a 30-day backpacking course to learn about teamwork and wilderness-related skills, according to the Wyoming-based program. The teens told state troopers that they were crossing the river in a line when the bears attacked. Those in front got the worst of the assault...more

Protection for Lizard Threatens Tens of Thousands of West Texas Jobs

The Texas cattle industry, already buffeted by drought, heat, and wildfire, is facing a new threat. A tiny little lizard called the 'Dunes Sagebrush Lizard' threatens to upend what's left of the west Texas way of life, and experts say it could also threaten the lucrative oil industry in the Permian Basin as well, 1200 WOAI's Michael Board reports. The three-inch long gecko feeds on the Shinnery Oak shrub, which is found only in the Permian Basin of west Texas and in parts of eastern New Mexico. Conservation groups, which have had a fertile ear in the Obama Administration, are demanding that the critter be placed on the Endangered Species List, which would not only make oil drilling unacceptable in their habitat, would could also force cattlemen to pull up stakes to make sure their cows don't damage the lizard's habitat. "I feel like in the future, people who lose their jobs or lose their ranches are not going to remember the name of the lizard," says Joe Parker, who heads the Texas Cattle Raisers Association. "They will remember the year and the month and the day they lost their job." A determination of whether the lizard will go onto the endangered species list is expected by the end of the year. Several environmentalist groups have been fighting for protection for the lizard for a decade, but President George W. Bush, who grew up in Midland, in the heart of the area to be affected, delayed a decision. The Obama Administration appears ready to place the species on the fast track...more

USFS to 9th circuit: Tahoe logging won't hurt black-backed woodpeckers

The U.S. Forest Service says it is not required to make sure there's enough black-backed woodpeckers to keep the rare bird from going locally extinct at Lake Tahoe as a result of a logging operation conservationists are trying to stop. Lawyers for the agency told the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a new filing late Friday they don't believe the woodpecker will be harmed by the logging set to begin this week at the Angora fire site where 3,000 acres of national forest and 250 homes burned in 2007. But they said that contrary to claims by environmentalists' seeking an emergency injunction, the Forest Service has no legal mandate to insure the viability of the bird's population within the 147,000-acre forest it manages around Lake Tahoe. AP

Researchers from 2 universities to study wildfires

Researchers at the University of Idaho and Washington State University plan to use a $1.2 million grant from NASA to study how extreme wildfires affect people and the environment, and how to make communities safer. "The Forest Service spends more than half of its total budget fighting fires, and a lot of the reason for that expenditure is the risk to human communities," said Matt Carroll, a professor in the WSU Department of Natural Resource Sciences. "If we can make these communities more fire adapted, not only would it help the communities it would save huge amounts of money." He said fighting large fires is becoming more difficult as people continue moving into forested areas. Researchers said the trend of large-scale fires in the western United States is likely to continue as the climate warms and people move into forested areas. Researchers plan to examine how those large fires change vegetation, water quality and wildlife habitat. They will also examine how communities respond to fires, partly by looking at past fires...more

The money would be better spent on researching management techniques to prevent the large, hot fires.

$2.6M set for farmers, ranchers to offset higher shipping costs

The federal government is helping Pacific Rim farmers and ranchers offset costs of shipping their products. U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka said in a joint news release Thursday that farmers and ranchers in Hawaii and the Pacific Rim are to receive $2.6 million in payments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help compensate for the high costs of getting their product to the U.S. Mainland and beyond. The Reimbursement Transportation Cost Payment Program for Geographically Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers was created by Inouye and authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill. The program helps farmers and ranchers in Alaska, Hawaii and other insular areas including Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa. Akaka says the program helps sustain agriculture, which provides jobs and a greener environment. AP

"Geographically Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers"

They now join the ranks of the Socially Disadvantaged Agricultural Producers.

What will they think of next? How 'bout Asininely Governed & Harassed by Envirocrats Disadvanted Ag Producers (AGHE) - otherwise known as aggies.

Drought can Force Livestock to Eat Poisonous Plants

The relentless drought that has settled over much of Kansas and states across the south brings more problems than the lack of pasture forage growth for livestock producers. One potential problem, according to K-State Research and Extension veterinarian Larry Hollis, is that weedy species with greater drought tolerance sometimes out-compete desirable grasses and begin to proliferate. Another scenario is that desirable forage species are consumed but fail to re-grow, and only weedy species are left in a green vegetative state. “Either of these scenarios can become a major problem if these remaining plants also contain toxic components,” Hollis said. “Fortunately, many toxic plants are also unpalatable, so livestock species tend to leave those plants alone. However, the problem comes when pastures are not properly managed, or forage supplementation is not provided in a timely fashion, and livestock are left with no choice but to consume toxic plants or go hungry.”...more

Water transfers: Will ag water be protected?

