Saturday, October 29, 2011

El Paso man guilty of causing NM forest fire with toilet paper

An El Paso man pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in Las Cruces to causing the Last Chance Fire in the Lincoln National Forest in April. Rodrigo Ulloa-Esquivel, 29, pleaded guilty to leaving a fire unattended, a misdemeanor for which he faces up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. Ulloa-Esquivel was indicted Aug. 17 for criminal offenses related to the wildfire, which burned through the Last Chance Canyon in Eddy County for 16 days. On Friday, he admitted that, on April 24, he lit toilet paper on fire near a campsite in the Guadalupe Ranger District, even though he knew there were fire restrictions in place. High winds blew sparks from the campsite and, after unsuccessful attempts to extinguish the fire, Ulloa-Esquivel and his friends left without calling the U.S. Forest Service or other authorities to report it. When he was subsequently contacted by U.S. Forest Service investigators, Ulloa-Esquivel initially denied all knowledge of the fire. The fire consumed 53,342 acres and damaged four structures in the Sitting Bulls Recreation area before it was contained May 9, at a cost of $2.3 million and $67,500 in repairs...more

Smokey Bear Says

"Don't squeeze my Charmin or set it on fire"

"Wild bears don't use toilet paper - the fines are too high"

"Shit, Shovel & Shut up"

Government paws on our every tweet

In April 2010 it was announced that every 140-character snippet you have ever posted on Twitter has been committed to the U.S. Library of Congress. The Library of Congress and our friends at Twitter have agreed to archive every single tweet since its inception on March 21, 2006, when the first tweet was launched. It is now estimated that together we send a billion tweets a week – and all of it is be preserved forever. It does not seem to me that there is such a big jump from the retention of this information to the dissection and analyzing of such data and then ultimately the utilization of what is learned. The purpose (according to a blog post by Library of Congress communications director Matt Raymond) is to document "important tweets" as well as gather information about the way we live through the sheer masses of tweets on the site. Some find great comfort in the fact that only tweets from public Twitter feeds will be included, not those that have been set as private. Think quickly for me – are your tweets set to be private? Do you really understand that every tweet you post is intrinsically designed to be searchable? We must understand that Twitter was always designed to be searchable. In fact, it's essential that we recognize the possibility that at some point in the future our government, either overtly or covertly, could attempt to match this information with other user information archived in federal databases...more

Pot growers threaten federal land in NM

A large marijuana plantation found in a remote part of Bandelier National Monument this summer was an eye-opener for public lands officials in New Mexico. Not only do monument employees plan to search for similar gardens on foot and by helicopter every summer from now on, they believe the size of the plantation might be a dangerous sign that Mexican drug cartels are moving into New Mexican forests, said Jason Lott, Bandelier’s superintendent. “They would want to protect their investment and those that may inadvertently find it are at great risk,” Lott said. “It’s dangerous to have here for the visiting public.” In August, air crews surveying damage from the Las Conchas Fire south of Los Alamos flew over the plantation and immediately knew what it was, Lott said. The bright green plants – some of them 10-feet high – stuck out amid the blackened brush and charred trees. When they headed into Frijoles Canyon on foot, investigators found six gardens spaced out over five acres. Three of the gardens had already been harvested but officers still found 10,000 plants worth an estimated $10 million. It was one of the largest marijuana plantations ever found on public land in New Mexico, Lott said...more

Wyoming CO2 storage project may get put on hold

Work on a much-touted experimental underground carbon dioxide storage facility could come to a halt, partly because the CO2 needed to test the project is in such high demand by Wyoming oil producers that it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The University of Wyoming project aims to show the feasibility of storing CO2 emissions deep underground at a 25 square-mile test site east of Rock Springs. But while the project is based on the idea that CO2 is a byproduct and a pollutant due for stricter federal rules, CO2 is actually in demand in Wyoming, where oil producers pump it underground to force out hard-to-get oil, a method known as enhanced oil recovery. That means the sequestration project researchers’ plan to buy 3 million tons of CO2 for testing came with a big price tag: $750 million. The price could press pause on the project, said Rob Hurless of the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources and an adviser to Gov. Matt Mead on energy issues...more

The Westerner's Radio Theater #007

Our offering this morning is a 1950 Roy Acuff Royal Crown Cola Show.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Invasive Species Alert: ZOMBIES!

Stay Safe In Your Tree Stand
Be warned of our state’s newest invasive species threat--ZOMBIES!

While zombie management is largely left to the police, military and health agencies, conservation plays a role in protecting Missouri's fish, forest and wildlife resources--and Missourians--from this invasive species.

Hunters, campers and others in the outdoors and on conservation areas should know there is always the chance they may encounter a zombie while out in the field. Good preparation helps you know what to do if you encounter this newest invasive species in Missouri.

The zombie invasion is like the feral hog problem in parts of Missouri, and its management is similar. We do not encourage organized zombie hunts since that may encourage the intentional release of zombie swarms. It can also disrupt wildlife and hunting opportunities for the more than 500,000 living Missourians who enjoy hunting.

Zombie Identification

Some indications that you have a zombie in view:

* It has a gray-green dull skin tone.
* It is wearing inappropriate clothing for the season or terrain (no coat or shoes, for instance).
* It has open wounds, other injuries and/or missing or damaged limbs but no sign of bleeding.
* It does not respond to verbal stimulus or exhibit any interest in its immediate surroundings.
* It is trying to eat you.

Zombie Hunger and Habitat

Zombies require meat and brains. While human is the preferred source, fish and wildlife are another ready source of nourishment...

Read the entire post here

The Biofuels Fiasco

A food versus fuel debate has raged for the past few years as ethanol consumes more and more of the U.S. corn supply. Ethanol will use about 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop this year, and for the first time ever, more corn will go into motor fuel production than into feed for livestock. As the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has pointed out, since Congress mandated the use of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply, corn use by ethanol mills has increased by 382 percent, yet with a limited supply of farmland and the need to grow other crops, plus some less than ideal weather conditions this year and last, corn production has increased only 5.4 percent over the same period. As a result, ethanol policy has been a major contributor to reduced red meat production. Per capita beef supplies for next year are projected to be at their lowest level since 1955. Food inflation is rampant​—​especially in categories where corn is a significant input. To date, poultry prices are up 3.4 percent over last year, milk and dairy is up 9.1 percent, pork is up 7.5 percent, and hamburger is up 10.4 percent. All categories are projected to increase even more next year. Moreover, the impact is not just domestic, as more than 60 percent of the world’s tradable corn supply originates in the United States. Food versus fuel is not the only market distortion caused by the federal mandate to use ethanol in the U.S. motor fuel supply. The federal regulations and mandates of what feedstocks may be used to make which biofuels are now creating chaos within the fuel sector​—​which hits motorists and taxpayers in the pocketbook, too. Consider that within the overall mandate that 36 billion gallons of ethanol be used for fuel by 2022, ethanol distilled from corn is limited to 15 billion gallons because of food versus fuel concerns. Despite already consuming 40 percent of the U.S. corn supply, corn ethanol has not yet hit its 15 billion gallon limit. Nonetheless, there still is more corn ethanol being produced than the market can absorb because of slackened motor fuel demand and a number of regulatory barriers. Federal support for the ethanol industry has resulted in an excess, and thus exportable, supply of ethanol. Sold politically just four years ago in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act as a means to secure domestic energy independence, subsidized American ethanol is now exported to Great Britain, Finland, and the Netherlands, helping them comply with biofuel mandates issued by the European Union...more

Global Warming — RIP?

