Saturday, September 24, 2011

A shoot to kill order on escaped white wolf in North Idaho

There's a shoot to kill order on a white wolf in North Idaho, and a battle brewing between fearful neighbors and a wolf compound that is accused of lying about one of their wolves escaping. KXLY4's Colleen O'Brien reports:

Wolves Kill Three Hunting Dogs, Injure Two Others

Three bear dogs were killed and two injured by wolves in the past month in northwestern Wisconsin. Two bear training hounds were killed in Price County on Aug. 30 in the Town of Catawba on Price County Forest land. On Sept. 16, wolves killed a third dog, a five-year-old female Walker hound, that was bear hunting on Bayfield County lands south of Port Wing in the Town of Orienta...more

Drought brings out aggression in hungry bears

A fatal bear attack along the Idaho-Montana border last weekend was the latest in a string of high-profile attacks as bears roam farther in search of food. Steve Stevenson, 39, of Winnemucca, Nev., died Sept. 16 after being mauled by a wounded grizzly bear. Stevenson was hunting black bears with Ty Bell, 20, who mistakenly shot the grizzly. It was the fourth fatal bear attack this summer in the West...more

Obama Administration Bans Asthma Inhalers Over Environmental Concerns

Asthma patients who rely on over-the-counter inhalers will need to switch to prescription-only alternatives as part of the federal government's latest attempt to protect the Earth's atmosphere. The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday patients who use the epinephrine inhalers to treat mild asthma will need to switch by Dec. 31 to other types that do not contain chlorofluorocarbons, an aerosol substance once found in a variety of spray products. The action is part of an agreement signed by the U.S. and other nations to stop using substances that deplete the ozone layer...more

So What's New? Enviros file suit, stop logging/restoration project

A collaborative effort to try to lessen the danger of wildfire north of Seeley Lake just hit a legal roadblock after four conservation groups filed suit to stop it. It's called the Colt Summit restoration project--a 2,000 acre logging plan the Forest Service says would improve forest health, reduce fuels, improve wildlife habitat and provide scenic vistas. But the new lawsuit left locals scratching their heads...more

The Westerner's Radio Theater #2

This Saturday's program is The All Star Western Theater from April 20, 1947, starring Foy Willing & The Riders of the Purple Sage.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hay The Latest Target For Thieves As Prices Skyrocket

If the drought wasn’t enough for farmers and ranchers to struggle with, now they are facing a growing threat. Thieves are targeting pastures and barns for suddenly valuable hay bales. It’s the nature of ranchers like James Lockridge to give you something if you need it badly enough. “Come up and ask us. Surely we can work something out.” Mitch Waters runs a feed store that’s such a fixture, people drive 50 miles to shop there. “Got out of school in 77 and been here ever since.” But now both men, are putting their livelihoods behind locks. Signs are posted, keep out. They know where all the area security cameras are, and are intent on protecting something that’s never been worth as much as it is right now. “Our convenient hay barn here, for just the drive up customers.” Yes, hay, is the new target for thieves. Round bales that used to sell for $20 are now topping $175. The night watchman at Master Made Feed in Grapevine has scared off a half dozen prowlers already, and Lockridge says he’s lost more than 150 bales from a Grand Prairie Field – a $26,000 loss. “If you want to steal a bale of hay. We’re going to press charges on you. You get caught stealing hay. You’re going to jail. We’re just not even going to play around no more,” says Lockridge. It’s so valuable and becoming so rare that even the hay falling off the bales on the back of a truck is being picked up, put in bags and sold...more

Here's the video news report:

Our dying forests: Beetles gnawing way through millions of acres across West

Since 1997, a host of native beetle species has chewed through more than 40 million acres of Western forests, according to aerial surveys by the U.S. Forest Service. That’s as much space as all of America devotes to its lawns. And the beetles show no signs of crashing. They kill by burrowing into the fleshy layer of nutrient-conducting phloem — just under the bark — which their larvae eat and effectively girdle. Various bugs have swallowed 2 million acres of Utah forests, a patchwork about as large as Yellowstone National Park. In Montana, with more than 6 million acres of beetle carnage, second only to Colorado, the frost-free season has extended by two weeks in the past half-century. That’s pleasantly milder for people who once routinely bundled themselves against 40-below zero winters, but it’s torturous for pine trees. "In the arid West, you only have a growing season if it has enough water, just like your garden," said Steve Running, ecology professor and University of Montana Climate Change Studies Program director. But the region hasn’t gained water, and most climate models predict it will lose moisture to evaporation even when more falls as snow or rain...more

Editorial: Way of the Wolf in Wyoming

Wolves remain on the endangered species list in one state: Wyoming. That protection is about to go away after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar cut a bad deal with Wyoming’s governor, Matt Mead, to turn wolf management over to the state. Wyoming got nearly everything it wanted. The federal Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the status of endangered species, got almost nothing. And wolves will lose out entirely. The state is obliged to keep only 100 of its 340 wolves alive, including 10 breeding pairs. Under the new plan, wolves can be shot, without a license, anywhere in the state, with two exceptions. In the northwest part of Wyoming — near Yellowstone National Park — they can be shot only with a license. And in parts of three western counties, wolves will be protected from Oct. 15 to the end of February, to allow the possibility of genetic mingling with other packs in other states. Wolves have made a remarkable comeback, thanks to federal protections. Mr. Salazar hasn’t held Wyoming even to the same standard as Idaho and Montana, where wolves are reviled, but can be shot only with a hunting license or if they’ve damaged livestock...more

It would appear our friends at the NY Times ain't happy.

From Enron to Solyndra

Steven Hayward writes:

Enron’s collapse bears some striking similarities to Solyndra, namely, a business model that increasingly depended on government support for profitability. When that government support didn’t come in time, Enron’s house-of-cards collapsed.

Enron was also a darling of the enviro groups, especially on global warming:

Here’s the salient point: like Solyndra, Enron was a favorite of environmentalists, and Enron was a huge backer of the Kyoto Protocol.

Then there was the crony capitalism:

Enron thought they’d make money on the trading operations from a cap and trade scheme. After Enron’s collapse, an internal memo from the late 1990s came to light that said Kyoto would “do more to promote Enron’s business than almost any other regulatory initiative outside of restructuring the energy and natural gas industries in Europe and the United States,” and concluded that Kyoto would be “good for Enron stock.”

And don't forget Enron's $150 million foray power.

Now the Washington Post reports what the $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra will get you:

A new factory built with public money boasted a gleaming conference room with glass walls that, with the flip of a switch, turned a smoky gray to conceal the room’s occupants. Hastily purchased state-of-the-art equipment ended up being sold for pennies on the dollar, still in its plastic wrap, employees said...

It would appear that crony capitalism is highly addictive, as the same article tells us:

Solyndra’s ability to secure federal backing also made the company eager for more assistance, interviews and records show. Company executives ramped up their Washington lobbying efforts, hiring a former Senate aide to work with the White House and the Energy Department. Within a week of getting a loan guarantee commitment from the Energy Department, Solyndra applied for another, worth $400 million. It never won final approval.

A nice dose of the free market would provide the perfect rehab for all these renewable types.

