Friday, August 12, 2011

Today, Americans Finally Earn Enough to Cover Their Share of Federal Spending

Friday, Aug. 12, is the day that the U.S. work force will have earned in gross income the equivalent of the year’s federal spending and regulatory burden, according to Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). This day, Cost of Government Day (COGD), is annually tracked by ATR. It took 224 days for Americans to earn enough money to cover the cost of government this year, 226 days in 2009 and 2010.  Prior to 2009, Cost of Government Day never fell later than July 21.  In 2008, Cost of Government Day was July 16...more

Global Warming Link to Drowned Polar Bears Melts Under Searing Fed Probe

Polar bears drowning in an Alaskan sea because the ice packs are melting—it’s the iconic image of the global warming debate. But the validity of the science behind the image—presented as an ignoble testament to our environment in peril by Al Gore in his film An Inconvenient Truth—is now part of a federal investigation that has the environmental community on edge. Special agents from the Interior Department’s inspector general's office are questioning the two government scientists about the paper they wrote on drowned polar bears, suggesting mistakes were made in the math and as to how the bears actually died, and the department is eyeing another study currently underway on bear populations. Biologist Charles Monnett, the lead scientist on the paper, was placed on administrative leave July 18. Fellow biologist Jeffrey Gleason, who also contributed to the study, is being questioned, but has not been suspended. The disputed paper was published by the journal Polar Biology in 2006, and suggests that the “drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open-water periods continues.” It galvanized the environmental movement that led to the bear’s controversial listing in 2008 as threatened, and it is now protected under the Endangered Species Act...more

$10M Federal Wrongful Death Claim Over Hiker Gored By Mountain Goat in National Park

The survivors and estate of a hiker who bled to death soon after being gored by a monster 370-pound mountain goat in Olympic National Park last year are pursuing a $10 million wrongful death claim in federal court in Tacoma, Wash.  They say park rangers should have acted more swiftly and decisively to protect the public after reports that at least one goat was behaving aggressively, according to a two-part series in the Peninsula Daily News. As the first and second articles detail, Bob Boardman, 63, was attacked by the goat Oct. 16 as he was hiking with his wife and another friend. He reportedly died within minutes after the goat severed an artery. His wife, Susan Chadd of Port Angeles, contends the park acted irresponsibly by suggesting hikers could ward off an aggressive mountain goat by throwing rocks at it. "I feel like they weren't protecting people and the ecosystem, and I feel that on the day of the accident, they responded very poorly to our calls for help,” she told the newspaper. Park officials declined to comment substantively on the claim...more

More questions follow Wyoming wolf deal

Last week’s announcement of an agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state of Wyoming to remove the state’s roughly 340 wolves from the endangered species list was a landmark step in resolving a yearslong fight. But, as all sides have made clear, there’s still a long way to go — and a lot of hurdles to cross — before the deal goes into effect. The agreement, announced by Gov. Matt Mead and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, now has to be approved by Fish and Wildlife, as well as state legislators and wildlife officials. And it’s hard to predict whether all of that will happen, several wildlife and legal scholars say, because Wyoming’s now entering uncharted territory. “Everything about it is unusual,” said John Nagle, an environmental law professor at the University of Notre Dame. “The fact that you have such ongoing involvement between the state, the federal agencies, Congress and the courts — there aren’t many times, certainly in wildlife management, when all four are so actively involved, one responding to the other.”...more

Nonlethal wolf deterrents touted, questioned

A demonstration of nonlethal wolf deterrents sparked debate among livestock producers and conservationists Wednesday morning as representatives from Defenders of Wildlife attempted to reach out to the ranching public. Field technicians from the Wood River Wolf Project, an organization dedicated to helping wolves and sheep coexist, brought out air horns, portable spotlights and even a 5-month-old guard dog in an attempt to show the handful of ranchers in attendance what can be done to keep wolves out of their herds. Nonlethal methods center on three main principles: closely supervising herds, avoiding wolves and scaring wolves away from livestock...more

New Rules and Old Plants May Strain Summer Energy Supplies

As 58 million people across 13 states sweated through the third day of a heat wave last month, power demand in North America’s largest regional grid jurisdiction hit a record high. And yet there was no shortage, no rolling blackout and no brownout in an area that stretches from Maryland to Chicago. But that may not be the case in the future as stricter air quality rules are put in place. Eastern utilities satisfied demand that day — July 21 — with hefty output from dozens of 1950s and 1960s coal-burning power plants that dump prodigious amounts of acid gases, soot, mercury and arsenic into the air. Because of new Environmental Protection Agency rules, and some yet to be written, many of those plants are expected to close in coming years. No one is sure yet how many or which ones will be shuttered or what the total lost output would be. And there is little agreement over how peak demand will be met in future summers...more

Obama’s FEMA Breaks Disaster Declaration Record

President Obama & FEMA have issued more disaster declarations in just 2.5 years than any other president in U.S. history (including two-termers like Bush, Clinton, Reagan, etc.).  Obama has issued 375 declarations, or one every 2.48 days, and that's with no hurricanes so far in his term and no earthquake at 7 or above.  Just like everything else, we are federalizing disasters and busting the budget.

E.P.A. Bans Sale of Tree-Killing Herbicide

The Environmental Protection Agency banned the sale on Thursday of Imprelis, a weed killer introduced this year that landscapers link to thousands of tree deaths around the country. DuPont, which held discussions with the E.P.A. on the herbicide, suspended sales of the product last week and announced plans for a refund program. The company already faces lawsuits from property owners who lost numerous trees after landscapers began applying Imprelis to lawns and golf courses this spring. A spokesman for the E.P.A., Larry Jackson, said the agency acted because data provided by DuPont showed that at least three types of evergreens — balsam fir, Norway spruce and white pine trees — were susceptible to damage or death from Imprelis...more

Firefighter killed, 2 others injured while fighting forest fire

One state forest firefighter was killed and two others were injured Thursday afternoon while fighting the Coal Canyon Fire on U.S. Forest Service land 9 miles north of Edgemont. The three firefighters, all from Hot Springs, were seasonal firefighting employees of the South Dakota Wildland Fire Suppression Division. Trampus Haskvitz, 23, died as a result of injuries he suffered when the Type 6 fire engine he was working on was burned over by the blaze. Two other firefighters, Austin Whitney and Kevin Fees, were injured and transported by Life Flight to Rapid City Regional Hospital. Whitney was transferred to a certified burn center in Greeley, Colo. Fees is in stable condition at Rapid City Regional Hospital...more

Industry Group Hits Back at Anti-Coal Rhetoric From Bloomberg, Sierra Club

In a Wednesday column, the president of a major coal industry group defended coal energy against recent attacks from the environmentalist left. The current drive to drastically redcuce coal power in the United States, he claimed, would deal a body blow to the American economy. “There are challenges inherent with using every energy resource,” wrote Steve Miller, president and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. “But if the United States backs away from any of our domestic resources because it poses challenges, we will soon find ourselves with fewer, more expensive supplies of energy.” Miller specifically addressed the recent donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to the environmentalist group Sierra Club. The donation specifically funded the group’s anti-coal campaign, which Miller claimed would, if successful, drastically reduce the country’s “jobs, economic growth, energy security and global competitiveness.” Sierra Club claims it has prevented 150 coal power plants from opening, and seeks to shut down a third of the country’s older power plants in the next decade. Bloomberg’s donation, the Sierra Club said, will aid in that campaign...more

Some Hatch Farmers Turn From Chile To Cotton

Farming in Hatch, N.M., is nearly synonymous with green chile, but a lot of farmers in the area are falling in love with another cash crop – cotton. It’s been a tough year for farmers and ranchers all over the state, and the small river valley community around Hatch is no exception. First, the record cold caused problems. “The onion crop didn’t go well this year,” Scott Adams, with Adams Produce Inc., said. “The yields were down early. We had a real hard freeze in February, and it killed a lot of the stems on the onions.” Drought conditions held spring irrigation released out of Elephant Butte to only 8 percent of normal. So farmers left land open and only grew on what they could pump well water onto. A lot of the fields in Hatch are growing cotton because it’s cheaper to grow. Cotton costs about $1,000 per acre to grow, while chile costs four to five times that amount. High cotton prices and the ability to cheaply harvest it have led to a smaller chile harvest...more