Not long ago, candidate Obama promised to cool the planet and lower the rising seas. Indeed, he campaigned on passing “cap-and-trade” legislation, a radical, costly effort to reduce America’s traditional carbon energy use. The theory was that new taxes and greater regulations would make Americans pay more for fossil-fuel energy — a good thing if it reduced our burning of coal, oil, and gas. Obama was not shy in admitting that under his green plans, electricity prices would “necessarily skyrocket.” His energy secretary, Steven Chu, at one point even said, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe” — that is, about $8–10 per gallon. Fairly or not, the warming movement appeared to be a tiny elite attempting to impose costs on a poorer and supposedly less informed middle class. But despite a Democrat-controlled House and Senate in 2009–2010, President Obama never passed into law any global-warming legislation. Now the issue is deader than a doornail — despite the efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency to enact new regulations that would never pass Congress. So what happened to the global-warming craze? Corruption within the climate-change industry explains some of the sudden turnoff. “Climategate” — the unauthorized 2009 release of private e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit in the United Kingdom — revealed that many of the world’s top climate scientists were knee-deep in manipulating scientific evidence to support preconceived conclusions and personal agendas. Shrill warnings about everything from melting Himalayan glaciers to shrinking polar-bear populations turned out not always to be supported by scientific facts. Unfortunately, during the last three years “green” has also become synonymous with Solyndra-style crony capitalism. Commonsense ideas like more windmills, solar panels, retro-fitted houses, and electric cars have all been in the news lately. But the common themes were depressingly similar: few jobs created and little competitively priced energy produced, but plenty of political donors who landed hundreds of millions of dollars in low-interest loans from the government. Of course, it didn’t help that the world’s most prominent green spokesman, Nobel laureate Al Gore, made tens of millions of dollars from his own advocacy. And he adopted a lifestyle of jet travel and energy-hungry homes at odds with his pleas for everyone else to cut back...more

Obama admin renews push for solar energy in West

The Obama administration on Thursday identified 17 sites in six Western states as prime candidates for solar energy projects on public lands, continuing a push for solar power despite the high-profile bankruptcy of a solar panel maker that received a half-billion dollar federal loan. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the latest "Solar Energy Zones" refine and improve on a draft released in December that identified two dozen areas in California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. Five sites in Nevada, four in Colorado, three in Utah, two each in California and Arizona, and one in New Mexico were identified as ideal for solar development. The sites comprise 285,000 acres, down from about 677,000 acres in December, and reflect the department's judgment that the targeted land has the highest potential for solar development with the fewest environmental conflicts...more

Widow Blames Fatal Bear Attack on Serial Errors by Federal Workers

The widow of a botanist says her husband was killed by a grizzly bear because a federal Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team laid bait to attract bears, but never warned them of what they were doing on hiking routes near their cabin near Yellowstone National Park. Yolanda Evert says her husband, Erwin, was fatally mauled by a grizzly "approximately twenty-one yards from where bear #646 was left to recover unmonitored from the effects of chemical immobilization and other intrusions, and almost directly under a tree where the IGBST crew had hung bait." Evert says that after the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) trapped, drugged and tagged the adult male grizzly, No. 646, the team violated protocol and left the bear as it "began showing limited signs of recovery by holding up and swaying his head," instead of waiting, as they should have, for the bear to be "ambulatory." She claims the crew again violated "long-established procedures, policies, orders and permit requirements" by removing warning signs stating: "Danger! Bear trap in the area. The area behind this sign is temporarily closed. The closure is effective from 6-11-10 to 6-20-10." The widow says: "Shortly after the crew took down the warning signs, Erwin Evert walked on the trail, a decommissioned road, without knowledge of warning that he was walking in the same location of a trap site or a recently trapped and recovering bear." She says the recently sedated bear killed her husband. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team is a joint effort of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Interior. They are studying grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The only defendant in the federal complaint is the United States of America, but Evert says the mistakes were made by grizzly bear captors Chad Dickinson and Seth Thompson, overseen by Team Leader Charles Schwartz, on June 17, 2010...more

Fire Season Wraps Up as Retardant Regulations Tighten

But as Idaho firefighters take a break from fighting flames, some of them will be under stricter guidelines on how they use fire retardants to do so next year. The U.S. Forest Service recently released an updated plan on how it will use fire retardants on 193 million acres of land throughout 44 states. A 2010 court order forced the agency to evaluate how to use retardants without harming environmentally sensitive land, water and endangered species. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which bases firefighting aircraft out of the Twin Falls airport, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are still deciding whether to adopt the Forest Service’s new approach. The use of retardants has been debated over the years because they can cause unintentional environmental consequences. Retardants are made up of water and fertilizers that suck the oxygen out of flames. But if the chemicals reach streams or rivers, it can result in dead wildlife and plants...more

Virgin Galactic selects pilot for spaceflights

After combing through a long list of astronauts, fighter pilots, and space geeks, British billionaire Richard Branson named a new astronaut pilot to join his start-up space venture that aims to lift paying passengers into space. Branson's company Virgin Galactic announced Wednesday that former U.S. Air Force test pilot Keith Colmer will join chief pilot David Mackay to begin flight training and testing of the company's revolutionary aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo. Colmer was selected from more than 500 applicants, which included about 10 current and former astronauts, Virgin Galactic Chief Executive George T. Whitesides said in a recent interview at the company's office in Pasadena. "We selected the best pilot for our vehicles," he said. "Unlike most spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo is actually flown to space. So the emphasis is on people who have tremendous pilot skills." In the past, the way people have reached outer space is aboard a high-powered rocket. Instead, Virgin Galactic will depart from Spaceport America in New Mexico using a WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft. It will fly with the reusable SpaceShipTwo rocket plane under its wing to 50,000 feet, where the spaceship will separate, blast off and, after their journey, be flown back to New Mexico...more

Miss America adds agriculture to her platform - Video

During the final interviews of the annual Miss America pageant, agriculture often takes the backseat to hot button issues and discussions of pop culture. Though the sheer majority of the pageant contestants are generations removed from livestock production, this year's Miss America recently made it clear that agriculture has an impact on the entire population. While not forgetting to voice her opinions on timely topics like high school success rates, childhood obesity and political cooperation, this year's Miss America, Teresa Scanlon, has added her support to the agriculture industry through a public service announcement released last week. "Not everybody farms, but everybody has to eat," Scanlon says. "Most Americans don't realize how essential and crucial agriculture is to our lives and to our economy. We're used to our grocery stores and our kitchens being full of food, but many people don't get that it's because of farmers and ranchers that we continue to be the breadbasket of the world." As a global traveler with a massive following, her industry backing has not gone unnoticed by industry mainstays...more

Here's the video referred to in the article: 

