Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gore: Eat less meat to fight warming

Al Gore wants society to ditch meat-heavy diets and go organic to combat global warming. "Industrial agriculture is a part of the problem,” Gore said Friday during an interview with FearLess Revolution founder Alex Bogusky. “The shift toward a more meat-intensive diet,” the clearing of forest areas in many parts of the world in order to raise more cattle and the reliance on synthetic nitrogen for fertilizer are also problems, he added. Instead, Gore advocated organic farming and relying on “more productive, safer methods that put carbon back in the soil” to produce “safer and better food.” The former vice president also criticized climate change skeptics, urging those who support curbs to greenhouse gases to “win the conversation” when it comes to global warming. He compared the struggle against climate skeptics to the fight against racism during the civil rights movement...more

Rabies Confirmed in a Skunk from Chaves County

The New Mexico Department of Health is warning pet and livestock owners in Chaves County and throughout the state to make sure their dogs, cats, horses, and other valuable livestock are vaccinated against rabies after a skunk that was behaving abnormally in Roswell, New Mexico tested positive for the disease.
Animal control is currently investigating possible exposures in the neighborhood where the skunk was found. Currently, no people or animals are known to have been exposed to the skunk. “In New Mexico, bats, skunks and foxes are reservoirs for rabies and can transmit rabies to people, pets, livestock or other wild animals. We are urging everyone to vaccinate your pets and livestock against rabies; vaccination is one of the most effective public health tools we have to prevent humans from being exposed to rabies,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Catherine Torres. Several skunks from southeastern New Mexico have been diagnosed with rabies. This year, there have been eight rabid animals reported in New Mexico including the rabid skunk in Chavez County, a rabid horse and four rabid skunks in Eddy County, one rabid skunk from Lincoln County, and a rabid dog in Roosevelt County. It is essential for pet owners to vaccinate their pets and to seek veterinary care if any of their pets become ill, especially if they have had contact with any wild animals including skunks...more

Friday, August 26, 2011

Meet the goat who likes to paint

At first, the animal produced only, erm, gruff drafts but now it has honed its skills enough to wow visitors at the zoo where it lives. And it seems Peep is part of a new hoof movement in the art world, as its friends at McGovern Children’s Zoo in Houston, Texas, are also a dab hand with a brush. The first goat at the US attraction to paint was two-year-old Domino. But the real star, according to zoo keeper Amber Zelmer, is billy goat Trent. ‘He caught on really quickly so helping him to make the paintings a bit better wasn’t hard at all – it took less than a month,’ she said. ‘The first task was teaching the goats to touch the canvas with the paint brush once they had it held in their mouth. ‘Then we just added paint and we had goat art.’ The finished canvases have proved popular at zoo fundraising events...more

A reptile messes with Texas

A five-inch reptile has enough power in its tiny claws to hurl thousands of Americans into unemployment lines. It shows how the greenie Obama administration places a higher value on sand-dune lizards than it does on domestic energy production and jobs. Federal bureaucrats with the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) want to put this critter, also known as the dunes sagebrush lizard, on the Endangered Species List. Their proposed rule could halt oil and gas production and agriculture, which account for 30 percent of the jobs in a prospering region of Texas. Sen. John Cornyn has been fighting to stop this from happening. “There has not been a cost-benefit analysis,” the Texas Republican told The Washington Times. “Are we going to elevate this little lizard above people and their welfare? And jobs? Or is there some sort of balance required?” Dunes sagebrush lizards are found in the Permian Basin area of Texas and New Mexico, which is the top energy-producing region of the United States. To save the tan-colored reptiles’ sand-dune home, the government wants to declare the area off-limits to everything including buildings, roads, wells and pipelines. Lizard-loving liberals at the Interior Department even want to “remove brush (not shinnery oak) that invades into the habitat preferred by sand-dune lizards.” Texas Comptroller Susan Combs appealed to the agency to consider economic realities before putting the lizard on the endangered list. She pointed out that the Lone Star State is home to one-quarter of the U.S. crude oil reserves, most of which is found in the Permian Basin. New regulations would put the kibosh on energy exploration in West Texas for up to five years, driving oil and gas prices even higher...more

"Lizard-loving liberals" does have a certain ring to it.

USGS Ups The Ante On Shale

Despite efforts in the media and Congress to shut it down through fear and falsehoods, a new estimate of America's most promising energy source portends even more gas, oil — and jobs. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) announced Tuesday that the Marcellus Shale formation that straddles the northeastern United States may hold a staggering 84 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of recoverable natural gas, up significantly from the last official government estimate of 2 tcf made in 2002. The USGS said the estimate came from new information about the gas-rich formation underlying New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, and from technical improvements in how wells are drilled and the gas is extracted. This news strikes terror in the hearts of environmentalists, and government ideologues simply cannot handle shale gas and the prospect of what it holds for the American future. Shale gas doesn't require a government subsidy like wind and solar energy do; it is profitable, abundant and versatile in that it can be used to power the grid and as a transportation fuel...more

BLM chief wants ‘fair return’ on mining

U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey said Tuesday he believes hardrock-mining companies should pay a royalty for use of the public land, especially at this time of high gold prices. He said, however, that Congress isn’t showing much interest in the BLM’s latest proposal. The BLM’s budget proposal for 2012 proposes that new mining claims and new mining operations pay a royalty, but current operations and claims wouldn’t have to pay, he said during a roundtable with Elko media. Gold, silver and copper mines don’t pay a royalty under the 1872 Mining Law, while coal mines and oil and gas operations do. “This is one reason Congress needs to look at the 1872 Mining Law. It’s a disservice to the American public,” he said. Taxpayers should receive “a fair return” on their public land, Abbey said. The BLM budget asks Congress to reassess how mining is done on public lands and to look at a royalty, but Abbey said whether the royalty would be on net proceeds or gross proceeds would be up to Congress...more

Feds Give 4 States $5.8 Million to Protect Insect Habitat

Puritan tiger beetle
The U.S. Department of Interior announced this week that it is giving four states $5,802,180 in grants for projects that are designed in whole or in part to protect various types of threatened or endangered beetles. The largest of these grants is a $2,426,055 award to the state of Maryland to help protect the habitat of the Puritan tiger beetle, a threatened insect that inhabits beaches and bluffs along Chesapeake Bay in Maryland as well as along the Connecticut River in New England. The $5.8 million in grants that will help four states protect beetles are part of a group of 48 grants totaling $53.3 million that the Interior Department said on Wednesday will go to 17 states to develop conservation plans or purchase or preserve land determined to be habitat for species that have been listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act...more

Teacher faces 'weapons violations,' termination for showing children tools

A school in Barack Obama buddy Rahm Emanuel's city of Chicago is accusing a teacher of "weapons violations" for showing tools to a class of second-graders for a curriculum that required a "tool discussion." The Rutherford Institute say it's just too much, and they have written to Principal Valeria Newell Bryant at Washington Irving Elementary School in Chicago demanding that the case against teacher Doug Bartlett be dropped. "While we understand your desire to maintain a safe, healthy learning environment for your students and teachers, we submit that this goal is undermined when school officials view common, useful items in the hands of qualified, responsible teachers, as 'weapons' rather than tools," a letter to Bryant, signed by Rita M. Dunaway of the Rutherford Institute said today. The civil rights law organization said the school should respond no later than the close of business Friday. "We request that you immediately dismiss any and all disciplinary actions against Mr. Bartlett," the letter said. Bartlett, the report said, is being charged with possessing, carrying, storing or using a weapon after he displayed such garden-variety tools as wrenches, pliers and screwdrivers in his classroom. The "discussion" was called for by the curriculum in the school. "Despite the fact that all potentially hazardous items were kept out of the students' reach, school officials at Washington Irving Elementary School informed Doug Bartlett, a 17-year veteran in the classroom, that his use of the tools as visual aids endangered his students. Bartlett now faces disciplinary action and possible termination," the institute reported...more

Hell, If he'd a brought a pair of post hole diggers they probably would've declared him a terrorist.