Otero Tree Party: Congressman Steve Pearce Cutting The First Tree - Video

Award-winning film pays dividends for ranchers

A film project promoting the cattle industry is paying dividends, the executive secretary of the Oregon Cattlemen's Association says. Ten cents of the checkoff fee, paid when an animal is sold in Oregon, financed three 10-minute "Land of Contrasts" films promoting the industry, including the winner of the first "Down to Earth Film Festival" during the Oregon State Fair. "We have ... received a lot of positive response to the DVDs," Kay Teisl said during an interview. "Each one has a heartfelt message that resonates with viewers." "Ranching's Commitment to Wildlife" won the $2,500 first-place award during the first Agri-Business Council of Oregon's film festival. The North by Northwest Productions film "Willamette Egg Farms" was the runner-up. More than 100 people attended the festival, said Geoff Horning, the council's executive director. Teisl suggested the film project in 2007 when the board was exploring how to describe contributions Oregon's 12,000 ranching families were making to the economy, to the environment and to fish and wildlife enhancement. A total of $37,755 of state checkoff funds was invested in producing the films by Angus Beef Productions Inc., a for-profit subsidiary of the American Angus Association. The first was "Ranching's Commitment to Oregon" and the second was "Tales From Oregon's Eastern Frontier." The DVDs will be made available to students and teachers during October, which is designated as Farm to School month, Teisl said. Each of the three DVDs is available for $5 and appears on the council's website -- -- and on YouTube.

Song Of The Day #678

Ranch Radio's tune today is performed by a western swing group that was formed in Ft. Worth during the twenties, even before the Light Crust Doughboys, Milton Brown & His Musical Brownies, or Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys.  Here's the Hi Flyers and Barnyard Romp.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Corn maze for blondes

FBI is on your cell phone. Do you care?

"In a massive coordinated information-seeking campaign, 34 ACLU affiliates are filing over 375 requests in 31 states across the country with local law enforcement agencies large and small that seek to uncover when, why and how they are using cell phone location data to track Americans. ... The requests, being filed under the states' freedom of information laws, are an effort to strip away the secrecy that has surrounded law enforcement use of cell phone tracking capabilities."If there's any doubt about Americans' widespread use of cell phones, look around on any street. Also, says Catherine Crump, staff attorney for the ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project: "A detailed history of someone's movements is extremely personal and is the kind of information the Constitution protects" – and that's why "the ability to access cell phone location data is an incredibly powerful tool and its use is shrouded in secrecy" by the Obama administration. Watch where you're going. You could be brought into an FBI or local police probe. This spring "police in Michigan sought information about every cell phone near the site of a planned labor protest." What if the FBI is refocusing on all cells in an area of protesters, including by American Muslims, whose Bill of Rights signs are bringing an administration into disrepute and contempt, and you were just wandering by? More demanding rule-of-law requirements of government tracking of us are coming. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, have introduced the truly patriotic Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act, supported by the ACLU, that "requires the government to show probable cause and get a warrant before acquiring the geolocational information of a U.S. person." This would apply, among other forms of such tracking, to cell phones. It would also require telecommunications companies (including providers of cell phones) to get our consent to collect data from locations where we use them. Where do we go with cell phones in our ears? These companies, without telling us, already convey this location information to the FBI without our knowing we're being tracked as we talk...more

Government Motor's OnStar now spying on your car

If you're the owner of a fairly new General Motors product, you may want to take a close look at the most recent OnStar terms and conditions. As it turns out, the company has altered the parameters under which it can legally collect GPS data on your vehicle. Originally, the terms and conditions stated that OnStar could only collect information on your vehicle's location during a theft recovery or in the midst of sending emergency services your way. That has apparently changed. Now, OnStar says that it has the right to collect and sell personal, yet supposedly anonymous information on your vehicle, including speed, location, seat belt usage and other information. Who would be interested in that data, you ask? Law enforcement agencies, for starters, as well as insurance companies. Perhaps the most startling news to come out of the latest OnStar terms and conditions is the fact that the company can continue to collect the information even after you disconnect the service...more

Get Ready to Pay $3,000 More For Your Vehicle - Obama’s ‘Flawed’ Fuel Economy Plan

The cost of an average vehicle, for example, will increase by more than $3,000 in 2025 because of fuel economy and global warming vehicle mandates enacted by the Obama administration, according to the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Bailey Wood, director of legislative affairs and communications with the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), discussed the handout with and called $3,000 a “softball estimate.” Wood said the Center for Automotive Research puts the cost increase to comply with fuel economy standards at as much as $10,000 per vehicle. Bailey said the Obama administration wants to double the fuel efficiency of vehicles to about 55 miles per gallon by 2025. “Doubling fuel economy has a very real cost,” Wood said. As a result, according to the Energy Information Administration, vehicles that currently cost $15,000 will be regulated out of existence and be replaced by more expensive cars that meet fuel economy and emissions requirements. The Obama administration also wants 25 to 66 percent of vehicles on the market by 2025 to be hybrid or electric – a reality Wood said seems nearly impossible. To date, these kinds of vehicles – even during the highest prices at the pumps – have never topped three percent of sales, Wood said.
Then there is the overall cost to the automobile industry based on the money it will have to invest to comply with mandates and regulations. According to the EPA, the cost for Market Year (roughly August through July) 2011 is $1.46 billion. Between 2012 and 2016, that cost will total $51.7 billion. NADA did its own math to estimate the cost for compliance from 2017 to 2025– $150 billion. “That will make it the most expensive auto rule in history,” Wood said...more

Name game sets off new Piñon Canyon furor

Fort Carson officials thought renaming the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site would help bury the hatchet with southern Colorado ranchers who opposed the post’s now-shelved expansion plans for the training area. Instead, the public relations move went horribly wrong this month when ranchers learned of it and decided it was part of an ongoing conspiracy to separate them from their beloved rangeland. “If their intention was to make friends and influence people, they read the wrong book,” said Lon Robertson, head of the Piñon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition and a firm adherent to the belief that renaming the place is part of a land-grabbing plot. Whether the 235,000-acre training site east of Trinidad will get the new moniker “Fort Carson South” remains up in the air. The post would have to get Army approval, which could take weeks or years. Fort Carson garrison commander Col. Robert McLaughlin said on Wednesday the new name came out of discussions with community leaders in southern Colorado about ways to ease tension between the Army and Piñon Canyon’s neighbors. “One of the discussions was ‘Why don’t we look at renaming Piñon Canyon and naming it for something people respect — Fort Carson',” McLaughlin said...more

You don't get respect by changing your name Col. McLaughlin.  If you want respect you've got to earn it.  You could start by having DOD remove the 2007 waiver  which is hanging over everybody's heads.  How about it Col.?

Editorial: Tone-deaf

THE COMMAND staff at Fort Carson must be tone-deaf. The officials confirmed this week they are considering changing the name of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site northeast of Trinidad to “Fort Carson South.” That has led ranchers in the area opposed to expansion or heavier use of the site to wonder what’s up the Army’s sleeve. Congress has included a funding ban for expansion, but the ban refers to the site as Pinon Canyon. Would giving the site a new name be a dodge by Carson officials around the ban? Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., both were surprised at the Army’s announcement. Rep. Tipton said he is going to write the Army to say this is not a constructive idea. We couldn’t agree more. link

Kudos to the Pueblo Chieftain.