Windmilling, a Dying Art, Hangs on in Texas

Working 35 feet above the flat earth of the Panhandle, a young man in a baseball cap loosened the bolts attaching a windmill to a steel tower. “Ready?” came the shout from the ground. “Yeah, go ahead,” he hollered back. Slowly, the 500-pound windmill was lowered to the ground. A four-man crew expertly dismantled the wheel and replaced the motor, which had stopped working after it ran out of oil, and within an hour the windmill was hoisted back up and ready to spin. “This is kind of hard to do when it’s windy,” said Mike Crowell, the crew’s 59-year-old boss, who said his crews sometimes work on as many as nine windmills each day. Only a few dozen outfits like Crowell’s still exist in the Texas Panhandle, practicing the dying art of “windmilling” — fixing the old-style whirligigs that pump water from the aquifers. Windmills were crucial to 19th-century settlers of West Texas and the Great Plains because little surface water existed. Now, thousands of them — far smaller than the giant electricity-producing turbines that have sprouted around West Texas in recent years — still twirl in remote pastures. The windmills go where electricity cannot reach and cattle need to drink, though cheaper solar pumps are starting to push them out. “Obama wants everybody to go green,” said Bob Bracher, the president of Aermotor Windmill, a company that has manufactured windmills for more than 100 years and still makes a few thousand of them each year in a warehouse in San Angelo. “Well, hell, we’ve been green since 1888.”...more

Song Of The Day #698

Rounding out the week on Ranch Radio is Skeets McDonald and his 1952 recording of The Tattooed Lady.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Federal agents say environmental laws hamper work

Federal agents trying to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border say they're hampered by laws that keep them from driving vehicles on huge swaths of land because it falls under U.S. environmental protection, leaving it to wildlife — and illegal immigrants and smugglers who can walk through the territory undisturbed. A growing number of lawmakers are saying such restrictions have turned wilderness areas into highways for criminals. In recent weeks, three congressional panels, including two in the Republican-controlled House and one in the Democratic-controlled Senate, have moved to give the Border Patrol unfettered access to all federally managed lands within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of the border with Mexico. Zach Taylor, a retired Border Patrol agent who lives about nine miles from the Arizona-Mexico border, said smugglers soon learn the areas that agents are least likely to frequent. "The (smuggling) route stays on public lands from the border to Maricopa County," Taylor said, referring to the state's most populous county. "The smugglers have free rein. It has become a lawless area." George McCubbin, president of the union that represents about 17,000 Border Patrol agents and support staff, likened current policy to telling city police officers they can't patrol a particular neighborhood. "If they want to get serious about this problem on the border, they can't be restricting areas we go in," said McCubbin, who works in Casa Grande, Arizona. "Don't let us there and you have nothing but the bad element going through that area." (Rep. Rob) Bishop said federal agents would be better stewards of sensitive lands than illegal immigrants and smugglers. "What is so ironic is that the environmental degradation is not being done by the Border Patrol," Bishop said. "It's being done by the illegals who are coming across."...AP

New Technologies Redraw the World’s Energy Picture

GOLDA MEIR, the former prime minister of Israel, used to tell a joke about how Moses must have made a wrong turn in the desert: “He dragged us 40 years through the desert to bring us to the one place in the Middle East where there was no oil.” As it turns out, Moses may have had it right all along. In the last couple of years, vast amounts of natural gas have been found deep under Israel’s Mediterranean waters, and studies have begun to test the feasibility of extracting synthetic oil from a large kerogen-rich rock field southwest of Jerusalem. Israel’s swing of fate is just one of many big energy surprises developing as a new generation of unconventional fossil fuels take hold. From the high Arctic waters north of Norway to a shale field in Argentine Patagonia, from the oil sands of western Canada to deepwater oil prospects off the shores of Angola, giant new oil and gas fields are being mined, steamed and drilled with new technologies. Some of the reserves have been known to exist for decades but were inaccessible either economically or technologically.
Put together, these fuels should bring hundreds of billions of barrels of recoverable reserves to market in coming decades and shift geopolitical and economic calculations around the world. The new drilling boom is expected to diversify global sources away from the Middle East, just as the growth in consumption of fuels shifts from the United States and Europe to China, India and the rest of the developing world...more

Shell Oil receives EPA permit for drilling

The Shell oil company plans to start drilling multiple oil and gas exploration wells in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukckhi Seas next summer, unless environmental activists can persuade the Environmental Protection Agency to change its mind. The EPA on Friday issued an 87-page air permit for Shell’s Kulluk drillship to explore for oil and gas in the Beaufort Sea on Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf. And last month, the EPA issued a permit for Shell’s Discoverer drillship to begin similar work in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea. “We look forward to drilling in 2012 and validating what we believe is a valuable national resource base,” Shell said, noting that the approval process has taken almost five years. The American Petroleum Institute says drilling in Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf “is a genuine long-term economic stimulus plan." But on Monday, the environmental group Earthjustice filed an appeal with the EPA, challenging its decision to issue a permit for Shell's Discoverer drillship. “Arctic Ocean oil drilling is simply a bad idea,” said Earthjustice attorney Colin O’Brien...more

In Down Economy, Washington Lawmaker Pushes for More Logging

Tired of going back to the government every year with their hands out, rural counties are looking for a way to get off the federal dime and put unemployed loggers back to work. Washington Rep. Doc Hastings says he has an answer that would tackle both problems. "I think we need to utilize our natural resources a whole lot better from an economic standpoint," Hastings told Fox News. Hastings is proposing a plan to end to the so-called timber payments to counties that have historically relied on revenue from U.S. Forest Service timber sales. In its place, Congress would lift some environmental regulations and streamline the appeals process to allow for more timber sales on U.S. forest land. The one problem with Hastings plan -- the decline of spotted owls. Seen by conservation groups as an indicator species for the health of the Pacific Northwest's old growth forests, the spotted owl became a symbol in the battle between logging and the environment. The bird won, being listed in 1990 as an endangered species, and forcing a reduction in logging on federal land. The birds, on average 18 inches in length and weighing two pounds, are still endangered today. Since 1990, logging on federal land has plummeted. In 1990, 10.5 billion board feet of timber was cut in federal forests. Last year, that number was 2.1 billion board feet...more

Maryland Considering Flush Fee Hike

A state task force is considering doubling, and maybe even tripling, the state's flush fee. The fee for the Bay Restoration Fund is now $30 a year for property owners. The task force is considering recommending a doubling of the fee in 2013, and increasing it to $90 in 2015. The fund pays for sewage treatment plant and septic system upgrades as well as cover crops that keep pollutants from running off farms into waterways...more

Point Of View: Farmers, Ranchers Need Dust Bill

When word started to spread around the ag community that the EPA was considering tougher regulations on dust that could mean fines and stricter standards on our ag producers, I couldn’t idly stand by. Unsurprisingly, farmers were troubled that they would have to park their tractors or combines on a dry and windy day in order to comply with tougher standards like they already have to do in Arizona today. Some also worried that they would have to water down dusty roads or fields. This regulatory threat would add additional uncertainty to an already uncertain line of work. I gathered over 100 bipartisan cosponsors for a bill that would stop the EPA from any further regulation of farm dust. The bill would also exclude farm dust that is regulated at the state or local level from federal standards. We obviously touched a nerve with the EPA, when the Administrator abruptly announced days before a congressional hearing on the issue that the agency had no intention to change its current regulatory standards. This EPA announcement is a victory for South Dakota farmers and ranchers but we cannot, and should not, stop there. Today the EPA says they won’t further regulate dust, but without this bill, there is nothing stopping the agency from changing their mind and further regulating tomorrow. Additionally, it is important to note that the agency has no ability under current law to differentiate between urban and rural dust when enforcing their standards. Without this bill, if EPA enacts tougher standards meant for urban polluters or extreme environmental groups file lawsuits, there will be nothing stopping rural dust from also being included in the tougher standards. Finally, science has not shown rural dust to be a health concern like other kinds of dust. The distinction between urban and rural dust would provide ironclad certainty to the agriculture community so they can continue to provide a reliable, safe food supply in the United States and meet the world’s food needs...more