USDA cuts forecast for corn supplies in 2012, keeping food prices higher through next year

Americans can expect to pay slightly higher food prices next year, because of expectations that an unseasonably hot summer damaged much of this year’s corn crop. But the rise in grocery prices might not be severe because farmers are sitting on larger supplies ahead of the fall harvest, and demand for corn is falling. The U.S. Agriculture Department estimated Thursday that the fall harvest won’t yield as much corn as first estimated. High temperatures in key U.S. corn-growing states have damaged about 4 percent of the coming yield. Corn is used in everything from beef to cereal to soft drinks. It typically takes six months for a change in corn prices to affect products on supermarket shelves. Traders worry that grain shortages could return next year because of the damaged crops. This year’s harvest will still be larger than last fall’s harvest of 12.45 billion bushels. In the spring, farmers planted the second-largest crop since World War II. And the supply squeeze won’t be as severe as it might have been. High prices have led ranchers to cut their orders and seek alternative feeds for their livestock, such as wheat. Ethanol producers have also cut demand...more

Song Of The Day #636

Ranch Radio brings you the Wilburn Brothers, Teddy and Doyle. Here's them performing That's When I Miss You from their 1957 LP.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hanging 'Truck Nuts' Grows into a Free Speech Debate

"Truck nuts," fake bull testicles made of plastic or metal that drivers hang on the back of their pickups to make a truck look more manly, have been around for years. Some find them funny, while others find them offensive, prompting at least three states to try to ban them -- unsuccessfully. But a recent case in South Carolina is fueling debate over whether these ornaments violate a state's indecency laws and if attempting to regulate them infringes on freedom of speech...more

This wouldn't be the first time a person with a badge and in a government costume exhibited nutty behavior, so let's see what really happened:

On July 5, Virginia Tice, 65, from Bonneau, S.C. pulled her pickup truck into a local gas station with red, fake testicles dangling from the trailer hitch. The town's police chief, Franco Fuda, pulled up and asked her to remove the plastic testicles. When she refused, he wrote her a $445 ticket saying that she violated South Carolina’s obscene bumper sticker law. The South Carolina code of laws reads, “a sticker, decal, emblem, or device is indecent … in a patently offensive way, as determined by contemporary community standards, sexual acts, excretory functions, or parts of the human body.” Tice lawyered up and said that she was preparing to challenge Fuda in court. But before she could ask for a jury trial, Fuda, in a rare move, beat her to it. Fuda says he is pushing for a jury trial and hopes the outcome will clarify the state’s obscenity laws, leaving no room for misinterpretation. “The law is very clear, and I am prepared to take it all the way,” Fuda told

Franco he even an American?  Even if he is, he appears to be just a big ol' waste of skin.

Besides, a 65 year old woman driving around with her Truck Nuts showing makes me feel plump patriotic.

I don't see anything in the language of the law cited that would include plastic bull nuts, but let's see what the lawyers say:

“He is nuts,” says Jay Bender, a lawyer and professor at the University of South Carolina, referring to Fuda and his interpretation of the law. Bender says although tasteless and stupid, they are not illegal, and adds, “Chief Fuda is abusing his arrest powers.” He says the statute is very clear about what material is obscene and “it doesn’t have anything to do with artificial bull testicles.”

The professor is right on the law, but is sorely lacking in the appreciation of fine art. He may regret saying Virginia Tice's artistic preference is "tasteless and stupid."  I'll bet she knows how to use the front end of that truck too.

Another attorney, with a much more refined artistic taste, is more to our liking:

David Hudson, a First Amendment attorney and scholar, says laws banning these types of decals, emblems or bumper stickers are problematic, but often someone just hasn’t challenged them. Hudson believes Tice and her lawyer can make a good case the South Carolina law is “unconstitutionally vague and unconstitutionally broad, and it violates the First Amendment.”

That's the stuff I like to hear.

Tice's attorney says Chief Fuda is "arbitrarily interpreting a statute incorrectly" and that he will argue whether or not the large, red, plastic testicles are “really an accurate depiction of a human body part.”

Unfortunately, it does appear that if Tice drove around in her truck with Fuda's nuts hanging from her trailer hitch it just might be a violation.

We find, once again though, that it's a woman with balls who ends up challenging government oppression.  Men, in comparison, seem to suffer from a testicular deficiency.

Perhaps I should have titled this piece GRANNY WITH GONADS TAKES ON GOVERNMENT GOONS.

Salazar approves California PV farm

US company First Solar has received the go-ahead for a 550MW photovoltaic project in California from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. The Desert Sunlight Solar Farm is located east of Palm Springs and is expected to contribute $336m to the local economy, including $197m in wages. In June, the US Department of Energy awarded a conditional commitment of a $1.8bn loan guarantee for the development. The project underwent significant environmental scrutiny before it received approval and the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) worked in collaboration with the National Park Service, project developers Desert Sunlight and other stakeholders to reduce the plant’s footprint from 19,000 acres to 4,144 acres. In addition, Desert Sunlight is required by the BLM to provide funding for the acquisition and enhancement of more than 7,500 acres of suitable habitat for desert tortoise and other sensitive species, to help offset the impact on the local habitat...more

With a government permit and $1.8 billion government loan guarantee, it should be a huge success! That loan guarantee means two things: a) they couldn't raise the money in the private sector without it, and b) if it fails the taxpayers get stuck with the tab.

Looks to me like the two primary winners in this are the tortoises and the BLM. The tortoise habitat will almost double and the BLM gets another 7,500 acres to mismanage.

National forests: Recreational payoff and grazing benefits

A new report from the USDA’s National Forest Service shows that recreational activities on national forests and grasslands make large economic impacts on America's rural communities, contributing $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy. This week’s “National Visitor Use Monitoring report” indicates national forests attracted 170.8 million recreational visitors and sustained approximately 223,000 jobs in rural communities this past year. This report, however, does not document the economic, environmental and social contributions of public-lands grazing. Many ranchers in Western states rely on grazing allotments on Forest Service lands and other public lands for summer range. These arrangements allow them to maintain much larger herds than they could on deeded land alone. These ranches employ workers, pay taxes and spend considerable funds locally on equipment, supplies and services. Another set of benefits often overlooked by the general public is that these ranches provide critical “buffers” around forest and grassland areas. Ranches adjacent to public lands protect the scenic, open vistas treasured by recreational visitors. They also provide critical wildlife habitat...more

Some folks camping out for life

Darrell and Rose found a camper, a van to pull it, and some solar panels for power. Now married, the Eddlemans live out of their recreational vehicle in forests around the Southwest with their dog, Freeway, and have seen a lot of the country. They now hike and visit with other campers. She paints. He fishes. "I like this lifestyle a lot," Rose said. Just one problem, in their view: The Kaibab National Forest doesn't want them around and is recently stating as much. Actually, living in the forest is illegal, say Forest Service officials, pointing to federal law. These are campers around Flagstaff you might not recognize as technically "homeless" -- living out of old motorhomes, vans and recreational vehicles year-round. Law enforcement officers estimate hundreds of them live on the Coconino, Kaibab and Prescott national forests, traveling to the low desert closer to Yuma in the winter. Some of these campers say finances leave them no other choice; others say they wouldn't want to spend their retirement years any other way. Here are some of their stories...more

Rangers caught between the law and newly needy

To find campers living in the forest, just go to the outskirts of cities like Flagstaff and Prescott. The proximity makes it convenient for people living in their RVs to reach jobs, groceries or doctor appointments, or to pick up mail they've forwarded to a post office. The camping areas are well-known by forest rangers. "Little communities develop where these people group together," said Jon Nelson, patrol captain for the Coconino, Kaibab and Prescott national forests. Technically, it's illegal to live in the forest for even a day, whether in a motorhome, a camp trailer or a tent. "It doesn't matter how many days you stay on the national forest -- you can't use it for residential use," Nelson said. But it's also tough to prove that a person is living in a recreational vehicle in the forest, as opposed to just staying there as a temporary camper. The Prescott National Forest, in particular, has a number of elderly campers who have medical problems and are camping out near the hospital for veterans, Nelson said...more