Montana ranchers say they’ll sue over coal mine impacts

Montana ranchers downstream of coal mines say their livelihoods are threatened by pollution and disrupted water-flows, and they are demanding that state regulators follow laws intended to prevent such conflicts. “Montana’s water belongs to everyone – we all depend on it,” said rancher Doug McRae, who lives near Colstrip. “State regulators are asleep at the switch and need to wake up. Without clean water, I simply can’t run my business. McRae and other ranchers say they have tried repeatedly to get the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to address how coal mining impacts the quality and quantity of ground and surface waters in eastern Montana. With their pleas falling on deaf ears, the ranchers say they have no other choice but to seek legal assistance. They have teamed with conservation groups to file a notice of intent to sue the state on behalf of eastern Montana ranchers. The notice letter, sent today, charges that the DEQ has neglected to protect streams and rivers from coal mining throughout the state. The agency now has 60 days to begin addressing the water quality and supply impacts caused by coal mining or it will face a lawsuit to protect Montana’s waters. DEQ has repeatedly issued coal-mining permits without properly considering the effects on water quality and quantity, as required by law, the letter argues...more

Klamath River dam-removal benefits detailed

Dismantling the four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River would open up 420 miles of habitat for migrating salmon, create thousands of jobs and cost less than it would to maintain the reservoirs, a U.S. Department of the Interior report said Wednesday. The long-awaited environmental report on what would be the biggest dam-removal project in California history predicted an 81.4 percent increase in the number of chinook salmon and similar increases for steelhead trout and coho salmon. Opening up the waterway would also eliminate toxic algal blooms, the report said, and employ 4,600 people during 15 years of work. The $291.6 million estimated cost of removal is substantially less than the $450 million worst-case scenario outlined in previous reports. The cost of keeping the dams open - including federally mandated fish ladders, water-quality improvements and construction of new recreational facilities - is in the $400 million to $500 million range, officials said...more

I'm no fan of gov't dams, but can't help but notice they don't mind comparing best case-scenarios with worst-case scenarios.  Does anyone believe the $291 million is accurate?  It's also interesting to see how the gov't increases its own costs thru "federal mandated" requirements.

USDA Secretary: We Must ‘Create Appropriate Transition’ for What Americans Eat

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of the National Restaurant Association on Monday that Americans need to “adjust” their tastes so that they like the kind of food the government believes they should eat—and “we have to make sure that what we do is create the appropriate transition.” “You know, as we deal with this issue of reducing sodium and sugar, it sounds simple to do, but you all know better than I do, it’s not as simple as it sounds,” said Vilsack. “It’s going to take time for people’s taste to adjust and they will adjust over time, but it will take some time,” he said. “So, we have to make sure that what we do is create the appropriate transition. "At the end of the day, though, we've got to deal with this," said Vilsack...more

No, "at the end of the day we've got to deal with" the mentality displayed in Vilsack's comments.  It has infected federal, state and local government.  What people eat is their own business.

PETA Plans Porn Website to Promote Animal Rights

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans to create a pornographic website to promote its animal rights and vegan diet message. PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles on Tuesday that the Norfolk, Va.,-based group has applied with ICM Registry to launch the website Rajt says the website will feature graphic videos and photographs. She noted that PETA has used porn stars and nudity to get its message across in the past. She says a pornographic site will allow PETA to reach a broader audience and that publicity about the site is just as important as the site itself. Rajt says November is the earliest that PETA could receive approval for the site, which was first reported by The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk. AP

Can't wait to see PETA Does Plano.

Nicotine Could be Listed as Performance Enhancing Drug

The World Anti-Doping Agency could take the first step Saturday toward classifying nicotine as a performance-enhancing drug. The agency will be updating its list of banned substances and has a report from a lab in Lausanne describing "alarming evidence" of nicotine use by athletes across 43 sports studied. The report says WADA and sport federations should evaluate whether to put nicotine on the list of prohibited substances or begin monitoring its use. The report says nicotine increases pulse rate and reduces stress and body weight. It calls smokeless tobacco "very attractive" as a doping product because it does not damage breathing. The WADA executive committee is meeting in Lausanne. AP

I hope this doesn't apply to computer jocks. No Copenhagen, no The Westerner. I just couldn't sit here...nor put up with all the DC Deep Thinkers.

Finally, Real Social Security Reform - video

Proposal to cut off water to farmers from Colorado River could devastate Texas rice industry

Barbara Corporon and her husband Victor depend on water from the Colorado River to grow rice, a staple of their farm near the Texas coast. But as the Lower Colorado River Authority contemplates cutting off that water because of one of the worst droughts the state has ever seen, the Corporons and hundreds of other South Texas farmers are trying to figure out how they'll keep their farms going. "With the amount of money that it takes for us to farm, one bad year is all you can stand and then you're bankrupt," said Barbara Corporon, 46. "We're too old for anybody to hire us. This is what we've done all our life ... He's too young to retire, but he's too old for anything else. We're in a pickle." While most of Texas and the Southwest are under moderate to extreme drought conditions, agricultural water rationing and curtailment proposals are becoming more widespread, even affecting parts of the Deep South. "We know that the scope of the situation is huge," said Matt Herrick, a spokesman for the United States Department of Agriculture. In Texas, the board of directors for the LCRA, which manages the southern part of the massive river, is considering a proposal that could cut off water to about 250 farmers in the state's three biggest rice-producing counties _ Matagorda, Wharton and Colorado. They say it's an emergency measure to protect the water that's left. Several Central Texas communities, including Austin, depend on the reservoirs for drinking and other utilities...more

The Urban Brand Is On The Land - When it comes to competition for water, ag will lose to city folks.  They have the votes and the politicians will respond.

John Wayne's Estate Will Auction Off Costumes, Other Memorabilia from His Career

John Wayne fans will be able to see the eye patch he wore in "True Grit," scripts with handwritten notes and a Golden Globe he won when an exhibition of his memorabilia opens in New York. The exhibition features 100 items from among 750 scripts, costumes, awards and letters that Wayne's estate is putting up for auction. His American Express card, his personal saddle and the hat he wore while playing Rooster Cogburn in "True Grit" will also be on display. The exhibit will be Sept. 23-25 at the Fletcher Sinclair Mansion on 79th Street. The auction will be in Los Angeles Oct. 6-7, but fans can place bids online at the Heritage Auctions website. Wayne's real name was Marion Robert Morrison. He died in 1979. AP

Song Of The Day #677

Ranch Radio brings you another song you won't hear everywhere.  Jerry Jericho is plum worried about what momma bear is gonna do when he leaves this earth.  He sings about it in When I'm Gone.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Federal public land policies bashed at Capitol hearing

A congressional hearing in Sacramento on Monday provided a stage for complaints about the U.S. Forest Service, as off-roading groups, ranchers and others bemoaned access restrictions and steeper fees. The event was stacked with witnesses who want the Forest Service to reverse a modern-day emphasis on protecting habitat and recovering costs through steeper land-use fees. A major focus of complaint was a national effort to regulate off-road vehicle use on forest lands. Rules adopted by the George W. Bush administration in 2005 directed all national forests to designate off-road recreation routes so remaining roads could be abandoned or restored to improve habitat and water quality. Many of those routes were illegally created as the popularity of off-roading grew. Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood, an invited panelist, elicited cheers from a crowd of more than 200 in attendance when he said he would not enforce forest road closures in his county. "It is one of the most flagrant examples of federal overreach in recent memory," Hagwood said of the so-called Travel Management Program. "The Sheriff's Office will not create a new class of criminals out of our families and visitors who want nothing more than to enjoy their national forests."...more

BLM director talks wilderness

Standing near the shadow of the Sleeping Giant north of Helena, Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey said on Tuesday that he hopes Congress will designate new wilderness areas this session, possibly including the Sleeping Giant and Sheep Creek wilderness study areas. Abbey, who is on a three-day tour of Montana, said that many of the Wilderness Study Areas, or WSAs, were given that designation in the early 1990s by Congress to protect them from development while being studied. Today, some of those areas may deserve full wilderness protection, while other WSAs may not be worthy of that distinction. “So I reached out to state BLM directors where we have public lands and asked them to contact their local elected officials and residents and come up with a list of Wilderness Study Areas where they felt there was strong support at this time for congressional action,” Abbey said. “They need to provide that information back to us by Oct. 15 so we can prepare a list of those areas for Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to share with Congress. “We hope Congress will take action this session to designate new wilderness that has support from local officials, ranchers, residents and others. … The list will not necessarily be based on priorities, but on what we believe is ready to go.”...more