Two Oklahoma Indian Tribes Contest State for Water Rights

The Choctaw and Chickasaw Indian tribes in Oklahoma have filed a federal lawsuit to protect water rights they say derived from long-ago treaties and to prevent exports of water from their traditional homelands without their permission. The dispute had been simmering for more than a year, since the export of water from Sardis Lake in southeastern Oklahoma to Oklahoma City was proposed in June 2010. The lawsuit, filed late Wednesday in United States District Court in Oklahoma City, accuses the State of Oklahoma of one-sided action to deprive the tribes of water rights they have held since the 1830s. It names the governor, the state water agency, Oklahoma City and that city’s water utility as defendants...more

Radical animal-rights group PETA launching x-rated porn site

A controversial new porn site by the world’s leading animal rights group could actually feed animal cruelty fetishes, according to one counselor specializing in recovery from porn addiction. Users of PETA’s new site, to be launched this year, will first be presented with pornographic galleries and videos, but shortly after they will be exposed to PETA’s graphic hidden camera investigations of animal mistreatment. “We are working on a XXX site and the content will be graphic — an off-limits video that people won’t expect. This will grab people’s attention and start a discussion to take action,” said PETA spokesman Ashley Burns. But according to Dr. Peter C. Kleponis, the assistant director of Comprehensive Counseling Services in Pennsylvania, “The people who would be really interested in this site are the people who have fetishes of hurting animals, who may have fetishes for bestiality, who associate animals with sex. “This is what it might actually increase.”...more


Cattle rustler sentenced to 99 years

An man with a prolific cattle rustling history spanning more than a decade was sentenced Wednesday to 99 years in prison for swindling bovines from a Mississippi rancher. Carl Wade Curry, 44, of Athens, Texas, was accused of stealing 400 head of cattle worth more than $200,000 last year. Hardeman County District Attorney Staley Heatly said Curry placed an order with a Mississippi man using a fake name and cattle company in Vernon, where the owner shipped the cattle. The owner contacted authorities when he did not receive payment. A jury took less than 30 minutes to both convict and sentence Curry. “He was going to mail me a check and he didn’t,’’ said rancher David Sanders of Starkville, Miss. “Then he was going to Federal Express it to me. Didn’t happen.’’ Testimony at Curry’s trial revealed he had stolen 2,097 head of cattle worth nearly $1 million since 2007. In April, Curry was sentenced to 20 years in a cattle rustling case in Smith County in East Texas, Heatly said. AP

Elbridge Gerry — pioneer, horse rancher, Indian trader — was ‘the savior of Colorado'

“The Savior of Colorado” was how Elbridge Gerry was described by his contemporaries during the summer of 1864. Yet, little is known about this early Coloradan and colorful frontier figure of Weld County. We know that he was a horse rancher and American Indian trader as of 1853 near the confluence of Crow Creek and the South Platte River, about 10 miles east of Greeley. He was also the grandson of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Elbridge Gerry, for whom he was named. Prior to becoming the “first white settler of Weld County,” he worked as a mountain man for the American Fur Company toward the end of the fur trade era and at Bent's Fort. He wandered the Rockies trapping and trading until he settled near Fort Laramie and took a Sioux wife. He was renowned for his large Indian family and had amicable dealings with the Arapaho, Cheyenne and his Sioux relatives throughout his early career. Gerry lived in a world that was partly native and increasingly that of the presence of his new neighbors: pioneers, not unlike himself. As of April 1864, however, relationships with native tribes had drastically shifted. Between 1862 and 1864 the Cheyenne, Sioux and Arapaho united because of violations of the treaty to maintain their formal hunting grounds between the South Platte and the Arkansas rivers and began raiding outlying settlements. In the past, Gerry had successfully assisted the Colorado territorial government with Indian affairs by peddling goods to pacify the tribes. He was also familiar with them through his marriage and was regularly visited by trading parties who would trade for knives, blankets, ammunition and other goods. Late one evening, relatives of his wife appeared at the Gerry place, advising his family to flee, for there would be a war party 1,000 strong scouring the prairie...more

Song Of The Day #646

Two more 78s on Ranch Radio today. There's some skips, pops and distortions in today's selections, but if you enjoy these classic roots tunes the way I do, it won't bother you at all...Clayton McMichen's Georgia Wildcats - Just An Old Chimney Stack, Lew Preston and Men of the Range - Goodbye Little Blue Eyes Goodbye.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mexican Gray Wolf Documentary

Grizzly shooter garners support

A man charged with unlawfully shooting and killing a grizzly bear had so many supporters at his arraignment Tuesday in federal court that the judge had to move the hearing to a larger courtroom. Even there, every seat was taken as his family, friends and neighbors, young and old, squeezed in. Jeremy M. Hill, 33, pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court to killing the animal with a rifle on his 20-acre property near Porthill, Idaho, at the Canadian border. He lives five miles from the closest grizzly bear recovery zone. Hill has declined comment. His lawyer, Marc Lyons of Coeur d'Alene, said he plans to defend Hill on the basis of self-defense and protection of family. Following the hearing, his father, Mike Hill, of Athol, said, "This whole thing is a waste of taxpayer money." He said his son was concerned for the safety of his children playing outside when a mother grizzly and two cubs wandered onto his property on May 8. Jeremy Hill has six kids, ranging in age from 14 years old to 10 months old. At least five were home when the grizzly was killed, Mike Hill said. The bears had gone after some pigs in a pen that the kids had been raising, Mike Hill said. He said his son shot one of the bears, then called authorities to notify them of the kill. The other two bears ran off. He said his son could have just buried the animal and not said anything to law enforcement. He said his son is being penalized for coming forward...more

Gov. Otter weighs in on grizzly bear shooting

Gov. Butch Otter has penned a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in defense of Jeremy M. Hill, the Boundary County man who shot a grizzly bear that had entered his yard while his young children were out playing and who now faces federal charges. “I recognize the federal jurisdiction under the Endangered Species Act, but I strongly support the right of individuals to defend themselves and others in such situations,” Otter wrote. “Many, including me, feel Mr. Hill did what a concerned parent would do.” The governor wrote, “No one disputes that Jeremy Hill killed a grizzly bear. The dispute appears to be over the reason for shooting the bear. I would sincerely appreciate your looking into this case and assisting in any way you can.” Hill pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal charges of illegally taking a protected species, a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, he could face up to a year in prison and up to $50,000 in fines. A jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 4. link

Rigged For Failure

A year ago, three oil rigs fled the Gulf of Mexico for better opportunities abroad. Now, it's 10. Make no mistake, the toll is rising on a business environment marked by the Obama administration's uncertainty. It's a sorry spectacle when rigs, the mighty instruments for extracting oil and gas from miles under the sea floor, are quietly pulling away from U.S. coasts for better business environments oceans away — namely the Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Egypt and Brazil. "When you have companies that would be spending hundreds of millions of dollars, or in some cases billions of dollars, they need certainty," Louisiana Oil & Gas Association President Don Briggs told "We don't have that now, and I don't expect we will anytime soon." The massive planning, capital, project management and luck required to produce energy are uncertain enough. The climate of government caprice makes it even worse. The 2010 BP oil spill proved Obama's anti-energy production talk was more than rhetoric — it was policy...more

Kinky for Perry

Rick Perry has never lost an election; I’ve never won one. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the world. On the other hand, I’ve long been friends with Bill Clinton and George W., and Rick Perry and I, though at times bitter adversaries, have remained friends as well. It’s not always easy to maintain friendships with politicians. To paraphrase Charles Lamb, you have to work at it like some men toil after virtue. I have been quoted as saying that when I die, I am to be cremated, and the ashes are to be thrown in Rick Perry’s hair. Yet, simply put, Rick Perry and I are incapable of resisting each other’s charm. He is not only a good sport, he is a good, kindhearted man, and he once sat in on drums with ZZ Top. A guy like that can’t be all bad. When I ran for governor of Texas as an independent in 2006, the Crips and the Bloods ganged up on me. When I lost, I drove off in a 1937 Snit, refusing to concede to Perry. Three days later Rick called to give me a gracious little pep talk, effectively talking me down from jumping off the bridge of my nose. Very few others were calling at that time, by the way. Such is the nature of winning and losing and politicians and life. You might call what Rick did an act of random kindness. Yet in my mind it made him more than a politician, more than a musician; it made him a mensch. These days, of course, I would support Charlie Sheen over Obama. Obama has done for the economy what pantyhose did for foreplay...more

Green Scissors 2011

Green Scissors 2011 identifies wasteful government subsidies that are damaging to the environment and could end up costing taxpayers more than $380 billion. Green Scissors 2011 builds on last year’s report by advancing cuts that could potentially save taxpayers $380 billion or more over five years. The report makes the case that the federal government can help protect our natural resources, reduce the growth of government spending, and make a significant dent in the national debt by eliminating harmful spending. The Green Scissors report finds cuts in energy, agriculture, transportation, and land and water projects. Targets include massive giveaways of publicly-owned resources such as timber, oil and natural gas and minerals, poorly conceived road projects and a bevy of questionable Army Corps of Engineers water projects. Friends of the Earth has been working on identifying and eliminating environmentally harmful spending with the Green Scissors report since 1995, and Taxpayers for Common Sense has been our partner for 15 years. Public Citizen joined the coalition in 2010, and The Heartland Institute joined the coalition for Green Scissors 2011, after endorsing the 2010 report. All four of our groups have different missions and different views about the role of government, but Green Scissors represents some key areas where we all can agree...more

A copy of the report is here.