DOT abandons proposal to require ranchers to obtain commercial driver’s license

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) is applauding the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Wednesday, Aug. 10, decision not to consider a proposal that could have required tractors and loaded stock trailers weighing 26,000 pounds or more to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). According to TSCRA, this proposal had the potential to severely harm the Texas cattle industry, especially during times of natural disasters such as drought and wildfires. “While we are glad to see DOT walk away from a potential proposal to require basically all ranchers who transport livestock to get a CDL, the current limit of 150 miles is simply unrealistic,” said Joe Parker Jr., rancher and president of TSCRA. “This limit needs to be lifted during times of natural disaster. For the sake of their livestock and their businesses, ranchers need flexibility and options when livestock must be transported to other places, and when feed, water and equipment must be transported. During times of natural disasters, ranchers must act quickly and simply don’t have the time or resources to obtain a CDL,” Parker continued...more

Report: EPA should push ‘sustainability,’ track ‘social’ policy outcomes

The National Research Council (NRC) has released a report laying out a framework for the Environmental Protection Agency to incorporate sustainability into its policies this week. The report advises the EPA to make policy decisions using a three-pillar system, examining environmental, economic, and social impacts. Using the 1969 definition of sustainability from the National Environmental Policy Act and, it notes, a 2009 Executive Order, the framework aims to help the EPA track its progress creating and maintaining “conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, [and] that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.”...more

The Wild West in the Rim Country

A recent article in The Arizona Republic opened with these words, “When the Colt Single Action Army revolver officially became Arizona’s state gun … it was more than just a symbolic nod to the past.”[1] The article continued, affirming that firearms are part of Arizona’s politics and economy as well as its legend and lore. This seems like a fitting introduction to a series of stories about violence in the Rim Country. The final 20 years of the 19th century were decades of violence, and during that time Gila County had the second highest homicide rate in western America. There was “the presence of a regional culture of violence … in Gila County, Arizona.”[2] Several factors contributed to this culture of violence. The sparse, far-flung population made law enforcement slow and difficult. Bandits and robbers felt these areas had opportunities that more populated settlements did not offer. At times, to speed up the process of “justice,” mobs of citizens would take the law into their own hands and lynch offenders. Secondly, there was the inevitable clash between settlers and the Native Americans...more

Song Of The Day #635

Ranch Radio brings you Roy Acuff singing about the beginning of our current budgetary problems in his 1939 recording Old Age Pension Check.

Flight from Mexico: Experts vary on migration's impact on border, El Paso

Once a vibrant border city of almost 2 million people with a flourishing maquiladora industry, thousands of mom-and-pop shops and world-class restaurants, Juárez has become a ghost of its former self in the last five years with more than 7,000 murders in the Mexican government's failed war against organized crime and drug cartels. The relentless violence terrorizing the desert city has caused a mass exodus of Mexican middle-class families, businesses and professionals to El Paso, Juárez's sister city across the Rio Grande, to other areas in the United States and to safer places within Mexico. Although the exodus to the United States -- which includes Mexicans with U.S. citizenship or visas -- is difficult to quantify, a review of U.S. and Mexican government data shows the impact is significant: # In the last five years, some 10,000 small businesses in Juárez have closed, with some relocating to El Paso and other parts of the U.S. # One in four dwellings in Juárez are currently vacant. In the five-year period between 2001 and 2005, the U.S. granted 7,603 business and investor visas to Mexicans. In the following five years, after Mexican President Felipe Calderón declared war on the drug cartels, the number more than quadrupled to 31,068...more

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shotgun-toting teen defends mom, home from burglars

A 16-year-old boy used a shotgun to defend his mother from three would-be burglars in Monte Alto early Saturday morning, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office confirmed. After a string of burglaries in the area of FM Road 88 and FM 2812, the boy and his mother were checking to make sure everything was intact on their property when they saw a vehicle approach, a Sheriff’s Office official said. About 1:45 a.m., with the shotgun in hand, the boy confronted the three strangers who approached and told them to leave. Instead, they shot at him, and he fired back, hitting one in the leg...more

Albuquerque gun store owner challenging ATF rule

An Albuquerque gun store has sued over a federal requirement that weapons dealers in four border states must report multiple sales of semi-automatic rifles. Ron Peterson Firearms was among more than 8,000 gun dealers in New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and California that were ordered last month to report multiple sales of such weapons to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Peterson filed a lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque, asking a judge to prevent the order from taking effect Aug. 14. It is the third such lawsuit filed this week, all contending that ATF lacks authority from Congress to require the reporting. The suits do not seek money, only a stop to enforcement of the new requirement...more

AG sues to protect New Mexico water

The Office of the New Mexico Attorney General Gary King today filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation asking the court for declaratory action and injunctive relief to protect water that lawfully belongs to New Mexico. According to Attorney General King, "The lawsuit is necessary to prevent the BOR from unilaterally releasing New Mexico's water stored in Elephant Butte Reservoir for delivery to Texas." In late July 2011, the BOR unilaterally reclassified 65,000 acre feet of New Mexico water on its accounting sheets so that that water could be made available for release to Texas. The position of the New Mexico Attorney General is that such action is illegal since the water was stored for the benefit of New Mexico, as verified by the Rio Grande Compact Commission in their review of Rio Grande operations and annual accounting. The primary purpose of the Rio Grande Compact Commission is to assure compliance with the Rio Grande Compact (1938), which provides an equitable allocation system for this shared interstate river. The three members of the Commission are the lead water officials that represent their respective States. "Protecting New Mexico's water is critical and while we continue to work cooperatively through the Rio Grande Compact Commission and seek resolution with federal officials, the recent actions of the BOR reflect a unilateral federal change in the Rio Grande Compact accounting procedures used by all three signatory states to the Compact (Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas) to release New Mexico's water for delivery to the El Paso County Water Improvement District in Texas, without New Mexico's approval," says AG King. "The BOR is seeking to 'reclassify' New Mexico's water that is lawfully stored and classified as New Mexico Credit Water, to a different designation so that it can be released to Texas. This action is inappropriate and must not be allowed. I believe it is only prudent to file this lawsuit to protect New Mexico's water."...more

Judge allows more time for review of Rio Grande cap

A decision on a major aspect of Lower Rio Grande water adjudication will be delayed slightly longer, to give objectors more time review a proposed settlement revised last week among farmers, a state judge decided Tuesday. Third Judicial District pro tem Judge Jerald Valentine opted to give objecting groups another week to review a proposed settlement, which would establish a yearly cap on water used throughout the Lower Rio Grande Basin. The parties that reached the settlement - pecan farmers, non-pecan farmers, the local irrigation district and the state - revised the document and circulated it just last Friday, in an attempt to address objectors' concerns. Tuesday, some of the objectors told Valentine they hadn't seen the document yet or had time to review it thoroughly. They also highlighted concerns about an initial version of the settlement, claiming it covered more ground than just the amount of water. Some objectors took issue with a provision that would reduce the amount of depletable water with a given right, if it were transferred out of agriculture, such as to municipal use. Farmers Edmund Ogaz of Garfield and Joe Corona of the south county, part of the non-pecan farmers group, said they're hoping for a speedy resolution, because more time just adds to the cost of an already expensive lawsuit. As far as the terms of the settlement, "it's livable," Ogaz said...more

Wolf management plan divides locals

Just about everyone in western Wyoming agrees things will change if a long-awaited wolf agreement between the federal government and the state is approved. But there are drastically different viewpoints from local residents about whether the area will benefit from or be hurt by the plan, which would remove the state’s roughly 340 wolves from the endangered species list and put them under state control. Ranchers and outfitters say state management of wolves, which would allow unregulated killing of the animals in all but the northwest corner of the state, can’t come soon enough. Wolves have killed off their livestock and decimated moose and elk herds in the region, they say, and the federal government has, until now, prevented them from doing anything about it. But Teton County officials and business leaders worry that allowing wolf killings would generate bad publicity and hurt the region’s vitally important tourism business...more

So you have "businessmen" promoting and profiting from a government-owned asset, while that same asset is inflicting economic injury to other businesses. How admirable.