BLM head assures Missouri Breaks Monument stakeholders

Bob Abbey, the director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, was as blunt as he could be at a small gathering of Montana livestock producers here Monday. "We're not here to screw you over," Abbey said. "We're not here to create surprises." The meeting followed a 43-mile boat ride on the Missouri River in the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument by Abbey and an entourage of state BLM officials. A big reason the monument was in proper shape to be designated in 2001 was because of the good condition it was in because of their care, Abbey told the ranchers. He assured them he wasn't planning to propose any new national monuments in their backyard. "We're not here to make your lives miserable," he said. In Montana, he had no big announcements as he did a year ago when he told 1,500 residents in Malta that the agency had no plans for another national monument designation in northeastern Montana, which had been discussed in an a BLM planning document...more

Wilderness release bill would remove lands from limbo, foster local control

Several decades ago, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service began to inventory their lands and recommended a combined 43 million acres as unsuitable for wilderness, meaning they didn't have the characteristics to qualify them for wilderness preservation. In classic Washington style, Congress never acted on these recommendations, leaving these lands under restrictive management practices that severely limit access and activities. I introduced the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act (HR 1581) to lift the unnecessarily restrictive management practices and open these lands up for responsible multiple uses. It is important to note that my legislation refers to only the 43 million acres already studied and recommended unsuitable for wilderness. It does not impact areas already designated as wilderness (109 million acres), recommended for wilderness (15 million acres) or still under study (10.7 million acres). Furthermore, it does not spell out what should occur on these lands, but puts the decision-making process in the hands of local communities. Activities could include increased grazing, responsible resource development, increased recreation and healthy forest management. Many of these could have positive economic and environmental impacts. Healthy forest management could reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires (and the pollution they produce) by decreasing the amount of fallen and rotting tree limbs and underbrush that fuel fires, as well as giving firefighters better access to fight them. This legislation is just common sense, which is why 31 of my colleagues have signed on as co-sponsors and more than 60 groups are supporting it, and I look forward to working to move HR 1581 through Congress...more

Conservation project looks to achieve coexistence with wolves

When Tatjana Rosen arrived in the Big Hole Valley in southwestern Montana, she was seen as an outsider. Her European accent was a giveaway. As a wildlife conservationist, her motive for being there drew suspicion. But over the past year, Rosen and a team of Big Hole Valley ranchers have formed an unlikely alliance, joining forces to test nonlethal methods of keeping wolves and cattle apart. If the efforts pan out, the project could be continued in other areas of the Northern Rockies and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, where people and wolves now coexist. "Over time, the ranchers I've been working with have started trusting us," said Rosen, a field scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society. "When working on wolf or bear conservation, you realize you need to engage with people and respect them." Before the project began this spring, 67 wolves had been lethally removed from the Big Hole Valley since 2009. Hoping to reduce those numbers, the Wildlife Conservation Society formed an alliance with three Big Hole Valley ranchers, along with the Big Hole Watershed Committee and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, among other agencies...more

Froelich family honored for work with quarter horses

While there are awards for those who compete in horse racing and showing, those behind the scenes rarely get recgonized. But a new program is now putting ranchers in the spotlight. Ag Reporter Sarah Gustin visits with the Executive Vice President of the American Quarter Horse Association about the new Ranching Heritage Breeders Program. An organization more than 70 years old is giving credit where credit is due. (Don Treadway / AQHA Exec. Vice Pres.) "The ranching part of our business is the true grassroots part of AQHA. AQHA was founded by ranchers in 1940. And this is a way of recognizing all the great work that has been done by our members and it's going to provide I think a lot of people an opportunity to really showcase the ranch bred horse." The Ranching Heritage Breeders Program is drawing attention to those who are dedicated to the quarter horse tradition. (Don Treadway / AQHA Exec. Vice Pres.) "You have to be a rancher, have at least 5 mares that you use for the production of ranch horses, you have to have a remuda, where there are geldings used to work cattle and you have to have cattle and you also have to be a rancher/breeder for at least 10 years." Treadway says he is expecting between 300 and 400 ranches across the country to meet those qualifications...more

Archaeologist finds ancient beaver teeth in eastern Oregon -- earliest record of the animal in North America

If there was any doubt, a new find cements Oregon's distinction as the Beaver State. An archaeologist discovered two fossil teeth on the boundary of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument near Dayville that represent the earliest record of a beaver in North America. The molar and premolar -- back teeth -- were below an ash layer from an ancient volcanic explosion that scientists say dates to about 7 million to 7.3 million years ago. "This tells us they are older than that eruption," said Joshua Samuels, museum curator and chief of paleontology at the monument. Until now, the earliest beavers in North America dated to around 5 million years ago, he said Monday. The find is significant because it helps pin down the time when beavers crossed the Siberian land bridge from Asia, Samuels said. Scientists believe they migrated to Asia from Germany, where older beaver fossils date to 10 million to 12 million years ago...more

New partnership expands support for telling agriculture’s story

A strategic partnership between The AgChat Foundation (ACF) and the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) brings together two organizations passionate about keeping today’s American agriculture successful. Through coordinated efforts, the groups will work together to support farmers and ranchers who are sharing their stories about how food is raised. The AgChat Foundation is one of the first outside organizations to partner with USFRA, a coalition that represents more than 50 of the top farmer- and rancher-led organizations and industry partners from across the country. It wasn’t hard for leaders from USFRA and ACF to realize that their missions connected. "The core vision of the AgChat Foundation is to empower farmers and ranchers to share their stories,” said Darin Grimm, Kansas farmer and AgChat Foundation president. “We are excited to partner with USFRA to build and expand those conversations" The partnership is multi-faceted. USFRA recently sponsored the AgChat Foundation’s Agvocacy 2.0 Conference, which sought to teach farmers and ranchers about using social media platforms and other technology to share their stories with food consumers. USFRA has also committed to an additional sponsorship, which will further the ACF’s ability to have an impact on more farmers and ranchers from across the country...more

Cattle raisers' survey shows extent of drought impact on Texas ranchers

The worst 1-year drought on record is affecting ranchers in the Southwest, however a recent survey conducted by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) shows TSCRA members are actively implementing a variety of strategies to adapt to the current climate. According to TSCRA’s Drought Impact Survey, 84 percent of respondents indicate they have reduced their herd size from their 3-year average. Herds were reduced by an average 38 percent. But those numbers don’t reflect a 38 percent decrease in the overall size of the herd in Texas. While a lot of those cattle have changed hands, says Joe Parker Jr., rancher and TSCRA president, relatively few have moved out of state. The survey indicates that individual herds were reduced through livestock market sales, early placement into feedyards, moving cattle to unused pastures or dry lots, or sending older cows to harvest...more

Cattle Seen at Record $1.36 per Pound as Drought Reduces Herd

Texas cattle ranchers, the biggest suppliers in the world’s top beef-producing nation, will cull the most breeding cows ever this year as drought increases feed costs, driving livestock prices to a record. Cattle futures that gained 18 percent in the past year in Chicago may reach an all-time high of $1.36 a pound in as few as seven months, said Rich Nelson, the director of research at McHenry, Illinois-based Allendale Inc., who has been studying agricultural markets since 1997. Feed costs have surged, with corn heading for the highest annual average price ever. The 11 months through August were the driest since at least 1895 in Texas, and the state’s farm losses may top $5.2 billion. Ranchers may sell or slaughter 500,000 beef cows they would normally keep for breeding because it’s too expensive to feed them, Texas A&M University estimated...more