Here's what they say about livestock grazing:

The Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management
public land grazing program is highly subsidized
and benefits only two percent of the nation’s livestock
operators. According to the Government Accountability
Office in 2004, grazing programs cost taxpayers roughly
$136 million to operate but only earned $21 million.18
Below-cost grazing fees encourage overgrazing and,
along with other problematic features of the existing
federal program, have resulted in extensive and severe
environmental damage to public lands and riparian areas,
resulting in reduced ecologic resiliency and ability to
adapt to a warming western climate. Federal grazing fees
are lower than the fees charged by almost every state.
In fiscal year 2007, federal grazing fees fell to $1.35 per
acre, the lowest amount allowed by law. To put that in
perspective, the first uniform federal grazing fee that was
established in 1934 was set at $1.23 per acre. The equivalent,
in 2010 dollars, is $19.81 per acre. It is time for
taxpayers to be fairly compensated for allowing grazing
on federal lands.

America’s Green Quagmire

The notion that we should move to a war footing on energy has been a reigning cliché of U.S. politics ever since Jimmy Carter’s Oval Office energy crisis address in 1977. “This difficult effort will be the ‘moral equivalent of war’ — except that we will be uniting our efforts to build and not to destroy.” Ever since, we’ve been hearing that green must become the new red, white, and blue. It’s difficult to catalogue all of the problems with this nonsense. For starters, the mission keeps changing. Is the green-energy revolution about energy independence? Or is it about fighting global warming? Or is it about jobs? For most of the last few years, the White House and its supporters have been saying it’s about all three. But that’s never been true. If we wanted energy independence (and I’m not sure why we would) or if we wanted to reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil (a marginally better proposition, given that Canada and often Mexico supply the U.S. with more oil than Saudi Arabia), we would massively expand our domestic drilling for oil and gas and our use of coal or carbon-free nuclear. That would also create lots of jobs that can’t be exported (you can’t drill for American oil in China, but we can, and do, buy lots of Chinese-made solar panels). As for the windfall in green jobs, that has always been a con job...more

EPA Answers 390 ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ About Its New Pollution Regulation

Sept. 30 is the deadline for thousands of American businesses -- including power plants, petroleum refineries, landfills and large engine manufacturers -- to report their greenhouse gas emissions to the U.S. government for the first time. The EPA on Monday announced a new tool that will allow 7,000 companies in “all sectors” of the U.S. economy to submit their greenhouse gas pollution data electronically. Electronic submission of the data is supposed to make the process easier. But the reporting process is complex and cumbersome. For starters, the EPA's ‘Frequently-Asked Questions” Web page includes 21 sections that cover 390 FAQs. (The questions cover everything from the definition of a “facility,” to “storage tank emissions reported in Subpart Y,” to methods for measuring the “composition of the CO2 stream.”)...more

Come on guys, its only 21 sections with 390 FAQs. And we all know the EPA will put all that data to good use. Never fear, you can trust them.

Federal agents search Gibson Guitar factory in Memphis

Federal agents with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service shut down the Gibson Guitar factory in Downtown Memphis today to serve search warrants in an ongoing investigation, officials said. Nicholas Chavez, special agent in charge for U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Region 2 in Albuquerque, N.M., said agents also served a search warrant on Gibson Guitar in Nashville. In November 2009, agents for the service searched the guitar maker's manufacturing plant in Nashville, reportedly during an investigation of use of woods banned from commercial use for environmental reasons...more

EPA Issues Compliance Orders To Five Feedlots; EPA Using "Flyovers"?

EPA Region 7 announced today that it has issued administrative compliance orders to six concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska, directing those operations to correct a range of violations of the federal Clean Water Act. Region 7’s latest round of CAFO enforcement activity, aimed at encouraging producers’ compliance with the Clean Water Act and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program, involves five beef feedlots, including three in Nebraska, one in Kansas, and one in Iowa; and an egg layer operation in Nebraska...more

A source sends along this information:

"Sounds like one of them is facing significant (i.e. tens of thousands) in fines. We heard one of the others is trapped in a fight between NDEQ and EPA over mgt of stormwater runoff from their feed storage area. The other rumor is that EPA found these operation by doing flyovers, a practice they started under the Obama administration but the first that I'm aware of them doing flyovers in Nebraska. Not good news."

Team Obama Regulates Goat Herders' Workplaces

The Obama administration is setting new workplace regulations to assist foreign workers who fill goat herding positions in the U.S. , including employee-paid cell phones and comfy beds. These new special procedures issued by the Labor Department must be followed by employers who want to hire temporary agricultural foreign workers to perform sheep herding or goat herding activities. It describes strict rules for sleeping quarters, lighting, food storage, bathing, laundry, cooking and new rules for the counters where food is prepared. “A separate sleeping unit shall be provided for each person, except in a family arrangement,” says the rules signed by Jane Oates, assistant secretary for employment and training administration at the Labor Department. The new lighting standards say that in areas where it is not feasible to provide electrical service such as tents or mobile trailers, lanterns must be provided. “Kerosene wick lights meet the definition of lantern,” the regulations say. “When workers or their families are permitted or required to cook in their individual unit, a space shall be provided with adequate lighting and ventilation.” “Wall surfaces next to all food preparation and cooking areas shall be of nonabsorbent, easy-to-clean material. Wall surfaces next to cooking areas shall be of fire-resistant material,” the regulations say...more

Record drought threatens future wheat crop prospects

Bottom of Livestock Pond
Dry weather already has cut output of hard, red winter wheat, the most common U.S. variety, by 22 percent from 2010, government data show. If drought persists into the planting months of September and October, next year's harvest will be even smaller and prices on the Kansas City Board of Trade may jump 50 percent to $13 a bushel, said Dan Manternach, a wheat economist with researcher Doane Advisory Services in St. Louis. Oklahoma has had the driest 10-month period on record, and July was the hottest ever for the state, according to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. "We are in a situation where we have been extremely dry for coming close to a year," said Mike Schulte, the executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission in Oklahoma City. "If we get ourselves into a situation where we don't receive rain even by October, then we will have problems." The nation's winter-wheat harvest was 94 percent complete, as of Aug. 21, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency estimates production of the hard, red winter variety at 794.4 million bushels, down from 1.018 billion in 2010. Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas were the biggest growers of winter wheat in 2010 and supplied 28 percent of all wheat varieties produced in the U.S...more

Amtrak train kills 24 rare Salers cattle near Klamath Falls and rancher wants to know: Who's gonna pay?

The crime scene was horrific -- 24 dead -- and the sheriff's commander called out last Saturday to lead the investigation said that during his 18 years in the business he's never seen such carnage. What happened in an isolated area about 24 miles north of Klamath Falls last weekend offers a glimpse into the obscure world of high-end cattle ranching involving a special breed of cow called Salers, considered nature's first wild cow. Images of Salers have been discovered painted on cave walls dating back more than 7,000 years in France. It's also the first round in what will be a battle between a stubborn, old-time cattle rancher who uses a battered hat to fight sunburn and the suit-and-tie crowd working in air-conditioned offices at Amtrak and the mighty Union Pacific Railroad. "This is a big loss," grumbled 69-year-old Bruce Topham. "Damn right." Lt. Monty Holloway, patrol commander at the Klamath Falls Sheriff's Office, said a train occasionally kills a lone deer or cow. But 24? "I can't explain it," he said. "In all my years here I've never seen anything like this." The way Topham understands the law, the railroads are responsible for maintaining fences along the right-of-way. He said it appears that an old portion of the fence toppled over and the cattle made their break for freedom, which turned out to be short-lived. "I checked with the county clerk and this entire area is considered open range," he said. "That means if you don't want livestock on your property, you have to fence it in."...more