County to Salazar: no new wilderness

Park County commissioners on Tuesday voted to sign a letter to the Bureau of Land Management stating their unwillingness to recommend new wilderness in the Bighorn Basin. At the direction of the secretary of the Interior, the BLM is asking state and local officials across the West to recommend areas that deserve wilderness protection. The hope is that by building bipartisan support from the ground up, any recommendations that do surface will pass the 112th Congress, creating the first new wilderness designations in nearly three decades. Park County commissioners last week voted 4-1 to not recommend any new wilderness. On Tuesday, they voted 3-1 — with one commissioner absent — to forward an official letter to the BLM stating their opinion. Commissioners said in the letter that public lands should be managed as multiple use, a designation that leaves them open to future drilling and off-road vehicle travel, among other things...more

Judges nixes plaintiffs in forest road case

A group of residents from a small Idaho town won't be able to challenge road closures on national forest land. A federal judge has dismissed the Village of Yellow Pine Association and a private business from a lawsuit against the U.S. Forest Service's travel management plans for the region. The group claimed the agency effectively shut down more than 80 percent of the roads in a popular recreational area of the Payette National Forest in violation of administrative law. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge in Boise has not ruled on the merits of the lawsuit, but dismissed the association and the business from the case on procedural grounds. The group did not appeal a decision notice filed about two years after the 2008 plan was released, thus it hasn't exhausted the administrative process and can't argue the case in federal court, the opinion said...more

County foray into Forest Service campgrounds a success so far

This year the campground on U.S. Forest Service property is being managed by the Linn County Parks Department, which is accepting reservations at the formerly first-come, first-served facility. Reservations are also being taken for nearby House Rock Campground. In January, Linn County signed a five-year contract with the Forest Service to manage six rustic campgrounds east of Cascadia. Linn County will pay the Forest Service 5.3 percent of adjusted gross income, or a minimum of $2,628 annually. The campgrounds have taken in about $49,000 annually. The parks department's annual budget now tops $1 million. "So far, everything is going well," parks director Brian Carroll said...more

Court upholds Forest Service "amenity fee" for vehicles

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the U.S. Forest Service can keep charging a $10 fee to drive the nation's highest paved road. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling that the Forest Service can charge the "amenity fee" to visitors who drive the Scenic Byway to the top of Mount Evans. Mount Evans is part of the Arapaho and Roosevelt national forests, and Congress has decreed that anyone may enter a national forest without charge. However, the three-judge panel unanimously concluded that the Forest Service can charge a fee at Mount Evans because some people use amenities, including a nature center...more

Endangered species stalling Rialto development

Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, is seeking to remove two animal species from protection under the Endangered Species Act, which he said is stalling the development of more than 8,000 residential units in Lytle Creek. Such a move would "expand the tax base of Rialto dramatically, and cause incalculable economic growth for the city and surrounding regions," Baca wrote in a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Tuesday. Ron Pharris, the developer of the Lytle Creek Ranch project, said last week his firm could no longer support its money-losing El Rancho Verde Golf Club and wage a legal war with environmentalists opposed to Lytle Creek Ranch. For those reasons, Pharris - chairman of Lytle Creek Development - told staffers and golfers last week the golf club would be closed on Aug. 17. Baca's letter to Salazar comes at a time when plants, animals and insects on the Endangered Species list are in the midst of a five-year review to see if they should still be included on the list, Baca said. In the letter to Salazar, Baca wrote that Pharris' company has been "especially" affected by the continued listing of the Southwestern Willow Fly Catcher - a species of bird - and the San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat...more

Forest Service keeping closure in place in the Wallow burn area near Luna, NM

Due to unsafe conditions within the Wallow Fire burned area located on the Quemado Ranger District of the Gila National Forest, the temporary closure of the 15,789 acres that were affected will remain closed due to public health and safety concerns. The Head of the Ditch Campground located within the closure area also remains closed due to the heightened potential for flooding as a result of the fire; all other areas on the Forest are open. Forest personnel have been cutting dead trees located adjacent to roads that could easily fall and injure forest users. Some areas with severe fire damage may have to remain closed for some time as it will take longer to restore these areas and remove safety hazards. The burned area has been closed since June 10, 2011. The closure areais located in the vicinity of Luna, N.M. and extends north and west to the Arizona state release

8 Cattle shot with arrows, 5 dead - video

Tonight the search is on for the person who is killing cows in Rogers County. When two ranchers went to check on their cattle they found eight of them had been shot with arrows. It happened near Oologah early Tuesday morning. "It's something you haven't heard of something you are not prepared for,” says rancher Steve Branen. A total of five animals were killed. Three were Branen’s cows. His neighbor, Lyle Blakley, had two killed. One of his surviving bulls had an arrow barely miss his spine and went through his both sides of his loin. Mr. Blakley also lost a cow ready to calve. "My cow that was dead it went right in the chest and buried up in there and it was all the way inside. We had to cut it out of her,” says Blakley...more

Here's the FOX23 video report:

Navajo ranch bidding process unlawful

The process the Navajo Nation used to take ranch parcels from longtime lessees and auction them off to higher bidders was unlawful, a district court judge ruled. Crownpoint District Court Judge William Platero, in a 16-page order for dismissal July 28 ruled that the Navajo Nation did not have the right to repossess ranch lands outside of approval from key governing bodies. The Nation also failed to provide to lease applicants standards or qualifications for the bidding process, he wrote. "Even if the proposed competitive bidding procedures were approved, it still did not provide clear guidance to the applicants as to how their applications and qualifications were evaluated during the review and selection process," Platero wrote. "The qualified applications were selected arbitrarily without clear and unambiguous guidance or instruction as to what sound ranch management or conservation principles were going to be used in the evaluation of applicants' qualifications." The process "amounts to violation of the defendants' right to due process and the right to be informed as to what standard is being used in the evaluation of their qualifications for leasing a tribal ranch in accordance with the intent and purpose of the plan of operation," he wrote. The dismissal is the latest legal decision in a case that started in January 2010 when the Nation ended its closed-bid process and began awarding land occupied by ranchers and hundreds of heads of cattle to higher bidders...more

USDA Proposes Livestock Tracking System

The U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed a new, mandatory system Tuesday for tracking cattle, poultry and other farm animals to pinpoint the origin of diseases that can spread through herds and halt exports. Ranchers and farmers under the rules would be required to affix a unique identification number to animals transferred between states or tribal areas. The tracking system would allow federal officials to more quickly find the source of an outbreak and isolate the diseased animals, reducing the economic and public-health impacts, the USDA said. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a conference call said the tracking system would help reassure foreign meat buyers, some of whom have been critical of the U.S. system for disease control. The lack of a more rigorous system became an issue in December 2003 when the first U.S. case of mad-cow disease was discovered. "Other countries that have a traceability system have used that as a way of gaining market advantage," Mr. Vilsack said. Trade groups for producers and meatpackers showed initial support for the new program. Yet some ranchers feared the rules would be too costly, increase potential liabilities and threaten current practices such as the hot-iron branding of animals...more

Luxury on the hoof

Half a world away from the secretive farms that produce Japan's legendary Kobe beef, Jerry Wilson raises the American version of the meat that will become $50 steaks and $13 burgers. The chocolatey brown cattle at Wilson's Meadows Farm don't technically produce Kobe beef — that term is reserved for the Japanese super high-end cut famous for its succulent taste and eye-popping prices. Wilson calls his meat "American Style Kobe Beef." Other ranchers use similar names like "Kobe-style beef" or "wagyu beef," a reference to the breed of cattle. Whatever the name, domestic production of the pricey product has grown from practically nothing a dozen years ago to a flourishing boutique niche, with recent growth fueled, in part, by a ban on Japanese beef because of reports of foot-and-mouth disease. While American ranchers might not be able to match the mystique of Japanese Kobe and much of the domestic product is cross-bred, they say their product compares to the legendarily luscious stuff. "We can get through any door we want," said Wilson, watching his high-priced herd crowd a bucket of barley dumped on the ground. "All we have to do is a taste test." A wagyu carcass can bring the farm $4,500, minus the cost it takes to raise it for three years...more