America's Third War: A New Eye on the Border

A new high-tech, low-cost camera system is helping to detect illegal immigrants along the Texas-Mexico border, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. The new system of cameras is catching undocumented immigrants sneaking across private ranches and farms -- groups that would have otherwise gone undetected, according to local landowners. “There are literally hundreds of trails out here that are being frequented and used by drug smugglers and human smugglers, ” said border rancher Michael Vickers. “There’s a lot of desperate people coming in here from all over the world and, frankly, a lot of them are getting through.” Unlike past cameras used along the Southwest border, these cameras do not provide a live video stream that must be constantly monitored. Instead, the cameras only snap pictures when something triggers a sensor. Then, within seconds, an image is emailed to command center in Austin. Once the photograph is verified as illegal activity, it’s passed along to local and federal authorities monitoring the border. “We’re providing the imagery so they can make the best choice on how to respond to criminal activity that we’re helping to detect at the state level, ” said Capt. Aaron Grigsby with the Texas Rangers. During a ten-month test phase, using just 20 cameras in South Texas, officials made more than 130 arrests. "We can hide them virtually anywhere, said Hank Whitman, chief of the Texas Rangers. “They are small, compact, but we move them consistently. There’s no sense trying to look for them because you’re not going to find them.” The cameras cost roughly $300 each and the state plans to install 400 more along the 1,200-mile border with Mexico within the next four months. link

Napolitano: Jailed Illegals Will Get Phone Number to Report Civil Rights Violations

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the House Judiciary Committee in written testimony submitted Wednesday that illegal aliens taken into custody by local law enforcement and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be given a phone number to call if they believe their civil rights have been violated. The phone number will be provided on a form that will include directions on how to file a complaint in six different languages. Napolitano told the committee that ICE has “updated its detainer form to clarify the longstanding rule that state and local authorities are not to detain an individual for more than 48 hours except for holidays and weekends. “The new detainer form also requires state and local law enforcement to provide the arrestees with a copy of the form, which includes a number to call if they believe their civil rights have been violated by ICE,” said Napolitano...more

Song Of The Day #697

Ranch Radio needs something to get over the hump to Friday this week, and nothing does that better than Bob Wiils, Tommy Duncan & The Texas Playboys. Here's their 1936 recording of Get Along Home Cindy.

The tune was recorded in Chicago on September 29, 1936 and has some of the greats on it. In addition to Wills & Duncan there is: Herman Arnspiger - guitar, Leon McAuliffe - steel, Johnnie Lee Wills - banjo, Jesse Ashlock - fiddle, Al Strickland - piano, Joe Ferguson - base, and Bill Dacus - drums.

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Greece Offers to Repay Bailout with Giant Horse

BRUSSELS (The Borowitz Report) – In what many are hailing as a breakthrough solution to Greece’s crippling debt crisis, Greece today offered to repay a bailout from the European Union nations by giving them a gigantic horse.

Finance ministers from sixteen EU nations awoke in Brussels this morning to find that a huge wooden horse had been wheeled into the city center overnight.

The horse, measuring several stories in height, drew mixed responses from the finance ministers, many of whom said they would have preferred a cash repayment of the EU’s bailout.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she “welcomed the beautiful wooden horse,” adding, “What harm could it possibly do?”

The Inconvenient Truth Behind Fisker Funding Fiasco

The wasteful and incomprehensible "green" energy policies of the Obama Administration continue to be exposed as a rip-off of American taxpayers. The latest insane venture involves hybrid auto start-up company, Fisker. While the story of Fisker receiving a $529 million loan from the Department of Energy has been widely reported, less known is the fact that green energy charlatan, Al Gore, may have played a key role in obtaining the loan. Before we move on to Gore's involvement in the Fisker fiasco, let's review what taxpayers are paying for regarding the White House's so-called green car "investment." The Fisker Karma is expected to go about 30 miles on an electric charge and then gets only about 20 MPG. The car can go from 0 to 60 in 6 seconds and comes in at a price tag of $97,000. To add insult to taxpayer injury, even though Fisker initially purchased a shuttered GM plant for $18 million where it says it will build a future line of vehicles, the current Karma line will be built in Finland. When and if the Karma ever makes it to US showrooms, a $7,500 tax credit for every wealthy purchaser will be granted. If someone is both rich enough and foolish enough to pay $97,000 for a car that underperforms competing sports vehicles like the Porsche Panamera (which costs $20,000 less, does 0 to 60 in 4 seconds and gets 24 MPG), why in the world should taxpayers subsidize the purchase?! It is absolutely insane for our government to give American dollars to a company with a risky business plan to produce a car (in Finland) for the wealthy that does little to help our environment or economy and then give taxpayer money to wealthy purchasers to buy the cars! So, why would the White House risk over half a billion dollars of taxpayer money on Fisker?...more

Wind farms shut because it's too windy

NATIONAL GRID has been forced to ask wind farms to shut down for the second time in a month - because it's too windy. Seven wind farm operators switched off their turbines on Monday night. National Grid said they were generating TOO MUCH power as storms ripped across Scotland. It leaves taxpayers with yet another bill. National Grid has to pay wind farm operators compensation when asking them to stop the turbines. National Grid said: "It was very windy yesterday and there was some curtailment of wind generation." Despite huge subsidies for wind farm operators, National Grid claims its network is not ready to handle the power surge in storms. Demand for electricity also drops off late at night...more

We subsidize farmers and then pay them not to farm.
Scotland subsidizes wind farms and then pays them to shut down.
We subsidize government, so why can't we get it to shut down too!

Mauling of hunter leads to Forest Service trail closure

The U.S. Forest Service closed a two-mile section of trail Monday in Lewis and Clark National Forest where a sow grizzly bear was shot and killed after it attacked an elk hunter on Saturday, the opening day of big-game rifle season. The grizzly chased Anthony Willits, 31, and Greg Louden, 29, both of Kalispell, off an elk carcass, and it was shot when it charged the men, about 10 miles southwest of East Glacier Park in the South Fork Two Medicine River drainage, a mile below Elk Calf Mountain, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Remains of the elk and dead grizzly remain in the area, which could keep the 1- or 2-year-old cubs around and attract other bears, said Wendy Maples, acting district ranger of the Rocky Mountain Ranger District. The bull elk was shot at 11:30 a.m., and Willits and Louden packed a portion of the meat out to the trailhead, four or five miles away. They returned to the carcass and were cutting off more meat when the grizzly sow chased them away from the carcass. The sow took over the carcass, then charged the men and was shot about 5:15 p.m., said Travis Haworth, a FWP game warden. The hunters told authorities that they had been working on the elk for 10 minutes when a female grizzly began making noises and bluff charging. The bear moved closer as the men retreated and took ownership of the carcass, putting her front legs on top of it, Haworth said. When the grizzly charged, Willits fired a shot from his rifle just before the bear reached the men, Haworth said. It's not clear if that shot struck the animal. The bear grabbed Willits by the lower left leg...more

One little ol' "bluff charge" from a grizzly and this child would be makin' fast and frequent tracks outta there.  That would be like a "bluff charge" from Sweet Sharon - it only happens once and it ain't no bluff.  Them little bells don't work either - hell a big ol' cow bell don't work - haven't tried pepper spray and I ain't about to.  Don't ask me why.