Texas man trampled to death by rodeo horses

A West Texas rodeo worker has died after horses he was tending turned around and stampeded over him. Justin Bradley's father tells the Plainview Daily Herald that the 24-year-old rancher died Monday, two days after the incident at the Wheeler Ranch Rodeo. Brad Bradley said his son was knocked down and trampled when the horses turned as he was moving them toward a bucking chute Saturday. It was not clear what caused the horses to stampede. A call to the Wheeler County sheriff from The Associated Press was not immediately returned. The younger Bradley suffered a head injury and was taken to an Amarillo hospital, where he remained on life support until Monday for organ donation. Wheeler is about 110 miles northeast of Amarillo. AP

U.S. beef exports close big first half with solid June results

If the trend established in the first six months of the year holds up, U.S. beef exports are likely to set several new records in 2011 and could eclipse the $5 billion mark for the first time ever. According to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program, June beef exports achieved the second-highest value ever at $461.8 million. This was 23 percent higher than June 2010, and has been surpassed only once – by the March 2011 value total of $475.2 million. In terms of volume, June beef exports reached 245 million pounds – an increase of 15 percent over June 2010. This brought the cumulative 2011 total to 1.4 billion pounds valued at $2.55 billion, which was 25 percent higher in volume and 40 percent higher in value than last year’s pace. For the first half of this year, beef exports equated to 13.8 percent of total production with an export value of $192.42 per head of fed slaughter. The United States has also recaptured its position as the world’s leading beef exporter, outpacing Australia and Brazil. Tremendous June results in Mexico and Canada firmly established their positions as the No. 1 and No. 2 markets for U.S. beef...more

Song Of The Day #645

Ranch Radio is dustin' off a coupla more 78s. We're getting back to our country roots with: Riley Puckett & Red Jones - Moonlight On The Colorado followed by Armour & Smith - Carroll County Blues.

London Refuses Kids Tickets To Gun-Related Olympic Events

Schoolchildren in London are eligible for 125,000 free tickets for the 2012 Olympics next Summer, but any event that involves a firearm will be excluded from the massive giveaway. Why, you ask, would anyone choose to hide storied events and world class competitors from children’s eyes? Because City Hall and Olympic Organizers are afraid of an anti-gun backlash. That’s right — the powers that be in London won’t subject kids to such bloodsports as Skeet and Trap shooting. The London Evening Standard reported yesterday on the “Ticketshare” decision, and the window it has given into current British views on guns in society...more

Fishermen Come Under Fire at Falcon Lake

Deputies are investigating a shooting at Falcon Lake. Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS that the incident happened two weeks ago on the Mexican side of the lake. The sheriff says a group of men were fishing in their boat when they came under fire. The sheriff says the men doing the shooting appear to be Mexican soldiers. No one on the boat was hurt, but the boat was hit. We're told a windshield was shot out. link

Past time for answers on Operation Fast and Furious

It’s well past time the American public receive clear answers on Operation Fast and Furious. At this juncture, after months of a congressional investigation, it appears Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice are committed to hoping an extended silence will allow the entire scandal to simply go away. Each time law enforcement officials recover another of the thousands of guns that were allowed to be transported to members of Mexican drug cartels, the failure of this operation is again brought to light. Fast and Furious, which was the Arizona version of a similar investigation called Gunrunner in Texas, was conceived and approved somewhere by someone around October 2009, and was tasked to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The goal was to allow “straw man” gun purchases in the U.S. and track the high-powered weapons to their expected destination, Mexico’s violent drug cartels. What has happened is nothing short of a national disgrace. Someone at the federal level, we still have no specific information on whom or which agency, allowed these investigations to proceed without intervening before the weapons left the United States. What has resulted is the death of two federal agents, shot with guns traced back to these investigations, and the suspected murder of hundreds of Mexicans caught in the middle of the violent drug wars...more

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The future of Burning Man

Burners everywhere were frantically preparing for the playa, or scrambling to find scarce tickets to Burning Man, which had just sold out for the first time in its 25-year history. But when the board members who stage Burning Man gathered in the 15th-floor conference room in their new Mid-Market headquarters to talk to the Guardian on July 28, they didn't even want to talk about the event that begins Aug. 29. Instead, they wanted to talk about the future of the dynamic culture that this unique countercultural event has spawned, a future that has as much to do with San Francisco as it does Black Rock City, the temporal Nevada desert town of about 50,000 people that most people know simply as Burning Man. But their focus right now is on the new nonprofit, The Burning Man Project, that is being launched this week to manage the event and its culture well into the future. "We're planning for 100 years," Harvey said. Or as DuBois put it, "It's really not about Black Rock City at all, but how we look out to the world." Since taking over five of the top floors in the David Hewes Building at the corner of Market and Sixth streets — with The Burning Man Project office placed on the very top floor, over the many burner offices now busily dealing with more immediate tasks — their outlook on the world is downright panoramic. They envision a high-profile Burning Man Urban Center in San Francisco and other year-round facilities for furthering the burner culture, made possible by new funding streams they want to develop beyond the revenue from ticket sales, such as grants and perhaps even corporate sponsorships. Oh yeah, and as Harvey made clear in his April speech announcing the conversion to the new nonprofit, the six board members also want to cash out with significant financial payouts as they begin to relinquish control of the event in phases over the next six years or so...more

Ah those enviros and hippy types, always after the almighty dollar. 

Salazar: Replenish land and water fund

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called on Congress to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund while on a visit to Grand Teton National Park on Tuesday. Salazar’s comments come after Republican members of the House of Representatives attached riders to an appropriations bill that aim to deplete the conservation fund. “The proposals that we have coming through the House of Representatives would essentially decimate the Land and Water Conservation Fund to the lowest level we have seen in modern times,” Salazar said at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at Moose. For decades, Congress has plundered the Land and Water Conservation Fund so that it is now owed about $20 billion, Salazar said. “It’s a broken promise to the American people not to fund it,” he said. “My hope is that when Congress comes back, they’ll see that funding the LWCF is important.”...more

Hang in there R's, they can't manage what they've got.

Wild world: Millions of unseen species fill Earth

Our world is a much wilder place than it looks. A new study estimates that Earth has almost 8.8 million species, but we've only discovered about a quarter of them. And some of the yet-to-be-seen ones could be in our own backyards, scientists say. So far, only 1.9 million species have been found. Recent discoveries have been small and weird: a psychedelic frogfish, a lizard the size of a dime and even a blind hairy mini-lobster at the bottom of the ocean. "We are really fairly ignorant of the complexity and colorfulness of this amazing planet," said the study's co-author, Boris Worm, a biology professor at Canada's Dalhousie University. "We need to expose more people to those wonders. It really makes you feel differently about this place we inhabit." While some scientists and others may question why we need to know the number of species, others say it's important...more

6.9 million more species for the enviros to find and use to control our land and water.

Oregon, Washington and Idaho seek to resume killing sea lions at Bonneville Dam

Oregon, Washington state and Idaho have formally asked the federal government to resume killing sea lions that eat salmon at the Bonneville Dam. The application from the fish and wildlife agencies of the three states begins anew the process of considering whether the sea lions should be able to eat their fill of threatened fish in the Columbia River. The federal fisheries agency says it's considering whether to form a task force. In 2008, the states won approval for killing the hungriest of the sea lions. But that ended after a federal appeals court questioned how the agencies would say the sea lions are a threat to the survival of threatened species but don't take any steps against fishing by humans -- which takes many more salmon and steelhead. AP

Obama: Stop selling pickup trucks

In Minnesota last week, Mr. Obama lectured car companies to start investing in smaller cars. “You can’t just make money on SUVs and trucks,” he declared. “There is a place for SUVs and trucks, but as gas prices keep on going up, you have got to understand the market. People are going to try to save money.” It’s the height of chutzpah for a wannabe executive with no business experience to think it’s his prerogative to tell carmakers that they need to “understand the market,” especially because it’s obvious Mr. Obama is the one who doesn’t understand consumer behavior. In the first seven months of this year, Americans purchased 3,170,109 small and midsized cars, which is an increase of about 10 percent over 2010. Sales of pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans outpaced smaller cars by almost 500,000 vehicles and are up 11.5 percent over the previous year. The Ford F-series pickup is the most popular new vehicle of any class in 2011, outselling the most popular compact car, the Chevrolet Cruze, 2-1. Mr. Obama should be telling automakers to reinforce success, not to unilaterally downgrade expectations...more