Ranch Horse competition allows ranchers to show horses, horsemanship

For 10 years, the Wyoming State Fair has been hosting a Ranch Horse competition during fair week, in Douglas, Wyo. For the last six years, Tim Ettleman has been organizing the event which will take place on Aug. 19, starting at 8 a.m. in the Silver Arena. According to Ettleman, a Ranch Horse competition is different from a rodeo and different from a horse show, even though it draws on elements from both. "We try to simulate the daily horseback activities you will find on a ranch," he explained. In a Ranch Horse competition, horse and rider are given five minutes to complete a series of events. The arena is divided in half. As the timer begins, a horse and rider enter one side of the arena and go through a short trail course of five to six obstacles. Ettleman said these obstacles may consist of crossing a bridge, stepping over an obstacle, dragging an object, loading the saddled horse into a trailer or checking mail in a mail box. After they finish the trail class, while the clock is still running, they perform a short reining pattern that will consist of lead changes, circles, rollbacks and backing up. "It's a simple reining pattern, nothing major," Ettleman assured. After the reining program is completed they go into other half of the arena. "They have to open and close a gate to get into other side of the arena and they are continued to be timed and judged on that," he said. On the second side of the arena, the pair will have to work a cow. "The first thing they have to do is box the cow at one end of the arena then take it down the fence and turn it once in each direction," he said. In the open and ladies open divisions, the competitors also have to circle the cow and then rope it and stop it...more

Song Of The Day #634

On Ranch Radio this morning is Red Foley and his 1948 recording of Tit for Tat.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Wilderness Act factors into Wyoming pine beetle fight

The federal Wilderness Act, established in 1964, includes the language "untrammeled." It means wilderness is meant to remain as free as possible of human influence, said Linda Merigliano with the Forest Service. The act calls for allowing insect and plant diseases to run their course, to even avoid fire suppression unless it is human-caused. The act possesses an outline and series of steps for forest managers to decide what can be allowed in wilderness areas. While verbenone isn't specifically banned under the Wilderness Act, volunteers with the best intentions can't put it on trees in wilderness areas without approval, Merigliano said. Beetles have always been a part of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, she said. Their current presence at higher elevations, however, is unprecedented and tied to climate change, but human history is short, she said. The Wilderness Act outlines exceptions for human intervention when correcting man-made problems. "There's no question whitebark is a keystone species," Merigliano said. "Given climate change, there's no question there's a human impact" contributing to the most recent beetle epidemic. How to deal with pine beetles in wilderness areas is the No. 1 debate among forest managers today, she said. While allowing humans in to protect a species is admirable, some worry it could open the door to more human interference. "It so well illustrates the kinds of issues that are subtle, but really important if you are really, truly wanting to protect the intent and spirit behind what the Wilderness Act represents," Merigliano said. "Those are the kind of issues that people don't see or think about."...more

No intervention unless the infestation is human-caused.  Global warming has caused the infestation, global warming is human-caused, so the Forest Service will allow pheromone pouches stapled to the trees.   How convenient.

So, if there is no global warming the treatment would be denied.   It's Wilderness after all.

But what is this bifurcation between human-caused and non-human caused?  The Wilderness Act states:

In addition, such measures may be taken as may be necessary in the control of fire, insects, and diseases, subject to such conditions as the Secretary deems desirable.

The Act makes no distinction between human-caused or other causes.  The only thing "human-caused" is some administrative fiat which establishes the distinction.

But New Mexicans shouldn't worry about Bingaman's bill to create 242,000 acres of Wilderness on our border with Mexico.  I'm sure the Border Patrol can operate effectively and efficiently in these circumstances.  And let's have plenty of restrictions on pheromones and other treatments.  However, I wonder what restrictions they'll put on the cocaine and methamphetamine brought in by the drug traffickers?

Interior Secretary Arrives in Anchorage After Pro-Development Moves

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar made his third official trip to Alaska today. Salazar comes soon after an executive order by President Obama establishing an interagency task force to coordinate the permitting process for oil and gas development projects in Alaska. Salazar brought along his deputy, David Hayes, who is chairing that working group. They heard from civic and business leaders about long delays in permit reviews, and they promised that Interior and the agencies under its umbrella would strive to do a better job. "Our goal is to ensure that all agencies are working together, implementing their statutory responsibilities, but in a way that is coordinated so that we do not have delays caused by the lack of coordination and lack of communication among the agencies," Hayes said. Salazar assured an elite group of Alaskans that the Obama administration wants to take a careful look at oil and gas exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf. Salazar's appearance in Anchorage comes just a few days after Shell received preliminary approval from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement -- an agency within the Interior Department -- for drilling in the Beaufort Sea, possibly in 2012. "I think you can say that this president's agenda for the Arctic is to go ahead, let's take a look at what is up there, and let's see what it is that we can develop," Salazar said...more

Salazar, Ashe Finalize Agreement with Wyoming on Revised Gray Wolf Management Plan

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Director Dan Ashe today announced that the Service has reached an agreement with the State of Wyoming that will result in revisions to the state’s management plan for the gray wolf. The points of agreement, first announced in principle in early July, promote the management of a stable, sustainable population of wolves and pave the way for the Service to return wolf management to Wyoming. Under the points of agreement, the State of Wyoming will develop and implement a wolf management plan to maintain a healthy wolf population at or above the Service’s recovery goals, provide for genetic connectivity with other wolf subpopulations in the Northern Rockies, and otherwise ensure that gray wolves in Wyoming are managed so that they will not need to be returned to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Once Wyoming incorporates the revisions into the wolf management plan, the Service will move forward with a proposed rule to delist the gray wolf in Wyoming. That proposed delisting rule will be subject to public and peer review as part of a formal rulemaking process, and a final determination to delist wolves in Wyoming and return management of the species to the State will be dependent upon corresponding changes also being made to Wyoming state statutes and regulations...Press Release

BLM Probes Possible Illegal Mustang Trade

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is investigating whether more than 60 wild horses confiscated from locations in Utah were bound for processing plants in Mexico. Prospective clients of the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Adoption Program must demonstrate that they have not been convicted of animal cruelty violations and can provide appropriate care and facilities in a home within the United States. Adoptions of the formerly wild horses don't become final for one year, during which time BLM personnel may conduct home visits to confirm the animal is receiving appropriate care. "Since 2005 the BLM has required buyers to sign a 'statement of intent' that they do not intend to slaughter the animals," said agency spokesman Mitch Snow. Snow said that on Aug. 5 the agency seized 47 horses in Utah. Another 17 animals were confiscated from a location in Willard, Utah, over the weekend, he said...more

Wyoming Group Sues BLM Over Mustangs' Grazing Habits

A Wyoming corporation is asking a federal court to order the Department of the Interior (DOI) to remove wild horses that have strayed from federal lands onto privately held properties. The Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA) is a Wyoming corporation that owns and leases approximately one million acres of private land within the Wyoming Checkerboard, which consists of both public and private lands. The area includes the White Mountain and Little Colorado Herd Management Areas on which Bureau of Land Management (BLM) animals reside. According to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming on July 27, a 1981 federal court order requires the BLM to remove wild animals that had strayed from herd management areas onto RSGA lands. However, the RSGA voluntarily agreed to allow 500 BLM animals on its properties. The current lawsuit seeks the removal of all BLM-managed animals from RSGA lands on grounds that agency failed to comply with the 1981 agreement...more

New Mexico Oil & Gas Industry Proposes Hydraulic Fracturing Disclosure Rule

The New Mexico Oil & Gas Association today filed a proposed rule with the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division that would require disclosure of the composition of hydraulic fracturing fluids for new and recompleted oil and gas wells. “Because some companies have historically sought to protect the composition of their hydraulic fracturing fluids as a trade secret, wild speculations bordering on conspiracy theories have emerged,” said Steve Henke, President of New Mexico Oil & Gas Association. “By proactively calling for disclosure in New Mexico, the industry is expressing its confidence in the proven safety record of the process and embracing transparency.” A hearing on the proposed rule is expected to begin later this year. A copy of the proposed rule is available at Press Release

USDA extends grazing time on conservation land in drought-stricken states

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday that it is extending the time ranchers in Oklahoma and other drought-stricken states can graze cattle on land set aside in a conservation program. Emergency grazing will now be allowed until Oct. 31 — a month longer — without a reduction in payment from the Conservation Reserve Program. The policy change applies to farmers and ranchers who have already been approved for emergency grazing in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico and other states in drought conditions. The Farm Service Agency will also allow producers to use harvested hay from acres leaving the Conservation Reserve Program, though there will be a rental payment reduction...more

Amazing Sheepherding - video


Song Of The Day #633

This morning Ranch Radio brings you Johnny Bond's recording of Barrel House Bessie.