Song Of The Day #676

Ranch Radio is back with Andy Parker & The Plainsmen telling us all about the Dude Cowboy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Otero County "Tree Party" - Marita Noon + Bob & Bob video

DC Brand Red Tape results in severe economic and social impacts

by Marita Noon     

    Communities all over the country feel that their hands are tied with one-size-fits-all DC Brand Red Tape. The rules and regulations prevent them from doing what is best for their specific circumstances. The situation has escalated to the point where elected officials are now taking charge to do what is local and logical.
    What took place this weekend in the rural New Mexico town of Cloudcroft could become the model for all who want to cut the red tape. Hundreds of people were at what is being called the “Otero County Tree Party” in support of realigning the federal government and putting them back where they belong. 
     Ten years ago, the New Mexico State Legislature passed SB1, which was signed into law by then-governor Gary Johnson. The legislature overwhelmingly voted for it, believing that it was a necessity borne out of “Uncontrollable, but preventable wildfires, and unresponsive federal agencies.” The Forest Service’s (USFS) inaction to reduce or remove the fuel buildup put “the lives and property of the citizens of New Mexico” at risk.
    SB1 exerted local sovereignty over public lands. But it had never been tested.
    Then, in 2011, the Wallow and the Las Conchas Fires left severe economic and social impacts—much like the 2000 Los Alamos Fire that prompted SB1.
    For the past decade, the folks in Otero County have been trying to work with the USFS to solve the problem of the Lincoln National Forest. It was unhealthy, like a tinderbox. Each time the county leadership thought the members were making progress with the Forest Service officials, the officials were transferred. The stall tactics worked until the summer of 2011, when the county declared a state of emergency.
     Ronny Rardin, chairman of the Board of Otero County Commissioners, told me they didn’t want to be the next disaster. People’s lives were in grave danger. The commissioners drafted the Emergency Forest Management Plan. On September 9, a public hearing was held. One-hundred twenty people supported the plan. Two opposed it. The commission voted to move forward. 
    For the past 20 years, since the Mexican Spotted Owl was listed as an endangered species, New Mexico’s forests have become overgrown. Thousands of jobs were lost, sawmills closed up. Fires became wild.
    A study done earlier this year by the USFS’s Pacific Research Station, and validated by work done by Sandia National Laboratories, shows that the healthiest forests in the arid climate of the Southwest have approximately 50 trees per acre. Many of the forests in the Southwest have as many as 2,500 trees per acre. Forest management practices that aim to restore owl habitat, rather than that of an overall healthy forest, have contributed to increased fuel loads and fire severity.
    The forest density is a serious fire danger, as the trees are thin and unhealthy. Many small trees lead to high-intensity fires where, by contrast, forests with fewer and larger trees have low-intensity fires. Additionally, there is not enough water to support all the trees—which also makes them more susceptible to disease, and dead trees burn more easily than healthy ones.
    The water issue is dangerous for more than just the trees’ health and fire prevention. With the current forest density, the trees are sucking up the limited water supply and threatening the local communities who depend on the near-surface aquifer.
    The nearby forests of the Mescalero Tribe provide a case study on forest management. Rather than following USFS policy, they manage for the health of the forest and practice uneven age management—meaning they log selectively. When there are forest fires—a reality in the arid mountains of the Southwest—in the Lincoln National Forest, the fires quickly become wild, threatening people, livestock, structures, and livelihoods. When the same fire rushes on to Mescalero lands, due to the healthier trees and less density, it lays down and becomes a more manageable surface fire. An added bonus: their forests have several spotted owl protected activity centers.
    Keeping the forest healthy through thinning costs about $600 per acre, but fighting a forest fire can cost nearly four times more. Additionally, rather than going up in smoke, thinned material can be used for wood products and biofuels. The thinning helps the watershed store more water and limits erosion, which fills up reservoirs and streams with silt from the flash floods on mountains with no vegetation to hold the water back. It also helps maintain the mountain ecosystem and allows the snow to melt and filter into the ground water rather than evaporating from the branches, reduces structure damage and insurance issues, and maintains the recreation economy.
     So, why has the USFS fought the citizens of Otero County, who want what is best for their community? Why were Congressman Steve Pearce and county commissioners threated with incarceration if they cut the tress as planned? Like “Why is the EPA fighting farmers?” answers to these questions remain left to our imagination.
    What we do know is that on Saturday, September 17, the Otero Country Tree Party put the Forest Service on notice. They did not ask permission; they realigned the government and took back their right to manage the lands owned by the state and county.  The 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act requires that the lands be managed in coordination with the state and local governments and New Mexico state law gives local sovereignty over public lands.
    New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez supports the county’s efforts but could not attend because of the state’s special legislative session going on at the same time. A letter from Lt. Governor John Sanchez was read at the rally before the tree cutting ceremony.
    The Sheriff’s Department had an obvious presence with a SWAT vehicle and riot gear. But the only trouble was a lone environmentalist holding up a sign in opposition of the tree cutting efforts.
    While the “Tree Party” on Saturday was largely symbolic, it let the Forest Service know the County is serious. If the Forest Service doesn’t follow through with the Emergency Forest Management Plan the County has drawn up, the County will have no choice but to move forward on its own. The actions taken by the Otero County Commissioners are being watched closely by the National Association of Counties.
    The Otero Country Tree Party has worked to stay within the law and asked people to leave their pitchforks and chainsaws at home. The trees were cut by professionals, who safely dropped them, as a cheering public looked on. Congressman Steve Pearce cut the first tree under the direct supervision of the professionals. The Tree Party supporters then helped clean up—doing what the USFS should be doing.
    The Otero County Commissioners believe that in addition to saving lives and property through reducing the fire danger, their Emergency Forest Management Plan can provide as many as 1,000 jobs for the local communities. Chairman Rardin said: “We are just trying to fix our problem. This is what America wants.”
    The Otero County Tree Party is a movement that could change the nation as other counties realign the government by putting them back where they belong.

Marita Noon is the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Marita’s twentieth book, Energy Freedom, will be released in mid-October.

You should get a hoot out of this video by Bob & Bob


Secret recordings raise new questions in ATF 'Gunwalker' operation

CBS News has obtained secretly recorded conversations that raise questions as to whether some evidence is being withheld in the murder of a Border Patrol agent. The tapes were recorded approximately mid-March 2011 by the primary gun dealer cooperating with ATF in its "Fast and Furious" operation: Andre Howard, owner of Lone Wolf Trading Company in Glendale, Arizona. He's talking with the lead case ATF case agent Hope MacAllister. The tapes have been turned over to Congressional investigators and the Inspector General. As CBS News first reported last February, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allegedly allowed thousands of weapons to "walk" onto the streets without interdiction into the hands of suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels in its operation "Fast and Furious." The conversations refer to a third weapon recovered at the murder scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Court records have previously only mentioned two weapons: Romanian WASR "AK-47 type" assault rifles. Both were allegedly sold to suspects who were under ATF's watch as part of Fast and Furious. Also, a ballistics report turned over to Congressional investigators only mentions the two WASR rifles. The ballistics report says it's inconclusive as to whether either of the WASR rifles fired the bullet that killed Terry. Law enforcement sources and others close to the Congressional investigation say the Justice Department's Inspector General obtained the audio tapes several months ago as part of its investigation into Fast and Furious. Then, the sources say for some reason the Inspector General passed the tapes along to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona: a subject in the investigation....more