Group tries to stop bighorn sheep rider

A rider attached to an appropriations bill could set a precedent that would impact the health of bighorn sheep in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, a conservation group says. The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is asking its members to advocate against a rider attached by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, to the Interior Appropriations bill. The rider counters a U.S. Forest Service decision to limit domestic sheep grazing in close proximity to bighorn sheep habitat because of disease concerns on the Payette National Forest. The rider also impacts the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station near Dubois, Idaho. The group is asking Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., chair of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, to strip the rider from the bill...more

Naw, they've got it all wrong.  Tell Senator Reed that at the Dubois Sheep Experiment Station all we want is littlehorn sheep.

Drilling in Fast-Growing Areas Ushers in New Era of Tension

The pattern is clear in the oil and gas business: drilling fields are going into new places. North Dakota, better known for growing wheat, is now booming with rigs. Fort Worth has upward of 2,000 gas wells right in the city itself, with most of that growth within just the last five years. Pittsburgh, facing the prospect of urban drilling, forbade it last year by a vote of the City Council. But few areas are facing the prospect of drilling’s new frontier more vividly than eastern Colorado, where 80 percent of this state’s population of five million people cluster in a line of cities and suburbs stretching out from Denver, Colorado’s capital and largest city. A 90 million-year-old oil bed called the Niobrara — estimated to contain two billion barrels, locked in shale that in past drilling eras was considered too costly to extract — laces down from southeast Wyoming and Nebraska. And like a cowboy with Saturday-night pay in his pocket, ready to spend big and have a good time, the energy industry is riding into town to drill for it. Drilling permits in suburbs, parks and even in lakes have made the local news. Using hydrofracturing technologies — breaking the shale with water, sand and chemicals to release the oil — and horizontal, spiderlike tentacle borers that can spin out beneath communities, the still-emerging boom is bringing energy exploration to some of the fastest-growing counties in the nation, and to places with no experience whatsoever in dealing with it. “It’s completely surrounding the metro area,” said Thom Kerr, the permit and technical services manager at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates the industry...more

Theology up for debate at SCOTUS?

From homeland security to healthcare, the federal government now has the power to reach further than ever into American society. But so far, the feds have sensibly stayed out of the business of appointing religious leaders. Now, in a stunning about-face, the Obama Administration has urged the Supreme Court to allow courts to decide virtually any dispute between a church and its ministers. In the administration’s view, juries and judges, not congregations and bishops, should have the final say on who is fit for religious ministry. Fundamental questions of theology would be resolved in the same way as slip-and-fall cases. Plaintiffs’ lawyers would go into a religious feeding frenzy. The DOJ made this astounding declaration in its brief for a Supreme Court case called Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which some observers have called the most important religious freedom case in 20 years...more

Land swap would boost huge Ariz. copper mine

House Republicans and the Obama administration are at odds over a GOP bill aimed at boosting a proposed Arizona copper mine that would be the largest in North America. GOP lawmakers and business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Mining Association, say the project would pump billions of dollars into the Arizona economy and help create nearly 4,000 mining-related jobs. They are pushing a bill, up for a House vote Wednesday, that would approve a land exchange to clear the way for the mining project 70 miles southeast of Phoenix. Under the plan, first proposed in 2005, about 5,300 acres of environmentally sensitive land throughout Arizona would be transferred to federal control, including 3,000 acres on the lower San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona and 940 acres to be added to the Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch southeast of Tucson. The land is controlled by Resolution Copper Co., a subsidiary of the giant global mining company Rio Tinto. The Obama administration opposes the land swap, saying an environmental review should be completed before the exchange is made...more

Song Of The Day #696

Our tune today on Ranch Radio features Governor Jimmie Davis who is having trouble with the credit man, chickens and his jalopy.  He tells us all about in his 1943 recording of Walking My Blues Away.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Volt drains power from economy, Obama’s 2012 campaign

Obama behind the wheel of Chevy Volt
The White House’s green technology revolution is sitting in an auto lot in Butler, Pa., and nobody is buying. “Nobody comes in to ask, nobody comes in to look … The American people are smarter than the government — they’re not buying that car,” said Republican Rep. Mike Kelly, who owns the auto lot where one of General Motors’ combined electric-and-gasoline powered Volt autos sits unwanted, unsold and unused. The Chevy Volt would cost its buyer almost $40,000 — even after a $7,500 federal check — and that’s more than twice the price of a comparable Chevy Cruze, Kelly told The Daily Caller. “I just pay interest on it, insure it, and in another week or month, we’ll scrape snow off it.” His lonely Volt, however, isn’t truly alone. There are 3,370 Volts sitting in auto lots around the country, up from 2,600 on Oct. 3, according to, one of the nation’s largest automotive classified sites. The Chevy Volt was to be a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s green technology industrial revolution, and of his 2012 re-election campaign...more

Ken Salazar Hopes to Walk in Teddy Roosevelt's Footsteps

Take a walk around Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's ornate office overlooking Washington and two things stand out: a bust of Theodore Roosevelt, the father of American conservation, and a book of ranches featuring the Salazar spread in Colorado. The symbolic connection is not lost on Salazar, who, as was Roosevelt, is a longtime conservationist, hunter, and outdoorsman. "One of the reasons I took the job was because conservation is such an important agenda for me personally," Salazar says. But now, after scoring a big victory in 2009 with the creation of three new national parks, designating over 1,000 miles of scenic rivers, and tucking away 2 million acres of wilderness, Salazar and the administration are looking to Roosevelt for inspiration as they fight opposition to the president's conservation agenda, including adding more wilderness areas. "Conservation should be an American bipartisan issue," says Interior's boss, who later this month plans to unveil 100 new projects, two in every state, as part of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative of President Obama. "The U.S. led our Earth in conservation when Roosevelt became president, and to me that's very much at the crossroads of decisions that are being made today in Washington, to see if that conservation agenda will move forward."...more

Yup, every since the Republicans took over the House, Obama and the enviros point to Roosevelt, even Nixon, to now say their issue is "bipartisan". Do they really think one President who brought us the EPA and had to resign his office, and another President from a wealthy east coast family and who brought us the Forest Service, are all they have to cite to win Republican votes in the Congress? Unfortunately this has worked in the past, so stay tuned.

Rescind Delta plan oversight agreement, U.S. lawmakers demand

Five Northern California lawmakers are demanding that the Interior Department withdraw from a key Delta planning agreement because they say it gives farmers in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California "unprecedented influence" at the expense of Delta landowners, salmon fishermen and others. The state and federal governments and a number of water agencies that depend on Delta water signed the agreement two months ago to clear the way for the agencies to commit an additional $100 million for planning and consultant work on a $12 billion aqueduct. It is the centerpiece of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which the agencies want in order to secure more reliable supplies. The agreement gives the water agencies more access to information and more control over planning than others who have been helping develop the plan, including Delta representatives and environmentalists, the lawmakers said...more

Gallup: Only 1 Percent of Democrats Say Creating ‘Green Jobs’ is Answer to Unemployment

Even among self-identified Democrats enthusiasm for the government to create “green jobs” is very hard to find these days, says a Gallup poll released Friday. Creating “green jobs” has been a top item on President Barack Obama’s jobs-growth agenda. Gallup asked more than 1,000 American adults this open-ended question: “In your opinion, what would be the best way to create more jobs in the United States?” The most popular two answers among Democrats and Democrat-leaning Independents were “create more infrastructure work” which was cited by 21 percent, and “keep manufacturing jobs here/stop spending overseas” which was cited by 18 percent...more

New Mexico community colleges nab $2M for green job training

The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions awarded $2 million in grant funding for three community colleges to expand green training opportunities. The grant, funded through a $6 million award from the U.S. Department of Labor, will allow Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, Central New Mexico Community College and Santa Fe Community College to expand or develop occupational training programs in the wind, solar biofuels, green building and energy efficiency sectors. Those colleges have been designated “centers of excellence” by Workforce Solutions. They will develop statewide green training programs for their local communities, and for other communities through a “train-the-trainer” approach that will help other New Mexico colleges set up energy-related curricula and courses, said Workforce Solutions Secretary Celina Bussey in a news release...more

I guess they didn't read the poll.