"Rain Guage" photographer doing survey

I see that you have posted my New Texas Rain Gauge photo on your website. I'm pleased & astounded to learn how viral it has become which, by now, has made it throughout the Western Hemisphere. I am conducting an informal survey to see how far it has traveled, so if you have knowledge of any cities/locations where it has been viewed, please let me know.

Here's a new link to the photo:

I would appreciate a new posting on your website with this info and contact for my survey:


Spider Johnson

Monday, August 08, 2011

Gore losing it in Colorado speech, bewails state of climate change debate

Former Vice President Al Gore has gotten rich off the climate change financial manipulations, won a Nobel Prize for his advocacy on the issue, and generally made himself into the world-wide symbol of the global warming movement. And judging by his recent remarks to a liberal gathering in Colorado, it appears he is feeling like a loser these days. Speaking Aug. 4 at the Aspen Institute, Gore claimed global warming critics have used the same tactics allegedly used by the tobacco industry to prevent needed anti-smoking regulations for four decades, according to The Colorado Independent, a liberal website. "The model of media manipulation used then, Gore said, 'was transported whole cloth into the climate debate. And some of the exact same people — I can go down a list of their names — are involved in this. And so what do they do? They pay pseudo-scientists to pretend to be scientists to put out the message: This climate thing, it’s nonsense. Man-made CO2 doesn’t trap heat. It may be volcanoes. Bullshit! It may be sun spots. Bullshit! It’s not getting warmer. Bullshit!' Gore exclaimed," the Independent reported. “'When you go and talk to any audience about climate, you hear them washing back at you the same crap over and over and over again,' he continued. 'There’s no longer a shared reality on an issue like climate even though the very existence of our civilization is threatened. People have no idea! … It’s no longer acceptable in mixed company, meaning bipartisan company, to use the g-----n word climate. It is not acceptable. They have polluted it to the point where we cannot possibly come to an agreement on it.'"...more

Garlic-fed cows combat global warming

Reducing farm animals’ wind by adding garlic to feed could substantially reduce greenhouse emissions, according to research by West Wales’ scientists featured by Euronews. An organosulphur compound obtained from garlic kills off methane-producing bacterium in the digestive system of cows, according to Professor Jamie Newbold, who heads up a €5 million-research programme at Aberystwyth University. Cows eating feed enriched with the garlic compound — called Allicin – release 40% less gas without interference to their normal digestive fermentation, according to the research...more

I need to put some of that in Sharon's vittles.

Texas drought will harm wildlife habitat for years

In a muddy pile of sand where a pond once flowed in the Texas Panhandle, dead fish, their flesh already decayed and feasted on by maggots, lie with their mouths open. Nearby, deer munch on the equivalent of vegetative junk food and wild turkeys nibble on red harvester ants—certainly not their first choice for lunch. As the state struggles with the worst one-year drought in its history, entire ecosystems, from the smallest insects to the largest predators, are struggling for survival. The foundations of their habitats—rivers, springs, creeks, streams and lakes—have turned into dry sand, wet mud, trickling springs or, in the best case, large puddles. "It has a compound effect on a multitude of species and organisms and habitat types because of the way that it's chained and linked together," said Jeff Bonner, a wildlife biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Of the state's 3,700 streams, 15 major rivers and more than 200 reservoirs are effectively empty and more than half of the streams and rivers are at below normal flow rates. Without water, animals struggle with thirst. Few plants grow. Without plants, there are fewer insects. No insects result in low seed production. The animals that rely on seeds and plants for nutrition—from birds to deer and antelope—have low reproduction. Predators that rely on those animals as a food source remain hungry as well, and they reproduce less...more

Court confirms:US Forest Service flubbed science by allowing logging in Tongass

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned four decisions by the US Forest Service to allow logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the nation’s largest national forest. At issue in the August decision, was the assessment of deer habitat, the primary prey of the rare Alexander Archipelago wolf, or “Islands Wolf.” The lawsuit was brought by the environmental groups Greenpeace and Cascadia Wildlands, to protect the wolf subspecies’ viability as well as subsistence deer hunting by local residents. The case, Greenpeace v. Cole (Forrest Cole is the Tongass Forest Supervisor), concerned a computer model the Forest Service used which, as the court heard, greatly underestimated the impact of logging on the deer's winter habitat as well as overestimating the habitat that presently exists. In a unanimous decision, the three-judge panel ruled that the Forest Service had ignored the best available science and failed to follow its own Forest Plan...more

Proposed copper mine near Tucson remains in limbo

A proposed copper mine in southern Arizona remains in limbo awaiting permit applications and federal approval. The proposed mine would pull 234 million pounds of copper annually from private and public land in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson. The U.S. Forest Service says it can't legally say "no" to the proposed Rosemont Copper company's mine. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must act to grant or deny a permit for the mine under the federal Clean Water Act. The agency says a permit denial could stop the project. But The Arizona Daily Star says Rosemont Copper hasn't yet filed a formal permit application with the Army Corps. The agency can say "no" if it determines the project isn't in the public interest or the cost is unfeasible. AP

US Forest Service opens Sacred Sites Report for public comment

The U.S. Forest Service has opened for public comment through the Federal Register a draft report that outlines its policies and procedures on Indian Sacred Sites. The 60-day comment window follows on-going dialogue between the Forest Service and Tribal representatives on Sacred Sites. The Forest Service will accept public comments on the draft report while honoring its responsibility to consult with Indian Tribes. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requested an internal review and consultation with Tribes to determine if existing law, regulations and policies affecting Sacred Sites provide a consistent level of protection. The draft report is available for review at

Officials to break ground on NM water project

Nearly half a century after the idea was conceived, eastern New Mexico entities have planned a Thursday groundbreaking on the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System — also known as the Ute Water Project. An 11:30 a.m. groundbreaking is set for Ute Reservoir, on N.M. 522 about two-and-a-half miles west of Tucumcari. Many city, state and federal officials will be on hand, including Sen. Jeff Bingmana, D-N.M., who authored the 2009 omnibus bill that contained federal authorization for the pipeline project. Construction will follow at a later date for an $11.5 million intake structure, or pumping station. It is the first phase of the $432 million Ute Water Project, which would pump water from the Ute Reservoir to members of the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority. Those members are Clovis, Portales, Melrose, Grady, Texico, Elida and Curry and Roosevelt counties. Authority officials hope to start water delivery in 2019. Projected water delivery is 16,450 acre feet, approximately 5.36 billion gallons, of water annually. A 1994 study by the Interstate Stream Commission estimated the reservoir’s annual yield to be 24,000 acre-feet per year in all but extreme drought years...more

Artist creates modern petroglyphs

Kevin Sudeith sculpts and paints the Montana landscape — literally. The Minnesota-born artist has been scratching pictures onto Montana cliffs and painting them for parts of two years. As artists did thousands of years ago, Sudeith creates petroglyphs. Petroglyphs are carvings on rock as opposed to pictographs, which are painted images on rock. Sudeith does both. Like the ancients, Sudeith makes art of things he sees around him and things that interest him. On private property near Ingomar, he has carved into rock images of three pickups, two tractors, a cowboy, a space observatory and a bride and groom on their wedding day...more

Chupacabra in Minnesota?