Solyndra’s Legal Team: Five Attorneys at $2,550 Per Hour

Solyndra has hired a team of five high-powered attorneys to help get it through its bankruptcy proceedings, according to documentation the company has filed in court (embedded below). Their firm, McDermott Will & Emery, also represented the company before it filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month. Some of the attorneys who will represent Solyndra in bankruptcy court are as politically connected as the solar company itself. As one might expect, this sort of representation does not come cheap. All told, Solyndra’s team may bill up to $2,550 per hour, the Legal Times notes...more

House Judiciary chairman calls for appointment of special counsel in Solyndra loan

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on Monday called for an independent investigator to look into a $528 million loan approved by the Obama administration for a now-bankrupt solar energy company. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said an outside lawyer is needed to determine “whether politics played a role” in the Energy Department loan for California-based Solyndra Inc., which declared bankruptcy this month and laid off its 1,100 workers. “An independent examiner will uncover the truth about whether politics played a role in influencing the Obama administration to favor Solyndra over more financially stable loan applicants and thus ensure the integrity of the bankruptcy process for all creditors,” Smith wrote in a three-page letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. The FBI and the Energy Department’s inspector general are already investigating the Solyndra loan, which has become a flashpoint in a partisan debate over subsidies for so-called green jobs...more

Daily Caller Draws Michelle Obama Connection to Solyndra

A Daily Caller review of the George Kaiser Family Foundation’s income tax returns found that during the same year billionaire investor George Kaiser successfully secured $535 million in government loan guarantees for the now-failed solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, his private philanthropy donated to a political cause close to the hearts of several high-ranking Obama administration officials. A $10,000 donation to the Urban Health Initiative at the University of Chicago Medical Center appears on the group’s 2009 tax forms. It was also in 2009 that Kaiser successfully sought to lock down a loan guarantee for the green-energy company Solyndra through his two investment vehicles: Argonaut Ventures and the GKFF Investment Company. Several of President Barack Obama’s senior inner-circle advisers worked with or for now-first lady Michelle Obama when she held a leadership post at the University of Chicago Medical Center and helped create the Urban Health Initiative program...more

When green government awards aren’t a leg up

A little detail from biofuel company Mascoma’s IPO filing on Friday got me thinking: Mascoma says government grants constituted “86 percent of our revenue” while “product sales and other service agreements constituted 14 percent of our revenue.” Greentech has been like few other tech sectors in that many of the companies are relying heavily on government support for business, from biofuels to clean power to nuclear to smart grid. But at the same time, a variety of companies are finding that, if they are able to stand on their own two feet, that accepting government support can sometimes be the wrong choice. Investors in the now infamous solar maker Solyndra think that the $535 million loan was actually part of Solyndra’s undoing, according to the Wall Street Journal. Those investors say that the loan added high fixed costs for the DOE-backed factory, and it was a disadvantage when the company wanted to raise more money from private investors, because the government had senior debt that would be paid back first (mostly, except for Solyndra’s final restructuring funds)...more

Obamanomics:  Government grants = 86% of revenue.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ceremony marks start of demolition of dams on the Elwha River

A few hundred people and several dozen Chinook salmon gathered near the Elwha Dam on Saturday to witness the beginning of the process to set the Elwha River free and restore five species of Pacific salmon to more than 70 miles of river and stream. An emotional ceremony was marked by references to the spiritual and cultural importance to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe of the removal of two dams from the Elwha River near Port Angeles. The ceremony concluded with U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar leading a call, echoed by whoops from the crowd, to have a large piece of earthmoving equipment with a golden bucket break up a piece of concrete just upstream of the dam and carry some pieces to the bank where dignitaries were waiting. The $325 million project is expected to last three years and eventually restore the Olympic Peninsula river to its wild state and restore salmon runs...more

$325 million to set a river free?

Hey, Secretario Ken, I've got a better deal for you.

Set me free and let me return to my "wild state", and it will cost you nothing.  Just set me free. 

Federal official to visit northern New Mexico area being considered for wilderness protection

An official with the U.S. Interior Department will visit northern New Mexico to tour an area being considered as a candidate for wilderness protection. The department says Deputy Secretary David Hayes will make a stop at the Rio Grande Gorge northwest of Taos on Thursday afternoon. Conservationists have been pushing officials to protect the upper reaches of the Rio Grande Gorge and the Taos Plateau. In June, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar directed Hayes to solicit input from members of Congress, state and local officials, tribes and federal land managers to identify lands that may be appropriate candidates for Congressional protection under the Wilderness Act. Hayes plans to deliver a report to Salazar and Congress on the areas the agency believes can be the basis for bipartisan wilderness legislation. AP

According to this press release he visited the area on the 15th and then headed to California.

Colorado honing plan to hobble gobblers

Colorado wildlife managers plan to mobilize hunters to thin the thickening flocks of wild "conflict turkeys" that hinder farmers and ranchers. The state's aggressive turkey reintroduction campaign that began in the 1980s apparently has been more than successful, with turkeys present in 53 of 64 counties and a statewide population topping 35,000. Huge flocks of 200 and more turkeys descend on farms and ranches in late winter. They scratch around looking for grain and eat from feed bins meant for cows. They drink farm water, climb onto hay bales, break them apart, and defecate widely. "Originally, I wanted a few of them. But not this," said rancher Kenny Rose, 72, hard-hit on his land north of the Arikaree River on Colorado's northeastern prairie. Some strut onto roads and roam into towns such as Wray, occasionally pecking at children in schoolyards. Yuma County Commissioner Dean Wingfield said local flocks seem to be doubling each year and that, though he's wildlife lover, he supports stepped-up hunting with a focus on decrepit old hens. Colorado Parks and Wildlife commissioners last week directed staff to develop a plan for issuing unlimited over- the-counter hunting licenses, for use with permission of landowners, on the private lands in northeastern and southeastern Colorado where the most conflicts are happening. In addition, U.S. Air Force Academy land managers north of Colorado Springs have reported turkey problems and an interest in hunting. The goal would be to reduce problem populations by 10 percent to 15 percent, state biologist Ed Gorman said...more

Rare minnows rescued from Texas river amid drought

Wildlife biologists scooped up minnows from a shrinking Texas river Friday in one of the first rescues of fish threatened by the state's worst drought in decades. Hundreds of smalleye shiners and sharpnose shiners were collected from the Brazos River, about 175 miles northwest of Fort Worth. They will be taken to the state's fish hatchery but returned to the river when the drought abates...more

Tick from Texas reports this is good news...he was afraid of losing another pizza topping.