Specialist compares historical drought data

With ranchers and cattle raisers talking about the weather even more than usual, Rick Machen, a Texas AgriLife Extension livestock specialist based in Uvalde, went looking for some reliable rainfall data to use as a comparison to the drought of the 1950s. He found a NOAA website with a database of rainfall amounts in San Antonio, by month and year, from 1871 through July of this year. Machen found that 1917 was the driest year during that time period with only 10.1 inches of rain. Current conditions (through July of 2011) are about an inch behind the same period in 1917. "Comparing the drought of the 50s with this drought is like comparing apples and oranges," Machen said. "In the 50s, you had four consecutive drought years, but when you break down the monthly totals, the rainfall they did get was spread out pretty evenly. It rained a little bit each month. "From last August to now is unprecedented. A year ago, 50 percent of the state was in a drought. Now 82 percent of the state is in the worst possible drought, and the long-range forecasts are generally not good. This could easily end up being the driest year since at least 1871." During 1917, that driest year ever in South Central Texas, San Antonio received just 3.9 inches of rain from August through February of 1918. That is the second driest seven consecutive month period on record. The driest seven-month period was from October 1995 through April 1996 with 3.57 inches. Machen also noted that even during 1954, the driest year of the dry 50s, the critical grass-growing months of April-July were wetter than this year...more

Time to go back and read again Elmer Kelton's The Time It Never Rained.


The Delicious Mr. Ed

Slaughtering horses for food has been prohibited in the United States since 2007, but animal rights advocates and ranchers continue to argue over the ban. A report (PDF) from the Government Accountability Office released in June says the prohibition merely shifted horse slaughter abroad, where consumers aren’t so squeamish about equine dining. Why don’t Americans eat horse? Because we love our beasts of burden. As with many food taboos, there’s no settled explanation for why most Americans are perfectly willing to eat cows, pigs, and chickens but turn their noses up at horse. Horse-eating, or hippophagy, became popular in Europe in the 19th century, when famines caused several governments to license horse butcheries. Today, horse meat is most widely available in France, Belgium, and Sweden, where it outsells mutton and lamb combined. While Americans have occasionally consumed their equine friends during times of scarcity, the practice just didn’t catch on...more

Slaughter of Horses Goes On, Just Not in U.S.

The closing of the country’s last meat processing plant that slaughtered horses for human consumption was hailed as a victory for equine welfare. But five years later just as many American horses are destined for dinner plates to satisfy the still robust appetites for their meat in Europe and Asia. Now they are carved into tartare de cheval or basashi sashimi in Mexico and Canada. That shift is one of the many unintended consequences of a de facto federal ban on horse slaughter, according to a recent federal government study. As the domestic market for unwanted horses shrinks, more are being neglected and abandoned, and roughly the same number — nearly 140,000 a year — are being killed after a sometimes grueling journey across the border...more

Song Of The Day #695

 Today Ranch Radio brings you some early Marty Robbins with his 1952 recording of Tomorrow You'll Be Gone.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The poop on diapers, the economy & public policy

Robert Morley advises that diaper sales are plummeting across all categories: brand name, generic, bulk, etc. which is "a sign of how bad the economy really is."  True to form and never letting a crisis go to waste, Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) is championing a bill she calls the Diaper Investment and Aid to Promote Economic Recovery Act (DIAPER Act). The bill would provide free diapers to the poor. DeLauro says the proposed law is “necessary to ensure that the poor have access to diapers.”

As to the first link, its not surprising that rash ointment sales are up 10%.
The second link, even tho it seems so likely, is satire.

Solyndra-linked fundraiser still boosting Obama campaign

A former Energy Department official linked to the failed Solyndra solar enterprise deal continues to raise campaign money for President Obama and helped plan a fundraising luncheon that the president will attend in San Francisco on Tuesday. Steven Spinner, who remains in the top tier of Obama fundraisers, took part in a conference call in recent weeks devoted to planning the event at the W Hotel. He also has joined other Obama fundraising calls, according to a person familiar with Spinner's participation who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly. His participation is controversial, even among Obama supporters. Some think Spinner should take a reduced role in the campaign given the uproar over Solyndra, but the White House considers it a manufactured controversy being exploited for partisan reasons...more

Rustling costs ranchers millions in poor economy

Even with cattle theft rampant in much of the nation's midsection, Oklahoma rancher Ryan Payne wasn't worried about anyone messing with his cows and calves. By his estimation, his pasture is so far off the beaten path "you need a helicopter to see it." That changed last month when Payne, 37, checked on his livestock and found a ghoulish scene: Piles of entrails from two Black angus calves he says thieves gutted "like they were deer." They made off with the meat and another 400-pound calf in a heist he estimated cost him $1,800. "Gosh, times are tough, and maybe people are truly starving and just need the meat," he said. "But it's shocking. I can't believe people can stoop that low." While the brazenness may be unusual, the theft isn't. High beef prices have made cattle attractive as a quick score for people struggling in the sluggish economy, and other livestock are being taken too. Six thousand lambs were stolen from a feedlot in Texas, and nearly 1,000 hogs have been stolen in recent weeks from farms in Iowa and Minnesota. The thefts add up to millions of dollars in losses for U.S. ranches. Authorities say today's thieves are sophisticated compared to the horseback bandits of the rugged Old West. They pull up livestock trailers in the middle of the night and know how to coax the animals inside. Investigators suspect it's then a quick trip across state lines to sell the animals at auction barns. "It almost has to be someone who knows about the business, including just knowing where to take the cattle," said Carmen Fenton, a spokeswoman for the 15,000-member Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, formed in the 1870s specifically to combat cattle rustlers. "It's crazy to think we're still in business." There's no clearinghouse that tracks thefts nationally, but statistics among certain states are staggering. In Texas — the nation's biggest cattle producer — and to a lesser extent Oklahoma, some 4,500 cattle have been reported missing or stolen this year, according to Fenton's group. The association's special rangers managed to recover or account for $4.8 million in stolen ranch property each of the previous two years, most of it steers, bulls, cows and calves...more

Forest Service chief says Colorado roadless rule will enhance wild land protections on national forests