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials have been unable to identify a mystery carcass found in Douglas County with certainty, prompting further investigation. The dead white mammal was spotted this week on a Douglas County road with five claws, dark tufts of hair on its back and head and long toenails. Roadkill is nothing new for Minnesotans, but this curious creature got people talking. Lacey Ilse said she was driving near her home on County Road 86, south of Alexandria, when she spotted the mysterious mammal...more

Here is the tv video report:


Portable corral innovator sets standard

Rawhide Portable Corral started with about $500 in investment, which now employs nine people, generates about $1.5 million to $2 million a year in annual sales. His new design allows one person to have a portable corral set up in about 10 minutes and can work with 150 to 400 head of cattle without lifting a panel, according to information on Rawhide’s company website The portable corral system has hydraulic transport wheels that are raised and lowered with the flip of a switch. He demonstrated another feature that allows the rancher to narrow the alley for calves as well as squeeze cattle in the alley. Also a loading chute may be built in. A 15-amp solar panel is standard equipment to recharge the battery. More than 20 different corral configurations are possible. McDonald said the design works on extreme uneven terrain. There is no manual lifting of pens and panels, which makes it safer for the operator. The new design has even caused enough interest from his first customers for them to trade in their original corral. Prices range on his latest portable corral system from $12,000 to $20,000. “We’ve been super busy,” he said...more

Out-of-state ranchers now buying up stock

The severe drought continues to force deep culling of livestock across the Lone Star State, increasing numbers of cattle and sheep going to market. The majority of ranchers have no water in stock tanks or forage left in pastures and the high cost of hay and other feed is draining their bank accounts. While watching good-looking cow/calf pairs going through the sale ring at Producers Livestock Auction on Thursday, I became concerned that foundation herds with genetics built up over years of selective breeding might be leaving West Texas ranch country forever. Actually, a lot of our cattle are being relocated to new homes, Charley Christensen, Producers general manager, told me. They are literally going to greener pastures. Ranchers in places like Montana, Wyoming and North and South Dakota are in a big restocking mode following drought conditions they experienced in recent years. The same is true for breeding sheep, said Peter Orwick, executive director of Denver-based American Sheep Industry Association. "We hear weekly of truckloads of ewes that are moving into the Dakotas from Texas, for example, providing encouragement that the breeding stock will remain in production," Orwick said. "You really feel for the ranchers that are out of options for feeding stock; however, unlike some drought years when prices weaken due to forced sales, this year has very strong markets as well as areas with record hay and grass production plus producers looking to expand sheep numbers." Not willing to sell their livestock with accumulative generations of genetics, some ranchers are transporting sheep to areas with greater feed and water, such as the conditions in northern states, Orwick agreed...more

Nampa Livestock Markets to close

Local landmark Nampa Livestock Market, Inc. will be auctioned off this month, ending a decades-long family-run business. Jack Doan and his brother Joe purchased the railroad district property at 2586 2nd St. S. in 1971 from John Hayes. The property, originally built by John Smeed in 1938, will be auctioned Aug. 18 at 10 a.m. by Western Auction Co. The market has remained in the Doan family for the past 40 years. Livestock sales thrived during the market’s heydays in the 1970s and 80s, and the Doan family earned respect among ranchers and dairymen who would come as far away as northern Nevada and eastern Oregon to do business. “They have a fabulous reputation for honesty, integrity,” Western Auction Co. auctioneer Kurt Weitz said. “These people have treated everybody the same all these years.” Jack Doan and his wife, Virginia, plan to retire after selling the market this month. The couple’s two sons Tom and Robert took over the business in 1997...more

Song Of The Day #632

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and let's see if we can get your foot stompin' with Cumberland Gap by the group White Lightnin'.

Turn that volume up so your neighbors can enjoy it too.

Dona Ana Sheriff Decries Bingaman Wilderness Bill as "Height of Folly"

by Jim Scarantino

Bingaman's bill would "stymie my department's efforts to protect public safety," says the Sheriff of Dona Ana County, Todd Garrison.  He also decries Bingaman's plan to create wilderness on the border with Mexico as "the height of folly."  You can read his letter to the U.S. Senate here.   Will compromising the safety of the residents of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County be Bingaman's legacy?  The man in charge of keeping those same people safe says so.

TheDona Ana Soil and Water Conservation District says Bingaman's bill "will eliminate the District’s access to key areas of this watershed to perform any watershed restoration projects aimed at improving watershed health and/or providing for effective stormwater management to preserve our natural resources and provide for the safety and welfare of our public and property."  They plead with our Senator: "Please, how can you believe this to be good for Dona Ana County?"

The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers says that Bingaman's bill's prohibitions on "the use of mechanical equipment will consequently prevent the deployment of mobile surveillance
systems, remote cameras, electronic detection devices and other tools critical to maintaining operational control of the area in question" and impose unacceptable impediment on the Border Patrol's ability to do its job.

The Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce says, "There is a deep concern within our community on S. 1024’s negative impact to our local, state and national security due to its wilderness designation of lands near the U.S. / Mexican border."  Also, they say "There is deep concern regarding S. 1024’s negative impact on flood control within our valley."

What in the world has happened to Jeff Bingaman?

Jim Scarantino is the former Executive Director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance

Originally posted at NM Liberty.

For these and other comments of those opposed to S. 1024 see SPECIAL EDITION ON BINGAMAN'S WILDERNESS BILL

Juarez shootout interrupts Bowie High School football and volleyball practice

EL PASO, Texas -- A shooting in Juarez hits a little too close to home for Bowie High School students. At least one high-ranking Juarez police officer was shot and killed during a massive gunfight right across the U.S./Mexico border. A Saturday morning football practice and a volleyball scrimmage were interrupted when gunshots were heard nearby. A parent, who did not want to be identified, said at first no one really understood what was going on. "We heard all kinds of gunshots at first we thought it was fireworks," the parent said. "There were a lot of them. More than 30 or 40." The parent said there were long pauses between the groups of shots. “Then they would continue and they (the school staff) pulled everyone inside. That was scary," the parent said. According to Mexican officials, a high-ranking Juarez police officer, Victor Nazario Moreno Ramirez, was shot and killed. His truck was shot 420 times...more

Here's the KFOX video report:


Five Youths Killed in border city

Five youths between the ages of 17 and 20 were shot and killed early Saturday in a suburb of this northern Mexican industrial city, security officials in Nuevo Leon state said. Police received a report early Saturday that five bodies had been dumped in plain view on a road on the north side of Monterrey’s metropolitan area, a spokesperson for the state’s Security Council said, adding that the killings bore the hallmarks of gangland violence. Detectives with the State Investigations Agency arrived at the Monterrey suburb of San Nicolas de los Garza’s Valle del Nogalar neighborhood, where the bodies were dumped, to inspect the crime scene. The five youths had “the look of gang members” and had each been shot multiple times, the spokesperson said. Investigators were trying to determine if the five victims may have been killed in another part of the city, since only one spent shell casing was found on the street. Nuevo Leon, which borders Texas, has seen about 1,000 homicides this year, most of them connected to a brutal turf war between the Gulf and Los Zetas drug mobs...more