Water transfers from agriculture to municipal uses are raising concerns on both sides of the Continental Divide. “We’re a nation that is frankly spoiled by food prices — less than 10 percent of income is spent on food,” Bill Trampe, a Gunnison rancher told the Colorado Water Forum on Thursday. “As food prices rise, it's going to be interesting to see how consumers react. Will we save enough acres to provide food in the future?” Trampe explained how his grandfather came to Gunnison in 1900 as a dryland farmer who fed miners. Over the years, the family adapted to changing conditions, using irrigation to reduce risks and switching the business emphasis to cattle ranching after the miners left. The recreation economy is supplanting cattle ranching in the Gunnison River basin, and Trampe said the family business could be gone in 10 years, but he reiterated the need to keep water in agriculture as a matter of national food security. Dan Henrichs, an Avondale rancher and superintendent of the High Line Canal, said water transfers already have devastated parts of the Arkansas Valley. “The Arkansas basin is the poster child of how not to do transfers,” Henrichs said. The answer is to keep agriculture healthy through temporary sales of water through leases rather than large-scale dry-ups...more

Rodeo officials try to calm safety China

Organizers of a rodeo at the Bird's Nest Stadium in October have refused to bow to pressure from animal rights campaigners to cancel the show. The eight-day extravaganza is part of a cultural exchange program between China and the United States, yet critics say it is entertainment based on animal cruelty. "In one event at the rodeo, a running calf is suddenly (lassoed and) pulled up by a rider. This can break the frightened calf's neck," Qin Xiaona, head of the Capital Animal Welfare Association (CAWA), said on Tuesday. She argued that the rodeo will not represent the culture of the US West and has been organized purely to generate profits. The association is among 68 Chinese and six international animal rights organizations that have written to protest about the show, which is scheduled to run at the Bird's Nest - officially called the National Stadium - from Oct 3 to 10. Guo Tiefu, a spokesman for US organizers Rodeo China, on Tuesday told China Daily the event will be staged as planned. Guo said the rodeo is a legitimate use of animals in sport, along with most other organized equestrian events worldwide...more

A clear case of animal rights vs. animal wongs.

Thanks Mr. Absher.

Song Of The Day #625

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here's Larry Mangum & The Cowboy Orchestra with The Day The Texas Playboys Came To Town.

The tune is on their 12 track CD Brand New Honkytonk.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Let me tell you this, Mr. Rancher

by Julie Carter

Through the ages and at some point, every man learns the wisdom of not comparing his wife to his mother.  Usually.

In the world of ranching, that lesson is no different nor is it learned with any less difficulty or any greater speed. The learning curve is often fractured by the reverse of the situation --when the cowboy has married a ranch-raised gal that grew up working right alongside the men of the family.

Not one ever known for being open to new ideas, especially if they weren’t his own, a rancher’s times of high stress, worry and life-or-death concern magnify that situation exponentially.

The record-setting drought along with the record-setting fire danger has put the aforementioned emotions in raw form.

Somewhere along the way, many a Mr. Husband Rancher will get the idea he is the only one worried, like it’s his job alone. He might exhibit signs of being a little resentful about that but he also wears it like a coat of arms.

His wife, whose life’s existence depends on the same source as his, knows the signs as well as he. She rarely, if ever, gives up the hard-learned lessons of her rural roots.
Life changing decisions will need to be made, and soon.

The discussions that follow vary only in the terms of partnerships that have been established over the years. However, this crossroads of planning is not the first time he and she have met at the kitchen table, the corral gate or the saddle house to discuss methods of doing business or techniques appropriate to the moment.

And, the “discussion” (sometimes involving some serious hollering mingled with a cuss word or two … or nine) is not always over something so serious as cutting herd numbers, buying high-dollar supplemental feed or maybe just getting out of the ranching business.

Not latching a gate as deemed “the way” by Mr. Rancher is a good example of a situation. It is every bit as inflammatory as deciding if a certain old sweetheart of a cow should be given the grace to die of old age at the ranch or take a ride to the sale barn.

The wife’s get-even for either situation will be to hereinafter latch it the “wrong” way every time just to aggravate him. After all, latched is latched. 

His thought is always that his idea is born of brilliance and/or experience and that her only knowledge is “because her daddy did it that way.” If “Daddy” comes up in the conversation, the process goes south from there.

Should a fellow rancher make a suggestion about an identical topic, Mr. Husband Rancher will consider it with some dedicated thought. But if it’s the wife idea, it’s always a fight.

And,” he said, “her hands end up on her hips as she tells me, ‘Well let me tell you Mr. Rancher, something that you apparently haven’t yet considered...’ And that’s where the fight began.”

Of course, it is also not a good time for him to mention his mother’s cooking.

Julie can be reached for comment at