Take Back Utah holds rally at state Capitol

Land-use advocates from across Utah gathered Saturday for the Take Back Utah parade and rally. The event, which started at the Utah Fairpark and made its way to the state Capitol, was held to promote resistance to the federal government's control of public lands in Utah. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, addressed the crowd, drawing cheers as they spoke of the fight for state's rights going on in Washington. "We have, unfortunately, an administration right now that doesn't have quite the same vision for public lands that we do," Bishop said. Bishop said that 1 out of every 3 acres in the U.S. is owned by the federal government. In the west the numbers are even more severe, he said, where the federal government owns half the acreage. Glen Olsen of Roy said Saturday's event was intended to let state officials know of constituent support on the issue of land use and to get the word out to other areas in the west. He said public lands are key to Utah's prosperity and while many Take Back Utah advocates are jeep and ATV owners, the issue of land ownership goes beyond recreational use. "What Take Back Utah is trying to do and is working for is to bring all these organizations under one umbrella, so we have everyone together and fighting the same battle," Olsen said...more

Groups rally for multiple use

Cars, trucks, ATVs, dirt bikes and other motorized vehicles descended upon the Capitol Saturday afternoon as a part of a rally and ride organized primarily by the Citizens for Balanced Use and the Capital Trail Vehicle Association. Around 75 people, dozens clad in lime green “Ken Miller for Governor” shirts, showed up for the rally, which began at the Grub-Stake on Lincoln Road at 11 a.m. and concluded around 4 p.m. in the shadow of the Capitol. The reason for the rally, according to CBU board member Kerry White, is the denial of access for motorized and nonmotorized transportation into various wilderness areas around Montana. White cited major trail closures in many areas in Montana, including areas like the Kootenai and Flathead National forests, where the most mixed-use trails had been closed. He added that in a CBU survey, 50 percent of respondents reported they were against additional designated wilderness areas in Montana. The same survey reported that only 3 percent of Montanans use wilderness areas; the remaining 97 percent use multi-use areas...more

EPA's Looming Blackouts

It won't matter which light bulbs we use as the administration's implementation of cross-state pollution rules shuts down coal plants across the country. Where will the jobs be when the lights go out? It's called the Cross-State Pollution Rule, announced last month, and its implementation over the next 18 months will likely result in the loss of a fifth of the nation's electricity-generating capacity. The result will be likely power shortages, skyrocketing rates and inevitable brownouts and rolling blackouts. Based on Bush-era EPA proposals that the federal courts threw out in 2008, this latest example of legislation is designed to usurp state powers to regulate their in-state emissions by making it a federal issue on the grounds pollution crosses state lines. The rule requires coal companies in 27 states to slash emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide by 73% and 54%, respectively, from 2005 levels by 2014...more

$500,000 federal stimulus grant created 1.72 jobs

A federal stimulus grant of nearly $500,000 to grow trees and stimulate the economy in Nevada yielded a whopping 1.72 jobs, according to government statistics. In 2009, the U.S. Forest Service awarded $490,000 of stimulus money to Nevada's Clark County Urban Forestry Revitalization Project, aimed at revitalizing urban neighborhoods in the county with trees, plants, and green-industry training. According to, the U.S. government's official website related to Recovery Act spending, the project created 1.72 permanent jobs. In addition, the Nevada state Division of Forestry reported the federal grant generated one full-time temporary job and 11 short-term project-oriented jobs...more

One form of gov't grants dinero to another form of gov't and you expect something positive to happen? And if the $500 thou had been left in the private sector...

Ruby natural-gas pipeline crosses new economic landscape in Rockies

The Ruby Pipeline is now carrying natural gas from the Rockies to Oregon — but since El Paso Corp​. started the $3.7 billion project in 2008 the story of natural gas in the mountain states has dramatically changed. In 2008, natural-gas prices were soaring, reaching $13.55 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Operators had few ways of shipping gas out of the Rocky Mountain​ region. When the Ruby Pipeline opened on July 28, the price of natural gas was $4.24 and two other new lines were in service — the Rockies Express, carrying gas to the East, and the Bison, taking gas to the Midwest. "Ruby was built for a different era," said John Harpole, president of Mercator Energy LLC, a Littleton- based natural-gas broker. El Paso officials, producers and some analysts say the 680-mile pipeline from Opal, Wyo., to Malin, Ore., will over time provide new markets for the Rockies. "We see a long-term need for Ruby," said Richard Wheatley, a spokesman for Houston-based El Paso. Even now El Paso has contracts — in five- to 15-year durations — that will fill about 73 percent of the pipeline's 1.5 billion cubic feet capacity, Wheatley said...more

Pollution Fines Irk San Joaquin Valley Drivers

Every person who owns a non-commercial vehicle in the San Joaquin Valley will begin paying a fine for violating federal air quality standards starting in October, said the San Joaquin Valley Pollution Control District. The fine will show up as a $12 pollution assessment on a resident's annual car registration bill. "We will pay this fine every year until we go three straight years without violating tougher federal air quality standards," said Anthony Presto, a spokesman for the pollution control district. The reason for the fine is that the San Joaquin Valley is one of the two worst spots in the entire country for poor air quality, Presto said. He explained that the federal government is now fining the control district $29 million a year until the situation improves. That fine is being passed on to vehicle owners, Preston said, because vehicles are the biggest cause of air quality violations...more

Griz adult seen by Shelby is first to wander so far east of the Front

An adult female grizzly bear has shown up on a remote stretch of the Marias River southwest of Shelby with two cubs in tow, the first time that bear managers have documented an adult female so far east of the Rocky Mountain Front. "It's the first radio-collared bear I've had gone that far east that I know of," said Dan Carney, a wildlife biologist with the Blackfeet Tribe. Mike Madel, a bear management specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, said the female's excursion onto the plains might be an indication the eastward expansion of home ranges of northcentral Montana's robust grizzly population is occurring more quickly than bear managers thought it would. "The fact we have an adult female, who's also of reproductive age, is pretty significant," Madel said...more

Bull semen forces closure of interstate ramp

Canisters of bull semen caused quite a scare on the on-ramp to Interstate 65 South Tuesday morning. The canisters fell off a Greyhound bus just after 5 a.m. as the bus traveled around the curve of the ramp just south of downtown Nashville. Fire and emergency crews were called to the scene amid reports of a foul odor. When they discovered four unmarked canisters with steam and an unpleasant odor coming from them, they shut down the on-ramp and called HAZMAT crews. Officials traced the containers to Greyhound after finding bus tickets on the ground. The bus did not know it lost its load and had continued on. Authorities called Greyhound, who, after speaking with the driver the bus, determined the canisters to be filled with straws of frozen sperm packed in liquid nitrogen. The load originated in Columbus, Ohio and was en route to a breeding facility in Laredo, Texas...more

Taos Pueblo war chief kills errant cow, incident raises boundary questions

Some ranchers are crying foul in the mountains east of Taos after the Taos Pueblo War Chief shot a cow that wandered off of private land. The cow belonged to Burton Enterprises, Inc., a ranching company based in Springer that grazes cattle on private pastures near Palo Flechado Pass. The land is near both tribal property as well as the Carson National Forest. Since the cow was shot, ranchers who graze in nearby pastures have become more wary of the safety of their herds and concerned about relations with the Pueblo government. Taos Pueblo War Chief Edwin Concha told The Taos News Tuesday (Aug. 16) that he shot a cow that had wandered onto tribal land. Under New Mexico law, killing livestock that is the property of another is a fourth degree felony, punishable by up to 18 months in jail or a fine of up to $5,000. But tribal sovereignty could provide immunity from prosecution. Ruben Baca, a livestock inspector with the state, said he spoke with officials at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and with the Taos County District Attorney, and he didn't expect charges to be filed. Baca said he is acting primarily to prevent a future incident. The crux of the issue lies in the question of who is responsible for keeping livestock contained in the mountainous area...more

Song Of The Day #644

Ranch Radio is glad OpenDrive is working properly again, 'cause this week we're blowing the dust off some old 78s. Since we missed yesterday, here's a 78 duo: The Rice Brothers Gang - Hurry Johnny Hurry and W. Lee O'Daniel & His Hillbilly Boys - I'm Confessin'.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Despite setback, former federal lands officials urge Salazar to stay course on drilling reforms