Report: Mexican drug cartels adopting military tactics

Mexican drug cartels are using military weapons and tactics while also recruiting Texas teenagers to carry out their operations, which are evolving into full-blown criminal enterprises, experts said. Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven C. McCraw said last week in a report given to Congress that the cartels "incorporate reconnaissance networks, techniques and capabilities normally associated with military organizations, such as communications intercepts, interrogations, trend analysis, secure communications, coordinated military-style tactical operations, GPS, thermal imagery and military armaments, including fully automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades." McCraw testified that the cartels are recruiting youths in high schools to commit crimes for them. "The border region constitutes 9.4 percent of the state's population and now has nearly 19 percent of the juvenile felony drug and gang referrals," he told the committee without elaborating. Four years ago, U.S. federal agents arrested a high school graduate and accused him of belonging to a student-led drug-trafficking ring in east El Paso County. Agents said that 15 to 20 students were recruited and paid about $1,500 to drive vehicles across the border from Juárez and $3,500 more to drive loads to Oklahoma City. Earlier this year, U.S. border officials intercepted a 16-year-old El Paso boy who was driving a vehicle from Juárez that had a hidden compartment packed with illegal drugs. "While conditions are substantially similar, we have noticed a disturbing trend where the cartels have been increasing threats to U.S. law enforcement officers," McCraw said Wednesday. Nearly all of the experts who testified before Congress said that the Zetas cartel is the most dangerous group and that cartel disputes pose grave dangers for the U.S. border...more

U.S. Widens Role in Battle Against Mexican Drug Cartels

The United States is expanding its role in Mexico’s bloody fight against drug trafficking organizations, sending new C.I.A. operatives and retired military personnel to the country and considering plans to deploy private security contractors in hopes of turning around a multibillion-dollar effort that so far has shown few results. In recent weeks, small numbers of C.I.A. operatives and American civilian military employees have been posted at a Mexican military base, where, for the first time, security officials from both countries work side by side in collecting information about drug cartels and helping plan operations. Officials are also looking into embedding a team of American contractors inside a specially vetted Mexican counternarcotics police unit. Officials on both sides of the border say the new efforts have been devised to get around Mexican laws that prohibit foreign military and police from operating on its soil, and to prevent advanced American surveillance technology from falling under the control of Mexican security agencies with long histories of corruption. The United States has trained nearly 4,500 new federal police agents and assisted in conducting wiretaps, running informants and interrogating suspects. The Pentagon has provided sophisticated equipment, including Black Hawk helicopters, and in recent months it has begun flying unarmed surveillance drones over Mexican soil to track drug kingpins. Still, it is hard to say much real progress has been made in crippling the brutal cartels or stemming the flow of drugs and guns across the border...more

U.S. admits border violence out of control

While U.S. Homeland Security Department officials repeatedly assure Americans that the southern border is more secure than ever, a separate government agency has issued an alarming report warning of “recent violent attacks and persistent security concerns” in the area, although the report is getting minimal news media attention. "It’s like the Abbott and Costello version of government, where one agency can’t even coordinate with another to provide the country with a consistent story," said the president of a Washington, DC, public-interest group. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claims the Mexican border region is “as secure as it has ever been.” In fact, she embarked on a publicity tour to the area, using sound-bite opportunities to specifically deny that it’s infested with drug-cartel violence that often spills into the U.S., according to a Judicial Watch report. No such promotion of what appears to be a more accurate assessment, issued this week by the State Department, of the situation along the U.S.-Mexico border. Unlike Napolitano’s rose-colored glasses version, it mentions a “dramatic increase in violence” and nearly 30,000 narcotics-related murders in the last few years. The State Department report bluntly says that “the security situation along the Texas border has changed markedly from a year ago.”...more

Mexican military helicopter mistakenly lands in Laredo, sent back by customs agents

A Mexican military helicopter has landed in Texas by mistake. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the helicopter landed Saturday afternoon at Laredo International Airport after the pilot mistook the airport for a landing strip in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Laredo Port of Entry spokeswoman Mucia Dovalina says customs agents checked out the helicopter’s occupants and let them return to Mexico. She declined to say how many people were on board or whether they were armed. The Houston Chronicle reports this is the second time Mexico’s military has crossed into Texas in recent weeks. A convoy rolled across the international bridge at Donna in July...more

Relocate or die: Mexican entrepreneurs migrate to the interior fleeing violence, insecurity

Edgar N. ran a profitable business in the state of Michoacán during most of his adult life, but after falling victim to extortion by local organized crime groups five years ago, he closed his export business and relocated to the state of Querétaro. "Business was doing fine, 500,000 pesos of sales monthly; I was one of the most successful businesses in my area of the region," he says. Then everything changed. "It was around midyear in 2005 when we began to see the black pickups that nobody knew. They were a bad sign. By the end of the year rumor had it in the community that they were Zetas." Within two years, this gang was overrun in a bloody battle by an even more unstoppable group: La Familia Michoacana (The Michoacán Family), a kind of military and religious sect that today controls the whole region. Edgar, 45, said extortion in Michoacán became more frequent. First, a fire at a chicken farm. Two days later, an auto parts was burned, after that a shoe store. The message was clear -- if you don't cooperate, pay the consequences. "They demanded a very high quota that began with 10,000 pesos. As your business grew, they increased the amount. The risk map has expanded in these last two years. According to a poll by the Bank of Mexico of 1,100 businessmen in different regions of the country, it is now clear that two out of every three companies in the northern and northern-central areas of the country (where there is a concentration of manufacturing) have been hurt by the insecurity created by organized crime. Another collateral injury from the war against organized crime is its impact on family businesses, a tradition of Mexican industry. In northern Mexico, "businessmen feel safer if their children live out of the country," Jaramillo said...more

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

The language of the cowboy

By Julie Carter

Language ranks among the most visible, audible, extensive, and useful cultural evidence that human societies create. Undeniably, it is one of the more important parts of any culture.

Anyone looking into ranch life and cowboy history will find that the culture of the American West has a language all its own. Yankees don’t understand it and rarely recognize it as a real language.

I know that my personal dialect is that of a direct plain-spoken Westerner. I use words that others don’t recognize as words and I leave out words (that) others would place in the thought process I’m expressing. See parenthesis. They might call it correct grammar, I call it unnecessary.

While I possess in the recesses of my upbringing a full vocabulary of “range vernacular,” some very skilled mentors managed to round off the edges of my speech.

As a young girl my mother came to the West from the civilized world bringing with her a refined vocabulary. I was also blessed with teachers that were able to guide me to hold my own in polite company when it came to conversation.

I’m not embarrassed that I often have to look up the meaning of words used casually and easily by my fellow scribes. Given the opportunity, I could give them a few they would have to investigate, not because they are unlearned but because it’s a foreign language to them. And those words won’t be in ordinary dictionaries.

In the language called cowboy, jingle isn’t the sound that a bell makes or a rhyme. It is a verb that means to gather the horses.

By definition, hooley-ann isn’t a country girl but a type of loop thrown to catch a horse. Hoolihan is something completely different. While dew claw is a part of bovine anatomy, the labels for saddle horses from the remuda could include crow-hopper, craw-fisher or the blind bucker.

The early cowboy was generally not highly educated but he never lacked for expression. The sharp directness of his speech seemed novel and strange to conventional people but no one could accuse him of being boring. His ability to turn a picturesque phrase was as refreshing as it was unexpected and often showed his keen sense of humor.

His figures of speech are descriptive and clearly accurate. Trying to accomplish the impossible is “like tryin’ to scratch your ear with your elbow.” When expressing his idea of prominence he might say it “stuck out like a new saloon in a church district.”

Pretty is “prettier than a spotted dog under a red wagon,” and ugly is expressed in colorful descriptions like “so narrow between the eyes he could look through a keyhole with both eyes.” Chouse is chase -- cows or girls and sometimes both.

Today’s cowboy is quite often very educated, but you will find that the book learnin’ never takes away his ability to employ his words in a way that suits him. He will arrange them in a manner that best expresses his idea and be completely unrestricted by tradition.

That cowboy slang, twang and verbal saunter is often worn like the camouflage of a chameleon. It is not unusual for a cowboy to use it to beguile his listener, lulling them into a false sense of superiority.

The dumb-ol’-boy trick has made many a cowboy a pile of money. Their theory is to not ever tamper with the natural ignorance of a greenhorn.

Whatever their dialect, phraseology, and vernacular, the cowboy has always had a way of expressing a big thought in a few words. “Success is the size of the hole a man leaves after he dies.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Julie knows a cowchip is paradise for a fly. She can be reached for comment at