Wild Asses Leave Hawaii For Hollywood

More than 100 unwanted wild donkeys have been flown from Hawaii to California where rescuers will try to find new homes for them, a rancher says. The 120 animals made the 2,500-mile flight from the Big Island to the mainland and then a 120-mile trip by truck to the Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue ranch near Tehachapi Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Hawaiian donkeys are a vestige of an earlier time when they were used to transport sugar cane and other crops, work no longer needed. "This is a good bunch," facility owner Mark Meyers said while watching the donkeys eating hay. Meyers, 48, and his wife Amy, 37, have helped rescue more than 2,000 donkeys over the past dozen years, the newspaper said. The couple's non-profit ranch can hold up to 325 donkeys while they search for people to adopt them...more

Bootheel residents, ranchers want planned Border Patrol base moved

The debate revolves around where exactly to build a new U.S. Border Patrol substation of sorts - called a forward operating base - somewhere in the Animas Valley. The project, which gained serious momentum after the 2010 murder of a southeastern Arizona rancher, is aimed at curbing illegal immigration, including drug and human traffickers, that was pushed to the remote area, as border security has tightened in adjacent sections. The two sites at the heart of the commotion are just 13 miles apart, as the crow flies. But to a vocal group of ranchers and other Hidalgo County residents, there's a world of difference. Despite other differences between the two locations, the biggest is the proximity of the Battalion Road site to the international boundary, said Meria Gault, a rancher who lives in the area. "The most important thing to us is to be close to the border," she said. "Because there's no way that people from the other side will not see them." Hidalgo County Commissioner Ed Kerr, who attended the tour, said he doesn't like the Border Patrol's preferred location. "It's an obvious, no-brainer for me that the site should be on Battalion Road, for access, for safety to citizens, for a long-term, projected outlook," he said. "The other, Horse Camp Road site is a hidden cove in a flood-prone area. It's almost like we're trying to hide from the enemy."...more

Agriculture popularity surges with American youth

In the past year, more than 17,000 new students have joined FFA, setting a new all-time high in the organization’s membership since founded in 1928. During the 2010-11 school year, FFA membership grew to a record 540,379 students, up 17,070 students from 523,309 members in the 2009-10 school year. The number of FFA chapters in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands also grew with the creation of 106 new, chartered FFA chapters. Texas tops the list of states with the largest FFA membership with 81,694 students, followed by California with 70, 555, Georgia with 31,616, Missouri with 25,096 and Oklahoma with 23,562. The 10 largest FFA chapters are all in California. Texas also tops all states for largest FFA membership growth during the 2010-11 school year, followed by California, North Carolina, Georgia and Utah. FFA chapters can now be found in 18 of the 20 largest U.S. cities, including New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia...more

The tale of a trail at Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park seems to have forgotten Howard Eaton, a man the institution once honored. Scattered markers refer to the Howard Eaton Trail, but it is no longer maintained. A log-framed sign erected when the trail was dedicated on July 19, 1923, with a photo of Eaton on his favorite mount, Danger, and information about his ties to the park, was eventually removed and not replaced. The sign was planted close to Sheepeater Cliff, near the headwaters of the Gardner River, one of Eaton's favorite camping spots in the park's northwest corner. Who was Howard Eaton, and why has he been forgotten in a place he helped introduce to the public? Howard Eaton was born in Pittsburgh in 1851 and traveled west as a young man. In 1879 he squatted on land near what is now Medora, N.D. (Portions of the rugged badlands of the Little Missouri River are now part of another park, named for Theodore Roosevelt.) With the help of his brothers, Alden and Willis, who followed Howard later, the Eatons combined their separate holdings in 1883 and built up the ranching business five miles south of Medora on both sides of the Little Missouri. They eventually began playing host to guests from the East who visited the West to hunt, camp and roam the still-wild country. The ranch was established only three years after the Battle of the Little Bighorn...more

That's the way the feds treat everyone, sooner or later.  They get what they want and move on.

New Mexico Drought Matter of Perspective, Risk

Perhaps it’s a matter of perspective. If you’re a cattle rancher in New Mexico without enough grass to feed your stock, it’s a drought. If you’re a satellite orbiting a couple of hundred miles away in space, things may look pretty green down on planet Earth. That difference of opinion has driven New Mexico cattle ranchers into a potential conflict with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) over a new federally subsidized insurance policy designed to provide drought protection. Despite record heat and record dry conditions in parts of the Southwest, some satellite imagery shows New Mexico’s “greenness index” doesn’t qualify ranchers there to collect on their policies, which cost several thousand dollars annually. From the perspective of the USDA’s Risk Management Agency, which oversees the pilot program to provide drought insurance, it’s a matter of certain policyholders being at the wrong place and the wrong time—and not understanding how their policies work. Due to the drought, ranchers have been selling off record numbers of cattle because they can’t feed them, and they’re looking for financial help from insurance policies they purchased that are part of a pilot program for New Mexico and seven other states administered by the RMA. The program uses data and satellite information to decide whether a payout should be made, and it counts all “biomass” in an area, including trees and weeds, under a “greenness index.” According to Matt Rush, executive director for the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, that index omits another index that he and others believe should be an important part of the drought-no drought equation: heat...more

I'm from the government and I'm here to insure you.

As ranchers in drought areas sell cows, others buy

The drought in the Southwest may help 29-year-old Chad Bicker get to his goal of being a full-time farmer and rancher by the time he's 40. As farmers in Texas and other bone-dry areas sell cattle because they can't grow hay or afford to buy feed, Bicker has been buying animals for his farm in Illinois. He has 25 cows and hopes to have 35 by next year. "You're seeing a lot of people get out of the cattle industry just because of the (drought)," Bicker said. " . . . It's a chance for us to expand." Cattle experts in areas not affected by drought say they're seeing a lot of farmers like Bicker take advantage of rising beef prices and cattle sales in dry areas to expand their businesses. Beef prices have risen because of strong export demand from Asia and a relatively low supply in the U.S. And, even with farmers like Bicker adding cows, experts say it won't be enough to offset the losses from the drought and ranchers cutting animals over the past five years because of rising land and feed costs. Iowa State University economist Shane Ellis said he didn't expect the total number of cattle to increase in the U.S. for at least another four years. While the beef industry had already been shrinking, the pace accelerated this year when ranchers in Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and other dry spots thinned their herds or sold off their cattle altogether because they couldn't grow hay and buying it and other feed was too expensive. The U.S. has about 31 million beef cattle, down 5.6 percent from 2006, the Department of Agriculture said this summer...more

Song Of The Day #675

It's Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and we have Tom Ball & Kenny Sultan performing a tune about something elusive but precious, a Perfect Woman.  Listen to their story and I'm sure you'll agree.

The tune is on their 14 track CD Double Vision.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Rope: Not just a cowboy invention

by Julie Carter

This might come as a surprise to most ropers today, but the tool of their trade, the lariat, was not a cowboy invention.

Back in the days of the Roman Empire, circa 300-400 A.D., the Huns -- you remember them -- rode short little ponies and could and would stay in the saddle for days, those are the ones.

History describes them as excellent warriors who could accurately shoot an arrow or use their lariat to rope an enemy while their ponies carried them along at a dead run. The Goths lived in dread of these short horsemen who annihilated them in every engagement.

Rope is recorded to be as old as mankind itself. All primitive peoples managed to discover some sort of material out of which they could produce twine and rope.

The Chippewa Indians used a method by which they manufactured rope from the inner bark of basswood.

No one seems to be able to answer with any authority just which people in the history of the human race were the first to make a lariat out of a rope, and exactly what materials were used in its construction.

The development of the lariat follows closely with the history of the horse. The handling of animals generally necessitated the use of a rope of some type.

With evidence that the horse and the lariat evolved together, it is also a good bet that the materials used were either horsehair or rawhide, both of which are obtainable from the animals themselves. It is thought that the most primitive riata was horsehair.

Ropes made of hair, hemp, rawhide, maguey (agave fiber), cotton and today’s ever popular nylon are all products of centuries of evolution.

What hasn’t changed is man’s fascination with a catch rope. I can’t speak for those Hun’s but today’s “twine twirlers” are every bit as dedicated to their craft, some arguing their life depends on it. And, if they have a rope in their hand, they have to rope something.

While there are no longer any Goth roping going on, it’s not uncommon for the rope owner to try to rope just about anything that moves. It doesn’t have to be a cow or horse.

I’ve known dedicated ropers (aka fools) to rope mountain lions, coyotes, deer, antelope (now that took a fast horse) and yes, even a bear.