Former top federal public lands officials are urging the Obama administration to stay the course on onshore oil and gas leasing reforms despite a major setback from a U.S. district judge in Wyoming earlier this month. Judge Nancy Freudenthal ruled in favor of the Denver-based Western Energy Alliance, finding that oil and gas companies had proven “recognizable injury” when the Interior Department last year rolled back so-called “categorical exclusions” that allowed expedited environmental review of oil and gas leases on public lands. Mike Dombeck, head of the Forest Service from 1997 to 2001, joined several other top Forest Service and BLM officials in sending a letter late last week to the Obama administration pointing out that the judge “did not rule on the merits of the reform of these short cuts, only the process – and certainly did not suggest a return to the ‘leap before you look’ process of leasing land for oil and gas [drilling].” “The court’s decision did not suggest a return to those short cuts and we encourage the administration must continue to move forward with responding to the problems outlined by the Government Accountability Office on categorical exclusions, as well as its other needed reforms,” Dombeck said...more

Montana man shoots 2 wolves on property

For the second time in five weeks, a sheep rancher shot and killed wolves threatening his livestock within 300 yards of his home just northwest of Hamilton. Julie Schram said her husband, Dave, knew something was wrong early Monday morning when the couple's older Australian shepherd refused to go outside. "He just went stiff and wouldn't go out the door," she said. "Dave knew that something was going on." From a window, Schram spotted a black wolf standing a few feet away from a large pile of rocks where 10 goats and some sheep had taken refuge. "The goats were all standing together facing the wolf and the sheep were on top of the hill," she said. "They were obviously scared." Schram's husband grabbed his .22-250 rifle and ran to the nearby corral. "The spooky thing for me is the black wolf looked right at him and then continued on with what it was doing," Schram said. "If it had been a coyote, it would have been long gone. It didn't show any fear." Schram's husband killed the black wolf with a single shot. He then spotted a lighter-colored wolf about 50 feet farther away. When it turned broadside to him, he shot and killed it, too. The black wolf was male. The lighter-colored wolf was a female. Both appeared to be yearlings. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Warden Joe Jaquith investigated the incident and said it appeared to be a legitimate shooting. The Schrams own 120 acres off Mill Creek Road. For the most part, the property is surrounded by subdivisions and small farms...more

National Park and Forest Employees Fight Power with Passion

With all the focus on public employees and budget cuts, it’s worth remembering the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service employees who work physically and emotionally demanding jobs and like other public employees have for years been in the crosshairs of political and fiscal fights. Despite serious risk to their careers, they have stood up for their values. Many rangers and government scientists think forest management decisions are being driven by dollars and political influence rather than what is really best for the forests. But especially since park and forest service jobs are constantly being slashed for budget reasons, and since local officials have much control over these employees, speaking out can be dangerous. The groups Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics advocate strenuously both for the rights of individual park and forest service employees and for larger values around public commons and natural resources. They’ve often defended employees against retribution from higher-ups. PEER describes its mission in part as forcing agencies to "deal with the message, not the messenger."...more

The discretionary spending part of the federal budget is about to take a big hit. That will include all the land management agencies and we can expect to see more articles like this.

Enviro groups sue BLM over Powder River Basin leases

Environmentalists have filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management in an effort to stop the mining of roughly 350 million tons of federal coal in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. WildEarth Guardians, Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club say the Obama administration has failed to give adequate weight to air pollution and global warming concerns when it approved the leasing of two large tracts — the 1,671-acre Belle Ayr North and 1,023-acre Caballo West, both in Campbell County. “This is yet another blow to a clean energy future,” Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth climate and energy program director, said in a statement. “This country needs solutions that safeguard our clean air and climate, not more dirty energy development. Sadly, by opening the door for massive new coal mining plans, the Interior Department seems to be sabotaging solutions.” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who oversees BLM, has defended the leases, saying they conform to an energy agenda that seeks to take advantage of a wide range of power sources. The groups filed their complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia...more

Longest off-road race in US goes off without a hitch

The Vegas to Reno Off-Road Race brought more than 1,000 people through 16 rural Nevada communities and over 500 miles of BLM desert last weekend. While race safety is a priority in permitting the event, the economic boost to these communities is vital, too. There were no major accidents and only a couple of minor medical incidents. The BLM will continue to permit off-highway-vehicle racing on public lands while working with promoters and participants to improve safety and reduce the impacts to public lands. “The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was comfortable permitting this event,” said Leo Drumm, outdoor recreation planner. “The race promoter, Best in the Desert, has a good safety record and planned for all contingencies.” The race is held annually on established roads on public lands in Nevada. The race has continued running for over 20 years and has become a part of the state's history...more

EPA jumps the gun with job-killing rules

Twice this year, President Obama asked federal agencies to review regulations to ensure that they are not interfering with efforts to rebuild the U.S. economy. In January, he signed an executive order directing agencies to use the “least burdensome tools” that take “into account benefits and cost” and “[promote] economic growth … and job creation.” Either the Environmental Protection Agency didn’t get the memo or it was lost under the growing stack of regulations the agency is advancing at record speed. Last week, the EPA said it would soon release updated ozone regulations that are going to kill jobs and impose substantial costs on the U.S. economy - at least $90 billion, by its own estimates, and $1 trillion annually between 2020 and 2030 according to industry estimates...EPA is under no obligation to develop new regulations at this time. The Clean Air Act - the legal basis for most federal air quality regulations - requires the EPA to review national air quality standards every five years. If they find that current thresholds are detrimental to health, the EPA can go through the process of setting a new, scientifically-backed standard. The last time these standards were reviewed was three years ago. Legally, EPA is not obliged to initiate a review for another two years. So, why is it doing so now? Is smog on the rise? Nope. According to the EPA, ozone levels have been falling year after year. Since 1980, ozone emissions have fallen by nearly 50 percent...more

The Bugs Rescuing the Baseball Bats

A blue beer cooler at his feet, John Vandenberg stood at the lip of a grove of ash trees here earlier this month and clasped his hands together in anticipation. The next phase of a great conflict was about to commence at his word. Inside the cooler, beneath a bag of Styrofoam peanuts, rested four clear plastic soda cups, and inside those cups buzzed 482 bugs that might just rescue an iconic instrument of American sport: the baseball bat. Soon, Vandenberg, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, would release the insects—two species of wasp, to be specific—into these Hudson Valley woods. By doing so, he would initiate an entomological tete-a-tete between the wasps and the emerald ash borer, a green-winged, torpedo-shaped beetle that looks at the gleaming shaft of wood in Alex Rodriguez's hands and sees a scrumptious meal for its children. The emerald ash borer (EAB for short) poses a direct threat to the national pastime: It feasts on ash wood, which is often used to make major-league baseball bats. First spotted in New York in 2009, the beetle has since infiltrated the southwestern region of the state—areas that furnish ash for eponymous bats such as Louisville Slugger and Rawlings Adirondack. Already, the pest's larvae have eaten through thousands of trees in 15 states and parts of Canada, according to the U.S. Forest Service, and after failing to stem the beetle's spread east, researchers have called in reinforcements. They've begun introducing Asian wasps—the borer's natural predators—into New York's forest ecosystem in an attempt to slow the beetle's infestation and assure the survival of the state's ash trees. And, in turn, of ash baseball bats...more

Green Jobs, Red Faces

The fact that President Obama's "green jobs" campaign has been an enormously expensive failure is now so glaringly obvious even the New York Times can't ignore it any longer. In a surprisingly candid article headlined "Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises," the Times' Aaron Glantz reports that "federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show," and that Obama's goal of 5 million new green jobs in 10 years is a "pipe dream." Earlier in the year, Politico reported that "nearly three years into Obama's presidency, the White House can't point to much solid evidence that significant numbers of Americans are scoring the green jobs the president has been touting." And as we've pointed out in this space, the landscape is increasingly littered with failed "green" companies unable to survive in the marketplace even with huge government subsidies. But the Obama administration still has its head buried under a pile of solar panels, with the president endlessly touring "clean" factories, pushing electric cars consumers don't want and talking about politically correct "jobs of the future."...more

Mustangs are new, effective method for Border Patrol to use in tough terrain

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Border Patrol is saving money while gaining horses particularly skilled at patrolling in rugged mountainous terrain. Six wild mustangs were delivered to the Tucson Sector’s Border Patrol Horse Patrol Training Center in Kansas Settlement, 15 miles south of Willcox, last week. BLM uses inmate rehabilitation programs within state prison systems to train the horses. They receive anywhere from 90 to 120 days training before they can be adopted out, Schad said. “We traveled up to the newest BLM facility at Carson City (Nevada) and tried out 12 horses. We were able to adopt six. We’re looking for horses between a minimum and maximum height, between the ages of 4 and 5, with stocky, big bones in their legs and big feet. They are sturdy and rugged and less likely to obtain leg injuries,” she said. “And we look at their temperament, whether it’s a docile horse for an inexperienced rider,” or more jittery, she said. “These horses trust each other, but not necessarily other people. You need to get that relationship where, if you’re on a ledge out there, you trust your horse and your horse trusts you.” “The instincts of wild mustangs are more hypersensitive, because nature tells them to be alert,” Schad said. “These horses are very good at spotting. They look intently and listen intently and if you listen to your horse, they help you. At night, they can distinguish between the different sounds and smell of cattle or a group of people moving.” Currently, 32 of the 192 serviceable horses in the Tucson Sector are wild mustangs adopted through BLM, Schad said, adding she expects to get five more next week...more

Cow Gives Birth To Rare Two-Headed Calf

A two-headed calf was born Sunday at a farm near Porum in Muskogee County. The calf belongs to Jimmy and Irene Robinson. They tell News On 6 the calf came from an older cow. Polycephalic animals, as they're called, are a subject of novelty. Polycephaly is a condition of having more than one head. The family says the calf must be force fed because it won't eat on its own.