A Bill Clinton-era federal rule that keeps logging and road graders out of roadless areas in national forests was upheld by a federal appeals court Friday, but U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell believes a federal roadless rule unique to Colorado will enhance wildland protections across the state while keeping communities from being harmed by the bark beetle. The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Friday upheld the long-contested 2001 Roadless Rule, which protects about 58 million acres of undeveloped wild lands on national forests nationwide and about 4 million acres in Colorado from new road construction. The Clinton rule, long derided by developers and extraction industries, had been overturned by a federal district court in Wyoming. Anticipating that the 2001 rule would not be implemented in Colorado, state and federal officials began creating a Colorado-unique rule six years ago, opening some land up for certain kinds of development, including the removal of some bark beetle-killed trees. That rule is set to be finalized soon. Though the court’s Friday decision makes the more restrictive 2001 rule effective in Colorado, the Forest Service is eager to push ahead with the Colorado rule, which will affect forest land throughout Larimer County. Tidwell, speaking at the Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference in Miami, said Saturday he doesn’t think there will be a conflict between Colorado’s rule and the 2001 rule. In fact, he said, the Colorado rule is an "addition and improvement" on the Clinton-era rule partly because it gives foresters the flexibility to remove dead trees around homes. "We’re hoping to get the final Colorado rule out later next year," he said...more

Simpson offers reminder about walking in another fellow’s shoes

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson has been allied with environmental groups like the Idaho Conservation League and the Wilderness Society in his quest to preserve central Idaho’s Boulder-White Clouds as wilderness. For nearly a decade, he’s been a regular at the ICL’s Wild Idaho conference at Redfish Lake near Stanley, where he often gets standing ovations after his talks. But many environmentalists were less than pleased this past year as he chaired the House Appropriations subcommittee on Interior and the Environment. His panel’s budget cut many of the environmentalists’ favorite programs, including the Environmental Protection Agency. He also added a rider that stops a Payette National Forest ruling requiring separation of wild and domestic sheep from being applied to any other forest. So when he spoke last week to the Idaho Environmental Forum — not a universally green group, but one with a bunch of environmental activist members along with others who work on and around environmental issues — it was interesting that he received yet another standing ovation. He sees his bighorn sheep rider as a way to try to get people talking again. The Payette National Forest decision forced several ranchers to get out of the sheep business at a time when it is booming. Simpson isn’t talking about reversing the decision. His rider would keep other national forests from following the Payette remedy, while scientists test vaccines the sheep industry hopes will resolve the issue. Simpson said the only answer is for bighorn sheep advocates and the domestic sheep industry to work things out collaboratively. “We need to start solving problems together,” he said...more

Community Push for FOB Choice

More than 120 folks, from ranchers to firemen, met Friday, Oct. 14 to push for a Forward Operating Base (FOB) which they believe would best tackle border agency goals and security-savvy strategies. Over the past year, public consensus has been building for the Cloverdale site - an area 7 miles north of the U.S.Mexico fence-line which features higher, dry-ground vantage, existing utilities, and a 'visible presence' that folks believe can act as deterrent. On Friday, Congressman Steve Pearce, along with aide, Tim Keithley and reps from Senator Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall's office arrived at the Animas Community Center. They along with U.S. Border Patrol Agents - Michael Przybyl (Sector Chief, El Paso) and Chrisopher Mangusing, (Lordsburg Station) listened intently as the community delivered a feisty mix of public concern, respectful suggestion, and local advice. For newcomers, this meeting follows two citizen petitions and a rancher-organized tour of the two locations that produced the agenda at hand: A last-ditch effort by locals to have the new FOB site constructed 7 miles from the border, visible to trespassers, on ready-to-build BLM land. At best, this was a troublesome stand-off between what you might call 'small-town wisdom' versus big-guy government. At worst - it was another prime example of how government thinks it knows best and always gets its way. "I'd really like a common sense answer to a common sense issue as to why the border patrol would want this Forward Operating Base further away from the border, rather than closer to it?" asked Hidalgo Co Commissioner, Darr Shannon in opening moments. "At one point, we, (the public) were asked about our reasoning for wanting a close-to-the border site," said Shannon, "The question was asked, "'Do you really want our border officers to be in a jeopardized position near the border?". Meanwhile, one of the more vocal residents at the meeting, Di Massey, clearly hit a chord with words that rang all too true for folks standing on both sides of the decision. "If you're saying that the proposed site isn't really meant to be a deterrent ...Then, I have to ask you, why isn't it being considered, and, if the drug traffickers can see you, know you're there and stay away -- why wouldn't you want that to happen?"...more

Appeal Halts New Mexico Logging Plan

The Center for Biological Diversity on Thursday won an appeal challenging the 11,000-acre “Bonito” logging project near Ruidoso. In an Oct. 19 letter to the Center, the Forest Service conceded that its approval of the logging violated the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by: * Defying forest canopy cover requirements of the Lincoln Forest Plan; * Failing to maintain old-growth forest as required by the plan; * Overlooking impacts to forest soil with moderate and severe erosion hazard. The Forest Service had approved the logging even though its own analysis showed that it would remove more forest canopy than its own rules protecting northern goshawk and Mexican spotted owl allow. The agency also tried to remove more large trees than its own rules allow in old-growth-deficient forests. Bonito is the third major project approved by the Lincoln National Forest since November 2009. The Jim Lewis and South Guadalupe projects, combined, will thin and burn 55,563 acres to reduce wildfire hazard and restore historic forest conditions. Of the three projects, only Bonito drew an environmental appeal...more

Song Of The Day #694

Its Swingin' Monday on Ranch Radio and here is Mandy Barnett and her recording of Ever True Evermore.

The tune is on her 20 track CD Platinum Collection.

I love this lady's voice.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cowgirl Sass & Savvy

Tenderfoot at the roots

By Julie Carter

The old cowboy shrugged on his jacket, pulling it up tight around his neck, tucking in his neck scarf while he fished to match buttons to buttonholes to close out the sharp cold of the fall morning.

Pulling worn gloves over his gnarled leathery hands, he tugged his hat down tight against the wind that had blown in before daylight. He headed out to begin another day.

Small dust devils swirled through the distant corrals where the saddle horses stood, tails to the wind, munching on the last of the hay tossed to them the night before.

Not so many years ago, his stride became a long shuffle and he felt every cold day of his life in his knees and hips. Nowhere in his countenance remained even the slightest trace of the tenderfoot he had once been.

Tenderfoot: a boy who has not yet had the wonder rubbed off him.

For a moment, he recalled that greenhorn lad he’d been, orphaned when he was a teen and taken in to be raised by grandparents he barely knew. Sullen, angry and determined, he told himself he would never be part of their life on that “god-forsaken ranch” so remote from the city existence he’d lived.

One day at a time and with great patience his grandfather put the pieces of his heart back together. It started with a horse to call his own and a Border Collie puppy that licked his face every chance he got and followed in his footsteps all day long.

It followed with the long days of cattle work in the spring and witnessing the rebirth of everything living –new baby calves, the brown of winter turning to green followed by the bloom of summer.

Lazy summers were a myth that dissipated into rolling waves of grasses standing in hay fields waiting for harvest. Every fall arrived with the colors of turning leaves, boiling dust as cattle trucks left  loaded with another year’s calf crop and the first snows blanketing everything with a seasonal quiet.

Year after year, layer upon layer, the love of the land, love of the life seeped into his soul until he knew no other except in faint glimmer of yesterday. 

Referencing old cowboys, Wallace Stegner wrote in Wolf Willow: A History, a Story, and a Memory of the Last Plains Frontier. “They do not tell their stories in Technicolor; they would not want to seem to adorn a tale or brag themselves up. The callouses of a life of hardship blunt their sensibilities to their own experience."