Pretty much across the board, each of those events culminated in the cowboy wondering just what had he been thinking? The catchin’ was good. The “what do I do with it now” that followed was the meat of the story.

Movement is not a requirement for throwing a loop. Buckets, bushes, chairs and the sleeping dog, which quickly becomes part of the moving category, are fair game. In my part of the country, it is the weapon of choice for killing a snake if you aren’t armed with a gun.

The skill involved in the use of what began as a tool became marketable as a competitive “sport.”  Like shooting and riding, roping quickly became a contest to prove who was king. Much like an illegal substance, it has become an addiction for many.

Today roping is a multi-million dollar industry that attracts men, women and children from all walks of life. It no longer is just a “cowboy” sport, but calls to those that want a little piece of cowboy living.

By picking up a rope, the journey begins.

Julie, a recovering rope addict, can be reached for comment at

Rojas and the Tehachapi Vaquero

Rojas and the Tehachapi Vaquero
 The Case of Sole
Justin Classics
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     As I get older I find that my interest in styles has become bifurcated.  On one hand, simplicity and utility have become increasingly standard fare, but there has been a tug of nostalgia for things old, rarely seen, or unique.  For example, my uncle recently made the decision I should have several hand made items that were crafted for my maternal grandfather and identified with the cross triangle brand.  I was like a kid at Christmas unwrapping the package he sent containing two buckle sets and a tie clasp.  They were immediate treasures that will be worn for everyday as well as special occasions.
     The Details matter
     We were not fortunate enough to get to know Arnold Rojas of Kern County, but we knew several Californios who called him friend.  His book in our library was signed by one of those fellows, and I suspect the words written in that brief message would have made “Chief” a bit emotional by what that friend  . . . mine and his  . . . said.
     Mr. Rojas became a vaquero.  Like so many of his peers, he did not come from wealth.  Many of the old time Californios he was around probably viewed him as more wishful than real initially, but he became what he admired in those old time western slope cowboys.
     If you read Rojas, you become immersed in center fire rigged slick fork saddles and rancid bear tallow rubbed reatas, but you come to realize you are taken in by the little details of his mind as much as the stories he memorialized.  Where else can you read about the colors and the personalities of those Spanish horses that first waded ashore in the New World?
     It was Rojas who cast some degree of sense of the purpose jingle bobs had other than the cadence to which a finished bridle horse walked, and it was Rojas who suggested to me through time what the purpose of fringe was on leggins’ of any style or persuasion.
     The essence of the men who chose to live horseback in the sun and the grass of the West was captured so eloquently by Rojas in the story about the little vaquero from the Tehachapi country who lived frugally and yet proudly among his peers.  By the time the old gentleman was known to “Chief”, his family was scattered and he and his wife were elderly.  What caught Chief’s fancy was the little ‘Viejo’ was always straight, neat, and polished even though it appeared he had only two shirts . . . and they were both white. 
     Each day he would be in one of those shirts . . . all pressed with a little short tie.  Looking closely, the shirts were patched and repaired by his wife, but she would always have one clean and ready.
     His tack and his gear were similar.  A Visalia slick fork saddle, a Santa Barbara spade, two Navajo blankets, a set of armitas, a pair of hand made spurs, a short brimmed hat, and a museum quality reata all tended and repaired were his tools in trade.  He was the essence of what Rojas visualized as a vaquero.  He demonstrated thrift and loyalty and all that he sought to be was on display in his person.  It was pride, and it was all that mattered.
     Capturing the Essence
     Change the geography and the same men emerge.  Their tools had some of the same roots, but the conditions of their craft dictated differences.  They may be riding swelled forked saddles, wearing eight ounce batwings, and using undecorated grazer bits, but they respect and admire the same qualities.
     Boots were always part of the package.  In fact, as time went on, boots became a link to the diminishing relationship of the industry and the ever expanding urban influence on society.  People could still be connected with their heritage by what they wore on their feet regardless of where life took them. 
     The Boots
     When Ropers were dominant, the fad was not new to a number of horsemen.  The use of the boot had started back when the boots were still referred to as “Wellingtons”.  They were practical.  There was a need to have a boot that was comfortable to wear on the ground, but still had features needed in the saddle.    
     Many folks were wearing laced boots because higher heeled riding boots were just impractical.  Try standing on a hillside digging a post hole in a pair of Paul Bond’s with 18” tops and  2½’ heeled boots with spur counters and bull hide filigreed ostrich underlays. The aura of wearing those boots just didn’t overcome the need for function.  The Justin Classic Ropers were the ticket and they caught fire.
     The Urban Cowboy craze accelerated the demand for the boots and they also became a fashion statement.  White, red, blue, and distressed brown colors were added to the London tan and black standards.  Everybody joined the act and even urban gals who may have contemplated indignation when Arnold Rojas mentioned what a comfortable slick fork he had been in that morning were stockpiling and color coding their boot inventory.
     Evolution, but remember the basics
     Style change is a good thing.  It energizes and stimulates the economy and it captures the attention of a number of people who would otherwise pay little attention to our way of life. 
     The incorporation of exotic leathers, the expansion of industry participants, and even the recent trends that appear to us kids of the ‘50s and ‘60s as being bizarre are all healthy adaptations to the world of horsemanship.  Let it continue!
     Years ago when I first saw a pair of Lucchesse boots with their original style of French toe, I was infatuated.  What a boot that was and what a practical alternative to the more pointed toe preference of that era.  With today’s emphasis of square toed boots, isn’t it time to recapture something old and reinvigorate it with something new?
     It is time for Justin to reintroduce its Classic Roper, but with a modern toe.  If the toe was more streamlined than the large square toe dominating the market today it would be better yet.  If there is a name change required, well, why not just call it “Justin French toed Classic Roper”.  Call it what it is and get them to the people who make their living in the heat of summer and the cold of winter in boots.
     Those very people are finding they need a return to the basics that made the original roper so popular.  For example, the new sport shoe features being incorporated into boots are great when you first wear the boots, but get in a pickup with a cowboy who has been wearing a pair for two months and he has been building fence in the heat.  You can’t stay in the cab with him.  Those boots stink like an old pair of black Converse tennis shoes left in the gym locker all winter!
     When that cowboy is yourself and you can smell your own boots and you are thinking awfully hard about taking them off and throwing them in the back with the mineral block, it is time to return to the classic style of leather inners just like the old style ropers.  Form, over time, cannot cast aside function!
     Details, simplicity, and neatness
     Arnold Rojas set the modern standard as the curator of western detail in print artistry.  His stories of old California are not just important historically.  They are important for the detail perfected by those who lived in the world of winter rains, finished horses, spring grasses and golden empires.
     The little vaquero who sat straight in the saddle in his clean white shirt and tie would understand the importance of quality that comes from simplicity.  His impact on Rojas was probably not lost on the many others who learned the trade by emulating his actions. 
    Starched jeans and white shirt, Classic French toed Justin Classics, my treasured antique hand made belt buckle set, and a neat little tie set in place with that cross triangle clasp fulfills the expectation of simplicity and neatness.  They would look appropriate in any setting.  I would feel just as comfortable in a branding pen with them as I would at a San Francisco ballet.  So would Arnold, and so would a whole bunch of other native sons of the American West . . . and, as for hats . . . we had them on before we started dressing!

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “In all seriousness, Justin needs to consider the demand for an updated Roper . . . simple, tasteful, and functional.  Start with three original colors . . . London tan, black, and distressed natural . . . sell them as a set . . . and watch the reaction.”