Santa Fe's Native American art market is cultural feast

Diego Romero, from New Mexico's Cochiti pueblo, spent months building pieces of pottery, melding traditional Native American art with his love of comic books to create a contemporary look at Indian culture. The 47-year-old Berkeley-educated artist is one of more than 1,100 Native American artists gathered this weekend in Santa Fe for the largest Native arts market in the world. Produced by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA), and considered the largest cultural event in the southwest, it brings together artists representing 100 U.S. Federally recognized tribes. The event easily draws 100,000 visitors to Santa Fe's main square, including collectors, gallery owners, buyers and browsers from around the world, said Mark Trujillo, Indian Tourism program director for New Mexico. First established in 1922 by the Museum of New Mexico as part of the Santa Fe Fiesta celebration, styles of artwork now include a range of jewelry, pottery, sculpture, baskets, paintings, wooden Kachina dolls, beadwork and more...more

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hikers land in middle of Telluride trail feud

For decades, hikers have traversed the wildflower-carpeted Bear Creek basin above Telluride, following the popular Wasatch Trail Loop. While the trail cuts across several private and long-dormant mining claims, no landowner has ever protested. That is, not until infamous land speculator Tom Chapman arrived in the roadless alpine valley. When Chapman and his partner, Ron Curry, acquired a strategic swath of mining claims in early 2010, they immediately proclaimed the land closed to all recreational traffic, citing liability concerns. As foot traffic ramped up this summer, Chapman and Curry launched a campaign warning hikers that the popular trail was closed. They staked "no trespassing" signs and sent out e-mail blasts with photos of what they say are armed guards on their property. They posted regular ads in local newspapers promising prosecution of trespassers. Despite the bluster, Judy Schutza, the Forest Service district ranger overseeing the public lands in the region, says the trail is open. "We think it is a public trail, and it's been a public trail for quite a while," she said, arguing that historical use supports public access — or an implied, or prescriptive, easement — across the private land. Curry said Schutza — who he calls a "renegade ranger" — is breaking the law by condoning trespass...more

Getting ready for a wave of coal-plant shutdowns

Over the next 18 months, the Environmental Protection Agency will finalize a flurry of new rules to curb pollution from coal-fired power plants. Mercury, smog, ozone, greenhouse gases, water intake, coal ash—it’s all getting regulated. And, not surprisingly, some lawmakers are grumbling. Industry groups such the Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, and the American Legislative Exchange Council have dubbed the coming rules “EPA’s Regulatory Train Wreck.” The regulations, they say, will cost utilities up to $129 billion and force them to retire one-fifth of coal capacity. Given that coal provides 45 percent of the country’s power, that means higher electric bills, more blackouts and fewer jobs. The doomsday scenario has alarmed Republicans in the House, who have been scrambling to block the measures. Environmental groups retort that the rules will bring sizeable public health benefits, and that industry groups have been exaggerating the costs of environmental regulations since they were first created. So, who’s right? This month, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, which conducts policy research for members of Congress, has been circulating a paper that tries to calmly sort through the shouting match. Thanks to The Hill’s Andrew Restuccia, it’s now available (PDF) for all to read. And the upshot is that CRS is awfully skeptical of the “train wreck” predictions. First, the report agrees that the new rules will likely force the closure of many coal plants between now and 2017, although it’s difficult to know precisely how many. For green groups, that’s a feature, not a bug: Many of these will be the oldest and dirtiest plants around. About 110 gigawatts, or one-third of all coal capacity in the United States, came online between 1940 and 1969. Many of these plants were grandfathered in under the Clean Air Act, and about two-thirds of them don’t have scrubbers...more

Exxon, U.S. Government Duel Over Huge Oil Find

Exxon Mobil Corp. is fighting with the U.S. government to keep control of one of its biggest oil discoveries ever, in a showdown where billions of dollars hang in the balance for both sides. The massive Gulf of Mexico discovery contains an estimated one billion barrels of recoverable oil, the company says. The Interior Department, which regulates offshore drilling, says Exxon's leases have expired and the company hasn't met the requirements for an extension. Exxon has sued to retain the leases. The court battle is playing out at a time in which the Obama administration has made an issue of unused leases, which deprive the Treasury of valuable taxes. It also comes as regulators are being careful not to be seen as lax in their dealings with large energy companies in the wake of last year's BP PLC spill. The stakes are high: Under federal law, the leases—and all the oil underneath—could revert to the government if Exxon doesn't win in court...more

Officers kill bear suspected of mauling campers in Wilderness area

A bear suspected of injuring two campers at separate campsites this past Friday and Saturday morning was successfully tracked and killed at approximately 7 a.m. Sunday morning by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers, with the assistance of a specialist with the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program and employees of the U. S. Forest Service. Based the location, behavior and description of the black bear given by campers involved in the incidents, wildlife officers are confident that they tracked down the bear responsible for attacking two campers while they slept in their tents at the Maroon Bells-Snowmass wilderness area. The bear bit both victims, causing minor injuries to the leg of one camper at Crater Lake and substantial injuries to the leg of another camper in the nearby Minnehaha Gulch area. "We were very careful to make sure we got the right bear," said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Perry Will. Because the two incidents were in the same area and had similar characteristics, Will believes only one bear was involved in these attacks...more

EDITORIAL: Let the gas tax die

If Congress does nothing, the cost of gasoline will drop 14 cents per gallon on Sept. 30. That not only would be a boon to consumers oppressed by hefty prices at the pump but also would go a long way toward ending one of Washington’s favorite accounting gimmicks. The public is supposed to think the 18.4 cents tossed to Uncle Sam for every gallon of unleaded (24.4 cents for diesel) goes to roads and bridges. Fifty-five years ago, it was true that the 3-cent-per-gallon levy went directly into the concrete and steel that gave us the Interstate Highway System. The authorization for most of the current tax expires next month, and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist fears President Obama will use jobs as an excuse to boost this tax. “His plan is going to be the highway bill,” Mr. Norquist said in an editorial board meeting at The Washington Times. “Everyone wants highways, but you give them the money, they don’t build highways. They build everything but highways.” Out of the $29 billion in fuel-tax revenue collected this year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated $7.6 billion would be diverted into mass-transit projects. That is only part of the problem. One look at the Federal Highway Administration’s budget shows core spending priorities in the “highway” account frequently have nothing to do with highways. For example, the agency allocates $6.8 billion to a “livable communities” program designed to promote a leftist anything-but-the-automobile agenda. Another $8.9 billion will be blown on “environmental sustainability” schemes, and $2.5 billion will go to safety - that’s the code word for paying local cops overtime to set up speed traps and East German-style roadblocks...more

Senator Roberts tries to educate Obama on ag regs

I've previously posted how at a recent town hall meeting Obama dismissed a farmer's complaint about regulations, saying "don't always believe what you hear." Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas has taken it upon himself to educate Obama on what his administration is doing to ag with a plethora of rules and regs.  In a letter to the President, the Senator lists the following items:

GIPSA Rule Impacting Livestock Producers – USDA has proposed a new regulation for livestock marketing that will undo years of progress and innovation in the livestock industry. Many of the provisions of this proposed rule were rejected on a bipartisan basis during debate on the last Farm Bill, which was signed into law when you were serving in the United States Senate. This proposed rule could eliminate
the use of many alternative marketing arrangements in the livestock industry. A 2007 GIPSA study showed that over ten years a 25 percent reduction in alternative marketing arrangements would cost feeder cattle producers $5.1 billion; fed cattle producers $3.9 billion; and consumers $2 billion. If marketing arrangements were eliminated, the 10-year cumulative losses for producers and consumers would top $60 billion.