Calloused memories. Within each of us is that tenderfoot who began with the wonder of life intact. Whether we chose to peel back the layers and stay in touch with the Technicolor, or forge ahead to new rainbows, our roots remain in innocence.

At the close of the day, the old cowboy will dust off his hat and britches much like he dusts off his memories. Both are old, worn and with a lot of character. It’s not a bad place to be when near the end of the road.

Julie can be reached for comment at

Warp speed Regulation

Warp speed Regulation
The Logic Factor
Defense against Government
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

     Agriculture is one of the most profound platforms to develop logic.  Others might suggest fields of military battle are more profound.  Others yet will say that there is nothing more sobering than pediatric surgery, and how could that point be argued?  Those people who hold the lives of those innocent little people in their hands command respect.  I have no idea how they could recover from a mistake.
     Fortunate is the individual whose experience doesn’t include a mistake, but, unless there is an experience that demonstrates definitive results, lasting progress may not ever be accomplished.  Good, bad, or indifferent, the development of logic comes from experiencing factor altering situations.  Mistakes are usually the most common guiding forces. 
     Policy Guidance
     I sat one day in office of a well known vegetable producer.  Years prior, his family had expanded their operation to Bakersfield, California.  We had been talking business and the conversation gravitated to policy and procedural manuals. 
     I asked him about his company manual and what he said surprised me.  He informed me his manual, the guiding document for the world’s largest producer of a product, was a piece of paper that indicated his company had no policy and procedure manual.
     In a world of endless regulation, government interference, and agency minefields, how could any company operate without a manual?  The owner’s rationale was that there were so many conflicting rules and regulations that any written policy would and could be used against him by an investigating official if something major took place.  It was better to acknowledge there was no official policy so that each incident could be investigated and acted upon based on current conditions.  He claimed that his approach had been tested and it worked.
     My philosophy of such manuals was counter to prevailing practices, but it wasn’t quite as extreme as what I had just experienced.  When our company needed a safety manual we were guided by our Human Relations director and on our laps was dumped an immense binder.  After studying it, it was clearly apparent to me that 80-90% of the plagiarized gobbledy goop it contained had absolutely no place in our work environment.  We rejected it . . . and shortly thereafter we rejected the HR supervisor as well.
     Shape your battlefield
     The approach we took was to ignore the experts and create out own document.  As it evolved, it was apparent that there would never be a first and last page as long as the business existed and evolved.  It was also apparent we were not experts at anything until we actually experienced the situation and worked our way through it.  It was then we could assess the situation with enough insight . . . logic . . . that a near intelligent procedure could be crafted. 
     We were chastised by the experts we encountered.  “You are going to be in trouble if you get caught without proper policy and procedures,” was the warning from the experts. 
     A near tragic event occurred that demonstrated the situation we faced with multi-agency oversight.  We had developed a cut apple product that had a 30 day shelf life.  The product was run on a line that consisted of mechanical peelers, sorting tables, color sorters, inspection belts and automatic packaging equipment.
     Agency oversight was constant, and the Health Department was our most frequent visitor.  They approved the protocol for the mandatory daily cleaning.  Their protocol required the equipment to be exposed and running so that all surfaces could be cleaned thoroughly.  We honored their demand.  We had no choice.
     Early one morning in a cleaning cycle an employee hung a brush in a tail pulley and he was pulled into the drive chain.  His hand was nearly cut off.
    OSHA was called and the blame process started.  In the hearing, the Department of Labor hammered us regarding the exposure of employees to running equipment without proper guards.  The Department of Health official told the court the cleaning process had to be done exactly as we had been doing.    
     In the ensuing threat and counter threat display that continued we sat and watched the agency representatives battle.  Regardless of our plea regarding the Health Department hygiene demand, it appeared we were going to be fined or even shut down by the Department of Labor.  
     Finally, we suggested the installation of expanded metal guards and shields so exposure could take place for cleaning while employee safety could be maintained.  The judge concurred, the Health Department representatives nodded affirmatively, the OSHA report was issued, and we were handed a citation by the Department of Labor.  Neither the judge nor the Health Department even questioned the citation.  The reminder that the government will always seek a scapegoat in the private sector was clearly demonstrated.    
     There was no way that approach could have been envisioned until that unfortunate series of circumstances occurred.  We conceptualized the only practical approach for resolution.  It was accepted.  Neither agency would have allowed the new protocol until that administrative judge ruled on the process.  We wrote the updated policy on the basis of experience. 
     Weeks of production were lost.  Questions about the viability of the product were raised in its temporary absence in the market . . . we were the villains . . . we were experts . . . we introduced a better way to deal with a real problem. 
     Announcements and destruction
     The warp speed growth in government regulations has not only accelerated every year since 1976, it is past the brink of going viral with pending policy and procedural fallout from the Obama social legislation. The legislation isn’t simply the driver of this insanity.  The policy development from the cabinet controlled agencies charged with the management of the legislation is where the accelerator is stuck.
     The recent contamination of cantaloupes grown in Colorado is yet another example of government’s inability to guard against a tragedy.  It is also a demonstration of government’s ability to cripple an industry segment.  How many believe that the plight of that grower in Colorado didn’t reach every cantaloupe grower in the nation?  Every time a spokesperson from the Center of Disease Control gave an update, there was a corresponding decrease in the sale of all cantaloupes. 
     Similar crises have occurred in recent memory in apples, apple juice, hamburger, lettuce, pistachios, and spinach.  Universally, consumers will say that it is the responsibility of government to communicate such risks to the greater public.  Does that same right give the authority to the government to destroy innocent producers who happen to be in the same market when a tragedy occurs?
     The need for more insurance
     As government has grown, too many producers have realized they are facing an increasingly dangerous foe.  Sophisticated buyers of businesses brutalized by such government actions are increasingly building into their pro forma reviews discounts on expected prices because of the risk government poses. 
     Others are increasing insurance policy coverage that would protect against such assaults.  American business segments are posturing to figure out how to protect themselves from the uncertainty of actions that may be forthcoming from their government.  The menace of government action has actually become a matter of expanded risk assessment . . . think about that.   
    Back to Logic
     The vast majority of policy is written by officials who have never spent a day in a business at risk in a free market.  Most policy writers exist in an atmosphere free of logic developed through the risk of failure, and there are limited measures to reset any balance.
     Departments, agencies, and institutions are staffed and perpetuated from home grown bureaucrats produced within their systems.  New directors don’t come from the industries their efforts oversee.  New directors are not judged by the money saved for taxpayers.  New directors are not people who must conceptualize how to exist in the presence of an ever expanding and ever more intrusive central authority.  They are products of the empires they grow and protect.
     In a recent day real world acquisition process, several very capable buyers came to the conclusion the price of the offering must be discounted in order to be prudent for their investors.  The reasons were not the current outlook for the particular commodity.  On the contrary, the commodity has all the appearances of heightened opportunity. 
     The rationale came from government action in the cantaloupe contamination debacle.  Implicit in the price reduction was the risk government poses over the life of the investment. 
     Our system is upside down . . . double, triple, quadruple the regulation burden and the results will not provide more protections . . . but capital will flow to havens of less risk.  The question must be asked . . . who is better off? 

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico.  “If the line used to run the Colorado cantaloupes had been fully exposed for daily cleaning, the tragedy would likely have been averted.”