NPDES permits – This duplicative regulatory burden is scheduled to go into effect on October 31, 2011, less than three months from today. It will require 5.6 million applications of pesticides by 365,000 applicators to have NPDES permits to apply pesticides. These permits are duplicative, unnecessary and will add a new requirement under the Clean Water Act for pesticide applications, which are already regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Ozone – EPA has proposed to strengthen the primary ozone standard. Under the proposal, the vast majority of counties with ozone monitors would be considered in nonattainment. If finalized, this could mean that additional rural and/or agricultural counties are designated as non attainment. This will limit the ability of farmers to manage crop residue on their farms and will create a substantial new burden on livestock operations where ammonia and methane are naturally emitted by animals.

PM 10/Dust – EPA is preparing to reconsider its large particulate matter (PM 10) standard. EPA’s Clean Air Advisory Committee has recommended lowering the standard. This is problematic because the current standard is already difficult for many rural counties, especially in the West, to meet. Working and harvesting farm fields is an inherently dusty business, as is driving down rural dirt and logging roads. A change in this rule will make it impossible for many farming and forestry operations to be in compliance and could result in substantial fines for many family operations.

Water Quality Standards Rulemaking – Last year, EPA announced it will propose a rule to strengthen anti-degradation standards, adopt a presumption that all U.S. waters should be fishable and swimmable, and require state decisions to be approved by EPA. In effect, this proposal would federalize decisions historically made by the states under the Clean Water Act.

Climate Change – Proposed new greenhouse gas regulations will increase the cost of virtually every input used in agriculture and forestry production. These regulations will not impact just producers but also agribusinesses. As these businesses face increased costs, those expenses will be passed on to producers and ultimately consumers. This will likely lead to higher food and fuel costs for all Americans while the economy is still struggling.

Clean Water Act Strategy – Earlier this year the Administration announced new “guidance” for federal employees to implement the Clean Water Act, thereby expanding the water bodies included under regulation. This action was taken without adherence to federal regulatory process through the promulgation of a regulation in the Federal Register. This expansion of the Clean Water Act will impact farmers and ranchers, not to mention increased burdens on States.

Spray Drift Policy – Last year, EPA proposed a rule to help states identify and prevent drift. The proposed rule counters decades old EPA policies that acknowledge small levels of spray drift are unavoidable. In fact, EPA has long recognized some de minimus level of spray drift will occur from most or all applications as a result of using pesticides. The proposed policy establishes a precautionary principle approach and is inconsistent with FIFRA.

Prior Converted Cropland – In April 2009, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers adopted a policy that “once a property changes from agricultural use to non-agricultural use, a prior converted cropland (PCC) designation is no longer applicable.” Therefore, the moment agricultural use ceases on PCC, the PCC designation is no longer valid and a jurisdictional determination will be conducted under a provision in the Corps’s Wetlands Delineation Manual that allows the Corps to assert jurisdiction over areas that do not exhibit all three wetlands characteristics. This is contrary to current Corps of Engineers policy and was adopted without any public input.

Atrazine – In response to a New York Times article, EPA has announced an unscheduled re-review of atrazine. Atrazine was favorably reviewed by EPA in 2006 and is scheduled to begin registration review in 2013. Reviews should be based on scientific justifications and established timelines and should not be done in response to a single press report.

Arsenic and Dioxin Risk Assessments – EPA is considering a cancer risk factor for arsenic that will cause virtually all soils to exceed the agency’s target risk range as well as a risk factor for dioxin that will cause nearly all agricultural products to exceed the agency’s level of concern. This means rice, wheat, corn meal, peanuts, apples, lettuce, carrots, onions, sugar, and tap water would be considered unsafe. Since 2000, the incidence of dioxin contamination has dropped 90 percent.

We in the public lands states could certainly add to the list.

Senator Roberts closes his letter by stating:

Mr. President, I hope this list of regulations provides more clarity on the real, proposed regulations and directives by your administration that will add costs to every farming, livestock and forestry operation in this country. They will also increase costs for consumers and limit opportunity for economic activity in rural communities across the country. I urge you to do all that you can to put the brakes on this regulatory agenda aimed at further weakening the economy in rural America.

Animal activist rallies showcase continued pressure on agriculture

Each summer, animal activists travel across the country to meet and discuss the latest topics of the animal rights movement. This year, animal agriculture was once again the focus. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) hosted its annual Taking Action for Animals Conference in Washington, D.C. on July 15-18, and Farm Animal Rights Movement’s Animal Rights 2011 Conference (AR 2011) was held two weeks later on July 21-25 in Los Angeles. Both events claimed to have “record-breaking” attendance, attracting a combined total of more than 1,600 activists from around the world, ranging in age from 20-60 years old. Securing rights for farm animals and the promotion of a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle to the mainstream public were hot topics at both meetings. Attendees were given tips on how to utilize social media, create “undercover” videos and craft effective messages to share their views with others. Speakers and exhibitors also encouraged aspiring activists to hold demonstrations, signature drives for ballot initiatives and leafleting campaigns. The largest activist groups attended and sponsored both meetings, although messaging differed between audiences. Nathan Runkle, Executive Director of Mercy For Animals, Erica Meier, Executive Director of Compassion Over Killing, and Gene Baur, President of Farm Sanctuary, spoke at both meetings. They encouraged a more aggressive, physical approach to eliminating animal agriculture...more

Editorial: This ‘Greenness Index’ Has N.M. Seeing Red

Since last year New Mexico’s ranchers have shelled out around $1.64 million in four- and five-figure premiums for a financial instrument billed as a way to “help farmers when they’ve lost the normal way of feeding cattle,” according to USDA’s Risk Management Agency spokeswoman Michelle Bouchard. Sponsored by the federal agency, the pilot program was presented at meetings with ranchers complete with a handout with “drought insurance” in its title. Almost 100 bought the sales pitch. Now it turns out getting a claim paid is tougher than booking a vacation at a time-share condo. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak has declared a drought disaster in 32 of New Mexico’s 33 counties. The state has recorded just 4.79 inches of precipitation statewide since October, less than half the long-term average. The federal Drought Monitor has more than three quarters of the state in “severe drought.” Ranchers like Bill Sauble of Colfax County are seeing “the worst (drought) conditions in my lifetime” and have sold off cattle they can’t afford to feed. And yet, the insurance payouts are linked to a decline in the “greenness index,” which uses satellite imagery that picks up all green hues, not just those cattle can eat. Like juniper. Like piñon. Like cholla. Like creosote. And barn roofs, John Deere tractors and T-shirts on the clothesline...more

Feedlots Buy 22% More Cattle as Drought Scorches Pastureland

U.S. feedlots increased purchases of young cattle by 22 percent in July, as a lingering drought in the southern U.S. forced ranchers to move animals off pastures. Feedlots bought 2.153 million head of cattle last month, up from 1.758 million in July 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. The purchases were the most for July since at least 1996, the USDA said. Thirteen analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News projected a 17 percent increase, on average. The feedlot herd was 10.626 million as of Aug. 1, up 7.6 percent from a year earlier. Analysts expected a 7.1 percent gain. “Cattle placements during July were well above a year ago due to the ongoing drought on the southern Plains, which is forcing cattle off pastures into feedlots,” Troy Vetterkind, the owner of Vetterkind Cattle Brokerage in Chicago, said in an e-mail before the report. “This also increased the total on- feed population slightly.” Feedlots sold about 1.908 million animals to meatpackers last month, up 0.4 percent from a year earlier and the second- lowest since at least 1996, the USDA said. Analysts expected a 3.4 percent decrease, on average...more

Governor names members of State Fair Commission

Gov. Susana Martinez has named three members to the State Fair Commission. Martinez announced Friday that she has appointed Kenneth "Twister" Smith of Cabello, Kenneth "Buster" Goff of Hobbs and Charlotte Rode of Albuquerque. Smith owns a construction company and replaces Jack Duffey, whose term had expired. Goff is a farmer and rancher and replaces Denny Gentry, an appointee of former Gov. Bill Richardson whose nomination was withdrawn by Martinez. Rode has lived near the state fairgrounds for most of her life and is a former national event director for the Youth Basketball Association. She replaces Frank Tabet, who resigned from the commission during the Richardson administration. The seven-member commission is appointed by the governor and sets policies for the state fair. AP